Well, I tried to be patient. There was a time when this team was .500 & heading back to Kansas City for the Home Opener. Fans were a bit disappointed, thinking the Royals should have been 4-2 or even 5-1. They had just let a couple of one run games in Oakland “slip away”. They were coming home to a city that was so pumped full of anticipation that they did not see that the West Coast losses were a precursor of things to come.
We also did not expect to see a winless homestand. But, it is reality. Here we are, just 18 days into the 2012 season and the team has not won a game in 13 days. The Royals have not won a home game, they’re riding a 10 game losing streak, and they look both dazed AND confused.
So, I’m officially petitioning the commissioner’s office for a Do-Over.
I feel like we’ve earned it. You know the rule that applied when you were a kid and things just didn’t go the way you wanted them to at the beginning. You know how easy it was to hit the Reset button on the Nintendo and just start all over again. That’s what we need.
The beginning of this season has hit the city like a ton of on-deck donuts. Perhaps we all built it up too much. Perhaps we all just got a little bit too excited. Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched the gruff confidence of so many young players leak like helium out of an open ended balloon. It’s not that the Royals have never had a 10 game losing streak before. Though, you’d have to go back to 2009 to see the last time it happened. The biggest difference is that losing streak was nestled in the middle of July, when the team was already 11 games under .500. The past two years, the Royals have not lost more than 7 games in a row. Hardly anything to brag about, but better than in recent memory.
The 10 game streak has not been a nightly beat-down. Rather, these games have been frustratingly close. The Royals have held leads. They’ve scored first. They’ve rallied from behind. They’ve had opportunities to tie or win games. But they just have not been able to get it done. The bullpen has been tragic, but they’ve been having to pick up the slack from sub-par starting pitching. Even on nights where the starter fares well he’s only going 5-6 innings, which is not enough. Your bullpen should not have to work that hard. Offensively, it seems to be a different lineup every night, which is why a lot of the blame has fallen into manager Ned Yost’s lap. Thoughts are that he’s tinkering too much from day to day. There have been multiple bench-clearing altercations, a walk-off HBP, and baserunning gaffes galore.
A do-over would give everyone a chance to clear their head & try again.
Naturally, there would be those who would oppose the do-over. The Texas Rangers, for example, are hot out of the gate & Josh Hamilton looks like he might be the best player in the game. They surely wouldn’t want to give up their 13-3 start. Phil Humber threw a perfect game for the White Sox over the weekend. He’d never give that up. Guys like David Ortiz & Derek Jeter are playing like it’s 2006 again. Who knows what would happen if they succumbed to a do-over? Good luck telling the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals that they’d have to scrap their fast starts & possibly go back to their basement-dwelling ways.
However, the Royals would get some support in this idea. I think that Ozzie Guillen might be the first in line for a do-over. Albert Pujols & Bobby Valentine would be fighting for a spot right behind him. Their respective teams would both be on board – they’re a combined 10-20 on the year. Fenway Park would be ok with another chance to celebrate its 100th anniversary. They got swept by their most-hated rival in a very embarrassing fashion. Personally, after visiting brand new Marlins Park in Miami, I think that whole stadium could use a do-over. Then again, maybe it’s just because of the closed roof and overuse of neon green.
If this petition got any movement, would there be any dissention within the Royals clubhouse? You know that Joakim Soria, Sal Perez, & Lorenzo Cain would be happy to go back to being injury free, and you know that Eric Hosmer & Alex Gordon would prefer to be hitting over .200. The entire pitching staff would be on board. However, what about Yuniesky Betancourt? He’s somehow found himself as the starting second baseman and leadoff hitter. He’s got the club’s best average and has only made one error so far. Billy Butler is hitting well & may not want to start over at .000. And what about notorious slow starter Mike Moustakas?. He’s looked pretty good through the first 15 games, and at .269, is hitting well above his typical early season average. Would their personal success be enough to overshadow their failures as a team? I’d like to think not. Hopefully Frenchy can rally the troops to form a unified front.
In a perfect world, it would be that easy. In a normal world, the Royals would just turn to their stopper. The guy who can put the team on his back and make the losing stop. The problem is that the Royals simply don’t have that guy. They have guys who want to be that guy or are sometimes that guy, but they aren’t that guy every time out. Those guys are rare, but it seems that most teams have one. Good teams have two or three and they’re almost always in the form of a dominating starting pitcher. Kansas City traded away their last one to Milwaukee. When that guy pitches, it’s not a guaranteed win, but it’s a guaranteed chance to win.
Back in 2005, the Houston Astros got off to a bad start. On May 24th, the team was 15-34 & the Houston Chronicle printed a full-page obituary proclaiming that the season was dead. They rallied, and despite the odds, stormed back into the race and went all the way to the World Series. They, however, had a pitching rotation that included Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens. Not a bad trio to mount a comeback with.
That year, Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg said, “You can only get better when you’re terrible.”
The Royals need to have their own personal do-over starting today. Commissioner Selig would surely laugh at the formal request, so I’ll save it. All the Royals can do is clear the slate and win today. The losing streak does not matter, today’s game matters. And if they can win one before hitting the road again, it will help cleanse the awful taste that every Royals fan has in their mouth right now. It will salvage those who haven’t fully jumped off the “Our Time” bandwagon. It will give the team some of that swagger back before getting out of KC for a while.
The season is NOT lost. I’m not ready to start talking about next year yet. They’ve played 15 games out of 162 – that’s less than a tenth of the season. The answer is not to start firing managers, GMs, batboys, or coaches. The answer is not to start dumping players or flipping lineups. Just win today. The rest will fix itself and the do-over will not be necessary after all.