I will be traveling during the Thanksgiving Break (one of the rare joys of being an educator in these times), and thus, I will not be very consistent with posts and/or Tweets over the next week. I will have a couple of scheduled posts set to come out between Monday through Friday, though they will be of the shorter variety.
It’s been a while since I have done the “Jottings”, so I figure it would be good to do an edition, especially with some Royals “fan-based” news coming out.
Let’s take a look at a few things that have happened in the world of Royals baseball that may have gone under the radar, especially in the midst of all the Royals’ transactions (or lack thereof) over the past week.
Jake Eisenberg to Replace Steve Physioc in the Radio Booth
In a bit of unexpected news, on Thursday, the Royals announced that radio play-by-play announcer Steve Phyisoc would be retiring and wouldn’t be coming back for the upcoming 2023 season.
While Denny Matthews, who’s been with the Royals radio team since the team first started in 1969, is reaching the end of his illustrious tenure (Matthews doesn’t do away games), it didn’t seem like there were any signs that Physioc was ready to call it a career in the booth going into this offseason.
Royals fans didn’t have to wait long to speculate on Physioc’s replacement, as the Royals announced later that day that Jake Eisenberg, who was the main play-by-play for the Omaha Storm Chasers a year ago, would be replacing Physioc in the booth, starting next season.
Eisenberg is not a newbie to the Major League level by any means.
Mostly due to many broadcasters missing time due to COVID, Eisenberg was able to fill in with both the New York Mets as well as Kansas City Royals broadcast teams. With the Royals, Eisenberg teamed up with Royals Hall of Famer Mike Sweeney, and they actually produced a pretty solid team for their “substitute” period in the booth.
As of now, Physioc seems to be the only change in the broadcast team, though I wonder if Matthews will indeed call it a career, especially after such a weird past few seasons due to COVID (he was at one point calling games from his home).
As expected, many Royals fans were happy about the switch, though it seemed to be more due to Physioc no longer being with the Royals rather than Eisenberg taking over (it should be the opposite; Eisenberg is a quality commentator and has earned this spot with his work with the Storm Chasers).
I never had a huge problem with Physioc’s commentary, though I didn’t “love” him by any means. He was pretty vanilla, which wasn’t the worst thing, but it certainly didn’t endear to Royals fans who were used to Denny’s bluntness for so many seasons (if Denny wasn’t such an institution, he may have followed Frank White out of the door; Matthews could come down hard on Royals players and management). I get that Physioc wasn’t perfect, and in his later years, he did make a lot of mistakes, but I didn’t dwell on that as much as some Royals fans.
Believe me, as an MLB Audio subscriber (and one who listens to a lot of MLB games) there are a lot of announcers out there on the radio who are just as bad, if not worse, than Physioc (Cleveland is one that I just cannot stand listening to).
I’m excited for Eisenberg, but I do hope we get to see more diversity in the broadcast booth in the coming year. It’s been nice to see Anne Rogers (female) and Lynn Worthy (African-American) represent diversity in the press box on the Royals writing end of things. However, on the broadcast end, the team is very male and very white. Furthermore, ever since COVID, the Royals’ Spanish broadcast team, which was led by Jose Munoz (based out of Omaha) has been pretty much kaput, which is sad considering the KC Metro’s growing Hispanic population.
Hiring Eisenberg is a great start for the Royals going into 2023. That being said, it would be nice to see some more diverse faces in the broadcast booth as well.
Royals Make Plans to Move From Kauffman Stadium
On Tuesday’s deadline to add players to the 40-man roster, Royals owner John Sherman sent out a blast on social media and email to all Royals fans and season ticket holders to announce their plans to move from Kauffman Stadium in the near future.
I am not going to go into too much depth into this, as it has already been beaten to death in Royals fan circles (especially on Twitter), and it is pretty clear that many Royals fans have taken sides on the issues and are not going to budge in any way, regardless of what is said or shared from Royals ownership. (Wow, that kind of sounds like our political landscape in general, right?)
As for me, I love Kauffman Stadium, and I am a partial season ticket holder who attended 26 games at the K last season (and I have already renewed my season tickets for this upcoming 2023 season). To me, Kauffman is one of the best ballpark experiences in baseball, and I say that as someone who’s pretty much visited every MLB ballpark west of Kauffman Stadium.
That said, I understand where Sherman is coming from.
Kauffman’s structure is not meant to age well, as it is a concrete behemoth that will take time and substantial money to upkeep in the future. Oakland is learning that the hard way with Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, though the Royals have done a much better job upkeeping the K than the A’s have with their own stadium (mostly because they’re trying to get the hell out).
Kauffman is fine now. However, in a decade, it will start to REALLY show its age, and Royals fans will notice, no matter the effort that the organization gives to keep it in solid shape. Stadiums in that architectural mold just don’t last in the long run, and after the K and the O.Co, they will pretty much be a relic of the past.
