I didn't know what I had...
You've probably thought it before. I know I have.
I've failed to realize what was right in front of me, staring me in the face, almost condescendingly like, "Are you really this naive?"
I actually considered the possibility, but shook it. I knew what I was doing... at least I sure thought I did.
The good news, this is not a mistake one makes repeatedly. The lessons are harsh enough to be sure of that. Their sharp sting provides an uncomfortable path to foresight, so we can just, know...
That's as much as I'll romanticize this post, because -- as much Danielle Steele-inspired gusto as I throw into it -- as is often the case, I am just talking about -- baseball.
As I lose the interest of the love-sick poets, honeymooning swooners, and sunset-gazing hand holders, I welcome in one particular party: the forlorn Royals fans.
I welcome the teased, the taunted, the crushed at the hands of the crestfallen. Those tormented by their team's absence in the playoffs over the past 27 years. Most current Royals weren't even born in 1985 when the Royals won the World Series in their last trip to the postseason. In fact, the average age of the entire 2012 Royals roster is exactly 27, well 26.95.
If you are not among the hopeless, this should definitely occur to you: 'Hey, what a time for a fresh start!'
I'm not saying that the team will make the playoffs this year, but this will be the group that gets there. This will be the group that asks you, Royals fan, "Are you really that naive?"
The forlorn Royals fan considers the possibility, but probably shakes it and turns their back, countering that this group will disband before any such magic comes to Kansas City. After all, the Royals lose their stars to the larger markets.
Why fall in love with Eric Hosmer when he can so easily become the apple of The Big Apple's eye? Or lured away by Boston's Green Monster - not the wall... i mean money, which has ravaged the Royals into a perpetual rebuilder.
While I'm not easily sold by marketing strategy, this new "Our Time" slogan, in my opinion, is a declaration that a formula for success has been found through the most unconventional means -- pure development within the system. A fully functioning front office and inspired performers to re-inspire the faithless... Go figure. It's not a declaration of an immediate turnaround, but it does create say... a five year window.
Hosmer for instance, will be the club's top priority to sign to a long term deal. He has six more seasons under club control but will likely bring in mountains of money in arbitration if no long term contract is agreed to by the Royals and Hosmer's agent, Scott Boras. So money will be an issue, but not right now. And if the Royals win right now, and fans fill Kaufman Stadium right now, that five year window only gets larger.
So why is it so crazy to be a fully enthusiastic fan right now? If these Kansas City Royals are met with apathy, and the team can't afford to do for Hosmer what it just did for Alex Gordon on a contract extension (although Hosmer should require more than 4 years and $37.5 million) the Royals will once again be at the bottom of the AL Central standings, where they've finished either fourth or fifth each of the last 8 years.
If that is what is becomes of this team, it wasn't what was meant to be. It's what was left to be. Empty seats for a team with this dynamic should be a surprise, but from so many points of view I've come across, they are too easily accepted as the norm, and worse - justified.
So take heed, Royals fans: If this flirtation with success fails due to a lack to of support, it will not be this organization taking the blame. The fans will be left with it, along with the memory of a team clawing for a chance to rise to prominence despite obvious disadvantages in payroll. Memories of a team abandoned during its self-proclaimed time of excellence.
Those fans will be reminded of how they welcomed that effort...
"I didn't know what I had..."