Leftridge: Royals Headed to World Series, Clearly

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit TigersIt’s sad that it feels like the Kansas City Royals just won the World Series, but it is what it is.

When fans—and the organization as a whole—have been so beaten and battered with perpetual disappointment, sole possession of first place on June 18th feels like a major triumph.

I’m sure you’ve heard the scathingly depressing statistic by now, but in case you missed it, the last time the Royals were in first place at this exact point in the season, it was 1980. I was a year away from being born. The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, was a week away from its theatrical release. Ian Curtis of Joy Division had only killed himself the month prior. CNN, the first 24 hour news station, was launched. Richard Pryor set himself on fire trying to freebase cocaine. Jimmy Carter was doing Jimmy Carter Things.

And yes, the Royals have been in first place later in the season—obviously. They won their only World Series in 1985. They were in first through much of 2003.

But this feels… different.

In 1985, Kansas City was still a perennially contending team. The fact that they won a championship that year wasn’t necessarily shocking.

Tigers vs. Royals2003 was an absolute fluke.

But this year… this year was supposed to be different. Having jettisoned their best potential prospect in a decade or more for an ace pitcher, and having all of the other pieces in place, this was their window. Instead of throwing a leg over the sill, however, they started off down in the bushes, throwing rocks up at the glass.

The cornerstone third baseman was demoted. The slick fielding first base prodigy got lost at the plate and starting swinging at everything but the ball. The stalwart designated hitter—paid handsomely to do one thing, and one thing only—could no longer do that thing.

But then, as things are wont to do in the course of a marathon, things started shifting. They reshuffled the seating arrangement on the Titanic, moving the third base coach to the hitting instructor’s spot. The maligned first baseman started putting the ball in the seats with confident regularity. At least two of the three outfield spots continued being really, really good. The second starter in the rotation—who I scoffed at wildly upon acquisition—continued to surprise. The back-end of the bullpen continued to be the best tandem in all of baseball. One starting pitching prospect started actually living up to his bountiful potential by pitching aggressively and efficiently; another young arm surprised.

This is the team that people had expected to see heading into the season. A team that has now reeled off 10 straight wins for only the ninth time in club history. A team in steamroller-mode.

A team with pitching and defense this good should never LOSE nine straight games; but with an appropriate amount of offense—and 11 runs in back-to-back games is certainly more than appropriate—they should be able to WIN in bursts like this. And though they’ll assuredly backslide at some point (nothing gold can stay, Johnny), anything short of hovering in and around first place for the remainder of the season just won’t walk the dog.

royals-tigers-baseball.jpeg-1280x960The window of immediate-contention could easily be closing at the end of this season—James Shields will be gone, too many guys are making too much for what they do (as much as I love Greg Holland, I don’t believe in paying closers truckloads of money), and players like Lorenzo Cain are playing themselves out of KC’s price range on a daily basis—but for now, that window is still wide open. The Royals have 91 games left to make sure they don’t get caught with one leg in before it slams.

I’m willing to bet that, no matter what else happens in the coming months, we’ll all have a good time on the roller-coaster. If the Royals contend, so be it. And if they fall to the cellar, I will personally murder everyone responsible. (J/K, FBI! LOL.)

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13 Responses to Leftridge: Royals Headed to World Series, Clearly

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    Those the gods would destroy they first drive mad.

  2. chuck says:

    There is a straight line reference from defenestration to the frequently dashed and unrealistic hopes of baseball fans in KC.

    I quit watching baseball after 1992, but I would like to see them (The Royals) win for all my friends who still follow the team.

  3. harley says:

    not so quick lefty.
    lots of games to play.
    and remember you were down on the team earlier.
    like glaze.
    lets see what happens. long season. can theyget as hot this season
    after the all star break as they did last year? it remains to be seen.

  4. Mysterious J says:

    How many guys do you really see as being paid too much for what they do? Shields is the top paid guy on the team at $13.5m, he will probably be making more like $18m this time next year…quite possibly more.

    Gordon might not be a great value at just over $11m, but he is ranked #7 overall in all of MLB in WAR.

    Ok, Butler is overpaid at $8.5M based on what you have gotten so far, but at least he is showing signs of being the guy who went berserk at the place a few years ago.

    Going down the list of team payroll, Luke Hochevar is the only other guy who is obviously overpaid…even if he weren’t out for the year.

    As far as Holland making truckloads of money, he is at $4.6m. That is 9th on the team. Ok, ideally you pull someone off the scrap heap for nothing (like we did with Soria) but then you probably don’t get 61 out of 63 saves like you have now. You do recall that between Monty and Soria this was a pretty consistent trouble spot for the club right?

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      Yeah, I was specifically focusing on Butler, Wade Davis, Aoki, Guthrie, Holland… (Holland being someone who WILL make big money next signing.) I actually think Gordon is a steal right now, value-wise.

      They’re making up for it with exceptional value in other areas– Salvy, Escobar, Vargas (whose signing I ridiculed, but man that’s some tasty crow and he’s been worth every penny)– but Cain stands to see a really nice bump if he continues to stay healthy and be productive.

  5. harley says:

    GLAZE GLAZE GLAZE GLAZE GLAZE

    sports is not your bag. Our stat people analyzed your number and you
    eseentially used FUZZY match to come to your 60% number.
    we can prove it. That nuber is as phony as wisluns stories.
    stick to comedy. You’re going to dowell in joco…but you need
    to consult with Harley on how to doit.
    this is not some mid town nor low income area you’re coming to.
    you need Harleys experience in the industry to really understand
    how to operate in a high class neighborhood. the legends
    and Westport are so different than joco.
    remember…the place you aretaking over had no business….
    I SUGGEST YOU CONTACT law4life1000@yahoo.comand
    get a consulting meeting with us.
    thanks…good luck..
    but as always….stick to comedy….sports is not your bag.
    you may be an “authority” to those who know nothing about
    sports and stats…but to those of us who know how its really
    done and what to really look for you’re an amateur.
    your friend
    Harley

  6. chuck says:

    Nuber

    Hey Harley/JoJo, I had to look up “nuber”, from your comment.

    “That nuber is as phony as wisluns stories.”

    This from the Urban Dictionary.

    “A person that has perma-fried their brain through either drugs or alcohol. Stems from the latin root numer, meaning number, shows that an individual has destroyed a large number of brain cells.

    That guy smoked so much he Nubered his mind, I don’t think he can function at a level on par with the average 8 year old. ”

    Just doin a little “research”.

    You are always “nuber” one with me.

  7. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Promptly swept at home by Seattle. LOL! Nice job, Royals. That “whooshing” sound you heard was all the air coming out of the fans’ balloon.

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      yeah, that didn’t feel so great. But hey, here comes Greinke and Kershaw! SWEET.

      • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

        My daughter was one of the kids who threw out the first pitch of Friday’s game. She got to throw it to Eric Stonestreet. We should’ve left immediately after that, cause it was all downhill from there.

        • Brandon Leftridge says:

          That’s awesome! What a great memory… even if it WAS a sad, Royals-esque loss.

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