You have to admit: The Kansas City Royals were a fun team to watch this past season, and really, the season before. The Royals are a passionate. They like to have fun and get wild – in a good way. They’re almost like a throwback team, a team from the 1980s.
Is that fair?
“Absolutely,” Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Yeah, we enjoy playing baseball. We have fun playing together. We go out there and enjoy going out there and winning ball games. We’ll do whatever we can to do it. I think that’s what makes us a good team. We enjoy playing the game together.”
The Royals, of course, had a magical run during the 2014 postseason and made it to Game 7 of the World Series. In fact, they had a chance to win the game in the ninth inning, but Madison Bumgarner shut the door on the Royals’ rally. The Giants won, 3-2, to win the game and the series.
All that did was propel the Royals into 2015.
“You get to Game 7 of the World Series, you dream about that as a kid,” Moustakas said. “You dream about having your at-bat with two outs and you’re the game-winning run. Game 7 of the World Series, to come up 90 feet short, it hurt. It stung a lot. We got to camp last year and everybody showed up about two weeks early. Everybody on the team was there ready to go. It just started from there.”
Despite Kansas City’s impressive run just a few months earlier, many outlets predicted that the Royals would finish with a losing record in 2015. Some outlets even had them winning just 70 games – or thereabouts.
“We didn’t care,” Moustakas said. “We never bought into that. That’s why we were as good as we were last year because we never bought into that stuff. We went out and played the game and proved everybody wrong again, which is kind of what we always did.”
Maintaining that fire and sense or urgency over 162 games, however, is not easy.
“It’s hard,” Moustakas said. “It really is. To get to the World Series once – to get to any championship game in any major sport – it’s unbelievably hard. And to go back there back-to-back years and actually finish it off, you can’t really explain what we went through, especially during 162 games to get to that point – and even the playoffs with the Astros and the Blue Jays, the teams that we had to beat to get to the World Series again.”
“Great teams,” Moustakas clarified. “Phenomenal teams. And then we had to beat the Mets who had a great pithing staff, a great team. Winning the World Series, it’s hard, man. It really is.”
It’s also hard keeping a winner together, especially a young winner. Moustakas is 27. Eric Hosmer is 26. Lorenzo Cain is 29.
How long can Kansas City keep this team intact?
“I hope we can ride this thing out for a long time,” Moustakas said. “We’ve got such a great group of guys, such a great team chemistry that we have. I hope it goes for a long time. But nowadays with free agency and all this stuff, guys got to go out there and do what’s best for them and their families. At the end of the day, it’s probably not going to all be together for the next 10 years.”
Or even the next one year – not if Alex Gordon walks, anyway.
“Don’t say that,” Moustakas said, laughing. “We need Gordo. Gourd’s our guy. He’s our captain. He’s a stud.”
With or without Gordon, the Royals will open the season against the Mets. Noah Syndergaard might not start on Opening Day, but he’ll very likely pitch in that series.
Syndergaard, as you may recall, opened Game 3 by going high and tight on Alcides Escobar.
So, what happens when the Royals have a chance to retaliate?
“I couldn’t tell you,” Moustakas said. “That’s part of baseball. Whatever he does, it’s completely up to him. But I’ll tell you that we got a group of guys that aren’t going to back down from anything, and we got some guys that throw some cheddar, too. That’s the one thing about our team: We’re all in it together, and if you want to go after one of our guys, we’re going to go after one of your guys, too. But as far as we’re concerned, it’s all said and done with. It’s over with. That’s baseball. (But) I’m not a fan of head-hunting.”