This has been quite the year, hasn’t it?
As the dates on our computers and phones changed from 2021 to 2022, we weren’t even sure that we’d have baseball this year thanks to a heated labor standoff between the owners and the player’s union. Thankfully, we got a full 162-game season that started a little late and resulted in tonight’s penultimate game of the year being played on October 4, a game in which the Cleveland Guardians handed the Kansas City Royals a 5-3 loss, the Royals’ 96th of the season.
Eight years ago, the Wild Card Game began on September 30. As the Oakland Athletics pounced on Yordano Ventura’s pitches in the sixth inning, it seemed we wouldn’t ever get October baseball even though they finally made the playoffs. But we did, and those memories will stick around forever.
Eight years before that, a new GM was in town and ready to shake things up in his first offseason. Dayton Moore did just that, signing Gil Meche to a $50+ million contract so that he could pitch for a couple of 90-loss teams, I guess? That was never clear. Nor was signing Jose Guillen to a $36 million contract the following offseason. Per Fangraphs, Guillen “accrued” -2.9 Wins Above Replacement during that deal. Amazing. Moore criticized critical spirits and infuriated just about everyone before his investments in the franchise finally clicked and he put together a really nice core, resulting in the aforementioned playoff glory.
Everything ends, though. Tonight was just another piece of evidence of why the Royals needed new blood, thankfully evidence that won’t really be needed. Daniel Lynch seems like he would be an effective starter, and at times he has been. Kansas City sure hasn’t been able to pull the metaphorical sword from the stone, and without deep organizational philosophic changes that seems unlikely. Fortunately, those changes are probably on the horizon. Unfortunately, we had to watch games like tonight, where Lynch inexplicably fell apart like a poorly constructed LEGO tower for no good reason; tonight, he couldn’t make it through five innings, giving up five runs as he attempted to do so.
And when the Royals put together a bit of a rally in the ninth inning, you could see glimpses of the future and glimpses of rot in just a few minutes. Vinnie Pasquantino, a glorious name and a glorious hitter, singled. Ryan O’Hearn, who should have been non-tendered literal years ago, immediately hit what would have likely been a double play ball but for a Cleveland throwing error. Emmanuel Clase made quick work of the overmatched trio of rookies afterwards, which happens. But it should have happened three years ago, not in 2022, seven years after the Royals were any good.
Believe it or not, but this is my ninth season covering the Royals for Royals Review. I’ve written a lot of recaps, and I hope you’ll spare me some poetic waxing on my last recap of this season. I am more excited for this offseason than I ever have been, not even after the Royals went to the playoffs. A new age is at hand, one where the Royals will lose fewer than 97 games regularly. Thank you for reading.