by John Viril—
For the first time in 10 years, the Kansas City Royals are playing games that mean something in August. After storming from behind to win 9-6 against Boston, the Royals are 60-53 and 4.5 games behind a wild card spot. The Royals are finally part of a pennant race after spending half a generation on the outside looking in. It only took a measly 17-4 run to make it happen.
I’m used to caring more about minor league box scores than what happened with the big club by August. The first Chiefs pre-season game was sort of my yearly signal to ignore baseball and switch my attention to football. But not this year. This year I’ve experienced an entirely new obsession…
I’m glued to MLB.TV.
I’ve had MLB.TV for the last two seasons (ever since I started this blog). I have pretty much just watched the Royals. Now, I’m scoreboard watching and cannot resist flipping to Detroit games—when the game tracker shows runners on base—or to Texas praying that the Royals can make up ground on the Rangers.
Tonight, I was screaming at the hapless Astros as the Rangers pushed across 4 runs in the 8th to obliterate a 4-3 deficit. I cheered as the Yankees knocked off Detroit to break the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak. Finally, the Royals gained a game on the Central Division leaders. I reveled in the unexpected delight of the Dodgers rallying from 6 runs down to knock off Tampa Bay and groaned when the Giants succumbed to Baltimore in the 10th. I gloated as Cleveland continued to implode.
It’s like I’ve suddenly discovered baseball is broadcast in 3D.
Right now, Royals fans can’t help but feel this isn’t quite real. Three weeks ago, the Royals had dropped 5 straight games just before the All-Star break. After making some noise in April and June, it seemed that reality would set in with yet another nose dive. After two decades in which any glimmer of hope ended up quenched by cruel reality, this is a fanbase that doesn’t quite know how to react to their dreams coming true.
As the Royals “playoff odds” on ESPN keep creeping upward (they’re now over 20%!), you can feel the momentum build. The Royals are breaking local TV rating records on FSN game after game. They sold 7,000 walk-up tickets on a Monday. If they can keep it up through the looming 5 game series in Detroit that begins August 14, Kansas City will explode.
As for me, I’m still complaining about Ned Yost’s decisions, Dayton Moore’s roster moves, and the team’s phobia against taking a walk. I’m just having a lot more fun doing it.
Get more Kansas City gear in the Royals Store