The season could end tonight.
It’s October 28. The Royals are in the World Series. They are trailing three games to two. I don’t need to tell you this. You know. It could all be over tonight.
One month ago today, the Royals were closing out the regular season in Chicago. They had already clinched a spot in the postseason and were playing for the win to force a tie for the division. We so badly wanted the division. Once the Tigers won their game, Ned Yost pulled his regulars. Three innings of rest before the most important game in the last 29 years of the franchise. It feels like a lifetime ago. In many ways, it was.
The Royals fell behind early in the Wild Card game. They rallied, then stumbled again. Then, the most unlikeliest of comebacks. Not once, but twice the Royals were down to their final two outs. Their final two outs. They were, quite simply, two outs away from oblivion. An offseason of, “Well, we made the playoffs even though it doesn’t really feel like we made the playoffs” talk. Believe me, that was going to happen. It was going to be excruciating.
When Salvador Perez lined a base hit just inside the third base bag scoring Christian Colon from second, it kickstarted the wildest, most insane month of baseball in franchise history. The little Wild Card team on the precipice of extinction tore through the Angels in three games, destroyed the will of the Orioles in four games, and somehow, they won the American League pennant. Eight games, eight wins.
It’s been an amazing ride.
I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. I just feel the need to say thank you. Again. Simply because this run has been so memorable, so absolutely fantastic, I need to say this before the season – and series – is over. Before the lockers are cleared out of the clubhouse and before the tarp is dropped on the infield for one final time. This Royals team has brought so much happiness, they need to be properly thanked. Thank you for breathing life into this October into this city. Kansas City is a baseball town. I held firm in this belief in the darkest of years and you’ve come through big time, Kansas City. The electricity just cannot be described. How baseball brings together a community is amazing.
Thank you for allowing me to connect with some of my fellow fans in ways I haven’t been connected in the past. Friends old and new are reaching out, just to talk about the Royals. I’m speaking about my own experience here, but if you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you’re a fellow diehard and have had similar experiences. People you haven’t heard from in ages are calling or texting, reconnecting over your shared fandom of an amazing October team.
Thank you for reinvigorating my own fandom. Sorry, but 29 years is a long time. I’ll freely admit, I didn’t see this coming. I’m sure there are several fans who believed back in February and March. Good for them. I thought the team was going to be good. But this? No way. Not in my wildest dreams. Plus, I was pretty damn close to shutting down the whole blog experience back in March. Now, I’m kicking around book ideas. (If you’re an agent or a publisher, you know where to find me.) Like you, I’ve asked myself, “What would happen if the Royals actually got into the postseason?” After 29 years, I have my answer, and it’s fantastic.
Win or lose, this is a special team. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to keep perspective. (See yesterday’s post.) This team and this manager still has a tremendous capacity to frustrate. Maybe the Royals are playing with house money. Yet when you get so close, you desperately want to win. At some point, just being there isn’t good enough. Winning is what matters.
As badly as I want the Royals to win, a loss in Game Six or Game Seven of the World Series won’t detract one bit from the thrill ride of this October.
Thank you, Royals, for the happiness you have given us this month.
Now go win two and let’s have a parade.