Five games into this season, the Royals were cruising. They had taken two of three from the Angels. They were on the verge of sweeping the Athletics. They would come back from the opening road trip 4-2, ready to take on the lowly Indians.
But fate had something else in store for the Royals.
On April 11, a day which will surely live on in infamy in Poor Pichardo's Almanack, KC was up 4-3 in the 12th inning at the Oakland Coliseum. Jonathan Broxton, he of the 54-inch waist, was brought in to mow down the A's and seal the victory.
As you recall, things unraveled quickly.
Alcides Escobar booted a routine grounder. Broxton walked a guy. Then he walked another guy. Then there was an RBI groundout. Then Broxton hit a guy. And then, with the bases loaded in a tie game, he hit another guy.
The game was over. Two runs had scored, and the ball never left the infield.
It was weird. People commented on how weird it was. It was, in fact, only the second time in history a game had ended with back-to-back HBP.
People blamed Broxton. They blamed Yost. They blamed Escobar.
But all those people are wrong.
We've figured it out. We know what wrought all of this. The person to blame for this game, and yes, the following ten-straight losses on the Royals homestand, is none other than Jeff Francoeur.
He did something so wrong, so inexcusable, so unforgivable, that it has doomed the Royals' entire season.
He bought twenty pizzas for Oakland A's fans.
The media ate it up. Joel Goldberg told viewers about it during the game. The Kansas City Star ran the story. Yahoo Sports even picked it up. It was another signifier, the media argued, of what a nice guy Jeff Francoeur is.
However, they missed the real story here. What Frenchy really did was anger the baseball gods.
This isn't a story about sportsmanship or integrity or innate goodness. It's a story about a player who made overtures to the enemy. About a player who bonded with the fans of an opposing team. About a player who sacrificed the good of his team and his team's fans for another. And he unknowingly did it with the deadliest weapon of all:
You see, in 1986, Domino's Pizza introduced a much-despised new mascot called The Noid. This character frequently showed up in Domino's commercials as an evil-doer bent on stopping pizza from being delivered in under thirty minutes. The Noid was so popular that he even starred in his own Nintendo game, "Yo! Noid."
It is no coincidence that ever since The Noid came into being, the Royals haven't so much as smelled the playoffs. His creation was following, of course, their 1985 World Series victory.
And thus was born the Curse of the Noid. The legend goes that just as the Noid stopped stoned pizza delivery boys from delivering the goods in thirty minutes, so too will the Noid stifle the Royals' playoff hopes for thirty years.
Don't believe me? The proof is undeniable.
Ever since the Noid came into being, the Royals have been the laughingstock of baseball. The Noid is responsible for Dick Howser's death, Bo Jackson's hip injury, David Cone being traded away twice, black jerseys, Mike Sweeney's back problems, four 100-loss seasons, and Ken Harvey.
This season started off promisingly enough. But Francoeur, nice guy that he is, failed to realize that sending twenty pizzas to the Oakland A's fans would reignite this 26-year-old curse.
Immediately, the impact was felt: the Broxton blown save, the Hochevar Opening Day implosion, Alex Gordon striking out with the bases loaded to end a game, Ned Yost becoming obsessed with bunting, and yes, the Royals going 0 for the month of April at Kauffman Stadium.
These things are all because of that goddamn Noid.
And I don't think there's any way to stop it. Perhaps the legend will hold true and the Royals will make the playoffs in 2016.
Until then, may God have mercy on us all.
Go Royals! You're Cursed!