In case you missed it, things certainly got interesting between the Royals and the Athletics over the weekend. It all started with a high slide into second base by A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, which sprained the knee of Alcides Escobar. There has been much speculation as to whether or not Lawrie was deliberately trying to take out Escobar. Watching Sunday afternoon’s game on television, the consensus by Royals broadcasters seems to be that a slide like that can only be intentional. Lawrie, of course, insists that he was just playing the game:
We may never know the true story behind the incident, but whatever his intentions were, Lawrie’s slide sparked a firestorm of animosity between the two teams. I had the pleasure of attending Saturday night’s game and experiencing first-hand the overwhelming disdain of the crowd for Lawrie. Any time his name was mentioned, every trip to the plate, every defensive play that he made received a booing that makes Kim Jong Un look popular. Then, in the midst of a disastrous top of the fourth, Yordano Ventura beaned Lawrie, and the benches cleared as the crowd roared its approval:
No punches were thrown, but being in the crowd as this all transpired proved to be an eye-opening experience. I’ve experienced the vindictiveness of Kansas City fans at Chiefs games, but when it comes to Royals games, I had never seen the crowd act so maliciously. Then again, up until last year, every Royals game I had ever attended featured a sparse crowd, and certainly not this level of drama. Even after he was plunked once, the folks around me were screaming for another beaning in Lawrie’s next plate appearance. As harsh as it seems, it’s not hard to understand the feelings of the fans or the Royals. Escobar is a fan favorite in Kansas City, and nobody wants to see a beloved player removed from the lineup under such suspicious circumstances.
Unfortunately, the Royals never recovered from that disastrous inning and lost Saturday’s game in an embarrassingly uninteresting fashion. It was the drama and receipt of the replica AL Champions trophy that kept the trip from being a bust:
Sunday afternoon’s game proved no less interesting where the drama was concerned. Lorenzo Cain was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, and Kelvin Herrera threw a pitch behind Lawrie in retaliation during the eighth inning. By the time the game was through, Royals manager Ned Yost, pitching coach Dave Eiland, bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Alcides Escobar, and Kelvin Herrera had all been ejected from the game. On the plus side, the Royals rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and win the game and, thus, the series.
The Royals and the A’s next play each other on June 26th in Oakland. It will be interesting to see whether this all carries over.