On Thursday, the Royals were off and things were good. A sweep of Milwaukee and road series wins at St. Louis and Houston brought the Royals into a big weekend series against the visiting Cardinals.
The Royals were five games under and a few good breaks and a big streak away from maybe, perhaps, possibly being in contention for a playoff spot or the division crown. Discussion online in forums and on Twitter turned to what pitchers might be available to make a run today. Salvador Perez was set to return to the lineup, finally uniting the team’s pitching staff with its franchise catcher after surgery stole half the year from him.
But as Royals fans, we just can’t have nice things. Maybe there’s some kind of curse where we sold our souls for a break in the form of a Don Denkinger miscall in 1985 and now must suffer with losing seasons and an embarrassing team home run record.
The weekend was hot. The Cardinals left the series even hotter after no pitcher was safe from their bats. Roman Colon was a standout performer in his long relief outing after Vin Mazzaro left on Friday. He’s now back in Triple A after clearing waivers.
Some bats warmed up. Jeff Francoeur hit his second extra base hit of the month – a homer to left – and Mike Moustakas homered twice (and he kind of homered three times as his first homer came after a blast that just went foul).
It just wasn’t enough. Their eight runs on Sunday would have been good enough to tie the Cardinals low mark during the series and after seeing 30 runs go up in three games, fans were ready to storm the castle with familiar calls pleading for David Glass to sell the team and for Dayton Moore to leave town.
It’s that quick. Fans are hungry for a winner, yet won’t go out to the stadium to watch their team while they’re starting to win so the opposing team’s fans get what amounts to three more home games. Add in the heat in the area and people get grouchy. It’s a situation that tests patience. Year after year, we hope and year after year we wait. I get the frustration because I feel it myself. It makes it difficult to keep a level head and prevent myself from calling to blow it all up and start over. Small things get embellished (like one bad inning being a judgment of Aaron Crow‘s ability to be a star reliever) and circumstances get overlooked (like the Royals being anywhere in the discussion despite having absolutely terrible starting pitching – and also fighting injuries).
I try not to be an apologist too often. I think there is a spot where you can be critical of your team, but the line is very thin until you’ve crossed over into outright negativity. It’s fine to be the boy in the crowd saying that the Emperor is wearing no clothes; it’s another thing to bludgeon the Emperor to death just to show you can.
It’s just funny to see so many fans ready to jump on and sell the farm to get some pieces and three days later be ready to give it all up and say it’s the “same old Royals”. I get it if you’re talking about a tough loss in a football season where there are only so many games and a bad loss or two can sink your season but in baseball, the schedule is laid out over so many games that these swings still surprise me. I wonder what the reactions will be after small moments that don’t go right during a pennant race and not when the team is fighting to just to get out of fourth place.
I guess it’s part of what comes with an engaged and passionate fan base, and to be a Royals fan, after all these years, you’d have to be dedicated in that way. There aren’t a lot of bandwagon Royals fans.
There will be other good stretches for the Royals and other bad stretches. The low point, of course, was the 12 game losing streak, but this Cardinals series was just as miserable, if not more, as the Indians series to open the home schedule because of the Cardinal contingent in the city.
When the stakes are high, the good is very good, the bad is very bad. Maybe as the wins start to increase and we expect to see wins and thus each victory isn’t a dire necessity, lest a collapse follow.
I don’t know the answer to these questions and there may not be any to be found, either. It’s the nature of fandom. It’s why we follow along.