I suppose I should chime in about the Royals and their FanFest Digital Digest contest.

If you haven’t heard, the Royals are asking for fans who blog, tweet or produce internet videos to apply for an opportunity to have “behind the scenes” access at Royals FanFest on the Thursday before the actual event.  The contest is a step in the right direction, I suppose.  Several teams have had Tweet-ups and blog nights and that sort of thing.  The Reds and Astros (I think) have had a strong turnout on nights where they had a special section for fans who Tweet.  The Dodgers are a team that springs to mind that is friendly to blogs.  They issue credentials (more on that in a moment) and have hosted several get-togethers where bloggers have had the opportunity to meet front office staff and interview select team personnel.  That’s progressive.

The Royals meanwhile, haven’t been what I would call trailblazers in embracing the internet community that surrounds the team.

It would appear this contest is an attempt to change that, and as I said, it’s a step in the right direction.

I assume (and this is an assumption, so I could certainly be wrong) there are some teams who have held contests such as this – either for events like FanFest or for individual games.  These types of things are routinely co-opted… One team comes up with something creative and the other teams almost immediately fall into line.  Since the Royals don’t strike me as a “creative” or “progressive” team in terms of the fans or the internet, I wonder if some other team has done something like this before.  If that’s the case, I would think that these contests have been successful from the standpoint of number of entries and from the quality of participants.

The guidelines of the contest are a little murky.  It would appear that anyone with a computer and internet access is eligible.  That’s cool, I suppose.  Given that, I encourage readers of Royals Authority to represent and enter this contest.  There are several of you who comment regularly (Although we need more!  Come on people, comment.) and have been part of our “community” for a long time.  There are also plenty of you who Tweet about the Royals and post on Facebook.  Hell, if you’re reading this post, I think you qualify as a consumer of Royal content on the internet.  That’s what the Royals are looking for, apparently.  I think it would be extremely cool if there was a strong representation from Royals Authority commenters and readers.

Myself… I haven’t decided if I’ll be entering the contest.  It’s not like the “exclusive” with Dayton Moore will unearth anything interesting or ground breaking.  And what exactly could I learn from going “behind the scenes” at FanFest?  How they set up the radar gun for the power toss?  How they set up the clothes racks in the team store?

Of course, there’s part of me that thinks I should enter just because I really don’t think I would be selected.  While I applaud the team for taking this first step to reaching out to the internet rabble, there is still a ton of work that has to be done.  The Royals are… Let’s just refer to them as thin skinned.  Its come to my attention on a number of occasions my criticism of the team hasn’t gone unnoticed.  (Naturally, I’ve never heard anything when I posted something positive.) I give myself a less than 5% chance of being selected, should I enter.

That’s fine… It’s their contest.  Their guidelines.  I’m sure we will have someone there – one way or another.

This leads to a larger question and a debate erupted on Twitter among Royals fans:  Should bloggers be credentialed?

My answer may surprise you.

Because I don’t think bloggers should be credentialed on a regular basis.

(Please keep in mind that I’m speaking for myself and not for Nick and Clark.)

Would I accept a credential if the opportunity presented itself?  You bet.  Would I use it?  Honestly, I don’t know.  To me, going to a baseball game means setting in the stands, having a beer and a dog and talking to your friends.  I like to cheer the good plays and I like to boo the bum ones.  In short, I’m a fan.  I like being a fan.  And if I was in the press box, I’d have to give that up.  I suppose I could use it for entry and then pick a seat.  There are always good seats available at the K.

My question is: Why are bloggers any different from any other fan?  There are probably thousands of fans who attend more games than I do in a season.  I don’t own a ton of Royals gear.  I haven’t been to spring training for over 20 years.  I have access to the exact same stats as everyone else through Baseball Reference and Fangraphs and other sites.  (Although those sites are apparently blocked at Kauffman Stadium.) Reading this now… you’re probably a huge fan.  Just like me.  You may just be smart enough that you don’t blog.  Still, I love baseball, I love the Royals and I love to write.  I saw a few guys who combined this into a hobby and thought that was something I could do.  So I did.  It’s how I express myself.  Just like there are some fans who express their selves by wearing capes.  Other fans thought Yuni was awesome.  We may think and do things differently, but we all share something in common:  We all love the Royals.

My opinions on the credential debate are colored by experience.  Once upon a time, I had a credential.  I worked for a local radio station that happened to have the rights to the broadcasts and my job was to assist the pre and post game shows.  I attended about 70 to 75 games that summer.

And it completely killed my fandom.

Sitting inside a press box and watching a ballgame one of the more soul crushing experiences I can imagine.  You have to be quiet when speaking to your neighbor, lest you disturb someone deep in the process of work.  It’s not a community – which to me is what being a fan is all about.  It’s a lonely, isolated world.  Cheering?  Forget about it.  I made that mistake once.  Once.  After a (former) KC Star sportswriter glared at me like I was Mussolini incarnate, an AP stringer threatened to escort me outside and deliver a beating.  From then on, I decided I would cheer in my mind only.  While it was the right decision, it wasn’t quite the same.

I understand and respect the rules.  The press box is an office.  It’s where guys like Dutton and Mellinger ply their craft.  I’m writing this post from my home, where my kids will dissolve from the ether to distract me at the most inopportune times.  That’s bad enough.  I would think that to have some boneheads screaming in the background or chattering incessantly while trying to craft a column or game story would be incredibly irritating.

So when I say the press box is a sterile environment, it’s not a criticism… It’s a fact.  It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the press box for a game.  Maybe it’s different now.  Could be… But I doubt it.  Given the choice to sit in the stands or the press box is a no-brainer for me.

As for the access, I’m not sure that’s necessary for what I do here at Royals Authority.  I like to analyze and for that, I need statistics.  I DVR games and will pause and rewind to take a closer look at certain plays.  I don’t really care what cliche Alex Gordon gives Dutton when asked about his thought process on the 1-2 pitch he hit for a home run.  To be fair though, Dutton has to ask that question.  It’s what readers of the newspaper want to see.  Blogs are different.  If you’re here, you don’t want to hear Dayton Moore’s thoughts about Jeff Francoeur, because we already know what Moore thinks.  Or at least what he will say.  (Honestly, I have no clue how these writers get motivated to cover press conference after press conference.  It’s all the same.  Still, they have to go on the off chance that GMDM will have a good cry or something.  I guess maybe once out of a hundred, attendance pays off.)  You visit here and other blogs because you want to know if Moore is accurate in his assessment of a particular player.  Blogs have the luxury of a free amount of space to explore a topic.  While Dutton may have a couple of inches to address a roster move, we have unlimited bandwidth to discuss the same move.  (Sometimes, that’s not necessarily a good thing.)

Having said that, I hope the Royals are serious about embracing the fans who blog and tweet and otherwise follow the team with a passion.  There are some great Royals fans out there…  Guys and gals who really live and die with the team.  Too often the team’s response to criticism has been to cut off some fans, or to throw up roadblocks.  Actually, the Royals should be happy that there are still fans who care enough to criticize.  This hasn’t been what you would call a model franchise the last generation.  I marvel at the comments, message boards, blogs and tweets related to the Royals. The team should be thankful we’re still here.

Hopefully, that’s what this contest is all about.  It would be excellent if the Royals use this FanFest as a spring board to greater interaction with their fans.  GMDM should really think about folding that into The Process.