It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens wrote those famous words 150 years ago about London and Paris. Those two cities were only 213 miles apart but they might have been worlds apart in Dickens' day. In 2010, there are two baseball cities in the same state 234 miles apart as the crow flies (BTW, do crows really fly in a straight line?), but might as well be a universe apart. These teams are my two favorite teams.
The Kansas City Royals are my hometown team. I have followed them from their first game to today. I have been to Kaufman/Royals stadium about 250+ times. The other team is the Saint Louis Cardinals. I have followed them since 1967, getting hooked by listening to Jack Buck and Harry Caray on KFEQ from St. Joseph and KMOX from St. Louis. The Royals play in the best ballpark from the 70's. A pastoral setting easy to get to by car, but far from a downtown that is beginning to wake up. The Cardinals play in on of the best new retro ballparks, fan friendly and on the southern end of a busy downtown. Polar opposites yet both seem to fit each cities personalities.
What makes these two teams far apart in today's baseball. It doesn't seem that long ago that KC was a premier franchise in the AL. STL, except for a nasty run in the 70's has always been a class orgainization, committed to winning. One thing is management. the Royals have tried to do well on a shoestring but the formula has yet to work. The Cards have spent some money, but usually wisely. The payrolls are about 30 million apart, but STL seems to get more value for their cash spent.
On field management has a lot to do with the gulf. Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan are the type of baseball men who can maximize the talent they have to work with. KC has been a revolving door for managers since Dick Howser had to retire due to a brain tumor. Stability at manager can attract players form other orgainzations and is a blessing for roolkies who are groomed in the minors to know what to expect from the major lrague club's manager.
Finally, the whole Cardinals organization expects to win, from the owner down to the fans. That winning attitude is a strong motivator to stay on top of the NL Central. That used to be the case in KC but now us Royals fans just hope we can win more games than the dismal year before. Signs are beginning to change with Zack Greinke becoming a great pitcher. Fans expect Zack to pitch well and win. Hey, it's a start.
Some folks think I'm strange to be a fan of both teams. As explained above, the fanship for both go back to youth. Maybe soon, things will turn around and I can once more see both teams in the post season.