“I, I, I, I, I?
Can't get you out of my head!
God knows I've tried --
But I just can't forget,
Those crazy nights
And all the things that we did.
I, I, I, I, I?
Can't get you out of my head!
I keep trying to sleep,
But I’m lying awake;
I’m thinking about the love
That I threw away.
But it won’t let me go,
And I need you to know,
That I, I, I, I, I?
Can’t get you out of my head!
God knows I’ve tried –
But I just can’t forget!
In my whole life?
I’ve never had it this bad!
I, I, I, I, I?
Can’t get you out of my head! …”
The Only Two Numbers That Matter:
Royals Magic Number for a Playoff Berth: 5.
Royals Magic Number for a Division Title: 8.
Standings As I Post:
Tigers +1 on Royals.
A’s +1 on Royals.
Royals +2 on Mariners.
Royals +3 ½ on Indians.
This is a phrase I've used a time or two in starting a Chiefs GameDay recap, but damned if this phrase doesn't apply today to the Boyz N Blue.
That? I'm supposed to recap that?
I'm supposed to recap Danny Duffy last night?
Making his first start in three weeks, and making it after lasting a whopping one pitch in that start, Mr. Duffy took to the mound last night, and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the freaking season was on the line. Like it's going to be every night, for the next six weeks, or however long this magical mystery tour continues.
The Royals dropped the suspended game. They did make a game of it -- they had the tying run at second before Omar Infante was, well, Omar Infante, and popped out. Now it was getting serious. The Royals, in ten days, had gone from leading the AL Central, to being two back, only one up in the wildcard, and the Indians still had three more cracks at them (and the Indians at that point only sat 4 1/2 out in the division, 2 1/2 out in the wildcard. Stranger things have happened.)
So, after loading the bases via a walk and two singles, up to the plate strolls Carlos Santana (doo doo doo do doo), who as was pointed out last night -- a lot -- has owned the Boyz N Blue this year. He's just owned us. Hitting over .350, seven home runs, and now here he is, bases loaded, nobody out, and as Royals fans, we know what comes next.
For thirty years, we've known exactly what comes next. We may not know exactly how what comes next is going to, uuh, come, but we know it is going to be, in the words of that chick on "Seinfeld" back in the day, we know it is going to be "real and spectacular".
Because what comes next, is Chip Ambros dropping a fly ball. It's a single to left, and Ken Harvey getting drilled in the back with the throw. It's a grand slam on the most anticipated Opening Day of my lifetime by Sam Horn. It's Jose Rosado or Runelvys Hernandez blowing out their arm trying to get that extra oomph on the curve. It's Mike Moustakas failing to catch the cut-off throw. It's anything and everything Albie Lopez. It's ... well, you get the picture. "Real and spectacular" is not a phrase Royals fans are used to enjoying.
And so, here we stand, at the beginning of the biggest week this team has played in a generation, at the finish of the biggest season of a generation, and it's opening like this? A loss in the opener with the tying run at second, and now this? Bases loaded, nobody out, a tremendous power hitter at the plate, his team just as desperate to win this game and stay in contention as Mr. Duffy and our Royals are?
In the words of Mousy McDermott*, "you have GOT to be kitten me!"
(*: seriously, how epically awesome is Sunday come 8pm CT going to be, when "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" merge as one for an hour? And as if that isn't epic enough, I've got five words that might cause my universe to explode. "Peter. Homer. Ernie. Chicken fight." Now that's some three-way action (rimshot!))
One pitch. One harmless fly ball behind second base. One out.
Nine pitches. One of the most jaw-dropping curve balls of your life for strike three. Two out.
Nine pitches. A routine can o' corn to right. Three out.
Folks? That never happens to us. That's what Yankees do. That's what Red Sox do. That's what Cardinals do. That's what Giants or Dodgers or Braves or Tigers or (insert perennial playoff contender here) do. That's not what Royals do.
Until last night.
Because last night was real, and it was spectacular, and it was even more than that.
It made Tom Hanks a liar. It made him wrong. It made him completely freaking wrong. It made his Jimmy Doogan character one hundred freaking percent wrong.
Because last night, there was crying in baseball.
At least at the Casa de Stevo.
