Kansas City Royals back among baseball royalty
By David Hill
One of my favorite bands, The Casualties, started their excellent tune “Down and Out” (warning – loud, abrasive punk in the link) with the line of “I’ll tell you a little story A man roaming the streets The one with raggedy clothes The one you ignore to see.” Touchy grammar aside, the song is about a man who was once on top of the world, but everything came crashing down upon him as he lost everything he had. Someone who had been one of us, but is now considered to be nothing.
For years, that was the general story of the Kansas City Royals. For years, they were the model franchise in baseball, a perennial playoff contender that stood toe to toe with the excellent New York Yankees teams of that era. They were a team that, under Ewing Kauffman, did whatever it took to win, not being afraid to spend money and take chances. The Royals were innovative and ahead of their time, helping to transform the way people thought about how to construct a team. The days were very bright indeed.
Then came the downfall. Kauffman, understanding his impending mortality and desperately wanting to bring another playoff team to Kansas City, gutted the Royals farm system. The trust he set up to keep the Royals in Kansas City did nothing. Players like Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran left in free agency or were traded away, often times for prospects that did not pan out. Instead of getting top free agents and being a true destination for players to come to, the Royals signed the likes of Mark Redman, an aging Juan Gonzalez and Jose Lima.
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Now, the Royals are no longer down and out. The cloudy days have brightened, and the constant promise of tomorrow has finally happened. After years of seeing prospects fail, The Process truly came to fruition. Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Greg Holland are on the cusp of stardom. Trades for James Shields, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain, amongst others, paid dividends. It may have taken longer than expected, but the Royals are back!
The great teams of the 1970’s and 1980’s used to be a painful reminder of what the Royals used to be. Now, a new day has dawned, and the Royals are once again in the playoffs. After 29 long years, the great Royals teams of that era have company. After all the pain and misery, the Royals are amongst the top teams in baseball once again. With the tortured past and failure to deliver on their promise, that return feels even better than anyone probably imagined.
Enjoy the ride folks! Maybe last night, we witnessed the beginning of a new chapter in the Kansas City Royals, one that brings them back amongst baseball royalty, where they truly belong.