Days of speculation and anticipation and fretting about solving the Royals’ most glaring vulnerability ended Sunday afternoon with the acquisition of Cincinnati ace pitcher Johnny Cueto.
In one monumental burst arrived a harmonic convergence coinciding with a resurgence by Yordano Ventura that has ample potential to become the flashpoint we’ll look back at as when one of the best teams in baseball morphed into, in fact, the best.
It wasn’t just that the scoreboard in Kauffman Stadium’s center field trumpeted the trade for Cueto (in exchange for left-handed pitching prospects Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed).
The power of the moment also was in the mystery leading up to the timing.
Premature reports about the Cueto trade remained publicly unvalidated by the principals involved – and thus subject to change – into early Sunday afternoon.
Which in turn led to another cycle of anxiety, in the filter-free world of social media … and beyond.
“He was coming – then he wasn’t,” said manager Ned Yost, who repeated the point for emphasis.
As late as just before the 1:10 game against Houston at Kauffman Stadium, Yost was told by general manager Dayton Moore that he wasn’t sure the deal would happen. In turn, he tried to tamp down excitement in the clubhouse about the apparent inevitability.
From Moore’s perspective, even when it was being reported as official, “the deal was far from done” until about 1:50 p.m. Central time.
That’s when Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty finally called and said, “We’re prepared to move forward at this point in time if you are.”
It was worth the wait.