The Royals are true contenders, not that quasi, "in a small way" contenders they tried to pass off as contending last year. Pennant fever has caught Kansas City and there is a buzz in this town not felt in over two decades. WE ARE ALL SUNG WOO!
Its been so long, do you even remember the last time we were contenders? Where were you?
Where were you in......2003
The 2003 Royals were the flukiest fluke team that ever did fluke, but the ruse lasted for so long, it made even hardened non-believers shout "!NOSOTROS CREAMOS!" at the sight of manager Tony Pena. I was in my last semester of law school when the club got off to their amazing 16-3 start, watching games from Louise's West, the Yacht Club, and one ill-fated night at the Shenago Lounge in Lawrence. I remember whooping and hollering when Ken Harvey hit a walk-off home run against Fernando Rodney of the Tigers. I remember my girlfriend (now my wife) becoming a big Raul Ibanez fan (what ever happened to that guy?) I remember Smiling Joe Randa. I remember my buddies randomly shouting "LIMA TIME! BELIEVE IT!" whenever possible. We all knew the team was a bit of a fraud, but we enjoyed the ride until it stopped.
Where were you in......1994
The 1994 Royals were similar to the 2014 version in that they were a rather mediocre team hovering around .500 most of the year that got red-hot in August. That team was also built on pitching (second in the league in ERA) and defense (Wally Joyner-Chico Lind-Greg Gagne-Gary Gaetti made up a slick-fielding infield) with a very mediocre offense. On July 22, the Royals were 49-47, 9.5 games out of first place. They then won fourteen games in a row, pulling to within one game of first. I remember the last game of the winning streak was an impromptu home game moved to Kansas City when tiles from the Kingdome fell and made that stadium unusable. 25,000 walk up fans showed up to see the Royals defeat the Mariners. The next night, 30,000 showed up as the team played on national television, only to snap the winning streak at fourteen. I was sixteen then, the memory of good Royals teams still fresh in my mind, the agony of the two decades to come not even seeming like a remote possibility. Less than a week later, the players went on strike. A month later, Bud Selig cancelled the World Series. We never got to see the end of that story.
Where were you in.......1985
We forget now, but the 1985 team started off pretty mediocre too. As late as July 18, they were just 44-43, 7 1/2 games back of the Angels, in fourth place. They won nine of their next ten to close out July, then in early September won twelve out of thirteen to take the division lead. The closed the season out by winning five of their last seven, including three of four head-to-head against the Angels. I was just seven years old during this stretch, too young to really be much of a baseball fan or remember the pennant stretch, but I do remember the post-season. I remember my parents sitting to watch every game and being amazed at Ozzie Smith's backflips. I remember thinking Bret Saberhagen had a funny mustache, and that Buddy Biancalana was a funny name, and Steve Balboni was fat. I remember my mom screaming "AHN-TAH!" on Dane Iorg's single, because "AHN-TAH" means "base hit" in Korean, and in 1985, my mom was Korea's #1 Royals fan (hey, where's her coin George Brett?) I remember thinking that the Royals must win the World Series practically every year, and that would never stop ever. So young, so naive.
What about you? What do you remember about past Royals runs? Where were you? And where you will be for this run?