The Royals sit at 3-7, tied for last place in the American League Central. They're mired in a five-game losing streak, the last four of which have been before the fans at Kauffman. Some Royals' fans are irked that manager Ned Yost can't field a consistent lineup or that the bat never left Alex Gordon's shoulder with the bases loaded last night in a 3-2 loss. Others are doing the math and realizing that baseball is an endless season and arguing that we don't yet know what this team is capable of doing. The reality is that both camps are right: This is what .500 baseball looks like.
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas determined that Kansas City was a team on the upswing, predicting the Royals would have anywhere from 78.5 to 80.5 wins in 2012. That's a big improvement from the 71 wins in 2011 and a hair's breath away from the last winning season for the Royals, when they squeaked through at 83-79 in 2003.
The wait for a winning season has been too long, and as a result, we've forgotten what .500 looks like. It's the rotation looking dominant in the first two series while the position players look befuddled at the plate. It's the hitters finding their stroke only after the pitchers decide that they can't get out of the first inning. It's the winning run jogging across home plate because the second man to be hit by a pitch forced in one of the two runners already on base because of walks. It's a consistent failure to bring home the runner from third base with less than two outs. It's Luke Hochevar getting drilled by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Santana (the Indians player, not the guitarist). It's Mitch Maier throwing a scoreless ninth with fastballs slower than Jamie Moyer's change-up.
So .500 baseball isn't bad - it's just full of swings. And misses. Fluky things are going to keep happening. Until the Royals show that they're capable of being consistently bad or good, the fans should accept that this is the current reality of baseball in Kansas City. Otherwise, it's like arguing with a toddler. You'll get real worked up over an argument you can't win.