Ah, March. A time of love, eternal hope, and the greatest month of sports of the year. Yes, there is March Madness. We’re all about the cinderella’s, the favorite’s, and the bracket-buster’s. This is a time when amateur younger brother’s pick 15 seed Hampton to beat 2 seed Iowa State purely because he has a friend of the same name. Anyone can play this game – I myself will probably fill out at least three brackets this year. But I’d like to talk about my original reason for loving March, before I knew about gambling: baseball. I’d also like to be a little hometown in this blog every once in a while, so don’t change the channel, but this one’s on the Kansas City Royals.
Considered DOA for the 2011 season even before they traded Zack Greinke, no hope has been given to a team picked by many to finish dead last in the major leagues this year. But, I’m here to say, don’t count them out so soon. I’m not going to make some outrageous statement like, ‘we’re going to win the division,’ but don’t be surprised if the Royals make a little noise this season. And I have three reasons why (all statistics courtesy baseball-reference.com):
One, our month of April. There are 27 games in the first month of action, and we play ten of those games against the Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners, collectively; two teams that were worse than the Royals last season, and they made no improvements in the off season. If the Royals can manage to win six out of those ten, and simply play .500 ball the rest of the month, that’s a 14-13 record. It might be just one game above .500, but considering how weak the AL Central looks to be this year, that could be enough to be contending coming out of the gate. Consider the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, who the previous year had won a mere 66 games; they started the season 15-12 in their first 27 games, and went on to reach the World Series. In 2009, the Cincinnati Reds only won 78 games, and started off 13-14 last year, but made the playoffs. It’s amazing what a strong start can do to a club’s confidence, and if the Royals can manage their way to a 14-13 record in the first month, watch out.
Two, if they are able to do that, they have Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer and many other notables waiting in the minor leagues, most of them ready to come up midseason. Our pitching rotation took the biggest hit with the loss of our 1-2 punch in Greinke and Gil Meche (retirement) and we’ve been forced to rely on Luke Hochaver as our number one man, but with guys like Mike Montgomery and John Lamb getting ready to make the leap, the future looks bright.
Three, their mentality. They are not playing for 2012, they are playing for now. It’s always amazing how a team with no expectations can fly under the radar and sneak up on people, and that is exactly the Royals’ intention for 2011. If the first two things pan out well, don’t be surprised if the third reason propels them to a bright season.
I realize these are all very big ‘ifs,’ but it is upon such ‘ifs’ that the game of baseball is founded. If I were you, I’d watch at least a few of the 143 games scheduled to air on Fox Sports KC, because this team has so much youth and athletic ability, and could be fun to watch.