Being a Royals fan, I’ve had some pretty good experiences watching baseball the past couple seasons. The Royals brought up highly touted prospects up from the minors and they developed pretty nicely. I was able to watch those players grow and improve and build a winning culture in Kansas City. I experienced the heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series when the Royals were “this” close to winning. That gut wrenching loss was made up for the very next year when Kansas City defeated the Mets in five games. And now I get to watch all my favorite players from those teams move on from the Royals.
The Royals weren’t always as competitive as they’ve been for the past couple years. In fact, they were awful. Luckily I was too young to realize just how awful they were. But during that stretch of mediocre baseball, there was a GM with a process even before Sam Hinkie came along for the 76ers. That man is Dayton Moore. When he first became the GM for the Royals, he promised the people of Kansas City a World Championship. That seemed pretty unrealistic for where the team was at, at the time. But he built the team through the draft and developed a team that fits Kauffman Stadium.
Looking back at the World Series teams for the Royals, they were loaded with talent. You had your defensive wizards Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez, your speedsters Jarrod Dyson, Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando, your big sluggers Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales, and the focal point of the team, the lockdown relievers Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. Those teams were really special.
The two playoff runs the Royals had in 2014 and 2015 were magical. There were countless moments of clutch hitting and pitching, comeback after comeback. In 2014 there is the infamous Wild Card game, the exciting sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. And if it weren’t for possibly the best World Series pitcher ever, the Royals would have won the World Series. My heart was broken when Alex Gordon was stranded on third as the tying run.
The next year, the Royals showed that the previous year was no fluke, they came out swinging any way they possibly could. Kansas City was in first place for most of the year and they got the 1 seed in the AL. There they ran into the young Astros, who gave them a really good fight but the Royals managed to squeak by even though it seemed as if the season was over in the 8th inning of Game 4. The Royals were down by 5 runs and everyone in the lineup contributed to the effort of forcing a Game 5, that they would then win. After that the Royals were matched up against the Toronto Blue Jays, an offensive juggernaut that they were able to keep quiet for most of the six game series.
Two World Series in a row, there was no way that this team was going to lose both. The Royals handled business against the Mets the same way they had during all the other series, timely hitting, spectacular defense and an unhittable bullpen. The moment strike three was called in the 12th inning of Game 5 my arms went straight up, much like what Wade Davis did after he threw the last pitch. It was the first championship that I had experienced as a hardcore fan of any team.
Those days are long gone now. So many key pieces of those teams are gone. James Shields and Billy Butler left for Free Agency after the 2014 Series. Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto did what they were supposed to do as rentals and left after the 2015 season. Kendrys Morales and Edinson Volquez hit free agency after the 2016 season and Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson were traded in the offseason after the 2016 season. The hardest moment was the news of Yordano Ventura’s passing, he was a beloved figure in Kansas City with still so much potential that wasn’t able to be fulfilled. This past offseason has seen Eric Hosmer go to the Padres, Lorenzo Cain go to the Brewers and Mike Moustakas remains unsigned while I’m typing this and it is very unlikely he returns to KC.
There are still some members of the championship team left as the Royals look to rebuild for a few years. Salvador Perez is still behind the plate and won’t be going anywhere for a while, if ever. Alex Gordon and his Gold Gloves are still roaming the outfield at Kauffman Stadium, Danny Duffy, a reliever for the championship team, is now the teams Ace, Alcides Escobar was brought back on a one year deal to stay at shortstop for the time being and Kelvin Herrera is still throwing heat out of the bullpen for Kansas City.
It’s going to suck having to experience all the losing after so much success. But I will have good memories to look back on and no matter what the record, nothing can beat watching the Kansas City Royals.