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King Charles, a royal
I hate all things royal.
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Know Your Enemy: Kansas City Royals

A team built by scientists to lose at baseball

The White Sox, winners of two series in a row, and who took out some frustration in Cincinnati, are headed to Kansas City to take on the Royals. It stands to reason that the Sox can grab a couple from KC, who, as per historical standards, are bad. They are a bad baseball team, were expected to be bad, and are living up to that expectation of being bad.

But as Sox fans know, that doesn’t seem to matter. The Sox always seem to struggle against KC, even when they are bad. I feel like every year I say, “Man, if we just had a winning record against those ding-dongs from Kansas we’d have won the division,” and then someone else says, “actually, Kansas City is in Missouri,” and then I say I don’t care, there is no difference, and they named themselves something dumb, and I was already in a bad mood, anyway, thinking about how often we lost to the Royals, who are bad.

The Sox are 432-411 overall against the Royals. Let’s keep piling on, fellas!

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

My computer keeps wanting me to type “Rays,” on account of doing a Know Your Enemy about the Rays. But the Royals are the anti-Rays, because KC is a team built by scientists to lose at baseball. With that exciting and inspiring mid-2010s run receding in the mirror, Kansas City has gone back to the dregs. At 9-26, they are still three games back of the Sox, who have been horrific and cursed.

Now, in theory, KC is rebuilding, but who can tell the difference? This is where they always are. There is bad, and then there is “lose two out of three to Oakland” bad. That’s Kansas City. Dammit, we’re going to get swept, aren’t we?

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

Not particularly, no. Bobby Witt Jr. is super talented and might be really good. He’s scuffling a bit this year (a .275 OBP, which is really bad), though he’s got six dingers. That’s one behind team leader Salvador Pérez, who is doing Salvador Pérez stuff.

Team on-base percentage is .297. If you’re talking to friends today about what’s gone wrong in Kansas City, you can tell them that these Royals just don’t get on base. Then you can stroke your chin and pronounce, with oracular wisdom, that “if you don’t get on base you can’t score, you know.” Challenge your friends to disagree. They can’t!

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

Monday, May 8
Sox: Dylan Cease (2-1, 4.58) has been struggling, not going past five innings in his last three starts, even with the walks being slightly down. Not great!

Royals: Zack Greinke (1-4, 5.25) is in the long twilight of the strangest of careers. His overall stats are skewed by a really bad outing in Minnesota and just by playing in KC, generally. He’s not peak Zack, but can still hurl it.

Tuesday, May 9
Sox: Lucas Giolito (1-2, 3.67) has been a stud and a needed innings-eater. His walks are down, and as we know, KC doesn’t take them anyway. A positive matchup indeed.

Royals: Jordan Lyles (0-5 6.69) is still in the league, I guess. Dude is 66-95 overall, with a career 1.43 WHIP. Good for him, you know. He’s the anti-Greinke, where it feels good and proper and just that Lyles is pitching for Kansas City.

Wednesday, May 10
Sox: Lance Lynn (1-4, 6.86) won his last start against the Reds, punching out eight and walking no one. Let us focus on the success of the last start and not the struggles of the season.

Royals: Brad Keller (2-3. 4.67) is having a normal Brad Keller year, which is: Get guys on base and let them score. I also learned his nickname is Yeldarb, which is the kind of clever nickname you select yourself: “You see, it’s Bradley, only backwards!” you say to people, as they walk away in disgust.

Thursday, May 11
Sox: SP4 (2-3, 4.84) is pitching. He’s been bad his last few outings, as a flukish start with some unearned luck is ending.

Royals: Brady Singer (2-4, 8.82) has the worst ERA of anyone with 30+ innings pitched. I know that ERA is a dumb stat, but it is helpful at the extremes, and Singer is right damn there.

Why Do We Hate Kansas City?

Like most people, whenever I think of Kansas City, I think of that “Going to Kansas City” song, whose my famous lyrics are about the “crazy little women” of Kansas City, which: sure. Outdated, but whatever. But here are the other lyrics.

I’m gonna be
Standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
I’ll be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine
Well, I might take a train
I might take a plane
But if I have to walk
I’m going just the same

It feels like Wilbert Harrison got a bag of money* to write about Kansas City and came up with the most generic lyrics available. You might have to take a plane or a train to get there? That’s pretty wild, and very distinguishing. I am sure there is an intersection of 12th and Vine, but the same could be said of every city in America. And the less said about “Kansas City wine” the better.

(*You know, the kind of huge money that blues singers were known for making.)

But that’s sort of the point. Kansas City is deliberately nowhere, a city that sounds like the capital of a state it isn’t in, though the fans of the team are from that state. It is claimed as a municipality by Missouri, which is a horrorshow, and by the hearts of Kansas, a nightmare. It’s a western city with southern vibes, somehow merging the worst of both. It’s a Great Plains city that has brought in the spirit of the Ozarks. Spiritually, the city is both an overpass you want to get away from and an underpass you can’t escape.

I like the Chiefs, though, and so do you if you’re honest.

Why Do We Hate the Royals?

This is a good week to play the Royals, having just gotten past the stupefying specter of the coronation. It’s 2023 and they are bringing up the Sword of Justice and the Orb of Wisdom to put a pointless crown encrusted with gaudy gobs of blood diamonds on some dope’s head. He has no power, thank god, but they hope that the idea of a monarchy will somehow inspire a modern damn country. There is nothing that isn’t fake and tacky and cheap and gross about the royals, and the same is true of the Royals.

As we said, the Royals are apparently trying to lose, but it is almost impossible to tell. With a few exceptions — the early-80s George Brett teams, that 2003 run, and then the 2014-16 stretch, KC has been indistinguishably bad, one of the worst teams in the sport. Only the Marlins and maybe the Reds have a claim for least-relevant team. It’s as if baseball has accepted that Kansas City will always be bad, and who cares what the fans feel.

In a way, those fun (objectively speaking, I hated them) 2014-16 teams highlighted in relief the pointless waste of how KC is run. The owners and fans always claim to be poor and that they play in such a small little city, but they showed it is possible to win if you try. But the incentive isn’t there. Owners are rewarded for not trying. The Royals are emblematic of baseball’s forced economics and the lucre to be found in billionaire poverty cosplay. It’s gross.

They also beat us way too much, and I hate it.

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