For pure theatrics, the team has had plenty of one-time Three Stooges bits that have topped 19-1 by quite a bit (short list: player climbing the wall as a fly ball drops in the grass in front of him, player falls off first base and is tagged out, player is hit by a relay through and says it felt like he was shot, two outfielders converge on two-out fly ball before both trot to the dugout and let it drop, a player with a straight bush-league drop of a fly ball that would have ended the game, player gets stuck between the tarp and wall... on and on and on...).
But instead, this smashing was disheartening simply that this is 2010, and these kind of shenanigans shouldn't still be happening. The team is definitely better, more professional, more legitimate, and yet they just equaled the worst loss in franchise history. Until being bailed out by a two-out, ninth-inning double, it was nearly the worst loss and worst shutout loss ever. Yes, the team has poor on-base and slugging percentages, but they lead the league in hitting. (or !) The defending Cy Young winner was starting. Has a team ever lost by 18 when the reigning Cy Young winner starts for them? Sure, Zack struggled, and when that happens, the team has almost no chance to succeed. The Royals never look so far away, so hopeless as when Zack struggles.
As the Twins scored as many runs as the Royals had in their last five games, as KC yielded touchdowns like it was the Dick Vermeil era, you could feel the city's and the fan base's interest in our national pastime fade, ready to go on hiatus, like usual, until the spring. It's just one game, but also a symbol, one that can increase talk about the Chiefs and their training camp, that can turn fans toward summer movies and the pool, and just maybe push an aging roster a bit closer to mailing things in. Or maybe inspire them to bounce back. Or, better still, inspire management to realize it has nothing to lose by shipping its veterans off for whatever prospects it can get.
Fortunately, most of the kids in the minors keep rolling along. The team may tear away another prospect or two at the trade deadline. The Moose is at Triple A. The first wave of GM Dayton Moore's crop of young talent is about to hit the shore, with more waves building up behind them. They could contend very soon. (Respectable in 2011, contend in 2012? Too much to ask?)
In the years ahead, we may look back on last night's game and think, wow, that craziness was happening as late at 2010. Or it might not stop any time soon. One thing's for sure, as the Twins kept pounding KC pitcher after KC pitcher, it was hard to see the end of this mess.