Updated: Oct 8
As pastimes go, the Kansas City Royals have always fulfilled their intended purpose.
I get a kick out of Denny on the radio not even bothering anymore to hide his disdain for the leadoff walk. Hudler’s endearingly clumsy rah-rah on TV or best of all, a trip to the ballpark. Weekday day games are my fav, since they remind me of playing hooky.
The Royals have always made time pass agreeably. Until this season.
To call this year a disappointment is too generous. The spring narrative was 2022 would be like 2013, a team on the verge, playing .500 ball or better, still in the playoff hunt late in the season, poised to be a serious pennant contender in 2023.
The carefully curated collection of young arms was primed to take the next step, Mondesi had MVP talent, if he could – once and for all – avoid getting hurt. Perez, Dozier, and Santana would supply the muscle. Leadership, mentorship and wise words would emanate from Merrifield, Benintendi and Greinke. All of it designed to surround and support the emergence of the game’s next superstar, Witt the Younger.
Try 65 and 97 and last place in the American League Central. The young arms struggled, Mondesi appears snakebit, Dozier underperformed. When it became clear we stunk and the odor would linger, Santana, Benintendi and Merrifield were shipped off to playoff contenders for some warm bodies and vague hopes.
Because they were fresh out of spin, excuses and laurels upon which to rest, Moore, Matheny and Eldred fell victim to the mother of all rhetorical questions. What have you done for me lately?
When Merrifield showed his true colors in July, what little joy the Royals were offering me, dissipated to a trickle in the centerfield fountains and I was done. My time spent with the Royals was no longer passing agreeably. I’ll cop to being a fair-weather fan, but a bigger part of the equation for me involves expectations management. That’s on me, not the Royals.
I’ll be back in the spring. Witt is the real deal, and Melendez appears to be. Jury’s still out on Pasquantino. The pitchers will come around. They have to, right?
For my own peace of mind, the expectation bar will be set low. I’ve learned my lesson.