Wow! What a baseball season — now how about those gutters?
And you haven’t checked the kids’ homework since Mike Moustakas hit that homer in the top of the 11th in game one of the American League Division Series. Good thing your kids are really smart, right?
Job going well, is it? Remember — big building, lots of desks? Oh, and rumor has it there’s an election next week. They don’t make shirts for that.
Folks, baseball is over and the real world is stepping to the plate, and it’s looking Sandoval surly.
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But here’s what we’re left with — a Royals season destined for local lore, pounded into our dirt.
A bunch of young players, no MVPs, no prima donnas. Below .500 in June, barely eking out a playoff spot. Then came those late-night, extra-inning, breathtaking games that set off hysteria in living rooms from downtown to small town, Country Club Plaza to the farm.
Kids stayed up late on school nights, but it was OK because this was important. Next Tuesday on election night — “Get to bed!”
These Royals didn’t win the World Series. But they gave us one, and in doing so they won this city.
Fans love this team. They truly believe the players busted tail for them.
In the moments after game seven, a stadium chant of “LET’S GO ROYALS!” quickly segued into “THANK YOU ROYALS!”
For more than an hour, hundreds of fans stood vigil at the Royals’ empty dugout until manager Ned Yost came out to blow them a kiss.
This team felt different from the ’85 champs. That team finally won after a string of playoff years and an earlier World Series. Winning was the logical next step.
This year’s bunch? It was their first postseason step, and we expected them to fall. They didn’t. And they didn’t. And they didn’t. They kept coming like a toddler learning to walk, their smiles getting bigger as they threw out the next foot to stay up.
They became our boys. Games turned into Friday nights in a small town.
“It’s like watching your kids out there,” Angela Fitzgerald said before World Series game six at Coach’s Bar & Grill in south Kansas City.
“They’re smiling, having fun, cheering for each other. There’s an innocence to it. If they lose now, we will be disappointed for them.
“They’ve earned that.”
Her husband nodded.
“After the strikes and the steroids, these guys go out and play hard, no big egos,” Mark Fitzgerald said. “The whole country is watching this. They could make baseball our game again.”
Fans are already there. They wore the colors — businessmen in suits with Royals caps. Fans packed Power & Light, flew the flags and painted murals on buildings. Fountains even joined in.
Short of a sky, this town had never seen so much blue.
When baseball-themed T-shirts arrived for sale at Kansas City Hall, still warm from the printer, the line had already snaked outside.
“It was like Black Friday at Wal-Mart at 6 in the morning,” city spokesman Chris Hernandez said.
And the players loved the fans back — THEY BOUGHT US BEER!
After sweeping the Angels in the ALDS, players invited fans down to McFadden’s in Power & Light for a celebratory toast. An hour’s worth — and apparently an hour equals about $15-grand. Players chipped in with Eric Hosmer putting down the plastic.
Did Jeter ever do that? Pedroia? Pujols? Sandoval? Let’s see that receipt.
“I’ve never heard of ball players here or anywhere else doing that,” said Ron Rigdon, a longtime Royals Lancer and a branch manager of a bank in Shawnee. “But those are the things that people like about this team.
“It’s their enthusiasm. They are having a blast out there. The ’85 team, I believe, had older players. More businesslike players. These guys now, this core group, some of them came up together and they’re still having fun playing baseball together.”
There’s the story of Tim Grimes, a 28-year-old cancer patient who loves his Royals. The players invited him to batting practice.
Hosmer tweeted to a 6-year-old cancer patient.
A video showing pitcher Scott Downs playing catch with young fans in Baltimore went viral.
Salvador Perez posted hilarious Instagram videos of himself tormenting Lorenzo Cain in the clubhouse.
And Betty Bright. She’s 80 and lives on the bluff above Kauffman Stadium. She watches every game on TV and keeps her door open so she can hear the crowd below. Last year, she was given six to nine months to live. Family members say this magical season kept her alive.
During the playoffs, Grimes learned about Bright and went to visit her. Someone from the Royals went along, and they took her a basket of goodies, including a jar of Billy Butler barbecue sauce. Bright put the sauce on a living room shelf with family photos.
On the other end, this postseason run will likely create a whole generation of new fans.
In schools from Olathe to Park Hill to Independence, teachers say the Royals helped them pump excitement into their lessons. In Kansas City, a math teacher at Trailwoods Elementary School used World Series-related numbers to teach decimals, fractions and statistics.
“Dear Royals” is how more than 300 Line Creek Elementary students in the Park Hill School District started letters they sent to the team right before the World Series began.
At Luff Elementary in Independence, Josh Patterson, 11, said he’s learned one big lesson from the team: “Never give up.”
This Royals team could certainly teach that, said Bob Motley, a longtime Royals Lancer and former umpire in the Negro Leagues.
“I’m 91, and I saw Jackie Robinson play,” Motley said. “These guys play hard like he did. They never quit and have fun doing it. That’s why fans love them.
“Way back, they had superstars like George Brett and Frank White. This team doesn’t have that. They’re a bunch of kids. They’re young and don’t know how good they are.”
One player, Moustakas, got sent down to the minors in May then made us jump up with five homers in the postseason. In the opener of the AL Championship Series, Alex Gordon, who had rough patches early in his career, went 4 for 5 with four RBIs and a home run in the top of the 10th. All that and taking a fastball to the back of the head.
Pitcher Brandon Finnegan played in the College World Series in June. The team brought in a track star who could outrun the announcer’s “There goes Terrance Gore!”
They were gritty and fast. They showed what speed do. They bunted, stole bases and crashed into walls.
Were they lucky? At times, maybe. But that’s what happens to kids who love baseball.
“Maybe it’s just me getting older, but they look really young out there,” said Dan Clark, a longtime Royals fan from Nebraska. “And they seem to really be enjoying themselves. You don’t always see that with professional athletes.”
He was at Chappell’s Restaurant in North Kansas City with friend Bill Morrisey.
“It’s almost like a college atmosphere with these guys,” Morrisey said. “They didn’t know that teams under .500 in June don’t make the playoffs. But they have matured before our eyes over the past month.”
That would be the month all that work backed up at home for the rest of us. No, the Royals didn’t quite make it all the way to the top.
But now we get to.
Or at least high enough to reach those gutters.