The KC Royals proclaimed that they are “still hungry” the second day of spring training in Surprise, Arizona. I’m sure fans and baseball media across America fainted in shock. Must the Kansas City Royals start their reign as defending champions by checking off ALL of the clichés?
Of course the story-hungry media dutifully lapped up the tired old “repeat” pablum because, hey, don’t we have to report that bona fide CHAMPIONS believe such undying truths as the need to play “one game at a time” and that the “sun will come up tomorrow”?
I’m sorry for the snark, but just what did you expect KC Royals players to say on the second day of spring training? Do you really think any defending champion NOT owned by Jeffrey Loria thinks, “The season’s doomed. I’m here just for the paycheck.”
The Kansas City Royals aren’t fools. They going to say what everyone expects as long as they like continued employment as professional baseball players.
However, that pretty much every defending champion feels they have to professes they are still hungry is interesting for another reason: the underlying presumption that only complacency can prevent them from repeating.
Unpacking that “still hungry” trope yields a whole treasure trove of assumptions:
- The playoff process accurately determines the best team
- No other team improved enough to challenge the “champions”
- Team “character”, and conforming to baseball’s cultural norms, are the keys to championship success
Unfortunately, none of these presumptions are true.
Next: Blowing Up Bad Ideas