I don’t know about you, but I was ready for this season to officially start about three weeks ago. I can’t remember a spring training I’ve cared less about. I suspect the Royals players, coaches, and front office people feel that even more strongly. As far as I’m concerned, this spring was about avoiding injuries. Except for Jarrod Dyson’s oblique muscle and Ian Kennedy’s hamstring, mission accomplished. Even those two injuries are pretty minor; Kennedy may not miss a start, and Dyson will probably miss just a couple of weeks.
So yes, let’s get this show on the road. There’s nothing in sports quite as enjoyable as a good baseball team, simply because they play almost every night. Even a basketball or hockey team will only play three nights a week at the most. Royals fans get to watch their heroes more often, and most likely will see them pile up more wins than an NBA or NHL team has games played in a regular season.
This seemed like both the shortest and longest offseason in history. Shortest because, after all, the World Series ended about as late as it ever has. And longest because I can’t wait to watch this team play meaningful games again.
It was a short winter, and not particularly bad (at least in Kansas City, you Nebraskans and Iowans might feel differently). And what happened last October and early November still doesn’t seem quite real. It was like a dream. Perhaps seeing that flag raised and those rings handed out will bring the Royals’ accomplishment to the realm of reality.
There are so many things I want to see this year, so many things I have missed in the last five months.
First up, is the ovation Alex Gordon will receive Sunday night (and presumably well into the first month of the season, at least). After years of watching top talent hit free agency and leave, Royals fans can once again enjoy having a lifer in a blue uniform. And one thing this town loves is loyalty. It’s going to be emotional and beautiful and I can’t wait.
Then, it’s going to be good to watch Lorenzo Cain play center field again. And watch Alcides Escobar play shortstop. And watch Mike Moustakas play third base. I don’t think it’s accurate to say defense has always been undervalued in baseball; Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith are in the Hall of Fame mostly for their glove work. But it is easy to focus more on offense and pitching, at least until that terrific defense is right in front of you. I have to remind myself to enjoy these guys because it’s rare to have a team that plays defense like this.
And Salvador Perez…not only is it a joy to watch him catch, it’s fun to watch him have fun. Perez is a great reminder that baseball is a game for the kid in all of us. Frankly, the media and other fans who dislike this team have it all wrong. Look at the heart of this team and how much joy he has on a baseball field (and off!). Who could honestly dislike that?
And there are so many more things, like Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales crushing fastballs and Yordano Ventura and Wade Davis throwing them. At this point, even a hot and muggy summer night at Kauffman Stadium sounds fantastic. I’m more than ready to get this season going, and I imagine you are too.
Photo credit: Joe Camproreale, USA TODAY Sports