What is it about winning a World Series — or even a playoff series — that turns such expressive ballplayers into MLB’s Fun Police?
Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez used to be one of the kings of clubhouse antics. From 2013-2015, there’s a legitimate argument that no team had more fun in pro ball than the Royals. Amid a rebuilding roster with developing talent, the Royals made a huge point of showing off their personalities and shaking their fists at the game’s established clubs.
They were a mid-market team that wasn’t afraid to get on the nerves of their opponents. From blasting “We Ready” in the locker room after wins, to fining each other for not making Fetty Wap references in interviews, to Perez’s own penchant for dumping buckets of ice water on teammates, the Royals were distinctly themselves at all times and it was a joy to watch.
This is the same team that made “that’s what speed do” a rallying cry and mimed themselves revving a motorcycle every time they stole a base.
Oh, how times have changed. Now that the Royals are on the wrong side of another rebuild, it’s not so funny to them when other players enjoy themselves at Kansas City’s expense.
Just look at the words of Perez after Saturday’s 8-0 loss to the White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader. Perez was upset that Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson had the audacity to pimp a leadoff home run.
“Anderson don’t even play (in) a f—ing playoff game,” Perez told the Kansas City Star. “He don’t know about getting excited or not. He gotta be in the playoffs to be excited, like us. We got a World Series. That’s the second time (he’s done that this year), so I said something to him.”
Salvy had shared some thoughts on Tim Anderson. Perez thought Anderson disrespected the Royals as he rounded the bases shouting "f– let's go." Here's a highlight: pic.twitter.com/vgtm6dk1GR
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) April 29, 2018
Et tu, Salvy? Now that the Royals’ World Series window has closed, you’ve resigned yourself to enforcing baseball’s unwritten rules? Because we’re pretty sure Kansas City had plenty of fun before they even made the playoffs in 2014 (see above).
The hypocrisy here would be depressing if it weren’t so laughable. That Perez even felt the need to say something else to Anderson while on second base later in the game, let alone cause the benches to clear, is the height of baseball’s cognitive dissonance.
Chicago is not going to win a lot of games this year. It’ll likely have more ugly losses than thrilling victories. That’s the sport. That’s rebuilding. That’s what the Royals went through. They should know more than anyone else that playing with passion and exuberance is as important to developing into a contender as anything.
But now that the Royals have a ring and are staring at another run of mediocrity, that joy is apparently gone. Which is as much a shame as any other problem with Kansas City’s club. The team that thrived off its swagger is shocked and dismayed that other young stars might want to play the game the same way.
Salvador Perez calling out Tim Anderson for playing with too much joie de vivre because the White Sox haven’t won anything completes the circle of life. These White Sox embody the ethos of the 2014-15 Royals more than the Royals do. And that hurts almost as much as the losing.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) April 29, 2018
It gets even sillier from the Royals’ perspective when you hear manager Ned Yost defending Anderson in this fracas.
Ned Yost on last night's Fun Police episode with Tim Anderson and Salvador Perez: "Back in my day, we had fun, but the fun we had was after the game in the bar. These guys have fun on the field. It's a different generation. I'm all for it. I like having fun."
— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) April 29, 2018
Anderson is certainly an easy target now that he’s angered Justin Verlander and Perez, which makes no sense at all, either. The past four World Series champions have been overflowing with personalities. The Royals, Cubs, Astros and Giants all knew they were talented and enjoyed showing it off.
This core group of White Sox might not reach that pinnacle, but it certainly won’t be from a lack of embracing who they are.
If Perez doesn’t like it, he’s got only himself and his teammates to blame. They helped set the standard. Now they get to live with it.
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