I was in Waco at Truett Seminary when the 2003 Royals started 9-0, then 16-3. Dr. Weaver, a sports fan, was amazed to have a Royals fan in his class. So the bonus question on a pop quiz asked about the current Royals record (I think it was 17-4 at that point). Of course, to the professor’s chagrin, I skipped class that day…
This is how life went for the Royals, they barely showed up. After the huge start in 2003, the team finished barely over .500. The season was nestled between four 100 loss seasons. It was the only winning season between 1994 and 2013. Really it was like the Royals didn’t exist. As a fan in Texas and Georgia, I was like a mythical creature – no one could believe they had seen one.
People would joke with us about our minor league team or want to talk about George Brett. Others would need to be told the Royals played baseball, not European Football… yet, we continued to hope. My groom’s cake was a Royals Jersey – success was just around the corner. My sister gave t-shirts to her wedding party, “1985: History Will Repeat Itself.” As a history teacher, she should have known how long history takes to unfold…
Then so quickly everything changed. In 2013 the Royals had a winning season. In 2014 they had an epic ride to the World Series. Down four in the 8th inning of the Wild Card the Royals stormed back, something never done in the history of playoff elimination games, and marched through the playoffs. Only to be struck down by a Giant Bum. (A story best told here.)
But analysts projected 2014 Royals as a one hit wonder, I guess a one playoff wonder. Sporting News had the 2015 team finishing fourth out of five Central Division teams. Baseball Prospectus estimated their record to be 72-90. But it was not just the fans that were mythical… the 2105 Royals finished first in the American League.
Then, again in an elimination game, the Royals found themselves down by four in the eighth to the Houston Astros. My heart sank, listening to the game. The young Astros appeared to be this year’s Royals. Their youthful exuberance was strong arming toward the pennant. The Governor of Texas even tweeted out “Congrats to the @astros on advancing to the ALCS! Hoping for an all-Texas #ALCS. Looking at you @rangers.” Then, something only done once, the Royals did it again. It is hard to be this year’s Royals when playing the actual Royals.
Past the Astros and then through the Toronto Blue Jays. Again and again the Royals found ways to win late. Eight times they came from behind to win. 7 times erasing a multiple run deficit. In the World Series the Royals won three games when they trailed in the 8th inning. They took the AL Pennant. They overcame the Mets in five — the Royals are the World Series Champions.
I mentioned my blue groom’s cake. Kids were running around the reception with blue teeth. Folks kept telling me how good it tasted. But the bride and groom are always surrounded. Or given a task: time to dance, now cut the real cake… So by the time I made it to the groom’s cake, it was gone. I didn’t get to try it.
But after all these years, I can say today, it does taste good.