I randomly recall heading into another 2nd grade school day many years ago. As I crawled out of the passenger seat of the car, I turned and asked my grandma a simple, yet naively relevant question. It was this: “Will the Royals win this year?”
In an encouraging tone she replied “It’s a new year so you never know what could happen. Now go learn something!” Since that tiny and rather useless memory is now 18 years aged, Royals fans all know the answer. It was no.
If fortune telling was a human gift, what she should have answered with was “No. Nor will they win for the next 18 years. They’ll only let you down. Now go in there and learn to be a Yankees fan!”
Yankees fans see winning all the time, while Royals fans get countless opportunities to appreciate the potential in losing, the possibilities in blown saves and powerless hitters missing the big hit. There are no expectations of coming in 3rd in the division, let alone winning the division, nor are there expectations of winning a playoff series, or taking the pennant or being in the World Series. Winning the World Series? Are the Royals even allowed to do that anymore?
As a kid during summer afternoons I would read the sports section of the Topeka Capital-Journal. I would look at the standings, read the spreads and follow the stats. I would count how many teams had a worse record than the Royals, then I would yell out to whoever would listen “Can you believe it! 4 teams!” Or two teams. On a good streak, 6. How can someone be so excited about such a small feat?
I would look at our own record hoping we’d hit 70 wins that year or not lose 100. I’d hope we’d finish above at least one team in the American League central. I’d be in awe at the fact that we were only 10 games under .500 or 15 games out of first. This is the life of a Royals fan – little things. They are my team.
It seems they like to finish every year on a hot streak, stoking the fire for next season. By the time April rolls around, the spark on the field was dampend by another midwestern winter but my excitement for the new season is at a fever pitch. It sometimes lasts through May, sometimes not even until May, but that’s alright.
I’m still a fan, a lifer if you will. This year is no different.
I see potential in certain members of this team and I hope we don’t lose them. I hope we pay them what they’re worth and build upon them. We’ve had a lot of great names in our dugout only to let them go and watch them win in another city.
I’ve even begun to hope we unlock the secrets of human cloning so we can duplicate Billy Butler, David DeJesus and Zack Greinke. As the years progress and the losing seasons string together like stale popcorn decorations on a Christmas tree in July, I think our chances of cloning players is more likely than building a team from the ground up.
Building from the ground up has been our strategy for years. Supposedly our farm system is full of young talent. I can only hope it’s true. There it is again… the little things. I have faith in a young farm team full of talent I know nothing about and while their major league counterpart rides a 4 game losing streak, I’m just stoked we still remain above the lowly Cleveland Indians. Y-E-S!
Now maybe tonight we can give Strausburg his first Major League loss. No matter how great of a pitcher he becomes I’d never forget that little factoid. It might help out on Jeopardy! one day, or at least give a lowly Royals fan something to brag about.
This is the the life of a Royals fan and like family, win or lose I still love them. Win or lose there’s nothing better than a day at the ballpark or an evening in front of the Royals Network. There’s just something about that winning, though, that makes America’s true pastime a little sweeter.