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Local Sports

The Boys in Blue are back in MLB playoff picture

The Pressbox

The Kansas City Royals are relevant again — in September. As a Royals fans from the get-go, I’ve seen the contenders and the pretenders of this team throughout its history in Kansas City. My early years as a baseball fan, it was the Kansas City Athletes, then Charlie O moved the A’s to Oakland.

In came the Royals, an expansion team in 1969 owned by Ewing Kauffman. There were the start-up years of struggles, then in 1975 under manager Whitey Herzog, the Royals took off. The rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, Kansas City was the place to be to watch great baseball.

The Royals were winning American League West division championships. They were the 1980 American League champions, losing to Philadelphia in six games in the World Series. Five years later, the Royals were in the World Series again. I was there for Game 7 in Kansas City, covering my first and only World Series. Kansas City rolled to an 11-0 win to complete the comeback against St. Louis.

We saw players leave and players come. The Royals were in the mix in the division until about 1990. The death of Mr. K in 1993 threw the team into a tailspin. Maybe commitment is back in the Royals’ organization.

Going into the current homestand Monday, the Royals needed a sweep of the visiting Cleveland Indians to stay in the playoff spot chase. The Indians and Royals are both playoff contenders in the American League.

If the season ended right now, the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays would be the American Legion Wild Car teams. But it’s not over yet. The Rangers and Rays are playing each other right now. The Rays beat the Rangers, 6-2 , Monday.

How did the Royals do Monday night at home? They ripped the Indians, 7-1.

Kansas City is right in the mix with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland as those teams chase Tampa Bay and Texas for the two AL Wild Card spots. 

Did you see the play at the plate in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Detroit for the Royals? Wow. That’s what I’m talking about. Sure, it was Prince Fielder — who is not fleet of foot — but, as any longtime Royals fan will tell you, in most years the guys in Blue would not have made that play. The game would of been tied, not over.

Alex Gordon has developed into a strong outfielder for the Royals. He made the perfect throw to relay man, Alcides Escobar. Escobar threw to catcher Salvador Perez, just a little on the third base side, and Perez tagged out Fielder. Game over. The Royals did lose 3-2 to the Tigers on Sunday.

Royals fans have heard “wait ’til next year” and “we’re building for the future” way too many years. Ewing was a firm believer of building from within the organization, using the farm system. We’re seeing that this year as younger players the Royals drafted, signed and developed in the farm system clubs are making contributions.

Another one of those players will be introduced to the Kansas City faithful tonight at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City is giving top pitching prospect Yordano Ventura his first career start Tuesday, subbing for the injured Danny Duffy.  Ventura is 22 and can hit 100 mph on the radar gun.

As a longtime suffering Royals fan, I don’t want to see these young guys go after this year or the next. I’ve seen the Royals organization have good players then trade them off. We’ve had to have a new scorecard year after year just to know the names of the players on the team.

Keep us together. Let us have a chance to build on this year, whether we make it into the playoffs or not. Let us be relevant for more than one year.

BACK ON THE WATER, the America’s Cup race could be done by the end of today. Monday was a lay day for the two teams — Oracle Team USA and Team New Zealand. New Zealand leads the best-of-17 yachting series 7-1. Two races are scheduled today in San Francisco Bay.

That means Oracle USA has won three races because it started with a two-point deficit. The American team was penalized for illegally modifying catamarans ahead of the 34th America’s Cup. The violations took place in early 2012 to smaller yachts used in races leading up to the defense of its championship.

Even if it continues to split races, Team New Zealand can essentially run out the clock against Oracle Team USA, which brought the America’s Cup back to the United States in 2010 after a 15-year absence.

Cheating is cheating. It doesn’t matter what sport it is — if it is wrong, don’t do it. Everybody is looking for an edge on their opponent. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many doing it by cheating in sports.

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