Every season it seems there is at least one Major League Baseball team capable of producing an improbable run to the postseason and in the process help revive a long suffering fan base.
In 2012 the Baltimore Orioles made it back to October after serving a decade and a half long sentence as the doormats of the high powered and high priced American League East.
Last year it was the Pittsburgh Pirates turn to regain their long lost mojo as MVP Andrew McCutchen led the charge and helped restore the “W” back to the “We Are Family”.
And now, with less than a month remaining in the 2014 season, the much maligned Kansas City Royals are on the verge of their first trip to the playoffs since 1985. 19 years of ineptitude potentially washed away in the majestic waterfalls of Kauffman Stadium.
To fully understand how long it has been since the Royals last tasted October, in 1985 Ukraine was still a part of the Soviet Union and Back To The Future ended the year as the highest grossing film at the box office.
The Royals revival this season can be chalked up to much more than a plutonium fueled ride in a Delorean as their ascension to the top of the AL Central has been driven by a collection of relatively anonymous stars like catcher Salvador Perez, starting pitchers James Shields and Danny Duffy and dark horse MVP candidate Alex Gordon who over the last few years has rewritten his own personal history with a remarkable metamorphosis from highly touted, under performing third base prospect to all-star five tool outfielder and current face of the franchise. All in all, they may not be household names like Brett, Balboni and Saberhagen but there is certainly enough talent along the shores of the Missouri River to recreate some of that ’85 magic.
Before casting a jinx across the entire Show Me State there are several elements standing in Kansas City’s way this September including a talented, experienced Detroit Tigers team that is waiting to wake up from it’s dog days of summer doldrums. Adding to this AL Central intrigue is the Royals schedule which has six of the team’s final 20 games against their rivals from the Motor City with four additional games vs fellow underdog upstarts the Cleveland Indians.
Another potential obstacle facing Kansas City is the sparse attendance at home games as the team currently ranks 25th in total attendance a point manager Ned Yost brought up recently which, fair or unfair, caught the ire of the Royals faithful.
But if the team keeps winning then the fans will come back to Kauffman Stadium and 2014 will be celebrated as the season the Kansas City Royals returned to the postseason for the first time in nearly 20 years. Just don’t count on Don Denkinger to come out of retirement anytime soon.