Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the candle is lit

“In a way, I need a change
From this burnout scene.
Another time, another town, another everything –
But it's always back to you.

Stumble out in the night,
From the pouring rain.
Made the block, sat and thought,
There’s more I need.
But it’s always back to you.

But I’m good without you!
Yeah I’m good without you!
Yeah, yeah, yeah …

How many times can I break ‘til I shatter?
Over the line, can’t define what I’m after –
But I always turn the car around.

Give me a break – let me make my own pattern!
All that it takes is some time – but I’m shattered.
And I always turn the car around …”

-- “Shattered” by OAR.


In case you were like me this afternoon, and weren’t listening to Sports Radio 810 … or you aren’t like me, and don’t hit up Deadspin at least once an hour … oh sweet merciful Jesus.

No matter how low you think our Kansas City Royals have sunk?  No matter how ugly you think things have been over this run of inexplicable futility (27 consecutive playoff-less seasons, the longest streak in all of professional sports, not just baseball) … THIS is rock bottom.

THIS?  Makes Mr. McGhee’s admission that “yeah, we’re going to have the crap sued out of us over this amendment, but it’s cool, we’ll just use taxpayer money to defend the lawsuits”?  Makes THAT look like a REASONABLE use of taxpayer dollars.

Because in case you missed it, oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, peoples and peepettes, the Kansas City Royals have, over the last four years (at least), been using our tax dollars to pay salaries, cable TV costs, telephone costs, and most outrageously of all, over $700,000 in payroll taxes due to Jackson County and the state of Missouri.

No really – that is NOT a joke.  The Royals are literally paying their taxes, with OUR tax revenues!  Which means the state of Missouri, the county of Jackson, the city of Kansas, are literally out nearly three quarters of a million dollars in tax revenue!  Gee, you don’t think we could find a use for $700,000, do you?

If you wish to read the whole infuriating article, you can click here.  There’s two specific things in it that anger me – the grouse misappropriation of taxpayer funds to literally pay taxes the Royals owed … and the other thing that angers me?  Well, keep reading, because I’m opening with the self-righteous anger I can at least justify.

The Kansas City Royals are literally stealing our money.  More specifically, as a resident of Jackson County, as a resident of Kansas City proper, they are literally stealing MY money.  The Royals literally have stolen nearly million and a half dollars of tax revenue out of this community.  They owe, at a bare minimum, $1.4 million dollars to this community, this county, and this state – the $700,000 they stole from the general revenue fund, and the $700,000 of their money they should have submitted for taxes due.

I mean, my God Mr. Glass, have you no shame?  No, seriously – HAVE YOU NO SHAME?  At what point is enough fucking profit, enough fucking profit?  For those of you who wonder why Barack Obama is still the favorite to win in November?  THIS IS WHY!  Because the people of this country, including myself (and I am hardly an Obama supporter), we are SICK of this shit! 

It’s one thing to seek to lower your tax rate.  We all strive for that.  It’s quite another to use MY money to pay YOUR taxes, as David Glass’ ownership group did on THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS over the past four years!

And my God, JCSCA board members and JCSCA Chairman Beto Lopez, HAVE YOU NO SHAME?  Because according to the report, and it’s based on JCSCA funding documents, so as much as I question Kevin Keitzman’s journalistic credibility (he’s the FOX News / MSNBC of sports journalism – completely unhinged from reality 90% of the time), I actually believe this report – that on THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS, the Royals asked the JCSCA for funding to pay taxes they owed, and THREE SEPARATE TIMES the Sports Commission APPROVED the request!

Look it, I don’t care that the Royals paid for all their obligations for the All Star game out of this fund.  That’s the one “questionable” expense I’m fine with.  (Should note, to his credit, JCSCA board member Garry Kemp went on Keitzman’s show today and took the bullets – and noted that the July 2012 funding expenditures, which total over $3.1 million dollars, have not yet been voted on.  There will be a meeting at 2pm a week from today (Tuesday July 31 … so that would be Tuesday August 7) to vote on the funding requests, and the meeting is open to the public.  I have a feeling that meeting will be packed … and as I just noted, against the public outcry?  I’d approve the $3.1 million the Royals are asking for.)

