Twelve hours or so after the Royals claimed their first division title since 1985, the feat was emblazoned on their Hall of Fame at Kauffman Stadium.
In the clubhouse Friday afternoon, a scented candle and deodorizers and an industrial-strength vacuum were engaged to eradicate the lingering whiffs of beer, champagne and cigars from the shindig the night before.
But nowhere was the immediate aftermath of the achievement more stark than in the eccentric lineup concocted by manager Ned Yost Friday night against Cleveland for what would become a 6-0 thrashing in which the Royals mustered one hit.
As much by necessity as design, considering the green light for revelry the players were granted, Yost adhered to time-honored baseball doctrine by resting most regulars and cobbling out a lineup that reflected a hangover … psychological or otherwise.
That was the prime directive, a matter of morale and reward and an emotional line in the sand before the final grind that was deemed a higher priority than trying to make robots of men who needed a break through this slog.
Yep, it mattered more than Toronto starting the day only two games behind in the race for the overall No. 1 seed in the American League playoffs and closing it to one.
At least in the hyperbolic Twitter-sphere, this was not a popular decision to fans, plenty of whom suggested this was a combination of incompetence and treason.
But, sorry, there was no outrage here, not with nine regular-season games left entering play on Saturday and scant evidence that this homefield advantage thing is some Holy Grail.
You’d rather have it than not, but ...
Since the addition of the wild-card in the playoffs in 1995, six wild-card teams afflicted with homefield disadvantage in every league series went on to win the World Series.
Only four teams in that span that had the best record in baseball, and home-field advantage at least until the World Series, could say the same.
For recent evidence of the relative irrelevance of homefield advantage, consider that the Giants won the 2014 World Series despite playing their wild-card game at Pittsburgh and being relegated to the treachery of the road in every series thereafter.
The Royals, meanwhile, beat the Angels and Orioles despite the hindrance of not having home advantage — and then lost to the Giants in the only series they held it.
Still, the uprising Friday night might have just been a blip to restless fans if not for the last few weeks.
A nagging sense of lost mojo surfaced amid the flux of the Royals amassing a preposterous divisional lead that compelled them to rest players, take inventory and tweak where appropriate.
But it all came with a hitch attached, which at least in part explains why the Royals since had won just nine of their last 24 entering Saturday.
Having the ability and means to start gearing towards the postseason — what this season will be known for — made it an obligation to do so.
That meant being more invested in the long haul than the lesser urgency of the moment.
It wasn’t exactly consciously choosing one or the other, of course. But it turns out there were a lot of moving parts to reconcile and adjust and try to make right even when everything seemed hunky-dory.
That’s why before they started swigging champagne on Thursday, the Royals were chugging down truth serum.
Not to mention checking their inoculations against chickenpox after Kelvin Herrera and Alex Rios were diagnosed with the virus.
All of which led to something of an extreme makeover since the start of September.
In this stretch, they’ve come to terms with the decline of closer Greg Holland, now sidelined for the season, and begun to recast the structure of their bullpen behind Wade Davis.
They’ve reintegrated All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon after he was out nearly two months with a groin injury, and they essentially committed to Ben Zobrist replacing the now-injured Omar Infante at second base.
Meanwhile, they indulged Rios one last audition to keep his job in right, a move that seems to have been worthwhile, with Rios enjoying an 11-game hitting streak and hitting .357 (20-56) this month — and saving the Royals from embarrassment with their one hit against Carlos Carrasco.
They’ve shaken up the batting order, with Alcides Escobar going from leadoff to ninth and Gordon taking over leadoff.
The most vital work, though, has been to try to get the nerve-wracking starting rotation stabilized and, ultimately, thriving.
Most substantially, that meant working to solve the curious case of presumed ace Johnny Cueto, whose arrival by trade from Cincinnati in late July seemed to solve the Royals’ most glaring issue.
Instead, Cueto soon became not part of the solution but part of the problem through five straight wretched starts in which he gave up 30 runs in 26.1 innings.
It took longer than it should have to figure out, but apparently the disturbance in the force was neutralized when Cueto let on that he was grappling with where catcher Salvador Perez was setting the target.
In two starts since that revelation, Cueto has allowed five runs in 15 innings — if not the stuff of legend, a closer approximation of the Cueto the Royals believed they were getting.
Meanwhile, the Royals also were further reconfiguring for the playoffs a rotation that will feature only two starters who began the season in those roles: Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez.
Most notably, Danny Duffy has made good so far on his move to the bullpen and could find himself in supplemental late-inning roles with Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Luke Hochevar and Franklin Morales.
The change for Duffy was enabled by the rise of Kris Medlen, who two years removed from his last major-league appearance pitched his way into the postseason rotation by allowing just two earned runs over 17.1 innings in his three starts entering Saturday.
In the cosmic sense of all this, it’s worth noting that Medlen was drubbed in the outing before that, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 12-1 Royals loss to Chicago on Sept. 4.
Had the Royals been consumed only with winning the day at hand, they might have figured he’d had his chance. After all, to that point, Medlen had given up 13 runs in 17 innings over three starts.
But Medlen’s flourishing since reflects the upside of this broader strategy, in which the Royals have favored sculpting and scripting their postseason over the immediate present.
It’s anybody’s guess, of course, how that will turn out.
And how it turns out will be the only way it can be evaluated.
Fairly or not with so much unpredictability in the playoffs.
The postseason is a world unto itself, “the wild, wild West,” as Yost put it the other night, and by whatever metric you measure it by, there’s a lot of truth in that.
Nine teams that failed to have winning Septembers, for instance, have reached the World Series in the last 20 years.
Every circumstance of every team in every season is different, of course, and there is always a fine line between reasons and excuses for why things unfold as they do.
But the Royals know chances like this can be scarce, and they’ve invested themselves entirely in seizing the day.
Even if the grand plan allowed for a reprieve to exhale before they get to the nitty-gritty, in pursuit of a celebration no one would grumble about.