The Despair of Dead Ends

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

- Theodore Roosevelt

It is August 10, 2005, and the Kansas City Royals are lousy as they usually have been. The ride to Kauffman Stadium for a ho-hum meaningless game between the Royals and Cleveland Indians has been a quiet one of listening to Buddy Bell's listless pregame comments on 810's pregame show. The parking lot at the Truman Sports Complex could best be described as sparsely populated; my dad and I park a lot closer to the stadium than we typically do thanks to the August heat and terrible team keeping people away from a sad concrete ballpark two years away from renovations.

This was the summer before my eighth grade year. I'd been coming to Royals games with my dad for the better part of a decade at this point, and thanks to poor teams and cheap tickets we go to more than some season ticket holders. Bad baseball, to us, was still baseball. There was no greater joy to our family than making the trip to Kauffman to see the best in baseball. I've seen plenty of Hall of Famers over the years; Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr., plenty of others I can't think of. It's a beautiful game, baseball, that appreciating the game goes beyond just your team winning.

By 11:00pm the night of August 10, 2005, that had changed.


I don't need to tell most of you about this game; it's a night that haunts most of our baseball souls. The Royals hopped out to a big lead early, with Mike Sweeney playing early hero as he so often did. The Royals coughed up that lead in the top of the ninth thanks to an inept bullpen and errors by Angel Berroa and Chip Ambres, both of which were absolutely inexcusable. That 13-7 loss in the middle of a 19-game losing streak is the perfect encapsulation of the Allard Baird Royals, a train wreck of a franchise that was routinely laughed at by everyone around.

That night is the night I lost my baseball optimism. In many years past, I had religiously followed the team website, waiting to see who the Royals would sign in the offseason and hoping the new additions would make the team respectable. This effort in futility came around every winter, and by mid-summer I would be ready to begin the process anew, with chimes of "there's always next year" in my head.

The ninth inning of August 10, 2005's game between the Royals and Indians killed that. I finally realized that night that the Royals weren't just a bad team, but a disaster. The front office had no idea how to build a modern baseball team; the coaching staff simply couldn't get the best out of their players; the players that the front office had acquired and the coaching staff couldn't coach were so bad that it made the first two issues moot points on the field. There was no quick-fix solution, even if the Royals spent money. A single offseason would've made no difference. The franchise needed a complete tear down. That tear down wouldn't even happen until almost a year later. Nobody lost their job because of this one game, though they should've. Buddy Bell continued on into 2006; Allard Baird survived to manage the offseason, and somehow also put together all the information for the 2006 draft.

Even 14-year-old me sitting in the third row behind the tarp in right field understood the calamity of that night. I asked my dad to leave early. My dad, who at my age was watching George Brett's Royals win championships and reach the postseason more often than not, made me watch the rest of the game. I think something snapped in him that night too.


"There's accountability and there's certain times when it runs out."

- Dayton Moore

That same feeling of abject despair about the future of my favorite sports team was the same one I had that night in August all those years ago. The feeling has been building for some time. It probably would have boiled over last Sunday, after the Royals, holding a six-run lead in the eighth inning, immediately blew it to fall behind the Rockies 7-6. Salvador Perez forestalled the spiral by rescuing the Royals that afternoon.

He forestalled it by a whole week.

That whole week ended on Sunday, when the Royals, holding a six-run lead in the eighth inning, immediately blew it to fall behind the Twins 7-6. However, because the Twins are a good team who look a good bet currently to win the American League Central, the Royals didn't save themselves this time. Rather, the heart of the Royals order was meekly retired in the bottom of the ninth, and Minnesota left Kauffman Stadium with a three game sweep.

At the start of the season, I posted an article on here about how this season was the turning point season for the Royals and Dayton Moore's rebuild of the franchise. Seven years into this thing post-World Series, the Royals should be seeing positive results. And there have been some positives. Bobby Witt Jr. hasn't lit the world on fire, but doesn't look out of place in a big league uniform. Zack Greinke has had the weirdest season ever but it's been really fun. Daniel Lynch has been mostly competent; since returning from Omaha, Brady Singer has been lights out in his two starts, including on Sunday. Jonathan Heasley has provided quality starts since being recalled. In the minors, Nick Pratto has gotten back on track after an early injury, and Vinnie Pasquantino is separating himself as a great offensive prospect, banging out two more extra base hits on Sunday.

