If you were to ask anyone in the halls of SSS (or my husband) they would tell you that there is no team in the known universe that I hate more than the Royals. Not even the Cubs, which is surprising but a very close second.
Happy Home Opener, y’all, let’s trash the Royals!
2020 Record: 26-34 (4th in AL Central)
File the 2020 Royals under “Couldn’t Accident Into the Wild Card.” They reaped zero benefit from the expanded playoffs and looked exactly the same as they have in every year since 2015, in their backslide to obscurity. The most interesting thing that happened to them in 2020 was that Patrick Mahomes bought a piece of the team, because he had cash to burn or needed a tax write-off or something.
Their collective team batting average was .244, which makes for an underwhelming offense and gives the honor of coming in a solid eighth out of 15 in AL teams (don’t forget that the AL includes the Orioles, Mariners, and Rangers so their ranking isn’t exactly the worst possible). 2020 was a season where a lot of the teams who don’t get a lot of national recognition shined, like the Marlins, and a season where some teams were exactly the same as during a normal year, like the Royals. They traded away Trevor Rosenthal in August, who was posting a 0.87 ERA in 10 1⁄3 innings pitched over 11 games, to the Padres for Edward Oliveras.
The offseason saw the Royals added Mike Minor, Greg Holland, and Dylan Coleman (the player to be named later from the Trevor Rosenthal trade) to the bullpen. Added defense includes the likes of Carlos Santana, Michael A. Taylor, Jarrod Dyson, and Andrew Benintendi. They decided to keep Hunter Dozier and Salvador Perez around for another four years while non-tendering Maikel Franco and saying good-bye to the likes of Ian Kennedy, Matt Harvey, Glenn “Sparky” Sparkman, and Alex Gordon (to retirement). Benintendi especially brings plenty of value to the Royals with his career 10.2 WAR and .272 BA, both of which came from spending four years with the Red Sox, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be a superstar on the very sub-par Royals (Boston’s dismal 2020 season is the Royals regular play, so he will be just fine).
The 2020 Royals also included my favorite announcing moment of the season:
2020 Manager: Mike Matheny
Mike Matheny returns for his second year on the bench for the Royals and brings with him supposed baseball genius that is really just masking the fact that he is a very low-level Batman villain. Matheny previously managed the Cardinals for five-ish years at such a high level that he was fired in July of 2018, right smack dab in the middle of the season. An interesting little factoid is that he won the inaugural Darryl Kile Good Guy Award in 2003, which was established and presented annually to a player on the Astros and Cardinals who best exemplified Kile’s traits of “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father, and a humble man”; no word on how the fact that he allowed the Cards to bully rookies under his watch had an effect here.
2021 is poised to see a meeting of former Cardinals managers (and co-workers). I have to expect that Matheny fancies himself as a Tony La Russa-esque manager — and is the only one who sees himself that way. Matheny also played under La Russa during his time in St. Louis (2000-04), and they are apparently friends.
2021 So Far
The Royals kicked off the season playing the Rangers, who are in the midst of a very painful rebuild. The team managed to set a franchise record for Opening Day runs in a 14-10 win. Being able to start off against the limping Rangers has given the Royals a shot in the arm to where they’re sitting in second place with a 3-2 record, a half-game back of the Twins. The did still manage to lose the last game in the series to the Rangers, and had a split series in Cleveland.
Supposedly the Royals are in the last year of the rebuild, so it remains to be seen how things will shape up for them. It’s worth noting that the new majority owner John Sherman is also a minority owner in the Cleveland Baseball Team so he may have gotten the “be cheap and sell off the pieces” mentality from them (though that remains to be seen).
With the Royals coasting in to Chicago on a high, it will be especially sweet to knock them down a few pegs, where they belong.
Series Matchup: Learning Curve Be Damned
The White Sox are coming off a 3-4 road trip with some very questionable managerial decisions. The offensive and defensive rust can work itself out given how early in the season it is, but should our Hall-of-Famer Baseball Person skipper really have a learning curve at this point?
