In recent days, the outlook of many Royals fans has changed due to a pretty substantial roster turnover. Danny Duffy coined the phrase “Bury Me A Royal,” but can we expect that of any player anymore?
The departure of Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer (and Dayton Moore openly stating that it is unlikely that Mike Moustakas is coming back) has left holes on the roster. With players like Hunter Dozier, Cheslor Cuthbert, Paulo Orlando, and for those who believe, Bubba Starling hoping to fill the void.
This article is not about how likely those guys will successfully replace the championship core. It is about how fans fall in love with players, and whether we still should.
Danny Duffy has made it abundantly clear that he wants to be in Kansas City. Not just now, but for his entire career. (I assume “Bury me a Royal” is figurative, and not a request to be buried under the mound at the K when he retires.)
The economics of baseball tell us that it is increasingly unlikely that we will ever see any “star” players spend their entire playing career with just one team. Particularly a team with payroll constraints like the Royals have.
Royals attempts and failures
Even when players do try to become one team guys, it usually doesn’t work. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Mike Sweeney all signed long-term contracts to stay in Kansas City, and for one reason or another, none have worked out that well.
Sweeney suffered back problems that derailed his career. Butler and Gordon also experienced significant drops in productivity for one reason or another. When that happens, it leaves fans wishing “their guys” weren’t really “their guys” anymore.
Sweeney was able to rehab his image in Kansas City because of his likability off the field. Butler has seen the fan base sour on him, justifiably, and that has not changed much since he left. Gordon, well, he has two more years to salvage his career as a Royal.
We are told by many to root for the name on the front of the jersey and not the names on the back of the jersey. If we are honest though, that is not what most do. We invest a lot of emotional capital in the players on our favorite teams.
It hurt when Hosmer left and seeing him in a Padres uniform is weird. Seeing Cain in a Brewers uniform is awkward because of how the team ended things with him. Do you say hello still? Do you ignore him now? It almost like seeing an ex out in public.
We all want the next George Brett. A Hall of Famer that never played for anyone but us. However, the economics of baseball today make it all but impossible. We have seen plenty of examples of why it might not work regardless of money. Underperformance, injuries, and many other reasons can stop “our guy” from being as beloved as someone like Brett.
So, we move on, like we do after a breakup. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try and find someone new. Trying to find the next Brett. But maybe we have to just be happy having the next Hosmer or Moustakas. Guys that made good memories for us, but were never really “our guys” in a permanent sense. Maybe “our guys” are really our fellow fans—and the players are just the friends passing through.
What do you think, Royals fans? Will we ever have another George Brett, or has that time truly passed? Could Danny Duffy be that guy? Is there someone else on the roster that could be “our guy”? Let us know your thoughts!