But beyond the stadium itself, the fact of the matter is that the commute and surrounding area around Kauffman have been a black eye for the Royals and Kansas City in general for a while now.
There’s no question that visiting fans enjoy their experience when they are in Kauffman’s confines. But it’s about 15 minutes away from Downtown, where all the action is, and there’s nothing really to do within walking or short driving distance around the stadium (other than going to Hi-Boy or Dixon’s Chili, and even then, that’s a drive).
We as Kansas City denizens talk about how awesome Kansas City is to visitors all the time. But when the main baseball stadium is in the middle of Raytown and Independence and is surrounded by industrial areas? Well, that doesn’t bode well for the team, the organization, and honestly, Kansas City as a whole.
Any stadium needs to showcase the best of its respective city in all areas, and that is something Kauffman Stadium lacks unless you consider close proximity to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes headquarters as an “attraction” of Kansas City (considering how many Royals fans are Dayton Moore haters, I doubt it). There’s no reason cities like St. Louis and Cincinnati, which are just as big density-wise as Kansas City (if not slightly smaller) can offer downtown baseball stadiums with robust experiences within walking distance and Kansas City cannot. That needs to come to an end in the next 15-20 years at the very least, especially if Kansas City wants to continue to tout itself as a “major” city in the Midwest region of the United States.
I will continue to support the K as long as it stays open, and will continue to get season tickets and support this team through thick and thin.
But I think a move is necessary, not just for the Royals, but for Kansas City as a community. The details need to get ironed out of course, and I hope the taxpayers don’t get hit (or hit too much). But a Downtown stadium, with a robust “ballpark experience” environment around it, is much needed, especially with how sports are consumed these days.
Dayton Moore Talks About Firing on “Baseball Isn’t Boring” Podcast
On Wednesday, after a long period of silence since being relieved of his duties in Kansas City, Dayton Moore appeared on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast, and shared some of his thoughts about being let go by Sherman and the Royals.
Here’s a clip from the podcast where he talks about being “shocked” about the move, and why he felt that the Royals were trending in the right direction:
It’s easy to see the tidbits on social media as a Royals fan, and of course, think Moore is talking crazy.
After all, Moore only produced three winning seasons in his 16-year tenure as the Royals’ top baseball executive. Maybe he thought he had more time, but I got to imagine he had to see the writing on the wall, especially after a season where they went from winning 74 games in 2021 to 65 games in 2022.
That said, I think Moore is a different kind of baseball executive who is more “old school” in his approach to building a team, and that won him both ardent supporters and fervent detractors in the process. One quote from his podcast really stuck out to me, and I’ll post that bit in a quote block below:
The fans of Kansas City enjoy the ups and downs and evolution of a Major League player. They like to follow them. They don’t like to see a lot of change. Where people would say you have to be more transactional with your roster and move players, we never really did that, we stayed committed to our core group. Our fans understood that and liked that and fell in love with them. We had certain people in our fanbase and probably in our ownership group that didn’t like it.“Dayton Moore Interview-November 16th”; Baseball Isn’t Boring Podcast
In my experience as a Royals fan, blogger, and season ticket holder, Moore is not at all wrong with this point.
I think the idea that Royals fans just want to see a “winner” regardless of who it is with is only true to a certain degree.
Royals fans want the club to win, but they want to win with players they know and grow attached to. There’s a reason why teams like the Rays and A’s have struggled to have a fan following, despite producing competitive clubs. It’s because they don’t keep fans’ favorite players, and the casual fans check out because of that.
Would it have been more financially feasible for the Royals to not re-sign Alex Gordon? Or perhaps trade Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, or Whit Merrifield in their primes and stock the system with prospects? Absolutely, and hardcore Royals fans know that.
On the other hand, the casual fan, who really only pays attention from April to August? They would’ve checked out with those guys gone, and I think Moore felt that pressure, especially after the roster purge in 2017. Thus, Moore wasn’t as “transactional” as he probably needed to be as a small market GM. I don’t agree with this approach of course, but I certainly get where it is coming from. Kansas City is a much more complicated market in that sense than Tampa Bay or Oakland.
It’s easy to make moves or be creative and transactional when your fanbase is small or apathetic. But when every move is under the microscope (and has huge fan implications), you’re not just going to do what’s going to help the team win, but also please the fanbase. Keeping popular players, regardless of their outlook, is the key to doing that latter point, even if it can be detrimental to the former point.
The whole interview is worth checking out and listening to. Moore had his issues as a GM, but he is and always will be a great ambassador of the game, and I hope he gets a role in Major League Baseball someday, perhaps in the commissioner’s office.
He certainly would be an upgrade over Rob Manfred at least, though considering Manfred’s track record, that shouldn’t be too hard.
Photo Credit: Danny Medley/USA Today Sports