A couple days ago I was talking to my friend Jena, a Kansas City Royals fan. She asked what I thought of all the fist-pumping and chest-bumping and over-the-top celebrations the Royals were doing during games and how other teams are going to react to that.
I said something along the lines of, "They're not going to like it."
Fast-forward to Thursday night and there were the Royals, involved in another incident. There was Yordano Ventura, involved in another incident. I'm writing this during the game, so we don't have comments yet from players explaining the dust-up that nearly escalated into a 1980s-style all-out brawl. Adam Eaton grounded back to the mound and the replay clearly showed Ventura barking a common two-word profanity. According to Tweets, it's possible that Eaton shouted something first, perhaps suggesting in his best Shakespearean language that Ventura might have quick pitched him (see here).
The Royals are playing with a style you don't see often in baseball, at least at the major league level: Energetic, enthusiastic, almost an us-against-the-world attitude. To some extent, this helped carry them through their hot streak in October and it's probably part of their good start in 2015. It's difficult, however, to sustain that level of play for 162 games. More importantly, Ventura's actions -- whether defensible or not -- put his teammates in jeopardy, just as Kelvin Herrera did on Sunday when he threw behind Brett Lawrie (after Ventura had already been tossed the day before for throwing at him).
The Royals will likely counter that they'd been hit by 16 pitches entering Thursday's game, second-most in the majors, and were already all riled up after Chris Sale had come in on Mike Moustakas. That they can't keeping getting hit and pretend it's not big deal. Regardless, from afar, it seems that Ned Yost has lost some control of his team.
The Royals, October's lovable little small-market team, is suddenly the most disliked team in baseball. Some Twitter reaction to the fight:
The Kansas City Royals' heel turn is a thing to behold, it seems.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) April 24, 2015
Samardzija wanted blood. And Edinson Volquez was trying to land some haymakers (big swing and miss on one)— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) April 24, 2015
Ventura vs. Trout, Ventura vs. Lawrie, Ventura vs. Eaton, Royals vs. everybody. Are we sensing a trend?— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 24, 2015
Royals announcers saying the Royals were pissed about something before the 7th started. Lorenzo Cain in particular. So.— Dave Brown (@AnswerDave) April 24, 2015
I've pretty much had it with Ventura. Can't defend his actions. #Royals— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) April 24, 2015
The Royals going Cornholio on the White Sox tonight. pic.twitter.com/7iaatKUtJo— Joey__T (@joey__t) April 24, 2015
I'll say this much: If the Royals want to be bad boys, they need to read Sun Tzu or some basic game theory, b/c this is suboptimal strategy.— Tim Armstrong (@armstrongtr) April 24, 2015
We've secretly replaced the 2015 Royals with the 2013 Diamondbacks. Let's see if anyone notices.— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) April 24, 2015
PLEASE MEDIA BEFORE YOU PAINT THE ROYALS AND THEIR FANS AS THE "BAD GUYS" REMEMBER WHITE SOX FANS STABBED OUR 1B COACH! #NeverForget— Taco Sal (@TacoSalazarKC) April 24, 2015