Monday, May 29, 2006

Royal Failures

Today is Memorial Day, which this year provides a strange juxtoposition between our annual celebration of glorious victories and worthy warriors past with the ugly spawn of this era's mother of all battles, Iraq II.

But Memorial Day also signals the unofficial beginning of Summer and the game played by the Boys of Summer, baseball. Which begs the question, what awesome games will ESPN provide MLB's ardent fans today? Apparently none. Zippo. Nada. The Style section of my paper indicates that ESPN will be broadcasting Lacrosse and Poker today. Are you kidding me?

What ad wizards in Bristol--home of ESPN--failed to recognize that the NY Yankees were in Detroit today at 1 pm? And you know what else? Randy Johnson is scheduled to pitch for the Yanks today against a Detroit team that three years removed from a 120-loss season is 35-15. 35-15! The best record in baseball. But Bristol wants to broadcast Lacrosse and Poker.

But ESPN isn't the only sports entity that's committing errors these days. Let's talk about the Kansas City Royals. Once the perennial favorite to win the American League West (in the days when each league contained two divisions) and the team once known for having George Brett on its roster, and of participating in the infamous pine-tar game has now replaced the Tigers as baseball's laughing stock. As recently as a few years ago the Royals have had Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye patrolling their outfield and filling out the line-up card. But after dumping those players they endured a 19-game losing streak last year and have already contributed 11 and 13 game losing streaks this year. On Saturday they got blown out by the Yanks 15-4.

Would it surprise you to find out where the Royals' owner, Ed Glass, used to be employed? How about as President of Wal-Mart? That's right. The Royals' benefactor took the cheap-skate, labor cost reduction strategeries he learned at Wal-Mart to the baseball fans of western Missouri.

Since Glass became the chief executive in 1993, the Royals have managed one winning season. Glass, the former president of Wal-Mart, has long been stingy with the payroll and the team has plummeted, dropping 104 games in 2004 and 106 last season. Unless the Royals rebound, they could lose more this season.

Hey, Major League Baseball, here's a tip. Don't let former Wal-Mart executives grow up to be owners of professional baseball teams.

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