The Kansas City Royals won their first World Series title in 1985. Following this title, the organization would enter a dark period. 29 years after winning the World Series in 1985, the Royals returned to the World Series. They would lose in game seven. Entering 2015, critics said a chance at the playoffs for the Royals was impossible. Thirty years later, the crown has returned.
This accomplishment marked the completion of a blueprint which was laid down when Royals owner David Glass first hired General Manager Dayton Moore in 2006. The plan was an attempt to revive the Royals back to championship form.
In the 29 years following the Kansas City’s only championship, the Royals went without a single playoff appearance. During those 29 years, Kansas City experienced 20 losing seasons. Four of those seasons had over 100 losses. Administration was blamed. Within this period, the Royals were led by 13 separate managers until finding a fit in manager Ned Yost.
The Royals had talented personnel during this period. Big names such as Bo Jackson and Carlos Beltran spent time in Kansas City before moving on to clubs of larger value. The Royals did not have enough money to pay for their monetary demands.
The players that stayed Royal for a long period did not particularly have talent to fit the Royal blueprint. From 2006-2010, the Royals had a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher by the name of Zack Grenike. While Greinke’s role as a pitcher varied at the beginning, he eventually worked his way into the starting pitching rotation, but there was one problem: Greinke wanted a championship right then and there. He personally requested to be traded away. The Royals did as Greinke wished and traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2010. In exchange, the Royals laid the foundation of the franchise’s future with the addition of Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain.
Alcides Escobar would start off immediately in Kansas City with three members of the 2015 Kansas City Royals- Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon and Luke Hochevar. That season, the team finished with a record of 71-91.
Lorenzo Cain would spend his 2011 season as a member the Omaha Stormchasers. The Stormchasers are the Triple-A affiliate for the Kansas City Royals. As a Stormchaser, Cain joined eight members of the 2015 Kansas City Royals roster: Jarrod Dyson, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Paulo Orlando, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland. Together, they would earn the first of many conference and division championships within the Triple-A ranks.
Every member of that 2011 Omaha Stormchasers team other than Paulo Orlando would make the jump to the majors to join the Royals for the 2012 baseball season. The ultimate blueprint Dayton Moore started six years prior for the major league team was slowly being built on. With the team being so young without a veteran leader, the Royals still did not have what it took to form a championship team. Trades were made to bring in veterans. This began with a trade for Jeremy Guthrie in the middle of the 2012 season. The Royals would still finish 2012 with a losing record of 72-91.
That offseason, one of the most controversial trades in Royals history was made. The Royals traded top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi away to Tampa Bay for two pitchers, James Shields and Wade Davis. The performance of the pitchers had not been the best that season. Royals fans were skeptical, but Dayton Moore knew this was better for the organization.
The 2013 season started off with the same losing culture Kansas City had witnessed since 1985. The Royals sat six games under .500 at the All-Star break with a record of 43-49. Royals fans were frustrated with the losses. Following the All-Star break, the competitive form of the Royals began to take shape with a 9-game winning streak. The team continued to win for periods of time with losses in between, finding the team in consideration for a wild card spot, something they would not grasp that season. This left the Royals unsatisfied.
The Royals came back with a tone of unfinished business in 2014. The Royals began to provide some of the best baseball Kansas City had seen since 1985. The Royals sat just two games back from leading the American League Central at the All-Star Break with a winning record of 48-46. If Kansas City was going to win the division, it needed to be hot for the second half of the season. The team did just that as it developed a winning second half. The Royals ended up making the playoffs as a wild card team.
Despite being down 7-6 going into the ninth inning of the wild card game, the Royals were able to rally to tie the game and eventually win in a thrilling 12 inning game, defeating the Oakland Athletics 9-8. The Royals would go on to sweep both the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series followed by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series, leading the team to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. The series would go seven games with the chance to take the crown at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals would lose that game 3-2.
Following the loss, the Royals would lose starters James Shields, Billy Butler and Nori Aoki due to expiring contracts. Kansas City went out and signed Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios. Both had experience in the playoffs. The Royals would use this to their advantage on opening day of the 2015 season, blowing out the White Sox by a score of 10-1 to begin the magic of 2015.
The Royals had their struggles throughout the season. At one point, it seemed as if the rest of Major League Baseball was out to get them, due to numerous bench clearing incidents that would result in the suspension of Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura. At the All-Star Break, the Royals sat with a record of 52-34. The team still had struggles on the batting and pitching side, so they traded for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. This was the turning point of the season that led Kansas City back to the playoffs, this time as the American League Central Champion.
This year was marked by several comeback wins at crucial moments. During the 2015 postseason, the Royals scored 40 runs in the eighth inning or later. No other team in the playoffs had more than five.
In game four of the American League Division series, the Royals were down 6-2 heading into the eighth inning. If they were to lose, they would be eliminated from the playoffs The Royals quickly rallied, scoring five runs to gain the lead. They followed by scoring 2 more runs in the ninth inning to defeat the Astros 9-6.
In the American League Championship series, the Royals would dominate in Kansas City winning all three of the games which occurred there. In Toronto, they would lose two of the three games. The dominance in Kansas City led the Royals to the World Series.
The World Series would be a similar story, where their only loss would come in game three in New York City. The one loss caused the World Series to go five games. If they were to lose one more game, the World Series would return to Kansas City for game six. Game seven would have occurred if the Mets won game six.
The Kansas City Royals were down 2-0 going into the ninth inning of game five of the World Series. This was the Royals’ final chance of clinching the World Series championship in New York. If they would lose, the series would return to Kansas City for two possible final games.
The Royals had not been able to get past Matt Harvey at all in the game. The Mets had faith, and brought Harvey back to the mound to finish the ninth inning, hoping that his success would continue. The Royals had other plans. The ninth inning started with a leadoff walk by Lorenzo Cain. Cain would steal second base while Eric Hosmer was at bat. Hosmer was able to bring Cain in to score the Royals’ first run of the game with an RBI double while knocking Harvey out of the game in the process. Moustakas moved Hosmer to third on a groundout to the right side. Salvador Perez then grounded out to David Wright and Hosmer took off on the throw, tying the game.
The next innings to come would become a pitching battle until the Royals’ offense finally erupted in the 12th. Christian Colon, in his first postseason appearance, ripped a single to knock Jarrod Dyson in for the go-ahead run. Then, Alcides Escobar lined an RBI double and Cain added a three-run double, giving the Royals a 7-2 lead.
The final three outs before the Royals won the World Series belonged to Wade Davis. Davis, as expected, held the Mets back from offensive power only allowing one of four batters to make it to base. This secured the 2015 World Series for the Kansas City Royals, bringing baseball back to life in Kansas City.
Following the win, Kansas City erupted in excitement. Fireworks were blown off like it was Independence Day. The National Weather Service’s radar detected the loud noise of celebration from the Kansas City Power and Light District, mistaking it for a rain storm.
On Tuesday, thousands gathered in Downtown Kansas City to celebrate the Royals with a parade and pep rally. A sea of blue could be seen along the parade route from the Sprint Center to Union Station. Kansas City wanted to celebrate its team and show the country how the Royals brought the city together. It showed what it truly means to be a fan who suffered through so much to finally take back the crown.