This one hurts.

I tried to write the day it happened. I couldn’t write anything that made any sense. Mostly I sat and stared. I told myself when the Royals made the Wild Card, I’d be happy with whatever happened, because it was postseason baseball for the first time in 29 years.

But as they kept hanging on and steamrolling opponents, I got greedy. And it’s hard to feel guilty for getting greedy. Because I don’t know when this will happen again. Read more

Off to the World Series.

Years ago, probably sometime in 2009 or 2010, a coworker asked me when the Royals would be good again. I estimated 2014, based on the age of the serviceable young players they had at the time and the age of the prospects they had in their farm system.

By 2014, I estimated that Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer would all be productive major league players, and that would give them a chance. A whole lot of other things would have to go right though, and the window of opportunity would be short, because modern economics wouldn’t permit the Royals to keep all four of them together as long as the Royals of yore kept George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae and Willie Wilson together.

Objectively, it sounded plausible. But did I believe it? Not really. I’d been denied too many times. Read more

The meaning of “That’s what speed do.”

You’re probably hearing Royals fans say, “That’s what speed do” a lot. With games on the line, they tend to slap the ball, get on base however they can, and score however they can, and that’s what the line refers to.

The origin was a game on July 27, 2013. Jarrod Dyson led off the 12th inning with a ground ball to Gordon Beckham, who bobbled the ball. The scorekeeper credited Dyson with a controversial single.

“That’s a single,” Dyson insisted after the game. “That’s a tough play. That’s what speed do. If you can’t handle the ball, put it back in the glove.”

Dyson knows speed. He once tagged up and scored the game winning run on a popup to shortstop.

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What it was like being a Royals fan from 1986-2013

If there’s one thing I’ve heard this week, it’s that people can’t imagine what it’s like being a Royals fan through their 29-year drought without playing in a postseason. I can tell you what it’s like. We’ve had some highlights, but mostly we’ve put up with endless parades of really bad players and really bad managers.

Those of you who enjoy looking at gruesome things, keep reading. These are the players we’ve spent 2.9 decades trying to forget. But keep this in mind: My hair started going prematurely gray in 1986, the same year Dick Howser died and the Royals started fading.

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Robinson Cano: “The fans don’t understand.”

When Robinson Cano infamously left Billy Butler, the Kansas City Royals representative off the Home Run Derby team at the All-Star Game last summer in Kansas City, (who Butler is and who he plays for is important here), Royals fans booed him mercilessly.

And all he’s been saying since is that Kansas City doesn’t understand.

Fine. Let’s talk about what Kansas City does understand. Because Kansas City understands a lot.

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The re-segregation of baseball

The Kansas City Star had a piece today about the sharp decline in the number of African-Americans playing baseball. Of course, when I grew up, the Royals relied heavily on African-Americans. George Brett was the star, but without Willie Wilson and Frank White hitting ahead of him and Hal McRae and Willie Aikens or John Mayberry hitting behind him, opposing pitchers would have never thrown Brett a hittable pitch.

Today, the Royals’ starting position players, their five starting pitchers and all of their key relief pitchers are all either white or Hispanic. The only African-American on their roster right now is speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

I think I know why.

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My reaction to the Royals’ trade for James Shields

I don’t write about baseball all that often anymore, because to do a good job of it day to day you have to immerse yourself in it more than I’m willing or able to do, but I enjoy baseball. And I’m a long-suffering Kansas City Royals fan. One of my earliest memories is going to a Royals game with my dad and cheering for George Brett. I had a framed–framed!–George Brett poster hanging in my bedroom for 25 years, and though that poster is exiled to the basement now, it’s still hanging on a wall.

I gave up on the Royals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, then watched in disbelief as Dane Iorg delivered a clutch pinch-hit RBI single as part of an improbable comeback. I happened to be in Kansas City that weekend, and the city was positively electric the next day. I watched Bret Saberhagen toss an 11-0 masterpiece in Game 7. And then?

Well, Bo Jackson came and went. That was fun, but way too short. I watched George Brett win another batting title, get his 3,000th hit, retire in a Royals uniform, and go into the Hall of Fame. And I watched the Royals trade away a lot of talent and get little, if any, value in return.

Most Royals bloggers on the Internet today followed the same trajectory that I did, though some missed the 1970s. That explains some of the reaction to this trade. Read more

Let Eric Hosmer hit second

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians humiliated the Kansas City Royals 8-3 in what really looked like a showdown between two bad teams. Neither team played especially well, but the Indians were less bad. And in any given game, less bad is all it takes to win.

The Royals fielded poorly in the first inning and that made the difference, but the makeshift lineup the Royals fielded made it difficult for them to catch up. And catching up wasn’t out of the question. The Indians didn’t have Cy Young or Walter Johnson out there; it was the aging Derek Lowe. Read more

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