A Long Awaited Coronation (of sorts)
Time. It is unique in that it is a precious commodity It is in infinite supply but the paradox is that having too little of it can be terrible but having too much of it can be even worse. Just ask the Kansas City Royals, who after 29 fruitless years of waiting are finally making their long-awaited return to the postseason.
What makes the Royals team unique is that unlike most power teams that make it to postseasons, Kansas City does not have a true star player. Sure, people such as starting pitcher James Shields or designated hitter Billy Butler are big names, but they are not household names like Miguel Cabrera or Derek Jeter. The Royals are a team that has been pieced together bit by bit, by bringing in numerous “behind-the-scenes” type players who never got a chance to truly shine. The 2014 Royals call to mind to 2004 Detroit Pistons that won the championship over the Los Angeles Lakers. That team was also filled with players who never really got into the spotlight. They made up for fans’ lack of familiarity by playing outstanding defense and becoming feared for their unity. That is the kind of team that is in Kansas City: A vagabond team notable for their never-say-die attitude and consistency.
However, an important factor in team building is working through adversity. In July, the Royals were mired in a 9-18 slump that included 10 losses in 15 games. This came after a phenomenal 10-game winning streak a month before, which made the southbound turn even more shocking. That said, this is a team that has banded together to make it through tough times, and this slump was no exception. So instead of giving up, the Kansas City Royals got together and decided to make sure to finish the season strong, going 41-23, a reasonably notable achievement considering the unpredictability of the sports world. Now they are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1985, the year that the Royals beat their intrastate rival St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Now all this success might be impressive, but there is one group that ( though not directly so), helps keep the team going: The Kansas City fans. They have waited nearly 30 years to see their team get back to the postseason. Now that the Royals have finally gotten there, the fans do not want it to stop. To put this in perspective, the Royals organization made a slogan for their long-awaited playoff run: “Take The Crown.” Essentially, they are not only saying that they want to restore the honor of the Royals name as well as to make the crown in the team’s logo shine, but they have aspirations of going all the way to the World Series. Plus, sports fans in Kansas City do not have much else to cheer about. The other sports franchise in town is the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chiefs don’t look like an outstanding team (though their rout of the New England Patriots last night tells a different story).
While the Royals are definitely a force to be reckoned with, they are far from perfect. They have clinched a wild card, and they’ll be playing tonight in a one-game playoff against the Oakland Athletics to determine who will move on to the Division Series. This is their first obstacle. After that, they will have to face one of the division champions from the American League, so it will be easy for naysayers to write them off. Particularly because of the small-market nature of Kansas City, the Royals do not have as big of a following outside of their home state as big-market teams like the Yankees or the Red Sox do. This means that it is easy to say that the team will not make it very far in the playoffs, but I do not agree with this. I have watched sports (both baseball and in general) for too long and seen too many miracles and upsets to write off a playoff-bound team just because they are not notorious enough. But I am also a realist and I do understand the bounds of what is and what is not possible. So for now, I will just leave it at “we’ll see what happens.”