KC Royals: It’s OK If You Can’t Watch Them
By John Viril
The KC Royals have not only lost their last four games, they’ve done so in the most frustrating of ways. It’s OK if you can’t stand watching them. We’re fans, not players.
First, the Kansas City Royals lost two one-run games in a row in New York against the Mets after winning three straight. Next, the KC Royals have failed to get to the third inning with a realistic chance to win their next two games, falling behind the Astros 9-0 in the first inning on Friday, and 7-0 in the second inning on Saturday.
Edinson Volquez become the first starting pitcher in 120 years to give up 12 runs while recording no more than three outs on Friday. That’s a historic bad performance. Follow that up with Chris “Gopher Ball” Young giving up seven runs in the second inning on the next day, and we’ve probably endured the worst back to back starts of any team in baseball history.
In short, the Kansas City Royals have stuck their fans with some of the worst ways to lose for their fans. Losing close games that you can’t help but think you should have won. Then getting pummeled so badly that the game is effectively over before it’s hardly begun.
I must confess, I was so frustrated I shut off the game after the Astros bombed them the last two days.
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We can talk all we want about appreciating good play, and loving baseball rather than just our team, but when we’re watching our boys get slaughtered it’s just hard. It’s not the result we want and with little to no drama in that day’s game, there just seems little reason to keep watching.
Besides, it’s painful.
That just means we care, not that we’re bad fans. Yes, if you’re a player or a coach you’ve got to grind through the bad times. That’s why they get paid. Mentally, players need to accept por performance without letting it get into their head—which is hard for a proud, driven person who has invested a big chunk of their lives developing the skill to play professional baseball.
But for a fan, it’s very different. Sure, the team WANTS you to feel obligated to watch, because it helps them make money. Tickets and television ratings still benefit the KC Royals bottom line whether they win or lose. But, if you’re not enjoying it, why punish yourself?
The entire 2016 season, however, has been rather interesting to me in that we’re seeing how raised expectations make us unhappy with performance that would have delighted us only a few years ago. In 2014, before winning two straight AL pennants, most fans were rather pleased when the Kansas CIty Royals were 40-38 on June 26.
On that day, the KC Royals found themselves almost in the same position they are today. They were 4.5 games behind the 43-32 Detroit Tigers in second place in the AL Central. Today, the 38-35 Kansas City Royals sit 5 games behind the 43-30 Cleveland Indians in second place in the AL Central. Sure, two years ago, there was some grumbling that the KC Royals were blowing their last season of James Shields—for whom they cashed prospects Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, and Jake Odorizzi—but they were still in the AL Central race in June.
You could count on one hand the numbers of times you could say that about the team since 1989.
Since then, the KC Royals have won two straight AL pennants and one World Series. Their fans now expect them to win, thus three games over .500 and getting embarrassed two days in a row isn’t so pleasing anymore. Instead, it makes us want to break stuff.
Thus, turning off the game is better than blowing up. Feel free to do so. There’s nothing really wrong with it. It just means you’re normal.
If course, if you did manage to put up with the agony, you might have noticed that Cheslor Cuthbert is riding a five-game hitting streak. That Alex Gordon returned from the disabled list to hit a double and a home run after missing over a month with a broken hand. And that Kansas City Royals hitters have racked up 11 and 15 hits in the last two days, which suggests that offense isn’t the problem.
The one upside of a historically bad starting pitching performance is that FIXING it might not be that difficult. Even adding COMPETENT starting pitching should yield much improved results.
But that’s not going to really please fans who still hope for a repeat of last year’s title run.