More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture

More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629372679
Publisher: Triumph Books
Publication date: 04/01/2016
Edition description: Second Edition, Updated edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 668,129
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dayton Moore is the general manager of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals. Since taking over in 2006, Moore has rebuilt the Royals organization into one of baseball’s best. He lives with his family in Leawood, Kansas. Matt Fulks is a freelance writer and editor and a regular contributor to various publications, including the Kansas City Star and Royals Baseball Insider magazine, the official publication of the Kansas City Royals. In recent years, he has also written for CBS Sportsline, the Denver Post, and USA Today Sports Weekly. He is the author or coauthor of 15 books, including projects with Royals legends Denny Matthews, Frank White, and Fred White. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas. A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, outfielder Alex Gordon has been one of the Royals’ best and most popular players during their back-to-back World Series campaigns. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri. As manager of the Kansas City Royals, Ned Yost has led the team to back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

Read an Excerpt

More Than a Season

Building a Championship Culture


By Dayton Moore, Matt Fulks

Triumph Books LLC

Copyright © 2016 Dayton Moore and Matt Fulks
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63319-547-9



CHAPTER 1

90 Feet Away


Baseball is a game of inches. It's a tough game. It's a game of failure. But it is also very rewarding.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals experienced all of these things during a 29-day postseason stretch, culminating with Game 7 of the World Series. It all started with the wild-card game against Oakland (see chapter 10 for more on that). Inches separated us from the end of the season and a trip to Anaheim on Salvador Perez's game-winning bouncer down the left-field line. There we were, though, a month later, playing in Game 7 of the World Series.

Going into the seventh game against the San Francisco Giants, I felt confident that we would win it, especially coming off a 10 — 0 win in Game 6 the night before. After what we'd seen during the entire postseason run, as Game 7 went on, even with the way Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner was throwing in late-inning relief, I thought that, if we could get a runner, we could get him across the plate. Why wouldn't any of us think that way? If we learned nothing else during the postseason, it was that this was a resilient bunch of Royals that had learned how to overcome deficits late in games. The common theme of that whole group was that they absolutely loved to play baseball, which made them tough and resilient.

There was a sense early in Game 7 that the magic might continue. After the Giants scored first with two runs in the top of the second off starter Jeremy Guthrie, we came right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. That was it for the Royals. The Giants took the lead for good with a run in the fourth. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy turned to his ace, Bumgarner, in the fifth. But just when it looked like the Royals were finished with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Gordon drove a ball to left-center. Gregor Blanco, whom I've known since he was 16, misplayed the ball, and it rolled to the wall. Juan Perez then bobbled the ball as he tried to pick it up. At that moment, a part of me thought Gordo had a chance to make it all the way home. However, from where I was sitting, I had a direct line of the relay. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele stopped Gordo at third as shortstop Brandon Crawford was about to get the relay throw in shallow left-center from Perez. Crawford was the key person on the play for two reasons. One, he has one of the best arms for a shortstop in major league baseball. Two, because of how deep he went to retrieve the relay, it's a much tougher decision for the third-base coach.

As fun as it would've been to see Alex try to score there, if I'm Jirsch, I'm making the same call of stopping Alex, mainly because of Crawford's arm. I thought Salvador Perez, who was on deck, would get a hit just like he did against Oakland about a month earlier. Salvy, who was going to be aggressive, is a good bad-ball hitter, and Bumgarner's pitches were in and out of the zone. If Salvy gets a hit, Gordo ties it, we pinch-run for Salvy, and then who knows what happens with Mike Moustakas coming up. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. We were 90 feet away.

After the season, I was privileged, along with Alex, to be part of turning on the Christmas lights at Kansas City's famous Country Club Plaza. One of the local media personalities saw us backstage and razzed Gordo a little about not trying to score.

"Do you know our third-base coach's name?" I asked the TV personality.

"No, I don't."

"Well, if Alex had kept running and gotten thrown out at the plate, you and everyone else in the country would've known it for the wrong reason. Mike Jirschele, who's an excellent third-base coach, would've gone down in World Series history for making that mistake."

The other big discussion right after the series, and rightly so, was Bumgarner. He turned in one of the most impressive performances in World Series history in 2014 by winning two games, saving one, and seeing his World Series ERA drop to 0.25. Because of all of that he was selected as the World Series MVP. Bumgarner is a true "giant" with a great ability to pitch and a great heart to compete. When your best players are your team's best competitors, you always have a chance to win. That's what Madison Bumgarner brought to that San Francisco team during the World Series.

After the game, I went down to our clubhouse, which was quiet except for reporters interviewing players, and I walked around to the players and coaches and thanked each one for their hard work and dedication to the Royals. I told them how proud of them we were as an organization and as a city.

That group of men helped reignite a baseball passion in Kansas City. Frankly, one of the things I enjoyed most with that postseason run was the joy that winning brought to our city and the way it united people. We lost more than a generation of fans because we weren't winning. Kids and grandkids were becoming Red Sox and Braves and Yankees fans because those teams were winning. As a parent of baseball fans, you want your kids to experience the great things — the winning, the civic pride, the fun games — that you experienced. To see that come around and then to receive letters or hear comments from someone as I stand in line at a coffee shop, or to read of people drawing encouragement from our club as they battled cancer and other potentially deadly diseases, is incredibly uplifting.

