The benches cleared in Toronto, too

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People are really angry this Sunday, it seems. The Reds and Pirates had a benches-clearing incident in Cincinnati, and so did the Blue Jays and Royals.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson with a first-pitch fastball in the first inning. Donaldson didn’t like it, and glared at Volquez, but took his spot at first base. Volquez brushed Donaldson back with a first-pitch up-and-in fastball in the third inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on second base and one out, Royals reliever Ryan Madson hit Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on the elbow with a 2-2 fastball, the seventh-pitch of the at-bat. Madson, on a 2-2 count against Donaldson, threw another fastball up-and-in, nearly hitting Donaldson in the head. Donaldson clearly wasn’t happy, nor was manager John Gibbons, who was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Wolf.

In the top of the eighth, Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez threw a 2-0 fastball at the knees of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. Wolf ejected Sanchez from the game. Blue Jays bench coach Demarlo Hale was also ejected. Then the benches cleared. Yodvano Ventura, who didn’t start, was clearly agitated, but his teammates held him back. In the end, it was a typical benches-clearing incident: just a lot of yelling. No one else was ejected. The Royals went on to lose 5-2.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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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?