I’m sure if you stopped to think about it for a few minutes you’d realize that all the broadcasters don’t just pull random facts about your favorite players out of thin air. They have to have some sort of a guide to organize and store those facts for later retrieval. A media guide, if you will. And since we’re talking about a product that has a fandom that lives on random, minute trivia it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that baseball teams not only produce these guides, but sometimes they sell them.
That’s more or less how I came to have a 2004 Kansas City Royals Media Guide like this one, featured in the MLB store. That’s the “more” that I know of how I came to acquire it, at least. But less than what must have happened. I discovered it in a pile of junk I had sitting in my room, recently, with no memory of ever having owned it before that moment. Let me tell you, unless you’ve owned one of these, whatever level of detail you were expecting in this thing is going to be completely dwarfed by the reality.
When I picked it up and flipped through it I guessed there would be lots of blasts from the past. The cover is adorned with the photos of the 2003 AL Manager of the Year, Tony Pena, and the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year, Angel Berroa. That’s some solid nostalgia for you all on it’s own. But as I began flipping through it there was much less “Hey, I remember that guy!” and a lot more, “Wait, who?” than I had expected. The guide has biographies and stats for every player who was invited to spring training. Most of these are at least 3 pages long - even when the guy was a non-roster-invitee that no one in a million years would ever remember such as Adrian Brown or Doug Linton. Guys like Mike Sweeney got 9 pages to themselves including such important notes as his acting debut on Saturday Night Live following the 1997 season.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any random 2004 nostalgia, of course. Remember when Garth Brooks was a Royals outfielder for a month to raise money for charity? He’s got a page in here. How about when Mitch Maier was a minor league third-baseman invited to camp, that year? Or that Juan Gonzalez was on that team - by the way, did you know that he only played against 28 of the 30 major league teams? He only missed out on playing the Mets and the Phillies.
Of course, the player and coach bios only cover the first half of the guide. After that you get a listing of everything imaginable about the Royals in 2003. Do you want to know who started in which spot of the batting order the most times? That’s there. Every single transaction, the entire draft list, and a wide variety of stats from the 2003 season. Then you get bios for all of the Royals hall of fame members, larger ones for the guys who also got their numbers retired, of course. After that you get page long blurbs about the other MLB teams followed by bios and stats for all of the minor league affiliates, coaches, and players who didn’t get spring training invites. That’s not all, though, every broadcaster needs a bio, too. There are even some pages for Royals support staff like the IT guy and the Senior Director of Payroll. On the back cover is the 2004 season schedule. On the back page is the spring training schedule and also, for some reason, contact information for the hotel the players were staying at, that year.
So if you want 500 pages of endless, inane facts, go get yourself a media guide. It’s the only way you can be sure you know all of Alex Gordon’s former teammates and best men before Ryan LeFebvre tells you.