Recently, the Kansas City Star had a fun piece recalling the most iconic sports quotes in Kansas City history. There are famous quotes from legendary Chiefs coach Hank Stram (“Keep matriculating the ball down the field, boys!”) as well as quotes from coaches from area schools. But the list is overwhelming populated with baseball quotes.
It makes sense that baseball should be the most quotable sport. There are 162 games, far more opportunities for players and coaches to talk to writers. Baseball has a history of being a more colorful game, a leisurely endeavor played by children, not faux military warfare like football. Pete Grathoff did a nice job with his article, but I have a list of my own. Here are my fifteen most iconic quotes in Royals history.
"If God had him no balls and two strikes, he'd still get a hit."
-Umpire Steve Palermo
Blasphemous, perhaps, but with the way George Brett was hitting in 1980, it did not seem like anyone could get him out that season. George began slowly, not even getting his batting average above .300 until May 31. But he hit .427 after that point, with his average topping the .400 mark as late as September 18, the most serious run at .400 since Ted Williams reached the mark in 1941.
“Motley going back...to the track. No outs to go! The Royals have won the 1985 World Series!”
The Royals had made six playoff appearances prior to 1985, but had failed to win it all despite being a perennial contender. In 1985, everything came together under the leadership of Dick Howser, and the Royals overcame a ninth inning deficit in Game 6 on a controversial call by umpire Don Denkinger at first base and destroyed the Cardinals in Game 7 to win their first championship in franchise history.
“I'm tired of all these stupid ass questions every night.”
This was manager Hal McRae’s response to reporter Brad Doolittle asking why he hadn’t pinch hit George Brett for Keith Miller. It seemed an innocuous question, but under the pressure of managing a struggling ballclub in 1993, McRae flipped out. He berated reporters for their stupid questions, and went on an epic tirade, throwing objects around his office, including a phone and a tape recorder that hit a reporter in the face.
“I’d like to see ’em go out and pound tequila rather than cookies and milk, because nobody’s going to get us out of this but us.”
Tony Muser was an old school manager who relied on grit and gut to win ballgames. He won 42% of the games he managed for the Royals over four plus seasons. While Muser never called him out publicly, many felt the quote was an allusion to slugger Mike Sweeney, an outspoken Christian. The 2001 Royals would go on to lose 97 games, but a fan did mail Muser a bottle of tequila for his troubles.
While not a direct quote, the slogan was from a t-shirt manager Tony Pena created and passed to his team during the 2003 season. The translated message was simple, “BELIEVE.” That team would win their first nine games and stun baseball by holding first place in the Central Division for most of the summer, despite a pitching staff held together with shoestring and duct tape.
“When's the last time you shit your pants?”
Spring training is a time for ballplayers to slowly prepare for the upcoming season. Players are reunited and there is plenty of time or idle chit-chat, which can lead to hilarity. Someone conveniently left a mic on for Royals warmups in a camp that is probably from 2005, to give Royals fans a wildly entertaining tale of the time George Brett had some bad crabs at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. You can see catcher Adam Donachie squirm as Brett recounts that he just could not make it to the toilet in time. It was truly a defecation story worthy of a Hall of Famer.
“I never say it can’t get worse.”
Buddy Bell had been a part of a lot of losing teams, as a player with the Rangers and Indians, and as a manager of the Rockies, Tigers, and Royals. He had seen a lot of things. But he was always matter-of-fact, even keel. After the Royals dropped their tenth in a row in April of 2006, reporters asked if the team had hit bottom, prompting Bell to wearily respond.
"Let’s just trust the process. If other people don’t want to trust the process, that’s fine. If other people want to abandon the process, then abandon it. I’m not abandoning the process. I believe in the process.”
Royals fans were filled with hope when Dayton Moore took over the team in 2006, but by 2009, they had yet to win more than 75 games in a season, and the 2009 season was shaping up to be one of their worst under his tenure. Moore preached patience, asking fans to believe in “the process.” His quote was mocked for several seasons, but Moore had the last laugh, winning a championship in 2015, but turning down an offer to sell “Trust the Process” t-shirts.
“Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third-base tree and pick another third baseman.”
Ned Yost had a prickly attitude with the media prior to winning a championship, and his frustration showed when he was asked in May of 2013 why he continued to play the struggling Mike Moustakas at third base. Yost’s patience with Moose would finally pay off, but the quote provided several memes and inside jokes for Royals fans for years.
“There's no reason this team can't go on a run where you win 15 of 20.”
Moore was asked whether the Royals would consider trading starting pitcher Ervin Santana at the July trade deadline, since he was approaching free agency. The 2013 Royals were floundering at 45-51 by late July and contention seemed to be out of the cards. But sure enough, they went on a tear, winning 17 of their next 20 games to climb into the Wild Card race. They would fall short, but the run foreshadowed some magical pennant runs the next two seasons.
“That’s what speed do.”
As part of the amazing run, the Royals seemed to find new and inventive ways to win games. On July 28, they were in Chicago and took the White Sox into extra innings tied 2-2. Jarrod Dyson led off the twelfth with a routine grounder to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Beckham bobbled the ball, and a hustling Dyson reached first base safely. He then stole second, and advanced to third on a poor throw from catcher Josh Phegley. Alex Gordon would win the game with a two-run home run, and it seemed Royals Devil Magic was born.
After the game, Dyson explained why the White Sox had botched the inning. “That’s a tough play. That’s what speed do. If you can’t handle the ball, put it back in the glove.” The quote became a rallying cry for the speedy Royals.
“In a small way, I feel like we won the World Series.”
The 2013 Royals won 86 games, their highest win total since 1989, but it was still well short of post-season action. So when Dayton Moore seemed to take a victory lap for a team that stayed home in October, fans bristled at what seemed like a low hurdle that had been cleared. Moore later clarified that his remarks were misconstrued, but luckily, he actually won a World Series to help us all forget the faux pas.
“Its a bear suit, Joel.”
The Royals took off in 2015 and held first place for most of the season, eventually winning 95 games, tops in the American League. On September 24, they clinched the Central Division title, their first division title since 1985. In the celebration, the enigmatic Danny Duffy donned a bear suit, similar to the one worn on the TV show Workaholics. Duffy explained to Fox Sports Kansas City reporter Joel Goldberg exactly what he was wearing, even adding the puntastic quote “Fur sure.”
“Losing is for losers.”
The Royals had a remarkable comeback in the 2015 American League Division Series, overcoming a four-run deficit in Game Four and coming back to win in Game 5 against the Astros to clinch the series. The win was particularly satisfying for David Glass, once of the most hated owners in the game for his frugality and mismanagement of the franchise. Glass proclaimed after the game that he was proud of the team, and that losing was for losers, an ironic statement considering how the franchise had operated for much of his tenure.
“Hey guess what? Cy Young winner, not on our team, beat him. Rookie of the year, not on our team, we beat him. MVP of the whole league, sorry guys not on our team. But we beat that guy too!”
Gomes played in all of 12 games for the Royals and was not even on their post-season roster, yet his speech is the one most remembered at the championship rally following their World Series win over the Mets. Gomes was acquired for his leadership, and he showed why in his epic rally speech crediting the Royals for playing together as a team, despite the lack of big time stars. The only question now is when will Gomes run for mayor of Kansas City.