After the Royals’ Blue October, what can the Chiefs do for an encore?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Well, other than the ending, that was fun, wasn’t it? OK, Chiefs, you’re up. Have at it. No pressure.
"While we’re winning a game and they’re chanting Royals chants, I see nothing wrong with that," Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt said. "It would be different if we were losing and we’re hearing Royals chants. That’s where I would say, like, ‘Hold on now, remember us?’"
Remember them? If you checked out on the Chiefs on Sept. 30 — when the Royals stole seven bases and America’s heart with a wild-card win over Oakland and never let go until the end of the dance — here’s what you missed in Andy Land: a 22-17 loss in San Francisco in which the Chiefs tried to air it out; a 23-20 win in San Diego in which they didn’t; and a 34-7 clubbing of St. Louis in which just about everything went right, save for Alex Smith spraining his shoulder.
On the heels of a two-game winning streak, the Andy Gang (4-3) on Sunday hosts Michael Vick and the New York Jets (1-7). Or, as they’re becoming known in football circles, Raiders East.
"When they’re doing good, we’re praising (the Royals)," Colquitt noted. "I know that when we’re doing good, you see the pictures (of Royals players wearing Chiefs gear) before our Monday Night Football game …. It’s two Kansas City ball clubs that are doing well, so we’ve got to keep it up."
And what the hell, let’s just kill all the civic playoff droughts, now that we’re up.
One of the umpteen things that made the Royals’ October narrative so charming was that they went 28 years between postseason appearances. Somewhat less charming — OK, a lot less charming — is the fact that the Chiefs are currently riding a streak of 20 years without a playoff victory.
Again, guys, hey, no pressure.
"They’re cheering for the Royals in the (World Series), so I’m not mad at ’em," outside linebacker Justin Houston said. "They’re fans, so I can’t be mad at ’em."
If you were born in, say, 1978, the Royals have been to three World Series in your lifetime — ’80, ’85 and ’14 — winning one; they’ve played in 53 postseason contests, winning 27 of them. Of the 12 postseason series in which they’ve appeared during that span, including that aforementioned wild-card victory of 2014, the Royals have won six.
The Chiefs have made 12 playoff appearances over that same stretch, which sounds all rosy and encouraging, on the surface. The details, of course, are anything but: Kansas City’s NFL beloved are 3-12 in their last 15 postseason tilts, and are riding a losing streak of eight straight contests that dates back to the AFC Championship Game following the 1993 season. We’re talking 20 years now, a generation that knows nothing but January pain.
"They deserve the props that they’re getting right now," outside linebacker Dee Ford said of the Royals. "And they’re motivating us. That’s the beautiful thing about it.
"We have to keep that going, you know?"
The Royals and Chiefs know how to get it right: What they don’t have is a history of getting it right at the same time. In the early ’70s, the Chiefs’ Stram dynasty faded just as the expansion Royals started to find their feet. The latter dominated in the late ’70s and ’80s while the NFL side went south. In the late ’80s through the mid ’90s, as Martyball captured the populace, the roles were reversed.
Football town, baseball town, then football town again.
"But Kansas Citians are happy right now," offered Colquitt, a friend of several Royals players and a part of the local scene since 2005.
"They’re hard-working people. I know it; I’ve been one of them for 10 years now. And they just want to win. They’re hungry for a winner, and you know (Ned) Yost and all those boys, they’re pushing some championship stuff now."
To say nothing of raising the bar. Although this little nugget is interesting, too: For the first time in the history of Kansas City as a major-league sports burg, the Chiefs and Royals played postseason games in the same calendar year (2014).
Maybe the sun really is big enough to shine on both sides of the Truman Sports Complex after all.
"Knock off all of the stereotypes and get a championship ring here," Colquitt said. "I think it’s great."