The last time we spotted Paul Rudd, the actor and comedian from Overland Park, was in the bedlam of the opposing clubhouse at Citi Field after the Royals won the World Series.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas spied him, too, and started shouting, “You’re way too dry.” Rudd yelled back, “I’m way too dry,” effectively inviting a dousing in champagne and beer.
Way back then, the Chiefs had tentatively recovered from a doomed 1-5 start to stand 3-5.
There was scant reason to believe that less than two months later they would offer their own historic addendum to the Royals’ splendid season, one that left them being greeted in their locker room by Rudd in an ensemble of Santa Claus and Chiefs gear.
And why not bask in the spirit of the season?
Unsightly as the Chiefs’ 17-13 win over Cleveland on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium might have been, there was plenty to like about the result.
The victory tied a club record with nine straight wins (also achieved by the 2003 and 2013 teams).
With the winning streak and Carolina’s loss, in a manner of speaking, anyway, the Chiefs have become the hottest team in the NFL.
They also became just the first team since the 1970 Bengals to recover from a 1-5 start to make the playoffs.
“How sweet it is,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said.
But what resonated with Rudd and should resound with Kansas City was the distinction that tethered these Chiefs to their neighbors across the street at the Truman Sports Complex:
For the first time in more than five decades since the Chiefs moved here from Dallas, Kansas City’s pro football and baseball teams are in the playoffs in the same calendar season.
“Really, really cool,” Rudd said as he paused amid his rounds in a somewhat more subdued atmosphere than he’d enjoyed in New York.
It’s actually really, really weird, too — and something that for a time could be said to have defined the futile modern era of the local sports scene.
But it is what it was when you consider the A’s being horrendous before they moved and made way for the Royals in 1969 … and the Chiefs shriveling just as the Royals surged from the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s … and the Royals going a pesky 29 years between playoff appearances.
The Royals shredded that recent losing aura of the two teams, of course, but this purges another remnant of the somewhat preposterous footnote.
“Wow, I didn’t know that until just now,” said punter Dustin Colquitt, who in his 11th season along with Johnson is the longest-tenured Chief. “But that’s awesome and very exciting, and hopefully we can have the same result they did.
“That was big for our town, and their organization, and that’s when the ‘Title Town’ talk starts happening, hopefully.”
Any such points of discussion, of course, will first require the Chiefs to rid themselves of their own distinct stigma of not having won a playoff game since the 1993 season.
But first things first: a moment to appreciate in a season that was on the verge of becoming a charade.
At 1-5, quarterback Alex Smith acknowledged he wondered where this was all headed. As far as he was concerned, merely reaching the playoffs from that perch would be unprecedented.
“I mean, it had never been done before, right?” he said.
If the 1970 Bengals apparently weren’t a source of inspiration for the Chiefs, maybe in some way the 2015 Royals were.
It’s not just that the organizations enjoy good relationships and crossover friendships, like Colquitt going to college at Tennessee with pitcher Luke Hochevar and sharing a neighborhood swimming pool with Alex Gordon and family.
It’s not just that players from each have lent support to the other, including many Chiefs players taking to Twitter to congratulate the Royals as soon as they landed from their game in London.
More recently, Royals’ first baseman Eric Hosmer endorsed Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry for the NFL’s Walter Payton Award.
To hear it from Colquitt, the spirit of the Royals might have given the Chiefs a little juice when they needed it.
“Their run was inspiring to us,” said Colquitt, whose friend Rudd was wearing a No. 2 jersey in his honor. “We saw what they were able to do with their backs against the wall. And it seemed like their backs were against the wall every game, every inning. The odds were against them, and they turned the tables (to make a) run and made it happen.
“So when we were 1-5, and you see that, you get inspired and you say, ‘Look, if they can do this in the bottom of the seventh inning, then surely we can put together a stretch of wins. We have the players, we certainly have the coaching staff to do it.’
“And we’ve been able to do it.”
From sitting in the stands at the World Series, from the parade at which he still marvels, Colquitt can appreciate the impact all this can make.
“You can see how it just lights up their week, their day and their year when you win,” he said.
It would be another thing entirely, of course, for the Chiefs to be able to carry forth to carry on like the Royals, a long way from the unbridled celebration of a champion.
But this alone has been a long time coming — and already is a very, very cool sign of a new era.