Leftridge: Holy Fu**ing Sh*t, Royals Still in Playoff Hunt

1985coverI remember bits and pieces about being four years old, odd things that make me question just what kind of bizarre childhood I truly had.

I remember that I had two Hot Wheels that I unimaginatively named “Refrigerator” and “High Chair.” I had a pet cockroach named George (we weren’t dirt poor, but we weren’t exactly the Rockefellers, clearly) who my cousin killed by decapitation. (That bastard is in prison now, though for something far more serious than roachacide.) I remember pilfering crabapples from a neighbor’s tree and my grandfather threatening to “cut a switch” because of the theft. My uncle lived in our basement for a spell, and I thought there was a monster down there, mostly because I never saw him on account of the weird hours he kept.

I remember all of this peculiar, trivial stuff, but I’d be an absolute liar if I told you that I remember the Royals playing in the World Series that autumn. I don’t remember the jubilation, or staying up past my bedtime to sneak a peek at history. I don’t recall how this city must have felt, the aura of excitement that must surely accompany a winner. In short, I was around, but I understood it about as well as a housecat might.

Nor do I really remember 1989, when they went 92-70 but failed to make the playoffs. I was eight that year, and while I had a passive interest, it was mostly in deciding which player was the coolest. (It was Kevin Seitzer, by the way.)

hamelinBy 1994’s strike shortened season, I was paying more attention. The Royals were back in contention for the first time in a million years. Bob Hamelin was crushing the ball, giving hope to doughy white kids far and wide; David Cone won the Cy Young that year. I amassed a thousand Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas baseball cards, all with the intention of retiring at 30. I was mad for all things baseball.

And then the strike happened and everything fell apart. They traded Cone back to the Blue Jays in an effort to dump salary. Hamelin turned out to be Just Another Fat Guy before becoming little more than a trivia question and a Hot Snack.

The futility snowballed, becoming an avalanche of embarrassment and heartache. Since ’94, the Royals have posted one winning season—a 2003 fluke that featured Not Ready For Prime Time Players like Brian Anderson, Runelvys Hernandez, Kyle Snyder and Mendy Lopez. (And let us never forget the aged—Rondell White, Curtis Leskanic, Paul Abbott—and the dead: Jose Lima.)

In the years since, there hasn’t been much to get excited about. A masterful 2009 Cy Young win for the incomparable Zack Greinke. A handful of decent seasons from Mike Sweeney. A period flush with Nippon Ham Fighter jokes.

But that’s changing now, right before our very eyes.

As of Wednesday night’s thrilling Red Sox/Rays conclusion, the Kansas City Royals sit TWO GAMES out of the second AL Wild Card Spot.



And although ESPN still gives them only a 15% chance of winning a spot, and although they don’t necessarily control their own destiny (they’ve gotta win, sure, but they need some other teams to get busy losing along the way), goddamn if this isn’t exciting.

It’s the middle of September, and the Royals are STILL IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT. It’s an incredibly foreign feeling, to be scoreboard watching when football is well underway. It’s a curious feeling, like finding a solitary Chili Cheese Frito in your bag of plain; you want to eat it—who DOESN’T like a Chili Cheese Frito?—but at the same time, you don’t necessarily trust it. Single Chili Cheese Fritos don’t magically appear out of nowhere, and the Royals don’t compete in September.

It feels like a setup, maybe.

wsringAs Kansas City Royals fans, we’re the dog who’s been kicked one too many times. Are we dumb for believing that when you call us over, we’re not just going to get a loafer to the ribs again? Maybe, but I also like to think that it’s the resiliency of a passionate fan-base.

That said, I’m not going to begin selling off priceless family heirlooms (my dead grandmother’s paintings of owls, circa 1972, anyone?) to buy postseason tickets quite yet. Again, the odds currently sit at 15%. But regardless of pesky things like “statistical probabilities” and “reality,” I’m going to enjoy this moment, however fleeting.

It is the middle of September, and the Royals are in a playoff hunt.


