Saying goodbye to our boys in Royal Blue
I fought back the tears as I sat slumped across two seats in Kauffman Stadium. ‘We were Yosted!’ I tweeted to my measly 800 followers. I held my heavy head up with my fist and asked my husband if we should leave too. I looked all around and watched as people filed out of the Stadium. The people who were sitting next to us had given up and left quite a while ago, their hearts just couldn’t take it. I wondered how much longer I could endure this torture.
Hours later my pouty tweet would be featured on the Kansas City Star Website and I would have witnessed the greatest baseball game of my life.
I’m talking about the night the Kansas City Royals won the 2014 AL Wild Card game.
This weekend will be the last weekend you can see our boys play at home as our home team; as the Royals. Our boys, my boys, your boys. You know the boys I’m talking about, Moose, Hoz, LoCain, Salvy, Gordo, Duffy, Herrera, Colon, Vargas, and Eski. Not all of them are going to leave us at the end of the year. Some are set to stay for a while, but this is the last time you will get to see our team take the field.
Sure we have lost some of the key players along the way, but I’ll get into more of that in a bit.
We knew this day would come and if you're like me, you’ve just avoided it. I took comfort in knowing that the big names and faces of the team are still there and there is comfort in that.
As a Royals fan its been incredibly difficult to watch OUR team slowly dismantled. We expected Cueto and to and extent Zobrist to leave. I would have liked to see Zobrist stay, but he was a rental, and I get it. Our money is better spent on someone who was homegrown.
When Dyson left, I shed some tears. I would have loved to see Dyson spend his career in Kansas City, he was a force to be reckoned with and was only getting started. The moment Dyson stepped on the field I told my husband that he was something special. I held him close to my heart for some reason I just felt he was IT. Days before my 31st birthday, my husband returned from a Royals game with one of my most prized possessions, a Jarrod Dyson autographed bat that is proudly displayed in my living room.
Jeremy Guthrie is a class act, and anyone who says different is a liar or has no idea who he is. I know the Royals needed to part ways with him, but he’s just such a damn good guy, so that sucked.
The fans and the organization took a big hit earlier this year with the sudden and painful loss of Yordano Ventura. I’ve had my fair share of complaints of how his temper and how he should have shown better self-control, but he was a kid finding his footing. He was a great pitcher and a great asset to the team. His loss was one that destroyed us more than we realized. The death of Ace was a sense of sadness that I didn’t know I could feel for a member of a sports team. I felt like it was someone I knew personally. I watched my son, my friends daughter and others mourn the loss of a talented athlete and a young person who had so much more time left. Ace was one of our guys who took us on the ride of our lives, and we never got the change to thank him for it or at least that’s how I felt.
We lost great players to bad trades, James Shields, Wade Davis, Kendrys Morales who looks horrific in a Toronto jersey; We lost players, and it tore us up, but in the long run we realized that things have a way of working themselves out like in the case of our beloved Country Breakfast, Billy Butler. My son dressed as him for Halloween on year (Gordo the next) and I wasn’t sure he would recover after the Royals traded him off. We said goodbye to Edison Volquez and Chris Young and a few others along the way, and each one was sad, but losing our core group of guys, the familiar faces and heart of our team is unfathomable.
In the last two years since our big World Series win my attendance has tapered off. Work and life got in the way as well as the rise in the price of tickets. The love I have for my boys didn’t fade, but I knew my team was changing and that was a tough pill to swallow. In all honesty knowing that Hoz, Moose, Cain, Salvy, Gordo, and Eski were all still there holding down the fort was comforting. I knew that was still MY team as long as my fellas were there.
The time has come for our guys to move on. As a regular fan, I hate it, and I think it's unfair. I want everyone to play with one team forever and retire with the team they grow up with. I love the idea of it, but I know that’s not how baseball works. Sure Jeter did it, and the Yankees can do that kind of stuff, we can’t.
So hard decisions are about to be made, money is about to be spent (I hope), and some of us will be happy, and some of us will be upset. My family discussed who we would like to see stay if we were able to choose. The decision is impossible because each player brings a talent and a personal connection.
How do the Yankees keep such devoted fans when they rotate through players so quickly? I feel such a strong connection to these men. They brought me joy I have never felt. I never knew that a sport could make me feel the way the last five years of Royals baseball has made me feel. I have laughed, cried, screamed, and cheered in a way that I never imagined possible and its thanks to a lot of these men who have been a constant in my life for many of those years. On the bad days, Hosmer was there, on the good days, Moose was there, and on the dreary days, Salvy was there.
