The herd is upset. The Royals “feel good” story is suddenly a spinning spiral into a place beyond the wall, and apparently Winter, not Summer, is coming. Feel good stories tug at our heart strings and lend us a bit of romanticism that we package up and take to work with us in our lunch box.
The problem with feel good stories though? They are for pussies. And no one respects feel good stories after more than a minute. We like to pretend we respect feel good stories because we believe it makes us seem more palatable to other people. More philanthropic, more empathetic to the world’s needs. The rescued cat in the tree, Hallmark movies, a muffin for the homeless guy outside of Starbucks and Kansas City hosting a World Series.
What does being a feel good story, who by the way, obliterated the MLB Playoffs last year and were 90 feet away from tying up a World Series in Game 7 get you? Let’s look at how much everyone loves a “feel good” story!
Of the six people at Sports Illustrated to make picks, none could see the Royals in the playoffs.
45 people at Baseball Prospectus to make predictions all agreed: the Royals won’t win the division. Or get in the playoffs.*NBC Sports asked 6 sports writers, none had the Royals in the playoffs.USA Today polled 7 reporters, the sum total had the Royals in a power ranking finishing 4th…..in their division, not Baseball.
Last year the Royals were cute because that was the easiest way everyone could ingest a team playing baseball in a purist fashion, from a small market, kicking the shit out of LA, Oakland, Baltimore. That’s how we made them palatable and justified their existence. And because so many picked against them in each and every series implying they were on a lucky streak, this season was the time to make up for it. And how do you make up for it?
You crush the “feel good” story into mother earth where it rots away in the beating sun of oppressive summer and the snow cover of harsh winter. You prove that what you said last year about the Royals not being that good was actually right, they just got lucky, because “hey everyone, look at them now!” Your identity is predicated with your opinions, and when your opinions are wrong, it’s easier to defy logic and fight for their rightness than it is to just admit you were wrong.
The Royals had very few off season changes. They lost James Shields, while his regular season record was an intricate part of the Royals regular season success, he was questionable and shaky most of the post-season (probably due to being over worked in the regular season). They lost Billy Butler. Billy didn’t field for them (they are primarily a defensive team). He had 8 RBI’s with a .262 BA during the post season, which is decent, but he didn’t even show up for the Angels series. This isn’t a condemnation on Butler or Shields, it’s to put on display that there is no excuse other than calling the Royals postseason “feel good” story luck for picking them 4th in their own division.
The Baseball world doesn’t care about the Royals. They’ve been the butt of a joke for so many years many 18 year old kids have little idea that there was a time they weren’t a joke. Their franchise, fans included, have long been considered the worst of all major sports. Losers. Small market disintegration. Players running away, BBQ smoke stacks behind them.
The Royals have stopped representing a “feel good” story and started representing a team and city that’s fighting back after years of bullying. Sports writers don’t appreciate their successes. Rival teams don’t respect their talents. The Royals probably were misled into believing that winning cures all, and maybe that’s true, but for the Royals, that’s yet to be enough and until it is, expect a team with a nightly burning wick.