Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
I was a Royals season ticket holder once. It was the Summer of 2000.
The Royals had an amazing outfield that year. Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and Carlos Beltran made that the most entertaining 77 win team ever. Want to have an animated conversation with an older Royals fan? Tell him that outfield was better than the Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Clint Hurdle trio of 1980. Then you best buckle up.
The “fun” of 2000 ended quickly. The following season saw the Royals lose 97 games, while trading away Johnny Damon. JD was just the first domino to fall. Each piece of the greatest Royals outfield of all time was eventually given away, lost without much in return. You want to complain about David Glass now? Things are leaps and bounds better than they were 10 years ago.
Even after those guys left, I felt a kinship for them. Like many Royals fans, I rooted for and admired their careers from a far. I loved watching all three of those guys from my seat that Summer, but one of them stood out the most. He’s the one still playing baseball. Carlos Beltran.
Carlos is a free agent this year, and is going to demand something like 2 years and 22 million dollars. Too much money, really. He’s highly coveted for an aging player. Getting him would be a real long shot. The Royals should do it. Damn it, the Royals need to do it.
Beltran is a measured, thoughtful baseball player, that still has the ability to inspire. The Royals have enough guys celebrating their “grittiness”. You won’t see Beltran waving his fingers at the dugout like a child after every good deed. He’s not from the “everyone gets a trophy” generation. He’s one of the last great Generation X players. You won’t see him at the plate with a helmet that’s been doctored with pine tar and faux experience. You’ll see a focused professional, leading by example, coming to the plate with a plan. That’s the leadership this team needs next year. That’s a missing ingredient Beltran can supply.
The Royals have done a great job of rebranding the last 2 years. They threw a hell of an All Star Game in 2012, and competed in 2013. Rebranding is good for signing players. It’s also good for fans. If the Royals were able to get Beltran back and have him finish where he started, it would be an atonement. The Royals can confess their sins to the fans, and be granted some badly needed forgiveness.
Dramatics shelved, the Royals need a steady bat. They need an everyday player at second base, or in the outfield. How about a switch hitting winner? Why not a prodigal outfielder that knows how to watch a few pitches, and can exorcise some demons along the way?
Please Dayton Moore, make those Kauffman fountains work like a hot tub time machine. Let’s baptize the 2014 season. Let’s wash away the silly sins of the past. Let’s get Carlos Beltran back where he always belonged. Let’s get Carlos Beltran back in Kansas City. Can I get an Amen?