We’ve already talked about what a weird year 2012 was. It was clearly a transition year not just for the city, hosting the All-Star Game, but also for the franchise as there would now be even higher expectations since the fans reinvested in the club. But 2012 was… erratic in its delivery.
Hey, speaking of erratic… Welcome to #40.Before the killer closing combination of H-D-H. Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Before that, there was Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Before that, there was Greg Holland. And before THAT, there was Jonathan Broxton.
I was immediately a fan of Broxton when he was signed as a free agent in the winter before the 2012 season. Mostly because.. well.. how can I put this mildly. Screw it, it’s late on a Friday night. Broxton is fat. Okay? He’s portly. Jumbo-sized. Husky. Big boned. Fluffy. Curvy. Full-figured. Heavy set.
Jonathan Broxton is what I wanted to grow up to be as an eight year old. A kid who could eat an entire pound of bacon, bag of Cheetos, half a 2-liter of Orange Crush and still pitch a fastball 95 miles per hour.
How plus sized was Broxton? Big enough for two Royals to fit in his pants.
Time quickly taught me that there’s more to it than that. For starters, I was left handed. Second off, my fastball topped out/tops out at 51 miles per hour. Thirdly, there are extreme consequences when you eat like that at eight years old. You become a nine-year old fat kid, for starters. And at some point the slow passage of time means that even if you don’t eat a pound of bacon and all that other stuff, your body keeps reminding you of that day you did and at 45 years old, you find yourself gaining five pounds even after eating salad every day at work.
Oh, wait. Am I still typing? What was I… oh yeah. So Jonathan Broxton was a tub of goo with a blazing fastball and a “closer’s mentality.”
He was also not very good at times, and other times he was really not good. But as a two-time all-star closer with the Dodgers, he was the big free agent signing in the off-season, so he was the closer. Royals fans quickly realized that Broxton time was nail-biting time. He did manage to save 23 games before he was traded in June. But he also blew five saves during his short time as a Royal and one of those is why we are here today.
April 11, 2012. The Royals were heading into the rubber match at Oakland, and had won a rain-shortened game the day before. Still early in the season, the club was 3-3 and at a crossroads. Broxton had one save as a Royal under his belt already on the road trip, and the Royals were heading home to home opening day following the game.
It was a pretty weird game all around. The scoring began in the second when catcher Brayan Pena attempted to catch Yoenis Cespedes stealing third. Pena, instead, threw the ball into left field allowing Cespedes to trot home. Jonny Gomes hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning (you’ll hear more from him in a couple of paragraphs.)
The Royals tied it in the seventh after a… wait… let me double check… yep… after an Alex Gordon homer. The teams went to extra innings tied at three a piece and in the twelfth, bananas.
The top of the 12th, the Royals took the lead thanks to Billy Butler doubling in Eric Hosmer. 4-3 Royals. Good time for your lock-down, albeit chunky, closer. What we got instead was history.
Royals broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre and Denny Matthews frequently joke that coming to a major league baseball game gives you the opportunity to see something no one else has seen before. The twelfth inning certainly applies, unless you were in attendance Sept. 2, 1966 when Baltimore’s Stu Miller hit Chicago’s Al Weis and Tommie Agee for a White Sox win.
Broxton K’s the first batter, then the second reached on an Alcedes Escobar error. Then Broxton walked Jemile Weeks. Two on. One out. Still a perfect chance for a double-play or maybe an infield fly, even. Nope. He walked Eric Sogard to load the bases. Then the A’s tied it on a Coco Crisp fielder’s choice.
Well now we’ve got a bit of a shit burger. Runners at the corners. Tie ballgame. Two outs. Broxton can at least get us another out and we go to the 13th, right? No. You’re wrong again. You’re bad at this game.
Broxton hit Cespedes to load the bases. And up walks future Royal and all-time American patriot, Jonny Gomes. So now we’ve got the bases loaded, it’s a tie ballgame, and Gomes up to bat. And, naturally, Broxton hits Gomes on the leg for a walk-off hit-by-pitch. The second consecutive hit-by-pitch and the first for an Oakland A’s team that would win 15 games by walk-off that season.
Other than the historical significance, it marked an “Oh Shit” moment for Royals fans and instantly made Jonathan Broxton “That Fucking Broxton” as fans headed to Opening Day two days later. The home-stand was… bad. The Royals went 0-fer the entire home-stand, losing their next 11 games following the Broxton meltdown and sending the Royals spiraling to the basement of the AL Central.
Let’s be honest, if that little chubby eight-year old kid actually did grow up to be a portly fireballing Kansas City Royal, I’d shit the bed exactly like Broxton — probably find a way to be ejected for too much peanut butter on my hand and vomit on the mound, too.
Welp, haven’t seen that one before.
— TFN ’18 (@TheFakeNed) April 11, 2012