--Michael Kay, YES Network
This afternoon, I thoroughly enjoyed Kay and the wonderful Joe Girardi's extended criticism of B.J. Upton for playing too deep in center field in the 8th inning... when the Yankees led 21-3. After the inning, Kay said dryly, "At the end of 8, the Yankees with three touchdowns, Tampa Bay with a field goal."
Who pissed off the Yankees? In their last two games they've scored 38 runs on 45 hits. A-Rod hit about 30 home runs over the weekend, Hideki Matsui decided he was Godzilla all over again, even a guy named Shelley decided to get into the act. Suddenly the men in pinstripes are five games over .500 and just seven back in the loss column to the Saux.
Alas, they're about to meet their end in a vaunted little place called KC. It's one thing to beat up on the lowly Devil Rays; it's a whole new ballgame around these parts. The town's welcoming back a team that just went 5-4 against the Indians (very good), Red Sox (awesome) and Tigers (scary), so the Yanks really don't seem like that big a deal. In fact, one might say -- even with old man Roger taking the mound --- that the story here isn't the Yankees at all; it's the Royals, who are positively surging.
At the beginning of the season, the Royals couldn't win a series to save their fanny; now they're polishing off the likes of Boston and Detroit -- today, in methodical fashion, Brian Bannister bottled up the Tigers and their league-leading offense (in terms of batting average and runs scored) while the bats came through with more than enough runs. And the best part? Coupled with the White Sox' loss, the Royals are now tied for fourth in the AL Central. Officially. This is a small victory, yet it feels significant, and good.
In the 70s and 80s, Royals-Yankees was one of the best rivalries in baseball. It can be again: small market vs. ginormous market, humility vs. megalomania, good vs. evil, pretty girls vs. skanks, Winstead's vs. Generic Pizza Store No. 5,248... you get the picture of the clashing dichotomies. Let's go, Royals! Win one for the Midwest!
POSTSCRIPT: According to the YES guys, Major League Baseball had the second highest attendance total in the history of the sport Saturday, officially at 639,528 in 16 games (No. 1 if we go by average, beating the record set on July 3, 1999). The Yankees contributed with about 100,000. Overall, attendance is up 4.7 percent from this time last year. Knowing that, I have this to say, for everyone in Kansas City who doesn't have a ticket to Monday night's game: WHY NOT??? If you have any doubt about whether you should do anything -- this is the best advice I ever give, by the way -- just do it. You'll have nothing to regret.