10.28.2014

World Series Game 6: Let's play 7!

I don't know that I've ever been so nervous to watch a game. Like ever.

Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series with the Chicago Cubs and the 2008 NCAA basketball national championship with the Kansas Jayhawks are the closest comparisons I can recall. Based on those experiences, I was prepared for a real roller coaster tonight.

And I was seeing bad omens everywhere I looked today. The social media hype was almost so unbearable I nearly shut off my TweetDeck.

Posted on Twitter this morning …



The Kansas City Star shared this



When I got home this evening, I exchanged my work clothes – including my Royal blue tie – for sweats and a Royals T-shirt. I thought better of pulling my favorite Royals blue T-shirt out of the laundry because the Royals lost when I wore it Sunday night. I’m superstitious enough that I even questioned whether to put on a blue long-sleeved shirt under my gray short-sleeved Royals T-shirt. I put on my Royals cap, too.

Then, Kates arrived home with the girls. With Subway for dinner and a large Royals cookie cake. Would the Royals cake be overdoing it?



The answer quickly became: no.

Everything was right for Kansas City tonight. Even the Kansas City Symphony's performance of the Star-Spangled Banner left us awestruck.

I took notice of Yordano Ventura stepping over the lines as he jogged to the pitcher’s mound and pointed out to Phoebe that baseball players do that for good luck. It must have worked.

Yo was lights out. The Giants’ offense could generate nothing against him.

Then the Royals batted in the bottom of the second inning.

  • Alex Gordon singled on a soft fly ball.
  • Salvador Perez singled on a line drive.
  • Mike Moustakas doubled to score Gordon and move Perez to third base.
  • Alcides Escobar hit a soft ground ball to the right side and slid under Brandon Belt’s tag at first base.
  • Nori Aoki singled to score Perez and move Moustakas to third and Escobar to second.

That signaled the end of the night for Giants pitcher Jake Peavy. Yusmeiro Petit took over.
Didn’t matter.

  • Lorenzo Cain singled on a soft fly ball to score Moustakas and Escobar and move Aoki to third.
  • After a wild pitch moved Cain to second, Eric Hosmer doubled, scoring Aoki and Cain.
  • Billy Butler doubled and Hosmer scored.
I was all over the living room during that inning. Alternating between jumping off the floor and dropping to my knees and pounding the floor with excitement on every hit and score. I was shouting at the TV and stretching my voice like I was right there with the crowd at Kauffman Stadium, and Phoebe and Kates joined me with their own hoopin’ and hollerin’.

When the Royals scored their ever-so-important fourth run I could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the odds are well in their favor when they score four. But when the second inning was over tonight, the Royals had taken a 7-0 lead.





On Facebook, my friends were going wild, too. My friend Tiffany posted, simply …
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And we understood. In the top of the third inning Ventura loaded the bases and got out of it with a double play. From my friend Sara on Facebook:
Yeah, he got a little in his head there. Body language has improved. He's got this. Just survive for five (preferably 6) innings and pass it to the pen. Easy cheesy. We got this. Ohmygod now I need a breath!

The Royals tacked on run No. 8 in the third inning. In the fifth inning, Escobar doubled and Omar Infante scored run No. 9 from first, blowing through third base coach Mike Jirschele's stop sign.



The Fox broadcast, which by now was happily changing its tune to talking favorably about the Royals, opened the bottom of the sixth inning with “Spirit in the Sky.” Just saying.

At 9:52 p.m., with the game in the seventh inning, the Kansas City Star posted this: World Series game sevens, like one that awaits Royals, are stuff of legend. ... Seemed a little presumptuous to me. Another bad omen. Whatever happened to It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over. … Although, in The Star’s defense, Moustakas had just hit a home run bomb to right field and the Royals had a 10-0 lead.




But not much later, it was over. We’ll have a Game 7 tomorrow night, Kansas City.



At this point, no matter what happens tomorrow night, I’m content. Of course, I want the Royals to pound the Giants again and win it all tomorrow night. But all I wanted today was a Game 7. After that, I can’t ask for anything more and the best team will win tomorrow night.

