The Only Two Numbers That Matter:
Royals Magic Number for a Playoff Berth: 7.
Royals Magic Number for a Division Title: 10.
Standings As I Post:
Detroit +2 over Royals for Division.
A's +1 over Royals for Wildcard.
Royals +1 over Mariners for Wildcard
Royals +1 1/2 over Indians for Wildcard.
Scores As I Post:
White Sox 2, Tigers 0, End 8th.
Blue Jays 14, Mariners 2, Bottom 7th.
Royals 2, Indians 0, End 7th.
Angels / A's yet to start.
I trust that everyone has sufficiently calmed down now. Exhale, Chiefs fans. Exhale.
Sunday's 34-15 victory over the mammals in South Beach should restore some faith in this team for you. Because folks?
Things don't look as bad as they did, a mere seventy two hours ago.
First and foremost, the most important thing -- the Chiefs won. I had to laugh at the stat (mentioned earlier last week) that only 9 out of 100 teams to open 0-2 (or worse) since the revised schedule in 2002 made the playoffs. First of all, the Chiefs are one of those nine (2006), and they were one missed field goal from making that stat 10 out of 100 (2011). Secondly, does anyone actually think the 0-2 Colts are NOT going to win the AFC South? That the 0-2 Saints are NOT going to be a factor in December, for either the NFC South or a wildcard? I've never understood 0-2 as the failsafe line. I've long argued it's 0-3. Only one team in NFL history has started worse than 0-3, and made the playoffs (1992 Chargers, who opened 0-4 and won the AFC West at 11-5).
Yes, the Chiefs were 0-2. Now they're 1-2. So stop panicking. And I'd be saying that even at 0-3, because there was a helluva lot of positive out there yesterday, and last week as well.
Secondly, did anyone watch at least the highlights of some other games around the league? The raiders damned near won in Foxboro. They had the ball, down seven, first and goal to go at the six yard line with a minute to play. (And actually did score, only for the play to be negated due to offensive holding, and this being the raiders, the ensuing pass was intercepted by a defensive lineman. God love ya oakland. Please -- keep being you!) That interception by Vince Wilfolk? Was the only turnover the Patriots forced yesterday. (Then again, it's one more than the Chiefs have forced all season, so they've at least got that going for them.)
The 49ers got tuned in that second half yesterday. They got taken to the bedroom, and Drew Stanton gave them the business, without even being decent enough to offer a towel or a cigarette to the 49ers secondary when he was through with them. They got outscored 17-0 after halftime. The 49ers are sitting at 1-2, but would any fan of theirs feel comfortable? They've got the undefeated Eagles coming this week, a Chiefs team led by a quarterback who has had this game circled for months the week after that, and then they've gotta hit the road for two prime time games, at the Rams (Monday) and at the broncos (Sunday). Good luck with that, guys.
Third, it's week three. Entering week three last year, every Chiefs fan (including this one) was convinced the Eagles were going to roll us in "Fat" Andy's return to the Fake Vet. Exiting week three two years ago, the worst (and most offensive) Chiefs team of my lifetime upset Drew Brees and the Saints in the Dome, to temporarily revive some hope in the worst (and most offensive) Chiefs season that year. You can't panic after three games, let alone after two. You have to get through a quarter of the season, before terror and fear sets in. (Yet another reason why I think 0-3 should be the real failsafe line for a NFL season -- anyone who wants to write off a season before its even twenty five percent played out, needs to rethink their support of the team they root for.)
But fourth, and this one's the most important?
And I am asking this with all seriousness.
Does anyone even give a sh*t at this point about the Chiefs, or the impending fun that Monday night* is going to be?
(*: more on this below. Let's just say, not even the (brett voice) "vivid imagination" I employ, could have written a potential script, like this.)
One last NFL note -- the hapless 0-3 raiders travel to London this week, to face the woeful mammals of Miami. (I have no idea who is the home team, nor do I care.) I raised this point to "The Voice of Reason" this morning -- has there ever been a week four NFL game, where BOTH head coaches were fired at the postgame presser?
Both teams have byes next week. Both coaches are facing open revolt from their fanbases and their locker rooms. (SI.com has an article up today detailing just how (whizzed) off the Dolphins defenders are with the coaching staff.) Neither Joe "Regis" Philbin nor "drunk" dennis allen is surviving more than ninety minutes after week seventeen is completed. How great would it be to have Jeff Ireland and reggie mckenzie spending the fourth quarter debating which GM gets to throw their "we poop canned the guy!" presser first?
And even more to the point, how would they decide? A friendly game of beer pong? Shotgun a Coors Light? Use their 007-style slappers to make one dude submit? Play rock, paper, scissors? Flip a coin? Ask a soccer hooligan to decide?
I watched the games yesterday at the Eagles club with some friends. There were maybe 15, 16 of us there. The first half against Miami? There were maybe four people paying attention to the television the Chiefs were on, and that was only during commercials for the other television airing a Kansas City based sports team.
Now that we've survived the weekend, what'd you all think? Every pitch could potentially decide the season. Every base running blunder gets magnified twenty times*. Every failure to properly catch a throw to the cut-off man gets fifty five "what was he thinking" questions**. And every time a hitter does something you never see coming -- for the good -- like Nori Aoki's triple to put the Royals ahead for good yesterday, gets raucous, ridiculously loud ovations that you pray will never stop. Admit it -- and I know this is tough for you; believe me, it ain't easy for me either to accept -- but admit it: I was right. And I've been right for twenty years.
