Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

National League looks nice

July 2, 2008

Maybe it's time to revisit the idea of having the Kansas City Royals move to the National League.

Shortly before the major league baseball regular season began in 1998 the Royals were offered an opportunity that today sounds like a no-brainer.

They were given the chance to switch from the American League to the National League.

The reason for the proposed switch was that MLB was expanding. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were baseball's newest franchises. At that time the Royals were offered the chance to switch leagues. They passed, and the Milwaukee Brewers happily accepted the invitation instead to join the National League.

In the years since, Kansas City has been an almost-permanent fixture in the American League Central cellar. Earlier this season they lost 12 games in a row. At the moment they are on pace to have one of their best seasons since turning down the offer to switch to the National League - and the Royals are just 38-45.

Take into consideration that the Royals just concluded interleague play with a stellar 13-5 record against National League opponents (Only the Minnesota Twins were better at 14-4) - including a three-game sweep at St. Louis - and a league change looks awfully appetizing now.

This is the third straight year KC has posted winning records in interleague play.

Of course, a three-week stretch isn't a totally fair way to gauge how successful Kansas City might be in the National League. There are a variety of factors that may have contributed to their success. For one, manager Trey Hillman's youth-laden squad is steadily maturing. It's also reasonable to believe National League teams - with the exception of St. Louis - overlooked them because they just aren't very excited about playing a small-market doormat like Kansas City. Perhaps the barrage of promotional events at Kauffman Stadium (I got my Alex Gordon bobblehead!) attracted larger crowds and had the team more focused.

Then again, maybe it's something else altogether. Maybe it's just easier to beat an opponent who doesn't see you play many times each year. The Chicago White Sox should have the Royals scouted pretty good since they play each other 18 times this season, but the San Francisco Giants likely didn't watch KC very much this year to prepare for their lone three-game series with the Royals.

Maybe that's just it - change is good. Given the Royals' performance during the last 10-plus years, and given the suffering that Kansas City fans have endured during that time, change is definitely in order.

Perhaps a change to the National League is the right kind of change.

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