Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bicentennial Man

This is my 200th post, a point I really never figured this blog would get to as my attention tends to wane on time-consuming endeavors that don't pay off in any palpable way. Over the course of this blog's existence, it has turned more and more into a blog on fandom. Sure, there's the occasional entry ranting about whatever has pissed me off that day, ranging from inane road closures to inconsiderate cell phone use, but mostly it has consisted of me espousing my opinions on sports, film, etc. Whether or not there's an audience for that has yet to be determined, but here's to hoping the next 200 posts strike some chord with some segment of the population.

Now much of these writings have been dedicated to the two franchises I follow mostly closely, the Royals and the Chiefs, so already I'm painting myself into a corner in which no one is interested in anything I'm writing about. Sure I could keep writing about Jason Segel's cock or Donna Reed being hot--apparently I'm not alone, as I just got a hit from someone who did a search for "hot Donna Reed"--but those posts really don't drum up that much traffic and I don't feel like I'm getting any repeaters for that anyway. In the end, I do need to keep writing about things that interest me.

So post #200 finds me exploring what feels to be a shifting in primary fandom.

I am a fan of two unsuccessful teams.

The Chiefs have not won a playoff game since January 16th of 1994, when Joe Montana led them to the AFC Championship game only to fall short in Buffalo. They have lost their last six playoff games, three to Indianapolis, one to Miami, one to Denver, and that one to start it all in Buffalo. It's been a long fourteen years. The Chiefs have lost their two most iconic players before their time due to death (Derrick Thomas) and a freak neck injury (Priest Holmes, who actually persevered through the injury that ended Bo Jackson's career). They have opted for perhaps the most conservative coach in the history of the NFL. They were awful last year, signed no free agent of true significance, sit something like $30 million below the salary cap, and had what on paper looked to be an all right draft but currently have their top two picks already nursing injuries on the sidelines. It certainly doesn't look like they're getting any closer to winning that elusive playoff game.

To even have to say that a playoff victory is elusive should speak loudly to the state of the Chiefs fan.

The Royals have had one winning season since the strike-shortened 1994 season. I may be mistaken, but I seem to recall that they are the only team in the history of Major League Baseball to have three straight 100-loss seasons. Almost any talent they have had hasn't blossomed until they're in a different uniform. They've been historically bad and don't have being an expansion team to blame for such ineptitude.

Even worse, I was not old enough to appreciate their sole World Series win, with the 1987 Series being the first I was able to watch. Many of my baseball memories as a youth are of seeing the Royals play the Twins in the Dome, though, with Bo Jackson seeming to be superhuman, and George Brett raking many a-double, and Saberhagen shredding the Twins. That all happened before the strike. Before the Royals turned down the chance to move to the National League. Before Herk Robinson. Or Allard Baird.

Since then I've had to take solace in the fact that I called Aaron Guiel's second home run in a meaningless game for an awful team. I've gotten to see Mike Sweeney destroy the Twins, but spend much of his career on the DL. I've gotten to see the Royals trade Jermaine Dye to the Rockies for Neifi Perez.

So, while the Chiefs have been frustrating, they've at least enjoyed enough success to have made the playoffs. The Royals have simply been terrible with very little upside.

Last year, at this time, I was immersed in reading up on preseason Chiefs news. I didn't think they were going to be good--probably in the 7 - 9 area--but I was interested. The Royals were about to break their string of 100-loss seasons with a 69 - 93 record, which was a step in the right direction but was nothing to get excited for.

Then last football season happened. The Chiefs were horrible. Unbearable to watch. The only bright spot on the whole season was the play of Jared Allen, who established himself as arguably the best pass rusher in the game. And he caught touchdown passes. And now he's a goddamn Viking.

To add insult to injury, the man who built the team up in his first ten years on the job only to have it crumble under his watch over the following ten years retained his job. I'm not a person to call for someone's head without cause. As much vitriol as I spit out, I don't think it stems from some irrational place. I'm not quick to freak out about things on a large scale. Sure, if someone drops a ball and the game is on the line, I'm going to verbalize my displeasure, but I don't play the part of the reactionary who wants that player cut. If there is a long line of futility and sub-par job performance, then the pattern does speak to me. Carl Peterson has established himself as someone who should no longer be in his position. And after last season, it looked like the Chiefs would have to move in a Peterson-free direction. Clark Hunt saw things differently, but I think I speak for at least a segment of the fan base when I say that I'm a bit disenfranchised.

The Royals, although mired in what looks sure to be another losing season, somehow seem to be on the upswing. Under the direction of Dayton Moore, the GM brought in from the Braves organization in the hopes of injecting their winning tradition into the Royals flailing organization, the Royals have made what seem to be largely shrewd moves. They now turn Bill Bavasi's refuse into a borderline prospect, wild arms into possibly league-average starters, sketchy middle relievers into pitching prospects, historically bad bullpens into the strength of the team, and Mexican League starting pitchers into one of the best closers in the game. Obviously, the Royals are not going to contend for the division. They might, however, contend for signing real free agents. Someone who could affect their win-loss record in a positive way. They have thrown a lot of money at Jose Guillen and Gil Meche, and both have paid off at least intermittently. Their rotation looks to be possibly taking shape for the future with Rosa, Cortes, and Hochevar giving hope to the believers in their respective settings. Sure, their farm system is still lacking in offensive firepower past a Hawaiian with power and question marks and first-round draft pick Mike Moustakas, who is without a clear position but murdering the ball regardless, but you get the sense that Dayton Moore may be able to remedy this situation.

So I find myself in the strange position of not giving a shit about the Chiefs. I'll watch their games. Don't get me wrong. But I'm not investing any time outside of watching their games and the posts following the games. What is there to hope for?

When you ask that question about the Royals, you can actually come up with an answer. Or at least I can.

So my priorities are shifting. I'll be watching for the Royals to be active in the Hot Stove bidding wars, just like they were last year. I'll be monitoring their farm system. I'll be reading all those great Royals blogs. I'll be largely ignoring the Chiefs.

And I think I'll be happier for it.
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