We have seen it all. Well, we have seen a lot. We have seen the bad, in all its depths, deceits, and Desi Relafords. We have endured 100 loss seasons (2002, 2004-2006), managers fleeing the country (Tony Pena in 2004, lest you forget), and even a September collapse (2003). Since the Royals’ lone World Series title 1985, the Kansas City Royals have failed to field a roster that has made the playoffs. Once a team that was a perennial contender in the American League, memories of a productive franchise have long since faded into the far away reaches of our minds as the Royals have slipped from bad to worse over the years.
For a generation of fans, we have never seen the good. The Royals have been losers for entire lives of some Kansas Citians, and, with the All Star Game being
hosted in Kansas City, the national spotlight is once again fixed upon America’s heartland. Often taken as a “cow town” with little to offer (and an even worse baseball team) Kansas Citians cringe at criticism tossed their way. Our inferiority complex could once be brushed aside with lineups featuring players like Hall of Famer George Brett and All Stars such as Frank White, Amos Otis, and Willie Wilson. Kansas City was once a proud baseball town, full of traditions and home to a winner. However, the state of the franchise over the last decade has made the organization a punch line to baseball fans across the nation.
Yet, we still care. For whatever reason.
After many long, hot Kansas City summers we continue to go out to Kauffman Stadium and cheer on the boys in blue. It is truly an amazing thing. Kansas City can lay claim to some of the most passionate, if not the most passionate, baseball fans in the league. Although the Royals have not given us a contending team in a long, long time, attendance is up nearly 5,000 people per game this season. THAT IS AMAZING. With the 2012 team currently fielding a rotation with the likes of Jonathan Sanchez, Nate Adcock, Everett Teaford, and Luis Mendoza, Royals fans have continued to flock to the K even with a substandard product put on the field. Kansas Citians have shown a resilience and belief that no other fan base has shown across the league; for some reason, we still believe.
With attendance continuing to remain high as any chance of contending looks more and more slim, Kansas City has shown the Royals organization that, more than anything, we care and we will fight for our team. The resolve many Royals fans have shown this year by repeatedly going out to the K has shown the team and management that the city has grit, compassion, and a deep rooted interest for our Royals. We believe in our young, rising core comprised of Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Wil Myers, and Jake Odorizzi. The Royals organization has given the city no reason to come out and support the team. Yet, we believe. And we continue to go. And maybe that belief and fight and grit is starting to wear off on the youngest franchise baseball.
Although fielding an inept rotation that cannot consistently keep the team in games, the young core of Royals has shown a determination and desire that Kansas City has not seen in a long time. This team will not quit, regardless of the scoreboard. Even when it has every reason to mail it in and come back to the park tomorrow, Ned Yost’s crew fights to the last out unlike any Royals team in recent memory. Why? I believe it is because we Kansas Citians have shown the Royals roster the same thing. We care. We want to win. And we want it just as much as they do.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the city and fan base had seemingly become indifferent to the losing and the poor roster choices made by management.
Kansas City, I was wrong.
This city has shown me, and the Royals organization, something. Royals fans will continue to go support our team at the K even though there is little hope in 2012. Kansas City has shown that it is ready for a winner. The city has shown that it has had enough losing (and we have had plenty) and that results (wins) are now expected. We have endured enough rebuilding and rebranding; the time to win is now. After years and years of losing, we will continue to go to the stadium because we are the most loyal fan base in baseball. We have had no reason to stay and believe, but we have. But the time to win is now—and we are letting the organization know. And, with a young roster that is exploding with on-field talent, Kansas City is just a few pieces away from becoming a regular contender in the American League Central.
WEEKEND 6 PACK
A weekly installment of six questions from the week regarding the Royals sending you into the weekend.
1. Is Luke Hochevar finally fixed?
This question is a little unclear. No one has ever questioned that Hochevar has electric stuff–he wasn’t drafted number one overall for nothing. Hochevar has a plus fastball, a plus-plus curve (the Blue Jays and other recent lineups have been raving about it during his strong stretch), and a solid change. The combination of that, along with his secondary pitches, gives Hochevar the potential to be an ace. Although the Royals are claiming that he is “fixed” due to his return to his core pitches (fastball, curve, change), stats are showing that he is throwing them at a similar clip to earlier this season. However, it appears Hochevar has a better approach on the mound, pitching better sequences to the hitters he is facing. Credit Dave Eiland and Salvador Perez in part for his success, but mostly credit Hochevar–he has shown a lot more confidence in his curve in hitters’ counts–unbalancing hitters expecting fastballs with offspeed pitches. He has avoided the “Hochevar” inning with his new approach, and I think he is fixed for good. Not that he is going to be a Justin Verlander or anything, but I can easily see him being a Dan Haren type.
