Well, have you stopped watching?
Have you stopped paying attention? Or, like me, do you continue to torture yourself with optimism and search like Sherlock Holmes for any bit of good news. Basically, the same thing we’ve all been doing for as long as we can remember. With Chiefs training camp about to start, the Summer Olympics in London, and the pitter-patter of College Football, odds are that the amount of people paying attention to our Major League Baseball team is going to fall drastically.
Well, I have some ideas that might help the Royals retain some of their audience in 2012. This is what they should do the rest of the way:
1) Scrap the Rotation.
Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Luis Mendoza, Will Smith, Jeremy Guthrie. That’s your current five man rotation. ERAs of 5.54, 5.26, 4.31, 6.26, and 6.49 respectively. You need to blow it up, shake their hands & tell them thank you, and go with your “ideal” rotation for the rest of the year – no matter how bad it gets. That may mean keeping Mendoza and even Smith, but let’s say you go with Aaron Crow, Ryan Verdugo, Everett Teaford, Nate Adcock & call up Jake Odorizzi. You throw those guys out there & let them see what they can do over the course of 65 games. Starting every 5th game, each of them would get aprox. 13 starts. By the end of the year, you’d know exactly what you have in these guys. Right now, you’ve got a guy who’s been talked about as a starter, a minor league sensation, the potential saving grace of the Sanchez-Cabrera trade, and a couple of guys who’ve spent half the season on I-29.
2) Rest the Bullpen.
These guys are burnt out. With the exception of Aaron Crow, who’ll be worked into the starting rotation, everyone else needs a break. I’d like to see Tommy Hottovy get a chance to replace Crow and see some innings – again, to see if he’s any good. I like a majority of the bullpen guys, but the problem is that they’re usually entering the game in a bad situation and without the benefit of a lead. Over the course of a season though, all of these innings are going to catch up with them. Guys will tire out, perform worse, and possibly get injured. The relief needs some relief.
3) Put your 2013 Team on the Field.
When I look at the current team, I like it. I think it can be great. They’re gaining experience everyday that will (hopefully) someday pay big dividends, especially if they’re not playing from behind all the time. I only see two gaps – Right Field and Second Base. It’s not that Frenchy & YuniGetz are horrible every day, but everybody knows that they’re not the long term solution. What other positions on the field aren’t occupied by our long term solution? Therefore, you get Johnny Giavotella back to Kansas City and give him the rest of the season to prove that he can hit at the Major League Level. He’s got nothing left to prove in Omaha & has been mishandled thus far in KC. He’s your everyday second baseman the rest of the way. Finally, you pull the freaking trigger on Wil Myers and play him in the outfield. I think that Jeff Francoeur would make a great mentor for Myers, and would be a good use of his talents for the remainder of the year. Basically, you make Francoeur Wil’s personal fielding & etiquette coach. I’d rather see him cut his teeth at the big league level with absolutely no pressure than to continue to watch him hit .340 in Omaha. His arrival will bring a spark to the fanbase.
4) Set your Ideal Lineup.
I don’t care who is hitting what, I’m tired of seeing the lineup shuffled every single day. Hosmer is not (hopefully) an 8 hole hitter. Mike Moustakas should never hit eigth. Create your lineup and stick with it. Gordon, Escobar, Cain, Butler, Hosmer, Moustakas, Perez, Myers, Giavotella. GO. Looks good, right? Get guys comfortable with where they’re hitting. Bunt in bunt situations with good bunters. Play to the talents of individual hitters for the greater good of the collective lineup. I understand that it’s hard to have a consistent lineup when guys aren’t performing, but always shuffling the lineup makes players ancy. It gets in their head. They shouldn’t have to look at the lineup card every day to figure out where they’re hitting.
5) Throwback Uniforms.
Moving beyond the talent on the field, you’ve got to do more to entertain the fans as well. This should involve being the first team to wear throwback uniforms for every game. I’m not talking about the baby blue alternate top – I mean the KC Monarchs throwbacks that they work against the Twins this past Saturday. Not only were they completely awesome, they have a tendency to make players look more gritty than they might already be. Complete the look by scrapping the Royal Blue “KC” black helmets and just wear plain black helmets the rest of the way. Road uniforms could be the ones the team wore against the Pirates on June 9th. (without the BLUE) Also, “new” uniforms means more apparel sales along the way. Who knows, maybe you start a trend in Major League Baseball?
6) Free Parking.
Why not? I get it that the Royals would lose revenue by not being able to charge thousands of cars $10 to park their car and walk 1/2 a mile to get into the stadium. However, I feel that something like having to pay for parking is just one more excuse why people would not want to come out and watch this team in person this year. If you don’t charge to park (see: Kansas City T-Bones), more people would show up and you could make your money back in concession and merchandise sales. Also, you’ve got to reimburse the fans who have already bought parking passes. You could do this with “stadium bucks” if you prefer. Besides, you can’t lose money on parking because you’re not giving the fan anything in return, just a piece of pavement. A very narrow piece of pavement.
7) Reward the Season Ticket Holders.
Do this by upgrading everyone to the lower bowl. If you have season tickets in the lower bowl, you get moved forward (if you want). Everyone else who bought season tickets in the upper deck? Come on down… Instead of having scattered loyal fans way up high, you make their year and put them closer to the action. This accomplishes many things and sets you up for others. First of all, the stadium would look more full on TV. Secondly, some of those fans who bought cheap seats might realize how much better the experience is when you sit closer, and be willing to shell out a little more money for lower bowl tickets next year. Surely there were a lot of one-time season ticket holders this year because of the All-Star Game opportunities, so you’ve got to do something to try and get them to become repeat customers. Also, it’s a pretty cool way to say thank you to the fans that made a financial commitment to you, even though you haven’t done the same for them.
8 ) Backfill the Upper Deck.
Now that everyone has been moved downstairs, you’ve got to do something with that spacious upper deck. Make it $5 general admission seating for the rest of the season. Remember the excitement of waiting in line for the best GA ticket? Well, that’s gone now, and the best you can do (cheapest) is a Hy-Vee Outfield Seat, which is in the corners of the Upper Deck for $12. “$12? Na, I’ll just stay home. $5 and free parking? Take me out to the ballgame. Buy me beers and sausages.”
9) Improve the TV Broadcast.
This is for the fans who prefer to stay home, can’t afford to – or don’t have time to go to every game, or would rather not fight the heat or the crowd. You think I’m going to say replace Rex Hudler or worse (in my opinion), Steve Physioc. But I’m not. I’m going for the gold here. I love Joel Goldberg, but you replace him with former 38 The Spot host Holly Starr. This may be a desperate attempt to retain viewers, but I think we’re at that point. Keep Joel as part of the Pre & Post game if you want, but make Holly his co-host. You can lose Jeff Montgomery. I don’t care if she doesn’t know a thing about baseball – People will watch.
What do they define insanity as? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With these changes, the rest of a lost season could definitely be an interesting one to watch.