You will be forgiven for not noticing, as it is still February and snow remains on the ground from a relentless bombardment of recent winter storms, but baseball has begun. Well, somewhat. Kauffman Stadium remains as bundled up as a kid on one of the two days in the past month they had to go to school. Rather, it is in balmy Arizona that the Kansas City Royals are indeed playing baseball games in the real world with actual umpires and everything!
Sure, it’s spring training, but who cares? It’s BASEBALL TIME! Anecdotally, however, I am sensing much less electricity about the Royals for this upcoming season. A 104-loss season that scorches any realistic hope for timely contention will do that. But also, the Kansas City Chiefs were must-watch television up until Super Bowl week. The city was, rightfully, fascinated with their frog-voiced wunderkind of an MVP quarterback. Bad baseball simply isn’t much of a draw in comparison.
Indeed, in years past I have been ecstatic to write this article and have essentially posted it as soon as the images hit the metaphorical plate known as the SB Nation Getty and USA Today image vault. This year, however, the Royals will have already played multiple spring training games. Furthermore, this year the backgrounds and props are...subdued. Compared to 2018 photo day and 2017 photo day and 2016 photo day there isn’t a lot of variance or oddities going on.
But there are still some good pictures. Here they are, with my commentary, which is mostly unnecessary but this is my gig so that’s just what’s gonna happen. PHOTO DAY YAAAAASSSS.
All photo credits are embedded in each photo’s alt tags.
Jason Adam is just happy to be here
Jason Adam finally ascended to the big leagues in 2018 after years of injury, doing so with the club that originally drafted him and believed in him even after no other team wanted him. He is happy to be here. I can’t blame him.
Jesse is dead inside
This is Jesse Hahn. Some of you don’t know who on earth that is. That’s ok, because in this picture Jesse Hahn isn’t entirely certain of who he is. Just look at that stare. I’m guessing he was told to adopt a normal stance but the photographers were terrified of that blank expression and told him to adopt an action pose (TM) to counteract it. I want to give him a hug, but if I try to do so it seems at least somewhat likely that he’ll try to rip my spine out and feed me to his pet piranha.
Stay back, I tell you. Stay back!
Billy Hamilton, defector of team red to good ol’ team blue, seems more than a little terrified in this picture. Perhaps he binged The Walking Dead in the offseason and is wielding his bat like that one episode in season 16 or whatever. I’m not entirely convinced that The Walking Dead isn’t produced by zombies at this point, because it just keeps going on and on, lifelessly, whether people are watching it or not.
Anyway, Hamilton. Bet he could outrun some zombies, though.
What is even the point of this picture
Usually the behind-the-scenes pictures in photo day are informative and interesting. This one is just dark and frustrating. Perhaps it is a visual representation of the Royals’ wanderings in the desert of 2018. The one light on the top right represents August and September, when you could squint your eyes and pretend the Royals weren’t a bad team.
Meanwhile, the sweater vest worn by the photographer represents the cold, hard, inevitable heat death of the universe. Don’t backtalk me. This is art.
LOOK AT MAH CROTCH
It makes no gosh heck lick of sense why the Royals have a WWE belt at their photo day. Are they a sponsor of MLB now? Are the Royals now a wrestling team? Is Salvador Perez going to wrestle in the offseason now? Does the ‘W’ stand for ‘Wins’ and the Royals are trying out some visualization here?
Regardless, this is a picture of Perez wearing a gold spangled belt and pointing vaguely at his crotch. Enjoy.
Whit Merrifield will sex you right up, the sequel
Normally I would make a snarky comment here about how Merrifield doesn’t know how belts work or why he’s carrying around Perez’s belt in the first place or why he put a wrist band on in the photo because it’s not like they are playing a for realsies game. However, I will instead attempt to divert my eyes from Merrifield’s steely, handsome gaze lest I fall for his male Siren charm.
Alex Gordon, AKA Lo, Danger Ox
Alex Gordon has been playing baseball for the Kansas City Royals since 2007, back when fortnight was a word that Abraham Lincoln impersonators used, dabbing was a thing you did to your mouth with a napkin, and the most viewed video on Youtube was some random white dude who tucked his orange t-shirt into his jeans and thought that outfit was good for dancing.
This is the last year of Gordon’s massive four-year contract. He just turned 35. While last year was a solid rebound, he is a shell of his former self. In other words, this is likely the last year that Gordon will play as a Royal. Savor it. Enjoy those voluptuous biceps, the ridiculous bubble-blowing, and those sweet, sweet plays in left field.
Skoglund and the Glove of Mouth Covering
When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Randy Johnson. The gigantic lefty put his glove over his mouth during his windup and stared over the top at batter like a deranged Wilson from a bizarre version of Home Improvement where birds exploded like firecrackers. I did that, too, but in far right field because I wasn’t a friend of the coach’s son and boring stations were the punishment. My parents took this for a lack of attention after one particularly dull inning and gave a me a verbal kick in the behind to be more attentive.
Eric Skoglund is doing this exact pose now and he’s a big leaguer. See, mom? I can do it too, thank you very much.
Oh hello again
One of my favorite descriptions of Oscar Isaac comes from Rob Bricken of i09, where in a discussion about Isaac’s chemistry with John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he remarks that Isaac is a “sexy god” that “would have the same sexual chemistry with a bowl of mashed potatoes.” I find this to be an apt description of Isaac, whose scruffy face and sharp eyes seem to be cut from a sexier, more superior cloth. In this picture, Merrifield is absolutely channeling Isaac.
Furthermore, in finding that specific i09 article, my search history now includes the phrase “Oscar Isaac sexual chemistry potatoes,” so don’t say that I don’t sacrifice anything for you, dear reader.
Ball? What ball?
There is usually a “ha ha let us take a picture of a tossed baseball and make it seem like it’s just floating isn’t that fun LOL” somewhere in each spring training photo batch. But few look as nonchalant as this. Jakob Junis isn’t even trying to catch it, and it doesn’t even look like he threw it. His look into the camera is as expressionless as the face of my English friend when I made an Abbott and Costello reference or when I joked with that same friend that the British were coming, the British were coming. Get yourself an English friend is all I’m saying.
Danny Duffy wants you to know he does the pitching thing
Some day, Danny Duffy will leave the Royals and we will stop enjoying his infectious love for the city of Kansas City. However, that day is not today. This day, we root for Duffman.
Ned Yost, ladies and gentlemen
Never change, you big dork.