For the second year in a row, the National Baseball Congress is late handing out prize money for its annual World Series.
Two and a half months late, and counting.
The El Dorado Broncos, winners of the 2009 tournament — the 75th — are awaiting their $18,000 check.
"We've got bills and things we need to get squared away,'' Broncos owner J.D. Schneider said. "They keep telling us, 'It's in the mail, it's in the mail.' But it's never in the mail.''
NBC general manager Josh Robertson blames the late payments on a pending change in ownership for the Wichita Wingnuts, an independent professional team that finished its second season in September.
A group of local investors, headed by Steve Ruud, is in the process of buying out Horn Chen's majority 55-percent ownership of the Wingnuts.
The NBC was sold by Bob and Mindy Rich to the city in 2007 and it leases the operation to Wichita Pro Sports, which also operates the Wingnuts and Thunder.
When the sale of the Wingnuts goes through, that franchise and the Thunder will be operated separately and the NBC will remain under the control of the city and leased to the Ruud ownership group.
It's a complicated ownership pie chart, but the red tape is of no concern to those people who are awaiting their checks from the NBC.
"I'm a little disappointed,'' said Bill Pintard, whose Santa Barbara (Calif.) Foresters won the 2008 tournament but didn't receive money from the NBC until November. "I didn't realize there was trouble this year until I got a call a while back from J.D. So this is two years in a row and that's not good.''
No, it's not.
I'm sure the NBC wouldn't respond well if the teams playing in the World Series asked to delay their $1,000 entry fee. It works both ways.
"Hopefully, we'll get all this taken care of in the next two weeks,'' Robertson said. "It'll be completely wrapped up and we can move on.''
Some long-time NBC supporters are concerned, though.
"We haven't gotten our money this year, either,'' said Liberal BeeJays general manager Bob Carlile. "We never had trouble before; within a week we had our money. So, yeah, we're kind of concerned with what's going on.''
The hold-up on prize money is just one of the concerns about the NBC World Series, one of the city's crown jewels but one that needs to be polished.
The NBC blew its chance to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the World Series, failing to commemorate the occasion with any special events.
Finding someone to blame, however, isn't easy.
Tournament director Jerry Taylor is well-liked by those who run NBC teams and has worked hard to maintain the World Series' excellence.
Taylor held several meetings with local movers and shakers leading up to the tournament, during which ideas were exchanged about how to commemorate the 75th year.
None of those ideas, however, made it off the drawing board.
"It all costs money,'' Robertson said.
Robertson has been associated with the NBC for a decade and has big dreams for its future, and for that of the Wingnuts.
But his dreams are tempered by the reality of the economy and the city's reluctance to make upgrades to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, although new concession stands and improvements to the concourse will be made this winter.
Somewhere along the organizational line, though, the NBC is being neglected.
"It seems to me sometimes that the NBC is an afterthought to the (Thunder and Wingnuts),'' Pintard said. "There's a kind of benign neglect there.''
Pintard said he continues to promote the NBC in California and along the West Coast and wants the tournament to thrive. But he said he's finding it harder to sell.
"I don't want it to come across that I'm bitter because I'm not,'' he said. "You still have the makings of a great tournament there. It just needs to be polished up. The motor needs to be overhauled.''
The NBC World Series is one of the most important and prestigious events in Wichita. Hundreds of future major leaguers have played in the tournament and gone on to say great things about it.
It comes around every August, like clockwork. Perhaps we're all guilty of taking it for granted.
The NBC has built up a lot of good will over the years. But by not paying its teams on time, it has given some of that good will back.