An important subpoint to my recent admission that KU basketball meant less to me than it used to is that I’ve drifted back to my first love: baseball. Baseball was the first sport I was nuts about. For a good chunk of my childhood, nothing else came close to my love of baseball.

Danny Manning and Michael Jordan changed that, beginning in 1985, and soon baseball was much less important to me than it used to be. By the time the 1994 strike wiped out the end of the season, I was fine being done with the game.

While I shunned baseball for awhile, I couldn’t stay away for good. Soon I was turning my back on the team of my childhood, the Kansas City Royals, and adopting the Baltimore Orioles for most of the 1990s. In the 2000s, I became a Yankee Hater, and thus hopped on the Red Sox bandwagon in 2003. Even then, though, baseball fell well behind my passion for basketball.

That’s been changing slowly over the past three years or so. The phenomenal MLB At Bat app reconnected me with the game in a way listening to games on my computer, or even the Reds and Cubs games we get on the radio here in Indy couldn’t do. The arrival of the MLB Network helped a lot.1 The youth movement of the Royals helped a lot. There were lots of factors, actually, but each of the past two winters I’ve found myself reading more about baseball and less about basketball.

That’s a far-too-lengthy introduction to what should be a regular feature here for most of the summer (I hope). Baseball links posts. So let’s get started, this week with some Kansas City-centric links.

Last spring Royals fans had hope for the future because of the glut of young talent in the organization’s minor league rosters. This year, though, feels different. There isn’t just hope and optimism. There is actually an expectation, even assumption, of success this year. I’ll write more later this month about that, and whether those feelings are misguided this spring or not.

Last week the Royals signed 21-year-old catcher Salvador Perez to a lengthy, and club-friendly, extension. There was something about that news, perhaps Sal’s comments during his press conference or the reaction of his teammates after, that immediately turned him into my favorite Royal. I know most of my readers who are also Royals fans already read Rany Jazayerli, but I loved his (lengthy) post about the Perez contract.

So as much as this deal looks like a bargain for the Royals, that doesn’t mean it can’t be win-win. Perez guarantees himself and his family a lifetime of security. The Royals ink a potential star catcher, a player they adore and who they think can be the catcher on a championship club, at a significant discount. The rest of us get to invest in a Salvador Perez jersey with the knowledge that he will likely be here for the rest of the decade.

Finally, and perhaps most important, I’ve selected my hat for the spring/summer of 2012. It was a difficult process. Do I go with a regular Royals hat, for the first time since the mid-1980s? Do I find an alternate hat as I did last year (A rather stylish gray hat with the standard KC logo)? Or do I finally pull the trigger on a hat I’ve had my eye on for three years? I went with Door #3. This year, I’ll be representing the 1955 Kansas City Athletics.

  1. Ironically, I no longer have access to it as a Uverse customer. It’s on the next plan up from the one we are subscribed to. This is the only thing that was better about Time Warner than Uverse.