Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Mission 2012 Still in Reach
by Jeff Herr,posted Apr 16 2012 4:05PM
Some Royals fans have already started to lose faith in this team at this point in the season. The Royals sit at 3-6 with the American League favorites coming in to town. However, as unimpressive as the Royals were this past weekend, nine games aren’t even close to 10% of the season. The results to this point mean very little in terms of how this team will end up. The list of teams who have started 3-6 or worse and won 90 games or made the playoffs is long, to be sure.
Fans are right to be frustrated after the poor performances we saw from the Royals this past weekend. The Royals pitching staff gave up 32 runs in only three games including 18 in the first three innings. It was a poor display by a much maligned pitching staff.
Even so, those three games alone aren’t enough to get fans in a tizzy. The real issue at play here is how these games were lost by this team. Even before the Indians series the Royals were poised to take two out of three from the Oakland A’s. The Royals took a one run lead in the top of the 12th inning and all they had to do was get 3 outs to close things down and come home with a 4-2 record.
Jonathan Broxton came to the mound after a scintillating performance just a couple days before in Anaheim where he got three strikeouts on 14 pitches to close out the game. He looked to have regained his 2009, pre-injury form for at least one outing. With this lead in the bottom of the 12th, Royals fans felt comfortable with Broxton coming in and possibly starting their home stand at 4-2.
Broxton started out rolling with a strikeout. Then a hitter reached first on an error by Alcides Escobar. Then it fell apart. Two consecutive walks by Broxton and the bases are loaded. Then Broxton hits the next batter to move in the tying run. The damage can still be controlled with a double play and a chance for the Royals to win it on offense. Then Broxton plunks the next batter and in comes the game winning walk off run with the A’s not even getting a hit in the final inning.
Couple this with a wasted solid performance by Bruce Chen in the season opener – in which the Royals give up five runs in the eighth inning to lose it - and the way the Indians series transpired leaves lots of fans upset. While the point of the season being young is valid, that doesn’t mean that fans can’t get upset. Losses happen in baseball more than any other sport.^ It only gets disconcerting when you look at the way the team loses.
^If you win 100 games that gives you a .617 winning percentage which puts that as one the best teams in baseball. In 2005 the Chiefs had a .625 winning percentage and missed the playoffs.
The Royals chose to embrace “Our Time” as the slogan for this team. This slogan was initially started up as simple marketing, but the team really started to believe. This group of players has won at every level of the minors and they want to continue that in the majors.
More than just winning, it was supposed to signify a changing of the guard. The moribund organization of the past that loses 19 games in a row is gone. Even with suspect starting pitching, one of the best young bullpens in the game would give this team a shot. “Our Time” is supposed to be a new era for these Royals. It isn’t just supposed to be about 2012; it’s about beyond this season and looking towards the bright future for this organization.
The 2012 iteration of this team was supposed to be the start of the new era. They might not be one of the best teams in the league, but the Royals weren’t supposed to be a punch line like they were in the past.
After last season nobody would’ve expected Escobar to make that error in the 12th against Oakland. Nobody would have thought Greg Holland would give up two runs in an inning at all this year, let alone the eighth game of the season. These things happen in baseball and perhaps it’s all just unfortunate timing being in the beginning of the season.
I’m not going to sit here and claim that the sky is falling in regards to “Mission 2012.” I’m also not going to sit here and make excuses for a team that has made mistakes they shouldn’t be making. Closer’s blow saves and that happens, but it usually doesn’t occur by hitting two batters in a row. Errors happen but our future gold glove shortstop is supposed to make the big plays when the team needs them.
There will be many people that will cry out “same ole Royals.” This isn’t the same Royals. They are a different team. This team has more talent than any in the last 10 years. Truth be told, we don’t quite know what the team is or will be. That’s what this season is about. It’s also about change. It’s about a new time for this organization and these fans. When we see the same mistakes that have plagued this organization for the last 15 years, we fans have every right to be upset.
Baseball, more than any other sport, requires patience. This fan base has been patient, waiting 25+ years for playoff baseball to return. We’ve waited 5+ years for Moore to build this organization into a winner. New and exciting times are coming for this team but as fans we have earned the right to be upset with the display on the field. These Royals may not be able to compete with the Tigers or the Yankees, but they most certainly should be able to compete with the Indians and A’s.
Despite the poor start, all is not lost. Being upset with this team isn’t the same as giving up on them. If anything, being this upset this early is good. It shows that the expectations are raised by the team and the fans. The Royals have more than enough time to correct things and I have every faith that they will.
Remaining patient with this team isn’t the same as Moore telling us to “trust the process” in 2006 with nothing coming. This is a different time with a different team. Nearly 95% of this season remains and there is a lot that can happen. If fans are upset it should only be because they know this team is capable of much more than we’ve seen through nine games.