1) Ahhh, it feels good to win. We have spent SO much time this season feeling let down and in despair. Neither game on Saturday was a squeaker, and Sunday was a blowout, and I had sort of forgotten how those games feel. Like...the Royals can play but I can still be in a good mood? Sweet! Sure, we may have been eliminated, but we won't lose 100 games this year. With a dozen games left, we need four more wins in order to improve over last year's final record. Would I like more of an improvement? Oh yes. But after the way parts of this season have gone, I'm glad to even have a shot at any improvement.
2) Hiram Kyle Davies was just spectacular tonight. I know it was "just the Mariners," but he showed a lot of stuff tonight, like a sweet curve that was snapping around everywhere but on the M's bats. I hate to admit it, but my reaction when I saw Joakim Soria coming out of the bullpen was "Nooooo!" I really wanted Davies to get a shot at a complete game, especially given the 3-run cushion, the Mariners' mostly minor-league lineup, and Davies' 9-pitch 8th inning. He only used 98 pitches to get through his 8 innings, struck out 8, and didn't walk anyone. I hate to complain when Trey finally puts Soria in a game, but this was NOT the situation in which I would call for a Mexicution.
3) Good thing Davies was in career form, because the Royals looked awful on the bases again. First there was that snafu with Shealy maybe-not touching 3rd in the 1st inning. The replay made it looked like his foot caught the inside edge of the base, closest to the home plate- and mound-facing edges of the bag. It's easy to see why 3rd base umpire Brian Knight would make the call he did, and to say that Shealy should have done better. There was Jose Guillen getting thrown out at 3rd in the 6th when Shealy reached base on an error. I don't think Guillen has the speed - nor was the KC lead "safe" enough - to gamble like that. Then there was Alex Gordon getting cut down at the plate. Again, even I wouldn't gamble there - not on Gordon's fresh-off-the-DL legs.
4) If you missed this...Dick Kaegel addressed the issues of "chemistry" and "Jose Guillen as a clubhouse cancer" in the most recent Royals Mailbag. I'm glad someone has finally presented a grown-up response to a question that is usually handled with such glossy, fake PR language on the Royals site and elsewhere. Among other things, Kaegel writes:
I'll go along with owner David Glass who, when asked about Guillen's demeanor, said he's never heard of a good team "where everybody loved everybody and nothing bad ever happened." Winning chemistry can involve some explosions from time to time.
5) Lastly, Ball Star readers have let Sam know why they still care about the Royals. This excerpt from the winning submission, though written by someone significantly older than I and about a Royals team from 4 decades ago, sums it up exactly. This is some good stuff (emphasis mine):
We didn't care that they weren't exactly the Big Red Machine - they were our guys, and I just knew they were going to rip off a huge winning streak any day now, and take the pennant by storm. And if not this season, there was absolutely no doubt it would happen next year.
That's exactly it. I mentioned in item #1 that I really expected more of an improvement from this year's Royals team, and I will do a post when the season is over that shows how those expectations were and were not fulfilled. This team has crushed me in the last 6 months, but I still tune in excitedly every night, even if it means missing my beloved Monday Night Football. I'm as insistent about watching every game in September as I was in April. There was hope then, and there isn't now, but I'm still here.
I'm still here because sometimes my irrational favorite will have three straight multi-hit games, or a AAA-quality starter will shine for 8 glorious innings. I'm still here, still rooting, still blogging because "next year" is all I have, and it's all I've ever had, but whenever "next year" gets here it will be the best time of my entire life.
That's why I still care. And I will always still care.