Thursday, August 5, 2010

Revisited: Good news; bad news for the Royals -- Guillen is gone and Zack Greinke speaks the truth

You already know the news, but here it is.

Good news: Jose Guillen designated for assignment.

Bad news: Zack Greinke speaks the truth.

First heard about this on an afternoon talk show before I could hit the XM button for the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia week. The talker -- whose voice is reminiscent of your mother nagging you about cutting the grass -- was chewing on the details. Came home and read Bob Dutton's piece on the Star's Web page. Man, Dutton can squeeze more words out of a 30-second interview than a wringer washer. Some time in his career he must have been stuck behind a four inch stack of wedding announcement writing bridal stories for the women's page.

The long and short is that Zack is making noises about not signing another contract. And, his noises go precisely against the PR hype the Royals and some of their sycophants are selling about the crop of minor leaguers just waiting to bust through to the Big Leagues. You can't argue his logic. This is the third rebuild in the course of his six year career. The previous two have not worked -- nor has anything worked for the last quarter century. The chances are small that these guys will have an impact and even smaller that they will have an impact soon. He bravely points to Mr. Gordon in left field as an example.

2012? Zack is not hopeful. Nor should he be. And, in the meantime, another lost season in 2011.

All these KC fans who just can't wait to see the prospects should drive up to Omaha for a game or two because you are a long way from seeing them tear up major league pitching or pitch a consistent major league quality game. All you have to do is run your finger down the roster of this team and remember how you couldn't wait to see these guys at the stadium. Only two have genuinely panned out -- Billy Butler and Zack Greinke. Remember when you couldn't wait to see what Mr. Gordon would do in the bigs? Nough said.

Zack will be better off in the National League anyway. Maybe he can play a few games in October over there. Maybe win a flag or even a ring. And pinch hit once in a while.

Here's a scary thought. What would happen if Tony LaRussa and Dave Ducan got hold of him?

Time has come for us to make Major League Baseball lie in the bed it has made. Time to ditch our outdated chauvinism. Today, you can follow any team anywhere, every game. You can watch games played in other cities on your computer. You can't even do that with the home team because their games are blacked out by the brain trust at MLB. The players have no loyalty, the owners have no loyalty, MLB just wants to sell you caps -- why should the fans?

What is Kansas City about the Kansas City Royals? Any home-grown Frank Whites on this team? Any career Royals like George Brett who came here from the beach and decided to stay? Even the owner isn't from here. Especially the owner isn't from here. This is a team from nowhere, going nowhere.

In fact, it may actually be dangerous to your psyche to identify with this team. Is this hapless franchise a true reflection of the city where you have chosen to live? I'm hoping your answer is 'no.'

What is the character of this franchise since 1985? Would you claim this as the character of your beloved home town? Some of the transplants -- outlanders -- who don't really want to live here might say, "Yes, second class is about right." But you wouldn't, you who come home to this place and can't wait to fire up the barbecue in your big green back yard or smell the coffee roasting at Folgers, or buy sweet corn at a roadside market. You're not second class, your city isn't second class ... but your ball club? Well... second class is a bit generous for this franchise, frankly.

Free yourself. Pick another team -- or two -- and follow their season. If Greinke leaves, I'm pretty sure I'll keep track of when he pitches and see every game. Pick a team whose style of play you like and go there -- through the magic of the Net -- for professional baseball.

And go out to the stadium once or twice a year to eat a hot dog and remember what baseball is like when it isn't on a screen. Or, to watch when your new favorite team comes to town.


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