Opening Day brings noted White Sox enemy Brad Keller in to face off against Lance Lynn, in his first experience of a White Sox/Royals clash. Keller had a lovely Opening Day start against the limping Rangers that has earned him a 40.50 ERA for allowing six earned runs on nine hits in a little over one inning (side note: I love early-season stats because of how ridiculously bloated they look). Keller’s been struggling with control issues as of late with his sinker, 4-Seam, and slider bouncing all over the place.
Lynn threw 99 pitches over 4 2⁄3 in Anaheim on Saturday, striking out six and walking two. We’re going to be looking for Lynn to keep being able to go deep in games as the bullpen continues to work their kinks out (and get a little rest).
Saturday will gives us Dylan Cease and a TBD from the Royals. Cease had a tough start vs. the Angels, throwing 30 pitches during the first inning (allowing two runs) before going on to throw a total of 92 pitches during 4 2⁄3 to get a no-decision.
Sunday is another TBD for the Royals, but the Sox have tipped Carlos Rodón for the start. Rodón got a win for the first time since 2019 in his last outing (and looked great doing it — being fully healthy pays off). He struck out nine over five innings of work, walking only three and allowing two hits.
Here it from the Twitterverse
I don’t exactly need help trashing the Royals, but our friends did not disappoint in this round of “Why do we hate the enemy?”
Happy Home Opener Eve Sox fans!— coors cat (@colleensullivan) April 7, 2021
Drafting up the Know Your Enemy for the series and I want to hear from you:
Why do you hate the Royals?
America is a democracy. No need for the Royals— Boo Radley (@BRisAbully) April 7, 2021
Uh...GO SOX!— Twit4Brains (@salamiquestlove) April 7, 2021
That’s a great memory. And possibly the year we had the most fun at the park. You could still have any kind of fun then— Frank Pignotti (@PigeePop) April 7, 2021
Brad Keller and Perez. They also got really big heads after winning the World Series.— Sergio Santos fan club (@santossergio46) April 7, 2021
Because of their annoying “Let’s go Royals” chant they played at home games every at bat that is instilled into my brain from every home game they beat us in when we sucked in like 2015— hannah (@hannahlamotta) April 7, 2021
Winner.— Tommy Barbee (@KindaBleu) April 7, 2021
I live in Omaha and they shot off fireworks when they won. Very annoying since I am a Chicago fan.— Julie Boettcher (@JulieBoettche16) April 7, 2021
Heath Fillmyer (I know he isn’t on the team anymore)— Herb Lawrence (@Ecnerwal23) April 7, 2021
Yordano Ventura was a POS. RIP.— ChiFanDaddy ⚾️ (@ChiFanDaddy) April 7, 2021
The wildest ballpark experience I've ever had was being in St. Louis for a work trip, scoring some tickets to a Sunday afternoon game at Busch, and it was Christian Day at the park. I was surrounded by people wearing t-shirts that said, "Porn Kills Love". Very unsettling.— Rob MackOwiak (@OwiakRob) April 7, 2021
for ever leading me to believe Mark Teahen was good— SoxOptimist (@OptimistSox) April 7, 2021
1) Kansas City should feel like a Western town but it vibes southern.— Brian O'Neill (@oneillofchicago) April 7, 2021
2) Every year it felt like our margin of success hinged on "Record Against Kansas City
3) Every year that record was somehow 4-14
4) Memorial Day Weekend 2016.
Unleashing Kermit the Frog on the NFL— |✶✶✶✶| (@sosathirteen) April 7, 2021
They are the little brother that is always there to piss you off and will sometimes best you.— White Sox Truther (@SamR33v3s) April 7, 2021
Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, the idiot pitcher who tried to play Tim Anderson— delia catherine wears a mask (@deestweets23) April 7, 2021
Brad Keller.— Chrystal O’Keefe (@chrystal_ok) April 7, 2021
George “the pine tar cheat” Brett.— Frank Klenck (@FrankKlenck) April 7, 2021
Just general principle. And also because for several years they had away uniforms that looked like kiddie pajamas. And also because in my youth I developed a great animus toward George Brett, based on his looks.— Robin (@Robincha) April 7, 2021
Mainly Keller and Perez (overrated asf). I think you and I can also hate them for 2015 lol.— Major BS ⚾️ (@BenChiTownKid98) April 8, 2021