Before I begin, I’d like to point out that my generic prediction for the 2012 Royals was that this season would be disappointing. This, though, is not what I had in mind.
Ten straight losses, nine at home. Starters who can’t get out of jams. Relievers who throw gas on the fire. Hitters that can’t climb out of holes. Baserunners who make bad decision after bad decision. Curious managerial decisions.
Let’s face it, this has been a complete team effort to suck.
It is times like these where the life of a modern baseball fan can be tough. I love that we are in an era when you can live away from your favorite team, but thanks to MLB.TV, Twitter, and dozens of baseball blogs, it’s like you’re right there with them. The Twitter side, especially, has been tough to take as the Royals have sunk deeper and deeper. There are so many smart observers of the team who, as soon as something goes wrong, start looking for ledges to climb onto. There are so many otherwise rational humans who, having lived through the last two decades of Royals baseball, see a losing streak, attach 20 years of failure to it, and become incredibly negative. It’s easy to get sucked into that attitude and believe that this season is lost and the “promise” of the franchise is just another false start.
It doesn’t help that the team hasn’t done much to make us want to believe.
My personal nadir has been a return to a hobby of my past: wondering what team I would follow should the Royals be contracted. I must admit, for all the negativity on Twitter, I haven’t seen too many others start considering the C word.
One other thing that’s been tough about the new season is breaking in the new announcers, Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler. It’s always hard to get used to new announcers and their mannerisms and quirks. But these two started with two strikes knowing they were fired by the Angels and pretty much reviled by much of the online baseball community. Physioc had a reputation as being lazy and not knowing the game. Hudler, the eternal optimist, is in/famous for spouting cliches and banal observations.
I can’t say that a couple weeks of baseball has made me like them. Physioc is as advertised. Much of the time it feels like he’s just reading out of the media guide. Sometimes it seems like he’s not watching the game that closely and stumbles over names or plays because he was looking at his scorecard or checking his notes. It gets worse when he switches to radio and shares the call with Bob Davis, who continues to be awful yet somehow keeps a job. For some reason the baseball Gods don’t think Royals fans have been tortured enough and throw that duo at us.
Hudler means well, but so much of what he says is weightless fluff. You can tell he’s trying to get to know this team, and some of the lightness of his comments is based on that. But I don’t think he’s going to morph into a great analyst once he is more familiar with the Royals’ roster.
The weird thing about the new guys is they’ve made me appreciate Ryan Lefebrve, who I’ve never really liked. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a fan of his, but at least I’m comfortable with his style. He and Hudler seem to have zero chemistry right now, and the little sarcastic barbs Ryan throws out, and Rex’s clueless responses to them, have been one of the few fun things this season.
I know it’s too early to panic. This team wasn’t supposed to win this year. But this was supposed to be a step towards contending in 2013. Perhaps it still will be. Perhaps they rebound and make this season respectable. Perhaps the knocks they take this year will help them start off strong next year. Maybe the holes that are apparent in the rotation will force Dayton Moore to make some bold moves next winter to put the team in a better position to compete.
Still, it would be nice if they could at least flirt with .500 and make our hope in the future not seem completely misguided.