Let us look back on some of the more reviled figures in baseball history over the past few years. It is difficult to find a supporter for Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds. Teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees have become hated because of their seemingly limitless financial backing and their ever present fanbases. Other teams have become hated due to a regional rivalry or past history, such as the Detroit Tigers for us fans of the KC Royals.
Somehow, some way, the KC Royals appear to have become one of those hated franchises since the start of the 2015 season. Barely six months removed from being the darlings of baseball, that scrappy team that just would not go away, the Royals have seemingly transformed into the baseball version of the Bad Boy Pistons of the late 1980’s. It is an interesting change of heart, to say the least.
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One has to wonder how this came to pass. The KC Royals have been hit by pitches 14 times in their first twelve games, one of which has led to the stint on the disabled list for Alex Rios. Brett Lawrie took out Alcides Escobar with a cheap slide on Friday, yet Yordano Ventura got ejected for retaliating at a time when everyone knew it would be coming. Yes, Herrera should not have thrown the ball behind Lawrie’s head on Sunday, but one game does not a reputation make. How have the Royals become so reviled?
Perhaps it is the price of success. Everyone wants to take down the top dog, and the Royals find themselves in the strange position of being the measuring stick for a lot of teams now. Perhaps it is due to the enthusiasm, and the overt emotion, that the Royals play with. In a sport where stoicism is the norm, seeing an excitable group of players who legitimately appreciate each other’s success is somehow frowned upon. It is sort of surreal how that works.
Maybe it is because of players like Yordano Ventura. A pitcher who considered Pedro Martinez his idol growing up, he certainly brings a swagger and an attitude reminiscent of Pedro to the mound. Despite being built like a ball boy, he has not been afraid to jaw at Lawrie or Mike Trout, the latter of whom dwarfs Ventura by quite a margin. That fire and competitiveness would make Ventura a fan favorite if he played on anyone’s favorite team, but here, he is another reason to hate the Royals.
And that hatred being cast upon the KC Royals is perfectly fine. The Royals have a swagger and a confidence that are truly refreshing to see. No longer are they going to be that team that everyone is indifferent towards, a team whose fanbase is considered a mythical being like the Loch Ness Monster of baseball fans. Now, the Royals are causing a reaction just by being themselves.
You know what? That is fine. Let the Royals be the villains of baseball. Much like how Hulk Hogan turned heel and joined the NWO, the Royals should embrace the role that has been thrust upon them. It is going to be a Blue World Order now, where speed, defense and a stellar bullpen rule the day. Have Greg Holland enter games with a leather duster and a black cowboy hat. Let Yordano Ventura leave the opposition crying and shaking in the locker room, afraid of whether or not that next pitch will be the one to find their rib cage. Let the dark side turn a pleasant shade of powder blue.
Let the KC Royals become the Bad Boys of Baseball. Just remember – they hate us because they ain’t us.