Great start to 2024


I have started and stopped writing my first blog post of the year several times. I have been to about a half dozen games so far this year and while the Royals didn’t win them all, they also have not been a disappointing and dismal bunch of ballplayers bungling their way through the season.

In fact, I think there are reasons to be very excited about this season, if for no other reason, it is the beginning of May and we aren’t already psychologically eliminated from contention.

It is hard to fathom that a team that lost 106 games last year just recorded it’s best April mark in franchise history. In fact, I could really get on the bandwagon, but the main reason I am not more excited about their 18-13 start is Cleveland has opened the campaign with a 19-10 mark. Kind of mind boggling to have the best opening month in history, but be two games out of first.

Pessimists will point out that part of the Royals early success has come because of seven games with the White Sox and sweeping the seemingly overrated Astros in a three-game set. But, one of the keys to success is playing well against the best teams and beating up on the teams you should beat up on. Finally, this year, we appear to be in the beater’s role instead of the ones being beaten.

As I openly admit, I am not a great stats geek or necessarily a great scout. What I do have is a lifetime of memories, so most often what I am looking for is insights to how a team compares, good or bad.

For example, Maikel Garcia hit a home run to lead off the season. It had happened one time before in Royals history, I know Onix Concepcion hit a home run to lead off the 1984 season off Ron Guidry of the Yankees. If I remember correctly, it might have come on the first pitch. The Royals won the game 4-2.

The 1984 season turned out to be a good one for the Royals as they posted an 84-78 record and won the Western Division before being swept in the ALCS by the Tigers, which might have been one of the best all-around teams of that era.

In the opening game in 1984, Dan Quisenberry picked up the save. I remember a reporter asking him after the game if he (Quisenberry) had a goal for saves. The response, “I don’t know, but at this rate I would get 162.” He then took a corn chip and put it on top of the reporter’s microphone and walked away. I was never sure of the corn chip connection, but it was funny to watch and obviously ended the interview.

So I look at this team and dream of 1984. But then my mind goes to 2003 when the Royals came out smoking hot winning the first nine and 11 of the first 12. That team spent 107 days that summer in first place. However, they ran out of steam down the stretch and ended with an 83-79 mark, third in the Central Division.

What I remember the most about that team was even when they were lava hot, the players were cautious: “It’s a long season, we haven’t won anything yet.” They very much appeared to be a team of losers waiting to start losing.

So which is it in 2024? We have pitching, good defense and offense that can be explosive, but is it World Series Championship caliber? Is it playoff caliber? Is it .500 caliber? It's hard to say.

Coming off a historically bad year it is hard to expect too much, but so far this team seems to be passing the eye test, so it is a great time to hope and enjoy what's happening.


If there is anything really disappointing so far this year it is Kansas City's reaction to the team. Other than opening day, the crowds this year have been, to say the least, pretty dismal. I understand the skepticism. I understand the Chiefs are the toast of the town right now. But average fans have been crying for the Royals to field a better team and so far, they appear to be answering. It would be nice if the fans showed their appreciation by showing up.


Last month we lost Whitey Herzog. I have seen every Royals manager and I would be hard pressed to say we ever had one better than Whitey. The only one close would be Dick Howser.

As a fan, what I remember most about Herzog was he was around when the Royals built a team on speed and defense, the hallmarks of the good KC teams ever since. It was like no one had ever figured out that speed could be a great weapon on artificial turf until he came along. He didn’t win a league championship in KC, but he put the model of success together.

From a personal standpoint, I interviewed him a few times and while a great story teller, I don’t think he loved the media, but he knew it was part of the job. The very first night I had a press pass, I ventured down to the Royals dugout for the first time. I am sure I was wide-eyed and very obviously excited about this place at this time in my life. The players ran by me, in and out, it was incredible.

While I was standing in the dugout, a ball came rolling my way from an infielder’s bad toss to first. I picked up the ball and got a chance to toss a ball to real big leaguer on the field. Someone held his glove up for a target and I threw the ball to him with all the power of rose bush. It was about 10 feet off target and bounced about 27 times towards first base. I looked to my right and Herzog was just standing there looking at me. I uttered something to the effect of “I don’t think my tryout went well.” That actually brought a brief grin before he turned and started looking at the field again.