Royals keep me watching, even late into a deadline night

The Royals game droned on in the background as I attempted to finish up this week’s paper.

I tried to keep up as much as possible but found it mostly serving as background noise on another busy Tuesday night. The Rays were coming to bat in the bottom of the 11th inning when I was typing this up.

Even with an east coast start time, that should give you some idea of how late I toiled in the company of co-workers.

Thank goodness the busy part of the school year is winding to a close. Events will be more spread out, and graduations will be taking place for the five Platte County high schools in the coming weeks.

This past week wasn’t the slowdown we wanted. Heck, Platte County baseball played seven games in a span of seven days, filling up plenty of space in our sports section and testing me on how to organize all the information.

Normally, the end of the school year represents my chance to start focusing in on Royals baseball. Chances to get to games are limited due to evening obligations, but my schedule frees up a bit for a few weeks.

In recent years, the Royals were a welcome obsession. Not only did I enjoy the anticipatory years under general manager Dayton Moore, but I then received an amazing reward during World Series runs in the 2014 and 2015.

The Royals were just out of playoff contention most of last year, but the feeling seemed to be that injuries and bad luck were a factor. Moore retooled the roster in the offseason, and I have to admit my hopes were high.

Boy, did I overestimate the ceiling for this team and way underestimate the floor.

The Royals have seemingly been the worst team in baseball through the first month — a fact backed up by an abysmal record. The offense has been putrid, mostly unable to support a decent pitching staff.

Watching the games has at times been agonizing — this from a guy known to watch or listen to about 150 of 162 games each year for as long as he can remember.

I’m being honest when I say that I’m not invested like I have been.

Don’t worry. My Royals hat and gear won’t be going anywhere. There’s just an element missing to this season.

I know I’m not alone.

With so many key players set for free agency, the coming months will feel a bit like a procession into the unknown. Will some or all of Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others be dealt before the trade deadline? Will the Royals string enough wins together to be “in competition for the playoffs,” hoping to rediscover some that led to those World Series berths?

I’m skeptical it can happen this time.

There’s not a wave of prospects looking to make an impact like in the years prior to 2014 and 2015. There’s only hope that core players from the World Series team like Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar regain form, and the struggling recent additions — Brandon Moss, Jorge Soler and Travis Wood — get going.

And fast.

In the dark days of cheering for the Royals, there was always the anticipation of next year and the hope the belief success would come. We know baseball can thrive in Kansas City, but will there be another extensive rebuild and who will still be around when the next playoff run happens?

For now, I don’t have that anticipation. I’m hopeful that this year’s team can provide us with more fun memories, but we’re a long way from getting to that point right now.

Coming off a big win Monday night, the Royals were still battling away in the 12th with the Rays as I finish this. A good four-game series in Tampa Bay could be the start of a turnaround, and despite my misgivings, I’ll keep watching to see what happens.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.