Polarizing Moments In Royals History – Billy James Gobble


The Year: 2008

The Day: July 21st

The Set-up:

The Royals were 45-54 and quickly slipping into the mediocrity that seemed to permeate Kansas City baseball in the months of July and August. I purchased tickets to go to an unassuming game against the Detroit Tigers. This may have been the greatest mistake of my life.

The Starters:

Luke Hochevar vs. Zach Miner

I was hoping that Hoche would show some of the occasional signs of life he sometimes has during the 2nd half of the season and unfortunately I was very wrong. Things were fine until the 3rd inning when Luke had a little trouble and boom…we were down 5-0.  Two innings later and we were down 7-0 and Hochevar had earned all 7 of those runs. It was a familiar tale. One I’d seen before. But this game was far from over.

The Beginning:

Robinson Tejeda came in during the 6th inning and provided a solid inning of relief. In the 7th he ran into a bit of trouble. He got two outs, but gave up 3 walks and a triple to Matt Joyce. It was at this time that Trey Hillman made a foolish decision. He put in Jimmy Gobble.

Now, as a manager, you may not think it matters what reliever you want to bring in when your team is down 8-0. However, in my humble opinion, bringing Jimmy Gobble in for any situation was always an awful decision.

I was proven correct.

The Inning:

In the 7th, Gobble got the final out after walking a man in. This wasn’t enough of a warning sign for Hillman, so he sent Gobble back out for the 8th.

Let me break down the following atrocity for you.

  1. Single
  2. Single
  3. Double (Run Scored)
  4. Wild Pitch(Run Scored)
  5. Single (Run Scored)
  6. Single
  7. Home-Run (3 Runs Scored)
  8. Fly-out to Center
  9. Pop-out to Short
  10. Walk
  11. Single
  12. Walk
  13. Walk (Run Scored)
  14. Pitching Change: Leo Nunez for Jimmy Gobble
  15. Double (2 Runs Scored)
  16. Single (Run Scored)
  17. Groundout

When the dust had settled, Gobble had given up 10 runs. Granted, Nunez gave up a double and a single before getting the final out of the inning, but the base-runners were all Gobble’s. It was the single-most pathetic display of baseball I’ve ever watched in person. And I’ve watched some doozies.* I  had no idea how to process what I saw. It is absolutely sickening to watch one of your pitchers get absolutely battered on the mound.** As a result, I did something that is shaming, even for a fan of a team that has been as bad as the Royals have been in years past.

*If you’re reading this blog, you probably have too.
**No matter how much you loathe him.

I left early.

The score was 19-0 and at that point, I think I had to leave to maintain some form of hope. Watching the rest of that game in person could’ve scarred me forever.  As I rode home I thought, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t. It’s one thing to get beat ALL THE TIME. It’s another to get absolutely embarrassed. I’m done. I.am.done.”

These are the moments that bind you to a team forever. If you can still support your team through a 19-run drubbing, you should be able to support them through anything. When I got back to the house, my uncle turned the game on. I thought about leaving, but couldn’t. Then I saw Tony Pena Jr. was pitching for the Royals. “This is a joke,” I thought. “I’m not watching this anymore.” But I couldn’t leave. “Whatever,” I sighed. “If they want to make this game even more of a mockery than it is I don’t care. At the end of it I’m still going to be a Royals fan and the first year that we make the playoffs in my lifetime will be all the sweeter because of how bad they’ve been.”

TPJ retired the side 1-2-3, striking out Pudge Rodriguez in the process.

I’ve always taken that as a sign that I made the right decision. But I’m not sad that Gobble doesn’t don a Royals uniform anymore.

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