It's the top of the ninth inning, two outs and the Royals are on the cusp of achieving something that hasn't been witnessed in Kansas City in over a decade. Clinging to a 3-2 lead, the Royals have the ever so dominant and reliable Greg Holland on the bump trying to nail down his 35th save of the season. Electricity is felt throughout Kauffman Stadium after fans discover that mounted into the right field fence is a scoreboard displaying a loss from the Detroit Tigers. A win would put the Boys In Blue atop the central division for the first time in August since 2003. With Brandon Moss on second, Holland finds himself in a duel with Oakland Athletics hitter Stephen Vogt. Holland stares in to get his sign from catcher Salvador Perez. Royals fans are filled with anticipation The pitch is delivered and Vogt connects, sending a fly ball out to centerfield. The ball is seemingly floating in time before it is finally hauled in by Jarrod Dyson. After putting a clamp on the ball and on the game, Dyson immediately performs a back flip. Dyson's gymnast imitation signifies just how rare and important this moment is to Kansas City.
The August 11th showdown against the Oakland Athletics was probably the most exciting and invigorating experience I've ever been exposed to at Kauffman Stadium. The attendance wasn't anything special, but it was magical out there.
I've been going to games for 20 years and over that time period there has been no outcome at Kauffman Stadium that has left fans more satisfied than they were after this game. People were leaving the stadium high-fiving strangers and yelling as loud as they could out of sheer joy and happiness. True Royals fans know a season like this can't be taken for granted. It's been a long time waiting since the Boys In Blue have given Kansas City a reason to get excited about baseball.
I remember going to Buffalo Wild Wings last season to watch a Royals game in August to root them on in the Wild Card race. The roar of the customers around me is still vivid. There was just one problem though. They weren't cheering for the Royals. Instead, their focus was on a meaningless Chiefs preseason game. At the time I found that to be disappointing. But then I began to brainstorm the situation. I have come to the conclusion that since the Royals have struggled for so long, most fans in Kansas City still had a hard time installing trust into the organization.
In years past, there were times you would look around Kauffman Stadium and find a sea of red in the stands. It was disgusting seeing red bird fans almost outnumber the Royal faithful in their own house.
This year the tide has changed. When you look on television, it's astonishing how many Boys In Blue fans there are at opposing stadiums. It's almost as if you could charge them with invasion of privacy.
Last week when the team traveled to Colorado, you could hear Kansas City fans chanting "Let's go Royals!"
I think for Royals fans like me who have followed this team closely for the past 10 or more years have a true understanding of how much the success of this season has changed the vibe of the city.
As I've toured the City of Fountains over the past few months I've noticed people walking around town proud to wear their Royals gear. In years past, wearing Chiefs apparel was usually the hot commodity this time of year.
One of the most pleasant surprises for me is talking to people I know who had little or no interest in baseball prior to this season. Sometimes they will come up and tell me how great the game was from the day before. Other times they are enthusiastic to ask me about the Royals playoff chances.
A reason why this Royals team has given their fans a reason to take notice and believe has been their ability to knock down every barrier standing in their way thus far in the season.
A major concern for Royals teams of the past was inconsistent play when playing against teams they should beat. Another problem the Royals faced in the past was poor play in front of large hometown crowds. This year's team has proven their focus by executing well in both situations.
It may sound foolish, but there are actually perks that come along with being a fan of a franchise who has historically struggled to find success.
When you are a fan of the New York Yankees or St. Louis Cardinals, playing in October becomes an expectation. With a postseason presence from the Royals brings an element of surprise.
Since I'm 24 years old, I've obviously never seen a playoff appearance from my hometown Royals. In most situations, experiencing something for the first time brings excitement to your life and for me this would be no different.
In my room sits a MLB standings marker board. Every year for about the past ten years I have occasionally taken the time to update the board. It seems like every year the Royals fall out of the race by August or September and there is no reason to continue with the updates.
This year is different. I've consistently updated that board and the Royals have given me reason to believe I can continue to renew it up until the completion of the season. It's little customs like that in which it makes this season fun to witness and be a part of.
A great deal of credit should go to Dayton Moore for the trust he instilled into his players. With a lack of any significant moves at the trade deadline, it was clear that Moore was going to stick to his guns and try to win with the team he pieced together coming into the season.
Royals fans are finally getting a first-hand look at the win now mentality Moore envisioned when acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis over the 2013 off season. Regardless of what any critic says about Moore, the team he put together has executed beyond expectation.
With 31 games left in the season, there is still a lot of business to take care of. but one thing is certain. There will be meaningful baseball in Kansas City come September.
The 2014 Royals can put 28 years of frustration in Kansas City to rest with a magical run to the 2014 Major League Baseball playoffs. Like the 2012 team slogan said, this is "Our Time."