I tried to be positive around everyone, including the players, coaches, and manager Ned Yost in the clubhouse, but it was tough to feel anything but completely dejected. My emotions did get the better of me later that night.

As I was driving home, Gene Watson, our director of professional scouting, whom I've known since our Atlanta days, called me.

"Well, it was a great season," he said.

"Great, Gene? What's so great about it? I understand what you're saying, but what's so great about it? We had an opportunity to win the World Series and we didn't."

I continued to vent. I knew it wasn't the right thing to do, but that's part of the emotions you go through after losing the World Series. For that moment, maybe I wore my emotions a little louder because of how we lost and knowing how close we were at the end. Don't get me wrong: I was grateful and appreciative toward the players and the leaders throughout our organization who helped us reach that point, but I was wrapped up in the moment. Everyone manages failure differently. As you'll read several times throughout this book, the key to baseball is who manages failure the best. You will fail in baseball. Period. But the people and teams that manage it the best are able to reach their ceilings.

I didn't handle it the way I would've liked after Game 7. There was a lot of frustration and hurt that we didn't win. And, perhaps, selfishness and pride on my part — wanting to be the general manager of a World Series championship team — made me react the way I did to Gene. It was competitiveness in me, but it was a human flaw to react that harshly to our director of professional scouting. Taking it a step further, Gene was a big reason we made a particular move that helped us get to the World Series. As you'll read more in-depth later, he was the one who orchestrated the James Shields and Wade Davis trade and then kept me motivated to make the move. We didn't want to trade Wil Myers, but based on our plan and how we needed to get there, we needed to trade Wil and others for Shields and Davis. That turned out to be a blessing for our franchise, and it's a huge credit to Gene.

Later, I called Gene and apologized for the way I spoke to him. We all need people in our lives who can be sounding boards for our true feelings and emotions, in good times and in bad. For me, Gene Watson is one of those people.

* * *

Losing a World Series, whether you're expected to be there or not, hurts. After Game 7, it felt as if Yordano Ventura or Kelvin Herrera hit me in the gut with a fastball. Working for the Atlanta Braves taught me how hard it is to get to the World Series, let alone win it. And we were doing it there with three Hall of Fame pitchers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, future Hall of Fame player Chipper Jones, and Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox. So I understood this was a special opportunity. I wanted to try to enjoy every moment, but as a competitor and a general manager, I couldn't help but gravitate toward the thoughts, How are we going to do this again? What do we have to do next year?

Regardless of your field, those questions apply to all of us, especially when you've been 90 feet away from your goal. How are we going to do this again? And what do we have to do to get better next year?

There have been many times in my life when I've been only 90 feet away. Other times I've crossed home plate. The following pages are about those times for me and how we brought this once proud Kansas City Royals club from a 100-loss franchise to within 90 feet of tying Game 7 in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 2014 World Series.

* * *

As I pulled into the driveway after talking with Gene Watson a few hours after Perez ended Game 7 by popping out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, I was reminded of the most vivid images from the 2014 postseason run: my home team — my family. Our first three or four years in Kansas City were difficult on our entire family. It was a challenge for us as a family to weather the criticism that was directed toward the Royals and, ultimately, me as the general manager. There were many times I wanted to fight back with and through the media, but I wisely shut my mouth and stayed focused on our long-term plan. There's no way I could have gotten through that time without a strong faith system and my wife, Marianne, who's always been a great encourager to me. To see her and our three kids — Ashley, Avery, and Robert — enjoy the 2014 postseason run after what they endured in previous years is rewarding and special.

That's where it begins and ends with me: family. As much as I love the Kansas City Royals and our people within the organization, my favorite team is at home. I've always strived to make them a priority, second only to my relationship with Christ. That love and commitment and importance of family was shown to me throughout my entire life.

CHAPTER 2

A Midwestern Kid Realizes His Dream


Ever since I picked up a baseball, or at least since being introduced to the sport, there hasn't been a day when I didn't think about baseball. I've been in love with the game for as long as I can remember.

Growing up in the 1970s, many of us could imagine ourselves reaching baseball's biggest stage, the World Series, and getting the game-winning hit in Game 7. We all created those situations as kids. For me it was a passion as much as it was a dream. As kids in western New York, we'd play Wiffle ball, tennis ball, or one-on-one as we pitched to the strike zone painted on the side of our elementary school. We'd go through the Royals lineup as they faced the Dodgers or whichever team seemed to be a good opponent. Except the Yankees. It was never the Yankees. We read the box scores every day so we could recite the lineups better than we could Bible verses. We shared a lot of dreams about playing in the big leagues. The only way to get there, we thought then, was to win the day. Be the best you can be each day. As with life, we'd start with a fresh slate each day.

And, yes, you read that previous paragraph correctly. It was almost always the Kansas City Royals against someone else. The Royals were my team, thanks to my parents' roots and, especially, my grandmother's love of the team.

