For the first time after a postseason series, Royals owner David Glass didn’t pull a commemorative T-shirt over his shirt and tie and wasn’t drenched in champagne.
The sounds coming from the corridor of offices in the Royals clubhouse were consolation congratulations and hugs that ended with slaps on the back.
Although the mood was sullen after the Royals’ 3-2 loss to the Giants in the seventh and deciding game of the World Series on Wednesday, Glass, general manager Dayton Moore, manager Ned Yost and everybody who assembled the 2014 Royals will soon realize their momentous accomplishment.
“In a while, when we have a little time to reflect,” Moore said. “Right now, it stings a lot. It hurts.”
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Ever the baseball man, Moore ran through the critical moments throughout the game. The diving stop by Giants second baseman Joe Panik that started a double play in third inning, for starters. Without that, the Royals would have had runners at first and third with none out in a 2-2 game.
He was adamant that third-base coach Mike Jirschele was right to give the stop sign to a motoring Alex Gordon with two outs in ninth after Gregor Blanco misplayed Gordon’s drive.
Above all, Moore praised the remarkable effort of Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who added to his legend with his third dominant performance of the World Series.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, that’s for sure,” Moore said. “Bumgarner is terrific. We couldn’t solve him this whole series.”
But the Royals deserve praise as well. The Giants won their third World Series in five years. The Royals played in their first in 29 years.
“It doesn’t take anything away from what our players accomplished,” Moore said. “They battled their tails off all the way until the end.”
And now a hunger to finish the job will exist in the clubhouse.
“The only thing these players will think about is getting back to this stage, and because of that it’s going to serve them well going forward,” Moore said. “Once you’ve tasted the playoffs and the World Series and a game seven, the only thing that motivates you is getting back to that platform.
“They have a great future ahead of them.”
Moore has plenty of decisions ahead of him. Contract decisions have to be made on players such as pitcher James Shields and designated hitter Billy Butler.
“We have some tough decisions to make with our roster,” Moore said. “We’ll continue to add players who will fit in.”
Keeping the Royals competitive should be easier than getting them there. Moore, hired from the Atlanta Braves for his first general manager job in 2006, needed several years to turn out a winner. It happened for the first time last season.
When Moore suggested the process might take longer than originally anticipated, Kansas City fans responded with a groan. The team’s failures had been painful to a once-proud baseball town.
“Three-plus years in the minor leagues before you become a major-league player, and then it’s two to four years of progressing and playing at the major-league level to become a consistent producer,” Moore said. “So you just do that math. And then you do multiples of it.
“We didn’t have a shortstop prospect in our system at the time. We didn’t have a left-handed pitching prospect in our system at the time … and we didn’t have the strong international program at the time. So we just tried to get better every day.”
They did. The Royals were good enough to become the American League champion, awaken Kansas City’s baseball spirit and take the fan base on a thrill ride of a generation.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.