The Kansas City Royals finished the regular season with an American League best 95-67 record. They won the Central division for the first time and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The fans shattered the all-time attendance record and took over the All Star Game. This has to be considered one of the greatest regular seasons in franchise history. But as of today, none of that matters one bit.
The playoff run will begin this Thursday when the Royals take on the winner of the Wild Card game. That game will feature the Houston Astros traveling to take on the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Experts and fans will go back and forth on who the Royals would prefer to face in the ALDS, and either side has great points. I do not believe that the Royals themselves care one bit who they play. That is not because the Royals believe they are so much better than either team because they are just the WC team while the Royals have the best record. I don’t think the Royals care because they have seen what a WC team can do first hand and will take them seriously.
The Royals have seen what happens when teams don’t take you seriously. They came into the 2014 playoffs as the team every fan base was hoping to play. I remember getting tweets from Baltimore Orioles fans during the ALDS, telling me how much they’d rather play the Royals. They thought the Royals were like Cinderella, and when midnight struck they’d turn back into the old Royals. Before they had time to realize how wrong they were the Royals were celebrating in the middle of the field after sweeping them. The only team that took the Royals seriously was the San Francisco Giants because they were a WC team themselves.
Last season Royals fans just wanted to make it into the post season. We celebrated getting into the Wild Card like we’d won the World Series. Then before that game all anyone cared about was winning just that one game. We wanted to win that one game so we could then play actual October playoff baseball. Once the Royals won that game, any after that was playing with house money and fans would have been happy with anything.
This year fans are expecting a deep playoff run before a game is even played. I should clarify that when I say expecting I don’t mean it in the terms of the season was a waste or people should be fired if the Royals don’t win the World Series. This is still the Royals, and after thirty years of never sniffing the playoffs, most Royals fans would still look at this season as a success no matter how far we go in the playoffs. But that doesn’t change the fact that after getting to the seventh game of the World Series last year, the Royals and their fans have a nasty taste in their mouth. The only way to get rid of that specific taste is by replacing it with the sweet taste of victory that only comes with winning the World Series.
The road to that World Series starts Thursday in Kansas City. If anyone would like to try to take that series from us, they will have to come into Kansas City and take it. For those who want to try, myself and 40,000 of my closest friends have just one thing to say, bring it on!