Posted on: May 24, 2010 2:17 am
Edited on: May 24, 2010 3:59 am

What Time Was It? It Was Always Lima Time!

Finally, after weeks of hard work I get a Sunday off for some fun.  Take my son and a friend of his to St. Louis to see the Cardinals and Angels.  We're sitting there in the infamous heat and humidity of Busch Stadium, enjoying the game when something comes across the scoreboard that made me look twice, and then a third time.  Jose Lima dies of heart attack at age of 37.  Lima, gone?  My mind instantly started thinking about several things involving Jose.

The first was his 1999 radio appearances on the Jim Rome Show.  Back then I did listen to Jim whenever possible because I thought the show was humorous.  I finally quit listening when his show yielded to Entercom corporate pressure and switched stations here in KC, going from the hometown owned one to the new, large corporate owned one.  Never listened to the show ever again, but that's getting off the subject.  Lima Time was funny.  Of course it is easy to be outgoing when you're going 16-8 and 21-10 in successive years.  He was a favorite of the listeners and you could tell by the way he went about the segments with Jim that life was good in Jose's world, and a very fun place to be.

After his career cooled off some, he found himself in KC as a Royal to start the 2003 season. The Royals got off to a tremendous start that year, and Jose Lima had seemed to reinvent himself as a pitcher, getting off to a very hot start.  Even when he was injured, later in the year, he was a good clubhouse presence and somehow, I still believe if he would have stayed healthy, his 8-3 record might have been 17-7 and that might have been the difference to avoid the late season swoon that cost them a 7 game division lead at the All-Star break.  He was on the local sports news all the time.  You would see video of him at charity golf events, a loud shirt, straw style Caribbean hat, and a big old stogie being his trademark look.  Many of us in KC would have loved to see Allard Baird keep Jose, but somehow he slipped away to the Dodgers for 2004.  Helped them to the playoffs and, ouch, pitched a masterpiece against the Cardinals in the playoffs to get them a long awaited playoff victory (Cards still won the series though).

Jose came back to KC for 2005.  5-16 with a near 7 ERA didn't keep him from being exuberant, at least to the fans.  It was obvious that he just had lost something out on the mound though.  He did eat up some innings and kept going out to the mound and kept attempting to find the stuff that used to baffle so many batters.  It never came for the most part.  He kind of slipped away form the mind of many Royals fans after that, until today.

Many things will be written about Jose.  Some good and some will expound on his faults.  Jose I'm sure had his faults and no doubt there are those who will bring those out.  But this blog isn't written to do that.  I write to remember happier moments.  The fans screaming Lima...Lima when he brought home a victory for the home team.  Thanks Jose for reminding us all that Baseball is a game, and even players should have fun.  Thank you for Lima Time.
Posted on: May 21, 2010 4:04 am
Edited on: May 21, 2010 11:17 pm

Why David Glass Can't Sell the Royals

As we travel the rocky road that us mortals call life, often we run into situations where something doesn't appear to be what it seems to be.  A friend who turns out not ot be a friend.  Tiger Woods appearing to be be dedicated husband when he obviously was not.  Those sort of items.  Then, there is the ownership of the Kansas City Royals.  David Glass is an owner reviled by many large market and hometown fans as what's wrong with small markets.  Greedy ownership that pockets cash and doesn't spend money on his team.  Won't go out and spend money and buy players to make the team good.  True, the Royals have not been successful on the field for 15 years now, save for the 2003 season.  But as Paul Harvey always said, now for the rest of the story, for the rest of this tale is one that few fans in baseball understand.

When David Glass purchased the Royals from the trust that Ewing Kauffman had set up, he agreed to forsake any profits from selling the team in the future.  In short, no matter how well he ran the team, he could never really profit from it's growth in value.  Keep in mind that he was on the original board Mr K set up and Glass bought the team in the end anyway because no matter how hard the committee tried, no suitable owner or group of owners ever seriously bid on the team.  There was a bid from a Miles Prentice but just because you can hand over 120 million for a baseball team, MLB still requires a substantial net worth and Miles didn't have it.  He would have not been able to withstand losses.  David Glass was the only person who was interested in leaving the Royals in KC who had the money, MLB financial approval, and interest, mainly as a favor to his friend, Ewing Kauffman.  A recent article in the KC Star points out the lack of interest in sports ownership the money families in KC have.   Here is the article.


Lack of local investors would make it difficult for KC to get an NBA or NHL team


The Kansas City Star

George Brett has the kind of life where he sometimes chooses between 18 holes in Hawaii or swimming with the dolphins. He usually takes the golf because he’s already done the dolphins and, you know, that can get a little old.

He has a friend who sometimes e-mails pictures from Lakers games with friendly taunts attached, like, just thought you’d like to see where I am, except this is not a game you win against Brett. He’s in Italy now and sent that friend a picture from Florence, Michelangelo’s statue of David up close. Touché.

