Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Equating Your Royals To A Character In The Wire: The Dayton Moore Edition

After getting thousands of emails asking about the next installment I knew that I could not put it off any longer. I should warn you that this entry is sure to spoil some things for those of you who have not seen the show. If you plan to, well, what the hell have you been waiting for? Drop whatever you are doing and get to work. You are only doing yourself a disservice.

Now, insofar as Dayton Moore is concerned, there is one place to look when drawing parallels between his place with the Royals and Burns & Simon's vision of Baltimore: Russell "Stringer" Bell.

In Stringer Bell, we have the story of a man who is trying to rise above his station, above the life he was born into. String is attempting to not just change The Game but to reinvent it.

Despite the fact that he scratched his way to the top on the streets slinging drugs and taking territory by force, Stringer Bell has his sights set on a different life. A better life. A life in which the enterprise that he and Avon Barksdale started has been legitimized. Rather than continue on trafficking drugs, Stringer Bell wants to transition into being a legitimate, professional organization with a focus in real estate. In pursuit of this goal, he buys political favor, using the money gotten via the illegal drug trade.

Unfortunately for Stringer Bell, he is too tied into the old ways of doing business. Despite his desire to legitimize his organization, to parlay his success in a tried-and-true money-making enterprise into a real cash cow that he can be proud of out in the open, he gets caught up in business that is below him. He gets into a game he cannot win, trying to take out stick-up artist Omar Little. While attempting to run with the big boys, he gets sucked back into The Game. While he ultimately gives up on his quest to take out Omar and redirects his efforts to legitimizing his organization, he cannot outrun his past. The measures of success he has as Avon--his anchor to The Game--is in the joint are shortlived, as Avon isn't long for jail and has reach from inside.

When the Dominican connect dries up and the Barksdale crew struggles to find another pipeline, Avon rejects the most practical solution that Stringer proposes.  The secret but pragmatic deal that Stringer Bell eventually cuts with Proposition Joe is then undermined by Avon, who meddles and tries to run things the old way from inside. Stringer finds himself unable to extricate the organization from the traditional ways of doing business.

Look over here!
Echoes of the Sistene Chapel courtesy of the generous Minda Haas
Stop me when this starts feeling unfamiliar. To say there are parallels between Stringer Bell's story arc and Dayton Moore's tenure as Royals' General Manager thus far would be a grotesque understatement.

Dayton Moore is attempting to redefine/reimagine how business is done in Kansas City. While trying to revitalize baseball in KC and legitimize the Royals, he has tried to change the way the organization is run. He has tried to build the Royals up by building up the farm system. He is trying to provide the Royals with a pipeline of talent conceivably produced entirely from within.

Just like String, while trying to reach a point of legitimacy, Moore is still tethered to an antiquated mode of thinking. He has proven to be a mediocre evaluator of experienced talent at the Major League level, beholden to the evaluation as a scout without looking at the results on the field. Stringer Bell's struggles with Omar are the equivalent of Dayton Moore's signings of Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Jason Kendall, John Bale, Willie Bloomquist, Yasuhiko Yabuta, Sidney Ponson, and Horacio Ramirez (the second time) and his acquisition of Mike Jacobs or the injury-prone Coco Crisp and his jettisoning of David DeJesus (three years too late for not enough return), Jorge de la Rosa, Jeff Keppinger, Miguel Olivo, and John Buck. The signings of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera this offseason seem to further this notion, although the naysayers could conceivably be proven wrong (not likely in my opinion, but a possibility just the same).

Just as in The Wire, the ways in which Dayton Moore is trying to fundamentally alter the modus operandi of the organization seem to have gotten the organization heading in the right direction. This is where the fate of Stringer Bell should serve as a cautionary tale. While String's ideas work in theory, he ends up having everything blow up in his face. Senator Clay Davis takes him to the cleaners to the tune of $250,000, conning him into paying him to expedite permits on a condominium development. Stringer Bell proves to be an easy mark when operating out of his comfort zone. In trying to transition to legitimacy, he falls prey to the people he is striving to become. More importantly, his questionable decisions in the past, nearly all related to the way he played The Game come back to bite him in the ass. His decision to have Wallace offed which begat D'Angelo Barksdale's leaving the fold which eventually corroded his bond with Avon when coupled with his efforts in vain to take out Omar by pitting him against Brother Mouzone all come together to be his undoing.

If Dayton Moore ends up getting canned, it isn't hard to imagine this stemming from two primary factors: First, his plans for legitimizing the organization are ultimately held up as the The Process (read: turning the farm into a pipeline) fails to yield the fruit he anticipates, retarding progress; Second, his ties to his outmoded ways of going about doing his business come back to bite him in the ass.

Does this mean that Dayton Moore will end up sleeping with D'Angelo's old lady while D's in the joint? Will Joakim Soria and the Royals equivalent of Omar (who we'll just have wait and see about) be standing over Dayton Moore's corpse after finishing him off? Time will tell.

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