As many of you know, I also write for SB Nation's Kansas City Chiefs site Arrowhead Pride. In January of 2009, the Chiefs hired Scott Pioli as general manager.
Since then, we've heard the words "culture change" rubbed in our faces non-stop. The perception was that under Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson, the players were coddled and in some ways felt they ran the show -- and not the Chiefs front office.
Pioli and new coach Todd Haley have stepped in to establish a new culture with more accountability and a drive to be great.
Similarly, we're starting to see a culture shift on the other side of the Truman Sports Complex. Trey Hillman was dismissed and on May 14, Ned Yost took over as manager. Like the Chiefs, Yost is trying to rid the organization of the losing mentality that's existed for the last two decades. With the exception of the 2003 season, has there been any moment when the Royals didn't feel like the "same old Royals"?
It's a big job and one that's usually painful. The Chiefs did it by releasing players to make a statement (Bernard Pollard) to firing coordinators that didn't fit the culture.
Jeffrey Flanagan of FOXSportsKansasCity.com has noticed the change in attitude around Kauffman and senses that Yost has a lot to do with it.
Here's another pleasant change we're witnessing under Yost: The Royals are starting to believe they are not out of games just because they happen to fall behind early. Under Trey Hillman, the Royals' body language after falling behind early was quite evident: Game over.
Fans could sense it, and more importantly, players could feel it, too.
The Royals have played a little less than a third of a season under Yost and several areas have improved including a long problem area, the bullpen (depending on who you ask).
They've been doing all of this without the guy the money says is their ace, Gil Meche, and promising young pitcher Luke Hochevar. You would think the return of both of those guys, expected sometime after the break, would only serve to improve the squad.
Are the Royals going to win the division? History says no. But the fact that Yost is even talking about it can be encouraging to the rest of the club. They have someone that believes in them and, more importantly, there's tangible success to back that up.
The second half of the season sure will be interesting.