Does Dayton Moore get more love nationally than locally?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Late last summer, as the Royals continued to fight to stay alive in the wildcard chase, a Royals official pulled me aside an hour or so before a home game was about to start.
He pointed toward Royals general manager Dayton Moore and said, “Do you find it odd that the national writers and national guys admire his work here more than the local ones do?”
I thought about that question again last week when the Twitter world collectively sighed after the Royals announced they had extended Moore’s contract two years, carrying him through the 2016 season.
But while the reaction locally was tepid at best, the national media quickly applauded the move.
MLB.com’s Richard Justice, for example, wrote that Moore “got the vote of confidence he deserved.”
“…the Royals are in a great spot. After Moore watched his team lose at least 90 games in six of his first seven seasons, he must have had trouble seeing progress at times. In the lowest times, he simply returned to his core beliefs that he had surrounded himself with competent people and that sometimes progress comes an inch at a time.
“What (David) Glass saw was that he had a general manager of wisdom and integrity, a general manager who would eventually get it right. Sometimes, the toughest thing in the world is not to make changes and to ignore the noise from outside.”
Indeed, there has been plenty of noise around Moore’s world in the past year. The howling on talk radio and in the blogger world over the James Shields-Wil Myers trade last December was virtually deafening, and still goes on to this day to some degree.
For the most part, though, the national media loved the trade (except for ESPN’s Keith Law, of course).
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal gave the trade a big thumbs up at the time: “I’m sick of low-revenue teams that are scared to make a move, fixated on their place in the Baseball America organization rankings, content in their mediocrity.”
Danny Knobler of CBSSportsline.com added, “The Royals did what they had to. You may get praise for holding tight to all your prospects, but you generally don’t win championships that way.”
Wrote USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, “When you’re running a franchise that has produced one winning season since 1994, and has had at least 90 losses in 10 of the last 12 seasons, you owe it to your players, fan base and community to try and win now. Doubters be damned.”
There was plenty more praise from other national outlets as well. But not much here in Kansas City, where the trade was ripped relentlessly.
To be fair, though, national observers have not had to suffer through all those losing seasons that the local talk-show hosts, bloggers and fans have. And the argument against the trade — that while the Royals were OK to trade Myers, they simply should have gotten more in return — is certainly worth debating.
And as the Royals muddled under the .500 mark at the All-Star break last summer, local sentiment against Moore seemed to gain even more steam. But Moore remained resilient, and proclaimed that the Royals were on the verge of getting hot and “winning 15 of 20.”
Few believed him, and many laughed out loud.
But the Royals indeed went on a tear, winning 17 of 21. Still, during that same time, strong opinions surfaced in Kansas City that Moore should concede the playoff chase anyway and become a seller at the July 31st trade deadline.
Moore refused, stuck to his guns, and even added a player in Justin Maxwell. The Royals wound up with the American League’s best record (43-27) after the break, stayed in the playoff chase until the final week of the season and provided Kansas City with its most exciting baseball summer in 10 years.
Despite that, there still hasn’t been much local applause surrounding Moore’s extension last week.
Nationally, though, the image of Moore is once again viewed much differently.
National columnist Peter Gammons wrote recently, “It’s not hard to imagine the Royals having one of those years in 2014 when they send three, four or even five players to the All-Star game, and someone like (Yordano) Ventura or (Kyle) Zimmer bursts down the aisle, and with (James) Shields and the other veteran starters and bullpen, be the Indians of 2014….
“The Cubs will be watching (the Royals). So will the Twins, who are going to be very talented very quickly. So will the Mariners, who are still hoping after hope that the young players they’ve put in Safeco Park these last two years grow up. So will the Astros.”
Royals fans and observers will be watching, too, but apparently just not with the same conviction.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.