It’s amazing that this blog has gotten to a 100 posts. Granted some posts were merged from my old Royals/Fantasy Baseball blog, “The Roto Royal“, and some posts came from some other old blogs that focused on Kansas City and Midwest culture. Yet for the most part, there has been a lot of the work done over the past two years on this blog when it comes to following and analyzing the Royals. What started off as a hobby to keep me preoccupied in the summer months when I wasn’t teaching has morphed into…well…a year-around hobby that keeps me sane when I am not teaching, coaching or doing work for grad school.
I am going to be honest, this blog still makes only a minor dent in the Royals blogsphere. After all, this is not Royals Review or Kings of Kauffman or even the defunct Rany on the Royals. While the following has grown a bit on “The Royals Reporter”, it still is pretty much a small outlet for a lifelong baseball fan and passionate sabermetrics-nerd who has embraced the Royals as his favorite baseball team over the past near-decade of living in Kansas City.
But to some of my friends and even colleagues and even complete strangers, many do not get why I am a Kansas City Royals fan or how I became a Kansas City Royals fan or why I care so much about the Kansas City Royals when it comes to my sports allegiances. After all, I am not from Kansas City or the Midwest: I am a Northern Californian, a Sacramentan to be specific. I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, which is thousands of miles west from Kauffman Stadium (1,566 to be exact). And to be honest, I am proud of my West Coast heritage. I struggle through the winters of the Midwest and still cheer for some West Coast teams, and unlike most people in Kansas City, I haven’t embraced the Chiefs, even though they are Super Bowl Champs and everything has revolved around them since August of last year.
So, why the Royals? Why do I embrace this organization as my favorite sports team, even though they are projected for another 90-plus loss season (and that’s the best case scenario; it’s possible that they may lose 100). Why do I pay attention and analyze the Royals and Royals baseball more than anything else? Why do I have a tab on my Google Chrome bookmarks that’s solely dedicated to like 15-18 Royals blogs and web sites, and why do I read and check them daily?
Well, I think it is time to find out, so let’s go over my “10 Reasons Why I Am a Royals Fan.”
1. The Royals are always the underdog.
The Royals play in one of the smallest markets in Major League baseball. They play on the border of Kansas and Missouri, and have a following up in Nebraska and “some” parts of Iowa (though that can be more Chicago Cubs territory). Despite winning a title in 2015, they have struggled since the George Brett-era to be consistently competitive. And thus, baseball fans have always downplayed and discounted the Royals, even during their competitive days during 2014 and 2015. I have always cheered for the underdog in every sport, and no team in baseball today epitomizes that underdog spirit more than the Royals. Even during this year, as people believe the Royals will finish near the bottom of the Central, I believe that the Royals will surpass expectations in 2020 at least a little bit. The Royals truly inspire the underdog “believer” in me and the most passionate of baseball fans.
2. The Royals are about player development and their system; not free agents.
The Royals haven’t always been successful in this department. For every Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas who become All-Stars, there is a Chris Dwyer or Christian Colon that fails to live up to the hype. And yet, the Royals have always been about player development and building success through their farm system and home-grown players. I mean, just think back to their “Royals Academy” days when they revolutionized how teams developed players in their lower levels of their system. Yes, Dayton Moore hasn’t been perfect, but at least he is a GM that believes in growing with the system rather than just acquiring free agent after free agent like a Ruben Amaro or Dave Dombrowski.
3. The Royals have great colors and uniforms.
My parents grew up San Francisco Giants fans, and still remain Giants fans to this day. As for me, I have gotten behind the Royals completely, and cheer for the Royals more than my family’s “adopted” MLB team. In my household, the “Blue and White” was sacrilege, as those colors represented the Los Angeles Dodgers, the hated rival of the Giants. And yet, to me now, “Blue and White” doesn’t represent Southern California’s team, but Western Missouri’s (and Eastern Kansas’ too). I love the blue and white KC cap. I love the cursive script that says “Royals” on the home jersey, and “Kansas City” on the away. I love the baby blue Sunday tops and hope they move to an “all powder blue” look again some day. Yes, I didn’t grow up with blue and white as a kid, but I embrace the blue and white of the Royals exclusively now.
4. Kauffman Stadium is the best ballpark for baseball.
I have written about Kauffman Stadium multiple times before. Is it the best stadium for attractions? Is it the best place for a young 20-something to hang out after a game? Is there a great bar scene around the stadium like Busch Stadium in St. Louis or Oracle Park in San Francisco? No. All you got around Kauffman are cheap hotels and a whole lot of parking lots. But when it comes to watching a baseball game, in a pure and unadulterated form, no stadium matches Kauffman in my opinion.
