Fresh on the heels of Lance Armstrong's admission to using performance enhancing drugs, the sports world was again rocked today by rumored use of performance enhancing hugs by the Kansas City Royals. The accusations come from an ex-Royal who wished to remain anonymous.
"Everybody thinks of the Royals as a bunch of nice guys, but this cheating starts at the top," alleges the ex-Royal. "The owner, the General Manager, and the Manager all know about and approve of what is going on. The culture of hugs fills the entire team."
The ex-Royal describes how the performance enhancing hugs were introduced to the Royals. "It was shortly after Ned Yost became manager two years ago. We had lost a couple of games in a row, and he walks in one afternoon saying he has the solution for our problem. He then goes around to each player and gives him a big, long hug. The room was silent, nobody knew what to say. Well anyway, that night we hit three home runs and won the game. The rest is history."
Yost is alleged to have thought of the idea after seeing it work on his 8th grade daughter. The player continues, "After the game Yost explains that his daughter had lost three straight softball games, and didn't get a hit in any of them. She was crying, and Ned gave her a hug of encouragement as any good dad would do. The very next game she got two hits and her team won the game. Ned thought if it worked for his daughter then why not for the Royals."
Former Royals players have been outraged by the accusations. Hal McRae, a former player and manager for the Royals said, "In my day, nobody ever would have dreamed of using performance enhancing hugs. We came from an era where we didn't show our emotions in public and were suspicious of people invading our personal space. But now, players these days are using them all the time. They need to respect the game and the players that came before them. What good are your improved stats if you got them by cheating? It's unfair that they have an advantage that we didn't."
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore strongly denies the accusations. "These are baseless accusations from anonymous people with an ax to grind against our team. None of our players have ever tested positive, and we promote a healthy, clean environment. I certainly haven't seen any players using hugs."
Performance enhancing hugs are thought to work by elevating the self-esteem of a player, by taking his thoughts off any past struggles, and by reducing stress. The anonymous player continues, "If I would go a couple of games without getting a hit, then I knew what was coming. It was going to be hug time from Yost, and not just hugs, but also positive words of affirmation. And then, another hug. He can't deny it. Everybody on the team knows what is going on. In fact, Yost has a sign in his office that says, 'Have you hugged your manager today?'"
Many Royals fans have been conflicted by the accusations. Tom Montgomery of Lee's Summit said, "What do I tell my 11 year old son? He asked me today if it was true. I told him I didn't know, but I certainly hope not. What happens next year if Chris Gets hits a home run? My son is going to wonder if it is natural or if he is doing it under the influence of hugs. A little bit of my son's innocence just died."
However, Royals fan Greg Mayberry of Olathe counters, "Hey, if taking hugs works, then I don't care. I just want the Royals to win. I'm sure the other teams are all doing it, so why not the Royals? You have got to seek every edge you can."
Royals Manager Ned Yost, when reached for comment got emotional over the issue, "Look, I'm not going to get into baseless accusations that attempt to ruin my reputation," said Yost, pausing to wipe a tear from his eye. "This is tough to take. It's times like this a guy could really use a hug."
Alex Gordon was the only current Royal willing to comment on this story. "Do you think I'm on hugs? I'll tell you what I am on. I'm on the weight bench eight hours a day. What are you on? These are bogus allegations."
The ex-Royal remained adamant about his charges. "It's true and they know it's true. Why do you think Ned is so confident about the Royals hitting so many more home runs this year? He thinks seven different players will hit 20 home runs. That means the Royals would go from last place in home runs to perhaps leading the league. Do you think that is just going to happen? I know this means that Ned is planning on a whole lot of hug use this season."
Major League Baseball has had a long ban in place on performance enhancing hugs, though that ban has rarely been enforced. What, if anything, will happen to the Royals? Nobody at this point knows.