On a high overlook, perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon, one group of tourists is chatting in French.
A family is speaking German.
Mandarin can be heard next above the English.
All the while, everyone here is staring in jaw-dropping awe at what is said to be one of the greatest wonders of the natural world. But me and Dave Augustoni? We’re talking baseball.
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About the Royals being in the Series, first game tonight. And about the canyon. And, really, which one should be judged “grander”?
Right off, Augustoni – who at 60 and a resident of Montpelier, Vt., is a lifelong Red Sox fan – picks the canyon, which seems the obvious choice.
“The Royals are a close second,” he jokes, kindly, because Dave Augustoni is a friendly guy. He works in insurance.
But, in full half-seriousness, I put some probing yes-or-no questions to him.
Can the canyon bunt? “No,” he concedes.
Can the canyon steal? “No,” again.
Can the Grand Canyon hit a home run? “It cannot.”
That’s right, Dave. It cannot.
And if there were a baseball game between the Grand Canyon and the Kansas City Royals, which one would win?
“The Kansas City Royals.”
There you have it – and he agrees – the canyon is looking a little less grand.
Grander still, Augustoni says he actually will be rooting for the Royals over the Giants.
It has much to do with the respect and admiration this American League fan has for Hall of Fame slugger George Brett, and because he has a soft spot for the Royals as the underdog.
Here, finding fans was a sure bet as soon as we drove through the entrance.
“I’m rooting for the Royals to sweep the Giants,” said Luke Knowles, 28, the park ranger at the gate.
He offered that opinion himself at the sight of our royally outfitted car, not one question asked.
Raised in Wisconsin, he’s a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and has affection for former Brewers players like Lorenzo Cain.
We rolled through the gate.
“Go Royals,” Knowles called out.
Think of it as an epic journey, as an odyssey, as a Royals road trip halfway across the country to seek out the devotion that now belongs to the boys from Kansas City.
We in Kansas City have always loved our Royals. But now, say the sports pundits, so does the rest of the nation. This scrappy, sliding, bunting, running team has captured the heart of America.
But how much do people really love the Royals? How much do they actually know about our boys in blue?
Such are the questions that prompted The Kansas City Star to send two of its own — reporter Eric Adler and videographer Monty Davis — on the road, 2,200 miles to San Francisco, in the most conspicuous of Royals cars.
Follow them at kansascity.com or on Twitter at #royalsodyssey. Feel free to contact the reporters on Twitter through @eadler or @montydaviskc.