This is all a way of reminding you that it’s good to be George Brett, because his world is like that On Demand button on your cable remote — save his desire for Kansas City to land an NHL or NBA team.

“No one stepped up in the past,” he says. “So for someone to step forward in the future, that means there’s gotta be someone new in town. And I don’t know anybody new in town with the deep pockets to do that.”

Brett is more than an observer here. He’s a potential participant, saying publicly for the first time that his family was contacted about joining a potential ownership group for an NHL team in Kansas City.

But he tried this once before, and a failed attempt at buying the Royals means he’s appropriately skeptical of a local group ever surfacing. He knows better than anybody why these little talks never produce anything substantial.

This all comes up during another week filled with reports about one team being in trouble, another team looking to move, and the natural progression to, Hey look! There’s the new team for the Sprint Center!

The future of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes continues to swish back and forth in a negotiation that could move the team to Canada or keep it in Arizona if the city of Glendale can help meet payroll. The NBA’s Pacers are asking Indianapolis to help with operating expenses, or else all options are on the table.

In all, more than a half-dozen NHL or NBA franchises may be up for sale or looking to move, and these are the times that bring to mind the burning confidence of AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke’s in landing a team for the Sprint Center.

Except the same major obstacle exists now that did when Leiweke and others campaigned for public funding: no local owner.

Kansas City is bigger and has a better arena than Oklahoma City, for instance, but the Thunder plays five hours south of here because Clay Bennett is a rich Oklahoman who bought an NBA team and moved it.

Who’s our Clay Bennett?

“No, just not interested,” says Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “We have never looked at sports teams.”

This is how it is with all of Kansas City’s super-rich families. This is how it’s always been, part of why the Chiefs and Royals operate under out-of-town ownership.

Hall says the foundation’s interests are in “the overall health of Kansas City” and that the family “doesn’t see sports franchises as part of that strategy or vision.”

The Blochs, Stowers and Wards have traditionally operated in much the same way. Julia Irene Kauffman serves on the Royals’ board of directors, but has never indicated a desire to get into ownership.

None of this is meant as criticism. These families give to Kansas City in many other ways. The most obvious is the nearing completion of the $400 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, funded generously by the Kauffman family.

That’s great for the local arts scene, but a zero for Kansas City’s chances at an NHL or NBA team.

What it means is that any movement will need to come from an existing or purchasing owner wanting to relocate. The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings could be an emerging possibility, and are owned by AEG.

But even then, our hopes are reliant on something like an out-of-town savior, with presumably no vested interest in Kansas City.

Brett says he and his family will continue to listen to potential investors, but there’s a reason nothing’s come of it yet.

“To get a franchise here,” Brett says, “really, that would be extremely difficult.”

He talks for a few more minutes before excusing himself to get back to his vacation. He’s in Italy, you remember, waiting on the dinner being prepared for him. Yes, George Brett can make many things happen in this world.

But he needs help with this one.

So, the article very nicely points out that KC is indeed an unusual place when it comes to people rich enough to be sports owners.  There are many in town who have done very well.  Lot of folks arond KC with 50-100M in assets.  We just lack the super rich, thats all.   Without one of them, there is no NHL, no NBA, and no one local, with area ties and interest, to purchase the team from Mr. Glass and keep the royals in town.

Baseball is still in KC thanks to the Glass family.  Without him our fair city is the AAA affiliate for the Cardinals or Rockies.  They don't just pocket the cash from team profits.  That money goes back into the team and some of it, about 25 million plus, went into the Royals portion of the remodeling costs to the stadium here.  The arguments that this group is greedy isn't so.  Yet, the last 15 years of baseball frustrate the baseball soul of even die hards like me.  Maybe we can rack up the losses more to ineptitude rather than callousness.  Maybe David glass is finally learning that you really do not want to 100% run your baseball team the same way you run the world's most successful retailer.

So now you the reader have a hopefully better idea of the situation here in KC.  For all the pluses and minuses with the Glass family, at least we still have a major league team here.  Somehow the idea of the Charlotte or Carolina Royals tuns my stomach in ways a tummy should not bend.  Bad baseball beats no baseball.

And for those who still want Glass to sell the Royals, just remember, be careful what you ask for.  You may end up with the full brunt of the law of unintended consequences being applied to your request.  Once he sells, there are no guarantees they stay here.

Posted on: January 7, 2010 12:02 pm

Please Everyone, Baseball Needs Compromise

After struggling with three drafts in Word on this subject, I finally decided to just wing it and compose on the fly on this topic.  It is an important topic and one that radically divides major league fans.  The inequality in payrolls has been debated ad nauseum on Sportsline and across the baseball media. 

