So yesterday I screwed up. For whatever reason I thought it was Wednesday and so I made a title called "Random Wednesday..." . It wasn't until two hours later I realized the mistake. No need to fix it, so let's just move on.
I've been stewing for the last week about the Royals. I love my team very much, and I will defend them to almost the point of no return. However, after I prayed that things cooled down with the Oakland and KC series, tempers flared again last night. I haven't watched a game live all year, but let me just blow off some steam. For allowing me to do this, I will debut some new cards I made recently, all Royals.
Let's start at the beginning, and by that I mean the beginning of the season. Kansas City was riding high on a World Series appearance and was hoping to make it again this year, only this time to win it. It would be tough without James Shields and Billy Butler, but newly acquired Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales would hopefully bring in power to the lineup. Alex Gordon was coming back from a hand injury and would need time to recover, and we would see if Mike Moustakas could carry over his post-season stats to the regular season.
The season began with a 10-1 Opening Day shellacking of division rivals Chicago White Sox. Yordano Ventura got the win while Jeff Samardzija took the loss. The game wasn't innocent as their were three hit batters in the game. Ventura hit Avisail Garcia, while Samardzija hit Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. Hit batsmen happen in baseball, so there may or may not have been any attempt at payback against the other. These two teams aren't brothers, they really don't like each other with bad blood between the clubs.
In game two, Jose Quintera hit two more Royals, Cain (again), and Moustakas. While it could be perceived as odd luck, Royals fans took note, even though as the game before, the Royals won, this time 7-5 after an 8th inning Home Run by Lorenzo Cain broke the tie. Game three the next day also saw the Royals win to complete the three game sweep, this time 4-1. In this game the White Sox Adam LaRouche was hit by pitcher Edwin Volquez. It seemed a storm was brewing, which isn't unheard of.
The next series against the Angels saw another sweep, and more Royals hit by pitches. Moustakas 3 times (twice in one game), Gordon twice, and Eric Hosmer once. This was also the series were tempers flared between Mike Trout and Yordano Ventura.
The next series was against division rivals the Minnesota Twins. In this series, the Twins managed to take 2 of 3 against the boys in blue, and ended what was a 7 game winning streak to begin the season. Whole most don't consider the Twins a threat, the Twinkies manage to get the best of the Royals on occasion, as happened this series. In this series, Gordon was hit again, and Rios was hit (which resulted in him going on the DL), and so was Kendrys Morales. No Twins were hit, and finally after 8 games, the Royals played one whole game in which neither team had a hit batsmen.
The next series was the infamous Oakland series. The Royals had lost two in a row by then and had a plethora of hit batters resulting in one injury, and Gordon was off to a bad start, meanwhile Oakland was still feeling the sting of losing the Wild Card game in dramatic fashion last year. Something had to give, and it did. Friday night was the night of "The Slide." Intentional or not (depending on your fanbase), the result was Alcides Escobar was spiked and injured on the play, and Kansas City felt slighted. No hit batters in the game. Kansas City won the game.
The next day was the game where Yordano Ventura was ejected after hitting Brett Lawrie (the one who did The Slide the night before) after giving up a home run and the Royals were trailing 5-0. Both teams were warned before the game and thus the reason Ventura was tossed. Oakland won the game to even the series.
Sunday was the game of 1000 ejections. After starting pitcher Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain with a pitch in the first inning, both sides were warned (they possibly were warned pre-game). Royals manager Ned Yost was warned not to argue, and he came out of the dugout and was immediately tossed from the game, at which point, he gave the umpire an earful. Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland was also ejected at this time.
Heading to the top of the eighth, the score was 2-1 Oakland. In the eighth, Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera threw a pitch behind Brett Lawrie, but didn't make contact. He was immediately ejected from the game. At this time Alcides Escobar was also ejected from the game (which he didn't play in due to the injury suffered two days earlier) as he yelled from the dugout, and also acting Royals manager Don Wakamatsu who was ejected basically for being the manager in charge at the time Hererra threw the ill-advised pitch. After this fracus, the Royals rallied to score 3 runs and win the game and the series.
The Royals followed that series up with another series against the Twins. The Royals took 2 of 3 to even the season series at 3 a piece. The first two games saw no hit batter, but the third saw 3 hit batters. Jeremy Guthrie hit Oswaldo Arcia in the first (who to be honest Guthrie had a terrible start to the game, hitting a batter to walk in a run isn't a great way to start the game. Later in the game, Mike Pelfrey hit Royals Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. Not believed to be on purpose, it was still two of out better players and put us back at the top of most hit batters.
Last night was the first of a three game set with the White Sox. In the game, Jose Abreu and Mike Moustakas were both hit by pitches, but that isn't where it got ugly. In the bottom of the 7th, tempers flared between Adam Eaton and Yordano Ventura, and after a routine grounder back to the pitcher, words were exchanged as both headed to first base. Eaton was out but a couple "F you" from both players and both benches cleared and a fight between Samardzija and Cain erupted. Both were ejected as were Chris Sale, Yordano Ventura, and Edwin Volquez. In the end, the Royals won in the 13th inning.
