As one of the lone bastions of powder blue in the heart of Red Sox country (I live in southeastern Massachusetts) being a Royals fan can be a lonely feeling outside of the Kansas City area. Going to Royals games at Fenway Park dressed in my throwback Dan Quisenberry jersey tends to elicit stares and outright confusion. Statements such as “The Royals have fans?” and the even more derisive “Royals fan, eh? That’s cute.” have been said to me countless times. Yet, despite being present for such moments as Jon Lester‘s no hitter, my Royals fandom has not wavered (stick with me here – I promise that there is a point).
Now that the Red Sox are celebrating their championship with a parade through the middle of Boston, it is again apparently open season on the Royals. Callers to the local sports talk stations have stated that they, meaning the Red Sox and their fans, deserve this championship because they are ‘the greatest fans in the world’ and that it is not as though they are Royals fans. It is almost as though there is something that is perceived to be wrong if one is a Royals fan.
If it appears as though I am picking on Sox fans, that is not the intent. The same commentary followed when I lived in New York and Michigan as well. Why is there such a stigma to being a Royals fan? Why use the Royals as the go-to franchise for ineptitude, as opposed to the Pirates who went twenty years between winning seasons? Why not the Marlins whose owner regards the team as an ATM, and is thoroughly reviled in Miami? Why not even point to the Mariners, who have never won a World Series, and seem to be stuck in a loop of perpetual rebuilding?
What is seemingly forgotten is that, when the late Ewing Kauffman was the owner of the Royals, they were one of the preeminent franchises in baseball. People recall the great run the Yankees went on in the late 70′s and early 80′s, but more often than not, they had to get through the Royals to make the World Series. When the Royals finally broke through for their own championship in 1985, it was a moment of pure joy.
Yes, the Royals have struggled over the past couple of decades, but that does not mean that the fanbase is nonexistent. There are Royals fans out there, and they are waiting for their moment to be noticed. Perhaps this is the team that can return the Royals to glory, where instead of George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Quiz, redemption comes in the form of Salvador Perez, James Shields and Greg Holland. Maybe, just maybe, the Royals are about to break through.
Someday, perhaps even soon, the Royals will be in the thick of contention once again. When that day comes, the rest of the nation may come to realize what we already know – that the Royals fanbase is passionate about their team, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Royals fan.