Jake, when you love a losing team like the Royals, baseball season is a schizophrenic experience. After a first week beyond anyone's wildest expectations, the club swooned at home, then swooned more on the road for massively deflating 12-game losing streak. They've since gone 13-6 and clawed back to near-respectability at 15-21. We even took two from the Rangers. Yay. But these are the Royals of David Glass, after all, an owner who would rather win by losing, Pittsburgh-style. Losing so much for so long changes you, changes how you approach the game. Like the revocation of my irrevocable rule about never leaving before the final out. When you get used to seeing the hometown team down 5-0 in the 1st inning, principled baseball fandom gets chucked out the window.
That's why MLB is so schizophrenic. On one hand is my passionate love of baseball—the great national game that consumes the summer. That love takes all the typical forms: considering the fantasy replacements for Matt Kemp. Taking joy in yet another Josh Hamilton resurrection. Watching the Yankees bullpen fall apart. Mulling the destruction of Wrigley Field. In that world, I'm loving Mike Moustakas. He's been as advertised and more, hitting .310 with five homers and one of the game's silkiest swings. I'm human, so I'm hopeful and dream of the playoffs. Or, at least, of staying in contention past June. But it's the self-delusional dream of the Hollywood actress getting married for the fifth time and trying to convince herself that this one is going to be the one that lasts.
Separate from that world is my eternal but quixotic love for the Royals. KC isn't as bad as Chicago. Cubs fans have been down so long that they've gone all Stockholm Syndrome and now sympathize with their tormentors. There's nothing "lovable " about losing. Ever. Royals fans do share a lot with the Wrigley faithful, though. Namely, fans go to games for the experiences of the ballpark, not the team. You go for other players—because the Angels are in town and you want to see Mike Trout. You go for fireworks on Friday nights, for t-shirt giveaways and Pine-Tar Mini Bat Day. Fans of good teams might be pumped for a big series with division-leading Cleveland. Me? I'm more excited for July 21, when the team salutes the Negro Leagues by giving away Buck O'Neil bobbleheads.
Oh, also, the All-Star Game is at Kauffman Stadium. That'll be fun. In a way, it'll be the perfect expression of life with the Royals-under-Glass. Fans will pack the park, but they'll do it to because of great players on other teams. They'll do it for the fireworks, the SWAG, the crowd and pageantry. The winner of the game itself? That's pretty much besides the point.