That's about where the positives end.

The 2022 Royals have been miserable to say the least. The starting pitching has had its highs in Greinke, Lynch, Singer and Heasley; the lows, however, have been Kris Bubic and Carlos Hernandez, and they've been so bad it's nearly wiped out the good. That doesn't even take into account the pathetic Royals offense, which continues to see Carlos Santana and Ryan O'Hearn trotted out there to go 0-4 every night. Whit Merrifield is obviously not an everyday player anymore, but the Royals insist on allowing him to continue his ironman streak despite a 53 OPS+, which isn't nearly good enough for even a defense-first middle infielder to get away with. Salvador Perez, long the face of this franchise, has looked old and is now hurt.

The Royals were faced with a fork in the road. They were supposed to find out in 2022 where their rebuild was heading and what exactly they needed to do later this season. If the team surprised and competed, great, the rebuild is either on schedule or ahead of schedule. If things weren't going well, most of us would have probably accepted that the team needed to make some trades before the deadline.

Instead, the Royals have decided to sit in at the fork in the road, pour gasoline over themselves, and immolate themselves.

Things not going well and the team floundering would've been fine if it hadn't been this embarrassingly bad. The Royals haven't just been mediocre, they've been downright horrendous, in my opinion the worst team in baseball, and you have to realize I live in Reds country and that team still doesn't feel as bad as the Royals currently.

Dayton Moore is leading this organization to a dead end. The organization has stagnated. Nobody is taking accountability for how bad this team is. There is no other reasonable explanation for continuing to play Santana and O'Hearn despite their obvious inability to hit; if we're really wanting to nitpick (which I am), there is no reasonable explanation for why O'Hearn remains with the team at all after the team could've simply non-tendered him in the offseason. There is no reasonable explanation for why the Royals failed to get Jake Junis, he of the 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings for the Giants, to throw his slider and sinker more. There is no other reasonable explanation for why Whit Merrifield is allowed to tell the organization they can't take him out of the lineup for a day. There is no other reasonable explanation for why Hunter Dozier is the only first rounder from 2012-2016 that panned out into an everyday player. There is no other reasonable explanation for why Carlos Hernandez was allowed to start seven games with a 9.10 ERA (and 5.89 FIP if you're of the opinion he was getting unlucky) before being relegated to AAA.

I have no belief in the plan Dayton Moore and the Royals' front office have, and I'm no longer willing to see how their plan plays out. It is obvious that Moore has no feel for building a roster competently; otherwise, the Royals would not be carrying three first basemen, only one of whom can hit anywhere close to competently. It's worse when Moore tried to convince us all before the season that the Royals were trying to be competitive this season; if the Royals are trying to be competitive, it's the worst attempt at if I can remember in the last 20 years of baseball.

I further have no belief in the coaching staff. Mike Matheny hasn't been the main problem, mind you, but at this point the Royals need to clean out the whole staff. They started last week by firing Terry Bradshaw, which was good. However, the fact Cal Eldred remains employed by this team as pitching coach is one of the most laughable parts of all this. It's been quite obvious that Eldred is a bad pitching coach for a few years now, but with Eldred now heavily influencing prospect development he is actively hurting the future of this team. Matheny's biggest sin has been his defense of Eldred, despite the obvious failures, and all things being equal I'd be rid of them both after Sunday's fiasco.

It's time for change. In fact, it's clearly beyond time to make changes. The right thing, making some significant changes in the offseason to the coaching staff, has been passed up by Moore; the wrong thing, which was to enter this season with the same systems in place, have led to this situation, but could still be salvaged if John Sherman acts now. I don't think anyone wanted this outcome, but at some point accountability is accountability, and for this front office and staff accountability has run out.

Let's just hope Sherman doesn't end up doing nothing, because at this point it would be the worst thing of all.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.