I'd like to introduce a new phrase: The Hopelessness Era. What's that you ask? The Hopelessness Era is the period which began in 2004, when we all stopped believing in the Royals, right after the 2003 bubble burst. In 2004, when it became evident that the Royals were still very very far away, how did you think they'd be in 2009? Is this what you expected? The Royals will close the 00's as the only AL Central team not to make the playoffs this decade and the only team not to win 90 games at least once.
This is a bigger topic than can be properly talked about in one post, but I think that above all else, for me at least, it's increasingly useful to rethink the second-half of this decade as one coherent whole (or an incoherent fail, as it were). A sharp line between the Moore and Baird regimes looks like too much of a convenient fiction to these eyes, a demarcation that by implication gives Moore a little too much credit and fails to note that many of the team's most prominent players remain Baird products. The idea isn't to reclaim Baird, at least not fully, because, after all, it's the Hopelessness Era. If you prefer to, at the very least you must admit that as of now Dayton has proved unable to overcome the failings he inherited. His rebuild has, essentially, reached the Single A level. In a series of posts to come, I hope to explore the reasons why the Royal resurgence that we all hoped for in 2003 never came.
So how do this year's Royals compare to previous teams after 2009?
Royals Record After 76 Games:
These numbers don't say too much, but I think they do convey the general sense of stagnation that has come to linger around this team. The bottom fell out in '05 & '06, followed by a modest improvement in 2007, and another, also modest improvement in 2008. Of course, in all these seasons, many things happened over the remaining games. In no season, however, were the Royals still looking good by this point.
Prior to the season I wrote that the first three months were definitely the easy portion of the schedule, and that the Royals had a good chance to bank a number of wins against weaker teams. It'll be interesting to watch what happens around town if the Royals continue to swoon, which according to most evidence looks possible.