Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me is a novel by Richard Farina. It could also be an anthem of sorts for long-suffering fans of the Kansas City Royals.
The name of the protagonist in the novel is Gnossos Pappadopoulis -- which is fitting, here, in a Greek way, since one of the protagonists in the Royals clubhouse goes by the last name Moustakas.
Mike Moustakas got off to a very bad start this season. It seemed like most of his outs were lazy foul balls. When he was in the field, Moustakas made at least two errors on grounders that went right through his legs.
In the midst of this, a funny thing was happening at The K. The Royals were actually winning Major League Baseball games.
Most Royals fans are justifiably suspicious. Any time now, a player will get his head stuck in the tarp, a ball will hit a seagull…or Chris Getz will miss two games with allergies.
The first thing in the previous paragraph happened years ago to Ken Harvey, the second thing once cost the Royals a game in Cleveland, and the third thing happened this past week. Alas, the 2013 Royals won the two games that Getz missed while battling pollen.
So maybe things really are looking up?
Not so fast, say Royals fans. Everyone knows this team is counting on Eric Hosmer and Moustakas. Without those two becoming stars, the Royals have no hope. And so far, Hosmer and Moustakas aren’t reminding anyone of All-Stars.
In fact, the dribbling duo of Getz and Elliot Johnson had exactly twice as many home runs (two) as the super-prospect combo of Hosmer and Moustakas (one) as of last Wednesday.
This is cause for concern, sure. But maybe Royals fans need to relax. Maybe Hosmer and Moustakas don’t have to be great. After all, the revamped pitching rotation looks good…James Shields is one of the better starters in the American League. And Billy Butler is an All-Star. And Alex Gordon looks like an MVP.
Even if Hosmer and Moustakas are painfully average, the Royals offense might be just fine. Two big reasons – Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain. They, not Eric and Mike, are the young players who might hold the keys to this season. They play good defense at premium positions, and they can hit. Check it out:
Through May 1, Escobar was hitting .290 with three home runs, 12 RBI and six stolen bases. It appears as though he can maintain and improve upon last year’s success. Meanwhile, Cain was hitting .330 with 14 RBI and an OPS of .846.
Most clubs could really use that kind of combined production out of their shortstop and centerfielder. (Incidentally, the Royals got both of these guys from Milwaukee in the Greinke trade.)
So the Royals are winning. And, despite uneven production from Hosmer and Moustakas, despite the winter weather this spring, things are looking up in Kansas City, for real.
Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the Moose is just now starting to get loose.
P.S. Thomas Pynchon described Farina’s novel (see above) as “coming on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch.” Sounds about right.
P.P.S. It would be negligent to leave out the part where Farina, who grew up in Brooklyn and lived before the Royals were born, died in a California motorcycle accident a few days after his novel was published. But we can’t let any tragic histories get in the way of our 2013 baseball fantasy in Kansas City.
P.P.P.S. Rejoice Royals fans! Jeff Francoeur is once again roaming right field, and yet we still aren’t in last place.
by Lance Feyh (email@example.com)