For those of you who read this part as opposed to scanning the lineups and then zooming to the comments, gather round: it’s time to talk about why I became a big fan of the Kansas City Royals. That reason is Zack Greinke.
My family is from Iowa, and neither of my parents had a particular attachment to any Major League Baseball team. My grandparents had lived in a town north of Denver and east of Estes Park for years and were Colorado Rockies fans, but it didn’t really stick with me. Their games weren’t on in Cleveland, where I lived for most of my first decade. My first baseball memories were of Jacobs Field, and of Jim Thome, and of Manny Ramirez and those great Cleveland teams in the late-90s.
Then, when I was nine, our family moved to Kansas City. None of us had any emotional attachment to the team, and since the Royals were so consistently bad, there was no reason to develop that emotional attachment. I distinctly remember sitting in computer lab—remember those?—and asking a classmate who was on the Royals team that year. He shrugged and said something along the lines of “They change players a lot every year.”
Still, by high school, I had been to enough Royals games and had lived in Kansas City long enough to begin rooting for the hometown team. I remember trying to shift my allegiance to the Cardinals in 2006 or so, when they won the World Series and the Royals had lost 100 games again. It didn’t stick. Little did I know, but I was already sucked in.
Then 2009 happened. Then Zack Greinke happened.
Greinke turned in a truly epic season for the ages, absolutely destroying the competition and pitching complete games with wild abandon. Who cared if the Royals stunk? When it was Greinke day, it was Greinke Day. And it was that spark of absolute brilliance that converted my latent Royals fandom into what it is today.
I will always root for Greinke, no matter what team he’s on. That is, unless he’s facing the Royals, which he is tonight in Houston. Even so, an optimal game would be eight innings of Greinke dominance followed by one inning of an epic Houston bullpen meltdown to end in a Royals victory.