This weekend, Barry Bonds might hit 756. Someone might throw a no-hitter. There might be an unassisted triple play, or a 10-RBI game, or a particularly delicious brawl somewhere. But if there is, I won’t be there to see it.
That’s because I, like millions of people around the country – including many of you – will be reading a book. A book that will take most of the weekend to finish, even though I expect to start reading shortly after midnight tonight.
As I re-familiarized myself with Books 1-6 in anticipation of the final installment, it occurred to me that there are many similarities between the Harry Potter series and the Kansas City Royals. The first is the most wildly popular work of fiction in world history; the second is a really bad baseball team. It’s almost eerie.
Well, it’s not, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend the last few days trying to find connections between the two, no matter how flimsy or absurd they might be. So below, I present to you a list of the key members of the Royals, and which member of the Harry Potter universe they most resemble.
Let me apologize in advance to the few of you who have no interest in Harry Potter, and to the vast majority of you who have no interest in the Kansas City Royals. You are excused from reading this post.
For the rest of you: feel free to devise lists for your own favorite team! Is Neifi Perez Peeves, because no one seems to like him and yet no one can make him go away? Is J.P. Ricciardi Dolores Umbridge? (“I must not tell lies.” “They’re not lies if we know the truth.”) Who’s Voldemort? Let your imagination run free!
(Oh, and Books 1-6 spoilers listed below, for those who aren’t up to speed yet.)
Gil Meche = Sirius Black
Black was almost universally considered a mass-murderer and danger to society when he escaped from Azkaban. Gil Meche was almost universally considered one of the worst free agent signings in recent memory when he joined the Royals. Both have proven innocent of those charges.
Brian Bannister = Remus Lupin
Lupin gets a bad rap for being a werewolf, when in fact he is an accomplished member of the Order of the Phoenix. Bannister gets a bad rap for being a finesse pitcher in the minor leagues, when in fact he has learned a new curveball that has helped him become a solid #2 behind Meche.
Jorge de la Rosa = Mad Eye Moody
Moody seemed like a great guy for all of Book 4 until it turned out he was being impersonated by Bartemius Crouch Junior. de la Rosa seemed like a great starting pitcher for the first six weeks of the year (3.59 ERA, 12 BB in 58 IP through May 18th) until the Polyjuice Potion wore off (7.10 ERA, 31 BB in 51 IP since.)
Odalis Perez = Peter Pettigrew
Pettigrew convinced everyone he was dead, then ingratiated himself into the Weasley household as an ordinary pet rat before his true colors as a Death Eater were exposed. Perez convinced everyone in LA his career was dead, then ingratiated himself into the Royals rotation as an ordinary veteran innings sponge. As his ERA approaches six, it is becoming harder and harder for him to escape detection as someone working for the Dark Lord.
Scott Elarton = Lucius Malfoy
Lucius starts the series as a thoroughly malevolent character, only to turn increasingly pathetic as the books move forward, as he allows Voldemort’s diary to be destroyed, then loses the prophecy in the Department of Mysteries and gets shuttled off to Azkaban. Elarton has been thoroughly malevolent since the day the Royals signed him, but with a 9.17 ERA in 8 starts this season, and a 6.70 ERA in 8 Triple-A “rehab” starts, even Royals fans are starting to feel sorry for him.
Octavio Dotel = Cedric Diggory
Cedric didn’t make an appearance in the first few books, then became a key figure in Book 4 as one of the Triwizard Tournament competitors. He was an excellent competitor – so good, in fact, that he tied Harry for the championship, which led to his death moments later. Dotel didn’t make an appearance during the first six weeks of the season, but has since become a key part of the Royals’ bullpen resurgence with 10 saves and a 3.15 ERA. Like Cedric, he’s been so good that he is likely to depart suddenly, and soon – though more likely in a trade than in a flash of green light.
Joakim Soria = Ginny
Ginny was a star-struck 10-year-old when the series opened; now she’s a formidable witch in addition to being Harry’s love interest. Soria was the youngest player on the Royals’ Opening Day roster, a Rule 5 pick out of the Midwest League; now he’s the team’s closer-in-training and a downballot Rookie of the Year candidate.
Zack Greinke = Luna
Both have a reputation for being space cadets – would you blink if you saw Greinke reading a newspaper upside-down? – but both have shouldered vital roles as time goes on, Luna as a member of Dumbledore’s Army and a dispenser of spiritual advice to Harry, Greinke in a most unusual role as a shut-down rally-killer in the middle innings.
Jimmy Gobble = Dobby the House-Elf
Dobby was responsible for a distressing amount of mischief and mayhem for Harry in Year 2, but everything worked out in the end. Gobble has created a ton of mischief himself (right-handed hitters are batting .361/.414/.557; first-hitters are batting .317/.396/.488), but everything generally works out in the end (2.67 ERA).
David Riske and Joel Peralta = Fred and George
Like the Weasley twins, Riske and Peralta are hardly distinguishable, and play key actors in a supporting role. They can’t match Fred and George’s sense of the comedic, though I’m told that Riske can light a mean hotfoot in the clubhouse.
