(Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken, USA TODAY Sports)
With every Kansas City Royals victory, comes another listen to Lorde’s “Royals”.
The New Zealand singer/songwriter’s single “Royals ” was supposedly inspired by a 1976 National Geographic photo of Royals great George Brett signing autographs. Released last year the track became a huge success, earning two Grammy wins at this year’s awards ceremony, including “Song of the Year.” The relatively unknown had a hit, and like the song that was named after them, these relatively unknown Kansas City Royals have become a hit in this year’s Major League Baseball postseason.
Thanks to convincing my wife that because we saved money on our auto insurance (no, not by switching to GEICO), we should break tradition and get cable for the first time in five years, I finally get to be a part of the postseason.
And what a postseason it has been!
Okay, so I may have gone 0-for on my predictions, correctly predicting both Wild Card winners before incorrectly predicting all four Division Series. Ahh c’mon! I know Detroit’s bullpen was lousy, but they had three Cy Young winners and the only Triple Crown winner (granted that was 2012) in my lifetime. Anaheim was the best team in baseball (record-wise), and had Mike Trout. This was supposed to be his real coming out party. The Angels crosstown counterparts, the Los Angeles Dodgers, had Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke and an Opening Day payroll of $238 million. Do you know how many Star Wars men you could buy with $238 million? About 23.8 million (sorry, that was the way my dad taught me how to do math). What about the Washington Nationals, my World Series champions? Was there a more complete team? Their lineup was loaded. Their pitching staff was loaded. Their bullpen was actually decent.
What do I know? Not much, that’s why I’m here blabbing to you here about how I’ve jumped on the Kansas City Royals magical bandwagon and blasting Lorde’s “Royals” after an incredible Major League record eight straight postseason victories and their third World Series appearance. Now, in the postseason for the first time since 1985, making them the lone team I’ve seen play in the postseason since I became a baseball fanatic on June 6, 1986, I’m all-in on Kansas City.
I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve always been a Royals fan. Sure, when my parents bought me my first Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1986 I often chose the Royals in the 1985 NES game appropriately called Baseball , because of their blue-on-blue 8-bit uniforms, but it wasn’t until the last three or so years that I’ve secretly rooted for the bottom-dwelling Royals.
I’ve been a fan of speedy Venezuelan shortstop Alcides Escobar since he entered the league as a Milwaukee Brewer in 2008, but that’s only because he shares the same first name as my Brazilian father-in-law, the only two people I know of that have the first name Alcides.
In 2012, I called breakout seasons by Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez. Except they didn’t breakout. Turns out I was a year behind. Hosmer disappointed in ’12 but bounced back nicely in ’13 batting. 302 with 17 homers and 79 runs batted in. Those were the stats we used to be interested in back in the day. Not that I’m old, I’m just old school. I guess I should post his slash line of .302/.353/.448.
Perez has since been “My Dude”, as I tell my son. In ’12 he went .301/.328/.471, batted .292 in ’13 but drove in 79 and in 2014 he upped his power numbers by hammering (if that’s what you want to call it) 17 home runs and 70 RBI. Not sure what I see in Perez. It could be that growing up I was drawn to catchers, like I’m now drawn to tall brunettes. Bad comparison, Benito Santiago was not a looker like Jennifer Aniston is, plus I don’t even think Aniston is a brunette, or that tall. Adrianne Palicki , let’s go with that. Nevermind.
Perez, who is just 24-years-young reminds me of Sandy Alomar Jr. That big, strong catcher that has strong defensive skills (a 2013 Gold Glove winner), a solid bat, and control of his pitching staff and defense. Since I don’t live in the Kansas City region, and the Royals aren’t usually found on FOX or ESPN on Saturday afternoons or Sunday night (doesn’t it seem like Red Sox-Yankees dominant both of those timeframes?), I haven’t been able to watch “My Dude” play. It’s been enjoyable watching this postseason, and seeing the enthusiasm he brings to his squad.
Shoot, it’s been fun watching the energy, and enthusiasm this entire Royals team has had in the postseason. As if they were just happy to be playing baseball after 162 for the first time in 29 years, the Royals careless demeanor led them to an incredible comeback victory in the Wild Card contest against the Oakland A’s. Disappointed I turned away from the TV when the Royals were down 7-3. I finished my father of three duties, sat down to watch television with the wife, when as the television screen slowly warms up I hear the roar of a crowd, hours after the game should’ve ended. It’s 7-7 in the bottom of the 10th, and I halt my wife from flipping on that rerun of Hotel Impossible because, “Something special is going to happen.” And it did. Oakland scores and my clueless wife asks, “Is it over?” Uh no, the Royals still have a turn at bat in the bottom half of the inning. I decide not to explain it, after all we’ve been married 11-plus years and if she hasn’t already asked, she ain’t going to. Kansas City rallies back and “My Dude” slides a ball down the left field line that allows the winning run to score, igniting the Royals magical October run.
In three games they swept Trout and the powerful Angels, beating the Angels at their own game – power. They turned around and swept another powerful team, in the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles led Major League Baseball with 211 home runs, but hit just two against Kansas City. In comparison, The Royals hit four in the series, and have hit eight in their eight playoff games. Kansas City was last in the majors with 95 home runs.
What the Royals are playing is old-fashioned baseball, the kind that usually makes you a champion in October. Great bullpen, speed on the bases, timely hitting, underdog starting pitching, and a bond only winning teams seem to have.
Lorde’s song may say, “We’ll never be royals” but for a few weeks in October I think more than a few – myself included – are feeling like we can all be Royals.