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An incomplete history of early Royals Review

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A look back

Royals Review Old School

I’m prone to writing long winded historical pieces (like this or this) and, of course, my Friday’s Rumblings have the “Best of Royals Review” feature. Because of this, I’ve often stumbled into the Royals Review Archives and fallen down quite a few rabbit holes. During that time, I’ve compiled a number of notable links in RR history and figured I should share them rather than keeping them to myself.

Before we get started, a couple of thoughts:

  • It’s probably best to not think of this as a “Greatest Hits” or complete history but as a list of historically notable posts.
  • I didn’t join until 2007 so much of this is told from the perspective of an outsider sifting through historical data.
  • I think everything I’m stating below is accurate (first 100 comment thread, etc), but there’s always a chance I might be off. I compiled all of this manually and had to eyeball a lot of it.
  • After SBNation revamped recently (yet again), the organized archives before 2009 appear to be lost so it’s a bit of a chore to find anything prior to that. They used to be at links like this (but are no longer): https://www.royalsreview.com/archives/full/2007

Modest Beginnings

(2005.05.13) Introductory Post, Sound the Royal Trumpets

Hello everyone out there... and welcome to Royals Review. In most things in life, everyone shows up at the beginning, then leaves, but with websites it is the opposite; so as I’m doing now, you write introductions to a new site and send them out into the formless void. For the last year, I’ve been writing about the Royals over at my old site, Royals Nightly, and it has been a strangely rewarding process. Despite the utter depressingness of the Royals. Recently, Blez over at AthleticsNation.com contacted me about working with him on a new Royals blog, and the rest is history. As you can tell, the site has a kind of pre-imagined usage implied by its layout: the idea is that you should become an active member here, sorta like a cross between a blog and a message board. So sign in, post diaries (like a “comment” on steriods) and keep reading. I have high hopes for this site. It remains to be seen whether those hopes will follow the path blazed by the Royals in 2003, at say, mid-season or not. But we can dream until then. -Will McDonald

That is the entirety of the first post of Royals Review after Will took his talents from Royals Nightly to Royals Review. It elicited 2 comments from, in Will’s words from the million hit article below, “my (now) wife and a random Cubs guy”.

(2005.05.13) Game 36 Open Thread: Rays at Royals - This was the first game thread and it had no comments. The next day had two comments: one from now-SBNation MLB editor Marc Normandin and a response from Will.

Can I say.... I’m wearing a Zach Greinke shirt right now...I’m your new best friend buddy

Posted by VoxMediaUser56834 on May 14, 2005 | 5:07 PM

greinke good... i’ve resigned myself to despair regarding Greinke... he’s a Royals first, phenom 2nd

Posted by Freneau on May 14, 2005 | 6:34 PM

(2005.08.21) Game 122 Open Thread- Royals (39-82) at A’s (68-54) - Three months later, in August, Royals Review had its first thread with more than 10 comments: . Granted, half of them were from someone history now knows as VoxMediaUser56844. He did have a signature of “Mr. Weatherstone” so maybe some of the oldest posters knew him as such.

(2005.12.16) The Day the Universe Changed - Here’s a prototypical story from that first year. It’s not Will’s best work and he might even cringe at some of it now, but it’s a fun look back. He appears to have dissected line-by-line an article from the KC Star or the Royals website and showed just how wrong it was.

Milestones

Numbers jumped in June of 2006 as game threads routinely started having double digits. My first guess is that this was when the Yahoo partnership started but it appears that started in 2009. Whatever the reason, traffic surged and Royals Review had its first 100 comment thread in July.

(2006.07.05) Game 83 Open Thread- Twins (46-36) at Royals (28-54).

The Royals were 27 games out of first and it wasn’t even the All-Star Break. They were riding a warmish streak, having gone 12-7 in their last 19 and were playing the 3rd place Twins. The Royals had lost the opener in vintage mid 00’s fashion. Up 5-3 in the 8th, 4 Royals pitchers combined to give up the lead. Royals closer and future convict Ambiorix Burgos allowed the tying run on a wild pitch. Then after a HBP and a BB, he gave MIN the lead PDQ with another WP. The Royals won game two behind a strong Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, and Elmer Dessens combined effort and an 11 hit attack.

The rubber game was a back-and-forth affair with the Royals grabbing leads of 1-0 and 3-1, only to have the Twins tie the game. In the 7th, with starters Brandon Duckworth and Brad Radke both out of the game, Juan Rincon angered the baseball gods by intentionally walking (!!) Angel Berroa. Their retribution came in the form of a Joe Mauer passed ball, which plated the go-ahead run, and John Buck added a 2-run double for insurance.

In short, I have no idea why this game, a win which got the Royals back to 25 games under .500, is the backdrop for RR’s first 100 comment thread. I’m just going to chalk it up to word getting out about Will’s writing. During this surge in traffic, he is still responsible for a significant chunk of the comments. The rest come from names like VoxMediaUser56917 (a prolific poster), andrewmiller, and (I am not making this up) grimsleyfan.

