April is upon us and that means the return of Major League Baseball. To preview the new season, Billboard.com spoke to a panel of baseball fans from around the music world for a team-by-team preview of their favorite squads.
The musician: Jim Suptic is a guitarist and part-time songwriter and vocalist in the seminal Kansas City-based emo band the Get Up Kids. He sings lead on some of their most beloved songs, like “Ten Minutes” and “Campfire Kansas.” Suptic tells Billboard the group is considering a 20th anniversary world tour before making the band more of a part-time endeavor, as he’ll soon be completing his degree in geology.
The team: The Royals won the World Series in 1985… and haven’t been back to the playoffs since. After years of irrelevance, they finally showed signs of life in 2013, winning 86 games for their best finish in 23 years. They’re not likely to catch the division favorite Tigers, but a wild card spot in the American League isn’t out of the question. The Royals have a bunch of good bats, a great bullpen and if their rotation overachieves they can do even better than last year.
Have people in Kansas City been a lot more enthusiastic since the success the Royals had last year?
Jim Suptic: For sure. Kansas City has a super strong fan base. I think some people think we’re fair weather fans but our team has been bad for so long that it’s kind of hard to get excited. We had a winning season last year and that was a huge thing.
I’m 36 and I grew up in the early 80s in Kansas City, so I actually watched the Royals win the World Series when I was a little kid. And I saw Bo Jackson and George Brett play, so I remember the Royals actually having success. The millennials, all they’ve ever known is the Royals being terrible. So it’s hard to get them excited about the team when they literally have never seen them even make the postseason.
Previously in this series:
Dropkick Murphys Talk Boston Red Sox
Hold Steady & Baseball Project Talk Minnesota Twins
Jimmy Eat World Talk Arizona Diamondbacks
Yo La Tengo & So So Glos Talk New York Mets
New Found Glory Talks Miami Marlins
Asher Roth Talks Philadelphia Phillies
Asher Roth and the Baseball Project Talk San Francisco Giants
Joan Jett Talks Baltimore Orioles
Pete Wentz & The Mountain Goats Talk Chicago Cubs
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Talks Atlanta Braves
David Nail Talks St. Louis Cardinals
City and Colour Talks Toronto Blue Jays
What do you think it will take for the Royals to make the playoffs this year?
JS: We’ve lost some pitching. We lost one of our pitchers; Luke Hochevar got injured. If our pitching goes well then I think they will make the playoffs, cause I think our offense is there and it’s like there’s this little hump and things are maturing some. Like, so many of our games we lost last year were one-run games… If they don’t make the playoffs this year I think for the first time people truly are going to be bummed out, where before people just expected them not to make the playoffs. So much is all based on who you are playing. If the White Sox end up being really good and then Cleveland turns out to be really good, then the Royals are going to be in a lot of trouble because you play half your games in your own division. And of course we’re competing against in Detroit, who has a baseball player who makes $50,000 every time he walks up to bat.
(Ace pitcher) James Shields is probably leaving as a free agent after this year, so there’s urgency there, too.
JS: If he walks out I can’t blame him, but it’s also what our team is willing to pay. I wish our owner would realize that the more the Royals win, the more people are going to come to the games and the more money he’s going to make. And I feel like they sort of spend the least amount of money possible; they look at the numbers and try to figure out the smallest about of money they can spend to make money, instead of just caring about baseball. Maybe if they cared more about winning baseball games they would be making more money but that’s the way it goes when you have a million-person metropolitan area compared to New York City or Chicago.
Is anybody in else in the Get Up Kids into baseball?
JS: Well, Matt Pryor, our singer, is not that into baseball but it’s ironic because his father — he’s retired now — his last job was as a lawyer for the Major League Baseball Players Association, for like 15 years. So he would always get free tickets to All-Star Games and Matt would never want to go but his brother did and he liked the game, but Matt, he always hated baseball, so it’s pretty funny.
And his dad was probably fighting for higher player salaries.
JS: That’s exactly what he was doing. It was just funny because he lives in New York now but he grew up in Kansas City and that really hurt the small market teams, so yeah. Actually the Pope brothers (drummer and bassist) are big baseball fans. We did a tour like three summers ago with Saves the Day. We were in a van on that tour so we’d go off the beaten path and we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame which was pretty awesome. It was funny because they have all the different teams and the memorabilia and you get to the Royals and there’s only one player in the Baseball Hall of Fame, George Brett. So you have this Yankees wall which is like thirty feet of memorabilia and then you have the Royals with just this two-foot-wide window. But hey, it was cool. I got my picture with the George Brett jersey.
Check back on Billboard.com tomorrow when Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge previews the Los Angeles Angels