DATELINE – KANSAS CITY
While the 2012 baseball season wasn’t what most of us Royals fans were expecting, there’s still cause for celebration. There were plenty of bright spots. For instance, defense was much improved from 2011 to 2012 as an increased attention to defense and the firing of Yuniesky Bettancourt. Jeff Francouer managed to play poorly enough to force the club’s hand to trade or dump off the final year of a two year mutual extension for 2013.
But mostly, the year will go down in history as the year it was to be #OurTime and rather became #SourTime as the team finishes well below targeted 81-81 finishes.
One man, however, stood as a beacon of light and hope for fans. Admittedly, many of those fans were angry and drunk driving home from the stadium, but this man stood alone to take them all on. He is the Most Valuable Player for the Royals this year.
This is Robert Ford’s first MVP season since a triple-crown year in Little League in the 1980’s.
Robert Ford of 610 Sports is the Royals 2012 MVP.
Ford hosts the pre and post-game show for the Royals on 610 and for most of the 162 mornings, evenings and late nights this summer, he has handled the announcement of the lineups, that included dozens of different leadoff batters. He has announced daily injury updates including a littany of Tommy John surgeries, pulled hamstrings and a certain catcher’s torn ACL. He has fielded calls from the unkempt and unwashed. Those callers stand below only Facebook posters in the dichotomy of stupid in this world.
And he did it all without complaining, without showing weakness and without shouting “YOU DUMB FUCK, JASON ADAM IS AT LEAST THREE YEARS AWAY FROM GETTING AN EIGHT POINT SIX ERA FOR THE ROYALS!!!!”
Rambling Morons caught up with Robert recently to talk with him exclusively about his MVP season and what’s next for him in the offseason. We wish all the best and plenty of mental therapy for Robert in the fall. Congrats, @raford3!
RamblingMorons: Robert, congratulations on being named the MVP of the Royals season, how does it feel to get such an honor?
Robert Ford: It feels like I’ve been covering a team that’s had 17 losing seasons in 18 years. Something tells me the Yankees post-game show host has never won an award like this. Well, at least not since the Stump Merrill Era
RM: The others in the running were Billy Butler (you had more doubles and clogged fewer bases), Jeff Francouer (you were grittier) and Melky Cabrera, but he took his name out of the running.
RF: When I played in Little League, I wore one batting glove, and it was on my top hand. Not on the bottom hand, like you’re supposed to. It doesn’t get grittier than that. I was also a great base stealer even though I didn’t really know how to slide and I drew a lot of walks because I was afraid to swing the bat. If only I’d known about PEDs when I was 12.
RM: What will you remember most about the 2012 Season? Will it be The All-Star Game? Alex Gordon’s 50+ doubles? The rash of injuries surrounding this team? The flood of Tommy John surgeries? Or that Sal Perez is a beast?
RF: All-Star Week was awesome. I’d never been a part of an event like that, as a fan or media member, and it was great to see the nation’s eyes turn to Kansas City for a few days. It was also great to see Kansas City get the attention it deserves as a beautiful city with a wonderful ballpark and passionate baseball fans. And, I gamely battled through the week while dealing with pink eye. Fortunately, there are long commercial breaks during the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby, so I was able to pump my eye full of drops without missing any action.
RM: You remember when Yuniesky Bettancourt was part of this team? What the hell was that?
RF: I was there both times he was a part of the team! How lucky am I? When the Royals traded with Seattle for him, I think I was the only one who defended it, largely because he couldn’t be worse than the Willie Bloomquist-Tony Pena Jr.-Luis Hernandez combo the Royals were running out there at short at the time — and he wasn’t. Which says more about what Betancourt was replacing than it does about Betancourt’s ability. The second time around, I wasn’t too concerned about the move because he was signed as a backup. I didn’t like the rotating second base mess he was a part of at the start of the year — pick a guy and stick with him — but that wasn’t Betancourt’s fault. And, I felt his contract was cheap enough that it wouldn’t prevent the Royals from releasing him if necessary, and it didn’t. But, hey, Betancourt thought he should’ve been playing more and, since his release, he has been. Oh wait…
RM: Do you have any faith that the combination of David Glass’s suddenly opened pocketbook and Dayton Moore’s keen eye can equate to an improved enough rotation so that 2013 can be a contending year rather than the 2014 or beyond most Royals fans are resigned to now?
