Last year I wrote an article titled 'The definitive guide to Royals Review memes.' In it, I included 11 memes and mentioned a few others. As many pointed out in the comments, there are many more memes and in-jokes than I included. Many, many more.
Why are there so many jokes? The short answer is that this is the internet, and jokes are a core part of the internet just as failure is a core part of Johnny Manziel's NFL career. The long answer is probably more complicated, and probably involves the Royals' extended streak of atrocious baseball combined with a dedicated, like-minded group of jaded and sarcastic individuals. That along with The Founder, Will McDonald, and his peerless leadership through the Dark Times.
Will. Craig. Max. The Three Overlords have presided over tears of pain and tears of joy. Under their watch, we have grown from a small site into the largest unofficial Royals blog or website on the internet. What will follow is a collection of our jokes, born from grief, boredom, and a scathing collective wit seared into us as longtime Royals fans.
Without further ado: the complete definitive guide to Royals Review memes.
Kevin Ruprecht is a writer for Royals Review. Shaun Newkirk is also a writer for Royals Review. They do not have the same name. Shaun used to be known as KCTiger when he began writing for this site, so his name wasn't displayed, though all of us writers knew because we have secret communication among us, muahaha.
Anyway, in his May 27 piece on the Royals' dream result in the upcoming draft, before changing his screen name to Shaun Newkirk, and shortly after Kevin became a writer, this exchange occurred:
"Already time to look to the future. But seriously, good stuff Kevin. I love reading up on the draft." -- Max Rieper
"Thanks MAX" -- Shaun
"My name isn't Kevin, as showed by my Twitter name in my signature" -- Shaun
"Nice try, Kevin" -- buddyball
And so it became that all writers for Royals Review can and are referred to as Kevin, collectively as Kevins, or any combination of the two.
Alex Gordon's Home Run in Toronto, 2009
The beginning stages of Gordon's career were rocky and filled with disappointment, despite being a pretty decent player from the beginning. Regardless, his struggles to become the star Kansas City needed were evident. There exists a meme here where we occasionally mention the fact that Alex Gordon had an awful long stretch where he did not hit a home run since a particular 2009 homer in Toronto.
Unfortunately, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Gordon never hit a home run in Toronto in 2009. Nor did he hit one in 2008. In 2007, his first career home run came in Toronto, but he hit another less than two weeks later.
Gordon did hit a home run in Toronto in 2010, however. On April 21, 2010, Gordon launched a 3-run home run that scored Rick Ankiel and Willie Bloomquist. He did not hit another until July 30 against Baltimore.
Plus Hands (and Plus Hands)
If you don't know Yuniesky Betancourt, that's great. Unfortunately, most of us do; Yuni was a horrible ballplayer who had no plate discipline, hit poorly, and displayed astoundingly awful defense at shortstop, all while making seven figures. And the Royals acquired him twice.
The first knowledge of plus hands and plus hands occurred on April 4, 2010 through something called a 'fanshot,' whatever that is. It was a link to a Kansas City Star article that no longer exists online, but the exact quote remains. Sam Mellinger, interviewing the always gripping 'anonymous scout,' asked the scout about Yuni, who said, "I see plus hands, good agility and range, and plus hands."
Plus hands and plus hands was obviously used to describe Yuni, but lately has been used as a sarcastic response to bad scouting or just as a general joke.
Home runs as hung dongs
I've got two words for you: Josh Duggan. Three if you want Old Man Duggan. A dong is a homer. Odd? Yes. This is Royals Review we are talking about.
The Kansas City Star employs Lee Judge, a political cartoonist, to cover the Kansas City Royals and offer a game-by-game analysis called Judging the Royals from the perspective of the players and coaches on the field. If that sounds like a bad idea, that's because it is. Employing a political cartoonist like Judge to seriously write about sports is akin to having a ballerina do your taxes because both tasks require the use of human limbs.
Judge means well, and sometimes writes solid articles from a unique perspective, but that's lost in a mire of misguided information, appeals to authority, and an aggressive arrogance towards statistics. In a post on July 16, 2011, Judge takes the gloves off to take swings at those who approach baseball from a statistically-minded perspective:
Tell a sabermetrics guy that Getz is a better all-round ballplayer than Billy Butler and he’ll have an asthma attack and ask his mom to bring him a fresh box of Pop Tarts.
Since then, we have used pop-tarts as an icon for mocking of Judge and as a proud declaratory statement for what we do.
The Battle for Grass Creek
In 2007, Will wrote a beautiful article about the Royals/Mariners rivalry, centering around the town of Grass Creek, Wyoming.
Caught in the middle of this culture war is Grass Creek, Wyoming. 945 miles to the northwest, lies the hellhole of Seattle, 948 miles to the southeast, the jewel of the plains, Kansas City. On the southeast outskirts of town, one positively stands astraddle a fault line in the American mind. There is no middle ground and no alternative.
The Royals-Mariners series aren't just a battle of baseball, but a battle for the heart and souls of this little town in Wyoming. Remember the Battle for Grass Creek.