5. The 2015 postseason was incredible.
I still remember the weekday nights watching playoff games in dive bars off of 39th street in Volker. I remember hitting up “The Point” when it was still open, right near West Plaza. I remember watching the epic Astros comeback, and the Alcides Escobar inside the park home run against the New York Mets in the World Series. I remember the “shitshow” that was the Royals parade, and the sea of blue that took over the city that November day. It was the highlight of my early years living in Kansas City and remains one of my favorite time periods and memories as a sports fan in general.
6. I appreciate the Royals “folk heroes” during the “tough times”.
Billy Butler. Carlos Beltran. Jermaine Dye. Raul Ibanez. Mike Sweeney. Johnny Damon. David DeJesus. Zack Greinke. Paul Byrd. Joakim Soria. Angel Berrora. Ruben Gotay. Mike MacDougal. Runelvys Hernandez. Joe Randa. Ken Harvey. Jimmy Gobble. Mark Teahan. Gil Meche. Jose Lima. Mike Aviles. Alberto Callaspo. The list goes on.
Yes, the Royals for a while weren’t good. But they had a lot of memorable players, or at least memorable ones to me on MVP Baseball 2004 and 2005 and MLB 99 on Playstation.
7. The positive, low-key nature of Royals fans
When conversing with Boston Red Sox fans, it can be a cocktail of pessimism with elitism, depending on the season. When the Red Sox are doing well, they think they are the center of the world. When it is bad, it is always about how “cursed” they are. Yankees fans are an unsatisfied bunch who always have a gripe with every player on their roster, even if they are a perennial All-Star. St. Louis Cardinals fans are an obnoxious bunch who think they are the best fans in baseball, but are quick to turn on their own when shit hits the fan. I mean, look how quickly they turned on Mike Matheny, even though he never had a losing record with the club?
Royals fans on the other hand? They tend to be always positive, always enjoying the ride and hoping for the best…even when they probably shouldn’t (like this year, perhaps?) And that is refreshing to be around in this day and age of fandom, and makes it fun to watch this team, even through the lean years.
8. Boulevard beers and dollar hot dogs.
I’m a man of simple tastes. Boulevard KC Pils draws from the Craft and Draft section of Kauffman Stadium and dollar hot dogs on buck nights are a Kansas City staple for anyone, visitor or Kansas City denizen, when it comes to dinner on a Friday evening. Add in the show that is Royals baseball on a warm Spring or Summer night? That’s pretty much heaven to me.
9. Soler and Whit: KC’s own version of the “Bash Bros”
Soler and Whit are polar opposites. Soler is a hulking slugger who bashes home runs, but strikes out and plays questionable defense in the outfield. However, his mammoth shots and loud cracks of the bat have rejuvenated a Royals fan base that was starting to lose interest in the club after a rough 2018. As for Whit? He’s “Mr. Everything”, able to hit for average, steal bases, play multiple positions in the outfield, and get an endorsement deal from Boulevard Brewery. Soler is an intimidating figure who speaks mostly Spanish, but endears Royals fans with his infectious smile, and sudden thrust into the record books a year ago. Whit charms the local Midwest ladies with his southern charm that fits well in the heartland of America here in Kansas City.
So when is a 30-minute music video going to be made on Netflix of these Royals “Bash Bros”, like the one on McGwire and Canseco from the “Lonely Island” crew?
10. The Royals represent the best of Kansas City
The Royals aren’t always good. In fact, they have been pretty bad for a while with the exception of those 2013-2017 seasons. But one could say that Kansas City itself is a roller coaster, much like their baseball club. Kansas City can feel a bit racially and culturally segregated at times, but to their credit the City and the Metro is improving (or at least trying to) when it comes to embracing and growing diversity in the area. The education system can be a bit of a mess, but foundations like the Kauffman Foundation (which former Royals owner Ewing Marion Kauffman started to improve inner city education) exist and bring hope that things are changing for the students of this area. Kansas City can feel a bit “country” at times, especially with its BBQ-fanaticism and “Hot Country Nights” in the Power and Light. It sits in the middle of two “deeply Republican” states, after all. And yet, despite my California, progressive-background, I have found my niche in Kansas City and feel that this place is home.
And the Royals represent all that. The Royals have had their ups and downs like the City itself, and that’s what endears me to the club. The Royals don’t always get the most attention from the national baseball media. Even during their strong years, it seemed like the media was more prone to talk about the Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, or Dodgers than the Royals. And it’s the same way with Kansas City as a city itself when it comes to national spotlight. People will talk about Los Angeles or Chicago or Boston or New York as places of culture, relevance and fun. And yet, Kansas City continues to be a great place to live in, a place that continues to grow on me, even when at times I think I am burned out on the place. Kansas City does something to surprise me periodically, much like the Royals.
I appreciate Kansas City. And the Royals help me grow in that appreciation of Kansas City. Which makes me wonder…would I still be in Kansas City if Kauffman Stadium and the Royals didn’t exist?
While I can’t say for sure, part of me highly doubts it.