“Reporter Jottings”: Royals FanFest Canceled; Whit on Baseball Owners; Will Season Start on Time?

I wanted to take a slight break from the “Top 50 Royals Prospect” Rankings and do a smaller “Jottings” post, as I had some brief thoughts to share on some Royals and MLB-related stories recently.

Also, it’s been a tough week for me professionally, which I expected with coming back to school after Winter Break. However, I hope to continue my Rankings posts tomorrow, with the focus on Tier Three prospects from my list.

(If you haven’t seen them yet, check out my Tier One and Tier Two writeups. I will post the complete list when I have all the Tier posts written.)

In addition, I have begun writing again for Pitcher List, as I have decided to jump back into fantasy baseball analysis, now that I am done with graduate school and don’t have those commitments anymore. You can check out my latest post on Pitcher List, which was about a possible Jo Adell breakout for the 2022 season:

With my professional life kind of chaotic, my writing commitments to Pitcher List, and a lockout killing any MLB news, posts may not be as frequent on this blog this month (and maybe next, depending on how long the lockout goes). I am still looking to write 3-4 posts a week at the least, but I’ve been finding it tough to have the inspiration and motivation to do so, especially with everything going on baseball-wise and in my professional life.

That being said, thank you for continuing to follow this blog, and hopefully, this lockout ends sooner rather than later so we can finally talk about “hot stove” things again.

Anyways, here are the “Jottings” for this week.

Royals FanFest Canceled for a Second Straight Year

In non-surprising news, the Kansas City Royals announced that the annual FanFest event which takes place at the Convention Center Downtown will not happen again for a second-straight season. While the Royals pointed to COVID as the primary reason, the current lockout probably didn’t help things, as it would have prevented any Royals stars from attending the event, should it still have happened (as Jacob Milham talked about on Inside the Royals):

Honestly, I am bummed, because I attended my first FanFest two years ago and absolutely loved the experience. I also just became a Season Tickets Member this year (an official one too, as my “Keep” ticket package didn’t count me as an STM last year), and I was looking forward to getting the extra benefits associated with STM at the end-of-January event. Granted, I think if FanFest still had gone on, it would have just been a glorified “Black Friday” sale 2.0, as it would have been weird without players in attendance.

Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait until FanFest 2023 to get that STM experience.

Whit Puts MLB Owners on Blast

On Thursday, Whit Merrifield went on Cody and Gold on 610 AM Radio and said this interesting bit in regard to the lockout and MLB owners:

Just when I think I am ready to part ways with Whit (after all, he would net something nice in a trade package and we’re still a year away probably from playoff contention) he does things like this and I’m all in on Whit both now and in the future.

Whit’s a very candid and honest dude on the radio and with the media in general, and I’ve grown to really like him as the face of the Royals franchise, along with Salvy. That being said, I feel Salvy kind of shies away from chiming in on some “tough” issues. Whit on the other hand isn’t afraid to do so, and I really admire him for it, as I know some KC sports fans can be quite fickle at times (Royals Twitter turns into Chiefs Twitter during the Fall and Winter and it can be a scary place).

In terms of what he said, I think he definitely makes some good points, but it’s a challenge of sports these days, baseball especially. While “Moneyball” has changed the game in some good ways, it has also glorified an approach where owners can profit as much as possible without needing to spend exorbitantly on roster construction. After all, if the Athletics and Rays can win with a payroll near the bottom of the league, why can’t other teams do so? While such an approach has spurred a lot of creativity and advances in scouting and player development, it has also contributed to this “tanking” strategy that has disenchanted players and fans alike.

Honestly, I do not think Whit is referring to the Royals ownership here, or at least the current regime (David Glass was known for being pretty cheap in his early years, pre-Dayton Moore). I also believe that Moore is closer to that “baseball-type” rather than that “business type” of executive that Whit refers to, as I wrote about before on the IBWAA “Here’s the Pitch” Newsletter.

However, while the Royals may be better off as an organization in terms of being “player-friendly”, it has not paid off in wins recently (no winning season since 2015) and it has its detractors, for even Royals fans are clamoring for Kansas City to be more “business-focused” as evidenced by Alec Lewis’ most recent Royals”Fan Survey Results” piece on The Athletic:

It will be interesting to see what year three of Sherman’s ownership will look like this upcoming season and whether Sherman’s vision for the Royals fits Whit’s preference, or is more akin to those Athletics and Rays models.

On-Time Start for the 2022 MLB Season Looking Bleak

Honestly, it hasn’t been a good week for Major League Baseball in a variety of ways.

First, MLB took a major PR hit when they let go of MLB Network analyst Ken Rosenthal this week for what seemed to be due to his criticism of Rob Manfred and his handling of the current lockout:

Additionally, it seems like talks between the MLBPA and owners have stalled, as they haven’t really met since the lockout began on December 2nd. This has made the start of Spring Training even hazier, and even baseball experts across the web are pessimistic that the 2022 season will begin on time:

Right now, I am kind of in Michael’s boat and think that there will be a delay to the start of the 2022 season, which absolutely sucks as a baseball fan. Baseball is my favorite sport by far, and I love Kansas City Royals baseball more than anything.

However, I know how 2020 went and how the stubbornness of both the owners and MLBPA torpedoed any hope for a decently-normal season.

I get where the owners are coming from. They took huge revenue losses in 2020, and due to limited capacity in the first couple of months for most teams, I am sure the numbers at the gate weren’t as great as they hoped in 2021. That being said, their desire to make a buck in the short term has already had tremendous effects on fans in the long term. Baseball cannot afford to have another “shortened” season, not with all these complaints that casual sports fans have that baseball is “too long and boring”, in addition to small-market fans feeling frustrated that their clubs “can’t compete” with the current financial landscape.

Baseball will be back at some point in 2022. However, the longer this lockout goes on, the worse baseball is in the grand scheme of things in the long term. I will still be a fan, but others, especially in the Kansas City area where Sporting KC is becoming a hotter and hotter ticket every year, won’t be. All this bogus stuff from the lockout will only disenchant those sports fans already on the fence with baseball. Take a look at the NHL and the sport of hockey in America, which took its lumps for a while after its 2004 lockout to get back in decent graces with casual sports fans.

I would hate to see the Royals be the “third-favorite” sports team in Kansas City, especially after how the 2014 and 2015 playoff runs brought together the city during those years. However, baseball is shooting themselves in the foot amidst this work stoppage, and the Royals (and other small-market teams) will feel the hurt in the next 10-15 years if they aren’t able to address these problems with Major League Baseball.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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