Kansas City Royals Gotta Be Above It
By Carl Stewart
After a quiet series with the Minnesota Twins, following the pandemonium with the Oakland A’s, the Kansas City Royals are once again drawing some unwelcome publicity for the boiling bad blood that apparently exists between the Boys in Blue and American League usurpers.
Last night’s bad-blooded exploits were spear-headed by our beloved “Ace” Ventura. After a routine hit back to Ventura from Adam Eaton. Ventura decided he had some words lacking wisdom for Eaton. Were this an isolated incident, this could be excusable. Baseball is a game, and it is a game the Royals, our beloved protagonists, play intensely, emotionally, and passionately. As it is a game, and a game played very emotionally as played by the Royals, this is an understandable issue; however, when you are looked upon as a leader for the team, as Yordano Ventura is, you are expected to be above it and not give into fits of mindless, purely emotional irrationality. What happened at US Cellular Field last night is a nadir for this team from an maturity standpoint, and, if the these Royals are truly as good as we, the humble and adoring Kansas City fans, think they are, these selfsame Royals must step up their game and be above such pettiness.
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From all accounts thus far of the incident with the White Sox, Ventura started it. This is what seems most disconcerting to me as a Royals fan and as a fan of baseball. The “Ace” of our club is going out on the field of battle and acting like a petulant child. Yes, I understand emotional intensity, and, yes, I understand the mentality of sticking up for your team, but there are larger issues at play here that Ventura, as well as the entire team, must know. The Kansas City Royals are the defending American League Champions! This just in … people are out to get us. We are no longer the darlings of baseball, the feel-good story of the year. The Royals are now legitimate and perennial contenders, and displays of abject stupidity, as we sadly saw last night, are not what endears fans to a team, not what makes a winner out of a scrappy bunch of guys who love to play the game. This is not what leadership is in the case of Ventura. This is not what defending the Crown is about. This is sad, petty, and letting emotions get the best of one of the greatest baseball teams I have seen assembled in a Royals’ uniform since I was a boy. Ventura has to know this, and he has to respond accordingly.
The first sixteen games of the season have been tainted by this over-emotional pettiness, and I, for one, would like to see an end to it. This is the best start to a Royals’ season since 2003, and, as my brother says, this team, unlike 2003, isn’t just held together by hopes and duct tape. This team, these great, emotionally intense players in Royal Blue, are on their way to a phenomenal season if they can only just focus on baseball: Royals’ baseball. This team plays its own version of small ball, which we all love when it works and disparage when it fails; this is Royals’ baseball. It’s fun. It’s emotional. It’s fast. It has an absolutely bonkers bullpen. The kicker is, though, that nobody but us likes it, and nobody but us thinks the Royals should be in this position. Royals’ baseball is not well-respected. Royals’ baseball is not going to draw a celebrated national viewership. Royals’ baseball is, however, going to win games, and it is shaping up to win a strong percentage of them. It might not be sexy, but it is fun. This is the epitome of Royals’ baseball, and this is precisely what the Boys in Blue have walked away from hitherto.
My point is simple, and it is this: the Royals have to step up. By that, I mean the Royals have to get back to what they do best, which is, of course, play Royals’ baseball. To step up, the Boys in Blue have to put their heads down and no longer flare up at every confrontation they meet. They gotta be above it, gotta be above it, gotta be above it, gotta be above it. This is not to say that the Royals should go out like a punk in a trunk, wondering, “why’s everybody always picking on me?,” but they can no longer wear their emotional intensity so dangerously on their sleeves. Ventura et al. must get back to what they do best, which is playing Royals’ baseball. Let Brett Lawrie be Brett Lawrie. Let Jeff Samardzija be Jeff Samardzija. It should not matter to the defending champs, yet members of this great and amazing team let it bother them as though they are not what they are: champions.
The A’s and White Sox have it out for the Royals, yes. It’s true and demonstrable. Let them have it out for the Royals, then. The Royals are 6-1, thus far, against these antagonists, so let’s leave it at that. If teams want to come at our dear protagonists in Royal Blue, then let them, and let the Royals each time thump them with the heavy club of the king. The impudence of wanton boys is nothing but the buzzing of flies to the reigning monarch, and so the Royals must shake off these childish ways to fully become the Kings of Kauffman they are. Fight with bats hitting homers, fight with gloves robbing extra-base hits, but do not, dear Royals, sink to the level of wanton boys. Be the Royals you are: Champions.