This is starting to get weird. I’m not sure what to do when I look at the standings and see the Royals, winners of six straight games, sitting in first place, seven games over .500, with a three game lead. I know, I know, it’s not even mid-May yet. The 2003 Royals had a seven game lead in July and only eeked out 83 wins. But still, the vibe seems to be changing around this team.
Nothing made that more apparent than last weekend’s series in Minnesota. That was the place where strange things always happened to make sure the Royals lost. On the rare occasion when they held a late lead in the Metrodome, something crazy would happen in the 8th or 9th and the Twins would snatch the win away. But last weekend it was the opposite. The Royals got the breaks Saturday, in a sloppy game that no one seemed to want to win. And Sunday, after getting no-hit for six innings, they jumped all over the Twins in the final three innings. That stuff is not supposed to happen.
Follow that up with another extra-inning win, this time over the White Sox, and then a come-from-way-behinder to sweep the Sox and two wins against the Mariners, and suddenly we’re looking at the hottest team in baseball.
As I said, it’s a little hard to take in. This is a team that I’ve hated, ignored, disdained, followed casually, and slowly learned to at least like again since the 1994 strike. If there has been a constant, it’s that they will lose. If they’re ahead late, they’ll blow it. If they get down a few runs early, you might as well watch something else, because they’re not coming back.
It would seem that a shift in expectations is in order for us fans. This is a team that is proving itself to be difficult to beat. Those old in-game markers that predicted the final outcome are becoming less valid. No longer can I pull up their score while running errands, see that they’re down a couple runs in the third and figure the game is pretty much over. Now the fun is just starting when they fall behind.
Here’s an example of how my expectations and attitude towards the team is changing: Thursday I’m listening to the game while the baby takes a nap on me. The Royals score a run in the third on a two-out double, a stolen base, and an error. One run with six innings to play. I had a strange sense of confidence that the game was over. Even back when Jose Rosado was dealing, I don’t remember having that kind of confidence.
Times are definitely changing.
A couple other things.
I loved the look on Zack Greinke’s face as he closed out his complete game shut-out on Monday. He was grinning broadly and it was as if he too couldn’t believe this early season craziness. It was also comforting for a guy who’s been through so much. If he’s getting that much joy out of the game, we can hope he’s going to continue to be as nasty as he’s been through his first six starts.
If you were like me and you watched Monday’s game on the Royals’ network, you saw the bizarre interview between the network’s sideline reporter and “Guy Fieri” of the Food Network. I put his name in quotes because it turns out it wasn’t him but rather someone who apparently presented himself as Mr. Fieri. While I was watching, I kept thinking, “What a dick.” I guess if I watched Fieri’s shows more often, I would have quickly realized it wasn’t him. The real Guy <a href=”http://twitter.com/ChefGuyFieri” target=”_blank”>set the record straight</a>.
<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS56zhhqtYk”>Guy Fieri Imposter At The K</a>