Kansas City Royals Becoming America's Team in 2014 Cinderella Run

Scott Miller@@ScottMillerBblNational MLB ColumnistOctober 14, 2014

Matt Slocum/AP Images

Part of the beauty of the postseason is discovery. So here's a piece of advice: It is not necessary to wait all the way until February before sending your new crush, Lorenzo Cain, a Valentine's Day greeting. Jarrod Dyson, Terrance Gore and Mike Moustakas? Them, too.   

Kansas City is, after all, the corporate home of Hallmark Cards, Inc.   

And now, clearly, America's Team.   

C'mon, admit it. Last time you fell for someone this hard, it was freshman year of high school, the homecoming dance was right around the corner and you were dreaming of your first dinner date in a world beyond Chuck E. Cheese.

How do I know this? Two reasons.

One, like everyone else, I am in slack-jawed admiration of what the Royals are doing right now (and slack-jawed is a rough place to be with Kansas City, because it leaves the delicious barbecue sauce drooling out of your mouth cartoon-like).

Two, television ratings on TBS are up 26 percent over the network's comparable League Championship Series telecast last year, Dodgers vs. Cardinals. In Game 2 of the Orioles-Royals series,  4.3 million total viewers tuned in compared to 3.4 million last year. And you thought the Dodgers were a marquee team.

No offense to Buck Showalter's Baltimore Orioles, who are a great story themselves. And you can bet the birds on their caps will continue to grin all the way until the last out of their season, whenever that moment may come.

But the way things are going, Monday night's rain notwithstanding, that will be sooner rather than later. Since the advent of the LCS in 1969, no team has ever lost a series after winning the first two games on the road. For one thing, the Orioles have to figure out a way to keep the ball in the yard. No team in the majors hit fewer homers than Kansas City's 95 this season, yet only the Cardinals (11) have slugged more than the Royals (eight) this postseason.

Moustakas, who had one home run in his final 163 regular-season at-bats, now has four in 22 postseason at-bats.

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Moose is loose, and Kansas City is giving everyone else the blues. Oakland, Baltimore, Jon Lester, Zach Britton, you name 'em.

These Royals are ascending the charts with as rapidly as Lorde's Grammy-winning song by the same name did last year. Inspiration for Lorde's "Royals", by the way? A photo in a 1976 edition National Geographic magazine showing George Brett signing autographs, in uniform, "Royals" emblazoned across his chest.

True, artists can be trendsetters. But talk about being ahead of the curve. My Lord, Lorde is nearly as quick as Ned Yost's rabbits.

Which brings me to another point: Given the way social media continually delivers a speed-bag pummeling on Yost, how can you not root for every dugout decision of his to work out, no matter how wacky it might seem? To hear the denizens of Tweeter (as former manager Jim Leyland once called them) carry on, you expect Yost to arrive in the dugout each night with his jersey on backwards and a corncob pipe stuck between his teeth, clutching a dog-eared copy of Baseball for Dummies.

Some of this stuff borders on character assassination. Look, the guy might not be Whitey Herzog or Dick Howser. But at least give him some credit. At 6-0 in the playoffs, the Royals are the first club with a postseason winning streak that long since the 2007 Rockies. Every now and again, something touched by Yost does not turn to toast.

Take the ninth inning of Game 2, when the Royals busted a 4-4 tie. Omar Infante fought back from an 0-2 count to single on a swinging bunt, Yost sent Gore in to pinch run, Moustakas bunted Gore to second (and oh, how the know-it-alls despise the bunt), Alcides Escobar smacked an RBI double and things went from there until Kansas City led 6-4.

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

In the dugout before the ninth inning, guess who envisioned the way all of that could play out? Yeah, Manager Goober, who laid it all out to Escobar in advance right there, seconds before it unfolded.

"I already had a plan in my mind," Yost said at Sunday's off-day press conference in Kansas City. "And I told Esky...look, this is what's going to happen. Omar is going to get on base, I'm going to pinch-run Gore for Omar, they're going to bring in [Zach] Britton, Mous is going to bunt him over and you're going to drive him in.

"Esky got a smile on his face and he said, 'I like that plan.' "

Turned out, it was an excellent plan. A brilliant plan. A plan that surely will leave those who can't find fault with it grumbling that Yost at least didn’t use proper English, or something like that.

There is so much to like about these Royals, from plans to speed to gloves. And man, are people digging them.

Back to the television ratings for just a moment. Normally , I'm about as interested in ratings as I am in the pile of my wife's shoes in our closet. But Kansas City and Baltimore represent the two smallest market sizes in ALCS history, with Kansas City ranking 31st among 56 metered markets.

I love it when someone other than the Yankees and Red Sox play and, gasp, people actually, you know, watch. Imagine that. Crazy as it sounds, apparently, the only way the Dodgers' and Cardinals' 2013 NLCS could have topped these ratings would have been if Yasiel Puig conducted a Dodger Dog eating contest during the seventh-inning stretches.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Maybe next thing you know, exciting, smaller-market teams like Kansas City will start to snag some of those national television spots during the regular season, and like some twisted March of the Zombies at Halloween, they'll actually demonstrate staying power. People will wistfully look back at the days when the national games were all Derek Jeter, all the time and say, boy, did we miss out.

Hey, stranger things have happened. Like the second-place Royals thoroughly killing it in October (so far).

A friend's wife spent most of her girlhood in a state of puppy love over George Brett, and I told her this story a few years ago: First time I ever met him, way back, he said he had time for an interview but said he had to do a few things first and that I should meet him in the clubhouse in 15 minutes.

So I did. He found me, smiled and cheerfully cracked, "So what’s your beef, jerky?"

And I thought, this Hall of Fame player, this legendary bachelor, this guy who stole all of those girls' hearts...did so with lines like this?

I don’t even wanna know what Cain and Alex Gordon are saying this week. But I guarantee, it's gold. Hey, they're Royals.

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.

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