Kansas City Royals are on top of the World (Series at least)

Simply put, that was a great World Series. The Kansas City Royals trailed in EVERY game of the Fall Classic, yet somehow won this World Series without an inkling of a doubt, four games to one. The past two nights were just about as exciting as October (and November) baseball can get.

Way back on March 20th, I wrote an article on a site I used to write for projecting the Royals would go 88-74, saying:

The Central will be tough, but if the Royals play Kansas City baseball, they can find themselves atop the division by season’s end.

My fondest memory of that article was how someone on Facebook simply trolled the piece with the comment, “Are you drunk?”. I guess perhaps I was drunk, drunk on the Kool-Aid I drank last October watching a bunch of underdogs go to the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series before falling 90 feet short of their first championship in 29 years. They made sure that didn’t happen this year, and now they too are probably still drunk with all the champagne that is flowing over all of them.

Six months later, I had little doubt in my mind that this year, the Royals would not fall short. Why?

This team is something special. It’s not simply because they may be on the cusp of a dynasty. It’s not just because they hoisted the World Series trophy. It’s because Dayton Moore had a vision. A vision he developed through the MLB Draft, and he imposed onto Ned Yost. It was a vision that included a lot of patience, a lot of turning his cheek the other way to a lot of naysaying on “draft busts”, but at the end of the day, a vision of a team that could win… and win again… and maybe even again.

The 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals should be shown to Little Leaguers across the nation. They are a story of perseverance, resiliency and desire. They show that now matter what the odds are, no matter what deficits a team may lack in certain areas of a game, if you come together as a team, you can always win.

I always throw in a Yankee comparison, but this Royals team is a lot like those late-90s teams. It didn’t matter what the score was, it didn’t matter what inning it was, it didn’t matter how many outs there were. You give a Kansas City Royal a bat, they were going to start a rally.

They had to have the same feeling that those Yankees teams and fans had: they weren’t going to lose. Unlike some of those “Mets fans”, who started clearing out of Citi Field (not all of them, the true fans got a treat when the Mets came back out to thank them, which was pretty awesome in itself) when the Royals took command, the loyal Royals who had traveled far to Queens didn’t move, despite entering the ninth inning down 2-0 against one of the premier young pitchers in all of baseball.

Why? They knew they would win.

And they did.

As a former editor of a Minor League Baseball site (in which my managing editor was a Royals fan, so congrats to Dave Hill) and now a writer of all things Minor League Baseball for the great prospect analyst John Sickels at minorleagueball.com (who incidentally is also a Royals fan, so congrats, bossman), this Royals team was a blue print to the success stories of this season. The Year of the Prospect they called it. But the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros, the Minnesota Twins all followed the Royals lead. And so did the New York Mets, which is why hopefully, years down the road, this World Series won’t be forgotten.

Build your team with homegrown talent, and have patience. They will pay off.

The second overall pick in 2005: Alex Gordon. The second overall pick in 2007: Mike Moustakas. The third overall pick in 2008: Eric Hosmer. The fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft: Christian Colon. That 16-year old kid they signed in 2006: that would be World Series MVP Salvador Perez.

The one thing in common that all of the above names share is the fact that the baseball world turned their backs on them at one point or another. Some were labeled busts, some where deemed never to reach the potential of the pick that the Royals invested in them. From an individual standpoint, that could be very true. But together, as a squad that grew together from the depths on the Minor Leagues, this team is borderline invincible.

Throw in the small pieces that no one else wanted: the Lorenzo Cain, the Alcides Escobar and the Wade Davis for example, and the Royals system made these guys a machine. Everyone said that they would suffer letting names like James Shields and Billy Butler walk. As I wrote in that article in March, I never thought they would miss a beat. And when they brought on Edinson Volquez and then later Johnny Cueto, this team became one of destiny.

Terry Collins is taking a lot of heat, and unfortunately, it is deservedly so. But let’s make one thing clear. There is no question that Matt Harvey need to go out there in the ninth. If you are going to be mad at Collins, be mad for the right reason. Many are, but trust me, many simply don’t get it. Jeurys Familia was taxed this post season. Collins knew he couldn’t simply keep pumping him out there, no matter what his wife told him.

The problem wasn’t sending Harvey out there, it was not pulling him when the first Royal reached base. It opened a can of worms that allowed ZOOM to get himself in scoring position and Colon to become a legend of Kansas City lore. Only the Royals can make those two guys relevant in October.

Mets fans should hold their heads high. They weren’t supposed to be here yet. Steven Matz and Michael Conforto were a year away. Now, this pitching staff got a taste of the World Series, which is invaluable experience for this squad that — should they keep their young pieces together — will see the Fall Classic again quite soon.

Just ask the Royals. A team that wasn’t supposed to be there. A team that nearly took down the might San Francisco Giants. A team that took that lesson and turned it into their first World Championship on THIRY YEARS.

Welcome to the Yost Season.

And to my favorite Iowanians (or whatever it is you are called from Iowa), all I have to say is:

giphy
GREAT SCOTT! Royals win!!!!!!

 

 

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