I'm going to preface this little rant by stating the obvious: I'm not a stathead. That in no way makes me any less of a fan than the rest of you on this blog. In addition I'm also not a regular contributor to this blog. There will be no pictures or charts to divert from my message. So for those of you willing to hear me out please read on. The rest of you may be dismissed... such as you dismiss the casual baseball fan.
I live in a part of Missouri dominated by Cardinal fans. Finding a Royals fan amongst the unwashed masses was once a rare treat. A total stranger would open up and say something along the lines of the "How bout that Hose-Meyer kid?" Oddly, I'm not offended in the least. This is a kindered spirit in a way. Our team is resembling something more than the rubbish that we suffered through together but seperately for nearly three decades. A team that warrants mention from a total stranger just because I chose to cover my bald head with last year's spring training cap.
The guy goes on about "that Bruce Ching dude" and why in the world the Braves let us steal Frenchy from them. Then he laments the fact that Gordon will never be the third baseman that Brett was. I reply that he's probably right about that... without rudely commenting that Gordon is now a gold glove outfielder. I could have added that our outfield isn't as good without Milky Cabelas in center, but decided against it.
This person is interested in the Royals current team, Not remorsefully pining for the days of Balboni, Lonnie Smith, or Kurt Stillwell. This person is the type of fan that may be interested enough in the team to actually fill the tank of his SUV with $4 gas, load up the wife and 2.3 kids and drive to the K to plunk down a Benjamin on a fistful of tickets, parking, and maybe a $6 soda or two.
There are more and more casual fans being drawn back to Royals baseball. The bulk of them may not have followed the team through the lean times. I'm sure many of them couldn't tell you the name of a single prospect in Omaha, or even know they changed their name to the Naturals (intended gaffe, don't get snippy). I'm fine with that. The casual fan that talks baseball with you is just that... casual. Some of these fans are just making smalltalk. There's no need for smacktalk in reply. Besides, I'd gladly put up with it if it means I'm not the only one in my row at the K on a Tuesday evening in June.