There is, perhaps, no play more emblematic of the Kansas City Royals’ May—and maybe of the Kansas City Royals last 30 or so years, actually—than DH (the “D” is for “doughy!) Billy Butler getting thrown out at first on a single to right in Thursday night’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Ultimately, the play didn’t matter—the Royals still won, after all—but in the grand scheme of things, the play mattered lots. Never before had they appeared more like a recreational softball collective than a multi-million dollar professional baseball team.
(The fact that the exact same thing happened the next game to Omar Infante is one of the most mind-bending things ever, but a quintessential example of “Royaling,” a scientific principle wherein only the most absurdly impossible things happen to Kansas City, and Kansas City alone.)
In general, May was a bad month. Not as bad as last May, maybe, but still ugly. Thursday’s buffoonery started with a textbook example of the proverbial “rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.” Former major league managerial failure Dale Sveum moved from his spot as third base coach to hitting coach; former hitting coach Pedro Grifol was named as the new “catcher’s instructor,” which apparently is a real thing.
The moves came after two long months of deplorable offensive output. While not historically bad—there are several teams in the past that could be considered worse—the Royals hitters are still really, really shitty. To top it off, the starting rotation has started to come to earth, and the bullpen—with the exception of unhittable, God-like guys such as Greg Holland and Wade Davis—is mostly pretty terrible at keeping inherited runners from scoring. (Defense looks great, though!)
When you stir all of this into a big baseball gumbo, what you basically get is a mediocre team still living off of the early success of phenomenal starting pitching. You get an anemic offense teeming with ineptitude, on pace, potentially, to finish the season with a historically low home run total. You get a general manager with an eight-year plan making excuses like, “well, just wait until it gets hot. THEN you’ll see some fireworks.” You get a savior third baseman chasing storms in Omaha, Nebraska. You get an embarrassingly slow DH getting thrown out at first base on a single to the outfield.
And it’s nothing new—we’ve known this kind of baseball for years, now—but maybe it stings a little more because, well, this is it. These are the guys who Kansas City was supposed to win with. This was the window, and these were the dudes who were supposed to crawl through it. These were the fruits of the “BEST FARM SYSTEM IN BASEBALL,” but somehow, all of the analysts were wrong. How all of the experts could have been so off on so many can’t-miss prospects is baffling, but that’s baseball, I guess.
But May is over, and maybe they’ll start putting it all together under the tutelage of Swingin’ Dale Sveum. (Do you ever do that thing where you’re in a place where you shouldn’t be laughing, maybe a funeral or something, and so you bite your cheeks, but that makes you just want to laugh harder? Yeah, that.)
Let’s end on a positive note, though.
Somehow, Eric Hosmer is tied for the league lead in doubles.
Lorenzo Cain is very good and when he’s actually healthy.
Omar Infante is fourth in the AL for RBI by second basemen. (Despite missing significant playing time.)
Greg Holland is leading the league in saves.
So anyway, here’s to a better June, I guess. Go baseball!