The World Series parade was something to behold, 30-years in the making, the trip down Main Street-Kansas City.
Royals fans, who dressed as empty seats for a decade and a half are back wearing their colors, cheering their team, drawing over 2.7M to the Stadium this year.
It hasn’t been an easy trip. Hated owner David Glass, poor baseball leadership, nickle and dime budgets, 17-losing seasons in an 18-year span. It takes time to fix all the wrongs, all the mistakes made, but it finally got done, and done right in Kansas City.
The Royals got there thru years of losing, following by astute drafting, complimented by key international free agent signings, and then those ‘fill in the blanks on this roster’ deals.
It wasn’t this way always in KC. The era of Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, Hal McRae, George Brett, Willie Wilson, Brett Saberhagen, Mark Gubiza was a long time ago, 30-baseball summers ago.
But out of all the losing, from 2002-to-2006, seasons of 100-100-104-and-106 losses, eventually came high draft picks, and then General Manager Dayton Moore.
All that losing begat four straight high draft picks, that panned out. Alex Gordon (2), Luke Hochevar (1), Mike Moustakos (2), Eric Hosmer (3) and Dan Duffy, were all taken as top of the first round selections, and became the cornerstone of what the Royals are at this hour, championships.
The Caribbean connection brought them World Series MVP-catcher Sal Perez, SS-Alcides Escobar, and the arms Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura and Christain Colon.
Then there came the rentals, dealing other minor league prospects in packages that rented Johnny Cueto, Alex Rios, Ben Zobrist, Edinson Volquez, Wade Davis and Lorenzo Cain.
In a 24-month span, it arrived, almost simultaneously. A wild card spot and a World Series berth in 2014, a runaway first place season and now a World Series ring in 2015. A far cry from all those lousy hot-humid-bad baseball summer nights that stifled the spirt of the fans in the early 2000s.
I looked it up. The Royals payroll to win the World Series was 110M-dead middle on the MLB spending charts, ranked 15th, right next to the San Diego Padres, who spent 110M to get worse, finish lower in the standings, and never see the real October.
Look at the youth and the cross section of talent from everywhere on the Royals roster. Compare it to the Padres, impaled by bad contracts they took on, looking now at a barren farm system because they dealt so many prospects away, empty results in the international market, and reeling with age and injury.
The flashy phrase these days is ‘the Royals way’, just like a group of years ago, it was the ‘Tampa Bay blueprint’. Still to come will be the ‘Cubs Creedo’. You can call it whatever you want, when it works.
For the Padres fans, it sure looks like they screwed this thing up, and the Padres and Royals are a long way apart, more than just the 1,605 miles it takes to drive from Petco Park to Royals Stadium.
World Series ring for one…..Cracker Jacks booby prize for the other.