* * *

My mother, Penne, grew up in Coldwater, Kansas, which is a wheat farming community about two hours west of Wichita, Kansas. In the mid-1960s, she was attending a small business school in Wichita when some mutual friends introduced her to Robert Moore, who had served on the USS Yorktown during Vietnam but was working at Beechcraft, an airline manufacturing company based in Wichita. There must've been an instant attraction between Robert and Penne because they dated about three months before getting married. My brother, sister, and I were all born in Wichita a few years later. I was the oldest, followed by Duke about three years later, and then Danielle about three years after him. Shortly after Danielle was born when I was in kindergarten, we moved to Lakewood, New York, when Dad took a job with Chautauqua Airlines.

Every August we'd spend two to three weeks with my grandparents in Coldwater. That's where I developed a love for the Royals because my grandmother, Wynona, was a huge fan. With our mutual love of baseball and my love for my grandmother, baseball and the Royals became easy topics of conversation for us. If we weren't listening to Buddy Blattner, Denny Matthews, and Fred White on the radio, we were staying up late to see the score on the news. The next morning, we'd grab the newspaper and head directly for the previous night's box score. The Royals were an easy team for me to like because they were winning and made it to the playoffs seemingly every year.

One of those playoff moments remains burned on my mind. In 1976, the Royals' first time going to the postseason, they were tied with the Yankees, two games to two, in a best-of-five series. We were watching in the bottom of the ninth, with the game tied at 6 — 6, when Chris Chambliss hit a walk-off home run over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium. I started bawling. And bawling. Unfortunately, that's one of my earliest Royals memories.

Another Royals memory that is extremely vivid for a much better reason was nine years later. I was a freshman at Garden City Community College and I had spent fall break with Dave Larson, a teammate of mine, in Illinois. Our drive back to Garden City, Kansas, happened to be on the same day as Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. Being somewhat naïve college freshmen, we thought we could stop at then — Royals Stadium and buy tickets for the game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course the game was sold out — and we couldn't afford the tickets anyway — but we noticed there were a lot of people parked on Interstate 70, watching the game from a grassy area between the stadium and the interstate. So we decided to join them. From that spot we could see everything except Lonnie Smith in left field. It was an absolute blast! One of the people had a portable television, so we could tell exactly what was going on. To this day, thinking about the crowd's electricity that we could feel near I-70 still gives me chills.

* * *

While I was attending Lakewood Elementary School, I continued to play baseball in the spring and summer, but the sport that wrested some of my attention away from baseball was hockey. I was on a traveling team that played in tournaments throughout New York and even in Canada. Of course, excitement surrounding the sport grew during that time with the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" about seven hours up the road in Lake Placid. I didn't have the same love for hockey as I did baseball, but it's a fascinating sport to most people. The hand-eye coordination needed in hockey rivals that of hitting a baseball. Royals Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews, who's a hockey connoisseur, summed up hockey perfectly: "Hockey is a fast, instinctive game. There's also no foul territory, so once you're on the rink, you can't run out of bounds to avoid a hit. ... The most intriguing part of it is playing on a foreign surface."

Any thoughts I might've had of becoming the next Bobby Hull or Guy Lafleur were dashed after the eighth grade when Dad took a job with Mississippi Valley Airlines and we moved to Moline, Illinois, where the closest hockey league was more than an hour away in Peoria.

Each new job my father took meant a move to another city and the instability that might bring to a family. But he was doing it to improve our family's situation. The move to Illinois certainly did that. Before going to Moline, my mother worked outside the home to help make ends meet, even though it was unusual at that time for women to work. We weren't poor, but there were mornings we'd wake up without milk in the house. Neither of my parents had a college degree, and we were what one might consider a blue-collar family.

From the examples set by my parents, though, I learned so many incredible life lessons that molded who I am today. Although we moved a lot, my father worked extremely hard, from morning until night. He would recite a rhyme to us kids that still rings in my head today: "Do a job, big or small, do it right or not at all." When I first got into coaching, he would say, "You need to work every job like it's the last one you'll ever have." He treated people with kindness. He was both respectful and respected, and showed what it meant to be transparent. Then there was my mother who was a very tough Midwestern woman who was never afraid to speak her mind. And she was a tough, unbelievable competitor. At her funeral, one woman said, "Penne Moore was the toughest woman I've ever met in my life." That was true. She'd drop the gloves in a heartbeat. Dad was the spiritual leader of the family. He made sure we were in church as much as possible as a family, which was an important component that he was trying to instill in the family.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from More Than a Season by Dayton Moore, Matt Fulks. Copyright © 2016 Dayton Moore and Matt Fulks. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword Alex Gordon xi

Introduction Ned Yost xvii

Prologue xxiii

1 90 Feet Away 1

2 A Midwestern Kid Realizes his Dream 9

3 A Brave New World 32

4 "You Can't Win in Kansas City" 50

5 Changing the Culture 66

6 Organizational Harmony 98

7 The Process 109

8 The Prodigal Son Returns 131

9 Operation: Flip the Switch 148

10 The Process Comes to Fruition 170

11 From Hope Springs a Championship 195

12 Taking the Crown 213

Appendices:

C You In The Major Leagues 229

"Dear Dayton…" 231

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