Royals fans are tough.
Really, we are. There is much disdain among us for the "Best Fans in Baseball" (or BFIB), the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have been very good for a decade and have won two World Series. Somehow, they managed to do this with a $105,433,572 payroll. According to a reliable source (alright, Wikipdedia), the metropolitan area of St. Louis is 2.8 million people, compared to 2.2 million for KC. The argument goes that the reason a relatively small metro area can support the Cardinals enough to have that payroll is because the fans are, well, the BFIB.
Royals fans can and do argue with this notion. However, Royals fans haven't encountered a similar situation in two decades. One of the reasons why the Cardinals have so many fans is because of the amount of bandwagon fans, and this is true for every winning team. With our real life team of Avengers looking to fight the evil Cardinals and Red Sox of the world, we expect good things on the horizon; namely, winning. But with winning comes something that core Royals fans will have to endure.
In the mid 2000s, we had another one of our family trips to Colorado. My father and I were on the Pike's Peak Cog Railway near Colorado Springs--an attraction I heartily suggest, by the way--when I heard one of the most sad/ridiculous/angering things someone could say. A girl of about 10 or so had just told someone "My favorite baseball team is the Yankees because they win a lot." Not, "because I like their colors" or "I'm from New York" or "Uncle Frederick is a big fan of them". Because they win.
Royals fans have endured more than most sports fans have endured (Except perhaps an octogenarian Cubs fan or something). We take perverse enjoyment, I think, in the fact that we root for our team even if Ryan Freel is the key midseason acquisition. Dr. Rany Jazayerli appeared on Kings of Kauffman's 'Royalman Report' a bit ago. Here's what he had to say about being a Royals fan:
Wherever I am I have my royals cap...it feels kinda nice to wear the cap of a team that's so uncool nationally that anybody who sees me wearing it has to know that I'm not wearing it because I'm some bandwagon jumper. There are no Royals bandwagon fans. I think it labels me as a much more authentic fan, that I'm willing to wear this totem of patheticness, this Royals cap, in non-Royals territory; no one will ever question my allegiance to the team that way.
I'm sure many of us feel the exact same way. We are true, legit Royals fans who spend an inordinate time online with other true, legit Royals fans.
But you can be sure that this will change. To consistently have more fans, you need to bring in the bandwagoners. You need the KC sports fans who are desperate to root for something that won't break their heart. You need to bring in the jocks who love winning teams of any kind. You need the high school girls going "OMG Hosmer's so hawt" (well, that's debatable, but you need their support anyway).
But, as tough Royals fans, how are we going to deal with it? Are we going to push them away, make fun of them when they use batting average, home runs, and RBIs as the only offensive stats? Are we going to roll our eyes in disgust when these people who could have been fans earlier begin to run to a winner and then desert the Royals whenever they decline again?
We likely will be irritated. But we must remember that these things happen. No fans, no money, no payroll to extend "Mr. Hawtie" Hosmer himself. The most important thing, though, is that winning brings in new core fans. Excitement brings new fans eager to learn and root even when no one in their right mind would do so. I was a mild Royals fan until 2009, when Greinke's magical season converted me into following every game.
So just remember--though there will be plenty of trolls, idiots, and fans less faithful than Gingrich was to his past wives. But winning will draw in the fans that count, and that is worth the pain.