Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zack Greinke wins the Cy Young Award

Congratulations to Zack Greinke upon winning the Cy Young Award. One of the most coveted awards and most esteemed in baseball or in any sport, this gives some hope to those of us who are still, although reluctantly, Royals Fans.

It's not easy being a Royals fan. It really isn't.

When I moved to the Kanas City area back in 1985, Kansas City had just won the AL Central and was on its way to defeating St. Louis in a very dramatic seven game World Series, dubbed the I-70 series. This was uplifting for me since I came from Chicago and neither the Cubs nor the White Sox had been able to do much in terms of contending for the penant, although the Cubs had a promising run in 1984 only to fail, which is par for the course. Since 1985, Kanas City fans haven't had much to cheer for. Sure, we still had George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Dan Quisenberry, Kevin Seitzer, Frank White, etc. But with the demise of Royals' owner and all-around-good-guy Ewing Kauffman in the early 90s which left the financial future of the Royals in serious doubt, even though it was managed through the Kauffman Foundation and only one playoff appearance since 1985, which was 1992, the fans have really been let down. A new owner game in the form of David Glass who really is more concerned with lining his pockets (nothing wrong with that per se) but not caring a lick about baseball only prolonged the agony. Incompetent managers, more incompetent general managers (I think Allard Baird is a greeter at a local Wal-Mart now), players and perspective players never seemed to develop and went to teams where they blossomed, bad picks in the draft, huge gaffs in free agent signing, which persist to this day (Guillen, hello?) are all good reasons why Royals fans have been in misery for a long time. A lone bright spot did occur back in 2003 when the Royals started playing great, but petered out at the end of the season, going .500 (which was better than many previous years) and the Royals missed the playoffs yet again.

But this year, Royals fans flocked to Kauffman Stadium (I'm sorry, but I cannot call it "The K." It's a stupid moniker for this beautiful stadium. Yes, Kauffman is a beautiful place to play a game. The fountains in the outfield make it worth the trip) to see this young pitcher. At the beginning of the year, Greinke was touted as the Royals premier franchise player. He had a huge and lucrative contract and a larger fan base He became the face of the Kansas City Royals.

And why shouldn't he have been? After 6 starts, this Greinke had an ERA of less than 0.5. That's only been done by three other pitchers, including LA Dodgers Fernando Venezuela back in the 1980s. His end of season record was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 242 strike outs. Now you might balk at the wins, but in half of those games, he was let down by the Royals lack of offense. In those games, Greinke gave up maybe only one run with other runs generated by errors from pretty bad fielding (Callaspo, you reading this?). Nevertheless, Kansas City has a real ace in this guy and the Cy Young puts Greinke in very elite company. David Cone won the Cy Young for the Royals back in 1994 and before him, Bret Saberhagen in 1989. Saberhagen retired as a Royal. We all know what happened to David Cone. That's right--he became a Yankee! I can't think of anything more treacherous. That's why Johnny Damon better watch his back the next time he comes back to Kanas City. He has a huge target on his back, head, wherever.

The challenge is now to keep Greinke. We don't want to lose him to any other team, especially the Yankees. He's a bright spot for Kansas City. In the past, when the Royals were doing lousy, we always had the Chiefs to brighten our fall and winter months. We don't have that anymore either since the Chiefs are the equivalent to a high school football team and are so disappointing right now. I hope that the new management in the Royals front office does everything possible to keep Greinke here and give him the support he needes. There's no way we're going to be able to support a lineup that has as many dollar signs as the Yankees, but the Royals could be sure to keep some good players and recruit new ones so that Greinke isn't recording losses when he gave up only one earned run! However, the Royals General Manager has already done some stupid things. They've kept Guillen, they traded Teahen (who was a good hitter) and released Olivia, they should have let go of C John Buck, but for some idiotic reason, kept him. I don't have much faith in the general managers of either Kansas City professional team right now. But the Royals have some good pitching. Soria is an excellent closer and Meache has his bright spots. Royals just need some offense. And Greinke wants to win. According to the Kansas City star,
Greinke has made it clear that he enjoys Kansas City, but also that winning is his priority. He won fans locally when he told the New York media he wanted to pitch for the Royals, and not the Yankees, but has been open about his disappointment in last year’s 97-loss team.
Like all stars, Greinke wants to win and I'm not sure how willing or shrewd Royals GM, Dayton Moore, will be to arrange for this to happen.

For now, I'm going to congratulate Greinke and hope that this might be the beginning of light in a long, dark tunnel.

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