That is the Royals record over my lifetime. A 45.8% winning percentage. The number looks even worse when you realize since 1997 the Royals have only eclipsed that winning percentage three times. Between 1970 and 1992, the Royals never had a winning percentage below 45.8% in any single year.
I didn't grow up in Kansas City. I grew up far enough away, that I considered it a highlight of the summer to attend two or three Royals games at The K. But for some reason I never lost hope. Sure I have given up on individual games due to frustration, but I never lost the hope. I may be in the minority, but I always felt that the struggles I go through as a Royals fan will only be that much sweeter when the Royals next qualify for post-season baseball. This is coming from someone who was too young at the time to even remember the 1985 World Series, the last time the Royals qualified for the playoffs.
So why didn't I just give up? Growing up, most of my classmates were drooling over the New York Yankees or Ken Griffey Jr. That was the easy way out. Sure I was in a state of awe when "The Kid" ran up the wall at the Kingdome, but I cared more about the likes of Bo Jackson, Jeff Conine, and if Bob Hamelin would eventually break Steve Balboni's franchise record for home runs in a season.
Though I didn't grow up in Kansas City, I still grew up with the Royals. Many of my favorite childhood moments involved the Royals. Some of my earliest memories involve listening to long-time broadcasters Denny Matthews and Fred White. Growing up a farm, I can remember many summer nights taking the radio outside and shooting baskets while listening to the baseball game. I also remember often going outside with my baseball glove (George Brett replica of course), and tossing a tennis ball against the shed and practicing my fielding all while listening to the Royals game. I didn't have the luxury of seeing many Royals games on TV during the 80's and throughout much of the 90's.
And those trips to The K, I remember those well. I was seeing the real life George Brett in the flesh. I had baseball cards with his photo on them, and here I was seeing him play in person. Though I was old enough to really only remember the latter part of his career, I can recall hearing stories from my father about the summer Brett chased .400 among other amazing feats.
Finally I feel like there is hope at the end of this long tunnel. There has been so much written about the Royals minor league system that I don't need to expand upon it in this writing, as you all have heard about it by now. Simply put, it is good. The Kansas City Royals have the potential to be really good in a few years. I can wait a few more years for it all to come together. 2011 will be rough, but I've waited long enough that I am not going to stop now. I am excited for the ride we are about to embark on as fans. And I hope Denny Matthews is right there to call all of it, just as he seemed to call much of my childhood.
Baseball is pure. Baseball is the midwest. The midwest is baseball. And Kansas City Royals fans are what baseball needs most. It's too easy being a Yankee or Red Sox fan, but it takes passion to be a Royals fan.
What makes you a Royals fan?