The Royals are taking on the Indians in the final game of the weekend series at Kauffman Stadium. Cleveland won the first two games of the series, 6-1 Friday and 3-2 in 11 innings last night.
Why is this significant? It’s not because the Royals are playing the Indians, it’s WHEN the Royals are playing the Indians.
For the first time that I can remember, the Kansas City Royals are featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, meaning people from San Diego to Bangor and Seattle to Key West can flip their televisions to ESPN and watch Major League Baseball live from the City of Fountains and its beautiful ballpark, which looks a heck of a lot different than the last time ESPN broadcast a Sunday night game from Kansas City.
The Sunday Night game invariably is skewed to feature the popular teams of Major League Baseball. The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Cubs, Braves and Mets all make multiple appearances per season. In fact, if the Yankees and Red Sox play a weekend series, you can almost be certain the Sunday game will air on ESPN.
The Royals have been so bad for so long ESPN has had no compelling reason to put them in the Sunday night slot. Since ESPN began televising Major League Baseball in 1990, the Royals have had only FOUR winning seasons out of 24, and one of those was the strike-shortened year of 1994, when the final 47 games and the playoffs were wiped out. The four winning seasons matches the number of 100-loss seasons the Royals have suffered through in that period; those occurred within five years (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006).
Tonight, the Royals get to strut their stuff for the sporting public. And tonight is a good night to do it, since starting next week, most sports fans will tune to NBC for Sunday Night Football, and baseball will be on the back burner, except for St. Louis and a couple of other places.
The Royals lead 1-0 n the top of the third. They’d better get this game in, because there is a line of very heavy rain marching east. The leading edge is at Manhattan right now, meaning it should arrive in Kansas City between 9:30 and 10. Yikes.