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Big dreams, small wallets

Lose 106 games in a season and 19 in a row, as the Royals did last year, and it's a chore convincing free agents to take you seriously. Nobody cares that the jazz is great in town, the barbecue is better, or that Kansas City is the home of Hallmark Cards and Russell Stover Candies.

Finish below .500 for 13 straight seasons, as the Pirates have done, and players ignore you by force of habit. It hardly matters that PNC Park might be the prettiest of all the new venues or that Pittsburgh is the only city rated among the top five most livable in three editions of the "Places Rated Almanac."

Baseball fans in Kansas City and Pittsburgh have grown accustomed to lousy seasons punctuated by uneventful winters that give way to scant hopes every spring. You won't read a lot about that in the Chamber of Commerce brochures.