Why I'm Glad The Kansas City Royals Lost The World Series

I have to say something that, in the current American sports media climate makes almost feel like an unpatriotic Communist—in the recently concluded World Series, even though I have no direct rooting interest in either the Kansas City Royals or San Francisco Giants, I rooted for the Giants. There, I said it. I was not enthralled with the alleged Cinderella story that was the Royals, nor did I find them refreshing. Let me explain.

The notion of Kansas City as the overachieving Cinderella story is the storyline that, while I understood it, was the one I found most galling. I’m going to reiterate that I get where the story comes from—the organization and the fan base had not tasted postseason baseball in 29 years. But this particular group of players is anything but gritty overachievers.
There are at least six players in the everyday Kansas City lineup that were highly touted prospects coming out of the minor leagues. I was hearing about Salvador Perez (C), Eric Hosmer (1B), Mike Moustakas (3B), Alcides Escobar (SS), Alex Gordon (LF) and Lorenzo Cain (CF) from the moment they arrived in the major leagues.
Eric HosmerNow I’m a big baseball fan, but I don’t follow minor league development so closely that I just casually hear the name of any good player that comes to the big leagues. If I’m hearing the names of Royal prospects the moment they set in the majors, then they have serious talent that’s recognized as such across baseball.
The reality is, I was expecting this team to be good by last season, and other observers were expecting it even sooner, going back all the way to 2011. I seriously considered picking the Royals to win the AL Central this season and considered them to have the talent to reach the World Series. The reason I didn’t ultimately pick them? I was tired of waiting for all this highly touted talent to actually produce and wanted to see them actually do something on the field before having any confidence in them.
Now there’s nothing wrong a group of young, talented players taking an extra year or so to fully realize their potential as a team. But it doesn’t make them overachieving Cinderellas, no matter what their predecessors in Royal uniforms might have done the last three decades. The appropriate response from fans across the country should have been “It’s about time”, rather than “Aren’t they refreshing.”
Which brings me to another sore subject. I found this Royal team, far from refreshing, to be a group of trash-talking athletes, the worst element of the jock culture. I’ll cite one example. During the American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles, KC pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was seen wearing a T-shirt that said “These O’s Aren’t Royal.” It’s a spin-off on a song that goes “These Hoes Aren’t Loyal.” Yeah, real classy.

It’s worse when you consider that Guthrie not only pitched for Baltimore at one time, but was a fan favorite. What’s more, Jeremy Guthrie is basically a good guy. He really is an overachiever, and tends to be very understated in public, a quiet, classy Stanford man. If Guthrie is wearing a classless trash-talking T-shirt like this, then it’s reflecting a spirit that’s permeating the clubhouse and he got swept up into it.
I’ve frankly never heard of a team (not the fans, but the players themselves) that focused on wearing garb that so felt the need to cut down the opponent rather than celebrating their own achievement. And just once, it would have been nice to hear a Royal player—any one of the stud prospects that finally played up to their potential—acknowledge that it’s taken them a while to finally play like they’re capable.
The two teams that Kansas City most recently played are far better examples of overachievers. Baltimore won 96 games and reached the ALCS in spite of three of their top four positon players being either hurt or ineffective. That’s overachievement, and it’s being obscured by the fact the Orioles did it all season, rather than just from the start of September forward.
Even more egregious is overlooking what overachievers the Giants are. The middle infield, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik, weren’t highly touted prospects like the kids in Kansas City were. The starting rotation, beyond Madison Bumgarner, is held together with savvy veterans, past their prime, but keep it going on guile and know-how.

The overachievement of the Giants is being overlooked because this organization makes such a habit of it, they’ve now won three World Series titles in five years. But this is the team where everyone plays beyond their potential regularly, not to their potentially occasionally, as Kansas City did.
I feel apologetic to the great Royal fan base for saying all this, because they’ve waited an incredibly long time for a winner. I came of age as a baseball fan in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the KC organization was one of the truly elite baseball operations in the league. I still remember George Brett unloading a three-run blast into the third deck of the old Yankee Stadium to win the 1980 American League pennant. I’ve got incredible respect for Brett, along with players like Hal McRae, Frank White, Dennis Leonard and Larry Gura, that formed the heart of a mini-dynasty that from 1976-85 made the ALCS six times, the World Series twice and won it all once.
In short, I have no axe to grind with the Royals in general. Just this team in particular.
Kansas City’s organization is clearly on the right track, to be churning out talent like this. They have the ability to get back to the World Series and to win it. They have the roster that can make multiple appearances in the playoffs. But they’re also a team that appears to have a substantial amount of growing up to do. And I’m sorry, but I’m glad San Francisco, the real overachievers, beat them.