It is hard to be a Royals fan. For a generation, no Royals team has made a playoff appearance, truly contended, or even retained a perennial All Star. Aside from the fluke 2003 season, the Royals would be approaching, or even owning, the record for most consecutive losing seasons in professional sports. In short, Royals fans have endured one of the worst professional franchises of our time.
In the offseason, Kansas City convinced itself it could win. What did it matter that the rotation would be headed by a career journeyman, Bruce Chen, and filled out with the likes Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, Danny Duffy and Luis Mendoza? What did it matter than Ned Yost had a career record of 577-659? This was #OurTime. After essentially two decades of losing, the team was supposed to win. With the Mid-Summer classic coming to town this summer, Kansas City could finally have its coming out party on a national stage.
2012 was supposed to be different.
It wasn’t. After the young Royals began the season with a 12 game skid, with 10 losses in a row at home, the season was effectively over. This team couldn’t pitch. This team couldn’t hit when it mattered. This team couldn’t win.
Recently, the Royals hit a stretch where they have swept the Milwaukee Brewers, won a series against the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals, and won a series against the Houston Astros. Winning 7 of 9 games, many coming from behind, the city has championed the team’s grit and fighter’s mentality.
Fans seem to forget the Pittsburgh Pirates swept the Royals in discouraging fashion before the 7-2 stretch, with the Royals showing little grit or resolve. The St. Louis Cardinals blasted the Royals out of their own ballpark this weekend. The Royals have had a season long battle to score run, exacerbated by Manager Ned Yost electing to bench young stud Eric Hosmer and continue to start underachieving fan favorite (and sabermetrician laughing stock) Jeff Francouer in the five spot of the lineup. With a slumping roster and questionable management, the Royals currently sit at 31-39, fourth place in (far and away) the worst division in baseball.
Fans around the metro went into this weekend full of hope. So far, this season has been a disaster, yet the Royals remained just 4.5 games back of the AL Central lead. As the weekend series played out, it became apparent the Royals are not prepared to contend in 2012. Although the Royals have shown some fight in recent games, this deserves not to be celebrated but expected. 2012 was supposed to #OurTime. The Royals were supposed to win. Winners are supposed to win series against the Brewers and Astros and steal a series against the Cardinals. This is the play and passion Royals fans should expect. The Royals are 31-39 and in fourth place. They do not deserve your praise or admiration.
The Royals are a losing ball club that has not met their preseason goals. Although possessing arguably the best collection of young talent in the game, the Royals have amassed nothing but a losing record. Eric Hosmer, the face of the franchise, has regressed more than anyone could have expected. Alex Gordon, while showing signs of coming to life, has stunk. Jeff Francouer has been Jeff Francouer. Yuniesky Betancourt is starting at second base. Bruce Chen topped out around 85 mph in his last start. Jarrod Dyson is a horrible player. Felipe Paulino has been lost to Tommy John. Jonathan Sanchez doesn’t care about the team. The position of catcher has been an absolute joke. Yost’s managing has made fans lose their appetite. The rotation has included no names like Will Smith. The player leading professional baseball in HRs is in AAA. This Royals team has a lot to figure it out for it to deserve our respect. And any team 8 games under .500 in the worst division of baseball does not deserve your respect.
The optimism surrounding this losing ball club, from within the organization and out, proves the Royals are not ready to win. Winners expect to win, to fight the hard fight, and to overcome adversity. This 2012 Kansas City Royals team has yet to do that. With continued strong play, this organization might do just that, but it has yet to show the ability to be a winner in 2012. The Royals, simply, are experiencing the growing pains developing teams face. While this is a positive sign for a team and a city that has become indifferent to losing, it is also a sign that the Royals are not ready to win. Kansas City is a team that will win in the near future; they are far too talented to continue their losing ways. Kansas City, you should cheer on the team you were told to expect; do not settle for a fourth place team in the worst division in baseball. We were told we were going to have a winner; DEMAND A WINNER.