The gritty Kansas City Royals have recaptured the imagination of fans throughout a community that practically ignored the sport for too many years while being “painted red” to honor its more successful football team.
Now the Kansas City Chiefs are off to a miserable season start, as head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Alex Smith and too many other players improbably look lost on the field.
But, hey, how about those Royals?
That accomplishment gives the club the right to host the league’s Division Series starting Thursday at Kauffman Stadium — and home-field advantage for the American League Championship Series and the World Series if the Royals make it that far.
Which, of course, many fans expect them to do this postseason, following in the footsteps of the club that took the 2014 World Series to the final out in game seven before losing to the San Francisco Giants.
Now it’s Kansas City’s turn to be “painted blue” in the coming days and, let’s hope, weeks with blue-dyed fountains and blue lights draped on Union Station and Bartle Hall and around the Country Club Plaza.
On Tuesday, the Royals will host a “Take the crown rally” at Kauffman, with entrance gates opening at 11:15 a.m. for fans, followed by player interviews and batting practice.
The successful 2015 season was fueled by some of manager Ned Yost’s unconventional moves (light-hitting Alcides Escobar as the lead-off hitter?) but even more so by his unshakeable faith in his players’ abilities to claw for victories when they were most needed.
The Royals triumphed despite the fact that many in the national media predicted the club would lose more games than it won this season. We’re especially looking at you, Sports Illustrated.
And the Royals overcame in-season injuries to outfielder Alex Gordon and a season-ending injury to closer Greg Holland, as well as suspensions, brawls, a chicken pox outbreak and a September mini-swoon that nearly led to a social media meltdown among passionate fans.
Yet after all that, the Royals posted the third best record in franchise history.
Now this city’s baseball fans eagerly await another magical postseason ride — with just one more victory tacked on at the end.