It’s been a crazy week at work. So I present to you some random thoughts. Warning: Some may not be especially timely…

On Stadium Sponsorship 

Last week, it was rumored the Royals were close to agreeing a deal for naming rights to Kauffman Stadium. The rumor picked up so much steam, the team was compelled to issue an official statement.

“Amid a variety of reports that the Royals were nearing an announcement today, we felt it necessary to address the situation.  Since the renovations were completed prior to the 2009 season, our organization has been open to listening to proposals with regards to a naming rights partner, but at this time no agreement has come to fruition.  With that said, there is nothing else to comment on regarding naming rights.”

This is one of those issues that cuts to the heart of the sports fan. It’s because we are so invested in our team. Our team. It’s part of us. Even though we don’t physically own a share, or for some of us even a season ticket, we have an emotional or spiritual ownership here. The idea that the stadium (our house, our place of worship, our sanctuary…) could be besmirched with a corporate logo is enough to offend the sensibilities.

It’s a complicated topic for sure. It’s funny because I describe myself as a traditionalist. I’ve ranted against the Wild Card for almost 20 years, I think there should be more day games during the postseason and if they do away with the DH, I’d be fine with that. However, on financial issues, I’m much more progressive. Teams should figure out how they can generate their maximum revenue – and then do it. If that means selling sponsorships, it means selling sponsorships.

I’m not against the team pocketing a few extra bucks by partnering with a corporation for the naming rights on the stadium.

I’m just not sure it matters what the “real” name is of the stadium. That’s because they can put anything they want on the side of the stadium, but to Royals fans, it will always be The K. Why? Because it just works. We’ve travelled there for years in support of our team. “Are you going to The K tonight?” “Hey, let’s head out to The K to catch the Royals.” I don’t see how that will ever change among us fans, no matter what the new name is on the stadium.

Basically, sponsorship is for television. When the game starts, the announcer will welcome viewers to UMB Bank Field at Kauffman Stadium or something and they chyron will say the same thing. And that’s it. Oh, there’s also the impressions from the signage on the outside of the stadium. But we’ll still call it The K.

For some, the argument follows along the lines of, “Mr. Kauffman wouldn’t want (or do) something like this. He would be totally against it.” Sorry, but I disagree. Mr. K was extremely ahead of the curve on financial matters. For example, he (along with Avron Fogelman) awarded “lifetime” contracts to some players, ensuring they would be Royals forever. He was also extremely aggressive on the free agent front. Don’t discount this… When free agency arrived in 1976, several owners were aghast that the old order had been tossed aside and several refused to participate in the early free agent drafts. (Yes, the first years of free agency included a draft.) Mr. Kauffman embraced the new system wooed several of the top free agents.

What does that have to do with naming rights for a stadium? Maybe nothing, but I think it goes to show that Mr. K would use everything within his power to keep the Royals competitive. If that means banking a few million dollars per year with corporate partnership, I think he’d do it.

You can fight the idea all you want, but it’s coming. Maybe not next year, or the year after, but it’s coming.

Actually, if there’s ever a time for a corporation to pony up and slap their name on the stadium, it’s now. The Royals will have a national audience this summer with the All-Star Game, and if The Process rolls along like we hope, there will be some meaningful games played at The K in the very near future. If you’re looking for maximum dollar value, now is the time for a deal.

Now, having said that, it’s important that the Royals find a corporate sponsor that fans can relate to in some fashion. Meaning, a company that in some ways has ties to Kansas City and represents the community with dignity. They have to already be outstanding corporate citizens in our community. The worst thing possible would be to go down the Enron path.

Side note: If you want to be disgusted at something, point your ire to the Pepsi Party Porch in right field. That’s the ugliest piece of real estate in Jackson County. The logos, the colors… It’s visual diarrhea.

On Carlos Zambrano

The other rumor spreading through the Royal Universe dealt with a throwaway comment Dayton Moore made on a local radio interview regarding Carlos Zambrano. It quickly became, “The Royals would be interested in Zambrano if he’s available.”

Sigh.

What GMDM basically said was he would consider looking at Zambrano. Of course. That’s what all GMs do. They look at all players available and make a decision. Moore is simply being a GM with an open mind.

Now having said that, there’s no way Zambrano ever plays on this team. GMDM has taken great care to craft a clubhouse that has great “character” according to him. I just can’t see how he can bring an emotional powder keg like Zambrano into his clubhouse. The dude makes Jose Guillen look thoughtful and rational by comparison.

What made less news (because it’s not as interesting) was the fact GMDM shouldn’t have commented on Zambrano because he’s still under contract in Chicago. He attempted to clarify his comments.

“It’s our job as a baseball operations department to listen and explore every potential opportunity that would improve our team,” Moore said. “We spend countless hours doing so and we invite everybody’s opinion as to how it pertains to how we could improve our team. And if one of our people brought up Carlos Zambrano, I would listen and ask questions about why they believe that. That’s all that was and I responded in that spirit.”

Classic GMDM. I know the guy has a reputation for working the filibuster, but every once in a while he’ll drop a comment worth talking about. Occasionally, he’ll say something he shouldn’t. In this case he wanted to give an honest answer and he did… If Zambrano becomes available, his staff will evaluate. The right answer probably would have been something along the lines of, “He’s with the Cubs and I can’t comment.”

Move along, there’s nothing to see.

On Roy Oswalt

To me, the premise is simple. If you think you can win in 2012, you get Oswalt. If you think you won’t win until 2013 (at the earliest) you pass and hope your pitching prospects develop at a stronger clip than they did last year.

They met Oswalt and his agent this week in Milwaukee, a tip that began on Twitter, raised our hopes, and then let us down when it was revealed the Royals were only kicking the tires. Doing due diligence. (See above.)

Still, there could be something there. At least I hope there’s something there.

The Oswalt thing won’t shake out until the Winter Meetings next month, but the Royals activity on this will be very telling about their expectations in 2012.

On Uniforms

The Royals are introducing a “slightly updated” uniform design next week. I know that many fans care, but I’m not one of those who hang on every alteration to the uniform. As long as they don’t go all Miami, we’re cool. (I also don’t care about player numbers. I know, I know…)

I’m thinking this will be the All-Star Game patch. And maybe something else so slight, it will take an official announcement for me to notice.