It may sound like a prisoner of the moment statement, but 2014 has to be the greatest year in Kansas City sports history.
These teams are taking Kansas City fans on a magical journey that hasn’t been rode in this city since…well…EVER.
Let’s face it. There have been some long stretches where being a Kansas City sports fan was downright miserable. It was rare to watch a Royals postseason game without a reporter reminding everyone of how long it’s been since the Boys In Blue have played in October.
The Royals aren’t the only Kansas City franchise that went through a long dry spell. After winning a division title in 1971, the Chiefs didn’t claim another until 1993. During the 1993 season, Joe Montana led the Chiefs all the way to the AFC title game. Since then, the Chiefs have failed to win a playoff game, losing an NFL postseason record eight straight games.
Although Kansas City has seen its fair share of failure, the success of the three professional franchises over the past few years gives the city reason to believe that the winning is here to stay awhile.
It feels like success has unexpectedly slapped this city in the face all at once. But those who follow Kansas City sports closely should know that these franchises have been moving in the right direction for a few years now.
Sporting Kansas City is the town’s powerhouse. They have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. In fact, since their inaugural season in 1996, Sporting Kansas City has appeared in the title game three times, winning two of them.
In 2013, the Chiefs achieved one of the greatest single season turnarounds in NFL history. They went from an NFL worst 2-14 in 2012, to making the playoffs at 11-5 the very next season.
The Boys In Blue have certainly made a number of moves that have improved their ball club over the past few years. With that being said, none seemed to pay off more than when they traded for James Shields and Wade Davis. Call it coincidence, but it seemed as if that offseason move prior to the 2013 Royals campaign began their road to glory.
Of course playing in a World Series has been the most significant sports accomplishment this city has seen since 1985. But, just remember that last season’s Royals got the ball rolling. The 2013 Boys In Blue (86-76) won 14 more games than the 2012 team (72-90).
Just when the marathon of success in Kansas City seemed to be at its fastest pace, the Chiefs grabbed the torch from the Royals and have sprinted off to a 7-3 start.
The 2014 Chiefs have shown every indication that last season’s run to the playoffs wasn’t just a one hit wonder. In fact, this year’s team has taken it one step further, proving themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
You could certainly argue that the 2013 team was a beneficiary of an incredibly weak schedule. In fact, of the Chiefs’ 11 wins last season, only one of those teams finished the season over .500. Of Kansas City's seven wins so far this season, four of them have come against teams that are currently over .500.
The Chiefs’ most impressive victory was the 41-14 thrashing they handed the New England Patriots (currently 8-2) on Monday Night Monday in Week 4. For Tom Brady, the loss is the second worst margin of defeat of his NFL career and his worst as a starter since they were beat 31-0 by the Bills in 2003. The same night, Arrowhead Nation was part of history when they claimed the World Record for loudest sports venue (142.2 decibels).
The Chiefs are currently riding a five game win streak as they head into Oakland to play the winless Raiders. A win over the Black and Silver would give Kansas City a chance at leading the division outright with a Week 13 victory over Denver,
To put what these Kansas City sports franchises accomplished over the past 12 months into perspective, consider the following:
-When you look at the most recent championship matchups of the five major professional sports in the United States (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS), Kansas City was the only city that featured two franchises (Royals, Sporting Kansas City) that played for the title.
-The whole state of New York features 11 teams in the five major professional sports. Only three made the playoffs (Nets, Rangers, Red Bulls). As you know, Kansas City only has three major sports teams and all of them made the playoffs.
-Of the cities that feature three or more professional sports teams, Kansas City was the only one fortunate enough to see all their franchises make the playoffs.
A lot of Kansas City fans will probably argue that a team has to win a championship in order for it to be the greatest year in your city’s history. That’s not necessarily true. When judging annual accomplishments, you have to evaluate the entire calendar year as a whole.
Here is a look back at the greatest years in Kansas City sports history followed by an explanation as to why it doesn’t quite compare to 2014.
Let’s start with 1969. The year featured the inaugural season of the Royals and the Chiefs had paved their way to the AFL Championship Game. Although the city had to be filled with great excitement, the Chiefs hadn’t finished the job yet and the Royals finished 24 games under .500.
The Chiefs completed their run to the city’s first ever World Championship in 1970. With that being said, the championship wasn’t followed up with anything. The Royals got worse, while playing in front of the lowest attendance in team history. The Chiefs didn’t make it back to the playoffs during the 1970 season.
In 1972, the city welcomed in two new stadiums (Arrowhead Stadium, Kauffman Stadium). Unfortunately, neither venue saw much excitement. The Royals finished fourth place and it was the beginning of the Chiefs 14 year playoff drought.
Flash forward to 1985. The Royals had finally reached the height of their postseason success, by getting over the hump and winning the World Series. It certainly had to be pandemonium in this city. But if you would have told Kansas City fans that the Royals wouldn’t make it back to the playoffs for another 29 years, they may have been a bit disappointed. The Chiefs also failed to make the playoffs that season.
Jump ahead another 15 years to 2000 and the Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) win the MLS Cup in their fifth season of existence. Winning a championship is always nice, but let’s be honest, probably more than half of Kansas City’s population probably didn’t even watch the title game. At the time, MLS wasn’t very popular in the United States, much less in Kansas City. Not to mention, both the Royals and Chiefs failed to make the playoffs that year.
The year of 2013 was the first time in a long time the city was able to feel good about all its sports teams. Although the Royals had fallen short of making the playoffs, Sporting Kansas City won the MLS Cup and the Chiefs were headed to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
As mentioned earlier, 2013 was the beginning of something special. It led to the incredible year that is 2014. The Chiefs may have lost a heartbreaker in the Divisional Round to Indianapolis, but now they are back on track and looking like they may bring Kansas City a Super Bowl parade in February of 2015. Sporting Kansas City reached the playoffs yet again. Lastly, the Royals took this city to a place it hasn’t been in 29 years.
I just want to finish with a message describing what I think the Boys In Blue of 2014 did for this city as well as what they did for me personally.
What the 2014 Royals did for Kansas City is just incredible. They brought baseball back to the forefront and united an entire city. They turned people who could care less about sports into baseball fans. It made everyone who lives in Kansas City proud to call this place home. Due to the fact that this city hasn't seen something like this in a very long time, makes me believe this magical run may have made a bigger impact on Kansas City than the '85 Royals or '69 Chiefs did. This was an eight month ride that I will never forget. As a fan, the 2014 Kansas City Royals are my all-time favorite team. It’s not just because they made it to the championship either. This team taught me that by working hard and instilling trust in my abilities, I can achieve any goal I set out for myself. For that, I thank them.