With the Royals most recent loss to the A’s, their record for the season fell to 74-71. That’s a perfectly fine record for a perfectly fine team, but at five games out of the second wild card spot with just 17 games to play, the hopes for a third straight trip to the postseason have gone from unlikely to needing a minor miracle. But on the bright side, all the Royals need to do to match my prediction for the season is finish with 17 straight wins. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
But let’s be real, folks. This team is done. If you were holding your calendar on October 4 for the Wild Card game, you can go ahead and make plans to get your nails done or whatever it is you crazy kids do when the season is over. Me personally? I’ll probably still watch the Wild Card game, but without the cold sweats and nervous pacing that I would have had had the Royals been in it. That right there is a victory. Speaking of victories, you may have noticed the title of this article is about looking on the bright side, and that’s just what I’m doing.
The Royals missing the playoffs isn’t all bad.
For one, think about the last two Octobers. How much sleep did you get? Maybe you’re different than me, but between the games getting over late and being way too amped up to sleep, I was working on two or three hours of sleep per night more often than is probably healthy. I’m no spring chicken anymore. I need my sleep or else I’m even more intolerable than otherwise.
Along the same lines, I wonder if getting an October off will stop the gray hairs from covering my head. It’s been so great watching the Royals tear through the playoffs the last couple seasons, but I can’t imagine it’s been great for my health or yours. This is probably where you’ll tell me to take a game less seriously, and this is where I tell you that you’re not my real dad and you can’t tell me what to do.
In addition to getting sleep and health back this October, my wallet and probably yours will feel much fuller this October than in years past. I do really love my 14 World Series Champion shirts and my nine American League Champion shirts from the last two seasons, but I guess I’ll just pay the light bill this year or something.
But on a baseball note, it really isn’t all bad to miss the playoffs. No, I would never choose this path willingly, but if they’re going to miss the playoffs, at least there’s some good that can come from it.
The Royals have played an additional 31 games the last two seasons, and those games are the highest stress games possible. They’ve had a few extra inning games in there too, so it’s fair to say they’ve played an awful lot of baseball. Their pitchers have thrown more pitches, their position players have been ready for more batted balls and their hitters have taken more swings. I know a lot of people were upset when Salvador Perez mentioned that maybe they were tired, but the reality is that maybe they are a little tired.
To be able to save some mileage on the arms of Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis is huge. To be able to stop Perez from squatting behind home plate an extra 2,000 times (or whatever the number is) most definitely wouldn’t hurt. To just be able to shut down Lorenzo Cain could have some hugely positive impact on the 2017 Royals. And let’s be real, everyone could use the extra time off even if they’d never choose to have it.
Look at Danny Duffy. He’s already over his career high for innings pitched. The rest of this season and a playoff run could potentially get him 60 or 70 innings over his career high, and that may not be the best thing for the long-term. Sure you’d trade the long-term for another championship, but this is looking on the bright side of what appears to be an inevitability now, so back off.
And finally, it might not be the worst thing in the world for the organization to experience a little failure. No matter the field, every good organization needs to take stock of their methods and reevaluate how they do things. Sometimes no changes are made, but other times, they can take a step back and realize that what they’re doing may not be working.
While I do think the new offensive climate in baseball with all these home runs should make the Royals change their plan a bit, I’m not necessarily saying the Royals need to make sweeping changes. But maybe not being validated with backing into a playoff spot could allow them to at least easier make some changes, if they’re deemed necessary.
Am I rationalizing to make myself feel better about where this season is heading? You’re damn right I am. But hey, it’s important to look on the bright side sometimes.
Now, my recommendation for the Royals is to go out and win those final 17 games to make my spring training prediction correct and get into those playoffs because, let’s be real, October baseball baseball is way better than sleeping, saving money, being healthy, protecting arms and anything else that comes with missing the postseason.