Wow. It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote about a weekend series in Kansas City between the Royals and Red Sox, wondering if we would look back on it as the high point of the season. The Royals drifted, then climbed back to the periphery of the Wild Card race, staying in it until the final week of the season.
After this past weekend’s sweep of the Giants, I’m tempted to write a similar post. Will we look back on the crowds of last weekend, the play of the team, the good vibes surrounding the organization and say, “Man, that was great. But it was never that fun again,”?
I’m thinking no, that will not be the high point this year. Even if the Royals come back to earth this week, which seems likely given how hot they’ve been for the past two weeks, the math is much more in their favor this year than last. After the A’s four-gamer, they have, arguably, the easiest remaining schedule of any contender. Detroit, Toronto, and Cleveland are all suffering from injury woes. No team in the American League can seem to put together a hot 20-30 days and run away from the field.1
For an organization that has desperately sought the breaks to go its way for a quarter century, the dominoes might finally be lining up in their favor.
I’ve said before that sometimes Twitter is the worst thing that can happen to a sports fan. For all the sources of quick information you can tap into, it can also turn into a stream of unending cynicism, bitterness, and anger when things go bad. That’s often been the case in the Royals’ corner of the Twittersphere this time of year.
But this weekend was something else. Normally negative voices were expressing their disbelief at what was happening. Again, for the first time in forever, there are good vibes around this team. We were having a lake weekend with many guests, so I could only check in to watch the scores and read Tweets occasionally. Each time I turned on the phone, though, I was delighted to see the Royals were ahead and then read a series of Tweets relaying the magic of what was happening at The K.
I’m as cynical as anyone about this franchise. I’m as distrusting and outright hostile to the ownership and front office as anyone. But, as Rany wrote last night, it sure feels like a moment to set all that aside, to not fear the historically inevitable turn when it all goes wrong, and just watch and enjoy.
Baseball, more than any other sport, taps into the memories of your childhood. This year is beginning to feel a little like that glorious late summer and early fall of 1985, when a team with not much hitting but a stacked pitching staff clawed back from well behind the division lead to catch, and then pass, California in the final week of the season. Which, of course, was just the beginning.
Hey, we can dream big for a minute, can’t we?
- Unless the Royals are in the midst of doing exactly that! ↩