When the Royals last won a championship in 1985, I was seven years old, not quite a baseball fan. But I do remember my parents watching the series, drawing pictures of Bret Saberhagen in class, and getting out of class to watch the World Series parade at school. It was not until 1988 that I really became a baseball fan, for a Royals team in transition. They still had George and Frank and Willie, Sabes and Gubie, but they also had new guys like Seitz, Tartabull, and Bo.
In 1989, I got my first real taste of a pennant race. The Royals had a terrific team that year, winning 92 games, but the A's had the Bash Brothers, Dave Stewart, and the best closer in the game, Dennis Eckersley. The Royals had some great series down the stretch and won the third-most games in baseball, but alas, with with no Wild Card, there would be no post-season. The Athletics were just better.
The Royals had a bit of a run in 1993. I remember them facing the big bad White Sox in an important series late in the year. The Royals led late, with Jeff Montgomery on to close the game against Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas. Frank deposited a Monty pitch well beyond the wall for a monster home run. Chicago would win the series and the division. The White Sox were just better
Mr. K died. The team was in disarray, cutting payroll to the bone and skimping on the draft and amateur development. The team became a laughingstock. But for one magical year, the team gave us hope. They stormed out of the gate in 2003 with nine straight wins then led the division for much of the summer. We had "Mac the Ninth", "Lima Time", and Smilin' Joe Randa. But the team ran out of gas in August. The Twins were just better
Then it bottomed out. The Royals lost 100 games for the first time in franchise history. Then they did it again. And again. They were the worst team in baseball. They had the first overall pick. Everyone was just better.
Things improved in Kansas City. The Royals looked like they were in for another lost season in 2013, but stormed back to get into the Wild Card race. Justin Maxwell hit a big walk-off grand slam in late September but it was too little, too late. The Rangers were just better.
The post-season drought finally ended in 2014. The Royals again stormed back late in the season, but this time they had enough juice to grab a Wild Card spot. They staged the most epic comeback ever in the Wild Card game, then swept through the American League playoffs like a hot knife through butter. They faced off against San Francisco in a terrific seven game series, with Alex Gordon bringing us 90 feet from tying Game 7 in the ninth only to have Madison Bumgarner slam the door shot. The Giants were just better.
Somewhere along the line, you probably became a Royals fan. Or maybe your Royals story is longer than mine, back to the days of Amos Otis, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, and Freddie Patek. Maybe you were born into cheering for this team, growing up in Kansas City. Maybe you became a fan because liked the color blue. Or you liked Bo Jackson. Or Carlos Beltran. Or Zack Greinke. Or Alex Gordon. Maybe you became a fan while trying to learn English and appreciated small market teams.
Whether you've been a fan since the team went into existence, or you hopped on the bandwagon this month, today, you can hold your head up high. The Kansas City Royals, championship-less for 30 years, long the laughingstock of the league, are World Champions.
No one is better.