KC Royals: Back to the Future

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“The Royals Suck!”

What’s surprising is that this is NOT the thought that entered my head when the Royals were blown out 10-3 in Game Two of the series earlier this week against the Indians. The absence of this thought surprised me, in retrospect.

That’s when I realized a profound transformation had taken place. My mind – heck, I’ll even give a shout-out to Mendel here, every molecule of my body – is so acclimated to rooting for a loser. “The Royals Suck” should have been my reaction.

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After all, it’s early May, right? With a handful of exceptions in the past 30 seasons, the KC faithful have been relegated to looking forward to the trade deadline (or maybe the All-Star break) for a modicum of excitement at this point.

But here’s the thing: In that game against the Indians, the Royals were down 4-0 before they got out of the second inning. Danny Duffy looked like Daisy Duck on the mound. He was pulled from the game after one-plus. Then, when they were down 5-0 in the fifth, I heard myself saying to my wife, “Five runs is nothing for this team. If the bullpen can stop the Indians’ bats, we can do this!”

And voila! Heading into the seventh inning, KC had closed the gap to just a 2-run deficit. Of course, the Indians ended up blowing the game open after Franklin Morales came to the mound.

A light clicked in my head: An opposing team had to jump to a 6-run lead late in the game before I was willing to admit likely defeat. That is a reflection of a complete franchise turnaround, from the front office to the field to the fans. These days are more like the golden age of Royals baseball, from the late-70s through the 80s.

Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals came back in the final game of the series and didn’t disappoint those who stuck around after a 2-hour rain delay dampened the spirit of School Day at the K.

So when our Boys in Blue committed three errors last night – including one by Yohan Pino that allowed the Tigers to win Game One of an important early-season series in the bottom of the ninth – I was upset, sure. But I thought, “Meh … it’s gonna happen.” (Last night’s loss truly should have worn the Royal Blue sheen off of my shiny optimism, because in most defensive metrics, the Royals lead the league. The best defensive team simply shouldn’t lose due to errors, dammit.)

As if to prove the point that, indeed, they are in this thing for the long-haul, Kansas City came out swinging, literally, in Game Two today. Alcides Escobar led off the game with a home run (his first of the year) on the very first pitch. Lorenzo Cain followed with a single and Eric Hosmer doubled Cain home. The Royals ended up scoring in each of the first four innings. And Jeremy Guthrie turned in his best start of the year – providing much-needed relief for the Royals bullpen. Guthrie gave up two runs and looked strong until the eighth inning, when Luke Hochevar took over.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to follow the Royals’ lead on this and not let the occasional letdown spiral into a Blue funk. (By the way, did you know the Royals haven’t lost more than two games in a row yet this year? And that is with a plethora of suspensions and injuries in the first five weeks of the season.) Like many of you, I have been waiting three decades for a team like this.

So sure – I get a little jittery when I think to the future … and how long we might have to wait again. But that’s a problem for the future. And, as Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Our future is right now. With today’s win, our Kansas City Royals lead the AL Central. We step back onto the national stage again tomorrow night on ESPN when we try to win this series … and we all know how well these guys like to play in the national spotlight.

KC Royals Win the Series looks like a great headline to me!

Next: KC Royals Short Handed Going into Tigers Series

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