Kansas City Royals Are Now the Face of Regular-Season Futility
When people talk about great droughts in baseball, teams like the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians tend to be brought up. The Cubs have not won it all since 1908 and haven't played in a World Series since 1945. The Indians' last title came in 1948 and the city of Cleveland has had nothing to celebrate since 1964.
And of course the Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since the 1992 NLCS. It's been 20 seasons and counting since a Pirates fan has even had a .500 team.
But in baseball, the new standard of futility has to be the Kansas City Royals. No franchise has waited longer for a trip to the postseason.
When the Washington Nationals clinched the National League East, it was the franchise's first postseason trip since they were the 1981 Montreal Expos. But that team was aided by the strike and the split divisional playoff. The Cardinals actually won more games than the Expos that year.
But that point is moot. The Nationals are in and the Royals have given their fans the longest drought.
Every other franchise has played in the postseason ever since the 1990s. Only the Nationals and Pirates have not won a playoff series in that time.
But the Royals stand alone now; Kansas City has been dark every October since 1985. That was the year that the Royals finally broke through and won the World Series, which as of this writing, has been their swan song.
The Royals, who made the playoffs seven out of 10 seasons between 1976 and 1985, used to be one of the premier franchises. Owner Ewing Kaufmann made sure the team was stocked with superstars and big-name players, even after the 1985 title.
Will this Royals team turn it around for 2013?
Bret Saberhagen remained an elite pitcher after 1985. Danny Tartabull, Kevin Seitzer and Mark Gubicza all played in the post World Series-winning teams.
And no baseball star in the late 1980s was as visible or popular as Bo Jackson.
Talented players came in and out of Kansas City in the past few decades. At one point they had an outfield of Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon.
They had a Cy Young winner in Zack Greinke and two Rookie of the Year recipients in Bob Hamelin and Angel Berroa. Jeff Montgomery was a Rolaids Relief Award winner and Tony Pena was the 2003 Manager of the Year.
And still no playoff appearance.
Now the latest round of rebuilding has put some talent on the field. Will Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Wil Myers, Will Smith, Kelvin Herrera and Lorenzo Cain be the names of the Royals resurgence?
Will the Royals be like the Orioles, A's and Nationals and leapfrog their way to the top of the 2013 standings?
Or will this bunch be just the latest version of Dye/Beltran/Damon?
Royals fans have been waiting long enough. In fact, they have been waiting for a postseason longer than anyone else.
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