Spoilin' the Royals

I am achieving a level of true baseball impartiality: I loathe all teams and the absurd notions of uniqueness that float around each one.

The Twins' mid-2000s belief in their spiritual connection with fundamental baseball was my first source of true ideological contempt, Yankees fans constantly eyeing your top players as future trade acquisitions like gentrifiers taking photos of your house was always an easy target for malice. Soon it was nearly everyone: the Rangers and their prospects, the Angels' Winter Meetings touchdown dances, the Mariners self-delusion, The Indians and Diamond View, the Astros' lack of humanity, the cult in the mountains the Rockies are running, the "people are too quick to bash Jeffrey Loria" camp in Miami...and especially those friggin meathead, self-loathing 'let's get back to playing the way we never played under Ozzie' Sox fans.

And there are certainly the Royals.

In the news business, there are a lot of biases, but the first and most powerful one is toward news. We want the news we cover to be worth covering. The Royals selling out their top prospects for James Shields and Wade Davis, it read much better as the Royals finally making their great leap for contention, than as the Royals moderately improving in the short-term and doing little to change their station.

A similar level of treatment to the Royals signing inning-eater Jason Vargas in the hallowed news cycle of free agency, who at least has made the narrative stand up by defying his peripherals and posting a 124 ERA+ so far this year. But the Royals have also been recipients of The Best Farm System Ever hype from prospect experts, and Best Defense Ever hype from defensive metrics enthusiasts, and in all have collected an impressive complement of indicators of future success, without any actual success. For the White Sox, who live moment-to-moment as if they are certain about something extremely dire coming in the near-future--which is kind of the way Kenny Williams treated prospects for a prolonged period of time--the Royals are natural foils.

Now, at this moment where the Sox are being forced by circumstance and their own grievous errors to acknowledge themselves as a work-in-progress, and the Royals are forcing themselves forward toward the playoffs with more resources than ever before...they're a game better than their Chicago counterparts, with a negative run differential.

The Tigers, and the five-slot AL playoff race is incapable of really running away from anyone, but even purely self-styled contenders are not under-.500 at the trade deadline unless they're the '94 Texas Rangers. Crushing the hopes of a rival is always a limited victory, because disaster begets change. If the Royals fall on their face in their goal for playoff contention over 2013-2014, it's likely spells problems for Ned Yost, which likely produces a superior replacement.

But with James Shields hitting free agency, Billy Butler aging rapidly, and Mike Moustakas stagnated, even if the Royals shift toward putting the burden on their younger pitching talent, it could signal the end of a competitive window for them which, while seemingly ill-conceived, was a rare burst of excitement and possibility for a franchise that's been so keen on holding their cards close to their chest you could swear they were just napping.

If the Sox, and it seems like they just might, want to make a similarly early grasp at contending next season, it would help them to convince their fellow half-qualified teams that they're even farther away.

Also, the 2014 Sox are bad and can only take pleasure in ruining things for others. Maybe that makes them agents of evil, but as I've said, every team deserves it.