Generally speaking, one should never root for royalty. Down with monarchs, man. Off with their goddam heads. But when it comes to baseball, there’s nothing royal about the Royals except their name, which is actually a reference to a livestock show. The game’s most reliable losers for the last three decades, the Royals are suddenly atop the American League despite sporting a roster thick with untested talented and overly tested. Vegas likes them to win, but the Royals still feel like underdogs because that is the nature of the Royals. Here’s why we’re rooting for KC:
1) They’re not the Giants and the Giants have won two of the last four World Series.
2) They haven’t even been in the playoffs since 1985. That’s 29 years. For context, the last time the Royals were in the playoffs your dad had a full head of hair – and a girlfriend.
3) Terence Gore. As a baseball player, he’s bad, but as a pinch runner, he’s a god. Gore, who slashed a horrific .221/.289/.257 in two minor-league levels this year, has stolen three bases so far in the playoffs. Not overly impressive, sure, but each time he replaces a plodding teammate on the basepaths the anticipation is like watching space shuttle launch with your TV on mute - you know that sucker is gonna take off, you just don’t know when.
4) DH Billy Butler’s nickname is “Country Breakfast.”
5) “That’s what speed do.” The phrase coined by blazing fast center fielder Jarrod Dyson has become a slogan for the havoc the Royals wreck on the basepaths. Not to be confused with a similar phrase that tweakers use with their dental hygienists.
6) Dyson can do backflips.
7) Catcher Salvador Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar wear women’s perfume on the field.
8) Royals legend George Brett shits his pants twice a year (you’re gonna want to click that).
9) Kansas City color commentator Rex Hudler is a big, dumb ox. Listen to him mistake the moon for a planet.
10) Home runs. With only 95 long balls during the regular season, the Royals were last in all of baseball. They've already hit eight in the playoffs, a pace that would have seen them smack 162 in a full season, fifth in the majors. The playoffs are weird.
11) The Buck O'Neil legacy seat. It’s a genuinely sweet way to honor the legendary Negro Leagues player who served as a scout for the Royals in the late 80s and 90s. Each game the Royals give the seat to the fan who best exemplifies O'Neil’s spirit of generosity.
12) If Brandon Finnegan, who’s 21, may become the first player to pitch in two world series (College and MLB) in the same year. And he seems like a hell of a nice guy.
13) Rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura may have the world’s most generic nickname, “Ace,” but he knows how to strike a pose while wearing a bunny suit.
14) Paul Rudd’s a fan and after the Royals won the pennant he invited fans to his mom’s house to party with a keg. Everyone loves Paul Rudd. Everyone wants Paul Rudd to be happy.
15) The Royals biggest celebrity fan is Sungwoo Lee, a Korean guy who fell in love with the hapless team in the 90s after seeing video of a majestic home run hit in the pretty unremarkable Kauffman Stadium. He finally visited KC this summer and quickly became something of a team mascot. He’s returning to the states to attend tonight’s game.
16) Nachos, with brisket!
Photos by Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports