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Royals are apparently still barring their employees from appearing on Rany’s radio show — as is their right — they have rescinded their threat to bar team-access to any station that airs Rany’s show (got that?).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.