But how can ANY of the people involved in this defend – the Royals, the Glass family, the Sports Authority – how can they defend using taxpayer dollars to pay taxes owed?  How can they defend using taxpayer dollars collected to PAY TAXES OWED, which screws the community twice over – it is money due that isn’t collected, and it is money collected that’s needlessly spent!

I cannot handle this.  I will not handle this.  This is worse than letting Carlos Beltran walk over $1 million dollars (an amount, I might point out, that is less than the Royals, the Glass Family, and the JCSCA just stole from our community coffers).  This is worse than trading Bret Saberhagen for Kevin McReynolds, worse than trading David Cone for Chris Stynes, worse than trading Jermaine Dye for Neifi Perez.  This is worse than signing Benito Santiago, Juan Gonzalez, Chuck Knoblauch, worse than trading for Yuni Betancourt – twice! --, worse than hiring Bob Boone, Tony Muser, Tony Pena, Buddy Bell, or Trey Hillman to oversee the on-field product, worse than signing Ricky Botallico, Jerry Spradlin, trading for Roberto Hernandez, trading away Jeremy Affeldt for Ryan Shealy, letting Jose Rosado, Runelvys Hernandez, and Gil Meche literally ruin their careers by allowing them to pitch with shoulder injuries in the July heat we’re known for.  This is worse than the way the organization treated either legendary White this franchise has had, Frank and Fred. 

This is worse than doing away with general admission, worse than $10 beers, worse than $28 tickets, worse than $10 to park, worse than firing John Wathan, firing Hal McRae, letting John Schuerholz walk for no compensation.  This is worse than the shameful budgets given to Allard Baird, and the shameful dismissal of Herk Robinson, a man who might have been limited, but gave every goddamned thing he had to save the unsaveable. 

Worse than signing the Davis boys, Mark and Storm, to (at the time) the two largest contracts ever given to a pitcher.  This is worse than playing a strung-out Willie Wilson or Darrell Porter, worse than the shameful lack of respect shown to this day for Dan Quizenberry (again, why is 29 not permanently retired?), worse than the shameful lack of respect shown to this day for Paul Splittorff (why is 34 not permanently retired?), worse than the disgraceful lack of respect shown to this day for Joe Delaney (whoops, wrong franchise … but since this is the 31st anniversary week of his passing, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Pioli, anyone affiliated with the Chiefs – WHY IS 37 NOT PERMANENTLY RETIRED?!?!?!), worse than acquiring Vince Coleman, worse than trading Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez, worse than trading Octavio Dotel for Kyle Davies, worse than letting Chad Durbin throw 134 pitches to end his promising career, worse than trading David DeJesus for Vin Mazzaro, worse than running Chris George out there every fifth day, worse than keeping Nick Schwartz employed as our trainer after a decade of incompetence.

This?  This is worse than “Our Time” … because in a sick, disgusting way, this WAS “our time”.  Because it was, and apparently still is, “our dime” that the Royals have been using to pay obligations WE, the taxpayers, should not be responsible for – not now, not ever.

I have long defended Clark Hunt and the Chiefs’ alleged “cheapness” over the last few years on this site, mainly because whatever you may think of Clark, the Chiefs dumped over $170 million dollars into the renovation of Arrowhead.  I don’t care how “well off” you are – you don’t just have $170 million in liquid cash laying around.  I hope, I pray, that this fleecing of the public treasury is limited to One Kauffman Way, and doesn’t extend across Lot M to One Arrowhead Drive.  My guess, knowing the Hunt family from afar, is that unlike the Glass family, the Hunt’s operate with integrity, and would never dream of using taxpayer’s dollars to pay their own taxes, let alone to pay their salaries, as the Glass family has done.  (And as Kevin Keitzman pointed out today, there is no evidence that exists in the public record that the Chiefs have done what the Royals have done.)

This is the lowest of many lows, and to be honest, my only reaction is rage.  Calling for a boycott of the team, as I’m sure many fans will do?  Is absolutely pointless – if we fail to show up, Mr. Glass will simply submit a request to the JCSCA to cover the shortfall, and those spineless pieces of shit appointed by Governor Nixon and who, like the Glass family, live on our tax revenue paying their expenses, will rubber stamp his request, as they’ve done non-stop for seven years and counting.

