These last few weeks have been particularly brutal for Kansas City Royals fans to watch. The team has gone 4-13 in their last 17 games, pushing them two games below .500 after starting the season 17-10. This year is starting to feel all too familiar.
What is fairly unique about the current losing streak is the reaction to the losing by the majority of Royals fans. Over the past few seasons, fans griped but understood when the team fell out of contention. The team was not expected to compete, so everyone started to look for signs of progress and planned for the future.
This season, people are incredibly upset with all the losing, as they should be. While the team still has time to turn things around and satisfy the fanbase, I'm no longer worried that the majority of Royals fans will accept mediocrity. I'm not sure if Royals management will be held accountable by the team's owners, but the fans are no longer buying what the team is selling.
I sometimes have to step back and remind myself that the people who regularly read and comment at Royals Review constitute a niche group of the team's followers. It's easy to insulate myself in this community and with like-minded people on Twitter and ignore those who don't share my worldview of baseball.
Limiting myself to the noise inside the echo chamber, however, can cause me to forget what most Royals fans are thinking. This disconnect revealed itself with the James Shields/Wil Myers trade; almost everyone here did not support the trade, but the majority of the Kansas City media and Royals fans did support the trade.
You can look back at our Royals Review Roundtable before the season started to revisit some of the anger people directed at us for predicting this team would fail to reach the post-season. Rany Jazayerli predicted the Royals will finish 86-76 this season, and he got blasted in the comments of his Kansas City Star article (that apparently doesn't exist anymore) for simply reminding people that the Shields trade may not have been a good deal.
Regardless of whether or not RR believed this team could play competitive baseball this season, most people believed that heading into April. The quick start helped reinforce that belief, and inspire hope in others who were waiting for the Royals to prove themselves. The team has been in free-fall ever since.
I've made a conscious decision to listen to more talk radio, read more articles at the Star and check out people's comments and tweets that I would normally ignore. Viewing the results of this poll only confirm my belief gathered from the informal crowd sourcing; people expect this team to win more baseball games than they lose, and are currently upset that they are not (breaking, I realize).
There are plenty of scapegoats for the team's problems and solutions to fix their ills that have entered the discussion, but almost everyone seems to agree the time for patience and waiting is over. Craig's article about instant gratification seemed to strike a nerve, perfectly describing the thoughts so many Royals fans are thinking right now. Ned Yost and Dayton Moore can continue to beg for people to give the young hitter's more time to develop, or to stop panicking about the team, but the pleas are falling on an increasing number of deaf ears. If the team continues to lose, the number of people tuning out their message will only grow.
Like every single Kansas City fan, I desperately want this team to win. If the Royals fail to right the ship, however, I want the front office to be held responsible for the team's lack of success during their tenure.
At the start of the season, I was worried that an 82 win season would placate enough people to buy this regime more time that I don't believe they deserve. Seeing people's reaction to the team falling two games below .500 has alleviated that fear; most fans are judging this team on results this season, not just some vague notion of progress and improvement.
Kansas City Chiefs fans just ran Scott Pioli out of town, and Royals fans are gearing up to do the same with Moore. GMDM could save his job by making some much needed changes or receive a bailout if if the team starts to turn things around, but standing pat and preaching about The Process is no longer enough.
It's possible the Glass family could stick with GMDM following another disappointing season, but the amount of rage I've observed the past two weeks causes me to believe they cannot ignore the fanbase. If they are truly more plugged in following last season's All-Star game, they will understand the risk of pissing off Royals fans even more than they already have.
Either way, something about the 2013 Royals should cause some changes. The team will start winning more games and make people happy, or management is going to get fired. Either one will satisfy me, since I simply cannot stand the present.