J.R. and Henry: On Baseball and Being a Fan of a Really Bad Team

We thought sitting through the first half of the Arkansas Travelers season was tough. This team is bad. It has a terrible manager and the team simply doesn’t play to its talent level. While we love Ray Winder Field and the beer and the cheap everything else that comes with the park, it is very hard to sit through game after game and watch this team spiral into the insignificant nothingness that comes with being the worst team in the Texas League.

We lamented this miserable first half of the season as we watched the Cardinals demolish the Kansas City Royals last weekend. And the question was asked: What if we were Royals fans?

It got us thinking. We remembered a column that appeared in the Kansas City Star a couple of weeks ago by Joe Posnanski, who has the difficult job of cheering for this team, living through the disappointment, and then having to write about it. In his column, he echoes the sentiments of Royals’ fans we know: “This Royals season has been awful. Every game has been torture. The commercial that shows termites attacking wood has been more inspiring.”

You can read Posnanski’s column online (it is well worth the read), but instead of continuing to reference it here, we offer you something special. We’ve got an old pal who’s been cheering for this miserable team for decades and we asked him, in light of the current season, to weigh in.

Here’s his perspective on the state of the Kansas City Royals, the absolute worst team in baseball:

“Put me in a time machine and transport me back to Oct. 27, 1985.

“I will take Don Dinkinger’s right arm, bend it at the elbow, clinch a fist, and punch Jorge Orta out at first. Whether the Royals overcome the call and beat St. Louis in Game 6 or the Cardinals clinch the World Series title two outs later is immaterial. The godforsaken mess that is the Kansas City Royals might be undone with the reversal of that call. Forget the Curse of the Bambino. The Curse of Dinkinger is much worse.

“One hundred losses three of the last four years — soon to be four of five. A 10-33 start this season and on pace for the worst record in history. Double-digit losing streak in both April and May. Any doubt there will also be ones in June, July, August and September? According to mlb.com, the worst hitting team in the AL. The worst starting pitching in the AL. Bullpen: 10 of 15 save opportunities blown.

“Albert Pujols just swept Kansas City by himself.

“Speaking of Pujols, who doesn’t know by now that he played high school ball in Kansas City and attended Royals camps in the summer? You can’t pass on Ken Harvey, though. Youth movement? Don’t think so. Five of the Royals everyday starters are 31 or older. And this is the same team that lost Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon due to trades or free agency. Imagine that outfield today. Have no fear, it gets worse. This is the same team that thought it was a good idea to sign Juan Gonzalez. The over-the-hill, injury-plagued, cry-baby didn’t last a year before quitting on the team. Good work, Allard Baird.

“Owner David Glass promised that major changes would be made after the Royals first double-digit losing streak. Well, they’re stuck in their second double-digit losing streak, and GM Allard Baird, manager Buddy Bell and the whole gang of players are still the same. As we also saw earlier this year having the top pick in the draft or a high draft pick means nothing to the Royals — ESPN.com’s Page 2 listed the Royals first-round draft picks as Nos. 18-27 on the Top 100 worst first-round picks of all-time. Horrendous. Last playoff game: Oct. 28, 1985, Game 7 of the World Series.

“I don’t even get any satisfaction anymore from beating the Cardinals in that World Series, and other than the Dinkinger play, most Cardinals’ fans probably pity the Royals more than despise them. Plus, would you rather have the ’85 title and the Royals’ plight since then, or the loss and the Cardinals franchise’s success? Finally, the players held a players-only team meeting prior to Monday’s game, one can only assume to try and stop this train wreck of a season. Result: Detroit 8 Royals 0. To add insult to injury, a 4-0 lead Tuesday night turns into an 8-5 loss.

“Why did I pick the Kansas City Royals to be my favorite team all those years ago? Why couldn’t I have been like all of my friends and been a Cardinals’ fan? Unfortunately, as Foreigner/Styx/Journey/.38 Special/Kansas sang, “it’s too late to turn back now”.

“I’m stuck in hell with this Royals team.”

J.R. and Henry blog this sports column on Little Rocking twice a week.