In a season of signature wins, the Royals just recorded the best of the bunch. If you’re Ned Yost, what do you do?
You talk about the fans.
Here’s the entire Yost comment as excerpted from Mellinger’s column:
“We’re in a pennant race, yeah. We’ve been working on trying to build this team for the last three or four years to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a championship. And not only the division, but we want to contend for a world championship. It’s really, really important we have our fans behind us at the stadium.
“I know it’s a school night. But I’ve been through this before in Atlanta (when the Braves first made the playoffs) in ‘91, where it didn’t matter what night it was, that place was packed at the end of August and September. The fans really got into it.
“I know there’s different things you can do. You can watch it on the Internet. You can watch it on TV. But there’s a real need for our fans to be a part of this. We had a great crowd last night, and I was kind of hoping we’d have another great crowd tonight, and we really didn’t.
“They’re a big part of our success, especially at home. Because the electricity they provide, the energy they provide, helps you get through games like this. You know? We’ve been working hard to make our fans happy and make our fans proud for a lot of years, and we’d like them out here to enjoy a night like this with us. Because this was a special night. This was a fun night. I just wish there could’ve been more out here to enjoy it with us.”
Now, because I’ve been told that hearing Yost comments is just as important, here’s the audio.
I don’t know I needed to read and hear the quote. It comes across the same to me either way I consume it. It’s a measured response to a question Yost begged to be asked. And make no mistake. Yost wanted that question asked. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have opened his press conference with a “casual” remark about the fans who were there.
We can parse Yost’s statements a thousand different ways. They’ve been trying to “build this team for the last three or four years?” Hilariously tone deaf to what’s happened the last three decades. The Atlanta attendance comparison? Laughable. The team feeds off electricity? Eh, maybe I can give you that one.
An analogy: You have a restaurant in your neighborhood. It’s been there for a long time. It used to be known for fine dining. You used to eat their weekly. But over the last thirty years, it’s gone downhill. Yet, it’s a neighborhood establishment and you really want to like it, so you keep going back – just not as often – even though the food is a little bit shit. So you find other ways to spend your money. Other diversions. Then, one night, you have a great meal. Like once in the last 30 years great. Now you have a quandary. Is the restaurant back? Does one great meal erase decades of poor meals? You’ve been going a couple times a year. Now, do you go a couple of times a week? Just based on one great meal?
OK. Maybe I’m not the best at analogies, but I don’t think you talk attendance when you have a fan base that has gone through what Royals fans have experienced the last 29 years. This team has spent the last three decades specializing in shit. And someone wants to talk attendance just weeks after the team has become relevant for the first time in that span? Come on. Trust doesn’t happen on the back of two good months of baseball. Not after what we’ve seen as Royals fans. Not after what we’ve collectively gone through.
Crowds are going to build through the rest of the season. Attendance is going to be crazy this weekend. After this home stand, there’s one home stand left. That will be crazy, too. Especially with the Tigers coming for the final home series of the year. Make no mistake, The K is going to start rocking. In fact, it has been rocking. The fans have responded. Just like we knew they would. To ignore that support and focus on a Tuesday in late August is selling the fans a bit short. Especially after the last 29 years and all that.
My take: You never question the motivation of the fans. Like ever. If they don’t show up for your game, look at yourself and your performance as manager. Maybe they want to see Alex Gordon hit higher than third. Maybe they don’t like seeing Mike Moustakas. Maybe they’ve seen this story before and are worried about being burned again. The point is, everyone has different motivation and feelings about the situation. I didn’t go to the game last night. I had other stuff going on that I had to deal with. Does that mean I’m a bad fan? Disclosure: I don’t own a Royals jersey. Because I’m too old to play the game and I think wearing a jersey is kind of dumb. But you may own and wear a jersey. Even though I may feel a certain way, I don’t judge. Fans celebrate their teams all different ways. Some guys wear a costume and go to every game. Others listen to the radio while they enjoy an adult beverage in their garage. No fan is better than the other. I firmly believe that. We’re fans together. It’s a collective. That’s why it’s so great. Television ratings are through the roof. I bet radio ratings are similarly on the uptick. My unscientific finding shows I see more fans wearing Royals shirts and hats around town. Fans are tuned in to this team and this season. Despite not turning out on Tuesday.
Yost didn’t rip the fans. That’s just a convenient headline. But he did give a measured response to something that was obviously on his mind. I don’t think he owes an apology for speaking his mind. I just think he should be more careful about what he says about his team’s support going forward. His team is in a pennant race. His words will come with a little more scrutiny. It’s added pressure. Hopefully, he can handle it better than he did last night.
It’s too bad this happened. Last night, several amazing things happened.
– Danny Duffy pitched really well, flashing what Denny called, “no-hit stuff.”
– Billy Butler made a great catch, running with his back to the plate.
– Butler made the catch and then fell over Christian Colon. And then didn’t help Colon to his feet. (I don’t know why, but that seems like a very Butler thing to do. Which made me laugh.)
– Alcides Escobar made an amazing play deep in the hole at shortstop in the seventh. A huge play as it came with no outs, a runner on first and a run already across. You cannot underestimate this. It was massive.
– And of course the Alex Gordon walk off.
I’d rather talk about any of these over the attendance. So consider this my final word on this subject.
Until you rotten fans do something rotten again.