2. Why is Wil Myers still in AAA?
Wil Myers is still in AAA because Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, and Jeff Francouer have some huge love triangle going on in Kauffman stadium. Although a horrific player, Francouer is a fan and organization sweetheart because of his clubhouse presence and gritty style of play. Although he has just 25 RBI’s and an OBP of .295 while spending most of this season in the 5 hole, Dayton Moore and Ned Yost see a player that is somehow leading this organization forward because of his leadership abilities. While I have no doubt that Jeff Francouer is a great guy and an even better clubhouse presence, the time has come to put the best product on the field. And that means calling up Wil Myers from Omaha.
3. Why did the franchise opt to keep Jason Bourgeois over Mitch Maier?
This was a questionable roster move. Bourgeois is a right handed bat who can only hit lefties and play one position in the outfield marginally well. Maier is a left handed bat that has been in the organization for 10 years and can play all 3 outfield spots well. Maier has been a mainstay in the clubhouse for years and is ready whenever his name is called. In extended playing time, Maier has proven to be a better player than Bourgeois, getting on base at a much higher rate than Bourgeois . My answer has to be that Jason Bourgeois was brought in via trade and Dayton Moore’s pride couldn’t designate both Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero for assignment in the same week. That would make the trade look like an utter failure (which it was) and a waste of a marginal prospect in Kevin Champan who is putting up solid to great numbers in AA for the Astros. Also, the organization has shown some lust over the years for a slap-stick, speedy CF as evidenced by GMDM bringing in players such as Joey Gathright, Gregor Blanco, etc.
4. How is Jonathan Sanchez still on the team?
Folks, let’s make this clear. Jonathan Sanchez has talent. He truly does. He has the ability to miss bats with dynamite stuff and can be a dominant pitcher. However, I do not believe he wants to be. I do not think he cares at all about baseball. I believe Jonathan Sanchez sees baseball as a way to collect a handsome paycheck, nothing more. The Royals still think they can make Sanchez care about baseball, and maybe they can, but the fans are ready for him to go. I can see no reason to keep trotting him out every five days when there are plenty of players (Will Smith, Everett Teaford, Nate Adcock, Ryan Verdugo, Jake Odorizzi) that will go out and give you something equal to better than the garbage Jonathan Sanchez is giving the Royals right now. Sanchez seems indifferent and uninterested in being in Kansas City, and I think it is time to shut him down for the season. Put him on the 60 day DL, don’t release him (we’ll have to pay him anyway) and just let him rot there. Good luck to Sanchez and Scott Boras trying to get a minor league deal somewhere next season. If that is possible after this abomination of a season he has put together.
5. Were Alcides Escobar and/or Mike Moustakas snubbed from the All Star game?
No. While both Escobar and Moustakas are putting up very, very good numbers offensively and defensively this season, I cannot see a way for them to get on the roster. Shortstop and Third Base all have deserving candidates filled on the roster, and, Kansas City, remember that the FANS vote for the starters. First and foremost, the All Star game is fan centered event and the players on the roster will drive the most revenue for the league. This is not a collection of the best talent. This is a collection of talent that the fans want to see the most. And, frankly, the nation does not want to see two young stars on a losing, host city roster more than it wants to see Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus, and Miguel Cabrera. That being said, both Shortstop Jesus and the Greek God of KC will be making many All Star appearances for years to come. They are absolute STUDS.
6. Why was #CountryBreakfast left off the AL Derby roster?
This was a travesty. After publicly stating that he would choose a representative from Kansas City to compete for the AL in the Home Run Derby, Robinson Cano angered the entire metropolitan area by not selecting Billy Butler. Billy Butler deserved to be on the team, no doubt. He is putting up great numbers in a pitcher friendly park and has become the face of the franchise this season with his selection to the All Star Team. Robinson Cano deserves to be booed mightily when he comes to the park to participate in the derby and I have no doubt that the proud fans of Kansas City will give him a very loud and clear reaction to his choices.