My, how things have changed.
Not that long ago, the Tigers and Royals were the doormats of the American League Central — so much so, in September 2005, they once played a four-game series in Kansas City that drew, total, 27,973 fans.
Nobody cared, and for good reason.
Well, that's certainly not the case anymore.
When the Tigers and Royals play their super-huge three-game series at Kauffman Stadium this weekend, a Michigan Stadium-worth of fans will be taking in the action, a Royals official told The Detroit News on Thursday afternoon. More than 100,000 tickets already have been sold, and nearly 120,000 are expected to be sold by the end of the series Sunday afternoon.
Get ready for a whole lot of powder blue.
This marks the first time the Royals will draw 100,000 fans for a three-game September series since 1982.
And this has to be music to Royals manager Ned Yost's ears. It was Yost, after all, who griped about the fans lack of enthusiasm just last month, when about 13,000 folks were on hand when Alex Gordon hit a huge walkoff home run.
"I mean, what, 13,000 people got to see a great game?" Yost barked after the win. "We're in a pennant race, yeah. We've been working on trying to build this team for the last three or four years to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a championship. And not only the division, but we want to contend for a championship.
"It's really, really important we have our fans behind us at the stadium."
Those comments were applauded by out-of-towners, but didn't sit well with the locals, Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger included.
The truth is, the Royals have been non-factors for so long, it's only natural for the fans to be skeptical. They haven't made the postseason since 1985, the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports.
That said, while Kansas City's average attendance of 23,444 only is 25th in Major League Baseball, they will get to nearly 2 million for the year, a figure last hit in 1991.
The Tigers, by the way, are seventh in average attendance at 36,065. Comerica Park is significantly bigger than Kauffman Stadium, sure, but Tigers fans are totally invested with playoff runs nearly ever year since the franchise's revival in 2006.
Detroit enters the series — a night game Friday, followed by day games Saturday and Sunday — with a half-game lead in the division, which is almost a one-game lead, considering Kansas City still has to conclude a suspended game, in Cleveland, it trails by two runs in the 10th inning. The Royals are likely to lose that game.
The Tigers have owned the season series, winning 11 of 16 games, but the Royals got a big lift Wednesday night in beating White Sox ace Chris Sale, while the Tigers slumped to yet another loss against the lowly Twins.