It’s been an absolutely glorious season that will forever have a special place in my heart. And cherished memories of Esky, Okie Doki Aoki, LoCain, Hos, Billy, Gordo, Salvi, Moose, Omar, Big Game James, Ace, and the three-headed monster – Kelvi, Wade and Hollie.

During the last few days, I've recalled a few times the first Royals game I watched this year, which -- according to my Facebook status archive -- was March 17 …
Faye having trouble sleeping again? No problem. This time it means we get to watch some baseball together. Go Royals!

I’ll never forget it. It was a late, west coast spring training game. It was the first time I saw Ventura pitch. I could tell he was going to be special then, and the Royals won the game. They say pitching and defense win championships, and most of us knew the Royals were well endowed in those aspects of the game. It was the offense that often was in question. Regardless, they came close to making the postseason last season and hopes were high as they headed into this season – aside from the part when they lost their first two regular season games, causing a fair share of fans to freak out and prompting my friend Kevin to post this on Facebook
The reaction to an 0-2 start, in a season of 162 games is amazing. I know we are starved for a winner in KC but.....take it eassssssssssyyyyy!

Since that night in March with Faye, I've barely missed an inning of the Royals this season. What a ride this has been.

As usual Sam Mellinger sums it up beautifully: The Royals’ crazy ride has reached a game seven — and history beckons.
Wednesday night, what happens in a kids’ game played by grown men will be remembered by a city forever.
There will be nerves and screaming and chanting and accelerated heart beats and tears. There will be tears, either way, with the performance of a baseball team Kansas City has grown to love again determining whether they come happy or sad or both….
The Royals have been so bad for so long that watching them with any sort of regularity over the years has meant dreaming of a night like this, usually without any real expectation of it happening. The World Series? Game seven?
At Kauffman Stadium?
Is this real life?
With quirks and rituals, fans pull the Royals on to Game 7

Packed Power and Light District goes wild as Royals win … A joy to see throughout this postseason run.

Remember the woman who went into labor at The K during Game 1? She was back for Game 6 ... Great story.

10.26.2014

World Series Games 3, 4, 5: Good to bad

The Royals just lost Game 5 of the World Series.

I’m watching the Royals Postgame Live show now because I need to knock the bad vibes from my head after listening to the Fox broadcast team all night and their orgasmic bromance for Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence, Bruce Bochy and the rest of the Giants. In fact, I’m watching Postgame Live for the third time now, actually, as it’s on repeat.

My friend Sam went off on Facebook tonight with a series of posts about the lack of neutrality in the Fox broadcast booth, and I back every word.
I managed to live 48 years of my life without hearing the names Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Pence. When this series is over I hope to never hear them again ….

"Madison Bumgarner blah blah blah Bumgarner yada yada yada Bumgarner yack yack yack"...If Joe Buck says his name once in an inning he says it 20-30 times. First of all isn't Madison kinda of...a girl's name? Secondly, Bumgarner just sounds...like a cartoon name. …

These idiots talk more about Bumgarner while the Royals are on defense than they do Shields.

So there’s that. Also, I’m tired of their greasy long hair and beards. I’m tired of pretty aerial shots of AT&T Park and the San Francisco Bay. I’m tired of seeing people dressed up in panda suits. I’m tired of hearing about 2010 and 2012.

I used to really like Joe Buck as a broadcaster, but this year any admiration I have for him dwindles with the passing of each inning. From another Facebook poster on Bumgarner-gate …
Joe Buck all but christened him the greatest ever and let the world know he would like to sleep with him as well.
Tonight’s game was almost as painful to watch as it was to listen to. Alcides Escobar missed two ground balls that we’ve become use to seeing him vacuum up and turn into outs – and those very well might have been the difference in the game.

Maybe the only bright spot in tonight’s game for the Royals was Lorenzo Cain making another mind-boggling catch in right field.







Whatever. The series is coming back to Kansas City, and the matchups are back in the Royals favor. Said Ned Yost in his postgame interview tonight: “We've got to walk the tightrope now without a net. We fall off and we're dead. But win (Tues) and nobody's got a net.”

