For the fourth straight day, the preview for tonight's Royals game could be succinctly summed up as follows: The Royals hope to reacquaint themselves with winning tonight as they play host to an intradivisional rival.
It mattered little that last night marked a chance to exact revenge in the latest battle going back generations between the spurned former home of the Kansas City Blues of the Western League and the Blues' new home in Minnesota after they stole the team from Washington who stole the team in the first place. The Royals were unable to muster the sufficient fire to down the Twins last night, their flame-thrower countered by his antithesis, the soft-tossing lefty.
That the Royals appear willing to roll over and die while facing their thieving archrivals distresses the teeming masses thirsting for blood.
For six years after Kansas City finally re-entered the fray, Kansas City's ill-will was all focused upon Washington, the original thieves of the Blues. 55 years of discontent boiled over into six brutal seasons between the two cities. Blood was shed. Many died. That the Kansas City Athletics and the Washington Senators were abysmal for this span of time was immaterial. The hatred was thick in the air whenever the two teams squared off, always leading to riotous exchanges of fisticuffs and shankings in the bleachers.
When Minnesota underhandedly wooed Calvin Griffith with promises of a new culinary invention sure to knock his socks off and a newly constructed stadium meant to build upon the Juicy Lucy-inspired salivation, the District of Columbia was left adrift without a team and a new enemy announced its entrance into the fray.
The proximity between the two markets made travel between the cities viable by automobile. Stories of cold-blooded murders along U.S. 69 as rival fans traversed through enemy territory were passed on from neighbor to neighbor and father to son. Any Royals fan who hadn't gassed up before Mason City was hazarding death. Any Minnesotan bold enough to exit his car south of Indianola was taking his life into his hands.
There was a temporary truce between the markets as it became clear that Charlie Finley was going to move the Athletics again--this time to Oakland--but within months of when Major League Baseball granted Kansas City an expansion franchise, tempers flared again with a prolonged shoot-out in Cameron resulting in 17 casualties between the two sides.
The National Guard was brought in. For the first eight years of the Royals' existence, they patrolled the U.S. 69 and eventually Interstate 35 corridor, granted carte blanche by President Nixon to do whatever it took to maintain the peace and setting up black sites in Marysville, Pella, and Albert Lea to hold any agitators with a complete suspension of their rights. When the rare offender was released, their catatonia spoke volumes. The shockwaves that rippled through the fanbases were jarring, and the bulk of the violence ended soon thereafter.
What hasn't gone away is the 115 years of pain and anger, passed down through the generations through whiskey-soaked tales of wrongs done and crimes perpetrated against their friends and family in the name of sports fandom.
The Royals' lineup below shows how little they think of the Twins. They may as well not exist. They certainly do not get the benefit of being referred to by their names.
The visiting enemies will align themselves in such a manner:
Royal-killer Kyle Gibson takes the mound for Minnesota. The Mizzou alum/turncoat has allowed just a .224/.301/.279 slash against en route to a career 2.20 ERA in seven starts versus the Royals.
Edinson Volquez has faced the Twins four times in his career, holding them to a .210/.259/.270 slash line and a 1.95 ERA. Three of those four starts came this season. Volquez will try to put recent struggles behind him while facing the hated divisional foes, the Minnesota Twins.
This is going to be a WAR!