Better duck your head when Jonathan Broxton is pitching. He might hit you to force in the winning run. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

What Aggravates Me Most as a Royals Fan – 2012 Version (It's not what you think)

There are many ways to deal with stress and aggravation.  Experts tell us that one of the most effective remedies is to vent.  As a long-suffering Royals fan, who doesn’t expect to find relief in the team’s on-field performance anytime soon, I’ve decided to take the experts’ advice and let loose with my feelings.    I just hope no innocent bystanders will be harmed in the process.

It may surprise you to learn what I am most aggravated about after the first few series of this young season.  It’s not the losses, although that is beginning to wear on me somewhat.  Not the new broadcast team.  Not the smug looks on the Indians’ faces after they stole three straight wins in Kansas City and beat us again in Cleveland last night.  Not Broxton’s 12th inning meltdown consisting of 2 walks and 2 HBPs in 2/3 of an inning in Oakland that started the whole death spiral, not the mighty Hosmer reduced to weakly flailing at pitches two feet out of the strike zone, not the injuries that have robbed us of our talented young starting players, not the “first time in 30 years triple play,” and not even the site of the Yunibomber jogging out to second base night after night.  (Although I have to admit, seeing Yuni in a Royals’ uniform does push me perilously close to the edge.)  The way the team has played, the poor coaching, the epic baserunning blunders and defensive lapses are all causes of our seething frustration and anger.  But none of these things are what have me most perturbed.  The thing that aggravates me most right now, is the fans.

Now I realize it’s Royals fans who keep this web site up and running, so I need to watch my words carefully.  And please note that I am one of you – as hard core and blue blooded as they come.  I also realize that the serious fans who read this site probably haven’t fallen prey to the issues I want to discuss, so there is no reason for anyone here to take my comments personally.   But for the rest of the Royals’ fans that jumped on the bandwagon this Spring because it was a trendy thing to do the past few months – I have a few issues I’d like to get off my chest about you.

Rex Hudler has taken the brunt of Royal fan angst this year. Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

First of all, I really don’t get all the vitriol over Rex Hudler.  (Yes, vitriol is a real word – look it up.)  And I don’t understand why so many people want to connect Rex to the loss of Frank White from the booth, who let’s face it, is not the greatest broadcaster ever.  (Yes, I said it, because it’s true.)  Now don’t misunderstand me – If I was picking an all-time MLB team, Frank is my second baseman, no doubt.  I’d take him before Joe Morgan, before Ryne Sandberg, and certainly before Roberto Alomar and all of his excess spit.  Meeting Frank in a hotel lobby when I was 17-years-old and speaking one-on-one with him for 15 minutes is possibly the sports highlight of my life next to watching Darryl Motley squeeze the final out of Game 7 in 1985.

But really folks, whining about losing Frank from the broadcast team is the same as saying you’re upset that Denny Matthews, possibly the greatest radio man in the history of sports, is not permitted to pitch for the Royals.  Yes Frank “tells it like it is”, yes he is a beloved and treasured Kansas City icon, but he’s about as uncomfortable behind a microphone as Jeff Montgomery.  (Oops!  Did I just say that?)  Playing baseball and broadcasting – it’s two completely different skill sets.  Doing one of them well shouldn’t give you an automatic license to do the other.

And all the grumbling about Rex Hudler is really just complaining for complaining sake in my opinion.  I think everyone is just piling on because they’re frustrated and they need someplace to point their rage.  I’m absolutely certain that the majority of people who are griping about Rex are only doing so because they’ve heard everyone else do it and they’re jumping on the “We hate Hudler” bandwagon because all the cool kids are doing it.

And what is the main complaint about Hudler anyway?  “He’s too positive.”  Sheesh.  Is that really something to complain about?  Change is always difficult and listening to a different voice on TV after all these years is no different, it’s something we all need to get accustomed to.  I think it’s only fair to give Hudler a chance to find his voice rather than bust his chops before the man even has an opportunity to get his feet on the ground and learn the players and Royals’ history.   I’m not necessarily saying he’s a great broadcaster either.  But, I am saying we need to back off and give the man a break.

