Don't Kill The Mellinger

Is it a stretch to call this the most important single day of Royals baseball in a decade?

Updated: 2013-08-16T17:33:07Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

— I mean, is it?

We’re dealing with low standards here. But if we’re talking about actual baseball games – not "events" like the Carlos Beltran trade, Eric Hosmer’s call-up, the James Shields trade – then I’m not sure what would be higher.

The Royals’ last three weeks of dreams are essentially facing the firing squad this weekend. The Royals put themselves on this razor’s edge back in May, with that 4-19 turd, then played well enough to capture a city’s attention with that 17-3 run.

But with three straight losses, there does seem to be a growing fear or sense of doom in the fan base. Keep in mind I’m basing this on such scientific research as "checking email," "listening to voicemails," and "getting on Twitter." It’s interesting that the May 6 game has been referenced more than a few times.

You might remember this as "the Ned game," or the "Shields game," the one where Yost pulled Shields with a one-run lead after 102 pitches and eight innings. The Royals lost that one, in extra innings, which turned out to be the beginning of that 4-19 slide that cost two hitting coaches their jobs and tempted George Brett back into the dugout.

To a chunk of the fan base, that one game is a direct cause of the following three weeks that now are effectively the difference between the Royals being on the fringe of the playoff race to the thick of it.

To that, I say the following three things:

- I don’t think that one game caused the 4-19 turd any more than Bruce Chen giving up just one run in six innings in his second start back in the rotation on July 23 caused the following 17-3 run. We can try, but assigning cause and effect to the rises and falls of a baseball season is generally a fool’s errand.

- If I’m wrong about that, then the Royals have no chance to be good, ever.

- The fact that many fans feel this way, that they still remember a game that happened 102 days ago despite everything else that’s happened – Brett’s return and retirement, a 9-2 run in early June to get back to .500 highlighted by Lorenzo Cain’s two-outs-two-strikes homer off Valverde in the ninth, Sal Perez’s concussion, five straight losses before the All-Star break, three key injuries in the span of a few days, on and on and on we could go with this – is the best indication possible about how fragile fan confidence is around this team.

And, again, deservedly so.

It’s a parade or meltdown every day, which makes today, with two chance against the division leader when confidence is shaky, particularly critical.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to smellinger@kcstar.com or follow twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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