Twelve games to play, 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. Isn’t this what I said was all I really wanted from the Royals earlier this year? Meaningful baseball in September? Well, we got it. And in late September, to boot.

It’s been a crazy, weird, frustrating, enthralling season. Thanks to all the peaks and valleys, this whole Wild Card chase thing kind of snuck up on us. Obviously, the Royals have played (mostly) great baseball since the All-Star Break. But those two bad weeks they wedged in between the three hot streaks kept excitement from reaching a fever pitch.

Yet here we are, in the penultimate week of the season, with six straight games against other Wild Card contenders at home, and I’m staying up until 11:45 to watch every minute of a game that was decided at least an hour earlier. Between innings I’m checking score for Tampa and Texas, Baltimore and New York, double-checking the Wild Card standings and mentally moving the teams around as the scores change.

The odds are against the Royals. They’re really only back in the Wild Card race because Tampa and Texas have gone ice cold this month.1 Chances are at least one of them will right the ship over the next week and hold on to one of the playoff spots, while Cleveland, with their weak final nine games, will ease into the second opening. But, dammit, the Royals are still in it.

The consensus opinion on Twitter and in the Royals blog community was that the team needed to go 5-1 this week against Cleveland and Texas to still have a shot next week. Last night was a great opening salvo, but it was just one game. Tonight the Royals run out rookie Yordano Ventura for his first-ever big league appearance. Man, what a moment for the young fella. I’ll be hustling the girls to bed, grabbing an 80 Acre, and taking a seat on the couch to watch the Royals try to catch the team in front of them. It’s like September 1985 all over again, although I’m pretty sure I was drinking Cherry Coke and listening to Denny and Fred on the radio instead of watching MLB.TV back then.

  1. And, it must be acknowledged, because of the second Wild Card that King Bug forced through a year ago.