I had a discussion with my father earlier this week about the Kansas City Royals' playoff chances in 2013. After explaining to him that I think the team will have a 30-40 percent chance of reaching the post-season next season, he responded with a line that frustrated me:
"Well, that's good for the Royals."
Although Bob Fescoe thinks that nerds like myself who live in their mother's basement relish the Royals consistent losing and want it to continue, he could not hold an opinion farther from the truth. None of the writers and commenters who frequent this website enjoy the Royals losing. We have the same unhealthy relationship with this team that anyone still regularly following does, and all of us desperately want the Royals to achieve success.
I do think some of the disconnect between those perceived as positive and those perceived as negative stems from the fact that we are using two different grading scales to evaluate Kansas City next season.
People who feel satisfied with the team's current roster construction, generally, have said that the Royals team only needs be "in the mix" next season. 84 wins and second place in the AL Central (although 84 wins would only qualify for second place in the division twice in the past ten seasons) can certainly be considered as in the mix, especially considering recent history.
The "especially considering recently history" line is part of the reasoning used in this discussion that I have difficulty swallowing. I understand that the franchise we all cheer for has done nothing but disappoint fans for the past 27 seasons; like most Royals fans under the age of 30(!), the closest memory of the Royals in contention I have happened in 2003, when the team went 83-79.
Just because the Royals have been feeding me shit sandwiches for my entire life,however, doesn't mean I'm going to perform backflips when they dump $11 worth of Taco Bell in front of me and expect me to believe it's a gourmet meal.
Dayton Moore will enter his seventh full season as general manager next season, and the team still will not publicly commit to making the post-season in 2013. They have stated that the team is better and will win more games next season, but they likely understand as well as many of us do that the Royals are not a betting favorite to reach the playoffs.
I find that assessment of the team to be completely accurate and completely unacceptable. As I just mentioned, it's Moore's seventh season on the job. After seven seasons, leading one (potential) team "in the mix" and five teams that have lost at least 90 games isn't living up to the standards I have for a major league general manager.
Both Sam Mellinger and Rany Jazayerli have written artciles with the argument that 2013 is Moore's "season of reckoning," so to speak. I don't like that logic, since it implies that we need to judge Moore simply on his results in 2013, and not his entire body of work up to this point.
I understand that Moore did not inherit a good team from Allard Baird, and that the Royals don't have nearly as much money to work with as other team's, limiting his options for improving the team. The shelf life of those excuses died before this season, placing Moore behind schedule on assembling a .500 team.
Kansas City only won 72 games last season, but I don't plan on grading the team on a curve in 2013. The Royals traded one of the best prospects in baseball for a starting pitcher, which clearly is a "win-now" move. 84 wins should not count as winning-now, regardless if it would tie the high-water mark for Royals wins' in my lifetime.
I'm tired of all of the losing. I want the Royals to achieve relevance in the national baseball landscape. But I don't think any Royals fan should accept mediocrity as success simply because mediocrity is better than Royals' fans have known for a long-time.
If my perspective is too critical or harsh for you, then we will likely never come to an agreement about the 2013 season, unless the team dramatically overachieves or underachieves. I just hope that you understand that my expectations for the Royals next season is born from an intense investment in this team and desire for the team to succeed, just like your more optimistic view is. Our expectations for the team are most likely the difference between our viewpoints and probably cannot be reconciled. But we will all cheer on the team, regardless what lens we watch the season through.