After a painful stretch that involved one disappointing loss after another served to sober fans of the Kansas City Royals at the end of August, the Royals are still a first-place club at the start of the regular season’s final month. Sept. 1 marked the beginning of the most important month in my short time as a sports journalist and my two decades as a Royals fan. With the burden of as many years of failure weighing on this season’s team, what can fans expect from the 2014 Royals at the end of the regular season?
Without any hesitation, Royals fans should expect their team to bounce back in a big way after their upsetting, unofficial sweep at the hands of the hated Cleveland Indians. Let the woes and fears of seasons past stay in the past, at least until this current club proves that they cannot live up to expectations. They deserve the respect usually warranted to a first-place team, if only for how they’ve already handled the angst of losing in such painful fashion before.
It almost seems like this emotional club needs to go through something thoroughly disappointing every few months just to get back into the right mentality. This apparently much-needed pain often comes in the form of poorly timed sweeps at home. It was a dark time when the Royals were swept in front of their home crowd by the lowly Houston Astros way back in May. KC already sat one game below .500 before entering this series with Houston, in which they were outscored 21-5 in three games. Since that debilitating series sweep that left the Royals in fourth place in the AL Central, only two teams in MLB have better records than Kansas City.
Another painful series came in KC’s return from the All-Star break, when the Boston Red Sox swept the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. KC lost two consecutive one-run games and were then blown out 6-0 by Boston in the series’ final game. KC immediately followed this up by winning eight straight series, 16 of their next 20 games and 23 of their next 30. Now, KC must respond to suffering numerous consecutive beat-downs at the K once again.
This time much more was at stake and many more fans filled the stands at Kauffman. So, how will the Royals react? There’s a reason this article’s title doesn’t ask “if KC can respond” or explain that the Royals “could bounce back”. This is a legitimately good team. Fans can expect them to get back on track after such heartache, especially after proving so often this season that they can do exactly that. Save your skepticism for another season, or at least for the Kansas City Chiefs.