Once America’s sweethearts, Royals now look like MLB’s biggest jerks

Remember when the Royals were charming their way to the World Series, America’s new sweethearts with a gritty character, a lights-out bullpen and never-say-die attitude that led them one run from one of the most stunning championships in recent baseball history?

A lot sure can change in six months.

Now, they just look a lot like baseball’s biggest jerks. Especially the one with the coolest nickname.

Second-year pitcher Yordano "Ace" Ventura was ejected from Thursday night’s game against the White Sox, already his second ejection and third benches-clearing incident in just his fourth start this season — and all have come in his past three starts.

And while Thursday’s incident wasn’t Ventura’s first go-round this season, it may have been his most bizarre and ridiculous.

As you can see in the video above, Ventura seemed to take issue with the Sox’s Adam Eaton after the outfielder had the nerve to … ground out to the pitcher.

Yup.

Shortly after the two faced off, benches and bullpens cleared, and the fists flew once Chicago pitcher Jeff Samardzija (not playing Thursday) and Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain carried over their bad blood from the teams’ season-opening series.

In all five players were ejected from the game, Ventura most certainly among them.

For his part, Ventura told the media after game through a translator that he "recognizes that some of his actions are not putting himself in a favorable light, as well as the team." He also added: "It was a messy situation."

There’s no arguing it was a messy situation, but this Vine shows it’s pretty clear Ventura didn’t do much to try to ease the situation when he fielded the comebacker.

But this is nothing new for Ventura. In just his second start of the season, against the Los Angeles Angels, the 23-year-old, 180-pound string bean had to be restrained (OK, that’s using the term loosely) when he got into a verbal joust with Mike Trout of all people.

The reigning AL MVP’s offense on that play? Apparently having the nerve to hit a line drive back up the middle for a base hit, then following that up with the audacity to score on a base hit.

Yeah … a batter "hitting" at the pitcher.

Now, the Royals did claim that Trout, who was buzzed by a fastball prior to the base hit but did not show any visible displeasure according to reports from the game, said something to Ventura on his way to first on the hit.

But even THAT isn’t the most infamous dispute involving Ventura or the defending AL champs just 16 games into the season.

No, that distinction goes to last weekend’s entertaining three-game series with Oakland, which saw the A’s Brett Lawrie take out shortstop Alcides Escobar with a hard slide to break up a double play on Friday — a slide which the Royals contended was dirty. Benches emptied though no punches were thrown and Escobar returned to action Monday.

The following day, Lawrie was hit by a pitch following a Josh Reddick homer, a play that seemed to be payback for the Escobar slide and end the issue. But on Sunday, Kansas City pitcher Kelvin Herrera threw a 100-mph fastball behind Lawrie’s head, earning an ejection as benches again cleared and five total players and coaches were tossed.

Oh yeah, there was one ejection Saturday night as well, for the guy who hit Lawrie.

You guessed it … Yordano Ventura.

Sure, the Royals of October and the Royals of April do share plenty of traits. Kansas City is 12-4 and sports the AL’s best record. That bullpen has an ERA well below 1.00, and is at nearly 0.50.

But still, the team that earned a new legion of fans as it swept the mighty Angels, refused to lose and took the San Francisco Giants to a World Series Game 7 finds itself the subject of some very different commentary now.

The Associated Press contrubted to this report