Lurking in the lower Midwest is a phenomenon so incredibly rare and bizarre that the very idea of its looming presence can give you the chills. The Kansas City Royals have been possessed by this cosmic monstrosity, and it threatens to take control of the city as October nears. “What is it, daddy?'”, cries a young child of the plains. “It’s KCMO-85″, says the distressed father, “It’s KCMO-85″. Kansas City’s late-season surge to win 85 games has begun, a feat that has been achieved only once in the last 28 years.
The origins of KCMO-85 are unclear. Many speculate that it can be traced back to the 1985 World Series in which Kansas City defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the “Show-Me Series” otherwise known as the more politically correct “I-70 Showdown Series”. That illustrious year of ’85 was the last time the Royals hoisted “The Commissioner’s Trophy” in the air. Their neighbors from the National League, St. Louis, have since won two championships in 2006 and 2011. Who is to blame for KCMO-85? Did St. Louis put a spell on ol’ KCMO? Did Kansas City create their own monster? Perhaps the power of Bret Saberhagen’s mustache (or lack thereof) is to blame. This 1985 scouting report of Bo Jackson must bring pain to Royals fans who agonize over why “the best pure athlete in America” couldn’t just focus on baseball and stay in Kansas City.
The lone KCMO-85 sighting of the 90s took place in 1993. A 40-yeard old George Brett, in his final season, was one of the many faces worn by the Kansas City anomaly. Despite the tenacity of the Brett-fueled KCMO-85, the Royals were unable to control their own monster and finished in third place with a record of 84-78. George Brett retired from the game, and one can only speculate if KCMO-85 was already in possession of Brett during the infamous “Pine Tar Incident” of 1983 at Yankee Stadium. In 1984, Kansas City was able to muster together 84 wins, and by 1985 they had won the World Series. What did you figure out, George Brett?
KCMO-85 was spotted just once during the 2000s. The year was 2003 and someone named Aaron Guiel hit 15 homers for the 83-79 Royal squad. It was a joyous time at Kauffman Stadium as KCMO-85 flexed its muscles and the Royals seemed to be in control of its power. By October, the force had disappeared somewhere beyond “The Paris of the Plains” and the city mourned. The Royals once again finished in third place, and the elusive win total of 85 was thwarted by Kansas City’s lack of knowledge as to how to control the curious case of KCMO-85.
The Royals have won 14 out of their last 16 games, and are just 4 1/2 games out of the wild card lead as they host the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox over the weekend. Kansas City’s pitching staff tops the American League in E.R.A. (3.54), however the team batting average (.257) is among the worst in the last 25 years of the club. Enter KCMO-85. Although K.C. has some of the most promising young stars of the future, they have yet to identify who the next big threat will be. Which Royal is willing to harness the power of KCMO-85 and emerge as the next great star of Kansas City?
The World Series squad of 1985 hit only .252 but had two power hitters with George Brett (30 HR) and Steve Balboni (36 HR and a powerful mustache). The best candidate to rise as the leader of the promising 2013 squad is Eric Hosmer. The 23-year-old first baseman is already in his third full year in the bigs and having a respectable, but not great, season (12 HR/.293/54 RBI). Hosmer has the potential to be a yearly .300 hitter, and if he can improve his power numbers Kansas City could turn into a perennial playoff threat and not just a cute story of the midwest. Another deserving candidate is third baseman Mike Moustakas. The 24-year-old is also in his third full season and was able to connect for 20 homers in 2012 (10 in 2013) but has just a .245 career average thus far (.233 in 2013). What about Billy Butler, ya say? After an amazing 2012 (.313/29 HR/107 RBI), Butler, a career .298 hitter, has dropped off bit in 2013 with only 10 homers and a .278 average. Outfielder Alex Gordon is the eldest of the four main candidates worthy of controlling the mighty KCMO-85, but like most of the Kansas City bats he has been just ok (.263/11 HR/58 RBI). Who is going to step up? Is George Brett plotting a return to the Royal lineup?
George Brett, the most well known player of the 1985 roster (and the franchise), is still with the Kansas City Royals. He was named the hitting coach on May 30th but then stepped down on July 25th to “resume his position of vice president of baseball operations”. Has George Brett finally focused on harnessing the power of KCMO-85? October approaches and this may be the year that Kansas City is able to control their destiny, make a run at 85 wins and ride KCMO-85 all the way to the playoffs.
Kansas City is fueled by children of the 80s, and only veterans Miguel Tejada, Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie are able to explain what the 70s were like to their younger teammates. There is exactly one player on the active roster who was born in the infamous year of 1985. He is the closer of Kansas City, Greg Holland, and one of the premiere relievers in the game. Like KCMO-85, Holland appears in the final, crucial moments and can either lead the Royal squad to victory or return them to the land of the irrelevant. Respect KCMO-85.