Jeremy Guthrie went with the bold strategy of more home runs allowed than outs recorded during his start for the Royals on Memorial Day. A planned afternoon enjoying baseball became a battle of attrition inside my brain. I kept watching, hoping for something good to happen while all the while knowing this was unlikely.
Eventually, star catcher Salvador Perez came off the bench from his prescribed day of rest while Eric Hosmer meandered out to play some right field. This ended with predictable results when a soft fly ball in Hosmer’s direction landed with a soft thud for an excruciating hit.
Final score: Yankees 14, Royals 1 with 11 runs on four home runs charged to Guthrie in an inning of work. I did not enjoy myself, and since Guthrie lives in Platte County, I hope he doesn’t read this while out on the road because I wouldn’t mind if this was his last appearance for the Royals.
A journeyman revived off the scrap heap, Guthrie at 36 years old and the highest paid pitcher on the roster deserves due praise for past performances. Heck, he started Game 7 of the World Series last year in the most memorable season of my lifetime (’85 doesn’t count since I was two years old at the time).
I doubt this will be the case, so I needed some good Royals news as I sat out to write this column Tuesday afternoon. I mean besides the fact Kansas City resides in first place in the American League Central standings with one of the best records in baseball after taking two out of the three from the Cardinals over the past weekend.
Humor me; I’m still not used to the idea that the Royals are one of the best teams in baseball.
As has been the case for the better part of the last year, I didn’t have to look far.
Major League Baseball revealed the initial fan vote totals for All-Stars on Tuesday afternoon, and to my amazement and that of many others, there were five Royals among the nine projected starters. Five.
The voting will continue to shift ahead of the July 14 midsummer classic scheduled for Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, but the numbers don’t lie. There’s likely to be at least four starters from the Royals — revived third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and Perez, who leads all AL players in total votes received.
This is beyond incredible for not-so-long-ago dormant franchise, which received the token one All-Star required by the league’s laws. That list included some very forgettable yet memorable names like Mike Redman, Ken Harvey and Mike MacDougal to name a just a few.
Those who recall those seasons can cringe along with me as they read those names and shudder.
Last season, Perez started at catcher due to an injury and ended a long streak for Kansas City without a starter.
Only 11 players have started an All-Star game from the Royals — none voted in by fans since outfielder Jermaine Dye in 2000. Those numbers should receive an update this year with eight — yes, eight — of the Royals’ nine position players in the top five at their position.
This includes light-hitting second baseman Omar Infante but not injured outfielder Alex Rios. No, he’s sixth in the outfield despite having played only seven games this before he fractured his wrist while being hit by a pitch last month.
This is crazy.
Online comments accuse the Royals of being overrated and undeserving of the current vote. People are actually accusing Kansas City fans of stuffing the ballot box and being overexuberant in support of the defending AL champions.
What world do we even live in?
A lot of us suffered through some pretty terrible years, waiting for good baseball to reemerge. Now that it’s here, fans are showing in droves with the Royals ranking third in the American League in attendance on pace to shatter the franchise record for fans through the turnstiles set in 1989.
Not even a historically bad start from Guthrie can bring me down. At least not for long. But I’m the kind of fan always looking for more from the Royals, even with a host of All-Stars spread around the field.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.