Rany is banned by the Royals (NOW WITH UPDATE)

Last week, Rany Jazayerli sent a heat-seeking missile in the direction of the Royals’ medical staff. The Royals read it. As a result, the Royals have banned him. Banned him from what is not exactly clear inasmuch as Rany lives and works in Chicago and isn’t exactly a constant presence at Kaufman Stadium, but banned he is.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.

UPDATE: I’ve given this more thought.

I’m still trying to get my brain around this. I mean, the Royals organization obviously reads Rany, or else they wouldn’t have gotten mad at what he wrote. However, if they do read Rany, surely they realize that he’s one of the best fans in the history of fandom. For years and years he has been optimistic about the Royals, giving them way more benefit of the doubt than they were probably ever entitled. No, it’s never been blind faith — Rany is not some mindless fanboy — but he has long avoided the cynicism and hopelessness that tends to take over your more critically-minded followers of historically poor performing teams. More importantly, Rany is one of the team’s most high-profile fans. In that capacity he gives voice to what many thousands of fans are thinking.

In light of this, when Rany levels criticism, it’s safe to assume that (a) it’s serious criticism, not a cheap shot; and (b) many, many people who buy Royals tickets are thinking the same way. This doesn’t mean you roll over, of course. To the contrary, when a guy like Rany says what he said, the Royals’ first impulse should have been to ask themselves whether he had a point. If he did, great, it was a worthy comment. If he didn’t, that’s fine too. Call him a sonofabitch in the privacy of the team office and make it clear to anyone who matters (i.e. the trainer Rany went after) that he has the team’s support and no one cares what this blogger thinks.

But they didn’t do that. They got defensive and pissy in a very public way. And by doing that, the Royals sent a signal to an important segment of their fan base — the plugged-in segment — that they can’t tolerate reasoned criticism. And if one can’t tolerate reasoned criticism, one isn’t going to act on it.

Which raises the question: In light of this, why on Earth would anyone with a brain continue to be a Royals fan?*

UPDATE II: This is not the first time the Royals have acted so petulantly.

UPDATE III: It’s over, and while the Royals are apparently still barring their employees from appearing on Rany’s radio show — as is their right — they have rescinded their threat to bar team-access to any station that airs Rany’s show (got that?). Of course, as J.C. Bradbury noted on his Facebook post “They recanted only b/c they got caught.” Specifically, because an Internet #### storm happened and everyone saw how ridiculous the Royals were being.

None of this changes what I said above about the Royals. There’s no escaping that they’re focused on the wrong things. There’s also no escaping that, if this how they respond to external dissent, there’s no reason to believe that they’re making the right decisions internally either, because all good decisions are made in a setting where people can feel free to say anything without fear of reprisal.

This was probably stated too strongly and/or inartfully. I did not mean to say that Royals fans are stupid. I understand that fandom is not always a rational thing. The comment was merely intended to make even ardent Royals supporters think hard about their support for their team in light of this little development. I probably could have stated it better.

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  1. TomG said...

    One has to wonder, on the heels of the Ibanez fiasco, how much traction this story is going to gain in the MSM as yet another blogger with wild accusations getting his comeuppance – even if Rany is more respected than about 90% of the writers in America.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Tom—I don’t know that it’s analagous. For one thing, Rany has a reputation, and while that shouldn’t make a difference—a good point is a good point no matter who makes it—it will practically make many go easier on him than they might go on someone else.

    More significantly though is that Rany is a doctor, so his criticism of the training staff is something more than the ignorant missives from someone’s basement. Sure, he’s a dermotologist, but last I checked they did all of the same rotations everyone else did, and they’re certainly more qualified to talk about this kind of stuff than we lay people are.

  3. TomG said...

    Not that I disagree with any of that but I can easily see how the story itself could elicit a few snide remarks based on its method of communication (i.e. in blog form) when it gets picked up in the media.

  4. Nick said...

    My name is Nick and I’m a Royals fan.

    My first baseball memories are of George Brett’s run at .400 and the Royals’ heartbreaking loss to the Phillies in the 1980 World Series. 

    The greatest moment in my life (up to that point) was when Daryl Motley squeezed the last out of the 1985 World Series, clinching the first and only Royals championship.

    Since then, it’s been a steady decline into the depths as one of the class organizations in the American Leauge has turned into of the worst-run franchises in all of baseball.

    Why do I still root for them?  I’ve been asking myself that exact question off and on for the last 20 years, but not so frequently as I have the last month.

    I can come up with only two reasons.  One: History.  There were some great times growing up following this team.  Some excellent players and managers and front office men have passed this way.  I became a baseball fan mainly because of the influence of this team.

    Secondly, I would feel like a spoiled, guilty prick jumping off now while fans of Boston and Cleveland and both Chicago teams had to endure half-centuries or more of championship-less baseball.

    So, I ask you: Before my brain completely shrivels up and disappears (which won’t be long, I’d guess), what should I do?

  5. devil_fingers said...

    I’m not going to tell anyone how to be or now to be a fan. I guess it’s sort of like being a citizen of a country—every country has its flaws. Can you still be patriotic and acknowledge those flaws? I say yes.

