BREAKING OOTP Ep. 7: Schlafly’s Royals (Also “30 Teams, 30 Posts” for the Royals)

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. This also fulfills the Royals part of that.

This will be a controversial entry in BREAKING OOTP. It’s going to be a bit political. You see, not too long ago, a woman named Phyllis Schlafly had an opinion on baseball. There’s nothing wrong with that. People have opinions about baseball all of the time. Some of them are even insightful.

Her opinion, however, was hateful, ignorant and wrong. She believes that MLB should KICK OUT ALL OF THE FOREIGNERS. In fact, she openly says “It is time to cut off visas for foreign baseball players, and return our National Pastime to Americans.

This, needless to say, is a bigoted and xenophobic view of baseball, and anyone who honestly believes it should be rightly sent to the dustpan of history. However, it’s also objectively wrong and ignorant. Even if she was right that Americans have a god-given privilege to have every baseball job in America (AND SHE IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT RIGHT), her arguments for the superiority of American MLB players are so paper-thin you could poke holes in them with a baby’s finger. For example, she uses the claim that the vast majority of Hall of Famers are American to “prove” that foreign players are inferior, utterly ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Hall of Famers came from an era before baseball became the diverse multi-national pool of players it is now. She also uses as “evidence” the fact that only Americans won the big awards in 2015, ignoring the fact that that was an aberration and that plenty of people from outside the United States have won those awards in the past.

So, to prove this bigoted old lady just how wrong she is, I’m going to show just how out-of-their-league a team made up entirely of American white guys would be in modern-day baseball. But who?

Now, she seems to think (according to her actual article, which I’m not linking to because I don’t want to give her the pleasure of the hits) the 1944 Cardinals were the pinnacle of baseball. Never mind that 1944’s Cardinals weren’t even the pinnacle of white American baseball, given most of the stars were off fighting WWII. Still, the 1944 Cardinals did win the World Series, so to produce her vision, I figure it would be a good idea to do it to the most recent MLB champions, the Kansas City Royals. It’s obviously not a one-to-one correlation, but it’ll do. Go below the jump for more:

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So are the Royals being this year’s designated villains a good thing or a bad thing?

Last night, the Kansas City Royals got into a bench-clearer. Again. This time with the White Sox. Who said what and did what will no doubt never be 100% figured out and there most definitely are plenty on both sides who made some very poor decisions.

But this is true: it feels like clockwork so far this year that the Royals are getting into some sort of fracas, whether vocal or physical. There was the whole thing with the Athletics that culminated in Kelvin Herrera appearing to throw at Brett Lawrie‘s head. There was the thing with Mike Trout. The Royals relief corps has probably spent more time running in en masse from the bullpen so far this month than most do in a entire season. Due to injuries in earlier starts and ejections in his most recent ones, Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura has yet to be pulled from a game because of managerial decision.

Perhaps it is all coincidence. Perhaps this is just the rest of the team being dragged into a vortex by a small handful of pitchers with chips on their shoulder. Perhaps the Royals will be upstanding citizens for the rest of the season. But, well, it’s probably too late to matter: baseball fandom-at-large has declared that the Royals are villains this year. One article declared them to be the most despised team in the league. They’ve turned to the Dark Side, become heels and taken up the role of bad boys (despite some pleas not to use that phrase).

Again, such labels are for the most part bunk, but the human sports fan loves to label things. It’s why the Yankees are often the “Evil Empire”, why some coaches are called “geniuses” or “slimeballs”, and why there was an entire documentary on why people hate Christian Laettner. It’s our way of projecting fairy tale ideals of good and evil and right and wrong onto what are essentially random events that, unlike the real worlds of politics, business and so on, actually have a score that leaves who won or lost in clear black and white print.

And so, the zeitgeist says that the Royals are the villains. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. But is it a good or bad thing?

Well, one thing is clear: the Royals should stop having bench-clearing brawls and bean-ball wars. And definitely no throwing at heads. Somebody is going to get hurt sooner rather than later if these continue. Maybe it’ll be a Royal. Maybe it’ll be a player on another team. It must stop before it gets to that- there is no reason for people to get hurt over stupid grudges, hurt feelings, and violations of THE UNWRITTEN RULES (TM).

However, what about the emotions and swagger that the Royals are showing? The fist-bumps and exaggerated hand-claps, the shouts and screams of victory? No doubt some of the violations of THE UNWRITTEN RULES (TM) are because of this, and perhaps some of the incidents so far are related to these. And this leads to a bigger question within baseball: how much emotion and expression is too much?

A few days ago, you may have heard, Chris Rock did a monologue for HBO on why baseball no longer had the same hold on youth- especially black youth- as it once did. And while some of what he said was exaggerated for comedic effect, he hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that baseball, more than any other team sport, tries to hold back the public self-expression and emotion of individual players.

And what are the Royals doing? They are showing emotion. They are at times celebrating openly in manners more like basketball players or football players… and, yes, occasionally brawling like hockey players.

And is that bad? Aside from when they reach those tipping points where emotion becomes violence, are the Royals really showing disrespect to the game of baseball? Maybe, maybe not. Likely it depends on any given occurrence.

But perhaps the Royals are a breath of fresh air, a beacon of exuberance in a sea of the mundane. Perhaps the Royals are the villain that Major League Baseball needs, not the one it wants.

But, still… they have to stop getting into fights and beanings. Because there is most definitely such thing as too much emotion, and it’s when people might get hurt.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): The Royals and the Inevitable Hangover

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, we look at the Royals.

The Royals had a wild ride last season, driving through the postseason like they stole it. And they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Bumgarner.

However, now the hard part: moving on. 2014 is over, the sweeping of the Angels and Orioles is in the past. Alex Gordon’s dash to third base is now but a memory.

And, perhaps most importantly, some of the key players from last season are gone. James Shields is now in San Diego. Billy Butler, long a mainstay in Kansas City, now is in Oakland. Nori Aoki is now a Giant. Josh Willingham, who hit a game-tying single in the Wild Card game last year, has retired.

To be sure, additions have been made and young players will continue to improve, but, well, it will be hard for the Royals of this season to match the run of last year, because getting to the World Series is hard. It’s a cold truth.

So, sorry, Royals fans, but it’s fairly likely you are in for a disappointment this year. But, rest assured, a bright future may still lay ahead, if the prospects work out.

But if not, hold on to those memories of 2014… because it was quite the achievement in itself.