I feel good. … But dang, this is intense. Every night I’m left breathless and can barely think about anything else.



Going back to better times. Game 3 was far more fun to watch. Friday night our university relations family gathered around a bonfire for some fall fun. We dined on barbecued ribs and chicken and a picnic table full of good food while the kids played on the treehouse. S’mores followed for dessert.

Half of us – included me, Kates and Phoebe – showed up dressed in our Royals gear. And I watched the game on my phone, from start to finish, with some of the guys crowded around me, as we enjoyed the conversation and warmth of the fire.



Escobar led off the game with a double and the Royals got the ever-so-important first run. Jeremy Guthrie was brilliant. The Royals added two more runs in the ever-so-important sixth inning. Brandon Finnegan worked his magicHave I mentioned how much I enjoy watching Finnegan?

The bullpen and the defense held. The Royals won 3-2 and took the series lead.

Here are the highlights.

We listened to the ninth inning as we drove home. Then, while Kates put Faye to bed, Phoebe and I held out on the couch, watching the Royals postgame show and the party at the Power & Light District in awe.

For Ned Yost it was a masterpiece
Game three of this World Series is everything about Ned, good and bad, breakout genius and perceived stooge. It was a work of art, really, and come to think of it that’s the best way to take in these playoffs: Yost as a valuable piece of modern art, the kind of thing you’re not always sure how to interpret but at the very least have to respect the success.
Last night, I attended a reunion for my college newspaper. It was a blast. I got to see, converse and spend valuable time with people who were some of my closest friends and with whom I spent nearly every day for 4 ½ years – many of whom I hadn’t seen in at least a decade. And in a beautiful way, it was as if almost no time had passed.

Of course, several people had the game going on our mobile devices at our dining tables as the speeches and toasts played out at the podium. For once, I was not one of those people, but my college roommate and his wife, sitting with Kates and I, did and they whispered the updates to us whenever something meaningful happened. When the dinner portion concluded, the Royals were leading 4-1 and it was looking as though it was going to be their night again.

After revisiting the old newsroom, our group headed to our old hangout, The Pub, which has been rebuilt, for some more reminiscing and to catch the conclusion of the game. … It wasn’t meant to be. The Royals bullpen – including my boy Finnegan – imploded. I stopped paying attention during the eighth inning. The Royals lost 11-4.

The Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger nailed it with his column this morning
Nobody notices the zit when the beauty queen does her makeup, and over the last month or so the Royals have done a remarkable job covering their own blemishes.
When the winds are right and the starting pitcher can get through five or six innings and the offense can grind enough offense, the Royals come at you like a hungry grizzly bear. For all but two nights in the last month, the Royals have been a hungry grizzly bear.

But they also have flaws, like all teams have flaws, and when the wind shifts and the starting pitcher fails them and the front-end relievers aren’t good enough to get a lead to the stars, then the Royals either need a how-the-heck comeback or they stumble. In the fourth game of the World Series, the Royals stumbled.

(Updated 10.28.2014) Good reads and stuff …

Giants Near Title, Led by Ace Immune to Pressure or Royals

Royals Notes: Zimmer, Beltran, Sveum … Some interesting tidbits.

Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu can turn a lineup card into art

A Unique College Pedigree Within the Royals’ Bullpen

Ned Yost has been making ‘most of what he has’ since growing up a Giants fan

Royals vs. Giants: The Future Classic

Kansas City Star photojournalists describe how they make great images from the World Series

J.T. Snow and Darren Baker reunite, 12 years after their unforgettable World Series moment … Aw, this is cute. A great moment in one of my favorite World Series in my lifetime.

10.24.2014

Ladies rock

I caught this one on Twitter yesterday ...



Pretty much. But I'm not complaining.

Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor continue to get a lot of play in our household these days, as does "Bang Bang." In fact, we're in a phase now in which Phoebe begs me to let her fall asleep to Taylor Swift songs at night.