Calling on Mr. Glass and his family to sell the team, and I’m sure that at a bare minimum, either Kent Babb or Sam Mellinger will call for that in tomorrow’s Star?  (My guess is Babb will, since Sam is in London covering the Olympics.)  Is useless, because … well, and this is the second thing I’m so damned angry about.  Hear me out.

If you were the Glass family, if you were David Glass, why, pray tell, would you sell?  You’re stealing MILLIONS from MLB’s General Revenue fund every year.  You’re apparently stealing millions from the Jackson County taxpayer each year as well.  You’re literally being paid the GDP of 2/3rd of the countries on this planet, for doing nothing other than simply drawing breath.  What sane person would say “you know what, screw it, I’m selling, that’s just not good enough for me”?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.  And if you’re honest with yourself?  You wouldn’t either.

Which is the second reason I’m so goddamned angry over this – I actually (gulp) somewhat admire what David Glass has done here, in a sick, sadistic, “bend me over, shove a stick up my ass and call me Sparky” kind of way.

You can argue that’s it’s the “Wal-Mart Way” – find a way to abuse every tax-break, every labor law, every ordinance imaginable to bleed another cent of profit out of your store.  Which is what so disgusts me.  No, not unchecked capitalism at its worst, despise my belief that unchecked American capitalism is the greatest evil in the world today.

No, it disgusts me ... because to Mr. Glass’ credit, he’s played us all for the fools we apparently are.

He knows we won’t walk away from 50 years of loyalty to this team.  He knows there ain’t shit else to do in Kansas City come mid July.  He knows that as long as he has a GM who has an eye for young talent, there will be enough excitement in the fanbase for what MIGHT eventually be, that 20,000 will show up every night to watch the next hyped prospect arrive in town.

And like those 20,000 people every night, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.  I’m as guilty of it as anyone.  Hell, I tried bribing Dusty into going to the Futures Game – a damned minor league scrimmage played on a 108 degree day for crying out loud – because I wanted to see Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers make their Kauffman Stadium debuts!  Sadly, DJ used the “are you nuts, its 108 degrees!” excuse, so I didn’t go. 

Note what I just said – “sadly”.  I WANTED to give my money to the Glass Family, to the Royals organization.  I am actually SAD I couldn’t do so.

And that’s what has me the most angry of all.  Using our tax dollars to pay his taxes?  Is outrageous.

Playing our emotions like an overseer dealing with a runaway slave in 1856?  Is devious.

And it works every time.

Congratulations, Kansas City.  We made a deal with Satan (aka David Glass) in 2006.  And now, seven years later, we’re finally getting around reading the fine print*.  And what the fine print makes very clear, is that the only hope of getting our team back?  Is for our owner to leave the scene.  And since he isn’t dumb enough to sell?

(*: the irony of a man like Kevin Keitzman, who may or may not be on a recording in the Prairie Village Police Department archives being advised "you may pull your pants up now", after getting busted receiving head from an intern, while he was a married man with three children, the irony of THAT guy exposing shady, questionable behavior in others?  Yeah, (alanis morissette voice) a little too ironic, yeah I really do think.)

We’re reduced to rooting for David Glass to die.  The sooner, the better.  Protests, boycotts, walkouts, none of it matters.  David Glass won’t sell, and he’ll make up any lost revenue by taking it from our tax dollars.

I was going to send out the proposals for 470,001 later this week.  My leading choice was the Royals game on August 18th.  No mas.  Yes, protests, boycotts, you name it, won’t make Mr. Glass sell.  And no amount of shame, integrity, or common sense will keep Mr. Glass from taking my hard earned tax dollars, and using it to pay his tax liability, his cable bill, his phone bill, and his security costs.

But I’ll be damned if I’m paying him royalties on top of my tax dollars.

“We’re reduced to rooting for David Glass to die.  The sooner, the better.”  That’s the worst sentence I’ve ever written in my life.  It’s the ultimate damnation of a franchise apparently run by the damned, funded by the damned, and supported by the damned. 

(“do I go there, or not” dramatic pause.)

"We're reduced to rooting for David Glass to die.  The sooner, the better."

I trust you will join me in lighting a candle and saying a prayer, in our most fervent effort to hasten this outcome.  Because I’m guessing Mr. Glass might find out, in the words of my favorite OAR song, "I don't wanna go to heaven if I can't get in!" ...

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