Falling Short of Destiny

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before, lovable losers make an improbable run to the World Series. After ending a 29 year playoff drought they find themselves in a 1 game play off.  They enter the 8th inning down 3 runs to their arch-nemesis known as “expletive” Lester in Kansas City. Then the improbable happens, the Royals rally to tie the game. Then the Royals give up a run in extra innings.  Dream over, hell of a season, playoff drought is over, still a success. Then somehow the Royals end up tied with a man at third and their All Star, Gold Glove catcher who is 0-5 for the day. Then Salvatore Perez delivers one of the most memorable hits in Royals history. To send the Royals to Anaheim to play the best team in the American League.

Had the season ended there it would have been a resounding success. But all of the sudden it seemed that the Royals forgot that they’re the Royals. The butt of a stinging joke in the movie Fever Pitch just 9 years prior.  The team that has come up with some of the most creative ways to lose baseball games in recent memory.  As if managed by DJ Khaled, all they did from that point forward is win. They win against the Angels, 3 straight games. They win against Baltimore and the American League manager of the year, 4 straight games.

Kansas Citians were smart enough to recognize that the Giants weren’t probably sweepable. But confidence was sky high. So while Bumgartner was amazing in game 1, game 2 fell the Royals way. It’s a wonderful series at that point, and from that point forward. But this was destiny, this was the Royals year. And even though Bumgartner would be “available” how far could he really go. Eventually Royals’ magic would come through in the end. And low and behold. Down one run, in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, Alex Gordon the face of perseverance through the futility, the steady Eddie of the Royals is standing 90 feet from home, and guess who steps up to the plate? Salvadore Perez. At this point if this were a movie you’d be screaming at the screen that this is cheesy. So cheesy that surely Salvadore would be played by Tony Danza. I mean, come on already. Except that’s where the Hollywood Script threw it’s twist. The hero popped up in foul territory between home and third. Pablo Sandoval caught it in front of his dugout and in the background you could see Gordon start the longest walk to his dugout he’s ever had and surely ever will before the ball fell in the glove.

I’m not sure how it felt or sounded at home, but in Kauffman Stadium, 5 rows back in Right field it was silent. You could hear the mayhem of the players on the field. Stunned, drunk and dazed by an intoxicating and dreamy month of mayhem where an entire city was embraced by the country who believed and partied like it was 1985. If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you’ve literally felt the collective feeling of the stadium. Stunned and breathless not sure what to do or say next. And then, again just like having the wind knocked out you regain your ability to breath. And after wiping the tears from your eyes your able to see the situation with clarity. The team you’ve watched for years just finished 90 feet from tying game seven of the World Series against a bona fide dynasty.  And one last time as if thinking with one brain you start chanting “LET’S GO ROYALS.”

After wandering the stadium for about an hour and then retreating to your car with the weird mixture of pride, sadness and exhaustion. Slump into your seat and think, what’s next. Most of us haven’t been in this position before, see as Royals fans you never worried about what pieces you were losing or gaining. Next year would be a team you would largely remember for that year, you don’t have to worry about “key pieces” because you’ve never had them. But Shields has probably pitched his last game in royal blue (at least with a KC on his hat). Can we possibly keep HDH together (Herrera, Davis, Holland). What do we do in Right Field? We’re not really going to pay Billy Butler 8 figures are we (no but Oakland will)? If not who plays DH?

All questions for Dayton Moore. A GM whose seat might have been very warm had this run not happened. That being said, no one has a cooler seat in baseball right now. Moore’s thrown is a block of ice that would make Elsa jealous. Moore is enjoying a thing I’ve literally never seen in Kansas City, he’s a General Manager with the benefit of the doubt. People trust the very system that was mocked only one short year ago. The city of Kansas City showed sportsmanship, love and unwavering support for this team. Under Moore’s guidance something tells me the Royals fans will be treated to the postseason without having to suffer another drought of nearly 3 decades.