Hope springs eternal, or so the saying goes. No matter what your team did the year before, every April, there is a fever that races over the city and its fans of the boys in blue. April, 2006 was no exception. Sure, Royals fans had plenty to be sour about, but hey, ya never know. Just check out this obviously Hollywood produced promo for the 2006 Royals:
And the Royals themselves were looking for something positive to happen after two seasons of losing 100+ games and, as we learned in our 42nd moment, a manager who quit in the middle of the night. Enter Buddy Bell. Buddy was the face of a franchise in the middle of a political campaign. A campaign to remodel Royals/Kauffman stadium and there was a big vote coming up in early April “This is Kansas City” the campaign exclaimed. It was all meant to garner support for a tourism tax to remodel the stadium. Your Team. Your Town. Your Royals.
The tax passed, and spring is spring. So back to the stadium we went in April of 2006 like Charlie Brown asking Lucy if they could play football. They were “our” Royals, after all, like that cousin you have who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, but you still have to go to their birthday party and get them a gift because he came to yours.
The charge out of the gates by the Royals was… not great. With a starting rotation of Scott Elarton, Runelvys Hernandez, Luke Hudson, and Odalis Perez, the optimism quickly faded. As bad as they were pitching, their offense was led by names like Tony Graffanino, Jeff Keppinger, Aaron Guiel, Mitch Maier, and Esteban German. German, actually, had a helluva 2006 season, batting .326. (Really.) But that was the only Royal to finish the season over .300.
Plus, their defense was even worse, making 98 errors finishing in the middle of the AL. One of those errors is why we are here today. The date is April 30, 2006. The Royals were facing the Oakland A’s (who would go on to make the playoffs) and losers of their last two (thankfully the game before was cancelled.) They were sitting at 5-17 on the season, squarely in last place, 11 games back. In right field was Kerry Robinson, Left Field featured Emil Brown, and patrolling center for your town, your team, your center fielder, was Esteban German. By then, Captain Mike Sweeney was your all-time DH, so the Royals needed to put German in the field. He was… not good. I asked Bob Dutton about this moment and he said, “German shouldn’t have been in the outfield. The Royals knew this. The ball found him. Bad things happened. That was the Royals in those days. Rinse, repeat.”
We pick up the coverage from ESPN here, “German, the second Royals center fielder to leave a game early in as many days, appeared to misjudge Nick [Fucking] Swisher‘s deep drive to left-center. The ball missed his glove, hit him in the face and rolled along the wall as German lay on the warning track.”
German would suffer a cut to his face due to his third error of the season. The Athletics went on to win the game 13-6. Luke Hudson fell to 0-3. Nick Fucking Swisher had a homer and 4 RBI. But most importantly, the calendar turned from April to May and in those days, that marked the end of any and all optimism about the Kansas City Royals.
The 2006 Royals would finish 34 games out of first place with a record of 62-100.
Your Team. Your Town. Rinse. Repeat.