I know they’ll be around with other teams, but it won't be the same. I can’t drive an hour and a half to see them on my ‘home turf.’ I can’t call them MY boys anymore. They’ll steal the heart of another fan base who will adopt them as their own. We’ll move on and find another group of men, but nobody will make me feel the way I felt watching them play the greatest game ever played.
My Best memories: The AL Wildcard Game, Three years ago today - September 30, 2014.
Our star pitcher James Shields started the game. In the top of the first inning, Brandon Moss of the A’s had a two-run HR to give them an early lead. Butler singled, and Nori scored, in the third, we had a 3-2 lead. Things were going alright for us until the sixth inning. That’s when I started to panic.
Royal’s manager Ned Yost pulled Shields (AFTER ONLY 88 PITCHES!!!!!) and replaced him with Ventura. It was a bizarre move and something we have come to expect from the very unpredictable Yost. Three pitches in, Moss yes that same Moss hit a three-run homer turning a one-run lead into a two-run deficit. Two more runs silenced the crowd. People started leaving, and nearly our entire row cleared out. People gave up, and I have to admit I was near my breaking point.
People all around us were booing Yost, and Brian told me that if looks could kill, Ned would have been dead. The knife had been plunged deep into so many hearts. I wasn’t happy to see Ned Yost booed in his stadium but I too felt the anger of so many.
We finally caught fire as the A’s started to lose steam. Nobody could have predicted or imagined in their wildest dreams what was about to happen. Alcides Escobar singled, and stole second with Nori Aoki at the plate. Lorenzo Cain singled, scoring Escobar. Cain stole second base himself with Eric Hosmer batting; Hosmer was then walked, at which point starting pitcher Jon Lester was relieved by Luke Gregerson. Nerves seemed to get the better of Gregerson, who allowed Billy Butler to single and score Cain, and then allowed Hosmer to score from third base on a wild pitch. After walking Alex Gordon Gregerson struck out the next two batters to preserve the Athletics' lead, but the Royals had crept to within one run.
In the ninth Dyson stole second as a pinch-hitter for Josh Willingham. Then stole third and was able to make it home to tie the game.
EXTRA INNINGS!!!! People were cheering, screaming and jumping up and down. I know I had my mouth open with sound coming out, but I couldn’t even hear myself scream. That is how loud it was at that moment.
Brandon Finnegan who only a few months ago pitched in the College World Series, kept the A’s at bay during the 10th and 11 innings. I was losing my steam. The emotional toll was nearly too much, and I was exhausted. How much more could we take? Everyone around us started to agree with my inner monologue. They too were exhausted and emotionally drained. Finally after heartbreak and joy that had drained us all we were about to see something pretty magical. Salvy hit a walk-off single in the 12th inning. It went right down the left field line, and Colon was able to score. We all lost our minds.
Okay, I want you to stop right now and remember the last time you felt so much excitement and joy that you couldn’t contain yourself.
I’m talking jumping, crying, screaming, hugging stranger’s kind of excitement. I have sat and tried to remember the last time I had done that. I honestly don’t believe I’ve had that kind of emotional reaction to anything in my life. Sure when my son was born I was the happiest I had ever been, but there is no jumping, screaming and grabbing strangers. This was intense and different. Over 40,000 people in one place were completely losing their minds. There is nothing like it.
To see how insane I was at that moment, please visit this link https://youtu.be/1WwDeCaxXKA for video at your own risk, turn down your speakers.
Game 7 of the World Series - October 29, 2014
Brian and I were blessed enough to be able to go to Game 2 of the World Series in KC and see a Royals win at Kauffman. It was incredible and one of the greatest moments of my life. Game seven was an entirely different experience. I made blue cupcakes and invited people over. I had a hot dog bar, and each hot dog had toppings named after a player from the team. It was a party each night, but game seven was the cherry on the sundae. There wasn’t one part of me that felt like we were going to lose this game. It was time, and it was our time.
