I started writing for this blog about 2 and 1/2 years ago and in that time, I feel as if I’ve learned more about baseball than I ever thought possible. I discovered the ridiculous amount of quality internet baseball content that had somehow escaped my notice until then. I started reading everything I could and was/am lucky enough to write for a blog that employs quality writers…individuals who love the Royals to the point of psychosis. After I’d been writing for awhile, I started using Twitter and got punched in the face with an entire new stream of baseball content and knowledge. Royals twitter is hilarious, knowledgeable and a little bit weird. The good kind of weird.
Most of the Royals fans I follow/know/interact with were advocating that the Royals sell off their assets to better prepare themselves for next season. It makes/made sense to me. I didn’t see how the Royals had even a shot at competing. In my heart of hearts, I still don’t. I had a conversation with a friend who couldn’t understand why trading Greg Holland for the right package didn’t sound so bad to me. He wasn’t alone. Many other Royals fans I’ve seen on Twitter are talking to Royals writers much more knowledgeable than me and saying things like, “Don’t you want the Royals to win? They’re supposed to make the playoffs this year! They’ve still got a chance.” Phrasings of that nature.
People are entitled to their opinion, of course, but what gets me is Royals fans questioning other Royals fans about whether they want the Royals to win. If that’s the case, then wanting the Royals to be good now and for many years into the future is apparently a sign of hating the Royals. Wanting the team to cut ties with players possessing unwanted character traits* they insist on playing for unknown reasons is a sign of hating the Royals. Choosing to be cautious about a player’s sudden ability to hit or pitch because previous months or years have shown the exact opposite is a sign of hating the Royals. Ridiculous.
I like stories. I like hearing them and I like telling them. I like thinking about each Royals season as a narrative. The story of how Miguel Tejada proved people wrong. How Hosmer got his swing (and his groove) back. How the Royals won nine games in a row in July/August and made everyone wish that each month of the baseball season was like a test you took in one of your college classes so you could drop May. The narrative of your team is what makes you unique as a fan because you’re always going to be more in tune with your team’s narrative than that of fans other teams.
Caring about stats and how they show a player’s skill set over time doesn’t destroy the narrative. It merely gives us more background knowledge about our characters. Using this background knowledge as a means to temper enthusiasm about a team doesn’t make you less of a fan. We’ve all had our hearts broken too many times over the years. Forgive me for being unwilling to go all-in just yet.
I have enjoyed the Royals winning games both against teams they’re supposed to beat as well as a few that they’re not. I hope they continue to win. I look at the A.L. Central standings as well as the wild card and I squint and hope. But I can’t just look at those teams ahead of the Royals, then look at Kansas City’s roster and ignore the fact that I think it would take a Mel Clark-worthy miracle for them to pull it off.
But I will wake up every day and I will watch the Royals and I will hope that they win. I will root for whoever is playing against Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, New York, Texas, Baltimore, and anyone else who might get in the way of the team.
And if the Royals somehow were to find their way into the postseason, you could point and laugh at me and I would care not at all. You can point to how long it took me to get really and truly excited about things. I don’t think I can emphasize how little I would care. I love being right. I love when the people I respect are justified in the things they say. But being right is not and never will be more important than the Royals being good. Never has been and never will be.
I hope the current narrative of winning continues. I wake up every day hoping it does. I hope I’m smiling ruefully by the end of September. I just can’t commit yet. I guess I’d rather be surprised than let down.