Wait a minute... actually, considering they've had a decade of top draft picks to hit upon the likes B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria and power arms in Scott Kazmir and James Shields and a veteran bullpen led by Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler and factoring in the laws of probability with a dash of Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus's prediction, well... I can believe it just fine.
What I really can't believe is the Royals are in last place. And I'm serious.
As I caught up with my Royals RSS tonight it sunk in like a bad case of heartburn: the Royals really are in last place. Again. The situation's so hopeless that Yahoo has already gone ahead and published its Kansas City 2008 Review ("and look ahead") column.
For a distant follower like me (and in case you haven't checked this blog in a couple months -- I wouldn't blame you -- I'm distant because I'm in China), last place shouldn't be that big a surprise. After all, the Royals have finished last in the division each of the past four years, this while three of the other four teams have won the division at least once in that span, with that fourth team winning the pennant as a Wild Card. But... I can't believe it. This season began with such high expectations -- unreasonable, one could say in retrospect -- that this last-place finish just doesn't seem to fit in with the others. This was supposed to be the year the Royals -- our Royals, for crying out loud, the team we so vehemently defended -- made a push for .500, continuing their improvements under Dayton Moore's leadership. Instead, they merely flirted with .500 for a couple months, deploying a few winning streaks to give us a flash of hope before snuffing it like a vice to a candle's flame, leaving only the baffled, fading, sad whisper of smoke.
I'm not sure I have much more to say than that. I'll leave it to my fellow Royals followers for more.
(Consider this an overdue edition of Around the Horn, collected from the past week and a half.)
- Still our hero, GMDM speaks: Bob Dutton, KC Star.
"This thing has been broken for a long time. Let's remember that, OK? But one thing I know, as sure as I’m sitting here, is we're going to get this thing right. I'm very committed to doing that. Whatever we've got to do to get this right, we're going to get this right."
- It's not too late (Friday midnight deadline!) to send Sam Mellinger of Ball Star Blog your thoughts on why the Royals still matter in your heart of hearts. I know my reasons, but I'll save it for another time.
- Minda, sweet Nebraska Minda of Baseball and Other Things, let's the Royals have it.
- Royal Reflections on Mike Sweeney getting cut from the A's (Lee links to a nice Sweeney tribute he wrote).
- Kila Now. [Royals Authority]
- Royals Review contributer devil_fingers comes up with a Joe Posnanski drinking game.
- And speaking of Posnanksi: click anywhere on his blog and you're bound to hit something good, even if the new layout is far inferior to the old (just my two cents). Here's my example (and all so salient because I sort of covered the Olympics as well, if by covered one refers to attending lots of events and blogging about it):
Is covering the Olympics fun? Well, sure. Covering the Olympics is what I have wanted to do all my sportswriting life. And there are fun parts. Walking on the Great Wall. Playing table tennis in a Chinese ping-pong park. Seeing the optical illusion that is Michael Phelps. Dropping jaw while watching Usain Bolt. Being there to watch the U.S. men’s basketball team redeem itself. And, in the end, I’m sure, that’s what people want to hear, I suspect nobody really wants to hear about the drudgery that makes up mot of the job, the middle seat on the plane, the four nightly hours of fitful sleep, the 10-minute fast-food meals between busses, the writing at 4 a.m. China time when you are literally falling asleep at the keyboard and waking up only to correct the 28 mistakes you just typed in (and hoping that someone else will catch the 32 you missed), the need to sum up the wonder of Phelps in nine minutes. I know I wouldn’t want to hear about that stuff.
I bring this up because I can tell you, this has not been a fun year at all for Brian Bannister.