By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com
On July 1, 2012, the Oakland Athletics were 12 games out of the lead for the American League West.
On the same date, the Kansas City Royals were just six games out of the lead.
On October 3, 2012 - the A's are celebrating a division championship, while the Royals clinched their eighth 90-loss season in nine years.
For years and years, Royals fans have expressed frustration about the baseball economics. They've also expressed frustration at the front office, and rightfully so on both parts.
However, it's time for all of those frustrations to be concentrated on the Royals front office.
Along with being a great story for the sport of baseball, the Oakland A's division title in 2012 should serve as the final notice to owner David Glass and Royals general manager Dayton Moore that "the process" to win in Kansas City must pick up.
And it's time for the patience of Royals fans to end.
Read the following and then ask yourself why Oakland can do it and why the Royals haven't done it.
1. Of 162 starts made by Athletics pitchers this year, 101 of them were made by rookies. Yet, the A's won 94 games in the regular season. The A's have developed more pitchers this season than the Royals have the entire decade - and that's not a stretch to say. Outside of Zack Greinke, it's tough to find a pitcher the Royals have truly developed. Meanwhile, every four or five years, it seems like the A's have this great young rotation that wins games.
2. Speaking of rookies, the A's had 18 make appearances on the roster this year. EIGHTEEN! And they won the division! For the past two years, Royals fans have heard time after time about "one of the greatest farm systems ever." When is it going to happen at the major league level?
3. The Royals spent about $11 million more than the A's did. Oakland's payroll was the second lowest in all of Major League Baseball. While small market blues do matter, the A's proved that it's not the only thing that matters in finding success.
4. The A's were in a much harder division this season. Oakland, Texas and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim all would have won the American League Central this year. All three may have won 100 games, too. Oakland won arguably the best division in baseball this year - with a $49 million payroll, 18 rookies and 101 pitching starts made by rookies. That's unbelievable.
5. Oakland is literally a poor team. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the team made just a $1 million profit last year. Their stadium is horrendous - and I say that as someone who's stepped foot in it to watch a baseball game years ago while visiting California. Their fan base is not nearly as deep as Kansas City's is. However, the A's are guaranteed multiple home games because of their division crown, while the Royals are sitting at home once again.
Of course, Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane deserves most if not all of the credit for the A's success.
While Beane has shifted his "Moneyball" system a bit, it's clear he's still the brightest mind in baseball.
If you line up every single baseball category and compare the Royals and A's, comparing Beane to Moore might be the only comparison that ranks favorably for the A's.
The A's had absolutely no business winning their division this year. None. It was the toughest division, they were the division's youngest team and they were the division's poorest team economically.
Here they are.
Oakland's success should give Royals fans both hope and frustrate them at the same time. They prove that even a small market team can win big. But at the same time, we in Kansas City are left wondering why not us?
It's time for Glass, Moore and the Royals to make the postseason - and it's time for Royals fans to start having expectations again.