Luke Hochevar = Draco Malfoy
Draco has been a thorough pain in the ass from day one, convinced that his pureblood breeding made him better than anyone else, and groomed to succeed his father into the Death Eaters. Hochevar has been a thorough pain in the ass since he was drafted, convinced that his first-overall-pick pedigree meant that he was assured success, and with 16 homers allowed in 99 minor league innings, he’s being groomed to replicate Elarton’s performance in the majors. But as book 6 ends, Draco shows a moment of goodness that gives us hope he may yet be redeemable. Hochevar shows a K/BB ratio (101 to 27) that gives us hope he may yet turn into a decent starting pitcher.
John Buck = Neville Longbottom
Neville is a weakly regarded character at the start of the series, so deficient in his magical skills that he was thought to be a squib until he turned 8. His development at Hogwarts has been almost astonishing, and he may yet have a pivotal role to play in Book 7. Buck was a weakly regarded catcher for the first three years of his career (OBPs of .280, .287, and .306), but has been the surprise player of 2007, and one of the pivotal players on the roster going forward.
Jason LaRue = Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix, who tortured Neville’s parents to the point of insanity when he was an infant, is as unquestionably evil as anyone in the series other than Voldemort. LaRue has tortured Buck – and all Royals fans – by stealing a ridiculous amount of playing time from him, and with a .173 average, is unquestionably in the service of the Dark Lord.
Ryan Shealy and Ross Gload = Crabbe and Goyle
Like Crabbe and Goyle, Shealy and Gload are definitely bad, but their roles are more akin to props than central characters at this point. Crabbe and Goyle don’t talk much; Shealy and Gload don’t hit much.
Mark Grudzielanek = Molly Weasley
Both are predictable, consistent, safe, and absolutely not someone you want leading you into the thick of a battle.
Esteban German = Nymphadora Tonks
Tonks is a metamorphmagus, able to alter her appearance at any time. German is a super-utility player, able to alter his position to second base, third base, first base, or the corner outfield spots at any time.
Tony Pena = Mundungus Fletcher
Fletcher is a member of the Order of the Phoenix because he’s useful for his contacts, even though he’s a petty thief who’s never walked away from a shady deal in his life. Pena is a regular member of the Royals lineup because he’s useful for his defense, even though he’s a petty hitter who’s never walked, period.
Alex Gordon = Harry Potter
Both are The Chosen One. Both had highly anticipated debuts. From that point on… well, let’s just say that if Book 7 ends with Harry dying when he swings and misses at an Avada Kedavra, you’ll know where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration. An early clue: if the final chapter is entitled “The Boy Who Sucked.”
Emil Brown = Gilderoy Lockhart
Lockhart was a thoroughly incompetent wizard who nonetheless made outlandish claims at having thwarted dark wizards at every turn. Emil Brown is a thoroughly incompetent player who this spring claimed to be one of the better defensive left fielders in the game.
Joey Gathright = Viktor Krum
Krum has made only a brief appearance in the series, and is notable for little other than his incredible speed on a broom. Gathright has made only a brief appearance for the Royals, and is notable for little other than his incredible speed. Both Krum and Gathright may have more weighty roles in their future.
Mark Teahen = Ron Weasley
Harry’s closest friend, Ron is a thoroughly likeable guy despite not really being good at schoolwork or practical magic. Teahen, who agreed to move to right field for Gordon’s sake, is the Royals’ #3 hitter and a fan favorite despite not really hitting for power (5 HRs) or making contact (86 Ks).
David DeJesus = Hermione Granger
Because someone has to tag along with Gordon and Teahen. And like Hermione, who suffered more than her fair share of injuries early on (resembled a cat for a month after the Polyjuice Potion went wrong; petrified by a basilisk), DeJesus was notoriously injury-prone at the start of his career.
Billy Butler = Hagrid
Like, duh. What, you were expecting Filius Flitwick?
Mike Sweeney = Nearly Headless Nick
Although Captain Mike’s injuries seem to be slightly more career-threatening.
Allard Baird = Regulus Black
Long-dead and much-maligned as a Death Eater, Regulus Black may in fact have redeemed himself by locating one of Voldemort’s horcruxes before he died (if you subscribe to the Regulus-is-R.A.B. theory, as I do.) Long since fired and much-maligned as a terrible GM, Baird’s tenure looks much better in retrospect, as Teahen and Buck make the Beltran deal look good, and he picked up German for almost nothing.
Dayton Moore = Albus Dumbledore
Like Dumbledore, Moore works mostly behind the scenes, but always seems to be thinking several steps ahead, and despite the occasional mistake (having Snape teach Harry Occlumency; trading away Ruben Gotay), both have an uncanny knack for doing the right thing. Certainly, the level of confidence and devotion that some Royals fans have in Moore at the moment rivals Harry’s proclamation that he was “Dumbledore’s man through and through.”
Buddy Bell = Severus Snape
As Remus Lupin said, “It comes down to whether or not you trust Dumbledore’s judgment. I do; therefore, I trust Severus.” Dumbledore trusted that Snape was on his side, despite much evidence to the contrary; likewise, Moore kept Buddy Bell on as manager after he was hired, despite considerable evidence that Bell was not particularly good at it.
Of course, Dumbledore may have made a mistake in judgment, seeing as how Snape killed him and all. Moore may have made a similar error, given that the Royals have continued to lose. This weekend we’ll find out if Dumbledore knew what he was doing all along. It will take much longer to find out if Moore did as well.