The Royals have moved into first place in the AL Central. A nine-game winning streak tends to help with things like that. The first place Kansas City Royals — that’s a phrase one doesn’t hear too often these days.
They had to claw their way up for it. The Royals have hung around, mostly in the middle of the pack for most of the season, doing stints at the bottom of the division. Excluding the first week of the season, which doesn’t count anyways, this is the first time this year that the Royals have made their way into the first place slot.
It’s a good feeling, if you’re a Royals fan.
Thing is, Kansas City fans are fickle. Fair weather fans, and not just when it comes to baseball. Chiefs games are always packed because this is football country, but that doesn’t stop Chiefs fans from dissing on their own team when things are going badly. Royals fans show their lack of loyalty by not going to games. In a stadium built to hold over 37,000 people, a crowd of 24,000 at a Royals game is considered a good crowd. If the Royals hold onto first place for a while, I imagine attendance will peak even higher than that for awhile. If they lose today and drop back into second place, however, the reaction will be, “Welp, that figures,” and Kansas Citians will continue about their business.
I probably shouldn’t be so harsh a judge about it. For decades, the Royals have offered lots of hope, but few results. Many fans have likened the team to a farm team, producing names like Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Zack Greinke, only to trade them off to other, bigger markets. The frustration over that is justified. It’s tough, being a small-market team.
But these last two seasons have brought more than just talking about having hope. They have actually brought hope. Playoff contenders last year, and looking to be about the same this year. If we’re really lucky, we may even see a playoff berth this year, but I’m not holding my breath just yet. Just as fans are fickle, streaks — both winning and losing streaks — are also fickle, and one streak in either direction can change everything.
It’s a long season, but I’m hopeful.