The large revenue teams and their fans feel they did compromise with limited revenue sharing.  They think small revenue owners are just lining their pockets with cash, they're cheap, and won't spend the money on their teams.  That think a cap is unnecessary and kind of like how things are now.  Their teams have an opportunity for post season success if their front offices are not inept. 

Small and some mid-revenue team fans think the large revenue teams have their heads in the sand.  They want a system where their teams, if run well, have a chance at post season glory.  They hate watching good players leave a city because another team can pay their heroes more money.  They want fairness.  They want a slaary cap like in the NBA and the pre 2010 NFL.  Fans don't want to see their teams' owners be forced to spend big chunks of their personal wealth to keep up with other teams and their much greater revenues.  That's because many of those owners simply will not bankrupt themselves to do that, the Jerry Coangelo led Arizona Diamondbacks maybe being the exception.

So what are the solutions?  How do we bridge this expanse?  Can it be done?  Will I stop asking questions?

Yes, I think it can be done.  It can be done because we all love baseball.  We enjoy a well pitched game, a timely hit, and a great play in the outfield.  Emerald fields, warm days, and arguing over strategy are part in parcel of the experience whether you are a Yankees, Cardinals, or Royals fan.  We have a common interest there.  I have thought of some ideas short of a salary cap that the game could implement.  Some will require some sacrifice on all parties, including the players association.  Their help maybe the hardest part of this deal.  Some of these suggestions you all have seen before.  A couple may be new.  Then I will end this with a hypothetical situation that very few folks anywhere would want to see.

1.  Cap on bonuses and pay for draftees.  All teams can benefit from that.

2.  World draft.  In the end, if you don't like the team that drafted you, tough.  It is a earned privilege to play baseball, not a right.  Maybe a Japanese star would like Pittsburgh.  Maybe he would end up enjoying the town he gave it a chance.  Heck, they might even become Steelers and Penguins season ticket holders.  As a compromise though, a team would have a three year window to sign the draftee.  Two years for Japanese major league players.

3.  Push back free agency one year.  I know the players will whine about that one, but raising the minimum salary some might offset this.  This would allow the better run smaller revenue and the mid-revenue teams to keep their players just a bit longer before their free agency.

4.  Fund to help smaller markets sign their own players.  Have to be a drafted player, or one traded for before year two in the majors.  Only type A free agents qualify, Carlos Beltran with the Royals mid-decade or the Twins Joe Mauer today.  Up to 5 million a year in aid.  If two players fit the category, up to 3 million per player.  Maximum of two.  The league could do this out of TV revenue and money from fines (if the fine money is not already going to charity).

5.  Smaller revenue owners may have to kick in a little extra cash.  Not whopping amounts mind you, but if you are worth 800 million, adding 10 million to your payroll out of pocket, if not being done already, would help.  That amount won’t kill your net worth.  Having to fork over 60 million a year or more would hurt the old net worth a lot.  It's not like these owners are sitting on a pile of cash.  Much of those nets are in stocks, land, businesses, and other assets.  Disposing of a lot of them at once could affect others who have nothing to do with baseball.

Any other ideas like how to change arbitration would be welcome.  The idea is to be creative in a workable way and see what we all can come up with in order to help every team have an opportunity for success.  That opportunity will have to be earned by good management though, and not just handed to anyone.

A last point.  We as fans need to begin thinking of baseball as one entity with 30 franchises, not 30 individual businesses with no tie to each other than some common rules.  It is not the last bastion of free enterprise.  MLB grants the franchise rights.  MLB distributes national TV money to teams.  All 30 teams deal with one union, not 30 different ones.

Now for the senario that should scare every fan in every market.  Well, except two.

Two very rich individuals, who just sold highly successful business for mucho dinero, decide to buy their hometown teams, say the Twins and Astros.  Each man (or woman) sets aside 10 billion dollars to run the team, If they can earn 4% on the 10B, they would have 400M for salaries, using the normal revenue streams to run day to day operations and improve facilities and the minor league operations.  If the Yankees have revenues of 275-280M, how are they going to compete,  The one problem that they haven't had to face since before the 1994 strike is some owner spending more money than them in payroll.  Many of the newer fans here do not realize that under Ewing Kauffman, the Royals were usually either the leader or top five in payroll.  There was a big difference between kicking 6-7 million of his own cash and kicking in 100M of your own cash to be top five.  Another problem large market teams haven’t had to face was not being able to resign their own players brought up through their systems.  Imagine if Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera had signed contracts with the Astros because the Yankees couldn’t afford to pay the 47.5 million a year over 6 years each was offered by that wealthy owner.  Compromise involves placing yourself in the position of the hunted rather than the hunter sometimes. 


I know this has gone long.  There is much I haven’t been able to cover here.  All I wish for is for all sides to sit down and hammer out a system that rewards well run teams with an opportunity to win in the post season no matter what city the team is located in.  Then, if your team blows, you know it is because of poor management and not that someone can simply outspend you.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com