What follows will probably strike many as wallowing in self-pity, an impulse I have been known to indulge in from time to time. At the very least, this will serve as an explanation as to why my Royals-related output has fallen off as the season has worn on.
Fans of other baseball teams couldn't possibly understand the futility inherent in rooting for the Royals (fans of the Expos/Nationals excepted, of course, but one could argue that there shouldn't really be any of those).
Fans of other baseball teams don't get to read articles like these, in which a writer the local newspaper honestly posits the question: "Are the Royals the worst MLB team of the millennium?" They also are not subjected to the points that followed therein to validate the argument, citing their failure to finish higher than third in their division at any point in the aughts and the .299 winning percentage that the Royals have sported in their past 77 games.
Now, a fan of the Mets may point to their having won their last World Series just a year after the Royals' win in 1985 while playing in the shadow of the Yankees. Of course, the Mets have been back to the playoffs more than once since 1986, and they have only finished three seasons with a record under .500 since 1997.
Cubs' fans may point to 1908, Steve Bartman, and the arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but the Cubs have been to the playoffs five times since the Royals' last visit. They also have to look back to 1966 to find their last season with triple-digit losses. TheWorld Series win may not be there, but at least they have borne witness to competitive teams in recent memory.
Really, of the horrific teams this decade, only Baltimore and Pittsburgh have seats at the table. Along with Kansas City, the Orioles and Pirates have not been within sniffing distance of a divisional title. Both have actually waited longer since their last Series win (1983 and 1979, respectively). The difference is that both teams have been to the playoffs at least twice since the Royals last trip.
That leaves the Expos/Nationals, who have never been to the playoffs. Torn from the indifferent grip of a strike-spurned Montreal to move to the Nation's capital, one would have to imagine that the fans who would have suffered long enough have bailed on the team that couldn't be bothered to love them back and left for greener pastures.
And I suppose a part of that last sentence is what this piece is getting at. For all of the labors of love that we Royals fans endure, our team does not love us back.
Instead, the fickle mistress that she is teases us with the promise of hope associated with a new administration after throttling us with years of a meddling-tainted run towards ruination. That new regime teased us further with what appeared to be a few steps in the direction towards contention and away from the common 100-loss seasons. We hung our dreams upon the promise of 2010 and the fruition of a plan.
Then we were subjected to a 2009 season pocked with a dismal off-season in which the weaknesses of 2008 were exacerbated rather than addressed and the few strengths of the team were blown up.
One stained with the inability to evaluate talent even slightly, trading the promise of potential in prospects for a bombed-out black hole of a shortstop already in the midst of a precipitous decline at the age of 28.
One disgraced with a Cy Young-caliber season being undermined by a putrid offense, a hapless defense, and a wretched bullpen.
One marred with the shameless admittance by the man running the show that defensive metrics were something he did not grasp.
One tarnished with the apparent lack of realization as to how the plan could have fallen so far from the vision when it seems so clear to everyone else as to where the fatal flaws were.It is that kind of season that forces Royals fans to question their loyalty to a team that probably does not deserve their devotion while realizing that the ship does not have a chance to be righted until 2011 by even the most optimistic expectations, and that is all contingent upon draft picks panning out (something a Royals fan could never count on).