At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, on fumes from sleep deprivation and feeling like no decision was a good one, my dear friend and former Star columnist Joe Posnanski offered encouragement with some words along these lines:
“I admire your courage to stand in the pocket,” he said, laughing, “but I don’t think you have a great feel for the rush.”
This tale is humbly submitted to offer context, or perhaps an asterisk, on how I perceive the Royals as they languish in the American League Central cellar to make feverish tweeters so sure of their demise that the only possible course of action is to ignite a fire sale.
Everything must go … now!
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Now, with the trade deadline looming on July 31, maybe the time will come when the Royals will have to discard to reboot.
Maybe it’s even inevitable.
But … what’s the rush here?
Barring fantasy offers that couldn’t be refused, selling off now would be selling out and irresponsible — neither of which is in general manager Dayton Moore’s vocabulary.
First and foremost, this is about the competitive integrity of the season at hand, and after their 6-5 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals (22-30) are a measly 5 1/2 games back as of June 1.
If that sounds familiar, well, they were 6 1/2 back on June 1, 2014, and 7 behind as late as July 24 that year.
You know what happened next.
Meanwhile, the only team that seems capable of running away with the division this season is Cleveland, the 2016 AL champions, and the Indians are 27-24 and on their way into town this weekend for a meaningful series.
Nothing at all is assured, but what logic would there be to surrendering now?
Not there aren’t plenty of things to fret about — including the absence of key starter Danny Duffy for up to six to eight weeks with an oblique injury and the fact two supposed mainstays (Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon) seldom generate any offense.
For that matter, despite retaining much of the nucleus of the franchise that played in back-to-back World Series and won it all in 2015, this team has a unique identity that may or may not ultimately resemble the find-a-way, keep-the-line-moving makeup of those teams.
But don’t you want to know what might be revealed in the next six weeks instead of seeing hasty decisions made about impending free agency … and before the present against the future really needs to be reconciled?
The Royals have 35 more games before the All-Star Break — and another 16 after that before they’d have to execute a deal.
In other words, as many games as they played up until Wednesday.
And there’s plenty to be learned and much that can change (one way or another) even if you see the All-Star break as your basic cutoff point for decisions about the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who have free agency pending.
But here’s the other part of this equation.
With so many teams still in playoff contention, with so much baseball still to be played, much of baseball is in a similar holding pattern waiting to evaluate what’s what themselves.
“There are so many different variables: Teams are always evaluating things, changing direction at different times, based on whatever circumstance they are in,” Moore recently told The Star’s Rustin Dodd, adding that deals typically can be made in little time between willing partners.
And the closer to the deadline it gets, the more leverage sellers figure to have — and the more value that can be extracted from teams with conviction they have needs that can be filled.
At least theoretically.
Because the question then, as now, would be whose needs could the Royals supplement if they’re out of it?
That’s a story in itself, but it takes us to another aspect of all this:
The economic reality is it’s all going to look different next year no matter what.
There’s virtually no way around that a couple of your favorite players will be wearing another uniform whether it’s because of a trade in the weeks to come or free agency after the season.
But there’s no discernible benefit to prematurely ushering in the end of this era — and still ample reason to see what the final chapters hold.
Not with plenty of time to hang in the pocket yet.