I’m glad I was not alone. I heard from many of my friends who are Royals fans last Thursday. The common theme was we all felt like garbage following game seven of the World Series.
I was able to shake off the funk by late in the day, as I began to see the big picture again.
It sucks that one game can wipe out many of the good feelings built up in the 14 (or 176) games that came before it. Usually I’m lamenting this focus on the last game of the year in March. I wasn’t sure how to handle it in October. I hate that that’s how we judge sports these days. You’re only as good as the last game of your season. Good, even great teams, are shat upon if they have a bad night at the wrong time of the schedule.
But I got over it. Mostly. It’s easier now to look back on what was a fabulous run and enjoy it for what it was. Unexpected. Unexplained. Exhilarating. Amazing. Sure, they came up a little short. That run, though, was what we had craved since 1985. And we got it, disappointing end or not.
I don’t know that I can write much different from what I’ve already written. So I’ll clear out the notebook with some things I jotted down during the last glorious month of baseball.
How did this run affect me? Well there’s one very clear way of measuring it. I gained at least five pounds since the playoffs began. I’m generally a one beer a night guy. With that beer often comes a handful of pretzels or mixed nuts.
For the last month, though? Most nights were 3–5 beer nights. And I don’t drink watered down “lite” beers. Theses are full-bodied, full-caloried craft beers. I also kept the can of nuts or jar of pretzels close and worked through them as the game progressed.
What’s frightening is I was quite active through most of the month. I was taking at least one long bike ride each week. I also began running on a local cross country course, something I had never done before. Throw in a couple strength training sessions each week and I was certainly burning calories. I hate to see what the scales would show had I not been working out.
The morning after game seven I was explaining to S. what happened in the bottom of the ninth. I used the term “Little League home run,” which she quickly shouted back at me. “LITTLE LEAGUE HOME RUN?!?!” I laughed and broke it down for her.
That reminded me of one of our favorite moments from when we were dating. We were watching a Royals game at her apartment in Kansas City. Or, rather, I was watching a Royals game and she was probably doing something productive next to me. Joe Randa hit a shot down the line at Fenway and I shouted “STAY FAIR!”
S. looked at me and asked, “STATE FAIR?!?! What the hell does that mean?”
She also was confused when I yelled “WOLF!” at the TV during basketball games.
Little League home run definitely goes on that list.
Credit where due. I’ve been one of the knuckleheads who has slagged Ned Yost often over the past few years, when his decisions seemed to be holding back a team that was ready to contend. He wasn’t perfect in the playoffs; few managers are. But I think he did a very solid job during October. Sure, a move here or there got questioned, but for the most part he was on point. He seemed to enjoy the moment, which I think rubbed off on his players.
The concept of chemistry is a tough one. Good teams always have good chemistry, right? To whatever extent a manager can affect a team’s chemistry, I think Ned helped the Royals in this post season. And while perhaps he should have pulled Jeremy Guthrie an inning earlier, Ned did not lose game seven for the Royals.
I don’t know that I had a favorite Royal when the season began. I wanted it to be Eric Hosmer, but by August I was on the verge of loathing him. It was probably Alex Gordon, but Alex’s streakiness at the plate drives me bonkers.
I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with Lorenzo Cain through the playoffs. He was the team’s best, and most consistent hitter in the regular season. He played great defense from April through September. And he played hard.
Then he took all that to a completely different level in October. He was a freaking man all month long. He made a career’s worth of highlight catches. He could somehow be both aggressive at the plate and work long at-bats. He seemed to always find a way to slash the ball into an open spot in the defense.
That dude played his ass off on the playoffs. I hope it was not an aberration but rather a sign of things to come for him.
I thought back, after the World Series ended, to how this season began. We were in Kansas City over St. P’s spring break. When the Royals and Tigers began things in Detroit, we were eating lunch at Oklahoma Joe’s. Somehow I ended up sitting facing away from every TV, so I my head shot around each time there was a roar of cheering for a Royals hit.
As the game progressed, we took the girls to a few sites around the city and I followed the game on my phone. During the game, I bought the Royals hat I’ve been wearing all season. We were just pulling into the parking lot at our hotel when Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to blow the game. It wasn’t a promising start. Amazing how far they all came from that first game.
Finally, among all the memories of the last month, one of my favorites will always be how I shared this with friends. The Royals run got me to check, and post to, Facebook more than once a week. During most games I was frantically sending iMessages back-and-forth with people in Kansas City, people who were often inside the stadium.
I became a much bigger Royals fan the summer we moved to Indianapolis. It wasn’t just their crazy run that put them in first place for two months of that summer, although that made them interesting. Rather it was how the Royals allowed me to stay in touch with a wide swath of friends. My KU friends and I would always have the Jayhawks to send emails and texts about. But the Royals brought in friends who went to other schools, or who had no strong college affiliations. Since I’m not a Chiefs fan, the Royals were my best way of showing my hometown pride as well.
Since we moved I’ve been back for one KU basketball game, and that was in Kansas City. I’ve been to one KU football game. But I’ve been back for close to 20 Royals games in 11 years. That said, it’s been two years since I’ve been back to the K. That needs to change next season.
Anyway, it just made all this extra special that I was able to go through this run with so many friends back in KC. I’m jealous of everyone who got to go to games, but thankful for them sharing their experience with me.
- The longest was 19.5 miles. ↩