The Royals — who hadn’t made a playoff appearance in 29 years and had to make it through the American League Wild Card Game this year — are now just one win away from advancing to the World Series.
Jeremy Guthrie held the dangerous Orioles attack to one run over five solid innings and the Kansas City offense scratched out two runs on an Alex Gordon groundout and a Billy Butler sac fly as the Royals defeated the visiting Orioles 2-1 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night at a loud and jam-packed Kauffman Stadium.
Baltimore managed only three hits the entire night, and all three of those came against Guthrie within the first three innings of the game. Kansas City’s bullpen was flat-out dominant, with Jason Frasor, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and closer Greg Holland combining to no-hit the O’s over the final four frames.
The Royals are 7-0 in these playoffs and they can roll into the Fall Classic at 8-0 with a pennant-clinching win on Wednesday afternoon. Jason Vargas will face Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. What a ride.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?