It�s not exactly Brett Favre drama, but as the years pile up behind Royals radio announcer Denny Matthews� career, whispers of him retiring seem to creep their way into Kauffman Stadium each August and September.
Even Matthews admits he has no intention of hanging around the booth as long as Ernie Harwell did or Vin Scully is.
�No, that�s not me,� Matthews told me by phone. �No way.�
But right now it would appear Matthews is ready to come back in 2011 for his 43rd season.
�I don�t know why not,� Matthews said. �I think I�ll know when it�s time. I think a little light will come on and just tell me. But it hasn�t yet.�
Matthews said that cutting back in the last few years from his road schedule has made all the difference to him.
�Just being able to pick and choose the road trips really helps,� he said. �It really helps to get time off during the season and recharge the batteries. If I couldn�t do that, I�m not sure I could keep doing this year after year.
�I�ve said this before, it is a grind when you start on March 1 and go through Oct. 1. I�m fortunate to be able to set up a schedule where I can take several of the road trips off.�
Part of the speculation about Matthews possibly retiring stems from the perception that as the years have gone by, and as the Royals continue to struggle, Matthews has lost some enthusiasm for the game.
�I don�t think that�s true,� he said. �We all have different definitions of what excitement and enthusiasm are. What is enthusiasm to the average person? When there is something exciting going on in the field of play, my excitement will go up.
�But I�m not going to invent it. Fans are too smart for that. They can sense you�re making it up.�
Frankly, there hasn�t been much excitement to Royals seasons since the 1980s. There were flashes in 1993 and 1994, and, of course, the crazy 2003 year.
�Still, the No. 1 job in my mind is to provide the most accurate description of what is going on in front of you,� Matthews said. �Does it help when the team is winning? Sure. Obviously. Everyone in town feels good. The players feel good. The front office feels good.
�We were very fortunate in the mid-1970s and 1980s to always have that formula for winning. Those guys knew how to win. We had good pitchers, good hitters. They figured out ways to win.
�You always knew from the booth that you were going to call a game with at least one good team in it � us. But that doesn�t mean I�ve lost enthusiasm for my job. My job then was the same as it is now.�
Matthews, a huge proponent of speeding up the games, said the biggest challenge for announcers today isn�t the quality of the home team � it�s the length of the games.
�When I started, we averaged about 2 � hours a game,� he said. �Now it�s three hours a game. Take that extra 30 minutes a game and multiply it by 160 (80 hours). You wind up with almost 30 more games a year just in extra time. That�s like adding a month to the season.