Normally, this would be a ten-paragraph story summarizing the events of tonight’s Royals games. In this spot would usually be words about how the Royals continue to implode, plagued by a stunning lack of power, a suddenly leaky defense and shockingly inept offense, all put together in a dismally egregious effort.
This particular recap, though, will be worded a little bit differently.
Kansas City is one of the greatest cities in the greatest country in the world. Trademarks of the metro include the world’s best BBQ, beautiful fountains, historical architecture, and perhaps above all, world-class sports fans.
The fans of Kansas City sports teams are the greatest in the country. They’re not spoiled by constant world championships like the residents of Boston, New York, or Los Angeles. Professional sports success in Kansas City is something the great fans seldom see. An entire generation of Kansas City Royals fans have still never had anything to ever get excited for. College kids have never seen a playoff victory by either team that calls the Truman Sports Complex home. There are people who turn 30 years old in one year that have never been alive for a single Royals playoff game.
Still, the great fans make the trip to Kauffman Stadium night after night, following the optimism/"give us one more chance" bullcrap put forth by the team’s owner, general manager, manager, and players.
2014, to this point, is set up to potentially end different. Entering Friday evening, the Kansas City Royals were still in first place, despite a slumping offense. The Royals have been winning, and the fans have taken time to let that feeling sink in – an experience that some of them have never experienced.
Friday night was a microcosm for exactly what all Royals fans fear will take place over the season’s last three weeks, and it’s getting more difficult each day to disagree with these increasing pessimists.
Just like it has before, things began with a bright outlook. The Royals were facing rookie pitcher Allen Webster, who carried in a season ERA of 6.47. This seemed like a perfect remedy for Kansas City’s recent offensive woes. The Royals were facing the Red Sox’ worst pitcher, and Boston’s best hitter, David Ortiz, wasn’t in the lineup.
In front of another sizeable crowd at Kauffman Stadium, the entire team continued to perform with their pants down. Save for one swing, a two-run home run by Eric Hosmer, the offense was completely lifeless. The Royals, who have a knack of making average-or-worse pitchers look like Cy Young candidates, possibly hit an all-time low when they made Webster look like a competent starter.
The usually-but-not-recently good defense, which is a centerpiece of Dayton Moore’s "small ball" philosophy, continues to unfold in front of everyone’s eyes. In the third inning, Jemile Weeks doubled down the right field line after Hosmer belly flopped while attempting to knock down the hit, and then something called a Mookie Betts drove in Weeks for the game’s first run. Following a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch, Yoenis Cespedis grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending groundout, but Mike Moustakas wound up and fired the ball over Hosmer’s head, allowing a second run to score.
It’s not easy to overthrow a 6’5" first baseman by at least two feet, but Moustakas, as he’s done his whole career, found a way to achieve another futile accomplishment. Don’t worry, though, he’ll play tomorrow. It’s not like the Royals are going to hold him accountable for yet another mishap.
Boston added a third run when Yordano Ventura uncorked a wild pitch. After Hosmer’s two-run bomb cut the deficit to 3-2, the Red Sox responded by putting two on with one out in the fourth inning. Needing a ground ball, Ventura got it, as Daniel Nava rolled a slow-roller right to Alcides Escobar. The crowd groaned as the ball nicked off the end of the normally sure-handed Escobar’s glove and rolled into left field, plating the fourth run of the game for the Red Sox.
The realization that a 4-2 deficit in the top of the fifth inning was insurmountable then set in for Royals fans, who watched in disgust as Kansas City’s final 15 hitters made outs. The Royals couldn’t muster a single baserunner the rest of the way against last-place Boston, dropping to 0-5 against the 65-83 Red Sox this season.
The loss dropped the Royals (80-66) to second place in the AL Central for the first time since August 10.
After dealing with so many Carlos Pena Jrs, Jimmy Gobbles, Kyle Davies, and 100-loss seasons, the Royals have come too far in this pennant chase to fall apart now. A collapse and a 28th consecutive season without postseason baseball would be easily the most difficult year in recent memory for Royals fans. There’s only one option for this team – make the playoffs. Anything short of that would prompt organization-shifting consequences in most MLB organizations. However, the Royals aren’t like most MLB organizations.
Over his 67-year tenure as general manager, Dayton Moore has never hesitated to blame the fans. He’s pointed the finger at the fanbase for "being too negative" and "not being patient enough", claiming that everyone needed to "trust his process" just a little bit longer. Ned Yost, who is somehow the longest tenured manager in team history possibly due to a love affair with Moore, threw the fans under the bus last week for only putting 13,000 fans in the stands for a Tuesday night game. Since Yost’s comments, attendance at Kauffman Stadium has spiked, and the team has lost six of 10 home games.
This may be befuddling to the incompetent general manager and clueless manager, but Royals fans aren’t stupid. They understand what parts of the team they watch night after night aren’t working. They also don’t deserve the team that Moore has assembled. They deserve a winner.
Simply put, the fans in Kansas City have done everything right, and the organization has done nearly everything wrong in the last 30 years. The fans deserve to root for a team that won’t crush their dreams each and every season. Whatever they do deserve, it’s certainly not dealing with the longest postseason drought in North American professional sports history. They don’t deserve a punch-less, gutless squad that with the exception of James Shields, has done nothing but crap the bed at the first sign of a big game.
2014’s season is, by all means, far from over. The Royals are only 0.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers. Nobody knows how this season will end, regardless of how dark and stormy it may look on the horizon.
However, there is one thing that is a certainty – the fans in this town are too great to sit through this year after year. The fans deserve better than what the Royals are putting on the field. The fans deserve better than watching Omar Infante bat second every single day in the middle of a playoff race. The fans deserve an organization that actually has integrity, and takes accountability for their abysmal display of baseball.
I’ve gone on record for saying that the people on death row should be forced to watch 2000’s Royals highlights, but I won’t go quite that far. How about this - the people of St. Louis deserve the Royals. One day, hopefully the entire fanbase will be able to have the pleasure of following a champion. Until then, all they can do is hurt, and that’s ultimately what the worst part of this whole collapse is – all we can do is sit here helpless and hurt.