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A Royal Stigma: The written 'selfie' of a Kansas City Royals fan

So as some of you may know I haven?t lived [?]

beach view

Written by Walker

So as some of you may know, I haven’t lived in Kansas City for about seven years now. That hasn’t deterred my fandom; heck I still bought season tickets in 2012. However, it has opened my eyes to how other communities view their baseball, and how other fans view the Royals.

This view was presented to me again this weekend as I walked around an Art Fair in San Diego. A vendor at one of the booths stopped me to see if I was actually a Royals fan, or if I just wore the hat because it was cool (please God tell me hipsters aren’t wearing Royals hats to be ironic).

When I said I was an actual fan, I got one of the two reactions I always get when proposed this question: “Good for you man.” How does one respond to that? With a “Thank you!” or a “Yeah it’s been a tough 30 years…but things are looking up!”? This is the decision I face almost every time I am asked the question.

The other response I get when I admit to being a true fan is “Really? How?” This one is easier to answer, but not as easy to take. I mean, how do you defend a team that has only had two winning seasons in anyone under the age of 35′s recent memory? It’s not easy, and even though it is early in the season, we Royals fans have seen this before. Big promises in the off-season, and an average to below average start (see last May for those needing a refresher).

This stigma that follows Royals fans is beyond a stereotype. Sure we have all threatened to quit the Royals, and watch another team. Or give up on baseball and just concentrate on football. But it is true… we are almost loyal to a fault.

How many times have you defended the pitching of Bruce Chen? Or the bat of a Mike Moustakas? How many times have we thought Billy Buckner or Colt Griffin were going to resurrect this club? I will tell you the answer – you did it EVERY TIME! Unless it was to another Royals fan; then you quietly complained about it, and shook your head, and moved on…

This stigma could be rooted in a lot of directions, and this is not a ‘bash on David Glass, or Dayton Moore, or Ned Yost’ piece. We have already written lots of those. This is not a salary cap or profits-sharing plea. This is a recognition of one’s self, from outside his normal viewing lens. It is a selfie of sorts…the written kind. It is the realization of an identity. And maybe the start of a change in that identity.

Royals Fans are a little too optimistic on the inside, while being way too pessimistic on the outside. It is a defence mechanism we have built up to dull the sting of our team being worse than our pessimistic views even thought, or the ridicule of others east of Oak Grove.

Incredibly loyal. See the mention above. We lock on to very young players, and keep this unabashed hope that they will live up to the hype the Royals’ media department builds. However, we are also fair weather. When things are good, the weather is nice, and they are giving hot dogs away for a dollar, the K is full, and full of life! When we are mediocre, the weather is cool, and it’s a “school night” the K has 12,000 fans (and half of that may just be counting season tickets).

We have no problem bringing up old stuff. Heck, my favourite player is Bo Jackson; I will shove his athleticism down your throat if you say anything negative about my favourite club. And how many times have you reminded someone from the other side of the state that WE won the 1985 World Series?!

And lastly, we are jaded. We know deep down that this probably isn’t our year. We know that the way baseball is set up we probably won’t win a championship, and we certainly know we can’t compete in the free agent market the way others can. It is no wonder people on the outside seem to be surprised when they find out I am an actual fan.

But things may be a-changin’ (here is that external optimism flowing): for the first time in a while we are gaining national recognition. The Royals were early season favourites for a wild card spot (I can’t even honestly say I have ever heard that in a pre-season prior to this year), and have already been broadcast nationally twice in the first month. That hasn’t happened in the first month in, like, 30 years.

We have full time members of foreign press on our media row, and national writers making their way more often to the K to see the “young guns moving up!” The signs are all around the stadium that the winds may be changing. However, on the field and in the stands, I am not sure if we are seeing that yet.

So for now, I will continue to field the questions of people unfamiliar with the Blue Crew, and with a smile and a node let them know I am still a fan, not a freaking hipster, and that this may be the year we finally turn some heads.  While deep down I may not be convinced this is our year, I will make sure to keep writing, and speaking like it is!

Published with permission from RoyalsBlue.com.

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