There is NOTHING in sports as magical and amazing, as a pennant race your team is a participant in.
(*: my take on Sal Perez's idiocy is the exact same as Rany's. Yes, the umps were wrong to review the play (and yes, whatever dumbf*ck in operations that put the replay up on Saturday should be fired on the spot). But yes, getting the call right is what matters, which is why I'm not upset like I should be. Besides, that play isn't why Ned Yost should be standing in line at the unemployment office this morning. His two bunts -- in the first and third innings -- that resulted in three runners moved up, but zero runs scored? That's the fireable offense.)
(**: this one isn't on Ned either. My God Moose. When even Rex Hudler is questioning what the hell you were thinking? Good grief. I might need to amend Stevo Rule 34 to account for those moments in life, when even Rex Hudler is questioning what the hell you were thinking.)
Thirty years. We have waited thirty long, rank stank years for this week. We've waited so long to get to the Promised Land, our ol' buddy Moses is getting worried that the Royals will be wandering in irrelevanceville, longer than it took him to lead the Jews across the desert. (We are within ten years of tying the world's worst navigator at forty years.)
The insanity, the crazy ass sprint to the finish, begins at 4pm CT today, with the finish of last month's extra inning tilt (that the Indians lead 4-2), and then seven final games. Assuming (and I know assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups, but still, assuming) the Royals lose that one, they'll sit one behind Oakland and one ahead of Seattle in the wildcard race, and they'll sit two behind Detroit for the division.
In other words kids, for the first time in thirty bleeping years, the Kansas City Royals open the season's final week, not only in full and total control of their playoff destiny ... but for the first time in thirty bleeping years, if the playoffs started today?
We'd be in.
Monday's key matchups for the Boyz N Blue:
* White Sox at Tigers (6:10pm CT). This one intrigues me. The pitching matchup is not at all what you'd expect to see -- especially from a contending team -- with seven days to play. The Sox send Chris Bassett (0-1, 5.29) to face Kyle Lobstein (1-0, 3.58). Bassett got knocked around at Kauffman last week; Lobstein hasn't started a game in two weeks. Both are rookies.
* Angels at A's (9:05pm CT). Jeff Samardzija (4-5, 3.13) takes the mound for Kansas City's former team tonight, to face off against the AL's best team, which will trot out CJ Wilson (13-9, 4.42) tonight. Some good news here -- Mr. Wilson is 5-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his last eight starts against the A's ... and is 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA in the sh*ttiest sporting facility still in use today in this great nation, the coliseum. (Note: all stats pulled from ESPN.com pregame notes).
* Mariners at Blue Jays (6:07pm CT). The M's start James Paxson (6-3, 2.06 ERA), who's having about as fantastic a rookie season as you can have. The Jays toss out JA Happ (9-11, 4.35). I do not like this matchup. (good ol' jr voice) I don't like it a damned bit!
And of course:
* Royals at Indians (6:05pm CT). The Boyz N Blue will throw Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42) at the Indians, who (ssssssshhhhhhh!!!!!!!) are still very, very much alive, especially for the wild card. The Fighting Braves of the Cuyahoga will send Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65) in what is without question -- (allard baird voice) without question! -- the biggest game of the season for them. Should be a fun one to watch.
And by fun, I mean "get ready for a three hour emotional roller coaster ride that'll have you chain smoking unfiltered GPC's by the time this baby's over".
OK, here's where a week from today, could get really interesting. Here's how next Monday could be a day so special in Kansas City that quite frankly, with all due apologies to Stevo's Site Numero Dos' Official Color Commentator (Emeritus) Dan Dierdorf, we've never seen it before.
Hell, seven days from now could be so epic, that I have to do it. Only the greatest of potentially great moments get this phrase, and this one folks, is a potentially great moment. Ladies and gentlemen, peoples and peepettes, freaks and geeks and tramps from the streets, the legendary, Mr. Hugh M. Hefner. Hef?
(the great mr. hugh m. hefner voice) This could be something ... REALLY special!
God I love that man.
Here's what I am talking about. And please note up front, I am NOT rooting for this to happen. I pray this doesn't happen, unless it is the only way the Royals could potentially still be playing a week from tomorrow. But damn. In the words of Blake Shelton, "it'd sure be cool if it did".
If the Royals and A's are tied for the final wildcard spot (and that's a distinct possibility), and if and only if there is not a three-way tie for the two wildcard spots (meaning the first wildcard, which in this scenario would almost have to be Seattle), if Seattle is in, and the Royals and A's are tied a game or more behind the Mariners, then a one-game wildcard play-in game would have to be held. Free baseball. Game 163.
And that game would be played, on Monday, September 29th ... at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
And lest you think this is a bat sh*t crazy scenario, wildcard play-in games have happened before. Even with two wildcard slots open. It just happened last year in fact, when the Rays beat the Rangers, before facing the Indians in the true wildcard game.
I know the Chiefs played at noon at Arrowhead, the day of Game Seven against the Cardinals thirty years ago. (Would be lying if I remembered any of it.)
That? Was the biggest Double Header Day in both franchise's history.
But Monday would come damned close, if it happens.
One final note: I aim to post at least something, every night, the rest of the way, of this season of a lifetime. I will probably -- like most things in life -- fail. But I am to try.
I just hope all of you, get how awesome, how amazing, how utterly incredible, these next seven days are going to be.
This is literally what we have waited our whole lives, to have.
Don't fail to enjoy the moment(s) to come.
Cry like there's no tomorrow.
And cheer like tomorrow, means everything ...