If you watched the game, you know how it went, if you didn’t look it up. The way the game ended will always be up for debate among Royals fans. Gordon lined an 87-mph slider to left center. Blanco misplaced it, Perez had trouble grabbing it, and Gordo got to third. Jirschele stopped Gordon. Was it wrong? Was it right? We all have our opinion. Salvy came up and popped it up to Sandoval, and we lost. I sat in the kitchen loading the dishwasher crying and praying that nobody saw me crying over dishes. We put our champagne in the fridge for the next year. We vowed not to drink it until we won the World Series in 2015-and we didn’t.
Royals clinch the division – September 25, 2015
My grandma and grandpa are Royals fans, and by some miracle, I had enough money to take them to a Royals game in 2015 along with my husband and son. We had great seats, and it happened to be the game that the Royals clinched the Division.
Having that moment with my son and my grandparents is so special and such a gift. I can’t find the right words to explain how beautiful that moment was.
The Royals got home runs from Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer in the win, and Lorenzo Cain delivered the go-ahead knock with a two-run single in the sixth inning.
Johnny Cueto allowed three runs in seven innings, with five strikeouts for his third win as a Royal, snapping a five-decision losing streak.
Royals shock the Astros in Game 5 - October 12, 2015
This game happened to be on a Monday. I work for a newspaper and our print day is Monday night. So for the biggest Royals fan I know my boss, there was no missing this game or a print deadline. We listened to this game until the fifth inning when it was almost too much to bear. Our spirits were low, and we decided that if our Royals weren’t going to make it our paper had to. He asked me to turn the radio off, so I did and got back to work. My husband started to text me that something incredible was happening but not to tell my boss until it we were really back in it.
Trailing 6–2, (in my opinion the underrated) Alex Rios singled to start the inning, the next two batters did the same, to load the bases. Cain and Hosmer also singled, with the score was 6–4. Kendrys Morales then hit a ball up the middle that Houston shortstop Carlos Correa was unable to field, and the two-run error enabled the Royals to tie the game. Gordon then followed with a groundout to score Hosmer, allowing the Royals to take the lead. They kept on, and it was like the Wildcard game all over again, but not as magical. They won 2-7.
Later Joey Bats - October 23, 2015
Just getting to see Joey Bats get heckled by an entire section of people was pretty great.
We scored first in the third inning when Gordo hit a leadoff double. Eski scored, then Salvy had a solo HR for a 3-0 lead. In the eighth, Hosmer had a RBI double, and Morales had a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0 Royals. Volquez pitched six scoreless innings surrendering two hits for his first postseason win.
The Royals Win! They Win - November 1, 2015
Volquez returned from his fathers funeral to pitch game five. Again if you’re a fan you know what happened. If not go read about it. In the top of the 12th inning, yes the 12th! Salvy hit a single, Dyson stole a base and scored. Colon scored on a hit by Eski and we loaded the bases. Cain drove home three runs. Davis pitched a shutout inning and we won. Nothing dramatic which was unlike us. After 30-years it was over in New York after five games. After the last two years it was sad that it was over, but the win was incredible.
My family ran the streets with a Royals flag lighting off fireworks, throwing confetti and drinking the champagne we had saved for a year.
Finally, personal bests having my son be the ‘Play Ball’ boy and having Christian Colon toss him a ball. Having Salvy sign a ball and toss it to him. Getting to attend fan fest and watching Moose hold my child’s hand and tell him to do good in school while taking time to listen to him and speak to him. That is everything to him, me, the fans. My child looks up to these men and for each one of them to take the time to smile, listen and take the time to pay attention to a little kid is something that I don’t take lightly. We have come across other teams baseball players who do not talk to children or even acknowledge their presence on earth. So when Hosmer takes a ‘selfie’ with my son and just chat with him, that is something that he will never, ever forget. He will talk about that until the day he dies. That is why I love these guys. They are just damn good guys.
You never know what we will get next year. I hope the new guys are talented, and I hope they take us to a World Series, but I also hope they smile at the kids and hear them. I hope they are good guys and I hope we say, ‘boy, doesn’t he remind you of Moose?’ or ‘Wow doesn’t he hit like Hosmer did?’
We will never forget how these guys made us feel. Our kids will never forget their hometown heroes. They are in our blood, they run through our veins and they always will. Our boys, our team, no matter where they end up.
So I hope you get to Kauffman and see them at home all together one more time in Royal Blue.
I had partners in crime in the wild Royals ride and that was my husband, son and my friend Chelsie, but the playoff games, the World Series tickets and the passion for it all came from my our friend Jason. We couldn't have experienced this ride the way we did without him. We are forever indebted to him.