Friday, December 2, 2011

The Frank White Saga

"The Royals felt like my chair in the booth was too negative toward 
the Royals and they wanted to make a change." - Frank White

First off let me be honest here, I was not a fan of White's broadcast work and when news initially broke that he wouldn't back I was okay with it. I thought the majority of the time he sounded awkward and uncomfortable and he just didn't seem to have the right type of voice for that line of work. But that's me. Then he appeared on 610 with Nick Wright to give his side, and needless to say, the reason for his dismissal is quite disappointing. (You can read the transcript here, courtesy of FakeNed.)

The thing is I can't recall White ever being negative, sure he questioned a move or two, but that's what a color analyst does. I thought, if anything, that he seemed too tolerant of Yost's managerial decisions. What I'm saying is, Len Dawson he wasn't.

"I asked for circumstances. What games. What comments," he told Wright. "Who the comment was made to. Um. I asked if, uh, the Royals had brought negative comments to them of something I had said, and I got nothing.". 

That's just weak. What most likely happened is that the front office, still upset over the publicity his departure from the ballclub received, is using his negativity to phase him out as the face of the franchise. Paul Splittorff criticized far more often than White and as far as I know nobody ever complained about it. Splitt's former broadcast partner  Denny Trease addressed this when I talked to him earlier this year.

"I always admired his nerve, his bravery to say what people always didn't want to hear," said Trease. "He called it the way he saw and I think not everybody would've been able to get away with that. Everybody - coaches, players, fans - had so much respect for Splitt that if he said it, it was ok. They weren't going to hold his feet to the fire, they knew if he was criticizing them, he had reason to criticize."

Remember though that Splitt began his broadcast career under different ownership and a different front office, and shortly after his playing days ended. It was indeed a different time.

Knowing how honesty is potentially rewarded you have to wonder how good a job White's replacement will do. Broadcasters who double as cheerleaders are not among the best in their profession but that's what Jeff Montgomery (or whoever) will have to be.

Trease's closing line was especially relevant:

"Sometimes it's just speaking the truth, and people will not forget it."

Indeed.

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