For decades, the Kansas City Royals were the lovable losers who inspired pockets of fans from around America – if only because these fans felt sorry for the underdog. But one season after the Royals’ World Series victory over the Giants, they’re no longer losers…nor are they lovable.
There’s no greater evidence of this than the recent brawl between the Royals and Chicago White Sox, which saw five players ejected in the aftermath. It’s always tough telling who starts these things, but it’s clear that Kansas City wasn’t just some innocent victim here responding to a bully.
It all went down when Chicago center fielder Adam Eaton hit the ball back to the KC pitcher Yordano Ventura, who had a two-word profanity for his opponent afterward. Perhaps Eaton started the verbal exchange after thinking that Ventura quick-pitched him; whatever the case may be, it incited a huge two-team fight that’s rarely seen these days. The end result was players from both sides getting tossed, including Ventura, Lorenzo Cain, Edinson Volquez, Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija.
But it should be mentioned that the brawl is just the icing on what’s an overall changed attitude for this Royals team. They’re nastier, in your face, chest-pumping and much-more unlikable than the team that made the miracle run to the World Series title last year.
As they always say, though, nice guys finish last. And this KC team is anything but last, currently sitting first in the overall American League standings with a 12-4 record. Only the NL’s New York Mets have a better record right now at 13-3.
However, it’s a wonder if the Royals can keep up this pace with the aggressive and energetic style that they’ve become associated with. The MLB season is, after all, 162 games and we’re only about a tenth of the way through that. Throw in the postseason and you’re talking about a very grueling grind.
Another thing to consider here is that other teams may be voicing their displeasure at KC’s cocky attitude through beaned batters. The Royals have been hit by 16 pitches – one for each game – which ranks second in the Major Leagues. Being thrown at this many times – some unintentional and others not – is eventually going to wear on a team’s psyche.
In any case, it doesn’t look like Kansas City is going to change their attitude in the near future, especially with the wins piling up. And some may say that manager Ned Yost has lost control of his team already based on recent incidents. However, the true test of the Royals’ sustainability at this pace will be what happens in October…assuming they make it this far again.