I guess it’s time to write about baseball. The Royals are in first place and begin a series with division favorites Detroit tonight.1 In years past this would be a moment for celebration and excitement. “Can they keep it going?” “Is this real?” Fun questions that present themselves as the first month of the season winds down and the standings begin to take shape.
The hopeful fan looks at this year’s team and thinks, “The pitching has been great. It’s going to normalize a bit, but I think the rotation, and bullpen, are capable of pitching well all season. Now if we can just get some hitting, and that’s bound to happen, this team will stay in contention through the summer. And then if we get Duffy and Paulino back, maybe make a move for another bat, anything can happen in September!”
But my excitement is tempered this year. I’ve finally been worn down by the 25+ years of failure and cynicism has replaced hope. I look at this team and think, “The starters can’t sustain this early success, and aside from Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, I have no confidence in any of the hitters. Hosmer and Moustakas are well on their way to being busts. Sal2 Perez swings at too many pitches. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain won’t keep hitting this well all season. And Getz and Frenchy suck. Once the pitching fades, it’s going to get ugly.”
If any sport is built for hope, it’s baseball. The long season, where any team can win any single game, turns every fan into an optimist. At least until they’re double digits back in the standings. Even when long-term success is not realistic, a good run in April should put a bounce in your step and have you dreaming of warm summer nights following games that matter.
But I can’t do it. It’s not that I’m not interested, I am. I’m listening to just about every Royals game. I want them to be good. I want the young guys to develop into stars. I want the reclamation projects (Santana, Guthrie) to continue to turn back the clock. But the part of my brain that bought into hot starts in 2003 and 2009 just can’t get going this year.
If they can keep it going two, maybe three more weeks, I’ll be ready to hop on board. But I’m remaining dubious and cranky until then.