Third Baseman Tree
In mid May of 2013, Mike Moustakas was hitting poorly, sort of like right now. An exasperated Ned Yost snapped at reporters for having the gall to continue to ask about Moustakas' horrible performance. Yost's response was beautiful.
"You know what?" Yost said. "Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. … Obviously, third basemen who can hit and hit with power, they must grow on trees."
YES. THE THIRD BASE TREE. That is a statement that is ripe for the picking for a meme and, yes, that pun was intended. It is a joke because it is ridiculous.
When Dayton Moore took his job as General Manager, he could immediately see success in his future. He knew exactly where to have the World Series parade, too.
When things begin to overwhelm him, Moore thinks about the Plaza. It grounds him. It inspires him. It reminds him why he came to Kansas City.
"The Plaza?" you ask. "Why?"
"Haven't you figured it out?" he asks back. He shrugs. "On my first day in town, my wife and I were driving through the Plaza. There were people walking everywhere. Kids. Adults. It was great.
"And I turned to Marianne, and I said, `This is where we're going to have the parade.' "
Of course, here at Royals Review we intend on being a part of the plaza parade with our own float. Sketches of our beautiful float have been made by a number of readers and can be found in varying places.
Sometimes you may see references to otters. Many of those references will be about dancing otters. Specifically, this gif:
Every game, Royals Review hosts gamethreads for the purpose of facilitating community via text comments. Of course, most of you already know this, and most of you know that the otters are almost always posted following a win. There are a number of other otter gifs and pictures that are used as well.
One day*, commenter tiquanunderwear decided to post this gif every single time the Royals would win. His tenacity and determination to make it a Thing worked. Others caught on. Now it has evolved, and other otter pictures, gifs, and puns based on otters have come about. The otter is the mascot of Royals Review.
*EDIT: June 19, 2012 to be exact, which is hereby referred to as Otter Day
On a nondescript Thursday in 2009-May 7, to be exact-the Royals beat the Seattle Mariners to rise to 18-11, their high point for the season. These Royals had zoomed out to first place in the AL Central and were up by a solid 3 games.
The 2009 Royals were terrible. They went 48-85 the rest of the season and finished in fourth place. 18-11, then, stands as a subtle warning of expectations, especially of terrible teams. Regardless, 18-11 is used as shorthand for anything involving any numbers, especially records. Accuracy is irrelevant in the all-encompassing power of 18-11.
This year, the Royals got to 18-11, a surefire death knell for the squad. So far, they have evaded the curse, even jumping as far ahead as 14 games over .500.
MITCH played for the Royals every year from 2008-2012, accruing 360 games played. He was the very definition of a replacement player; for his entire career he has been worth 0.1 fWAR. Compared to the junk the Royals had in those years, he was a perfectly serviceable fourth outfielder and was usually used as such.
However, MITCH is a cult figure here for two reasons. In 2011, MITCH was on the team the entire year and only had 113 plate appearances. Will McDonald took this in a hilarious direction by penning seven Letters from Summer Camp where Mitch wrote to his parents about his experiences in baseball. The other reason is that MITCH was used a pitcher--twice--and did not allow a run either time. Career ERA: 0. Career awesome? Infinite.
Best farm system in the history of whatever
In 2009, the Royals were poised to succeed for the first time in a long time. Not unlike 2013, the Royals had a number of budding young, talented players--2008 Rookie of the Year winner Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke. They set up a couple of nice complementary pieces, such as Coco Crisp and Alberto Callaspo. Veteran Gil Meche (who we'll get to in a moment) anchored the rotation.
It all went to crap, of course. The team was thin in the bottom of the rotation, all bullpen arms were terrible who were not named Joakim Soria, and injuries to Gordon, Aviles, and Crisp hurt them. In a 2010 article on MLB.com, longtime Royals beat writer Dick Kaegel grabbed this quote from a Royals official talking about the 2008-2009 offseason:
"Everybody thought we had the greatest offseason in the history of whatever and people in the game were saying we did as good as anybody in improving the team," a Royals official said.
As the years went on, as legends tend to do, the phrase morphed into 'The best farm system in the history of whatever,' referring to the pre-2011 farm system that was absolutely stacked with talent.
The Royals signed aforementioned pitcher Gil Meche to a record 5-year, $55 million contract for the 2007-2011 seasons. Meche was great in 2007 and 2008 and continued to be great until Trey Hillman allowed him to throw 132 pitches in a complete game in 2009. That was the tipping point, and Meche's health problems essentially prevented him from pitching after a comeback in 2010. In an unprecedented decision, Meche walked away from the $12 million that he was due in 2011 because he did not think himself worthy of it because he physically couldn't pitch.
That $12 million is unaccounted for. Did the Royals use it to increase payroll in 2012? Did David Glass buy a yacht? Is it in Fort Knox, ready to be used when the Royals need it most? We don't know. It's the Meche Money.
Another Yostism. On April 1, 2014, Yost refused to pinch hit for Alcides Escobar in a crucial situation against the Detroit Tigers. Max Scherzer made quick work of Escobar, and afterwards many reporters asked him the question: why didn't you pinch for Escobar? This was his answer:
"Pinch-hitting for guys gets in their dome," he said. "And you don’t want to get in their dome in the second game. When nobody is really swinging the bat good."
