The start to the season for the Kansas City Royals was not one that is typical for any big league team. Ignore the odd off days for a minute (we’ll get to those). Just think about all that has happened before the games. We saw tribute videos for them and their opponents. We saw a flag being raised. We saw players get introduced. We saw rings handed out. Basically, just about anything that could happen before a game happened before a game.
And that throws players off their routines. Sure, it’s early and they’re not into their full routine just yet, but it’s a little bit different than what they’ll be used once the season gets rolling. Even the game times in general are different. There aren’t too many 3:15 starts for the Royals at home. There aren’t really any 7:37 starts. And that’s what they’ve faced the last two games.
And that didn’t even really mention the days off. On one day, off the next, on the next and then off the next two. Aside from rainouts or other random things that can cause a game to be postponed, you very rarely see two consecutive days off, but that’s what the Royals face. It sure would have been nice to go into the two days off with a win, but we can’t change the past, so get over it. I have.
So now the Royals can take some time to revel in their accomplishments that they were lauded for over the last few days. They can attend their optional workouts. Or I guess not attend, if they so choose. Or they can get away from baseball for a couple days. It wouldn’t be the worst time for that after a six-plus week spring training followed by a hectic first two games in the regular season. But once Friday comes, the Royals need to get down to business because the schedule comes at them hard.
Their early season schedule is a bit of a who’s who of teams the Royals defeated on their way to back-to-back pennants and a world championship. First they take on the team that finished second in the division to them last season, the Minnesota Twins. Then they go to Houston, who they beat in the ALDS last season. Then they head to Oakland, who they beat in the 2014 Wild Card game. Then it’s on to Detroit, the team that had won the AL Central for four years before the Royals took it last year. Then they face the Orioles, the team they beat in the ALCS in 2014. And the run wraps up when the Royals head to Anaheim to take on the Angels, the team they beat in the 2014 ALDS.
The walk down memory lane slows down considerably after that, but April is an important month for the Royals. The hope of the spring remains for teams like the Twins and Tigers, so beating them is paramount. The Astros are one of the most likely competitors to the Royals, so establishing dominance over them is key. The A’s are just fun to beat even though they don’t have Brett Lawrie anymore.
Every game is obviously important. A win in April counts the same as a win in June, counts the same as a win in September. But it’s always good to get off to a good start, and it’s always good to beat the teams who have legitimate playoff aspirations.
It’s been a weird start to the year with two games in five days to start the season. Once Friday hits, the Royals will play 87 games in 93 days leading up to the All-Star break. The cliche is that the baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, and while I roll my eyes at cliches, that one is especially true. “Normal” baseball will return on Friday as the Royals truly begin their marathon run. When the dust settles, I fully expect the Royals to have answered all the challenges set in front of them and be a playoff team once again. It all begins Friday.