Kansas City Royals Need to Refocus on the Task at Hand


It is difficult to imagine a three-game series any more chaotic and confusing than the one that just concluded this weekend between the Kansas City Royals and the Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

Depending on how we choose to spin it, the blame for the extra-curricular activities that took place on Sunday afternoon can be assigned to any number of players (Scott Kazmir, anyone?). And though the temptation is great, we need not concern ourselves with analyzing the motivations or actions of the team from Oakland because the A’s are out of sight and mind until June and the Royals have their own issues to work out. As perhaps the most clear (and positive) indicator of how far this organization has come, the kinks that the Royals need to unravel have nothing to do with talent on the baseball field and instead has everything to do with their emotional and mental state.

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For the first time since  before the 2014 All-Star break, the Royals demonstrated a noticeable lapse in focus and allowed their emotions to get the better of them. While they did take two out of three from Oakland the priority for the Royals seemed to be revenge, instead of winning. This lapse in focus was bound to happen at some point.  The length of the baseball season does not translate well to players (and coaches) maintaining a laser-like focus that fans tend to expect.  This is true under any circumstances, but for the Royals, they have the added burden of learning that there is a vast difference between being lovable upstarts giving Major League Baseball an October surprise and being the defending American League champions who will take the best (and occasionally cheap) shot of every other team in the league.

As we have already seen in these first thirteen games, opposing teams will not hesitate to play a little dirty as they attempt to steal the moxie of a Royals team that has finally come into its own as it realizes how good they actually are. Perhaps the greatest test the Royals will receive this season as they seek to defend their American League championship will be in determining if they have the mental and emotional fortitude to stay above the messiness and keep their eyes on the prize.

Up until Sunday afternoon, the Royals had been passing that test with flying colors, but then in front of the highest rated regular season broadcast on Fox Sports Kansas City they slipped a little as they allowed their emotions to boil over and the A’s to drag them into the muck and mire. The Royals are fortunate that they emerged (relatively) unscathed and with series victory.

So now that the chaos of this weekend is behind them, the Kansas City Royals have turned their attention to the Minnesota Twins.  These next few games have the potential to be exactly what the Royals need as they attempt to re-focus and dig in. Here in the still very early going of the 2015 season the Royals have an opportunity to hit the reset button and refocus their priorities on collecting victories and turning the AL Central into a two-team race.   The Royals now hold a five game lead over the Twins and they have an opportunity over these next couple of days to really create some separation between themselves and the other AL Central teams not from the Motor City.

While it is hazardous to put too much emphasis on any particular series that is played in April, this is an important three games for the Royals. It will be interesting to discover how the Royals respond to the emotional and physical toll that was expended in the series against Oakland.  There are several questions that must be asked and how they are answered will go a long way in evaluating the backbone and make-up of this no-longer-young ballclub.

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Will they be ready to play and will they have the motivation and the will to come out and take care of business against a team that they are more than capable of beating? Early returns are encouraging after Monday evening’s solid and much more family-friendly victory.  Will  Colon, Orlando (and his 5 Triples), and Davis be able to continue to compensate for the losses of Infante, Rios, and Holland?  Finally, will Ned Yost be able to keep his own emotions in check if/when another Royals batter takes a fastball off the ribs?

The Boys in Blue are a more talented team than Minnesota and there is no reason to doubt that they can and probably should win this series.  Because the Twins do not have the talent to match up with the Royals (or the rest of the AL Central) it would not be surprising if they take page out of Oakland’s playbook and try to coax Kansas City into some more shenanigans.

It is imperative that the Royals do not allow that to happen.

Next: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland A's Series Rewind