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  • Writer's pictureMike Matson

Powder Blues

This column was published September 16, 2023 in the Manhattan Mercury.


On the last day of March this year, as has been our custom, my wife and I found ourselves in Kauffman Stadium for the Kansas City Royals opening day, or Opening Day, depending on the temperature of your passion.

For years, we have shared season tickets with a group of friends and traditionally get to six or eight games each year. It’s also not unusual for us to plan our evenings around their games on TV and listen to west coast games on the radio when we turn in.

The boys in powder blue failed to cover themselves in glory on Opening Day. The Twins shut us out and you can count the number of hits we got on two fingers. The Royals then proceeded to stink up the field in their next several games and for the first time since their inception in 1969, when I was a freshly scrubbed, baseball card-collecting lad, I was done. I’ve not watched a pitch since April.

No more trips to the ballpark, no more planning my evening around a game on TV, no more Royals blogs. Nothing. I cut ‘em loose. Thanks for comin’ in. Don’t let the bullpen gate hit you in the hindquarters on your way out.

c. Rich Storry USA TODAY Sports

Which begs the question, why? The Royals have had a boatload of crappy seasons since 1969 and I still hung in there. There was a time when I could determine Vida Blue’s earned run average or George Brett’s batting average to the decimal point in real time. I mean, I’m the guy who still thinks fondly of Richie Scheinblum, Pete LaCock, Neifi Pérez and Bip Roberts.

You can chalk part of it up to high expectations. The 2018 draft treasure trove of young pitchers, by all accounts, destined to be the next Bret Saberhagen and Dan Quisenberry, turned out only to be the next Runelvys Hernandez and Jerry Don Gleaton.

Maybe I’m just done being disappointed. After appearing in back-to-back World Series’ in 2014 and ‘15, I want them to do it again. There’s no doubt I have high expectations of my big-league ballplayers, probably unrealistic ones. On the other hand, somebody wins the World Series every year.

It has nothing to do with contracts. Players create the economic value and the marketplace responds. It has everything to do with performance on the field. When they don’t meet those expectations, I get frustrated. Frustrated is no way to go through life, so I walk away.

My emotions with this ballclub have spanned the gamut. In the 2014 Wild Card game that started in September and ended in October, Salvy scalded a breaking ball down the left field line in the bottom of the 12th right in front of us and Christian Colón raced home in the Royals' first playoff victory in nearly three decades. Standing with my wife and 40,500 of my closest friends, I literally cried with joy.

This year, I’m so disappointed, the Royals don’t even elicit a yawn. Writing this column is the first time I’ve thought about them in six months. New ownership, new front office, new skipper, new pitching coach, plans for a new downtown stadium. It’s all just window dressing. Show me some W’s, baby.

There is no joy in Mudville. The thrill is gone. The passion has grounded into an inning-ending double play.

I’ll be back in the spring with my high expectations. It’s what this game does to you.



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