Frank White Dismissal Not So Simple
Following the announcement that Frank White and Kevin Shank would not be brought back for the 2012 season as part of the television broadcasts, the Royals fanbase erupted in displeasure for the way the organization treated one if its all-time greats. Rumors began to circulate that White’s contract was not renewed due to his being overly critical and negative. Frank White confirmed those rumors as a guest on What’s Right with Nick Wright on 610 Sports AM in Kansas City. I’ll get back to that radio interview in a bit. I get the feeling that the opinion I am about to share with you will not be popular, but I think it’s an opinion that needs to be stated because the overwhelming majority seems to think the Royals did about the worst thing they could have done.
I’ll begin by saying that I love Frank White. I wore the number 20 growing up in baseball as a tribute to him because I appreciated everything he did for the Royals organization. For those who follow me on Twitter or have read me throughout the last couple of years will know that I’m not really the biggest fan of Frank White the broadcaster. My issues with him come from the fact that he’s very quick to point out what someone “should” have done in various situations. White touches on this in the interview with Nick Wright, but at some point, I don’t want to be taught how to play baseball while I’m watching a baseball game. That’s my personal opinion regarding his broadcasting prowess and maybe it does play a role in my having no problem with this move.
I’d also like to point out that while ¬†have no issue with this move, I still believe the whole situation could have been handled with much more tact. That said, I just simply can’t side with the people who believe Frank White was given an unfair fate. This is where my opinions will probably become unpopular. This whole situation makes Frank White come off as a bit of a crybaby to me and in thinking back, this isn’t the first time. It goes all the way back to prior to the 2008 season when Trey Hillman was hired to manage the Royals and Frank White was a managerial candidate. He made public comments at the time about how he didn’t feel like the Royals gave him a fair option and he hinted numerous times that the Royals made a mistake by hiring someone else. In hindsight, it would have been quite difficult to do worse than Trey Hillman, but as these last couple of days have shown, when the Royals had to fire Frank White (and they would have had to), the public backlash would have been horrendous, which might actually have been a reason they didn’t hire him. Ryne Sandberg might have something to say about that as well.
After that, Frank White took on a role in public relations and community relations, I believe. White held that role as well as a role on the Royals pre- and post-game shows on Fox Sports Kansas City. In 2009, fellow Royals Hall of Famer Paul Splittorff had a malady that caused him to be unable to broadcast and Frank White admirably filled in for him as an amateur broadcaster. He was rough around the edges, but it was difficult to fault him as he was pressed into unexpected action. Of course, Splittorff remained ill and sadly passed away this past season as the full-time gig fell to Frank White in the booth. Prior to the 2011 season, though, the Royals approached Frank White about the position for which they actually paid him and asked him to take a pay cut due to the fact that he was unable to fulfill his duties as listed in the job description because of the obligation to television. I obviously wasn’t a part of these conversations and something could have been said by the Royals that was not cool, but on the surface the request doesn’t seem out of line to me. If I took a job that precluded me from performing my duties for my original job, I’d probably be delighted that my original job would allow me to stay on in spite of the fact that I was devoting my time elsewhere.
Instead of keeping it private, Frank White took the whole thing public, which is not the first time he had gone to the media to complain about the way the organization has treated him. The general public unsurprisingly sided with the hero, Frank White, because that’s what we typically do. At a time when the Royals organization had very little good will built up, they couldn’t afford a public relations nightmare like this one, especially considering one of their public relations guys was the person they were having an issue with. And yes, I’ll get to his position itself in a bit. While this was happening about a year ago, I remember thinking that it just seems so odd he’d come forward and complain because what the Royals were asking simply didn’t seem unreasonable. But I still sided with Frank White because he’s Frank White.
As time passed, most people forgot about the situation from January where the Royals requested a pay cut and he broadcasted games pretty much full time for the 2011 season. Unfortunately, his broadcasting skills did not improve as he did it more. In fact, to me, he began to become more irritating, even rubbing off on his partner, Ryan Lefebvre, who did not play off him well. The 2011 season was a fantastic one for the Royals organization as they did just about everything right aside from actually win at the big league level. Of course, that’s the biggest thing, but still quite the departure from what we’d grown accustomed to previously as the organization often did things to put their collective feet in their mouths. Then after the season ended and the most anticipated offseasons in years began, the team cancelled FanFest and then followed that up with this news about Frank White.
The natural reaction here is to say the Royals did the wrong thing because they’ve spent 26 years doing the wrong thing, but every day that I think about this whole ordeal I can’t stop thinking about the fact that I just think Frank White is in the wrong here. I don’t know Frank personally, so I may be speaking out of turn here, but he gives off the sense that he’s entitled to anything he wants because of his name. The last few days have given me the impression that he has uttered the phrase, ‘Do you know who I am?’ more than once in his life. As someone who makes his living in marketing and public relations, the fact that he had that job with the Royals without any proper training was a little annoying to me to start, but that’s just a personal thing. The fact that he thought he was entitled to that position in spite of not being able to fulfill all his duties just clouds my opinion of him even farther. And the thing that gets me more than anything is during his interview with Nick Wright, White openly admitted that after receiving the news he would not be brought back, he walked out of the meeting. He asked Jack Donovan for examples of his negativity and when he didn’t get an answer, he left. I obviously wasn’t there, so maybe Donovan was rude or maybe he wasn’t. I just don’t know. What I do know is that White had no idea what was coming beyond that aspect. Maybe Donovan was going to say that the Royals would be in touch with him about a position within the organization again or maybe they wanted him back as co-host of the pre- and post-game show. I’m not sure if any of that would have appeased White, but we’ll never know because he acted like a child and when he heard something he didn’t like, he stormed out.
Maybe this deserves more space in this article, but I do want to point out that if it is true that Frank White was fired for being too critical during the broadcasts, then that’s about the worst thing they could do. Even if that is the reason he was given, I can’t imagine that it was true. Or maybe it was true, but Donovan wasn’t clear that he was tired of Frank being too critical of the organization on a day-to-day basis as has been rumored. You can criticize the organization for being too thin skinned if it was all about the on-air analysis, but there’s only so much you can take when you have an employee bad mouthing you every chance he gets and I can understand that. All that said, if we find out the whole reason for the firing is because he was negative on air, every word I’ve written is for naught because that’d be simply awful.
I’m not sitting here saying that the Royals handled this situation appropriately, but from piecing the past few years together, it seems like Frank White has not been happy with the organization since they passed him over for a job he thought he deserved. Then when he wasn’t able to do the jobs he did have through the organization and was asked not to come back, he threw a hissy fit. His public statements on the radio and in the very good article written by Sam Mellinger depict a man bitter that he didn’t get his way. That’s an ugly color on anybody. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never had those emotions, but I’m also not a public figure in the realm of a Frank White. I hope he comes back to the organization because when he’s not feeling offended, he’s a great ambassador for Kansas City and the Royals as a whole. This situation has changed my opinion of Frank White, though. And that’s just too bad because if he played it right, the Royals could have just looked terrible. Instead he had to go public and he looks like the petty one here. Like I said at the beginning of this, I know my opinion isn’t going to be terribly popular, but I just can’t get over the feeling that the local boy made a big mistake here.
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