The Kansas City Royals visit the Coliseum for the first time since the ugly series that took place in April, and for the first time since that crazy American League Wild Card Game at the end of last September. In April, the benches cleared three times in that series: (1) after Brett Lawrie slid awkwardly into Alcides Escobar in the first game, (2) after Yordano Ventura plunked Lawrie in the elbow during the second game in retaliation for the awkward slide, and (3) after Kelvin Herrera threw behind Brett Lawrie in the third game following a disputed plunking in the foot by Scott Kazmir.
Depending on who you ask, Alcides Escobar is either putting it behind him ("I don't want to go over there to fight. Just continue to play baseball. If something happens, it happens.") or looking for an excuse to go after the A's:
Alcides Escobar on if there might still be bad blood with the A's: "If they were to say something bad, I'll respond." #Royals— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) June 26, 2015
Says the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, "The 'just baseball' theme was popular in the [A's] clubhouse Thursday."
And so the Royals visit the Coliseum over two months later, the A's on the upswing while the Royals lead the American League Central Division. I asked our Athletics Nation contributors how they thought A's players and fans should respond and would respond to Kansas City's visit.
It's sort of incredible how the Royals, within the span of one year, morphed from the nebbish little kid you feel a bit sorry for into one of the more despised teams in baseball. I've often thought of baseball's "unwritten rules" as the War on Fun: enjoy a home run too much, run too slowly, play too hard and you've violated the sacrosanct code of the uber-professional society of grown men who play a ball game for a living. Here's to hoping that the events of April are completely forgotten... and that the A's sweep the Royals into oblivion. Not because of some silly baseball code violation, not because Omar Infante is probably starting the All-Star Game, but because I'm still hurting over the Wild Card game, and the only cure is total domination (and more cowbell).
Other than a Machado-like greeting from the fans, I think it will be like any other series. The spat was more than two months ago, or a full third of a season -- a long time for a grown man's blood to boil. Sure, Yordano Ventura will take the mound Friday -- oh wait, that's in Omaha -- and Kelvin Herrera is still around, but that said, the A's are on a heater, and when I asked my green & gold Magic 8-Ball about a sweep this morning, it said: "Outlook Is Very Good."
I mostly hope Lawrie crushes enough carmel frapps and red bull to hit through the weekend. This would be entertaining too, I guess.
Honestly, with the A's finally playing consistently good baseball and making a run at getting back into contention, I would love it if enough time has passed that both teams just feel like focusing on baseball without distraction. I like that the A's stay above the fray and don't get into beanball wars, though the Royals have been so puerile about it this year that if they continue any nonsense I won't blame the A's if they finally stand up for themselves -- hopefully the umpires will do that for them if need be and the A's can make their statements in the run column.
If there is retaliation by the A's because of the final act of Herrera throwing behind Lawrie's head on day three of the tumult, it will not be the result of the Code. It will be because they are human and their emotions are over-ruling their heads. According to the Code, this should be done. Lawrie slid into Infante; Lawrie got beaned in the ribs; score is even; an accidental pitch hits a KC foot--not a place you hit someone under the Code; Herrera throws behind Lawrie's head because he's emotional; the Code then says the Kansas City players take control and get it done in the Clubhouse. They reprimand Herrera for putting himself above the Code and acting unprofessionally.
The A's need to trust that the Royals followed the code. Period. So if the A's erupt today, it's pure hot-headed emotion. I don't believe it will happen. If this erupts by the Royals, then we start enforcing the Code again. New day and new Code enforcement. Unlike some, I LOVE the Code. It's chaos theory in science where all chaos comes to rest eventually because of the laws of the universe. Energy finds it's way to rest. That's what should happen today. This should be done.
It's on. No doubt, sparks will fly.
Alcides Escobar already is spouting fighting' words.
I'll be there tonight, right by the Royals bullpen. Hopefully Herrera won't even get a chance to pitch, but if he's warming up he'll hear it from me.
The Royals still haven't let this go. The A's had let it go in KC itself, and they could not drop it. They're ready to fight, and if they're looking for a fight they're gonna get one.
This might sound simple but I'm in line with Nico. The A's are playing better baseball and in my opinion, you really want REAL revenge? Keep winning. Get into the playoffs again in 2015 somehow, meet the Royals and end their season. Sure that's a long-term view and probably unrealistic considering the depth of the hole the A's are in, but that's how you take a measured and exacting revenge instead of just reacting in a moment for one brief second of satisfaction.
I see the Royals coming into town as nothing more than a chance to match up against the big boys; a chance to show off the A's newfound success against a real baseball team, which hasn't yet happened facing the AL West. If the A's can play with the Royals and win the series, I might start to believe they can salvage the season.
ESPN is going to be severely disappointed in the lack of action this series. Outside of a well deserved boo-fest delivered to Royals as a whole, this series will be strictly business. The A's are playing too good of baseball to be even remotely distracted by the Royals shenanigans, which have mostly come to an end. The Royals represent the best team the A's have played since they started their recent hot streak, and you can bet they will be focused on the task at hand.
I wonder who will be getting hit this time?
Alright, so here's the thing. It should all be over. Even if they didn't act like it last time, these two teams are comprised of grown men, who should be mature enough to know when enough is enough.
That being said...this series will be tense. It means a lot for both teams, as the A's are looking to exorcize last year's demons and continue to storm to .500, while the Royals are looking to assert their continued dominance over the AL. The energy will be high. So the second a fastball slips out of a hand and comes a liiiittle too far inside...it's on. All bets will be off. The league will need to take action as many suspensions will be necessary. So let's hope for our A's that Vogt decides to call 'em outside, for the most part.
The Royals really get under my skin. At first, I was very excited to see a team that had been irrelevant for so long to get on the big stage and win the AL. It was awfully neat, and it was a nice break from the typical dominant teams we've gotten used to. What I didn't expect was a team getting so full of themselves after one pennant. You didn't see the Rockies starting fights with everyone after they won the NL in 2007. To me, the Royals have gone from lovable underdogs to insufferable in the blink of an eye. I'm just counting down the moments until their lack of starting pitching comes back to haunt them and their BABIP luck finally runs out. Hopefully it all culminates with Kelvin Herrera serving up a homer or two.
Also, with the Royals being the relevant subject right now, I think the All-Star voting should've mentioned. I, like many people, think it's ridiculous that Omar Infante is a vote leader, but what really frustrates me is that people seem to think it's ok for Salvador Perez, who walks less than Nico's Aunt Bertha, to be absolutely running away with the catcher spot and nobody blinking an eye.
I can't stand this kind of stuff. I hope they just play a few baseball games, and if I want some reality TV afterward then I'll find it on another channel. That goes both ways, by the way; I hope both teams keep things under control and let bygones be bygones. The Royals have the best record in the AL. The A's are in the middle of saving their season and I have my sights set on the playoffs. Don't blow it, fellas. Don't get distracted by B.S., don't get suspended, don't get injured. This could be a great series if they all just play ball. Their last series was the least fun few days of the entire season so far, which is saying a lot with this A's team, and I hope we don't repeat it.
Will the Royals even remember that they're mad at us? I mean that series was, like, three immature brawls ago for them.
How do you see the A's players and fans reacting? The first game features Edinson Volquez against Jesse Hahn, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM Pacific Time.