Surely just like thousands of other Royals devotees, Dustin Colquitt has stayed true to his rituals during their mad dash through the playoffs and, now, into the World Series.
“I wore my George Brett jersey all day yesterday; I’ve been wearing it, I think, for two weeks now,” he said Wednesday. “I have not washed it. I haven’t touched it. I’ve been wearing it for everything.”
So much so that …
“My kids think I might be George Brett,” he said, laughing.
And not, ho-hum, an NFL punter.
So as much as Colquitt resembles and can relate to many Royals fans, he’s also part of a distinct branch of Royals’ rooters:
Players and administrators of the Chiefs, the Royals’ neighbor in the Truman Sports Complex, a neighbor whose season the Chiefs are reveling in even if it’s temporarily eclipsing theirs.
“I think any city that’s hosting the World Series right now, any other sports team or anything going on, is second place,” Colquitt said.
With a smile, he added that “Kansas City is going to turn back red” at least part of the day on Sunday when the Chiefs play host to the Rams at Arrowhead Stadium hours before the Royals play game five of the World Series in San Francisco.
Still, you need only have been at the Chiefs’ training complex at One Arrowhead Drive on Wednesday for an illustration of the difference in emphasis right now.
With the revived Chiefs standing 3-3 after a rousing win at San Diego entering their game against the Rams Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the building normally would be swarmed with 50 to 75 media members.
Instead, there were perhaps 20 or so on hand as hundreds besieged Kauffman.
Not that anyone in red was complaining about that.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” coach Andy Reid said, smiling. “But as long as those jets keep flying over (during pre-game ceremonies), then the media stays over there. That’s OK.”
Truth is, it’s plenty OK by the Chiefs for more reasons than that.
“I think it’s awesome; I’m proud of the Royals,” said Reid, a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up so close to Dodgers Stadium that he could see its lights at night.
Unlike many others in the Chiefs’ organization, Reid didn’t go to game one because he was busy watching tape of the Rams. But he watched a lot on TV and professed a kinship with “the skipper over there,” Ned Yost, “so I’m pulling for them.”
None of this enthusiasm appears to be merely for public consumption at a time when by all indications relationships are thriving between the teams.
In part because of a number of personal alliances among players and administrators enabled some by proximity, that hasn’t always been purely constructive, the Chiefs appreciate the breakthrough in its own right.
But they’re also energized and inspired by association.
“The Chiefs use the word ‘Kingdom,’ but it’s the whole community of Kansas City,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey told The Star’s Tod Palmer at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday. “For me, being here for a couple years and just seeing it, seeing how these fans embrace it, it’s just exciting.”
So what if for a fleeting moment, anyway, the NFL and the Chiefs aren’t center-stage and trumping all else?
They’re absorbing a collective, reflective glow from across the street.
“We share, probably, predominantly a lot of the same fans, and I think that stuff’s contagious,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “I think it’s great for the city. I think it’s awesome all the way around.”
The surge in interest in the Royals, playing in their first postseason since 1985, might evoke the question of whether Kansas City is a football town or a baseball town.
There are numerous ways to try to gauge that, particularly television ratings, most of which will point to football.
That’s truly America’s Game now, after all, and it’s still early in the NFL season as baseball is at its apex.
Then again …
“I think whoever’s winning at that time, it’s going to be their town, you know?” backup quarterback Chase Daniel said, smiling.
So Blue October it is.
“Oh, no doubt, and it should be: 29 years?” Daniel said. “It’s unbelievable what those guys are doing over there.”
Enough so that Daniel seized the moment not just to get tickets for his wife, Hillary, and himself but to raffle off two more for an opportunity to join them at game one.
By the time it was done, they’d raised $34,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, their charity of choice.
“Thank you … (Your) generosity is so amazing!!” Daniel posted Tuesday on Twitter.
The fever, such as it is, even has infected some apparently reluctant baseball fans such as offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, a Blue Springs High graduate.
“I mean, when the Royals are winning, it’s easier to watch,” he said, laughing and noting he’d taken his “pops” to game one.
At the core of this dynamic, though, is the friendships among players, which have sprouted from all different angles.
Colquitt, for instance, had been good friends with the Royals’ Luke Hochevar at Tennessee.
Though they didn’t know each other particularly well, Daniel and the Royals’ Aaron Crow overlapped at Mizzou.
Royals players periodically have come en masse to Chiefs events, including a practice last season.
James Shields, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland were among those at the “Monday Night Football” game against New England the night before the Royals’ American League Wild Card game.
That night, chants of “Let’s Go Royals” thundered through Arrowhead Stadium for the first time anyone could remember.
Moreover, a number of players from each team live in “the same little neighborhood” in Leawood, Colquitt said. As their wives got to know each other there, the players and their families did, too.
As he spoke Wednesday, Colquitt spotted the number 16 on a media credential and said, “I just talked to 16 (Butler) for the Royals over there on the phone. I’ve got a cool relationship with a lot of them.”
Among others, he added, so do offensive tackle Eric Fisher, fullback Anthony Sherman and linebacker Frank Zombo.
“We hang out after hours and stuff. They’re good dudes. It’s fun to be able to see what they do and to go 8-0 to start a postseason,” Colquitt said. “They’re special guys. They work hard together. It’s a high-pressure sport.
“They’ve got the city behind them, win lose or draw, which is cool to see. I went around yesterday with my wife for a while and I don’t think we saw one person without some kind of Royals shirt on.”
Including, of course, this guy in the Brett jersey.
Now, to the Chiefs’ part: to join the Royals in the playoffs in the same season for the first time.
Yes, the Chiefs played Indianapolis in the playoffs in January, but that was part of the 2013 season.
“We’ll work on that this year,” Daniel said.
To reach Vahe Gregorian, call 816-234-4868 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.