I noticed a lot of St. Louisans were rooting for the Royals, then, suddenly, they turned into die-hard Orioles fans. That’s odd, especially considering the Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns, who left town in 1953. That’s like Kansas City rooting for the Oakland Athletics or Sacramento Kings.
Then I found out two Kansas City shock jocks, Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison, ranted and raved about St. Louis for about an hour one day, and a bunch of St. Louisans took it seriously.
OK, so Kansas City has a couple of guys with no class on the radio. So does St. Louis. What town big enough to have more than one radio station doesn’t? But let’s talk about class for a minute.
Saturday night, the Royals were warming up before the game in Baltimore. Pitchers and outfielders were shagging flies in the outfield during batting practice, while a few kids, dressed in Oriole orange, watched from the stands. The Royals players in the outfield started playing catch with the kids in the stands.
How many kids ever get a chance to play catch with a real, live, active major league player? Not many. How many teams will play catch with their opponents’ fans? Fewer, probably. But here are 25 guys who get the privilege to play a kids’ game for a living, and they’re playing it on the second-biggest stage in the league, just two years removed from losing 90 games. They know who they are.
The city of Baltimore is saying it’s hard to root against these guys.
And then on Tuesday, Royals rookie pitcher Brandon Finnegan gave a random fan two tickets to the game because he asked on Twitter. Then the fan asked him if he could buy him dinner. Finnegan obliged, and told the fan he didn’t have to pay.
Of course, the night the Royals won the ALDS, Royals players invited fans to celebrate with them and paid for an open bar for an hour, at a cost of around $15,000. That’s a lot more money to you and me than it is to millionaire baseball players. But that’s something most players just don’t do.
I’ll keep rooting for them. They’re a bunch of nice guys, and they’re fun to watch. They’ve actually been fun to watch for a while, but this was the year it started working well for them. They aren’t all that different from the Whiteyball Royals of the 1970s and the Whiteyball Cardinals of the 1980s, actually: Good starting pitching, great defense, tremendous speed, scratching out runs, and a lockdown bullpen. They’re savoring their improbable run, and sharing it with anyone who happens to be around.
If St. Louis wants to root against a team like that just because of two guys who run their mouths for a living doing what they do, that’s its prerogative, I guess.