Tonight's Key Matchups:
* Mariners at Blue Jays, 6:07pm CT. There aren't many declarative statements you can make about how the AL postseason race is going to shake out, but I think it's fairly safe to say this: if the Mariners lose tonight, with King Felix (14-5, 2.07), they're in deep, deep trouble. The Jays counter by sending RA Dickey (13-12, 3.82) to the hill. The way the M's rotation is set up, Felix Hernandez would pitch the season finale, so if they're within a game entering Sunday, they've got a very credible shot.
The Royals got a pretty solid assist from Toronto last night, who blew the Mariners out of the Dome, dropping fourteen runs on them (and most importantly, putting some strain on the bullpen). I would be stunned if that happened again. Still, for the second time in a week, we are all Canadians. At least in terms of a baseball team we root for.
* White Sox at Tigers, 6:08pm CT. Speaking of getting a solid assist last night, let's hear it for the Southsiders! A winless rookie, with an ERA Ricky Bottalico thinks is hideous, goes into Motown and shuts out the Tigers. Sometimes, you get really, really lucky. That was about as lucky as it gets.
Tonight, this is what the Tigers made the trade for. David Price (14-12, 3.37) goes for Detroit, and again, there aren't many declarative statements you can make about the race to October at this point, but if Detroit can't win this game, it's not a good sign. The Sox counter with Scott Carroll (5-10, 5.01), who actually sports a lower ERA entering this one, than last night's starter for the Sox. I'm not expecting much help from Motown tonight ... but I didn't expect any last night either.
* Angels at A's, 9:05pm CT. Can't say last night was a complete stunner, but I certainly didn't envision CJ Wilson getting tuned for six runs in the first. The 8-4 win keeps the A's a full game ahead of the Royals for the right to host the Wild Card game.
Like the other two games, I'm not expecting much help tonight. The A's throw Sonny Gray (13-9, 3.28) out there, and while he hasn't won in six weeks, he's still gotta be a much more viable option than Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 5.24), who is making his second start of the season for the Angels. Which I guess is why they don't play these things on paper.
Boyz N Blue Tonight:
at Indians, 6:05pm CT.
Royals: Yordana Ventura (13-10, 3.19)
Indians: Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.02)
For the second straight night, one of the home-grown pitchers takes the mound, to try to continue to push the Boyz N Blue (linkin park voice) one step closer to their first playoff berth since "Hip To Be Square" was, uuh, hip. For the Indians, this is as close to must win as it gets. They're 3 1/2 back of the Royals with 5 to play. If they lose tonight, they are eliminated from AL Central contention, and their elimination number drops to 1 for the wild card.
I mean, let this sink in folks, but sh*t's bout to get real up in here. If the Royals and Blue Jays do tonight what they did last night, then the Royals literally have to close 0-5 to completely miss the playoffs. That's how damned close it is. Just one more win, or one more Mariners loss, would clinch a tie for the second wildcard. That's how damned close it is.
My way of saying, if a fly ball to right gets the Casa de Stevo a lil' dusty, what the hell is tomorrow night potentially going to do to it?
To say nothing of the potential of Thursday?
Tonight's lineup, via Twitter:
If you need any further proof of how bat shit crazy this season has been? Can you think of another team in Major League Baseball history, that has batted its' third baseman ninth?
Final thought of the day: I have a standing meeting at 4pm every Tuesday. It is the worst 60 plus minutes of my week, every week. It's gotten a lot better since Wendy took over running it, but it's still a 60 plus minute tug-of-war between different priorities, different viewpoints on what has priority, and what has legitimate funding to get fixed, and what we're scraping together on the side, to rig it to work.
I got an IM while I was at lunch today, from two of the four people here that are in the meeting. (There's also folks in other sites on the call). Both of them asked the same thing, albeit in slightly different phrasing.
Why hadn't I asked to cancel this week's meeting, to ensure everyone gets home by first pitch tonight?
The reason I note this? Is that neither of the two people who asked me that question, could identify two players on the Royals roster. And even they are caught up in this.
This, being the single greatest thing this city, this metropolitan area, this fanbase has experienced, in a damned long time.
It only gets better from here folks. And I for one, am going to enjoy this like I have rarely enjoyed an experience before ...