As Royals fans, we are not used to watching a team have success. We’re constantly waiting for that other shoe to fall. We’re absolutely sure that the edge of the cliff is just around the corner. A couple of decades of losing baseball has that effect. However, when the team is on a roll, particularly to begin a season we can find ourselves thrilled at the prospect of “important games”.
Yes, we all know that it’s not even May. Yes, we know that the odds that the Royals will actually compete for the Division Title is still small. That shouldn’t stop us from enjoying what we have now for as long as it lasts.
The Cleveland Indians come to town tonight to start a four game series at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals trail those same Indians by 1 game in the American League Central standings. This is by far the most important series the Royals have played this season. It got me wondering when the last time the Royals played a intra division series with this much importance at home.
In 2010, the Royals started losing right out of the gate. The opening series against the Detroit Tigers was likely the most meaningful games played the entire season. This series is already significantly more important than any played last year.
2009 however, was a different story. The Royals got off to a hot start by winning 3 of their first 5 series. On April 24th, they were sitting at 8-7 and in a three-way tie for first place with Detroit and Chicago. They were also beginning a three-game set with Detroit at Kauffman Stadium. That sounds eerily similar to the situation the Royals find themselves in tonight.
The Royals ended up losing that series 2-1 and relinquishing their grip on first place. It wasn’t the end of their run though. They went on to win 9 of their next 11 games and subsequently took a 3 game lead in the division. Unfortunately, that represented the high-water mark for the 2009 team as they ended up with an overall record of 65-97.
There are a lot of things to take away from that series in April of 2009. Success can be fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts, especially if it’s unlikely to continue. April is very early in the season; things can change dramatically over the course of the months to follow. And while this is the most important home series so far this season, it doesn’t seal the fate one way or the other for 2011. Having so much of the season still to come dampens the importance of this series with the Indians, but with so much still unknown we can still believe.
Enjoy these games; they might be the most important games of the season. I’d love to see a playoff like atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium. Who knows? If things break right, there just might be more of them.