Why not pinch hit for Escobar? Domes! That's why!
Lo, Danger Ox
Anagrams are fun. If you take all the letters of a word, rearrange them, and get another word or words, then that is an anagram. My research turns up that sometime in 2011, an unknown poster wrote a list of Royals' player anagrams. Among them was Crime Horse for Eric Hosmer, which has fallen into disuse for various reasons, such as his hot-and-cold performances in the big leagues and the vagaries of inside joke application. However, Alex Gordon's anagram runs strong: Lo, Danger Ox. Yeah.
Carl Crawford's antiquarian bookstore
In 2010, Will wrote a brilliant satire about Carl Crawford, recent signee for the Boston Red Sox, and his quest to open an antiquarian bookstore in Boston. There's just some really funny stuff.
"Well, how can you divide the history and wisdom contained in these books, from the books themselves?" Crawford said. A regular at fine book fairs across the country, Crawford is a three time seminar participant at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester Mass. with a special interest in book history.
"Ultimately, I'm a businessman, which people don't always understand. I have my personal collection and then I have the store. Yes, I'll pour over this 1711 almanac for a few days, but that doesn't mean I won't sell it for a 5% profit."
It was such a resounding success that a real-life news publication had to say that, no, Crawford was not opening such a bookstore after all.
On Tuesday, baseball bloggers and book lovers around Twitter enthusiastically circulated the news that newly minted Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford was planning to open an antiquarian bookshop in the Boston area. The former Tampa Bay Ray was said to be both a rare book collector and a fan of early American writings, including William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" and "The Puritan Origins of the American Self."
Alas, this was not the case.
In a Small Way
2013 was the Royals' first winning season in a decade, and their best full season since 1989. Dayton Moore was thrilled. He told reporters that, "In a small way, I feel like I've won the World Series." Meanwhile, the longest current playoffless streak in professional sports continued.
Of course, this was IMMEDIATELY torn to shreds and ruthlessly derided by the Royals Review populace. It's a brilliant joke, because, in a small way, it can fit anything you want to.
The Cabrera/Sanchez Trade Debacle
On November 7, 2011, the Kansas City Royals traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to the San Fransisco Giants for Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo. Cabrera had been rumored to be traded for a long time, and he had been very good, so there were many eager eyes on the trade.
Before Will wrote the article that I linked above, commenter AnnoyedGrunt posted a Fanshot with the trade information, thus being the first to break the news on Royals Review. As one might expect, conversations erupted. Will chose to write his own piece, with more information and commentary, to the front page of the site.
Unfortunately for him but fortunately for everyone involved, commenter awolfson asked a legitimate question--why not promote the other thread? Though his question was answered, commenter Somewhere Over Dwane Bowe accused Will of attempting to 'steal the glory.' SODB continued to push, question, and exasperate; things devolved into insanity.
Then, one day later on November 8, a video was uploaded to youtube by gilgour42 (RR username unknown), which can be found here. Using a free animation software called Xtranormal, he created a video where Will McDonald (plus additional comments by Sweep_the_Leg, billybeingbilly, and trusttheprocess), shirtless and sporting sunglasses, talked about the trade while the other guy, in comments culled from awolfson and SODB, accused him of glory-stealing.
Glory stealing, shirtless Will, 0.00000000000001%; everything is game for memes here.
Turning the corner
One of the Royals' favorite phrases in regards to players is that they are ready to 'turn the corner.' This terminology has been used by Moore, Yost, Hillman, and others in regards to certain underperforming players. The two most commonly referred to be 'turning the corner' were Luke Hochevar (the starter) and Mike Moustakas. Both underachieving for years, many wished for them to 'finally turn the corner.'
Of course, we know now that Moose is a dodecahedron and Hochevar never turned the corner. That doesn't prevent any of us from turning corners.
$11 Worth of Taco Bell
One of the oldest and most storied memes here, this is the only meme on this list unrelated to baseball. On April 13, 2009, the Royals won against the Indians 4-2. In the midst of the game thread, longtime commenter billybeingbilly, unprovoked by anybody else, declared his hunger at that moment. He then said, "tonite is definitely a good night to play my over/under game on my taco bell order….the number is $11." Commenters did a double take, wondering how in the world one could realistically order $11 worth of food at Taco Bell and consume it all, considering Taco Bell's cheapness.
It became a running joke and a topic of discussion. This meme had legs, too. On November 13 of 2010, Jeff Zimmerman wrote an in-depth article about just how much $11 of Taco Bell could get you. On April 12, 2011, nearly two years after the initial incident, commenter averagegatsby wrote a beautiful autobiographical post about his attempt at consuming $11 worth of Taco Bell. Even now, the meme continues, and a careful reader can see these references semi-routinely.
Yes, there are other memes and in-jokes around here, but these seem to be the ones, in my eye, that keep returning again and again. Add your favorite jokes in the comments if you wish. I hope to accumulate more of them as we go along in this weird, successful Royals baseball adventure.