On Wednesday afternoon, the Royals beat the Cubs 10-0 ... and it’s lucky for me they did. Baseball players are very superstitious, and if you show up and they lose 10-0, they won’t mind blaming you.
There are Royals front-office executives who can tell their record in games they’ve attended on the road. If a particular front-office guy shows up on the road and the Royals tend to win, the players are happy to have him along. But if the team tends to lose, that executive might not be welcome.
The players are kind of kidding … but kind of not.
I once showed up for a minor-league series and the team I was with won four straight after a long losing streak. They begged me to get on the bus with them and go to the next town. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn’t do it (I was probably being overly mature — a condition I’ve worked hard to overcome).
But I’ve also shown up and had a team lose four straight after a winning streak, and been told to get the hell out of town (I was even offered a ride to the airport to expedite the process).
Once again, they were mostly kidding … but not totally.
So I attended my first Royals spring training game of 2016 Wednesday, and in his first at-bat, Christian Colon hit a rocket — right at the Cubs’ third baseman. Colon slumped his head and walked back to the dugout dragging an 0-for-23; he hadn’t had a hit in spring training.
A line-out can be a very good at-bat, but when you’re 0-for-2016, you don’t want moral victories; you want a damn hit, and you don’t care what kind.
In his next at-bat, Colon hit a 1-2 fastball off John Lackey and there it was — a ground-rule double — his first hit this season. And in his very next at-bat, Colon got his second hit of 2016, a single up the middle.
After the game, reporters traipsed down to the Royals’ clubhouse to ask Colon about breaking his hitless streak and he showed off his Jobu doll, a good-luck charm featured in the movie “Major League.”
Apparently his teammates had been trying to help Colon get a hit; Mike Moustakas had been leaving shots of something or other to appease Jobu, and Drew Butera gave Colon a crucifix to drape around the doll’s neck.
But frankly, none of that was working until I showed up. (Hey, if I’m going to get blamed for losing streaks, I’m sure as heck going to take credit for hot streaks.)
I told Colon I’d just made it to spring training and asked if he’d been hitting into bad luck; 0-for-23 is pretty small sample size, and a few lineouts can bury you. Colon said he’d hit five or six balls hard, but nothing had fallen in ... so he’d decided to concentrate on his defense figuring the hits would eventually come.
I pointed out that I’d only seen three of his at-bats, but they were a lineout, a double and a single — and that earned me a Colon fist-bump.
I told Colon to quit worrying; I was going to be around for the rest of spring training. As I walked away, he said: “And the regular season, too, right?” You bet, dude, I’m there for you.
But if Vahe Gregorian shows up and Colon quits hitting, we’re blaming it on him.