Clearly not all of SBNation was as developed as RR:

got to be a terrible loss for the Twins

if i was a twins fan i’d be ready to go on a killing spree right about now... time to talk smack on Twinkie Town

Posted by Freneau on Jul 5, 2006 | 10:18 PM

just checked out the Twins site... TwinkieTown???? What a name. No game thread ...nothing... just a lot of long posts...

I like it here. See all of you Thursday night.... Get a win over Toronto for me tommorrow night... Go Blue...

Posted by VoxMediaUser56917 on Jul 5, 2006 | 10:27 PM

Onward and Upward

A 200 comment thread soon followed (2006.07.20) Game 95 Open Thread- Angels (48-46) at Royals (32-62). And then RR hit 300 against the Yankees (2006.09.05) Game 140 Open Thread- Yankees (82-54) at Royals (51-88). Still, day games still had totals in the low double digits

The next year also saw first installments of many RR fixtures:

(2006.07.25) Royals Radio Affiliate Spotlight: [KOZQ-AM] Waynesville, Missouri - I believe this is actually the third in the popular series. However, it is the first chronologically on the site now. I believe the ones for York, Nebraska (reposted here) and Conway, Arkansas (reposted here) predate it but were lost in the internet tubes.

(2006.08.27) Honoring Reggie Sanders - Some are touching, some are nostalgic, some are sarcastic, but entries in the “Remembering” series are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit. Officially, he hadn’t played his last game for the Royals yet, but this definitely looks like the literary grandfather of the great series.

(2006.12.19) Burgos and Sisco Melted Down to Tin - If you squint, this is kindof like an early Rumblings thread. It could also be seen as a trade reaction thread. Could this link list get any better (unfortunately, most are broken now): KCRoyals.com, KCStar.com, Rob and Rany, Baseball Prospectus, and a Dan Szymborski post at BBTF?

(2007.06.11) The Greatest 100 Royals of All-Time - #100 Jay Bell - The unfinished magnum opus of one Royals Retro. Maybe now that the Royals are ready to embark a renewed voyage to futility, Max will be able to finish the top 18.

Early Regulars

Flipping through some of those early game threads, the first longtime member I recognized was loyal2theroyals. She had the second most posts in the Twins thread, trailing only the aforementioned VoxMediaUser56917. Some other notable early posters in that first year were LeoBloom, wildthang, and dejackso.

The first “regular” who is still posting today is probably buddyball. He joined in June 2006 and was posting somewhat regularly in the offseason. Another pair of high volume commenters who got their start around that time and are still (somewhat) active today are lordbyronk and royaldaddy.

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to find the oldest or most prolific commenters on RR (or any SBN site, for that matter). There is no index or list that I’m aware of. Also, sll of those commenters “joined” in 2008, despite making comments sooner. And that brings us to some more recent history.

Changing Times

(2008.03.28) Welcome to the new Royals Review and SB Nation

In 2008, Royals Review was folded into the new SB Nation network. Users had to recreate their account but those would be valid across all of the SB Nation blogs and, in a limited capacity, old comments would be linked to the new user account. This major change brought about FanPosts, Archives, z’ing through comments, and a “a fixed-width layout optimized for the 1024 x 768 resolution used by the majority of Royals Review and SB Nation network users” (take that, 4K!). And, lest you think every major site change is met with derision, check out the approval in the comments section.

(2009.03.29) Royals Review Joins The Million-Hits Club

Beyond just being an important milestone in the site’s history, Will posted a treasure trove of RR history in this post. Link to what RR used to look like in 2005? Check! A possible explanation for the traffic explosion in the form of Will Leitch citing Royals Review? Check! Completely relatable stories of Will’s personal anguish and insecurities? Of course! This is Royals Review history as seen by its originator. Max also took a brief look at the history of RR in 2016.

(2012.09.24) Welcome to SB Nation United

In 2012, SB Nation rebranded, introducing the SB United concept. The idea was to have a single unified platform for desktop and mobile. Oh, and the blogs were monetized in a way much more familiar to the “modern” internet. This resulted in a lot of criticism about decreased fan influence (Fanpost jokes), increased white space for ads, and months and months of revisions.

Royals Review and Beyond

As for RoyalsReview, it’s been arguably much more stable than SBNation. The site has only had three different site managers. While these are more recent changes, I thought they were worth including here because, as I noted in a recent Best of Royals Review, “these inflection points are all important moments in Royals Review history, times where the emphasis on tone of the site changed”.

(2012.06.25) Out Into the Snowstorm - Past a Slightly Mobile Betancourt - Will McDonald digitally penned a farewell post more than 7 years after founding the site.

(2012.06.25) Pop Tarts and The Process - My Story - Craig Brown introduced himself as the new Editor-in-Chief. His tenure was just shy of 2 years.

(2014.05.22) Introducing the new Royals Review Managing Editor - Max Rieper took the reins more than 3 years ago.

A couple of pennants, a World Series, and an impending rebuild bring us back to the present. The site has undergone so many changes in the last 12 years. Who knows what it will look like in 2030.