Before "Our Time", before the best farm system ever, before Dayton Moore and before The Trade, the Royals were pretty miserable.

But for the briefest of moments, the Royals almost looked like a real team. Like a contender, even. In 2003, as late as August 29, they were in first place. In the end, they finished in third place but it was the first time they'd finished above .500 since 1994 and the last time they've hit that mark.

Despite fading late, the Royals were optimistic and it looked like good things were ahead in 2004. The push for the playoffs led to the Royals acquiring Brian Anderson, Graeme Lloyd, Kevin Appier (who'd been released by the Angels), Rondell White and Curtis Leskanic. The flurry of moves is what one GM later said showed that then-GM Allard Baird wasn't willing ton concede just because he was in a small market. The Sporting News used the Royals as an example of small market teams who weren't going to just give in to a wild marketplace, going so far as to suggest that the moves made had exorcised the demons borne from the Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye trades.

The article from September 8, 2003 went so far as to quote Mark Shapiro and Kenny Williams, rival GMs, who expressed frustration with Baird's activity and David Glass's willingness to take on some payroll to make things happen. "Everyday I look up and go 'Ugh, they did it again.'" is what Williams said at the time.