By the time you read this, the 2010-2011 Kansas City Royals will have played their last game of the season on their home turf. It’s six-thirty pm as I start writing this, so I can’t declare a winner lest I want to have a “Dewey Wins!” situation on my hands, but based on Tuesday night’s game play, my outlook is optimistic in terms of a home team victory. On Wednesday afternoon, team manager Ned Yost (not to confused with the ever-interesting @fakenedyost on Twitter) said, ““We wanted to improve our defense beginning of the year and we feel like we’ve done that to a great degree. We wanted to get these young guys up here, we wanted to give them experience and we’ve done that.” In other words, to quote a well-known slogan, you’ve come a long way, baby.
In Yost’s first full year coaching for the Royals, we saw a lot of rookies playing. A lot. The bullpen, with Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Nathan Adcock, and Everett Teaford has performed well above any reasonable expectations. And after Eric Hosmer was brought up on 6 May (a day now known to many as Hosmas), Dayton Moore seemed to decide to make it his mission to win the title of youngest team in the Major League Baseball, which has been a tremendous amount of fun, though, granted, it stings a bit that only two regular players are older than I am. Give me a six-pack of an underseasoned Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella when my previous alternative was a leftover and microwaved Mike Jacobs. In particular, the callup of Perez, who had been in AA just weeks before, signaled the Royals’ present commitment to their farm system. The fact that he has hit almost .340 since gives me warm feelings in special places.
Permit me to completely delude myself, but until pitchers and catchers report and we’re forced to construct hypothetical starting rotations, I am utterly sold on what is happening with this team. For the first time since I was wearing days of the week underpants, this team will return almost its entire starting lineup from the last game of this year to the first game next year. Perhaps Lorenzo Cain substitutes for Melky Caberera in center field, but almost everyone else will be back. And that’s something I’m actually happy about.
What is sad is that my family is sitting here watching the last home game. This sucks. We’ve watched the Royals on TV or in person for months and months because that’s what we like to do for fun. We holler at Chris Getz, debate whether Hosmer will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this offseason or next, and root unabashedly for the ball-throwing Lilliputian Tim Collins. Even my misdirected Cardinals-loving stepson has thrown himself into the fortunes of the Royals.
Which is good, because not only does he recognize a burgeoning success story, but also because it means he gets to continue to live here.