The Royals–mired in an 8-game winning streak that has them within striking distance of third place–are more than just scrappy. They’ve got some players who are big-time class acts.
There’s superstar Mike Sweeney, who’s missed the past seven games because he strained a back muscle climbing into the back seat of a pickup truck and hunching down so his mother could sit in the front seat. Of course Sween would get hurt doing something nice. He’s always doing something nice.
Then there’s Paul Byrd.
Paul Byrd is on the verge of being traded, because he’s tied for the AL lead in wins despite pitching for a team with a losing record that, up until his last two starts, gave him very little run support. That inflates his market value. If someone dangles a hot prospect in front of their faces, Paul Byrd will be packing.
But in the meantime, he’s got fans. A group of fans occupy a section in the upper deck every home game he pitches, calling themselves The Byrd’s Nest.
So, as he trudged through pitching 9 innings Thursday afternoon, Byrd looked up, saw his fans in the upper deck, figured they were probably baking up there, and had a vendor send bottled water to them.
Very evil version of this post (from a Cardinals fan):
1) Take the s off of “scrappy”; and
2) Maybe Byrd was hoping that his fans would trick the umps into calling a rain delay to ensure the Royals won the game.
Seriously, that was a pretty classy thing for Byrd to do. While my FIRST PLACE Cardinals (no, the AL *Central* is the weakest division in baseball) roughed him up during interleague play, they could use a pitcher like him. Of course, they just grabbed Chuck Finley from the Indians. His record isn’t as as bad as Byrd’s (the Indians and FOURTH PLACE Royals are just about even in the divison), but he’s a bull. We’ll see how it works out.
Pena is setting a goal of first place for the Royals this year. Probably not attainable, but a smart thing to do. At worst, to turn this season around is a stepping stone for next year. Or whenever baseball is played again.