Anyone who's anyone knows that the Red Sox and Royals have traveled different paths in recent years. While Boston has firmly established itself as one of the preeminent organizations in all of sports, Kansas City currently is playing out the string in what will be its eighth straight losing season.
Those divergent paths have, oddly enough, led the two teams right back to where they started, at least when it comes to the overall series.
Entering Saturday night's contest in Kauffman Stadium, the two teams have split their 428 meetings right down the middle (214-214). It's the first time the overall series has been knotted since May 3, 1980, when Chuck Rainey, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 1974, threw one of his six career shutouts to tie the head-to-head ticker at 65 games apiece.
The next day, in what was then known as Royals Stadium, Dennis Leonard outdueled Bob Stanley in one of Steamer's 85 career starts. Kansas City has held an overall advantage ever since.
In fact, in every year from 1980 to 1990, the Royals won or tied the season series. Boston claimed the set in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995, but dropped 17 of 23 meetings with Kansas City over the next two years.
The turnaround has come in the past decade, which makes sense if one takes into account the disparity in the organizations over that time. Including this year, the Red Sox are 43-24 against the Royals since 2002.
That brings us to August 20, 2011, perhaps the culmination of Boston's historic charge toward surpassing Kansas City. Somewhere, Chuck Rainey weeps.