Alex Gordon gave the Kansas City Royals probably their biggest victory in many years Tuesday night by hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Not only were the Royals delirious because they won a game it appeared they would lose, but Kansas City also maintained its 1 1/2 game lead on the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central.
Big night. And absolutely nothing could kill the buzz at Kauffman Stadium. Well, almost nothing.
#Royals' Yost was not amused that only 13,847 fans showed up at The K. "I want our fans to enjoy this," he said. He has told me this before
— Jeffrey Flanagan (@jflanagankc) August 27, 2014
And "Yost" is not some ne'er-do-well sportswriter shaming fans about attendance, but instead is Royals manager Ned Yost. He is the buzzkiller. Yost elaborated on his complaint, adding an anecdote about the good old days, when he coached for the Atlanta Braves in 1991 and they were the happy upstarts of Major League Baseball. The way Yost remembers it, the Braves were filling Fulton County Stadium with Tomahawk Chopping every night down the stretch.
Thankfully, columnist Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star covered the Gordon game and was able to fact-check Nedley:
Yost is dead wrong. Laughably wrong. And this isn’t about his contention that the “electricity” of the home crowd helps a team that is now 4-6 in front of crowds more than 30,000 at home and just had its signature win of the season in front of fewer than 14,000. It’s not even about the fact that a manager fired six years ago with 12 games left and his team holding a playoff spot at least in part because he wasn’t handling pressure well might not want to pick unnecessary fights with fans after the best win of the season.
Yost must have forgotten that in 1991, when the Braves were going from worst to first, they played a home game on Aug. 26, a Monday night, with first place potentially in the balance.
And 12,889 people showed up.
That’s not a typo. The next night, the Braves moved into first place in front of 15,806 people.
Of course, Yost's perspective is worse than his facts. He also moaned about the Royals building toward their current success for three or four years, and fans not respecting all of the hard work the organization has done. Well what about, Mellinger writes, the 30 years fans have been waiting — often hopelessly — that the Royals would be watchable again?
As Mellinger also notes, Royals attendance is not ideal. They average 23,442 fans, which is sixth from the bottom in the majors. They're a little better — 21st — in percentage of ballpark capacity. That's better than Toronto, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami, Seattle and Cleveland — all of which are playoff contenders.
Yost might think he's backing up his guys by challenging the fans — encouraging them through shame — but fans don't work for the ball club. All he's got to say is, "Hopefully we'll have more fans come tomorrow," or something that doesn't come out like the comments he made. Managers and players frequently complain about the media fostering or even creating distractions. Sometimes, they're right. Well here's a clear-cut case of a manager going out of his way to create a distraction.
Yost should just be happy for the people who were at the ballpark, including his team.
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