NOW, having said all that, here is my take on the Royals up to this point. They are doing things the right and wrong way. After last season, they have high hopes and high expectations, and I'm not sure all of the players can handle it yet. The main culprit is Yordano Ventura, who lets his emotions get the best of him at times. Most of the time I have no problem with it. However, one stat being tossed around is he hasn't been replaced by the manager yet this year. Each start has ended up being an injury (due to cramps on two occasions), or by ejection (on two occasions). While all quality starts (minus the first time he was ejected), he needs to control his temper, or as many have said, needs to grow up. However, he was also defending his teammates, which is as time honored in baseball as anything. Moving on, if the MLB suspends him (which I have no problem with as long as other players are taken to task as well), it would be justified, but also should serve as a wake up call. Maybe the best best is to send him to anger management for a while to see if that helps. He has a bright future, much too bright to squander by being too emotional of a pitcher. The Adam Eaton incident last night shows how much of an advantage the batter has while facing him by egging his actions on to get the best of him.
As for all the other ejections (aside from last night), I think they were unjust. The main one being Yost's just for merely walking out of the dugout. At best he wanted an explanation of the ejection, and at worst, he was going to be tossed for getting in the ump's face. Either way, let the man express his feelings. If it escalated into something more detrimental, than let MLB handle it. Alcides ejection for yelling from the dugout also seemed odd. Unless it was offensive or derogatory, he had no reason to be tossed (from a game he wasn't in no less). It reminds me of being wrote up once on a day I didn't even work (I wasn't even there). It merely showed that the ump was puffing his chest showing he could decide fates of people that he shouldn't unless it is deemed necessary.
People are calling the Royals, the bad guys, thugs, or worse, and honestly I can see that. To be honest I never really believed the "Haters gonna hate" or "they hate us 'cause they ain't us" (ugh the grammar) mentality for the reason I never backed a team in a position of winning, or being in the spotlight. However, it isn't completely justified as the Royals have been hit far more times than they have hit players. Not using that as a main excuse, but when you are winning and being hit is a lot different than losing and being hit. People have said "its funny how the Royals suddenly have a fanbase". The fact is EVERY TEAM HAS A FANBASE. Most like the Royals aren't as vocal on a national scale until the win because why would you be vocal when your team is losing 100 games a year? That's like saying the Seahawks never had a fanbase until 2 years ago, its absurb, and honestly quite offensive to the fanbase. The point is, when you are hit and losing what is the point of retribution besides defending your teammates? When you are winning and being hit, its different. You are still defending your teammates, but also your fans, and your place in the standings. You shouldn't roll over and take it, especially when you are winning. While it is a destructive view, it is also the right one. In order to go down swinging, you need to step up to the plate first. This is Kansas City's way of stepping up to the plate.
I'm not a regular sports fan. I don't defend every detail a team does. I am not somebody who blindly follows my teams. When they are in the wrong, then I will point it out. So here is how I would hand down penalties for the Royals (only the Royals, I would be too impartial to other teams).
Yordano Ventura- 10 games. It would result in 2 starts or two games. If possible I would put a caveat in that if this happens again he is suspended for 30 days without pay and only allowed to return if he completes an anger management course. *If I was Ventura I would also appeal it and it would like remove the caveat and knock it down to five games.
Kelvin Herrera- already suspended 5 games but appealing the decision, I would deny the appeal. I don't know if he meant to aim for the head, but honestly, I don't think he did. He has better accuracy than that, and if he meant to aim for the head, he likely would have gotten him. Either way, he sent a message to Brett Lawrie, but it was the wrong one. If you want to hit the batter, hit him, but never above behind him or above the shoulders. Pointing to his head was also a stupid move. I think he'll come back much smarter.
THAT'S IT! No other suspensions are needed. However, I would warn the Royals any other outbursts this year will result in heavier fines and suspensions. However I would assure them that MLB would look further into opposing teams hitting their players and actions will be taken to them. I would also make sure the same ground crew wasn't in Oakland for the next series, and warn both teams that their is 0 tolerance. If a player is accidentally hit, the pitcher is tossed. Stop it before it starts.
Let me say this too. The Scott Kazmir HBP on Lorenzo Cain might have been accidental, but it could have on purpose too. My reasoning on this is different than most. Lorenzo Cain is a speedy player. Everyone has said pitchers never throw at the feet because they can move out of the way. If I was a pitcher, I would hit players in the ankle or foot more than the ribcage (I know its wrong, but I'm honest). Why wouldn't you aim for a spot that could result in a speedy runner being slower? Also the fact that it happened in the first inning is a bit interesting.
Ok, I said my piece and I apologize for ranting, but I wanted to lay it out there. Thank you for reading.