So, the Royals have lost nine of their past 12 games. Fickle Royals fans are hanging off the bandwagon, with one foot dragging on the ground, and prepared to jump ship. Message boards are filled with posts from people who are ready to write this season off. The Royals can't win this division. This team doesn't have enough offense to keep pace with Detroit. The defense sucks. KC's pitching isn't able to keep its ERA so low for the entire season.
To all the wishy-washy, non-believer Royals "fans" out there, I just have one thing to say. It's May 22nd, people!!!
Good grief. The Royals are 21-20, and in second place. I think most of us would have taken that if someone had told us that's where the Royals would find themselves toward the end of May. And, yes, the team is 3-9 in its last 12 games. But go back six more games (to include KC's six-game winning streak), and the team is 9-9 over its last 18 games. So it depends how you look at it.
I've shared my opinion on those message boards, and I'm one who truly believes that there is not going to be a team that runs away with the A.L. Central this season. Sure, right now it looks like Detroit's newfound pitching proficiency is going to allow the Tigers to pull away from the pack. But I don't think that's going to last throughout the summer.
Dontrelle Willis had a 9-point-something ERA prior to pitching a great game against Texas in his last start. And, I'll admit, even I picked him up in one of my fantasy leagues, just in case the old D-Train is back on the tracks. But something inside me tells me it won't last.
And Chicago came very close to acquiring Jake Peavy, before picking the worst possible time to lose a game 20-1, and possibly helping Peavy to realize it might not be much different in Chicago than it is in San Diego. Thank you, Minnesota!!
The Twins do look good, at least offensively. Joe Mauer has suddenly found a power surge, and Justin Morneau is putting up MVP-type numbers again. But the Twins' pitching isn't as good as most people around here (I live in the Twin Cities) seemed to think. Francisco Liriano is just not the same pitcher he was prior to his surgery, and I think Minnesota's just going to be like every other team in the division.
And Cleveland? Even though the Tribe just took two of three in Kansas City, I think the lack of pitching will continue to send the Indians in the wrong direction. And I really think Eric Wedge would have been out of a job had Cleveland lost the series at Kauffman Stadium.
What Royals fans need to keep in mind is one of the oldest sports cliches in the book. It's a marathon, not a sprint, people. It's a 162-game season, and just because the Royals are struggling in the past two weeks doesn't mean that the season is over, or that the team doesn't have a chance to make a run at the division.
It's not going to be easy, and there will be lots of bad stretches, mixed in with plenty of good stretches. This division race is going to be a fight the whole season, and those of us who are smart enough to realize that are going to be okay.
For everyone else, it's going to be a bumpy ride, with lots of bruises, as they jump off the bandwagon, only to try to chase it down and jump back on whenever the Royals hit another hot streak.