If the Royals' season were a single game, the bottom of the eighth inning would have just begun. Down by only two runs entering the top of the frame, Ned Yost had summoned Joakim Soria from the bullpen with hopes of merely treading water until the offense could return to the field. Those with aspirations of a clean inning were disappointed after Soria became victim to a run of bloop hits and bleeders that ultimately left the team down by four heading to their penultimate set of plate appearances. Somewhere, the love child of Jason La Canfora and Greg Abbott has their thumb presciently poised to click ‘Tweet’.
This is precisely the moment when the Royals do their best Dorothy Dietrich impersonation and wiggle free of the straightjacket that binds them as they hang 15 stories above the ground from a burning rope without a net.
Ordinary comebacks are boring.....mundane even; everyone knows a game is not over when the tying run is at the plate in the bottom of the ninth. But the Royals do not do ordinary comebacks; like true showmen, they have a sense of exactly how far to take their audience before reeling them back in for the finale. They refuse to begin their last comeback in earnest until all hope is gone and their only prayer for salvation is predicated on accomplishing something that has never been done in the history of the game. This is precisely the moment when the Royals break out the escapology act and writhe free from the clutches of death when all appears to be lost.
The Royals are not getting to the playoffs this year (as I am contractually obligated to remind you), but they are far from finished toying with our emotions. One week from today, those that have hopped off will be back on the bandwagon believing that this year is not yet over. They will be once again drawn to the Sirens of Kauffman as they drive by on I-70 lamenting their pick of kicker in the 8th round of their fantasy draft and wondering if that second bottle of fireball was such a great idea for the Chiefs game. One week after that, we will all be forced to wonder if perhaps events were predestined for this Royals team as we begin forecasting where and when a potential wild card game will be located in order to make arrangements to get off work and secure passage.
At that precise moment, the Royals are going to punch us in the coconuts.
When the Royals were 57-60, it was postulated that they would have to go 33-12 across their final 45 games to reach 90 wins and thus a potential wild card berth. Since that time, the team has gone 13-6, so it stands to reason that a finish of 20-6 would be needed in order for them to have a chance. They can only withstand 6 more losses across the rest of the season, which has just entered the bottom of the eighth inning. 6 losses, 6 outs.
It has been well documented that the team is beginning a stretch of 14 games against less than stellar competition. Just to make the last few of us completely shift to football mode, they’ll probably even lose their first game to Minnesota tonight. Then they are going to rip through the rest of that stretch to finish 12-2 and be poised for the playoffs sitting at 82-68 with 12 games to play. The Royals will merely need to go 7-5 or 8-4 to have a very real chance at the final wild card and a chance to extend their season and this town will be abuzz with anxious anticipation as it will appear that the DevilMagic is back in full force.
But this is 2016. This team claws back in the bottom of the eighth only to whistle fart it away in the top of the ninth. They will go on an incredible run over the next two weeks to inch within one game or even be tied for the last wild card spot. They will then proceed to go 5-7 over the last two weeks of the season as Ned will surely bring in Chris Young to protect a late inning lead on more than one occasion. You will experience a level of frustration that makes you wish you had never been lured back into belief. At that moment in time, it will be punch and coconuts.