RF: How many Royals fans would’ve bet on Glass opening his wallet to spend on scouting, the draft, player development and international signings and development when Dayton Moore took over in 2006? I don’t know what led to Glass’s epiphany then, but it’s helped get the Royals out of the morass they were in during the Allard Baird Era, when no money was spent on anything; I could tell you stories about how cheap the Royals were then that would make your head spin, even though you already know how cheap they were. I think the fact Glass publicly stated that he would be willing to spend on pitching this off-season is significant; he’s not one who makes bold and specific pronouncements like that. Of course, now that money needs to be spent, but there’s no way Glass mentions it if he isn’t planning on spending. Now, the onus is on Moore to find some guys who are worth the money.
RM: One of the major reasons you were named team MVP was your unwavering dedication to handling the shit job of post-game callers which are only a half step above Facebook Royals Page posters. How do you do it night in and night out?
RF: I’ve seen a lot of crappy baseball. I grew up a Mets fan and, while the late 80s and late 90s-early 00s were great, the period in between was filled with mediocrity. In my seven years as a minor league baseball radio guy, I never once called games for a playoff team; only two teams I worked for had a .500 or better record and one team had a 22-game losing streak. Over the years, I’ve learned to develop a healthy perspective about such things and I try not to overreact or get too high or low; by nature I’m very even keeled anyway. Also, I can’t control what happens on the field, I can only control my broadcasts. So, I try to make my broadcasts the best they can be and let the chips fall where they may.
RM: What have been some of your favorite questions you’ve been asked?
RF: I love the people who think that the Royals are lousy because the coaches and manager don’t tell the players obvious things. “Why doesn’t Seitzer tell the hitters to be more patient?” “Eiland needs to tell these guys to throw more strikes.” Every hitting and pitching coach in the world tells their pupils these things; at the Major League level, it comes down to talent combined with the right amount of experience. Not that coaches and managers don’t matter, but I think the Royals have been bad for so long because of a lack of good ballplayers, not because they’ve had lousy managers and coaches. I also love the people who try to relate their experiences playing and managing in high school/college/semipro/Little League to the Royals. It’s the same game, but not even close to the same thing. You’re not going to have more credibility when discussing whether Ned Yost should call for less bunts because you managed a team at Mac N Seitz to a league title.
RM: So… why HASN’T Bubba Starling been called up yet and why isn’t he platooning with Wil Myers?
RF: Because David Glass is cheap and Dayton Moore doesn’t have a clue. Duh!
RM: What will you do in the offseason?
RF: I’ll be doing some reporting and hosting for 610. I’m also putting together a schedule of freelance basketball and football play-by-play, like I have the previous few off-seasons I’ve been here.
RM: You are also very vocal about non-sports topics on Twitter? Will you devote any of your offseason to tweeting about the Presidential elections coming up?
RF: I don’t make an effort to tweet about specific topics; I just tweet about whatever strikes my interest or whatever I feel like expressing in 140 characters. But, honestly, I’ll be glad when the election is over. I really despise all the ridiculously partisan rhetoric espoused by supporters of both sides every four years.
RM: How much will you be looking forward to Pitcher and Catchers in February 2013? What can we expect from Robert Ford in 2013?
RF: Spring training’s always fun and I look forward to it every year. But, I’ve barely thought about 2013 because I still don’t know what I’m doing the rest of 2012. However, baseball is never far from my mind and I hope I can continue to make a living covering it for many more years.