Editor’s note: This post was written last night but went unpublished owing to a communication miscue.
This is it.
This is everything.
No series this season has been more fraught with tangible implications than the upcoming five game show-down with the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers.
Forget October, THIS is the postseason. And as someone who was still watching Sesame Street and occasionally crapping his pants the last time the Royals played games this meaningful, I’m beyond excited.
The next five games will explicitly shape the remainder of the Royals season. A five game road trip against the preseason favorite to win the division (and possibly the World Series) will seal the fate of this scrappy squad once and for all.
And boy, is that a terrifying proposition.
Not because the Royals can’t hang—their beat down of the Boston Red Sox proved they can—but because they just lost two out of three to the lowly Miami Marlins.
Because the suddenly sufficient Mike Moustakas is walking around with a booted hoof. Because sparkplug elder statesman Miguel Tejada is done for the year. Because Tim Collins still can’t seem to figure it out and Kelvin Herrera is, and forever will be, the Number One Cause of Nervous Diarrhea. Because Bruce Chen isn’t this good. Because the roster now has Chris Getz and Elliot Johnson vying for the “Most Embarrassing Player to Have on Your Team Award” on a nightly basis. Because Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio don’t really solve anything.
Injuries, ineffectiveness and inertia are all unavoidable parts of a 162 game season, and unfortunately, it seems like everything is hitting Kansas City at once. Truly great teams overcome these obstacles; it’s actually part of what makes baseball great. Mediocre teams—or even merely decent ones, really—let speed bumps wreck their suspension, though.
It’s the latter part of this equation that worries me.
So they’ll head into battle banged up and struggling. If they’re truly as strong as their post-All Star record suggests, they’ll be fine. If they were simply riding an unbelievable wave of luck, though, Detroit could be a horrific slaughterhouse of epic proportions.
I see it like this: If the Royals sweep the series, I’m immediately setting aside money for a playoff game or two. If they take four of five, I’ll still probably start looking into getting some days off in October, just in case. If they take three, I’ll be happy, but remain firmly entrenched in reality. If they take two, I’ll shrug, give a dismissive, “well, what are you gonna do?” and begin thinking about offseason second base acquisitions. If they win one, I’ll carry on, reminding myself as I do every baseball season (usually in May, but whatever) that there’s more to life than sports. If they get swept, well… I guess I wouldn’t be shocked, necessarily, but I highly doubt they’ll get SWEPT, right?
I mean, haha, they’re better than that, aren’t they? Even with Getz at second and Carroll at third and Johnson coming in to pinch bunt in the top of the 9th, down by eight runs and with nobody on?
The series kicks off tonight at 6:10 pm CT with Jeremy Guthrie (12-8, 4.10 ERA) and a struggling offense taking on Anibal Sanchez (10-7, *gulp* 2.58 ERA) and his wrecking crew. (Forgive me for pointing out the impossibly good Miguel Cabrera’s six homers and 14 RBIs over the last eight days.)
And just like that, I’ve managed to talk myself out of believing. Such is the life of a lifelong Royals’ fan.
I’ll still watch, though. Hopefully, you will too.
So… play ball?