Embrace the Winning Ways

36. That’s the “Magic Number” for the Royals right now, and as fans, it’s time to embrace their winning ways.

I know that this town has been filled with skepticism for the past month (or two) about the Royals, considering their dreadful past. But as I’ve stated before, there is something different about this Royals team this year that we just can’t ignore them.

Tonight, the Royals open up a three game set against Texas, who isn’t having the greatest season, to say the least. The Royals face opponents all with records either at or below .500 in the last month of the season, so the competition isn’t hard by any means. I know that baseball is an unpredictable sport, especially when the season is 162 games; however, it’s time to just start embracing the Royals.

Twitter exploded this week when Sports Illustrated released their regional cover, and on it was Billy Butler with the title “The Royal Treatment.” A certain few people I follow immediately reacted harshly, referencing all of the past supposed SI cover ‘jinxes’ and practically stating that this season would also be jinxed. I really just don’t understand that mentality.

For the first time in 29 years, the Royals are legitimate contenders, and all we can talk about is how an SI cover is going to ‘jinx’ our team? What we should be talking about, is how the Royals are winning in dominating fashion, and how they’re doing it without Eric Hosmer, who is supposed to be the franchise’s cornerstone player.

Billy Butler has turned his season around in the second half, which some of that we can probably attribute to his time playing first base since Hosmer has been on the DL. Alex Gordon continues to be the Gold Glover that he is, the starting rotation has been lights out, and Davis and Holland are still the two most dominate late game pitchers in the league.

With just over a month left in the season, the Royals are in first place and have now entered a war of attrition. We’ve heard the players in the clubhouse talk about chasing the Orioles to secure home-field advantage, but I think at this point fans would be happy with either a division win or wildcard spot. The Royals are in perfect position to get one or the other.

It’s August 22, and the Royals aren’t the ones chasing the leaders. They’re the leader everyone else is chasing. It’s a damn good feeling, and I for one, am enjoying the ride. Forget about jinxes, advanced metrics, player-pitcher histories, or team history. Instead, focus on dingers, RBIzzzzz, and Greg Holland K’s.

The Royals are in first place, and it’s time to start embracing it, Kansas City. We don’t know when we’ll ever get to again.

The Royals Really are Contenders

We’ve been here before. We’ve felt the excitement, adrenaline rush, and feelings of hopefulness. We’ve been in the middle of a playoff race, but not like this.

This time, it feels more real. Sure, we we’re talking about the playoffs last year, but the Royals were still behind in both the wildcard and division standings and their chances of overtaking their competitors was slim. As some would say, last year we were holding on to a false hope.

The crazy thing about this year is that the Royals are in the same spot they were last year, except in the standings. They had an identical record (61-54 today last year) but we’re trailing the wild card spot by 4.5 games. Detroit pretty much had the division locked up, so the wild card spot was our only real hope last year.

This year, the other teams are chasing the Royals. With a 1.5 game lead in the wild card and only 0.5 GB the Tigers, this playoff race is beginning to feel real. Like the Royals actually have a chance.

I’ve been on this earth for 18 years, lived in Kansas City for 18 years, and so have been a Royals fan for 18 years by default. If there’s anything I know about the Royals, it’s that they’re a losing baseball team. They can’t possibly be contending for a playoff spot, could they?

They are. Last year I had my reservations about the playoff race, and rightfully so. The Royals hadn’t seen a playoff game in 27 years, so what’s to say year 28 would be any different?

In year 29, the hope is real. Fans are rallying together to support the hottest team in baseball, and either learning or re-learning how to watch a baseball team in a pennant race. For myself and others my age, we’re just now learning. We’ve never experienced a winning team, and it’s finally nice to get to watch one.

Some of you may still be skeptical about this team, and I understand why. Anything can happen in the final 46 games, including a major collapse. The Royals play only four teams with records at or above .500 though, so I don’t see that happening.

As the end of the season nears, Kansas City is once again excited about baseball. The Royals are contending for a playoff spot, and very well could win the division. This team has been the definition of a roller coaster, and they certainly aren’t letting us down with their latest winning streak.

This year feels like it’s going to be something special for Kansas City. We’ve waited 29 years for a playoff game, and our chances are looking better than ever this year.

This year, it just feels more real than it ever has before.

Same Place, Better Chances

It’s crazy to think that the Royals are in a playoff race for the second straight season. Crazy is reality though, because the Royals are just 0.5 GB Toronto for the second wildcard spot, and only 3.5 GB Detroit for the division lead.

Per Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) of 610 Sports Radio (@610SportsKC), the Royals are currently exactly where they were at this time last year, with a 59-53 record. The difference, however, is the margin in which they trailed both the second wildcard spot and division lead last year. 6.5 games, and 8.5 games, respectively.

So what do all of these numbers tell us? Two things.

1. The Royals are the same exact team that they were last year. With the same record that they had this time last year, that means the team is also on pace to finish with the same number of wins, 86. Given their recent performances and the notion that they are a “second-half” team, they might be able to squeak out a few more, and get to 90-92 wins by the end of the season. Last year it took 92 games to win the wildcard, and 93 to secure the division. However, these numbers might not mean much, because of observation two.

2. The teams ahead of the Royals aren’t as good as last year. The margin in which the Royals trail this year compared to last year tells us that the teams ahead of them are on pace to win less games this season (at least, that’s the logic that makes sense to me). Continuing with the logic that I’ve proposed (which might be, and probably is flawed) the Royals would still be able to secure a wildcard or division spot, even if they only get to 86 wins. Realistically, they might need 89 or 90, but you get the picture.

The Royals chances of making the playoffs this year are better than last because the teams ahead of them are statistically having a worse season than last year, if you look at the number of games the Royals are trailing by.

Granted, you can never be too sure with the Royals, but this fan base needs something to grasp and hold on to right now. It seems as though the Royals are trying their hardest to stay in this race, and we’d all love to see a playoff game for Kansas City.

It’s always hard to buy into this team, because you just never know which team you’re going to get on any given day. With great hesitation, I have to say that I’m buying in.

With just over a month left in the season, it’s going to be one hell of a ride. Let’s all just hope it’s a good one.