For as long as I can remember, the week of Valentine’s Day has been one of the my most favorite times of the year.
I’m far from being a romantic or stupid enough to buy roses for the markup that comes along with the price tag — my mother used to be a florist so I have an idea — but that week means it is finally baseball season.
Pitchers and catchers report for spring training and for the past 10 years or so, I’d always look at the Royals schedule to see when they would arrive in Arizona and the years before that was when they would head to Florida.
I grew up a Royals fan and I always knew baseball was right around the corner when the Royals Caravan would make a stop in my old stomping ground of Joplin.
Joplin wasn’t exactly a Royals town, instead the Cardinals ruled for a few reasons. One, years and years ago the Cardinals had a minor league team in Joplin.
There was also the fact that St. Louis was the only team west of the Mississippi for decades and then you add in the Royals inability to compete for anything after 1985 — for the most part — I was in a small group of fans.
This past weekend was FanFest in Kansas City and I didn’t go for the first time in a few years and it was different. But for whatever reason, I’m just not too pumped about the upcoming season as I may have been in years prior.
Maybe after seeing them win a World Series, I’m content for another 30 years.
Or it could be the current roster, which outside of Salvador Perez is rather lacking of All-Stars. The infield as it stands on Tuesday, Jan. 31, would be something along the lines of Cheslor Cuthbert, Alcides Escobar, Whit Merrifield, Raul A. Mondesi, Hunter Dozier and perhaps Ryan O’Hearn.
The outfield would be the Jorges – Bonifacio and Soler – and Alex Gordon, who has failed to hit above my actual weight the past two years.
The rotation outside of Danny Duffy is a mixed bag. Will you get the good Ian Kennedy and/or Jason Hammel or the ones that gives up 4 dingers and 7 runs in 5 innings? Jake Junis was a pleasant surprise last year, while Nathan Karns showed promise before he got hurt, but could that success carry over for a full season? The Royals gave a closer nearly $7 million, but it was also the same closer that lost his job last year … so that is another question mark in my book.
Last Wednesday, I went to Boulevard Brewery for a Royals Rally. I figured that would get my blood pumping for baseball, but it didn’t. I mean, sure, the free beer was good and the atmosphere was festive.
Gordon was there for a meet and greet with fans and I got a chance to get my photo taken with him and an autograph. Broadcasters Joel Goldberg and Rex Hudler was there, as well as former Royals David Howard — for those younger readers he was a middle infielder that played in the early 1990s — and Jamie Quirk, whose stints with the Royals came with them winning a lot.
FanFest was promoted and surely many of the same people that stood in long lines for an autograph from Gordo or those fancy commemorative beer glasses went to it this past weekend.
It is an odd feeling this late winter for me simply because you don’t know who will be on the team. Most winters the past few years you had 3/4th of the roster set with a few tinkering to be determined.
I was kind down on losing Lorenzo Cain last week right before FanFest and then you get the double kick to the you know where when you read they are bringing back Alcides Escobar, who while great at defense comes with an offensive strategy that is swing first and often — patience be damned.
The Royals traded Brandon Moss on Monday, which maybe opens the door for Eric Hosmer to come back, but even if that happens, I’m still not going to go crazy over this Royals team.
I still love this team and I’m overjoyed they won a World Series, but in the back of my head I’m just fearful of going back to the ‘dark ages’ when we had one or two good players and the rest were decent but probably wouldn’t have started for at least 15 other teams at the time.
I mean, this is a team that gave you starters like Donnie Sadler, Calvin Pickering, Dee Brown, Chris Getz, Neifi Perez, Brian Johnson, Chad Durbin, Kyle Davies, Jonathan Sanchez and Desi Relaford.
I hope I’m wrong. I really do, but so far this winter the highlight for me has been …. (Still thinking) … (still thinking) … I guess a tie between signing Ryan Goins or trading for Nathan Oaks, maybe?
That seems very similar to past winters when Chuck Knoblauch or Juan Gonzalez were the needle pushers.
Cody Thorn is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_CodyT.