Nowhere else in sports do fans witness as long and intricate a storyline in as little time as they do with our nation’s pastime. Merely the constancy of games being played gives baseball the ability to create a natural and intriguing narrative that, at least to me, provides the most entertainment of any sport without the need for any spin or hyperbole. The beginning of this Kansas City Royals season serves me well as evidence to back that opinion.
All seemed lost when another year began with another series of disappointing moments in another cold and unpredictable start to a Kansas City spring. A sweep in Minneapolis somehow marked the third emotionally wounding moment in a season that was only two weeks old at the time. That following off-day, the team and its fans healed, physically and psychologically and however else they needed. Whatever they did, it worked, and KC quickly turned things around in Texas.
What ensued against the Houston Astros was a momentum-shifting series sweep that should be appreciated but not overstated. Mike Moustakas earning his team their first extra-innings victory of the young season with his first homer of the year is only the shining centerpiece of a mosaic of great moments that helped KC once again climb back to .500.
This return to playing good baseball came despite still-noteworthy struggles from some of their most essential components. Billy Butler hasn’t had an extra-base hit since Sept. 28 of last year, the bullpen is still riddled with question marks, the second-worst home run-hitting team in MLB still doubles the Royals’ HR total, and the Royals are just a single game out of first place in the American League Central.
The obvious critic’s response to optimism is the fact that this recent success came against a team that’s closer to an experiment than they are a competitive club. That’s all well and good and fair and whatever — shut up. I know beating the Astros isn’t the same as beating the New York Yankees, Mr. Overly Negative Royals Fan. I know. Bigger tests will come, and this still-young Royals roster needs some proven success if they wish to compete with tougher teams down the road.
It’s a good start to what could be a great sports story, and it’s only getting better tonight. The Royals are home now, preparing for their first of three games against the Minnesota Twins, the team that less than a week ago swept them and momentarily diminished the hopes of their starving fanbase. I’m fully aware that we’re only 14 games into the season, but each of these games already feels enjoyably important.