The Kansas City Royals are transforming from the MLB‘s lovable underdogs to rabble rousing jerks. What’s the deal?
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One minute, America was rooting for the Royals as plucky underdogs in the World Series, and then the next minute, they’re picking fights all over baseball. Somehow, they’ve gone from the team everyone likes to the team no one likes. Nine Royals have been ejected from games over the last six games, with the most recent brawl being on Thursday night against the White Sox. In that game, Royals starter Yordano Ventura yelled an obvious obscenity at White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton after Eaton hit an inning-ending comebacker. Naturally, Eaton didn’t like it and benches cleared.
Three Royals were ejected, including Ventura, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Edinson Volquez. Two White Sox pitchers were also ejected. Earlier in the game, Ventura had hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a pitch and White Sox starter Chris Sale responded with his own beanball at Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Previously the A’s and Royals were at it when Kansas City didn’t like Oakland‘s Brett Lowrie sliding into their shortstop. Two pitches were thrown at Lowrie and one connected. Two different pitchers were fined and/or suspended.
So what’s the deal with the Royals? Part of the reason they’re likely irritating other teams is their tendency to go overboard with celebrations like fist-pumping and chest-bumping for every little thing they do right. Reminder that this is baseball, not football. Players going overboard with emotions are generally frowned upon and it’s obvious other teams don’t like it and are likely coming into the games not liking it.
On the other hand, there’s a slight trend to the Royals fighting here.
It seems as though a certain Royals starting pitcher has a lot of problems with, well, everybody. This isn’t new. He gave then-Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval the staredown during the World Series, but he is apparently stepping up his angry-game for this season.
Another reason may be that the Royals are relatively young at key positions and as the World Series runners-up, they’re getting a taste of what it’s like to be hunted. They’re also taking very clear exception to that taste by entering every game with a chip on their shoulder.
The main question for the Royals is how long before this becomes a huge distraction? They’re currently on top of the AL Central at 12-4, but game after game with fights and ejections is going to get tiring and reflect badly on Ned Yost for not being able to control his team.
One thing is abundantly clear, however. Whatever target the Royals had on their heads before, it’s gotten a lot bigger thanks to their antics.
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