Last month, I spoke with former Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen when he was auctioning some of his memorabilia, and the conversation naturally turned to the Royals.
I decided to wait until the Cardinals came to town to recount our chat, because he specifically mentioned St. Louis and their recent success.*
*You want a depressing statistic? Since Saberhagen and the Royals walked off the field as World Series champions in 1985, the Cardinals have participated in 119 playoff games. That's nearly 75 percent of a season.
Saberhagen believes finances should not be used a crutch by the Royals.
“I’m tired of defending Kansas City and saying, well, it’s a small-market team,” Saberhagen said. “Now that I’ve seen St. Louis compete for the last few years and win a World Series, I’m calling BS on that. If the Cardinals can compete and put out a championship team with the same market that Kansas City does, it’s time the Royals started doing the same thing.”
Saberhagen said if the Royals can start winning, baseball would be the big thing in KC again (and recent crowds at Kauffman Stadium bear that out). He recalled that Royals Stadium wouldn’t be full in the first couple of months.
“The beginning of the season, when school was still in, we had good weekend crowds, the middle of the week you’d have 14 to 17,000. ... Then when school was out, the crowds went back up in numbers,” Saberhagen said.
“It was a situation where we understood that people are planning their vacations from other states around summertime and they’re making their trips out from five different states and around the Kansas City area to come and see our games.
“It’s one of those situations that if they have a good quality team, they’re going to have some people coming out and enjoying the games. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to fill the stands up. I’m ready for the Royals to win and I hope it’s their time in the near future.”
He's not alone.