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Old 04-03-2003, 02:07 AM  
keg in kc keg in kc is offline
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Posnanski: Go ahead, get excited about these Royals

Go ahead, get excited about these Royals

By JOE POSNANSKI
Columnist
Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2003

OK, I say you start Jeremy Affeldt in game one of the World Series. He's tough, he's left-handed, he's my guy. Of course, you could start Runelvys Hernandez. Knowing Tony Pena, it will come down to a coin flip. I just hope they televise it.

Come on. Admit it. You're excited. Why not? The Royals are 2-0 for the first time since Jimmy Carter was in office. Are you kidding me? You have to be a little bit excited. Joe Randa hits a huge two-run homer. Mike MacDougal slams the door shut in the ninth again. Royals pitchers don't give up a home run in back-to-back games? Who knows when the last time that happened?

I'm not going to look it up, I can tell you that.

There's no time to look back. There's a pennant race going on.

Come on. You have to be energized. Because deep down, under the dirt and dust, the Miles Prentice caps and discarded Bob Boone lineup cards, the Bip Roberts complaints and all those coach's signals Neifi Perez missed, this is a real-live baseball town.

It always was. It was a baseball town when Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Priddy lived together off Armour Road and played together for the Blues. It was a baseball town when the guys in the grounds crew wore space suits at Athletics games. It was a baseball town when Dan Quisenberry threw low sinkers and batters hit rocket ground balls at Frank White and George Brett.

It was a baseball town the last time this team started 2-0. That was 1979.

And it's a baseball town now. Sure, it's been hard to tell lately. There was a strike and years without an owner and a couple of scary trades and a 100-loss season. There was Jay Bell not running out ground balls, and Ricky Bottalico blowing saves, and Tony Muser looking as if he just lost his dog, and Jerry Spradlin being Jerry Spradlin.

"You have to be mean to get people out!" Royals bullpen coach at the time Tom Burgmeier said to Spradlin. "Toughen up."

"I don't see why you have to be mean," Spradlin said, and even though he could throw as hard as just about anybody alive, he was out of baseball at the end of the year.

Yes, after a while, all of it just wears down a baseball town. Drains all the energy out of people. Suddenly, you hear lots of your friends saying they don't go to games anymore, as if baseball was something they left behind years ago, like eight-track tapes and parachute pants.

But winning gets the blood flowing again, doesn't it? And I mean just a little bit of winning. Of course it's ridiculous to get all fired up after two games. But what's wrong with being ridiculous? The Royals are undefeated, in first place, and they're doing it right, with a bunch of kids who don't know any better. They've got Angel Berroa diving for ground balls, and Ken Harvey swinging hard, and Affeldt throwing that big curveball and that wacky Mike MacDougal throwing cartoon fastballs.

Remember when Bugs Bunny threw a ball through a guy's bat?

MacDougal might do that before the year's out.

It's enough to get you dreaming. Goofy things happen in baseball. Sometimes a team starts winning, and suddenly everybody on the team starts thinking, "Hey, we're pretty good," and so they keep on winning, and everybody says, "Wow, we really must be good," and before you know it, there's a pennant race going on.

And that's what this city needs more than anything. A pennant race. There's nothing like the day-to-day thrill of a pennant race. Every morning, you run to the newspaper to see the standings. Every evening, you turn on Ryan and Denny to check in. Pop on the television. Seventh inning? Royals winning? How are the Twins doing? Losing? Really? Where does that put the Royals?

Nothing in the world like it.

It's been a long, long time. So get excited. It's not too early. It's like Royals captain Mike Sweeney says: "We're going to win all year. Everybody in this clubhouse believes. We want everybody to believe."

You can feel it. Wednesday, people were talking Royals. On the radio. At work. In the neighborhood. I saw a guy wearing a Royals cap at the hardware store. Sure, it was only one guy. But you have to start somewhere. There will be plenty of people wearing Royals caps in October when Jeremy Affeldt starts that World Series game. Or maybe it will be Runelvys Hernandez. It's too early to tell.
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Old 04-03-2003, 07:46 AM   #2
DeepSouth DeepSouth is offline
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Every year I get excited at the start of the season but by about week three, they've pissed me off. However, I think this year is different. They have some real good young talent and it's not just the pitchers. Harvey and Berroa are both rookies and starting.
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Old 04-03-2003, 09:30 AM   #3
Bronco_Buster Bronco_Buster is offline
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Realistically we won't get that many opportunities to sweep a team like the sox, but I'm sure hope we can push for 500. I think that IS realistic.
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Old 04-03-2003, 09:46 AM   #4
keg in kc keg in kc is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bronco_Buster
Realistically we won't get that many opportunities to sweep a team like the sox, but I'm sure hope we can push for 500. I think that IS realistic.
Actually, realistically, we have a number of opportunities to sweep a team like the sox, since we play so many games against them, the god awful Tigers and the Indians. We couldn't possibly be in a better division while in the midst of a real, legit 'youth movement'.

The first month of the season is incredibly important. We have a great opportunity to end April at or above .500, with 3 games against the Indians starting tomorrow, a 3 game series at Detroit next week followed by four and three game road series' against Cleveland and Chicago. Then we have three home games against the Tigers followed by 3 against the Twins -- the first team we play this year who ended '02 above .500 (that's game #20). Then we finish the month with 3 games at Toronto and a series at Fenway park.

This is April, in a nutshell:

11 home games, only 3 of those against teams better than .500 last year
15 road games, only 2 of those against teams better than .500 last year

That's only 5 of 26 games against winning teams from last year (Minny and Boston).

If we can continue to build this momentum, we're going to surprise some people. But it has to start now (or rather continue now...). We HAVE to stay hot.
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Old 04-03-2003, 11:58 AM   #5
DeepSouth DeepSouth is offline
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Originally posted by keg in kc
If we can continue to build this momentum, we're going to surprise some people. But it has to start now (or rather continue now...). We HAVE to stay hot.
I agree. These young pitchers get some wins under their belt and it's only going to help their confidence.
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Old 04-03-2003, 01:31 PM   #6
Bronco_Buster Bronco_Buster is offline
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There's going to be some pretty bumpy roads for these young hurlers and I think it's important that the organization doesn't panic they hit them. Let the kids work through the hard times rather than shipping them off or throwing Lopez into the rotation. That will help the kids in the long run.
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Old 04-03-2003, 04:42 PM   #7
Sure-Oz Sure-Oz is offline
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Should be a rollercoaster ride for sure, I am liking Ken Harvey so far.
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Sure-Oz in this mother****er. Resident Tweet master and maligned Royals fan.
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Old 04-03-2003, 08:24 PM   #8
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I am liking Ken Harvey so far.
I caught some of the opening game on wgn and the started talking about Harvey's grip.
That is one strange way to hold a bat.
How the hell does the guy hit for such power with a friggen golf grip?
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