It’s here. It’s finally here. 182 days have passed since the last regular season Royals game, and those six long months have finally brought us to today: Opening Day.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written here in the last few months, you know I have disagreed with some of the moves the Royals have made. I’ve written about some of the things this organization does that I still don’t love. I’ve talked quite a bit about how I don’t think this Royals team will be good enough to reach the postseason.
But today is Opening Day. And on Opening Day, most of what I’ve written gets thrown out the window. On Opening Day, my baseball-romantic side consumes me. Regardless of the opinions I’ve shared in these pages, I love the Royals more than any other sports team, and on Opening Day, that love takes over.
Today, I’m hoping that all of my predictions about this team’s future are completely wrong. Today, I’m wishing for the kind of magical summer that I’ll never forget, filled with evenings at Kauffman Stadium (as many as I can make, living 3 hours away), surrounded by 35,000 of my closest friends. Today, I’m dreaming of a cool night in September, when the Royals have a chance to secure a playoff berth for the first time in my entire life.
Like many Royals fans, I so badly want this team to be successful. I see the amount of talent on the roster, and I know that this squad has a legitimate shot to make those hopes, wishes, and dreams come true. Kansas City has waited far too long to see the Royals return to the playoffs, and this team has the potential to end that drought. Are they ready?
Is James Shields ready to once again show why the team saw him as such a desirable trade target? Is Mike Moustakas ready to finally step up and produce like we’ve all been expecting? Is Yordano Ventura ready to constantly throw fire and terrify opposing hitters? Are they ready?
How about you? As fans of the Royals, you and I have suffered from decades of generally bad baseball and memories of heartache, but that pain could finally come to an end this year. Are you ready?
Are you ready to pack the house at Kauffman Stadium? Are you ready to drop your jaw when Alcides Escobar ranges deep into the hole to field a ball and throw out a runner? Are you ready to cheer when Eric Hosmer hits a ball into the fountains? Are you ready to cheer even louder when Alex Gordon does this?
Are you ready to lose your Salvy-loving minds when this happens?
And if you let yourself dream a little, are you ready to react to this?
I’ve been saying all offseason that I think this team will fall short of their goal. But for the first time in a long time, you don’t have to squint that hard to see a scenario in which the Royals get to play baseball in mid-October. It’s a long season, of course. Any number of situations could come up that could send this, the most anticipated Royals’ season in recent memory, into any number of directions. Players could get hurt. Players could overrperform. Anything could happen.
And that’s the beauty of Opening Day. Today, anything could happen. Hope springs eternal, as they say, and on this day, for this team, that rings even more true. That first pop of a fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt drowns out all of my issues with the pitching staff, and all of my concerns about the bottom of the lineup, if only for a day. All of my problems fade into the background, becoming nothing more than white noise behind Denny Matthews’ soothing voice. Today, none of those doubts matter.
Today is Opening Day, and today, I’m ready for Royals’ baseball.