    If you’re on Twitter, make sure and use #ranyban.

  6. J. McCann said...

    Bad move in this case.

    The medical staff may as well start packing up their desks.  This will shine a white hot spotlight on the whole thing, and they won’t last a year now.

  7. The Rabbit said...

    The level of arrogance/stupidity of Royals ownership is only matched its assessment of player talent:
    Joe Posnanski “Kansas City Star”- The Royals and Dayton Moore do like Jeff Francoeur. “The guy’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around,” Moore says.
    As late as last week , the rumor mill of bloggers and MSM have reported the Royals “scouting” Francoeur (although no one expects anything to happen if a trade is tied to Guillen’s contract.)

  8. Ron said...

    “Which raises the question: In light of this, why on Earth would anyone with a brain continue to be a Royals fan?”

    I would actually like to be insulted by that, but I can’t be.

  9. Max said...

    I am very much on Rany’s side on this one, acknowledge the Royals are acting very poorly, and are an incompetently run organization.

    But how an organization treats its media personnel is pretty far down on my priorities on whether or not I am a baseball fan. The Royals could ban all media from saying anything bad about the team and I’ll probably still be a fan. I feel bad for you if your association with your favorite team is so tenuous that it can be jeopardized by how it treats the media.

    Now the crappy player on the other hand…yea, that tests me very much.

  10. Connecticut Mike said...

    I am not a Royals fan at all.  That I read articles about them speaks to the quality of Rany and Joe Posnanski’s analysis and writing. 

    This is a BS move from a Mickey Mouse organization and at this point I have come to expect nothing less from the Royals.  The mismanagement in Kansas City would give AIG and GM a run for their money. 

    Kansas City fans truly deserve better.

  11. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Max:  it’s not how they treat a member of the media as such. I don’t care if Rany has a press pass or not and no one else really should either.

    But it’s not about that. It’s about how negatively they respond to criticism which, in turn, strongly suggests how they go about making important decisions.  Reading his thing and pulling his ticket is evidence of a defensive culture that can’t deal with negativity in a constructive way.  News flash: there’s a lot of negativity re: the Royals right now.  In what other crappy ways are they responding to it?

    If a player was signed by the alpha-male scout, is anyone comfortable suggesting he be waived, or is there a culture in the organization that criticism can’t be tolerated?  If Dayton Moore is about to step on his dick and trade for someone who isn’t worth a damn, do his underlings fear speaking up about it?  If the budget for 2010 fails to adequately provide for Latin American player development, does someone midway down the totem pole feel free to point this out?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no” you have a sick organization, and if you have a sick organization, they are never going to be able to deliver to you—the fan—what you want: a winning team.

    You can say that those are far-fetched examples, but front offices are smaller than you think, and the same people who decided to pull Rany’s ticket are the same ones who make the important decisions too.

  12. Max said...

    I get what you’re saying Craig, but I couldn’t give a rats ass how they respond to criticism. The Yanks in the late 70s handled the media and criticism worse than any team in baseball but I doubt their fans cared much so long as they were winning Championships.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate how the team handled this, I hate the direction they are going in, and I hate the general dis-organization of the franchise. But I think that was a rather cheap shot to suggest that no thinking person would be a Royals fan. Besides, fandom has very little to do with logic and reasoning (otherwise there would be NO Royals and Pirates fans anymore). Its about allegiance, and as much as I hate the way the Royals handled this, it doesn’t come close to making me abandon my team.

  13. Shawn said...

    Craig, I think you make an incorrect assumption that the Royals must be reading Rany’s blog.  More likely, some intern in the Royals’ office read it, said something to someone higher up the food chain about, “Hey, this guy wrote this article complaining about the trainer!”  It got picked up, and people said, “Some stinkin’ blogger can’t say that about our guys!” Then they circled the wagons.

    Or maybe not.

  14. Kevin said...

    Which raises the question: In light of this, why on Earth would anyone with a brain continue to be a Royals fan?

    It’s the wrong question, even had it been stated artfully. The brain evolved expressly for the purpose of following the Royals, as well other activities of the class that can’t be accomplished without some variety of ingenuity, of which some (but not all) no doubt include at bit of self-deception. For following perennially successful teams, in contrast, higher brain functions are strictly optional.

    To elaborate: anyone who’s a Royals fan has already harbored serious doubts about the organization or its accomplishments over the last 15 years. Those who can’t rationalize their fandom have abandoned them. Only those who can and do have stuck it out, and, well, they don’t do it with their Islets of Langerhans.

  15. alskor said...

    “Which raises the question: In light of this, why on Earth would anyone with a brain continue to be a Royals fan?*”

    Oh, you are so banned, Craig…

    Royals employees will no longer be allowed to read ShysterBall. Or date anyone named Craig.

  16. Aaron Moreno said...

    That doesn’t make the situation much better. It certainly wouldn’t speak well for an organization that would ban Rany without knowing who he is. I’m from southern California, and the biggest Royal fans I’ve known are Bill James, Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, and Rany Jazayerli. They know it too.

    This is the an organization circling the drain, lashing out at all their invisible enemies.

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