Every once in awhile, life gives you a glimpse at what it would look like if the things you enjoyed were revealed to be less right and good and true than you once thought them to be. Though being a Royals fan comes with a bevy of various incidents, very few are as poignant as the news this morning that Mike Moustakas will be rejoining the team after an eight-game swing down Omaha way to correct the ineptitude that has become his swing over 414 major league games and 1,632 plate appearances.
This news comes on the heels of the Royals placing Danny Valencia on the disabled list with a hand/arm/wrist injury that the team shuffled their feet on for a week before making the decision to place him on the disabled list. With six days of rest, Valencia took the field Friday and Saturday, going 0-for-8 with four strikeouts while looking noticeably uncomfortable swinging the bat.
To his credit, Moustakas was hitting .355/.412/.548 during his brief stint with the Stormchasers, so his ability to hit AAA pitching has remained intact after all of these years of missing and/or popping up major league pitches.
But really, this isn't about Moustakas. When you are wallowing in a systemically flawed operation, you learn to be a little more cynical. Humor is the greatest anesthetic against the numbing, throbbing pain that comes with being a Royals fan. Joe Posnanski recently posited that the Royals are the worst franchise in major American sports to be a fan of, and his argument is both compelling and obvious:
But the Royals … well, let’s put it this way: If you are 35 or younger, you do not have a memory of the Kansas City Royals making the playoffs. I’m not talking about championships here or reaching the World Series. I’m talking simply MAKING THE PLAYOFFS. What’s worse, the Royals have not even CONTENDED for a playoff spot in 25 years. This is something no other fan — not Cubs fans, not Pirates fans, not Clippers fans, not any other fan — can relate to.
Though you might quibble with the idea that the Royals have not contended for the playoffs in twenty-five years, pointing your optimistic finger at 2003 and 2013, the fact still remains that even if you include both of these shallow pools of quasi-relevancy, you are still left with a thin, moist surface that you couldn't even splash around in if you wanted to.
This year was supposed to be different, in the sense that it was supposed to be last year. But last year didn't work out, so it became this year. Though this year is not necessarily the year either, it is one of many possible years that could possibly be The Year.
A while ago, a relatively fresh-faced man who had spent a relatively short period of time as the general manager of a baseball team said that if you make bad decisions, ten-year plans turn into no plan. Eight years later, Dayton Moore is staring down the back end of a ten-year plan that is going nowhere fast. With such vicious precognition at his disposal, you could have assumed that Moore would have made better draft decisions, trade decisions, personnel decisions, or managerial appointments.
Instead, what we're left with is a beautiful disaster the likes of which the sporting world has never really seen before. For every effort made towards putting a better product on the field, Moore has been hamstrung by an unflinching loyalty to players and personnel that have left him on his fifth hitting coach in less than two seasons while still sitting on just his second managerial hire in eight seasons (though he was nice enough to keep Buddy Bell around for a little while), only one season of which can be considered in any way remotely successful by the thinnest, most technical definitions of success, namely winning slightly more games than you lose.
For all the pomp and circumstance of the Best Farm System In The History Of Whatever, they have produced exactly zero starting pitchers, one moderate position player (Eric Hosmer) who is and, rightfully so, still regarded as a disappointment, traded away a Rookie of the Year for what might end up being eighteen meaningless months of a starting pitcher's career, and continued to ruin the one solid commodity they've managed to cultivate by insisting for some reason that Salvador Perez is unique and special from every other catcher and should be playing almost every day (presuming he is healthy, which he is not).
For two years now, the Royals have watched their two best offensive weapons - Alex Gordon and Billy Butler - whither on the vine because they decided a year removed from a pair of breakout performances that what probably needed to happen was to get rid of the hitting coach (Kevin Seitzer) who seemed to be making an impact because things between himself and the manager who was fired during a pennant race in Milwaukee (and was replaced by the man who is now his hitting coach in Kansas City) had a relationship that could at best be described as "contentious". Seitzer is now in Toronto, presiding over the best offense in all of baseball, while Ned Yost is sending gift baskets to the Chicago Cubs for having a lineup slightly more fruitless than the one he gets to pencil in every night.
For what it is worth, Dayton Moore has decided recently to express in words what should have been abundantly clear for the past five years or so, stating:
"It's my job to give the managers and the coaching staff the right players to succeed. I have to be able to give them the tools to win. So if we're not succeeding, ultimately the responsibility comes back to me. No one else."
Neat, comfortable words. Words that show a surprising amount of maturity for a man and an organization that has been quick to judge, quick to become defensive, easy to criticize everyone outside of their social circle, and generally hard to comprehend, like watching a person who continues down a path, even after that path has turned into a swamp, filled with crocodiles and become infested with diseased mosquitoes.
The Process 8.0 this is not. This is The Process 1.0.8, a general swill of minor updates and patch notes about typos and syntax errors. And it is the best we have, presuming you forget about that football team that won their league championship last year about thirty-five minutes away from Kansas City.
Sporting attendance: 19,221 Royals attendance: 17,862 Mr. Glass, you’re losing more than baseball games.— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) May 28, 2014
Oh. I guess you are not.