Part of the allure of baseball is it’s connection to the past. Old-timers are celebrated. Championship teams are revered. Everyone loves a winner. In baseball, they’re never forgotten.
That’s a good thing.
The Royals, it seems, have been stuck in this time warp. It’s both literal and figurative. This team doesn’t hit home runs! Just like baseball in 1985. They steal loads of bases. Just like in 1985. The pitching dominates and compensates for a wet noodle offense. Yes, it’s 1985 all over again. OMG, they’re in the playoffs! IT’S 1985 ALL OVER AGAIN!!!
The connections are so obvious, the drought so long, it’s not surprising we see these “Party like it’s 1985” shirts all over the place.
What this postseason has done for me is underscore how tired I am of 1985. Honestly, I never thought I’d write that. As a 14 year old when the Royals won the World Series, that team was integral to my baseball consciousness. But the Wild Card game and the ALDS has awakened something in me. I’ll never forget 1985. But we’re ready for new memories. We’re ready for new heroes.
The Royals have played four games this postseason. All four of those games have been incredibly memorable. It’s as if they’re making up for lost time, paying back our devotion with heart-stopping, improbable victories. Four games of magic:
Twice being three outs from elimination and both times getting up off the mat.
Sal Perez lining a pitch out of the strike zone just inside the third base bag for the winning Wild Card hit.
Eric Hosmer hitting home runs and landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Billy Butler stealing a base and paying tribute to Jarrod Dyson while standing on second.
Greg Holland rushing through the SoCal traffic to arrive at the stadium in time to close the door in Game One.
Yordano Ventura throwing 102 mph gas.
Alex Gordon clearing the bases with a double.
Mike Moustakas crushing a home run that landed one row in front of me in Game Three.
Amazing. So many signature moments. And just like that, the twentysomethings finally have their postseason memories. Never again will they have to hear about George Brett’s home run silencing Yankee Stadium in 1980 and wonder if they’ll ever experience something similar. We have Mike Moustakas going yard in Anaheim. This isn’t to say the heroes of 2014 are going to knock the 1985 team off the shelf or replace them in some way. They’re going to share the real estate. Finally. Finally we have a group of players that have accomplished something meaningful. It’s been so damn long. How great will it be 25 years from now when Darryl Motley and Eric Hosmer are back at The K for an Old Timers Day? They played in different eras, but they share a connection as Royals who won pivotal postseason games with one swing of the bat. And it’s about time we as a fan base have a shared experience like this. There’s no more divide between the old fans and the younger ones. That gap disappeared when Sal Perez smashed a ball down the right field line sending The K into raptures not seen for almost three decades.
The 2014 October Royals have made their mark. They have become America’s baseball team. Don’t believe me? According to USA Today, the Royals have sold the most merchandise of any team in baseball this month. The same report has Eric Hosmer as the third most popular player, behind Derek Jeter and some St. Louis Cardinal. Fine. Small sample size and all that, but this is an October when everything has been turned inside out and upside down. Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed.
After 29 years we are finally moving on from 1985. That team will never leave our memory. But it’s about time they have some company.