I also have a beef with the Royals fans who’ve already given up.  They’re complaining about “Our Time”, blaming Dayton Moore for fooling us into thinking the Royals were going to win this year, announcing they aren’t going to watch another game or spend another dollar on tickets until we field a winner, etc., etc.  Bunch of spoiled rotten babies.  Do you know how long the Cubs fans have waited to field a winner?  About a thousand years.  And how many Cubs fans are there in the world?  About a million jillion – more than all the BBQ ribs eaten in Kansas City since the dawn of time.   How many of these fans have given up and forsaken their team?  Almost none of them.  I’ve never ever heard of a Cubs fan giving up.  Take a lesson from the Northsiders of Chicago and those who proudly wear their old school “C” caps all around the world, put on your big boy pants and suck it up.

Baseball is a business that requires millions upon millions of dollars, and a substantial amount of luck and good timing to be successful.  (The less money you have, the more luck and good timing you need.)  The small market Royals must be smarter, more efficient, more strategic than almost any other team in order to have even a speck of a chance at winning.  Even the slightest mistake in drafting, or a bad contract, or injuries, etc., could set the team back for years.

Count your blessings that little ole Kansas City even has a major league team and that it wasn’t contracted a few years ago.  It almost happened, right before our eyes.  Just imagine Kauffman stadium sitting empty, covered with dust and cobwebs, every night this Summer.  How would you like that?  I know about the severe blow your pride has suffered while rooting for a loser.  My pride has suffered too.  But wouldn’t it be much much worse if you didn’t have a team to root for at all?  It would stink, times infinity, beyond your imagination.

And I don’t want to hear about people switching their allegiance to Sporting KC.   To even consider that your allegiance can just be switched on an off is one of the top five stupidest things I’ve ever heard.  Oh the Missouri Tigers didn’t make the final four?  That’s OK, you should just root for the Jawhawks now.  Stupid, stupid, STUPID!  Never going to happen!  Stop asking me not to root for the Royals.

Yuniesky Betancourt demonstrating his cat-like moves at second base. Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

And yes, I do have several bones to pick with the Royals too, such as how in the world they reached the brainless decision that it would be better to have Yuniesky Betancourt playing second base than Johnny Giavotella?  It boggles my mind, boils my blood, and makes my head want to explode – so don’t even get me started on that.   I could fill an entire book with my opinion of the stupid, dim-witted, and virtually unforgivable moves I’ve watched the Royals make over the years, but I won’t waste your time with that right now.  (I list a few of these moves here, including the one they made on December 11, 1991, in my opinion the darkest day in the history of Royals baseball.)   Call me a Homer at your own risk.

I’ve been a Royals fan since June 13, 1969 when I attended my first game with my father and uncle sitting behind the first base dugout in old Municipal Stadium.  And wouldn’t you know it, the Royals lost 6-0 to the Tigers.  I fell in love with the Boys in Blue on a night when they not only lost the game but were shut out, only had 4 hits, and were knocked 9 games below .500 into next to last place – and no other team has ever since occupied the same cherished and beloved space in my heart.  I don’t follow this team year after year after year after year because they are winners (obviously not), I follow them, and root for them, and cheer them on because they are MY team, and nothing is ever, ever going to change that.

I’ve followed the Royals faithfully for 42 years and I’ve only seen one lonely championship.  There is quite literally no one anywhere who has endured more as a Royals fan than I have.  My hopes and dreams have been raised time and time again, only to be dashed on the rocks of quarter-billion dollar opposing team payrolls.  It isn’t fair, we don’t deserve it, and for all I know the stress has shaved a few years off my life.  If anyone anywhere has earned the right to complain about this team or desert them, after four decades of futility and frustration, it’s me.   But in my wildest dreams I can’t imagine myself ever rooting for any team other than the Royals.

I like the direction we’re heading, I believe the plan is sound, and I have great respect for the talent, attitude, and integrity of our budding young stars.  And after all these many years, I’m willing to be patient a little longer.  I’d like to encourage you to stand with me and be patient just a little bit longer too.  And when the Royals eventually win it all  (and they will win it all in the not terribly distant future, trust me), we can say that we were here from the beginning, with our heads held high, long before people in Florida and Utah, and yes even New York decided it was cool to wear a KC cap.

Now you know exactly how I feel.  #BuryMeARoyal.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Darryl Motley Dayton Moore Denny Matthews Frank White Jeff Montgomery Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals MLB Rex Hudler Royals

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