Frank White is no longer affiliated officially with the Royals.
A man who was a key part of the most successful years in team history, a member of the 1985 championship team, the best defender in franchise history with eight Gold Gloves has been let go from his position with the team.
He literally helped build Kauffman Stadium, and this is how he goes out? Dumped for being “too negative”. Fans are upset, and understandably so.
I’m reminded of a scene from Aaron Sorkin’s SportsNight. The sports highlight show producer has secured an interview, but sold out her assistant in the process. The show will get good ratings, but at what cost? Casey McCall, the lead anchor of the show tells her “You’re doing a big thing badly.”
The Royals did a big thing badly.
The claims that Frank was too negative are window dressing to a reportedly bitter situation involving the front office and White. Sam Mellinger noted the various managerial searches that Frank White missed out on as part of the problem, and Frank himself said that was probably a big part of the Royals decision.
Nobody could say that Frank White is a great color commentator. He brings a wealth of experience and information about the game that few have, but he’s not a broadcaster, he’s a ballplayer. He filled the role admirably and did fine, but the Royals and Fox Sports KC are likely to find someone to fill the role who does a better job of in-game delivery. He wasn’t unbearable to listen to and his insight was valuable, but Vin Scully he is not. For that reason, choosing not to renew his contract would be understandable if the parties involved could have said “we believe that So-and-so will provide insight from years of broadcasting excellence and Frank White will continue to be visible as a member of our public relations team”.
Except the Royals had no replacement ready. They seemed merely ready to get Frank out the door.
It seems that there is more to this than is being said. There are incidents behind the scenes that most of us haven’t been privy to. Frank is a proud man and being passed over multiple times for a position he clearly wanted and believed he could excel in may have soured him. His comments on What’s Right with Nick Wright last night demonstrate that he feels scorned by the team. I can’t say that I blame him.
At this point, the Royals have made their decision. White has made his. He says he won’t be involved with the team any further. No letter-writing campaign or Occupy Kauffman movement will force the Royals to see the error of their method, nor will it make Frank want to return. With the cancellation of this winter’s FanFest, fan morale is low and in the middle of an offseason, there’s no baseball to distract from what’s going on off the field.
The Royals look bad in this. They’ve yet to respond to his comments on What’s Right and may be wise to just ignore them.
I think that in time, this will blow over. Once the season starts, when new broadcasts begin, many will move on. But nobody wins until that happens.
More reading on this issue: