Here’s a newsflash: It’s hot. The sky is blue. The grass is brown. And the Kansas City Royals are really, really bad. Commentator Victor Wishna doesn’t need to elaborate, but he does in this July edition of 'A Fan’s Notes.'
Ah, the dog days of summer. The heat. The humidity. The sense of powerlessness and impending doom. And that’s just for local sports fans.
There’s not all that much we can do right now. The summer’s marquee moments have mostly passed. Wimbledon just wrapped up and even the World Cup is finally over. (I’m recording this just before the final so I don’t even know who won, but I’m sure the producers can edit something in. So, congratulations to — France — on a hard-fought victory!)
I mean, sure, there’s still plenty going on. There’s soccer right here in KC. Sporting is cruising along — a nice weekly diversion — on course for early winter’s MLS Playoffs. And it’s not like, say, ESPN lacks things to broadcast. Who doesn’t love the NBA Summer League Playoffs or NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series?
But something is missing, right? Something — well, someones — that used to dominate the summer headlines, and not just in the sports section, but are now just “other” news.
'In other sports news, the Royals lost to Minnesota.'
Wait — what? What happened? What was the score? Oooof. Does it matter?
Ah, the Royals.
Three years ago, we’d never had it so good. And we knew it could get bad. But this bad? They’ve never been this bad. The franchise is still making history, just not the kind you want recorded.
These Royals are dropping games at an all-time pace, on track to shatter their mark of 106 losses, set in 2005. Remember when the 2014 Royals won eight playoff games in a row? Yeah, the 2018 crew hasn’t won eight games in the last six weeks.
It’s so bad, they had to fire the guy who paraded out that big W after every win. Seriously. Okay, it happened before the season started, but I imagine he’d have been laid off by now anyway, for lack of work.
And the Royals are not known for letting folks go, which has been this team’s forte and a tragic flaw. We never would have witnessed the postseason heroics of Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas if GM Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost hadn’t held on through the bust years. On the other hand, Alcides Escobar — sure, the one-time ALCS MVP — finally sat out his first game since then, despite three years of hitting like a pitcher. (No offense to pitchers.)
And now the team just looks weird, in ways that are heartbreaking and, rarely, hopeful. Moustakas sometimes starts on the opposite corner, to woo trade partners in need of a first baseman. Escobar is mostly out in centerfield now, to make way for the dynamic Adalberto Mondesi. There are glimpses of a better future to be had.
And Royals fans also know loyalty. Sure, attendance is down, but the K is still mostly full — which is amazing — and local TV ratings still place Kansas City in the top five of all major-league markets. Because, well, Royals fans are used to this, and maybe — no, definitely — two World Series and a championship were worth it.
But as the end-of-July trade deadline approaches, we fans can expect to see more little pieces of our heart break away. Moose. Whit. Maybe … maybe even our lone remaining All-Star. After all, perhaps you’ve noticed, Salvador Perez hasn’t quite been the same old spirited Salvy without his splash. And as they say, if you love something … well, who knows. It could mean better prospects, for all involved.
Sorry I’m not more optimistic. Blame it on the heat.
“Hey. Remember: There is always next year.”
Huh. Well, that’s true, too. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Victor Wishna is a writer, editor and sports fan. He lives in Leawood.