June 3, 2013

Couldn't be Appier

The Royals' moribund offense has gotten me to thinking about Kevin "Planet" Appier lately. Neither James Shields nor Ervin (don't call me "Johan") Santana have received much run support, despite being the two best starters on the team, and that's been a major theme for good Royals pitchers over the years. Everyone remembers Zack Greinke winning the Cy Young in 2009 despite only winning 16 games, but the voters have gotten a little smarter in the last 20 years or so. Looking back at 1993, Kevin Appier was clearly the best pitcher in the AL but totally got hosed on the Cy because Jack McDowell won 22 games.

Because wins are the clearest indicator of pitching ability.

As a matter of fact, if you were to ask me to list my top five favorite Royals players, you may be surprised to find Kevin Appier on that list. My Royals fanaticism was at its peak in the 1990s and Appier was probably the best thing the team had going for most of that decade. I could wax poetically about the man and his amazing pitching (really, he was one of the best starters in the AL for YEARS, though received hardly any recognition for it), but I'll just link to Rany Jazzyjeff's lengthy retrospective from several years back when Ape was on the Hall of Fame ballot and received just one vote.

Rany does a good job discussing Appier in terms of stats and comparing him to other pitchers of his era, but one of the things I loved most about the guy was that he was goofy as hell. He had puffy cheeks and sweated like crazy on the mound. If I was trying to describe how he looked to someone who had never seen him, I'd probably tell the person to imagine Theodore from the Chipmunks as a baseball pitcher.

The late 80s/early 90s Chipmunks, of course. I've never seen any of this Chipwrecked bullshit.

The guy was pretty weird. His main nickname was "Planet" Appier because people thought he acted like an alien. He had several other nicknames as a Royal, including "Moon Man" and "Outer Space Bob."

Once, when things weren't going so well, he took his uniform, hat, cleats, and glove into the showers and set them on fire.  During the strike in 1994, he would practice pitching by throwing against the blade of a bulldozer. He also managed one of the weirdest injuries in Royals history. Nearly all of his 1998 season was wiped out when he was trying to carry a bunch of presents out the door at his sister's baby shower and fell off the porch.

He was pretty mediocre after that, and bounced around after leaving the Royals, but he did manage to win a World Series ring in 2002 with the Angels. He returned to KC for his final season in 2004.

Today, Appier is still a little unusual. He has a large farm outside Paola, Kansas, where he grows corn and soybeans and has a herd of 100 cattle, two camels, and a llama. This is a guy who made about $65 million dollars over the years as a pitcher. And yet, Appier says, "I run cattle through a chute and get poop sprayed in my face."


As a huge Kevin Appier fan, I thought it was time to share with you my favorite baseball cards of him in our continuing series Royals vs. Cards.

1993 Bicycle MLB Aces #10 of ♠:
Appier was fond of rocking the turtleneck (see Theodore Chipmunk above). Here, he kind of looks like what I imagine Chunk from Goonies looks like as an adult.

1997 Topps Finest Bronze Refractor #85:
I've always liked this card because it looks sort of like a Wheaties box, and I like to imagine a cereal called Hurlers that makes you blow chunks.

Though, of course, Hurlers barely compares to the only true cereal that was honest with what it did to your BMs:

Crunchy Loggs: They'll give you a starry-eyed surprise.

1995 Topps League Leaders #50:
Topps Executive #1: I think the backgrounds on our cards have sort of run their course.

Topps Executive #2: What about oil? Like, when you leave a pan of used oil out in the yard for a week or so and it rains and bugs have fallen into it?

Topps Executive #1: Nailed it.

2001 Eugene Emeralds' Greats #1:
According to this artist, Kevin Appier looks like if Casey Affleck and Chris Parnell had a baby and then peed on it.

1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection #48:
Finally, proof that Appier arrived on this planet thousands of years ago in a pyramid-shaped space craft.

Fucking Illuminati.

1997 Bowman's Best Atomic Refractors #49:
Not sure if this is Bowman running with the Planet Appier thing ("Beam me up, Scott Service!"),
or if they honestly thought Disco was due for a comeback. Either way, we get a good look at Ape's taint!

1997 Metal Universe #90:
We've mocked Metal Universe before when they gave Jeff Montgomery a robotic arm.
Here, they've destroyed Appier's guts, groins, and gonads with a bunch of spiked shrapnel.
"Che mala fortuna! Che mala fortuna!"

1997 Donruss King of the Hill #434:
Kevin Appier has propane in his urethra. 

Actually, seeing those words is a bit of an epiphany for me. Kevin Appier isn't Theodore Chipmunk. 
He's King of the Hill! Great, yet completely unappreciated for some reason.

"There's some milk in the fridge about to go bad... And there it goes."

Go Bobby Hill! You're the Best!


  1. What was up with him changing his number from 55 to 17 (or was it the other way around)? And didn't Mac Suzuki do the same thing years later with his Royals uniform number?

  2. Appier was the first Royal to wear 55, then switched to 17 in 1996. Not sure why. You're right about Mac Suzuki doing the same thing. He wore 55 in 1999 and 2000, then switched to 17. Young guys always get the high uni numbers in spring training, then with more clout get to pick, it seems like.

  3. Hank Hill11:42 PM

    The Royals are like a tire fire. Trying to put it out just makes it worse. You just gotta let it burn. Grab a beer, and let it burn.

  4. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Starry eyed surprise? SICK.


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