Baseball is always loaded with superstitions. Don’t talk to the pitcher during a no-hitter. Jump over the baseline on the way to the mound. During a hot streak, some players will eat the same thing every day.
For all the scouting reports, statistics, and strategy, sometimes there’s something else at work.
And I think I broke the Royals bullpen.
Here’s my confession: Since the Royals have played mostly afternoon games, I’ve missed out on seeing them live due to the day job and all. I can still listen through the radio, and it’s fine. Plenty of accounts from Twitter and other sources give me an idea of what’s going on. But getting the chance to see the game, start to finish, is also quite important for me as a fan and as someone who offers his opinion of the team for others to read.
Apr 07, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Greg Holland (56) delivers to the plate during the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Royals defeated the Phillies 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
So on Saturday night, I was glad to have the opportunity to watch the team play in real time. They had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and I felt comfortable with Greg Holland protecting the lead and turned off the TV to head to a bonfire held at a friend’s house where I could see some other friends I haven’t seen in a while. Seemed a worthy trade off since I was already running late to the event.
And they blew the lead. Pretty spectacularly, at that.
Then this afternoon, the Royals game was cruising along, featuring a franchise-record-tying seven RBIs from Billy Butler, including his first career grand slam. James Shields battled back from a four run first and looked fantastic otherwise. Tim Collins was solid, Jarrod Dyson added on an extra run and they took a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. No problem.
I help coach a little league team, and we had a scheduled scrimmage at 4 p.m. but with warmups starting at 3:30. With a five run lead, I, again, turned off the TV and headed out the door. Between innings of the scrimmage, the head coach asked me if the Royals had won. Well I’d been in the same spot he was – coaching – so I’d just assumed they had finished off the 9-4 lead. Here’s the exchange:
Coach: “Did the Royals end up winning?”
Me: “I haven’t checked. I assume so. They were up 9-4.”
Me: “No, it was 9-4.”
Coach: “Yeah, and they gave up four more.”
Me: “Did they put in Hochevar?”
Coach: “No, I think they had Holland in.”
Me: “Ohhh crap*.”
*I may not have said “crap”.
So those two are on me. Some kind of magic must be at work and it’s cursed the Royals bullpen in the first week of the season. I promise not to make the same mistake any more this season. I apologize to Greg Holland for wrecking his record early in the year and to Luis Mendoza for ruining a great start that should have been a win on Saturday. Maybe I’m being silly, but the Universe is swift in its punishment and clearly, it’s telling me not to turn the TV off, or I’ll have to suffer the agony of learning of Royals leads turning to dust.
You’re on your own with this one J.C. Gutierrez. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports