Fresh off their wild ride to the World Series, which ended with Alex Gordon stranded 90 feet away from a tied Game 7, it seemed everyone was on board with the exciting, fleet-footed Kansas City Royals.  With some bearish projections heading into 2015 (PECOTA had them winning 72 games), their lovable underdog status seemed to remain intact, too.

But it look less than a month into this season for all of that to change when the Royals decided they were going to fight everybody.  Their brawling, manly posturing, and bouts of staring menacingly at other teams has found them all over the sporting news.  In fact, it made the news on Wednesday when they didn’t fight the Indians after Danny Salazar plunked Alcides Escobar.

Like others, I presume, I’ve been thinking about the Royals lately.  I don’t have much commentary to offer, other than to say I think it’s silly when people demand or expect Royals fans to apologize on behalf of their team.  I get this a lot as a Cardinals fan.  Someone will send me a link to something truly horrible a Cardinals fan has done with a “Please defend” request attached.  Well, thing is, I don’t want to defend it.  In the same vein to what C. Trent Rosecrans told Reds Manager Bryan Price last week, I don’t think that’s necessarily my job as a fan.

And it’s not a Royals fan’s responsibility either, no matter how many people Yordano Ventura tries to fight tomorrow.  If a fan chose the Royals on the premise that they’re the team that never escalates bean-ball wars, or because they perceived the Royals as always having the moral high ground when it comes to baseball’s various squabbles, then that person might have some explaining to do.  But I gather that’s not why people fill Kauffman Stadium.  They cheer for them because they probably grew up around Kansas City. Or maybe their parents did.  Or perhaps they just happened to be watching a Royals game in 1987 when Kevin Seitzer went 6 for 6.  Deep down, most of us want our teams to be universally liked and respected, but if they turn heel we have no choice but to accept it and go along for the ride.  We’ve invested too much with these teams to drop them on account of a player possibly being an unreasonable hothead.  So embrace it, Royals fans.  Don’t be ashamed and definitely don’t apologize.

On a mostly unrelated note, reading about the Royals reminded me of a GIF I saw a few years ago from Game 2 of the 1977 ALCS.  Courtesy of CBS Sports, here is the Royals’ Hal McRae, no stranger to unnecessarily escalating situations, destroying Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph with the most ludicrous takeout slide the world has ever seen:

mcrae takeout

My favorite part is the way McRae – after carrying Randolph a good ten feet away from the bag – looks up for the umpire’s call, as if maybe he was somehow safe.  Sorry Hal, you’re out.

 

 

 

STORY LINES AND NEWS CYCLE EPHEMERA

Living on the east coast and primarily following an NL team robs one of being able to watch Mike Trout play regularly.  And that’s too bad because when Trout isn’t crushing balls to the left field stands like he did on Wednesday, he’s making a catch like the one below to save the game yesterday for the Halos vs the A’s.  (His bullpen teammates converted a 6-0 lead to a 6-5 final.)

And is former Banished to the Pen writer Matt Trueblood a highlight truther?

I disagree.  Here’s why that moment is special, even if the catch isn’t (although it looked pretty good to me!): For a split-second, everyone thought that Ike Davis had maybe cleared the bases and put the A’s in primary position to win that game.  Their fans did.  The Angels fans did.  I did.  But then Trout instantly flips the script and says, “Nah, I’ll just end the game instead.”  It’s all about the circumstances.  If that catch is made in the 5th inning with the bases empty, no one cares all that much.  Make that catch in the 9th with the bases loaded and two outs and it’s a cause for celebration.

Trout deservedly gets more attention, but Bryce Harper is on his way to compiling his best year in the majors and is morphing into the player Nationals fans have been waiting for.  He hit two doubles and had three RBIs in the Nats’ 8-2 win over the Mets (it was the Mets’ first loss at Citi Field this year), and is hitting .286/.440/.545 for the year.  He’s also only 22-years-old, which just seems insane, and was the youngest player in the NL until the Cubs called up Addison Russell.  Notably, the Nats have won three in a row and have scored a mere 34 runs over that stretch.

Cardinals’ rookie Tim Cooney was the first to get the nod to fill in for injured Adam Wainwright.  It didn’t go so well, and he was pulled after 2.1 innings.  Luckily, the Cardinals were playing the Phillies so it didn’t really matter and they won 9-3.  If you’re on a Matt Carpenter doubles watch, he hit another one and is on pace for an even 100.  In fact, it’s been a good first month for anyone named “Matt” on the Cardinals.  Carpenter’s line is .372/.438/.651; Matt Holliday is at .379/.500/.485; and Matt Adams is at .304/.338/.493.  And reliever Matt Belisle has only given up one earned run in 7.1 innings pitched.  Let’s bring Matt Stairs out of retirement and watch him hit .340 with 40 home runs, and somehow steal 50 bases.

The Astros won in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning over the Mariners on a Jose Altuve line drive off the left field wall, which scored Marwin Gonzalez. The Astros have won seven in a row and have a four game lead in the AL West.  I realize we just now hit May 1st, but am I crazy for thinking the Astros really could win that division?  Unlike the NL East, there’s not a single team who I assume will just eventually turn it on and run away from the pack.

The debate over the DH in the NL has been exhausted this last week mostly due to the Wainwright injury.  Reds’ pitcher Mike Leake let his feelings be known by cranking a solo shot off of Shelby Miller in the 7th inning.  Take that, DH fanboys.  (Leake is hitting .077 if that matters.)  The Reds beat the Braves 5-1.  Leake’s home run was the second half of back-to-back shots, with the first delivered by catcher Tucker Barnhart.  Between the two of them, they have seven career home runs in 418 total plate appearances.  Has there ever been a tandem go back-to-back in MLB with less career home runs?  If this can be Play-Indexed, I would love to know.

 

TWEETS WE LIKED

 

ARTICLES WE LIKED

Noted highlight truther Matt Trueblood is forgiven on account of this very insightful look at offensive trends early in the 2015 season.

Ryan Sullivan of NatGM.com, and Banished to the Pen podcast host, shares his thoughts on Orioles High-A RHP David Hess.

Elizabeth Merrill looks at how the Royals are handling their heel turn.

Ben “Babyface” Lindbergh breaks down how pitch location could help reveal batter breakouts.

 

THIS WEEKEND’S BEST PITCHING MATCHUPS

Max Scherzer (WSH) vs. Matt Harvey (NYM) – Friday, 7:10 ET

Hot damn, that is an enticing match-up. If the Nats can take three of four at Citi Field, the early hole they dug for themselves in the NL East will likely cease to matter.

Chris Archer (TB) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (BAL) – Saturday, 7:05 ET

I still haven’t heard a reasonable explanation as to why Baltimore has to play home games in Tampa, without Tampa having to return the favor later in the season. Oh, but don’t worry O’s, the league is doing you a solid by possibly not letting the Rays’ players get their normal walk-up music. Seems like a fair trade. Nevertheless, Archer has been fantastic for the Rays this year, so if you’d prefer baseball over a Kentucky Derby party, stay home and watch this game. You won’t have to wear a silly hat.

Tyler Matzek (COL) vs. James Shields (SD) – Sunday, 4:10 ET

Big Game James vs. High FIP Matzek.  (Sorry.)

Next post:
Previous post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *