For the most part, the Kansas City Royals are ready to move forward from last year’s World Series victory into the start of a new season.
Still, most took some time this offseason to celebrate the win with the people who matter most to them: close friends, family and thousands of screaming Royals fans.
November’s championship parade was an offseason highlight for a number of Royals, but the more important events for pitcher Chris Young happened away from the hype in downtown Kansas City.
“I went to a parade where 800,000 people came. That was a celebration,” Young said. “But going home and being a father and a husband, spending time with my family and making up for lost time … for me, that’s a perfect celebration.”
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The veteran Young isn’t the only Royal who spent his time off focused on fatherhood. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain also said his offseason highlight was spending time with loved ones — and he added one more to the family with the birth of his second son.
“Being able to hang out (with my family) and enjoy each other, not having to go to the field and work all day,” Cain said. “That’s what I’m all about.”
The recently re-signed Alex Gordon said he also enjoyed reliving the postseason run with friends and family during his busy offseason, but despite the championship chemistry of the Royals, then couldn’t reach consensus on one topic:
When, exactly, the fact that they were World Series champions hit them.
“It’s something that you don’t really know if it has hit you or not,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It’s a great feeling, but at the same time it hasn’t sunk in to most of us.”
Gordon, on the other hand, said he didn’t even need to wait for the win to be official to understand what was going on.
“It sank in in the (12th inning of World Series Game 5), when we went back out in the field with a five-run lead,” Gordon said. “You know it’s over with that kind of lead, so that’s when it hit me.”
Before the team gets the chance to defend that championship, Hosmer and the rest of the Royals are still missing a piece of well-known bling that comes with reaching the pinnacle of baseball.
A World Series ring.
“I just want to see it,” Hosmer said. “I haven’t even seen a picture of it, so I’m dying to see what it looks like.”
Gordon and third baseman Mike Moustakas signed new contracts with the team as part of an offseason that saw nearly every member of the Royals’ postseason core return. Hosmer said he doesn’t see why such a similar group of players can’t see similar results this October.
“Every time you win a championship, I’m sure it’s just as special as the next one,” Hosmer said. “A lot of us are definitely happy with winning the one we did, but we realize that we’ve got the same group of guys coming back so there’s no reason we can’t hopefully do it again.”
Still, no matter how special ending the franchise’s 30-year World Series drought might have been, the Royals’ veterans know that it’s time to re-focus on their new goal: repeating as champions.
“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve worked my whole life to achieve and still have trouble describing what it was like,” Young said. “But that’s behind us. It’s time to try to do it again.”
Jayson Chesler is a senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.