The Kansas City Royals are in a holding pattern right now, with rapidly depleting fuel and no relief in sight.
A bad team isn’t inherently boring or unbearable to watch. If there’s a bad team with direction, then you can dream, hope. The Royals’ 2011 was fun for that reason. They were terrible, but you could see seeds being planted. The Chicago Cubs averaged an excruciating 95 losses per year from 2012-2014 in a large market with significant resources, but you could clearly see a plan coming into place. They won the 2016 World Series.
This year’s Royals squad is terrible. They have the worst record in all of baseball along with the worst run differential in all of baseball, being outscored by a full run-and-a-half per game. Unfortunately, they are the 13th-oldest team in average batter age, and the third-oldest team in average pitcher age. Their core all becomes free agents at once at the end of this season, a core that chugged its way to the 2014 and 2015 World Series together whilst winning the latter.
This year’s Royals squad is terrible to watch because they have no momentum or direction. If you’re bad with a purpose, then there’s at least a purpose. The Royals’ badness is purposeless because they wanted to compete this year, and so being bad serves no purpose at all.
Everyone knows the Royals are bad right now—the fans, the players, other teams—but the only people who truly matter are the Royals’ front office, and it’s not clear they think the team is bad.
Yeah yeah, this team could pull out of it. Weirder things have happened! But as the Royals continue to be hammered at home and away, with their ace on their mound or not, their offense wallowing in the back like a teenager reluctantly brought to the school dance by his insecure friend, it’s beginning to get clearer and clearer that this year is what it is: bad. The only way to make bad better is by being better or by giving it purpose. Being in an infinite holding pattern, hanging onto the past, does neither.
If you’re wondering where the recap is, that’s because it was a very short game to describe. One can easily do so in twenty-two words: Jose Quintana, White Sox ace, dominated the punchless Royals offense while the Chicago offense hammered Danny Duffy, Royals ace, in another blowout. The final score was 6-0 Chicago, although it could and should have been much worse considering how many White Sox baserunners didn’t come home to roost.
Tomorrow, the White Sox face the Royals again, and hopefully at some point we’ll move from ‘bad’ to either ‘good’ or ‘bad with purpose.’ Kansas City has weathered enough terrible, lifeless baseball for many lifetimes.