I have a theory when it comes to sports that each league will thrive when its key franchises are rolling along with great success. So then, the question becomes, who are the MLB’s key franchises?
In my humble opinion they’re franchises that have had a degree of success and have been associated with a high level of talent and skill for longer than a couple of years. That’s right, Arizona Diamondbacks…you’re not there…yet.
My humble opinion on this, by division:
I lived with two guys from Kansas City when I was in grad school and their persistence to watch the Royals led me to watching quite a bit more Royals baseball then I ever would before. From an anecdotal perspective, and to quote Posnanski “this town deserves a baseball winner. Well, every town deserves one now and again”.
As a Blue Jays fan I’ve been tormented by the fact that we play in the most ridiculous division in professional sports. The Yankees and Red Sox will out-spend the league, and as I mentioned last night, Tampa is working harder than any team in the league to find undervalued talent or to sign their young stars. But in that same torment is quickly relatable to a Royals fan. Constant talk about the young talent in the minors, several re-building efforts and a long playoff drought led to many nights sitting around a fire pit drinking bad American beer and commiserating about our favourite teams.
Watching the Royals last night, when they beat the Jays in 11 innings, I was very impressed by Eric Hosmer. This should come as no surprise to anyone. He’s the real deal. Hosmer has compiled an .834 OPS with 5 HR and 20 RBI in one month. That’s enough to push Billy Butler (another great player) out of the 1B spot and into daily DH duties. Hosmer going 2-5 with the game winning RBI single seemed only appropriate as Jays fans salivate over *The Legend of Brett Lawrie*.
To close, I’d like to quote Posnanski again. He’s been a favourite of mine ever since I was a young kid with a Sports Illustrated subscription. Tonight the Jays face Vin Mazzaro, who gave up 11 hits, 14 runs and sports an ERA of 22.74 coming into action tonight. This has to bode well for the Jays, no?
“This town has endured all those things. More, though, it has endured a decade and a half of being all but irrelevant across the country. This was once one of baseball's model franchises. This was once one of America's best baseball towns. For many years, though, Kansas City baseball has been choked by money constraints and missed opportunities and awful decisions and bad luck -- not necessarily in that order. And that made the Royals all but invisible across America. Anyway, it usually felt that way”
“And here in the bottom of the 11th inning, the Royals load the bases. There are two outs. Eric Hosmer comes up. He's 21 years old. He's the most exciting young player in Kansas City since Carlos Beltran. I am no scout, but when I saw Hosmer swing the bat during spring training I thought: "This guy is going to be a star." The fans, the ones who remain, are standing and cheering, and it's not an overwhelming sound, but it's a good sound”
“And Eric Hosmer drills a no-doubt, line-drive single to center. The Royals win”