The last couple weeks have been fun to observe for someone like me who is brand new to the area. I am getting very excited for this current Royals first place run, but am not seeing that same level of enthusiasm from most Royals fans I've talked to.
I was fortunate enough to get the assignment of Goddard native, and Oakland A's catcher, Derek Norris' return to the area Wednesday. I also wanted to do some research on this first place run.
“Schizophrenic, we are all in anticipation of doing real well but at the same time we know how things have fallen in the past."
That's the thought from 40 year Royal fan Tim McDowell who was getting his tickets four hours before game time, and that's the vibe I've felt from most Royals fans. A guarded optimism from a group that has been burned too many times.
William Shaffer Senior was at the game with his son of the same name, but theirs was an attitude I can relate with, ultimate sports optimism.
"I was there since we were in the basement, well ever since the 90’s we were in the basement. In ’85 we were the champs. We are doing great now, I’m glad we are in first."
I'm with William, why not now?
“You gotta start somewhere. Last year we did pretty good, so just stepping stones. You gotta try to get higher and higher. Maybe we will win it next year or the year after, who knows.”
The Royals can feel it, and it feels good. Starting pitcher Danny Duffy was not on the mound the night we were there, but he did offer some insight from a player's perspective on busting the 30 year playoff drought.
“I’ve been wanting to help get these fans in it since I’ve been in royal blue. Give them back what they’ve given us for so long. That’s the number one priority for all of us in here.”
My favorite answer from anyone came from my least expected source, Manager Ned Yost. A guy that's taken a lot of criticism from those fans and several members of the media. I asked if he wanted his guys to use the thrill of being in first or ignore it.
“When you wake up this late in the season in first place, you wake up feeling better. You wake up with more energy. You wake up with more life. You come into the ballpark feeling better knowing where you are at. You feel the energy of the fans, you feel the energy of the city. They’ve worked hard to get to this point, and you’re darn right I want them to feel it. They deserve it. They deserve to feel this.”
I agree. Everyone deserves this. My advice: Jump on the bandwagon now. If you don't you will miss an explosion of excitement unseen by a generation of Royals fans if the team can hold on for just a little longer.