Royals playing meaningful games in September a reason to celebate

News Tribune Sports Commentary

There won’t be any parade in downtown Kansas City this October.

Kansas City mayor Sly James won’t be handing out any key to the city. No confetti or lavish ceremonies. No champagne-bottle popping or protective glasses to be worn to prevent beer from invading the eyes.

There is, however, plenty of reason for celebration in Kansas City.

Now I’m not one for moral victories. Failing to make the playoffs is still failure.

Yet, after years of futility, the Royals are finally putting an intriguing and watchable product on the field. They’re finally playing some meaningful baseball in September.

It’s been a long time since that has been the case.

Kansas City is still in the wild-card hunt, although the odds of the Royals reaching the playoffs are still slim to none considering the handful of teams they’d have to pass over the final few weeks. Tampa Bay, New York, Cleveland and Baltimore all provide resistance.

The rest of the 2013 slate does the Royals no favors, either. Seven home games pale in comparison to the 13 away tilts still left in September. The average winning percentage of the remaining opponents hovers above .500, meaning a variety of difficult games cloud the path to the playoffs.

Including today’s game against Detroit, the Royals face the Tigers four times, Cleveland six times and Texas three times. While that provides ample opportunity to make up ground head-to-head, Kansas City has a mediocre 35-38 record against teams currently residing above .500 and a 23-26 record against teams that fill out the remainder of the schedule.

That’s not going to get it done.

I’m not saying it’s impossible for the Royals to make the playoffs, although their 3.6 percent chance of reaching the postseason may suggest that conclusion to be merely a formality.

Even with a postseason-less 2013, the Royals still project as a team on the rise.

Consider Kansas City hasn’t participated in the lottery that is the MLB postseason since the 1985 squad beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. That’s 27 years and counting!

The Royals haven’t even finished with a winning record since 2003, barely scraping above the .500-mark with an 83-79 campaign. That’s a decade!

Before that it was 1993 (if you exclude the strike-shortened 1994 season that saw the Royals hold a 64-51 record 115 games into a promising year), still a less-than-stellar 84-78 performance. That’s two winning seasons in 20 years!

The Royals, at 74-68, are on pace to finish above .500. All they have to do is go 8-12 in the season’s final 20 games. That should be doable, even if they are the Royals.

Winning seasons aren’t much to celebrate, except maybe in Pittsburgh. Heck, two winning seasons in 20 years should provide plenty of incentive for Kansas City fans to relish a winning season. So we’ll include you guys as well.

So celebrate all ye Royals supporters. Slap hands and bump fists. You finally have a team worth supporting, a team worth getting behind, a team capable of actually making the playoffs in the near future.

At least until James Shields leaves after 2014, Wil Myers continues to tear it up in Tampa Bay and that trade goes down as yet another comically awful chapter in the Dayton Moore era.

So celebrate while you can. It may not last long.

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