KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Royals slugger Mike Sweeney says that while he loved his 13 years with the team, he believes he ultimately failed during his time in Kansas City.
He failed the fans, the organization and team owner David Glass, he said.
“The ultimate goal each year is to get to the playoffs and win the World Series,” Sweeney told FOXSportsKasnasCity.com. “And we didn’t do that while I was in Kansas City.
“So, in that regard, I failed at my job. My obligation as a player was to get us to the post-season and I failed at that. That’s why I feel my time with the Royals was unfulfilled.”
Sweeney, who recently was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, said, however, that he doesn’t know what more he could have done.
“I busted my butt all the time,” he said. “I gave 100 percent. I know I got injured a lot but I couldn’t do anything to change that unfortunately. I wish I could have. But I have no regrets about my effort.
“I just wish somehow the results would have been different. I wish I could have gotten us to the postseason.”
Sweeney at least got a taste of the playoffs during his final season in the big leagues in 2010 when he was traded from Seattle to Philadelphia. Sweeney played in just 26 games for the Phillies but was on the team’s playoff roster in the postseason when it won the divisional series before losing in the championship series.
Sweeney did get a pinch-hit appearance in the divisional round, singled, and finished his career post-season with a 1.000 batting average.
“I can always tell my grandchildren that,” Sweeney said, laughing. “But it was a great experience and I felt that even though I didn’t play a lot for the Phillies, I was able to help them in terms of leadership.
“I wish I could have done the same for the Royals.”
Sweeney said his personal disappointment had nothing to do with trying to live up to the $55 million contract he signed in 2002.
“No, it wasn’t about the money,” Sweeney said. “I never played this game for contracts. I know that when I signed that deal, it probably put a bulls-eye on me with the fans. It kind of put a ‘kick-me’ sign on my back because it was tough to live up to the contract.
“And I don’t blame anyone else for our failures. People say it’s management’s fault for letting Johnny Damon go or Carlos Beltran go. But ultimately, when players go, you have to step up and fill in the void. We didn’t do that. I didn’t do that.”
The Royals did come relatively close once during Sweeney’s career in Kansas City. In 2003, the Royals finished 83-79 and were in first place as late as August 29.
“Then we kind of wet the bed in September,” he said. “It was great year. We just didn’t finish it off.
Sweeney remains one of the most prolific power hitters in Royals history. He is second all-time in Royals history with 197 home runs and second all-time in slugging percentage at .492. His 144 RBIs in 2000 remain a club record.
“The records are nice but the thing I hated most was that in October, while other teams were going to the playoffs, we were out fishing,” he said. “I didn’t really want to be at my lodge in Montana hearing about the playoffs.”
Sweeney remains an ardent Royals fan and believes someday he will end up working for the organization again. He also believes this year might be the year the Royals make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
“I love the trade that (general manager) Dayton (Moore) made for James Shields and Wade Davis,” Sweeney said. “I mean, it hurts to give up a stud like Wil Myers but you got to give up something to get something. And obviously Dayton and the Glass family feel the time is now to make the move.”
Coincidentally, Sweeney was having dinner last week at a favorite restaurant near his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., when he noticed Shields and his family was sitting at the table next to him.
“It was a total coincidence,” Sweeney said. “I guess James had just moved here this off-season and here we were at the same restaurant. We talked a bit and he is really pumped to help the Royals get to the playoffs. He’s the guy that can do it.”