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15 Responses to Leftridge: Holy Fu**ing Sh*t, Royals Still in Playoff Hunt

  1. mike t. says:

    1985 was alot of fun through the playoffs and the WS. kc was absolutely bonkers, made so even better since we played the cardinals. the rest of the country probably could have cared less, but for fans and even non-fans alike, it was a blast.

    • the dude says:

      I was at game 5 and as a Cards fan it was not fun.
      Every dog has it’s day in the sun, no?

    • harley says:

      mike t….It was electric…especially since I was watching the
      game upin Columbia where our house was divided 50/50
      between kc and st. Louis.
      I can only hope that one day that returns.
      ku championships were fun too….but nothing like those 2
      weeks in October……

      • mike t. says:

        i’d invoke the chiefs winning the ‘super bowl’ and how that electrified the town also, but man that just seems sooo long ago and is depressing. ’85 is beginning to sound like ancient history too for that matter. what do you do… get old… glory days… die. argh.

  2. Mysterious J says:

    I never understand why so many youthful writers are anxious to make sure their readers know just how youthful they are. One the the thing that makes The Economist a great read is that the authors are totally anonymous, thus the reader is free to imagine the writer is a wise expert on the topic at hand.

    • Well, in this case, that was kind of the whole angle of the piece… that I wasn’t around to experience the good times. Not because I’m 32 (which hardly makes me a youngster), but because it has been decades since they’ve played games of any significance.

      • Mysterious J says:

        Well they were in a race 10 years ago…but yes, this is definitely a novelty. That doesn’t mean I want to read about your childhood, but hey…maybe other people do.

        I would suggest you make it a point to enjoy your last few years of protesting that you are not a youngster. First of all, you ARE a youngster…and second of all, the long years of protesting that you are not old will be here before you know it. 🙂

        • It’s all perspective, I suppose. I work in a corporate environment where 90% of the newly hired folks are between the ages of 22 and 24. I think it’s making me age twice as fast.

    • the dude says:

      I gotta defend Lefty here J because this is more of a blog news site than a straightup news site. I like it on blog news websites when the author injects a little of their own experience on different subjects. It gives me an idea of where they come from.

  3. harley says:

    lefty…once this team tastes a little success they’ll be great.
    Allthese guys on kcc are about beating down other people…that’s
    why they sit where they are…at the bottom of the pile.
    They’ve never tasted success so they hate anyone who is
    successful. Glaze and I are the most talked about people on
    the local blogs. Why…we’ve accomplished things in life.he other hooplas arejust hanging on…waiting for the
    checks in the mailbox.
    hang in there lefty…nice article…congrats on new house and
    car…you’ll see that all that is just the start of good things.
    I mean some of the writers here on kcc live in section 8 housing. I
    mean really bad. There’s nothing wrong with it…but they never dreamed of anything more. They’ve become satisfied with a lower living level and they’ve become
    old and tired and have never aspired to do anything better
    the royals…they’ve been successfu l at a lower level…they know
    what success is.
    You’ll feel it and someday and you’ll never want to go back to where
    you were before.
    Good luck…seems things are going well for ya.

  4. Balbonis Moleskine says:

    Im only a year older than Lefty and I remember ’85 well. I went to the games and saw the ALCS and two WS games. Perhaps if you had a better dad who took you to the games you would remember instead of letting you play with cockroaches while he drank Champale.

    • the dude says:

      And on Friday night it was skies the limit- Seagram’s Wine Coolers to get the wife drunk.

      • Stomper says:

        Hey Dude, couldn’t let the Cardinals issue go as you identified yourself as a fan of theirs. Giving away my age here and not sure how old you are but as a kid, they were my favorite team and the ’67 version ranks as one of the best all time in my opinion. I recall struggling to get decent radio reception here in KC. Listening to the announcer describe Gibson blowing away batters. Lineup that included Cepeda, Flood, Brock, Boyer, Javier, McCarver, Maris at the end of his career. Even had Carlton on the staff. KC deserved some glory but I have to admit we stole game 6 from you in “85

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