I don't profess to be the next Doyle Brunson. I'll probably never win a World Series of Poker bracelet or have Norman Chadd (whom I played in a tournament with a few months ago, nice guy by the way) feature me on ESPN. But I have now become a solid enough poker player to make a decent living after years of getting my butt handed to me. What does this have to do with Royals baseball? A lot.
I am one of the "suckers" that started playing poker in 2003 after watching an unknown - Chris Moneymaker - parlay $37 into $2.5 million and the coveted World Series of Poker Main Event champion. I began playing low limit poker at casinos in Iowa. It was fun and just a hobby. I didn't win. I lost 9 times out of 10. I quickly learned that even though it was just a hobby at the time, it was either learn how to play or quit the game because it was becoming way too expensive of a hobby.
However, I refused to really put forth the effort into becoming good at poker. Sure, I would improve my game a bit like anyone that plays for a while does. But I was still losing. Even worse, I was making excuses for losing. It was never my poor play. It was always "I'm unlucky". The truth is I wasn't smart enough to know that I sucked at poker. Either that or I wasn't man enough to admit I sucked. I looked for excuses.
After a few years of playing and thousands of dollars in the hole, I actually took the time and effort to focus on what is going wrong with my poker game. A good poker player can lose because he's getting unlucky for a short period of time. But if you're still losing after thousands of hours at the poker table...you suck! So what did I do? Manned up and said, "Jon, you really suck at poker" and decided for once I was going to do something about it.
I think it was 2007 when I actually started becoming a winning poker player. But I had one problem...I didn't have the bankroll to play at a level where I could earn a decent income. So at this point my only error in poker was I was playing short stacked. I played above my bankroll. And because of that, I sat down one day at a poker table with darn near every dollar I had to my name. Fortunately, I had a job but still it was either win that day or eat Ramen Noodles until payday. I won about $2,000 in what was probably the most stressful day of my life. Whew! After that day, I swore off poker until I had built up a big enough bankroll (saving up from work) to play professionally. And that's exactly what I did. I played poker only once or twice the next 6-7 months and saved up everything I could so that I could quit my job and play poker for a living.
In the middle of 2008, I quit working and played poker exclusively. Everyone thought I was nuts. But I had a plan. I was a good poker player. I knew I was. I had the money saved up to cover living expenses for a few months and to play poker without being short stacked. I was going to stick to my plan (let's call it "The Process") which was to NEVER play above my level, never play when I wasn't feeling mentally into it, never allow a losing session effect me mentally, and to never play above my bankroll. 90% of the time, I stuck with that "Process". And 5 years later, I still have a roof over my head, food on the table, and plenty of money to pay for $69 Vegas hookers when I need them (just kidding).
Basically, I was willing to do something NO ONE in the Royals organization will do...take accountability and admit what I was doing was wrong. Instead, Dayton Moore (and his predecessors) keeps doing what he was doing, year after year, with no positive results to show for them. His approach to the Royals has been the same as my approach to poker from 2003-2007. It wasn't my fault when I lost. It was the "bad luck". Dayton is refusing to acknowledge his failures. I rarely hear him man-up and admit a mistake.
He's been failing for 7 years now. He's been doing the same thing over and over and over again. He keeps trying to patch up our holes with questionable veterans that he overpays for. I remember when he was hired he said he was going to build this team around defense, pitching, and smart baserunning because of the market and ballpark the Royals play in. Okay, great. I was ecstatic because we finally had a GM that was going to build the team around fundamentally sound ball players. However, he's done NOTHING but the opposite. He doesn't draft/trade for/sign players that can...a)run the bases, b)throw strikes, c)field. And this has been going on for 7 years.
The worst part is he pays good money for many of these players that lack fundamentals. Take Jeff Franceour and Jose Guillen for example. He's spent about $50 million on these 2 outfielders that cannot run the bases, cover any ground in the outfield, have no plate discipline, and just plain suck at baseball. He spent $55 million on Gil Meche (oh, sorry, that's right Gil is such a super nice guy and didn't force Dayton to pay him for the last year of his contract), a pitcher with a mediocre past.
He traded away a young pitcher with upside (JP Howell) for a guy that can run really fast but do absolutely NOTHING else on the baseball field. He hired Ned Yost - an old school National League style manager that loves bunts and playing small ball - and gave him a roster of players that are incapable of playing that style of baseball. You can't keep doing what you're doing, year after year, when what you're doing isn't working. It's not working because it's not a good strategy. And it's just silly to continue with the same approach that's been failing you for years.
Dayton never really had a "Process". He lied about that. Oh, that's right....BEST FARM SYSTEM IN BASEBALL!! Great. He planned on developing a powerhouse farm system. But if he really thought he was going to build a championship team with ONLY homegrown players, he's dumber than I thought (and I personally think the guy is an absolute moron already). He never had a plan for building the rest of the big league roster. He just signs random free-agents or makes trades at random times. And none of those signings makes much sense. For example, Gil Meche never made sense because, best case scenario, even if Meche earned his paycheck the Royals had no chance of winning until the back end of his contract. So what was the point of wasting that money?
Jose Guillen, another example, wasn't going to get the Royals over the hump. James Shields is a quality starting pitcher, but it doesn't make sense to mortgage the future to bring him in considering the Royals are unlikely to win while Shields is under contract. It makes more sense to save some of this money for the future and make a big splash in free-agency when the team is a couple of players away from contention than to just randomly bring in semi-high priced players when they aren't likely to get the team over the hump.
Dayton has, for years, been running this organization to get to .500...not to win the division. That's his problem. He's trying to avoid 90+ loss seasons when he should be focused on getting the team to the playoffs. Us Royals fans have suffered long enough. I think we're all to a point where we don't care if the team loses 88 games or 100 games. There's really no difference to us anymore. All we care about is getting to the playoffs. So stop signing players that will help us lose 88-90 games instead of 100 and start saving money so that when the team is close to contention you'll have that extra money to spend in free agency on players that actually will help the team win the division.
You can't keep allowing yourself to fail. Dayton needs to look himself in the mirror and be honest with himself about the fact that he's put the Royals in its current position because of his mistakes. I know it's hard to man-up and admit you screwed up. He has an ego. But the fact of the matter is the Royals are in this position because of one reason...Dayton Moore. He was given EVERY opportunity to build a winner in KC. He might not have been blessed with Brian Cashman's payroll but he was blessed with 7 straight years of Top 10 draft picks, money to spend on the draft, and plenty of time. He can either swallow his pride like I did with my poker game and admit his errors and correct them OR he can continue on his path of failure. It's just sad that a man's ego has gotten in the way of my Royals winning baseball games.