After much anticipation and speculation, the Kansas City Royals today announced the successor to their popular fan promotion, The Frenchy Quarter. The new promotion will be The Judges Bench, named for the brilliant Kansas City Star Cartoonist who writes regularly about the Royals.
The old promotion, named for the popular and successful right fielder Jeff Francoeur, needed to be replaced after the San Francisco Giants pried Francoeur away from the Royals. The Frenchy Quarter occurred during every Thursday home game. For $21, fans would get a ticket to the right field Outfield Box, a Frenchy Quarter T-Shirt, and blue Mardi Gras beads.
The new promotion, The Judges Bench, will also occur on Thursday home games. The price of the new promotion is $50, unless a Chris Getz jersey is worn, in which case admission is $5. Fans will get to sit in the warning track dirt in foul territory along the 1st base side. If the Royals record at least 5 productive outs in the game, each fan gets a free item of their choice from the concession stand. After the game, the Kansas City Star Cartoonist himself will give a talk to the fans about what the Royals did right and what they did wrong during the game. Fans wearing a Johnny Giovatella jersey will not be allowed to participate.
Kansas City Royals Assistant to the Associate General Manager for Promotional Promotions, Allard Less, explains the thoughts that went into selecting this new promotion. "At first we were going to name the new promotion after somebody like Alex Gordon or Sal Perez, but then what if some other team pries them away from us like they did with Francoeur? Then we would have to start all over again. So I suggested we go with one named after our team's favorite cartoonist who also writes about the Royals. Nobody will pry him away from us. When I said that, everybody in the room thought it was a great idea. The Cartoonist does such a great job of explaining to the fans the kinds of things that the Royals organization values in baseball players."
When questioned about the increased price, Less explains, "With the popularity of The Cartoonist, and his keen baseball intellect, we thought $50 was very reasonable. It was also his idea for the reduced price idea for the Getz jerseys, so we went along with it."
Less goes on to explain the other details of the new promotion. "First off, unless you are down on the dirt day after day, you can't really know what is going on. We will have the fans as close to the dirt as possible without being in the field of play. The Cartoonist picked the 1st base side so the fans could gain an appreciation for 1st baseman Eric Hosmer's ability to scoop errant throws from Johnny Giavotella."
"As far as the productive outs, we want to teach our fans to appreciate the things that win baseball games. Like The Cartoonist says, trying to hit home runs might work for Giavotella in Omaha, but they only result in warning track outs in the big leagues. Doing the little things like advancing the runner from 2nd to 3rd is what adds up to wins over the long term. We will now have our fans rooting for the productive out."
"As far as speaking to the fans after the game, that is the most appealing part of the promotion. Who wouldn't want to drink from the fountain of baseball knowledge that is The Cartoonist? He sees a lot of things that the average baseball fan would miss. For example, say you have runners at 2nd and 3rd with less than 2 outs. The batter then hits a ground ball to shortstop that scores the runner from 3rd but fails to advance the runner from 2nd. The Cartoonist can explain that when Derek Jeter does it, it is a great professional at bat, but when Johnny Giavotella does it, it is a bad thing. Perhaps somebody might see Giavotella getting hit by a pitch, and they think that is good that he got on base. After the game, The Cartoonist can explain that since Johnny didn't drop his bat on the ground in the correct angle after he got hit, he therefore failed to show the on-deck hitter the arm-slot angle of the pitcher, so it actually was a wasted at bat."
Less expects the post game talks to average 15 minutes in games when Giavotella is not playing, and roughly 2 hours in games when he plays.
"Look," continued Less, "if a fan comes in wearing a Giavotella jersey, they clearly don't know enough about baseball to have the privilege of learning from The Cartoonist. Elliot Johnson is a wonderful, professional 2nd baseman. Chris Getz is one of the 5 best minds in all of baseball, and has been so helpful to The Caroonis. Those guys are real 2nd baseman that help teams win baseball games, not some Johnny-come-lately like Giavotella who can't even get in the right place when Mike Moustakas scores."
The Royals encourage fans to call right away as they expect the promotion to quickly sell out.