With the Chiefs opening their 2019 campaign on Sunday, pretty much all Kansas City sports fans will be solely concentrating on the Red and Gold from now until January (February if they are lucky). And with that being the case, the Royals, currently 52-90, will be an afterthought, background noise on a weekday night as KC sports fans peruse through Chiefs blogs analyzing their match up for the upcoming week.
As someone who is not really into the NFL, September is a missed opportunity for KC sports fans who basically defer to the Chiefs in everything sports-related from here on out. Yes, I know the Royals are not making the playoffs. Yes, the club most likely will lose another 100-plus games for a second straight season. That being said, there still a few reasons why fans should still come to the ballpark and watch games on television as the Royals 2019 season comes to a close.
1. Follow which players on the 40-man will be worth keeping next Spring
In September, the rosters expand, which means everyone on the 40-man roster can play for the big-league club. The nice part of this aspect for teams is it gives them a good idea in Major League games which guys are worth keeping on their 40-man roster for next Spring, and which ones will be worth cutting this Winter after the season ends.
Already, the Royals have let younger, under-the-radar players such as Ryan McBroom and Erick Mejia suit up for the Royals in order to see what they can do at the big league level. Furthermore, this week, Royals fans got to see Jesse Hahn finally pitch in the blue and white after two years of battling injury issues.
Big league debuts and returns are nice feel good stories to follow that for the most part happen in September, when most of America is glued to the NFL. However, these are not the only juicy baseball storylines produced in the MLB regular season’s final month. There will be some pressure on players to perform during this final stretch of the season if they want to continue to be a part of the Royals plans in the near future. Will this be Cheslor Cuthbert’s last hurrah in a Royals uniform? Will Ryan O’Hearn have another strong September which will lead to a starting job on Opening Day in 2020? Who in the bullpen could emerge as a possible closer candidate to replace Kennedy, who is too expensive and superfluous in skill set for the Royals’ current situation? (He will have value this off-season considering he will be entering the last year of his contract next season).
Dayton Moore will be making a lot of tough decisions this Winter as he prepares for the first full season under new ownership. While nobody expects the Royals to do a 180 in 2020, there needs to be significant improvement if Moore wants to justify his position as current Royals GM. And in order to do that, he’ll have to make some tough decisions on the roster after this season.
For many Royals players, sometimes the last impression is always the strongest. So for Royals fans, September baseball is worth following in order to get a head start in knowing who could be impact players next Spring.
2. To see the Royals play spoiler…or at least plant the seeds of doubt in contending teams
If there is one awesome thing that losing clubs can do during a lost season, it is play spoiler for teams that are contending for a playoff spot. On the schedule, the Royals will host three teams who are in the thick of the playoff hunt: the Astros, the Braves, and the Twins. Furthermore, the play the Athletics on the road, who are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but are on the outside looking in. Thus, the Royals will be playing baseball against teams that are looking to win in order to improve their playoff positions or chances, and they will look at Kansas City as easy targets.
However, for all of Ned Yost’s faults as manager, if there is one thing he does well, it’s he pushes his team to play meaningful baseball in September, even during the non-playoff years. Last year, the Royals went 15-13 in September, which was their best month overall during last year’s 58-104 season. Already, the Royals are 4-1 to start baseball’s final month, so it’s plausible that the Royals could duplicate another winning season during a lost season for the second straight year.
And that would be great to see as a Royals fan, whether it’s at Kauffman Stadium, or on television with Rex Hudler giving all kinds of head-scratching quips. It would be awesome if the Royals beat the Astros and ruin their mojo as they transitioned to the playoffs. It would be fantastic if the Royals helped eliminate the A’s in the Coliseum after the A’s thoroughly pounded us in August at the K. And wouldn’t it be lovely if the Royals bounced the Twins from the division crown in the last series of the year? Not saying that will all happen, but it’s possible, and it’s worth following and cheering for as a fan of these underdog Royals as they close out the season.
3. Baseball is still better than football…
I know I won’t get a whole lot of fans with this statement, especially here in Kansas City, where people bleed Chiefs red first and foremost. I mean, type in “Red Friday” on Twitter and see what the results are…
However, after being a sports fan for so long, baseball games and the sport of baseball in general stand supreme in my opinion. As stated before, I am a relative newbie to Kansas City and the Midwest. I grew up in Northern California, strictly Giants territory for the longest time, with A’s fans sprinkled in here and there. And yet, being in the same city as a Major League baseball team for the first time (I grew up in Sacramento which is two hours away from San Francisco), I have thoroughly embraced everything Royal. They are my favorite MLB team, and to be honest, my favorite professional sports team to this day.
And why? Because baseball is great. It’s a better experience to watch in person than football (the amount of crazy drunks at football game is just too much), it’s a much more analytical and deeper game, and it’s a bigger payoff as well. Yes, baseball can be “boring” for those who don’t appreciate America’s Pastime. But, when you have moments like this…it makes the commitment as a fan all worth it…
I get Mahomes throws touchdowns left and right. I get Andy Reid is unintentional comedy for four quarters and more. I get that the Chiefs have a legitimate shot to win a Super Bowl this year, which is awesome for a city that certainly deserves it when it comes to how much disappointment Chiefs fans have suffered.
But Jorge Soler’s home run chase, the McBroom memes, Hunter Dozier’s continued breakout, Alex Gordon’s last hurrah, Adalberto Mondesi swiping bags left and right, Ian Kennedy improving his stock for potential suitors this Winter, Josh Staumont and Kyle Zimmer throwing heat to wildly unpredictable results…the list can go on.
Yes, Kansas City will be Chiefs nation primarily this September. And I wish them no ill will. But as for me, I will be still sporting my Royals blue, trying to get a game or two at the K to witness all I listed above and more.
Hopefully, there are some Kansas City baseball fans out there that feel the same.