This Game’s Fun. Okay?

How the mighty have fallen into the humorless trap. We're not sure when this crept into baseball's voluminous and dubious unwritten rules, but now, apparently, it's a crime against nature for a rebuilding team to — wait for it! — have fun playing the game.

Or, as Yahoo! Sports's Blake Schuster writes, "What is it about winning a World Series — or even a playoff series — that turns such expressive ballplayers into MLB's Fun Police?" He has in mind the rebuilding Kansas City Royals; or, at least, their catcher, Salvador Perez, who thinks the rebuilding White Sox haven't earned the right to have fun on the field or at the plate.

The Royals got pasted 8-0 by the White Sox last Saturday, in game one of a doubleheader. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson opened the game with a home run and "pimped" the blast. Anderson ran the bases hollering, "[Euphemism for 'fornicate'] let's go!"

Perez was distinctly unamused when Anderson crossed the plate to complete the circuit. So much so that, a little later in the game, when Perez was on second, he still couldn't resist. White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing — the White Sox's acting manager, with incumbent Rick Renteria absent to attend his mother's funeral — had to step between the two as Perez started barking like a self-assigned cop threatening to bust a birthday party in the park, and the benches emptied.

"Anderson don't even play a [fornicating] playoff game," fumed Perez to the Kansas City Star after the game. "He don't know about getting excited or not. He gotta be in the playoffs to be excited, like us. We got a World Series. That's the second time so I said something to him."

He don't know about getting excited or not?

After lecturing hard-throwing, air-headed bonus boy Nuke LaLoosh about strikeouts and the actual intentions of his cougar paramour, Crash Davis in Bull Durham hollers to the infielders as well as LaLoosh, "So relax, let's have some fun out here, this game's fun, ok?" Perez would probably answer, "You gotta be in the playoffs." Then call for a knockdown pitch the next time Davis comes to the plate.

The Royals themselves were one of baseball's randiest teams when crawling their way back to a pair of postseasons that ended in one arduous World Series loss (to the San Francisco Bumgarners in 2014) and one World Series win (to a Mets team whose porous defense handed the Royals a Series the Mets could easily have won, in 2015). They often crossed the line into obnoxious, especially when starting delayed beanball wars.

But I don't remember anyone going out of their way to mock them for having fun, which they obviously had. Perez was one of the chief fun-lovers. That, apparently, was then; this, apparently, is now. "The hypocrisy," writes Schuster, "would be depressing if it weren't so laughable. That Perez even felt the need to say something else to Anderson while on second base later in the game, let alone cause the benches to clear, is the height of baseball's cognitive dissonance."

And let's quit kidding, shall we? There are too many self-appointed baseball enforcers who think you gotta not be excited even when you're in the postseason. Just ask Jose Bautista, now trying for a revival with the Braves but once upon a time a Blue Jay bombardier who steamed the Rangers in the 2015 American League division series.

Bautista flipped his bat rather artistically after he hit the mammoth home run that sent the Jays to that year's American League Championship Series. The Rangers waited until Bautista's final possible plate appearance in their final regular season game with the Jays in ... mid-May 2016. Then, reliever Matt Bush drilled Bautista with a pitch.

The only thing that should have shocked anyone from there was Bautista's unamusement, which led to him plowing Rougned Odor on a subsequent play at second, which led to Odor shoving and punching Bautista, triggering a bench clearing brawl. On the other hand, nobody would have expected Odor to throw wild on a sure double play ball that allowed Mitch Moreland to score the 2016 division series-winning run. Karma, anyone?

Perez ought to beware of it. The only things keeping the rebuilding White Sox from the American League Central basement at this writing are the Royals.

And if the Royals thought they'd put targets on their own backs for being a little on the reckless side in 2014-15, wait until they have targets on their backs now for behaving like jerks over someone else having — God help us — fun playing baseball.

Perez doesn't exactly have an ally in his own skipper regarding the Anderson incident. "Back in my day," said Royals manager Ned Yost, "we had fun, but the fun we had was after the game in the bar. These guys have fun on the field. It's a different generation. I'm all for it. I like having fun."

Allow that this year's Royals aren't the same gathering who won it all in 2015 and had two other tries in 2014 and 2016. And they have 12 more games to play against the White Sox before this season's done. Yost might want to consider reminding Perez and any remaining mates from those magnificent seasons what you resemble when you can dish it out but you can't take it.

The only surprise, then, in Sunday's 5-4 win over the White Sox, just might have been that Perez — who went 2-for-5 with a run scored on the day — didn't have to duck to avoid a knockdown pitch. But then having won five of their first seven skirmishes this season, maybe the White Sox simply refused to stoop to the Royals' level.

Let 'em have their fun. This game's fun. Okay?

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