The Kansas City Royals Have Arrived


Sep 26, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson (top) jumps on top of the pile of his teammates to celebrate after defeating the Chicago White Sox to clinch a American League wild card playoff berth at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a feel-good story 29 years in the making. For the first time since October 27, 1985, the Kansas City Royals will return to the postseason to play with the best again and try to bring home another trophy to sit next to the fabled and lonely one earned so dramatically and improbably in 1985. Finally, after waiting for so long, it’s our time. It’s no longer just a slogan, it’s a fact. The Royals are a playoff team once again.

When such wondrous things happen, it’s natural to reflect on how it feels, the journey taken to get here. It’s been a long one, but we are finally here. Today is my 33rd birthday. I was four the last time the Royals were in the playoffs. My brother was only one. All we have to attach ourselves to the glory years are old photos of the two of us posed together in our World Champs three-quarter sleeve shirts. I wish we had one just like them that still fit, but we do have an old powder blue jersey that says 1985 World Champions that kind of fits. For my brother, for me, this is all we have to serve as memories of when the Royals were good, when they were the best in baseball.

Since then, being a Royals fan has been hard. I stuck around, full time, until the strike. After the strike-shortened season and thinking Bob “The Hammer” Hamelin was something, I started drifting away. I checked in from time to time through my teens, but the Royals were bad, really bad. The Chiefs were good enough over that time, so I became more of a football fan. Then, during college, I had books to read and papers to write, and I eventually lost touch with sports all together. It may have been for the best, considering just how bad the Royals were during that time.

Then after grad school, I kept hearing rumors of how good the farm system was becoming. I started checking in again, hoping for something good. In the spring of 2009, my grad school advisor lost his battle with cancer, and I only then found out how much he loved baseball. In his memory, I decided it was time to get back into the game more. My brother and I bonded even more over our hope for the Royals’ future, watching prospects develop and come up while suffering through Luke Hochevar posting terrible performances. Then Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Salvador Perez came up. The future was nigh, but we just couldn’t seem to round the corner.

The actual time for our ascension back into the baseball elite, the playoff-bound, kept getting pushed back. It was 2012, then 2013, and finally Our Time was rumored to be 2014. The Royals embarked on a wild roller coaster ride of a season this year. The Boys in Blue started slow, then heated up, then it cooled again, and then, miraculously, it heated up again as the Royals took the AL Central lead for 32 glorious days. The Royals cooled again, but this time they held on, keeping it close and holding on to a Wild Card spot. Within a half game of Detroit entering what was touted as the biggest series since 1985, the Royals fell flat, and their hopes at the Division crown started slipping away. The team, though, remained undaunted, then taking two of three from the Indians and another from the White Sox. Then last night happened.

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Last night the Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. In a night that was supposed to be about Paul Konerko, the Royals stole the spotlight and made it about remembering a different past. Instead of the game remembering Konerko’s career, the game remembered all of the long years of bad baseball and suffering in Kansas City. The game remembered a dream constantly deferred. Jeremy Guthrie pitched seven scoreless innings, before the White Sox scored a lone, rare run off of Wade Davis before The Wade Davis Experience struck out the side. With the score at 3-1, Dirty South, Greg Holland, came on to seal the deal and punch the first postseason ticket for the team in nearly three decades. The honored Konerko lined out to Alex Gordon. Then Holland took Jordan Danks out on strikes. With one out to go, all of Kansas City was in slow-mo. The first pitch to Michael Taylor is popped up, and it felt like it soared all the way to the stratosphere before coming back down and landing in Perez’s mitt for the out. Royals win. History made.

With that one pitch and the ensuing pop up, the Royals have begun a new chapter, a new history. All of the years of shame and suffering have ended, and the Kansas City Royals, take it in slowly and bask in it, are in the playoffs. No longer will any of us be the butt of jokes. No longer will the Royals be a joke in the baseball community. We have not just made it, for that would signal making it was the only goal. We have arrived. The Royals have arrived to claim their baseball destiny, to mold their own history, and establish new glory.

The specifics of how the Royals’ first postseason appearance since the Reagan administration will unfold is yet to be seen. We have our ticket, but we don’t know what it’s good for yet. We could host Oakland or we could visit Oakland or we could host Seattle for a wild card playoff. With some help from the Twins, we could force game 163, and battle the mighty Tigers for what they have too long held: the AL Central crown. With some amazing help from the Twins, we could even win the crown outright, but my hope, my dream, is that we force game 163. The movie that is the 2014 Royals season deserves that ending, taking on the crown and winning in feel-good fashion. Royals wear crowns, and we still have hope of wearing one once again.

No matter the outcome of the final two games, we have witnessed the achievement of more than any Royals fan since 1985. For that, we should be proud. This, I hope, is only the beginning, though; the first of many playoff appearances and the first of many runs to add to Royals’ history, Royals’ glory, and the Royals’ trophy case. We are, perhaps, closer to a World Champions parade through Kansas City than we realize, but it all started with last night, with getting a nearly 30-year old monkey off our backs.

No matter the outcome, the Royals have arrived and will now fight for our right to be recognized and considered among the best in baseball once again. We trusted in The Process, and we are here, in our first, but not last, playoff baseball game in a generation. The Royals are finally relevant again. The Royals are finally a source of pride again. This is Our Time, and this is our team. Sit back, soak it all in, and enjoy it. It’s been a long time coming, and now that we are here, let’s bask in the newfound glory of Royals baseball. We deserve it.