Eric Hosmer's season long slump is another reason the Royals season has gone off the rails. (Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE)

When Did the Royals 2012 Season Go Off the Rails?

For true fans, no matter how pathetic your team may be, whether you’ve suffered through multiple consecutive decades of losing seasons and playoff droughts, your high draft picks never pan out and your team has become the laughingstock for late night talk show hosts; the moment the season ends you’ll still feel that “we’ll get ‘em next year!” attitude.  Just ask fans of the Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Lions, the Los Angeles Clippers, and of course, the Kansas City Royals.

Hope springs eternal.  In the chest of all long suffering fans beats an optimistic heart, one that yearns for his or her team to succeed and looks forward to the day when they can celebrate the same championship they’ve watched others enjoy for years.  Occasionally, there will be substance behind the hope and evidence that this year could be different, this could be the year we finally break through.

As you know, this season was “Our Time” and many of us believed 2012 would mark a turning point toward respectability.  Many of the talented young players we’ve watched growing up in the best farm system in baseball were finally arriving in the major leagues and Dayton Moore’s plan was coming together.  If you’ll admit it, I bet you were thinking the Royals would play well this year.  Few of us believed they were playoff bound in 2012, but almost all of us were confident other teams would not be looking past KC this season.

Then something happened.  I’m not sure if any of us know exactly what happened, but something happened.  The Royals play in a weak division which allowed them to remain competitive with a mediocre record and this motivated us to hold onto hope.  But now, only the most die-hard fan still believes the Royals have a shot at the playoffs.  Oh yes, we all still root for them and cheer them on and sit on the edge of our seats shouting for another victory…  but we’ve become realists and we know we won’t be watching the boys in blue this October.  Again.

When did this happen?  When exactly did the Royals 2012 season go off the rails?  If could have been at any one of many twists and turns in the road, and each of us might point toward a different event that caused it.  Here are a few candidates for the prime pothole that caused the Royals train to jump the track:

Pick a Date:  Injuries – There have been so many devastating injuries that have impacted the Royals that I can’t select one date.  At the major league level, the Royals lost Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain for approximately the first half of the season.  Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, and Joakim Soria have undergone Tommy John surgery.  Yuniesky Betancourt and Chris Getz have been on-again and off-again with various injuries.  Other Royals have likely played hurt because the team couldn’t afford to lose another player.  Is it possible that one of these injuries could have cut the cord on the Royals’ season?

March 26:  Part of the excitement about 2012 surrounded the youth movement in KC.   The decision to leave Johnny Giavotella in Omaha and play a platoon of Yuniesky Betancourt and Chris Getz probably wasn’t the key factor that derailed the Royals season, but I would say it was a telling sign of things to come and questionable decisions that would be made by the Royals brass.

Jonathan Broxton's April 11 meltdown is one of the candidates when looking for the reason the Royals season has gone off the rails. (Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE)

April 11:  Broxton’s first meltdown, and it was a classic.  Two walks, two hit-by-pitches, two runs scored, Broxton’s first blown save of the year, and the A’s didn’t even need a hit.  This was the first real splash of cold water I experienced following an off-season and Spring filled with hope and expectation.

April 14:  Chris Perez’s Twitter rant and victory over the Royals following an onfield melee.  I believe Perez’s tweet somehow motivated the Indians and demotivated the Royals.  This was just the 3rd loss in the 12 consecutive loss streak and we all discovered the Royals were apparently a fragile team.  I work with an Indian fan and wow is it annoying when he defends Chris Perez, aka one of the biggest jerks in professional sports.  Here’s what Perez said on Twitter on April 14:

@chrisperez54 Huge team win tonight; time for a sweep to tell the Royals it’s not “Our Time”, it’s#TribeTime. P.S. You hit us, we hit you. Period.

April 24:  The 12th loss of the 12 game losing streak occurred on April 24.  Many fans will point to this streak and complain that the Royals season ended almost before it began.  I have a difficult time arguing against this rather valid point, but still, the Royals fought back to within 4 games by the halfway mark, so I don’t think the streak completely derailed the season, but it certainly threw a gigantic roadblock in the way.

May 16:  Hosmer was under the Mendoza line almost by the time the first week of the season ended.  But most of us thought it was just a rough patch and he would pull out of it by mid-April.  Then we thought he’d be ok by early May, and then we thought for sure by the end of May he’d be swinging the bat well.  We were wrong.  On May 16 in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles, Hosmer walked to the plate 7 times and came away with zero hits, ending the game with a .174 average.  Yost took him out of the lineup the next two days.  By this time, we all knew Hosmer’s slump had become more than just a run of bad luck, and more importantly Ned Yost knew it too.  If any of your players goes through a prolonged slump, it negatively affects the team.  But if the team’s presumed star goes through a slump that so far has lasted for more than half the season, it’s extremely difficult for the team to overcome and could be a cause for that team’s playoff hopes to go off the rails.

June 30:  The Royals had climbed to within 4 games of .500 and were starting to open some eyes across the league.  Then without warning… THUD.  The worst team in baseball, the Minnesota Twins, took both games of a doubleheader from the Royals, and the team hasn’t sniffed .500 ever since.

July 2:  Robinson Cano omits Billy Butler from the home run derby.  I realize that this decision by the liar Cano has nothing to do with the Royals on-field performance, but it says everything about the respect we have across the league – none.  And occasionally, lack of respect can affect your psyche, which impacts your performance, etc., etc.

Which incident do you say was the cause of the Royals season to derail, or do you point to a different event, or a combination of events?  I suppose there are still many games to play during the long baseball season, and as they say, “it’s not over ‘till it’s over.”  But no matter what happens, I know “the Royals will get ‘em next year!”

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Billy Butler Chris Getz Chris Perez Danny Duffy Eric Hosmer Felipe Paulino Joakim Soria Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Lorenzo Cain MLB Ned Yost Robinson Cano Royals Salvador Perez

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