Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore opened up for questions and took care of the first one before anybody could ask.
What’s up with the Bad Boy Royals and all this fighting?
“You know that our TV market is rather small,” Moore said, smiling on the stage of the Crown Uptown. “I told our guys, ‘We’re going to have to get these games on pay-per-view if we’re going to be able to afford you.’”
Moore covered many topics in his speech at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet on Monday. He told the story of growing up in Wichita and staying with relatives in Coldwater during summer vacation. He talked about his support for FCA and the importance of that organization and its members in building a nation. He talked about his family and how hard it is for him travel and leave “his home team.”
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The resurgent Royals, of course, got most of the reaction from the audience. Moore went on to defend the actions of his players in a series of confrontations, baseballs thrown with ill intent and harsh words that are threatening to overshadow victories. On Monday, pitcher Edinson Volquez started a five-game suspension. Three other players appealed their suspensions stemming from Thursday’s brawl with the Chicago White Sox.
“Of all the altercations that we’ve had … I don’t feel like we’ve started any of it,” he said. “I feel like we probably haven’t managed it, in some areas, as well as we could. There’s no need to retaliate right away at times. Those are some things we’re trying to manage through.”
Most of the people who asked questions professed their affection for the Royals. One gave him a score update from Monday’s 6-2 win over Cleveland. That is the type of passion Moore is proud to restore with the Royals. When he took over as GM in 2006, he watched parents bring children to Kauffman Stadium. The parents wore jerseys honoring George Brett and Frank White. The children represented Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox.
“We lost a generation,” he said.
Last season’s run to the World Series changed the mood and now the Royals are popular again. Moore grew up rooting for the Royals, even after he moved away from Kansas.
“The Royals were an easy team to root for,” he said.
That feeling faded as Moore began his climb from athlete at Garden City Community College and George Mason to college coach, professional scout and assistant general manager for Atlanta. When the Royals approached him about taking over, he went to his mentors.
They told him not to go to Kansas City. One called it a professional graveyard. Moore prepared to turn owner David Glass away. His family loved Atlanta, loved their church and loved winning with the Braves.
Then something inside told him he was playing it safe.
“Go try to do something special,” he said. “You got into athletics because you love to compete.”
If a generation of fans is back in blue, it is because of players such as catcher Salvador Perez, one of the team’s leaders with blend his emotion and savvy. Moore said the Royals signed Perez for $65,000 in 2006. Perez used the money to buy one house for his family and one to rent to provide income in Venezuela.
“That’s how this kid’s mind was always working at 16,” Moore said. “When we traded for Lorenzo (Cain), Lorenzo was kind of not trusting, somewhat aloof, really didn’t know how to fit in. What you’re seeing in him right now, his success, I really attribute a lot of Salvy’s leadership, his charisma. He’s brought out Lorenzo Cain in ways that freed him up to just go play. I get chills every time I think of Salvador Perez.”