Centered smack dab in the middle of the state, the Missouri campus is ground zero for the great Royals-Cardinals debate.
It serves as something of a dividing line between east- and west-leaning loyalties, even if Columbia itself probably tilts toward the Redbirds. (Blame KMOX!)
For Tigers football players from Kansas City, October often means enduring St. Louis fans who are reveling in postseason baseball success, while Kansas City fans are forced to dream about next year.
Of course, in 2014, next year finally arrived with the Royals set to open the World Series at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday against the Giants at Kauffman Stadium.
“I’m excited for Tuesday,” said senior defensive tackle Lucas Vincent, an Olathe North graduate. “I’ve been here four years, and I’ve never been able to say a work until now. It’s great.”
The Cardinals, of course, came within a few games of forcing an I-70 series redux.
Some of Missouri’s players were excited about the notion.
“I definitely was hoping for an I-70 series,” said junior kicker Andrew Baggett, a Lee’s Summit North graduate. “I thought that would be awesome. I think Mizzou would implode if that actually happened. My grades would (drop). My GPA can’t handle that.”
Others were less excited about the prospect of an I-70 series anyway.
“It’s a sweet feeling,” said senior punter Christian Brinser, a Liberty graduate. “A lot of people wanted to see a Kansas City-St. Louis World Series. I really didn’t. I didn’t want that chance of us losing to them and then hearing about it for a year, but I’m so happy for the Royals. It’s a long time overdue.”
Regardless of the matchup, it’s high times for Royals fans in the middle of the state — even if there’s still grief to take.
Baggett said he’s been accused of being a bandwagon jumper.
“I’m like, ‘Easy there, I’m from Kansas City,’” Baggett said when asked how he rebuffed such accusations.
He said it’s been nice to being able to thump his chest about the Boys in Blue during the playoffs for the first time in his life.
“It’s awesome,” Baggett said. “I love watching the Royals. It’s awesome to get to sit here and say we’re there. All the Cardinals fans kind of give you a razzing, but it’s like, ‘This year’s our year,’ and they can’t really say anything about it.”
Game one of the World Series will be especially exciting for junior center Evan Boehm, a Lee’s Summit West graduate who attended the AL Wild Card Game victory against the Athletics.
“I am going to game one (of the World Series) and I’m pretty stoked about it,” Boehm said.
He vowed not to let the Fall Classic affect preparation for Saturday’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt, which kicks off at 3 p.m. on the SEC Network.
“It’s an exciting time,” Boehm said. “You’ve got to focus on the football aspect, but right after practice I’m going to head down and enjoy a little World Series game one real quick and live that experience. Once football starts again, it’s time to go.”
Brinser said tickets were too expensive for his taste, but Baggett hatched a plan for trying to make it into the K — being smuggled in by a member of the media.
“Man, is your job just awesome this week or what?” Baggett said. “Can you take me with you?”
Sorry, Andrew, you won’t fit in my laptop bag.