Before the 1994 season, Major League Baseball split each league into three divisions and introduced the Wild Card, meaning four teams from each league would make the playoffs. 115 games into the season, the Royals were 64-51, third in the American League Central, but only four games back of the leading White Sox and three back of the Wild Card leading Indians.
But you know what happens next.
The Strike hits and wipes out the rest of the season, including the playoffs and World Series.
The Strike hits small-market teams particularly hard. The Royals were playing dang fine baseball in 1994, building off another winning season in 1993. In a shortened 1995 season, the Royals hung tough but finished 70-74.
But for a minor aberration in 2003, that would be as good as things got for 17 years. And those were some very long, lean years.
Kevin Appier stuck with the Royals through the middle of 1999, and even though he made his lone All-Star Game in 1995 and led the league in FIP again in 1996, he never matched his 1993 season.
Ultimately, the Royals dealt Appier to the Oakland Athletics. He joined the Mets in 2001 and then won the World Series with Anaheim Angels in 2002. The following season, he re-joined the Royals in August of 2003 and last pitched in the Majors the following year.
Fittingly, he was still with the Royals and on the mound inside Kauffman Stadium.
In 2011, Appier was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.