“The talent is all there, but between the ears there’s a circuit board off balance.” Thus spoke Adam Jones, Orioles outfielder, early last June, after Yordano Ventura—the Royals’ talented but combustible pitcher—decided to go to war against Manny Machado and finally provoked yet another brawl.
Certain recent whispers have had the Royals thinking the once-unthinkable and moving Yordano Ventura. Yahoo! Sports’s Jeff Passan cites a pair of unidentified executives saying the Royals have offered Ventura in trade talks over the past month. The issue isn’t Ventura’s arm or stuff, it’s his head and the five-year-old mind inside, a mind exposed further Tuesday in Baltimore.
Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.
Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:
In 1946 it was Enos Slaughter’s mad dash home in the eighth inning while Johnny Pesky held the ball. (Actually, he didn’t, but Pesky had no chance to throw home in time after taking a high throw in from center field.) And it meant a World Series triumph for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Almost seventy years later, it was Lorenzo Cain’s mad dash home while Jose Bautista threw to second. Also in the eighth inning. But it meant a trip to the World Series for the Kansas City Royals Friday night.
Boys will be boys, but little by little, piece by piece, the Kansas City Royals seem determined to prove they can set a record for going from Cinderella boys one season (2014) to public enemy number one with their dirty diapers the next. If their weekend in Toronto is any suggestion, losing two of three to the Jays won’t prove half as significant as will the Royals finishing 2015 as either the single most hated team in baseball or one of the top three.
Last year’s likeable Royals seem bent early on becoming this year’s unlikeable breed. They’ve lost one key relief pitcher and seen a key starter take a hit in the bank account over last weekend’s foolishness, and from the early comments it seems as though they’ve learned . . . nothing.
Merely six games have passed in the new season but there are questions as to whether the Los Angeles Angels’ 2015 might be dying before it really begins to take shape. And whether their own owner and front office hasn’t detonated a poison gas bomb that will take months to clear.
Hands up to everyone who expected Game Six to be a blowout on either side. Join the club, I didn’t expect it either. So let’s be reasonable, consider the source, and call what the Kansas City Royals did Tuesday night a 10-0 slashout.
Now, hands up to everyone who thought the Royals would hang up a seven-spot in the second inning Tuesday night. Join the club, I didn’t expect that, either. But there they were. The Roach Coach’s windows were wiped, the oil was changed, the tank was filled with fuel, and the Royals sent it into runaway train mode before the San Francisco Giants had a clue to what was hitting them.
Have you noticed the same two things I’m noticing about the Kansas City Royals? Thing one: They seem to have positioned themselves as giant killers. (And who knows that they won’t get a chance to be Giant killers, too?) Thing two: Contrary to swelling popular opinion, they don’t always need extra innings to make a postseason statement.
It might have shocked enough people that they dispatched the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, in Game Two of the American League Championship Series in nine regulation innings. It probably has shocked enough people that they’re halfway toward a second consecutive sweep of a regular season powerhouse.
The Pirates and the Giants have their work cut out for them before they square off in the National League wild card game Wednesday. Unless they think they can come up with even half the hair-raiser the American League game was Tuesday night, that is.
Frankly, Bernard Malamud and Douglas Wallop themselves couldn’t have written Tuesday’s script. Kansas City, which hasn’t seen the Royals anywhere near the postseason since the Reagan Administration, wouldn’t have bought it prior to Tuesday night.