When it comes to annual baseball traditions in Kansas City, the days when The Star's Bob Dutton calls Royals owner David Glass to check for a pulse ranks among my favorites.
"It's going to get better," Glass told The Star. "My confidence isn't shaken in the least. We're going to turn this thing around. Hang in there with us."
That message, of course, will do nothing to encourage fans of the Royals, who have gotten off to a 9-19 start and haven't seen anything resembling success since the former Walmart kingpin bought the team in 2000. This year's marketing campaign promised that it was "Our Time in 2012," but the truth is that Kansas Citians have been thinking it's time for a new owner. One that lives in the area and very visibly wants the team to thrive, like the beloved Ewing Kauffman did.
With that in mind, I started thinking about the ownership groups that baseball fans would most like to see changed. I assembled a loose list of 10 candidates for the ejection seat.
One note: We didn't list John Moores on here, since the Padres are up for sale and he'd likely insist on inhabiting the top spot.
1. The Wilpon family (Mets): The worst of the Bernie Madoff-related mess seems to be behind them, but it has arguably only been the grace of buddy Bud Selig that has gotten them this far. There are few excuses for such a major-market franchise to be saddled with so much debt, so it's time for the club to be operated by someone who can pay the bills and retain top homegrown talent like Jose Reyes.
2. Peter Angelos (Orioles): This season has featured a great start, but few teams have struggled like the Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League. While the O's used to be a model franchise, they've crumbled under Angelos' stewardship. Time for a new ruler of the roost.
3. David Glass (Royals): Kansas City was another example of a model franchise in the '70/'80s, only to be reduced to rubble under an owner who's simply content to cash revenue-sharing checks. Glass can point toward the money that GM Dayton Moore has been allocated to sign recent draft picks, but his team's performance under him has been too poor for too long.
4. Hiroshi Yamauchi (Mariners): While there's something to be said for an owner that doesn't meddle like Jerry Jones, you'd think he'd actually attend at least one game after buying the team. Safeco Field, which hasn't hosted a playoff game since 2001, could use some new blood.
5. The Dolan family (Indians): Maybe Tribe fans will cut them some slack if they make a deep run in 2012, but there aren't many fan bases who are as vocal with their dislike for their owner as they are in Cleveland.
6. Lew Wolff (A's): The hardcore fans in Oakland want him launched because he's trying to move the team to San Jose. A's fans in other locations might want him gone because he's stripped the team in order to get what he wants. Either way, it's going to take a few winning seasons — and not just a new ballpark — to attract fans back to his side.
7. Bob Nutting (Pirates): He's only been on the job since 2007 and while that doesn't seem that long, it's been an eternity for the poor Bucco fans who are still waiting for a winner. If the recent crop of drafted pitchers doesn't pan out, Nutting heads straight toward the top of this list.
8. The Pohlad family (Twins): How much credit was built up in the Twin Cities after the contraction threat passed and the Twins ruled the AL Central for the better part of a decade? The money-minded Pohlads are about to find out as the Twins currently rank as the worst team in baseball — with no real end in sight.
9. Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox): If spending too much money and being aggressive can be considered a problem for an owner, Reinsdorf is the leader of the pack. The last few years on the South Side have been marked by a series of free agent busts (Adam Dunn), expensive trades (Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson) and foolish pickups (Alex Rios, Manny Ramirez). The team's farm system and future was hurt in the process. Seeing Reinsdorf leave would mean the end of his never-ending loyalty to GM Kenny Williams and former White Sox players at every level of the organization.
10. Liberty Media (Braves): Atlanta has built a winner with young talent, but will its bottom-line minded corporate owners be willing to retain those players when it comes time to open the wallet?
What do you think of this list? Is there an owner you would add or subtract?