Here's a fun review of Taylor's new album from USA Today ...
If you are not aware that Taylor Swift has a new album out Monday, it's certainly not her fault, or ours. The rollout for 1989 (***½ out of four stars, named for the superstar's birth year, has been as meticulous and as eagerly pored over as a presidential campaign, and its ascent on the pop charts is as certain as death and taxes — and likely anticipated with as much dread by some folks.
And from Rolling Stone ...
If there's nothing as grandiose as "All Too Well" or "Dear John" or "Enchanted," that's because there wasn't meant to be. 1989 sets the record for fewest adjectives (and lowest romantic body count) on a Swift album. Most of the songs hover above the three-minute mark, which is a challenge for Tay – she's always been a songwriter who can spend five minutes singing about a freaking scarf and still make every line hit like a haymaker. But if you're into math, note that the three best songs here – "How You Get the Girl," "This Love," "Clean" – are the three that crash past four minutes. This is still an artist who likes to let it rip. Deeply weird, feverishly emotional, wildly enthusiastic, 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before. And yes, she takes it to extremes. Are you surprised? This is Taylor Swift, remember? Extremes are where she starts out.
Cool.

I was looking forward to my shot at downloading and reviewing Taylor's album after it drops next week. ... Until I logged into my eMusic account to download some songs and manage my cue -- only to learn that eMusic has stripped its music library of mainstream content and is going indie. I love my share of indie bands, but a some earlier notice would have been nice. The music wish list that I've built through years as a loyal eMusic subscriber also was gutted. And I'm thinking my days as a subscriber are numbered. Grrrrrrrrrr.

You want indie? Here's an artist I'm really into right now: Daphne Willis, singing an acoustic of her excellent "Bluff."

10.23.2014

World Series Game 2: So happy

Well, I’m feeling a heckuva lot better today than I did yesterday. Because the Royals won last night and the World Series is now even 1-1.
Now the upstart, unbridled, uninhibited Royals are back in business. They've surged back into the nation's consciousness, evening the World Series at one game each as the stage moves to San Francisco.

The Kansas City club landed a sixth-inning haymaker on the Giants and surged to a 7-2 victory in Game 2 of the 110th Fall Classic on Wednesday night with a blue-hued crowd of 40,446 roaring at Kauffman Stadium.

Although – admittedly and somewhat memorably, I guess – many of last night’s highlights will go down as a bit of a blur as I rushed around, keeping up my parental duties while trying to keep at least one eye on the game.

Wednesday nights are church nights for the girls. I usually use the time to stay a bit later at my office and then pick up the girls while Kates stays at the church for her choir practice. Tonight, I did the pickup routine around 7 – as Game 2 was getting underway.

I brought the girls home. Managed to get them settled with some snacks while I caught the bottom of the first inning. Gave Faye a bath with the game going on my phone. Tried to watch the game while I rocked Faye to sleep.

With Faye seemingly asleep, I settled in on the living room couch for the rest of the game.
Kelvin Herrera relieved Yordano Ventura in the sixth inning.


In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Giants starting pitcher, Jake Peavy, was yanked. Jean Machi came on in relief. Billy Butler cranked his second RBI-single of the night.

Lorenzo Cain scored the go-ahead run. And my Twitter lit up.





By that time, though, Faye had woken up and was having one of her classic meltdowns, refusing to go back to sleep. Kates brought her down to the living room, and as we struggled to calm her Salvador Perez hit a two-run double. Then Omar Infante hit a two-run shot to give the Royals a huge 7-2 lead. Oh, and there was a little spat at home plate.






The bullpen came in to shut the door.



Great game.

Two other random thoughts …

First, I’m already tired of the Fox commentators for the World Series. Joe Buck (A St. Louis native … Just sayin’.) and his Fox buddies were on the NLCS broadcast with the Giants, and it shows through their San Francisco-skewed commentary. I want the TBS crew back.

Second, the Giants’ Michael Morse literally looks like a giant whenever he steps to the plate.

(Updated 10.24.2014) Good reads ...

Billy Butler comes through in key moment for Royals
He’s been a kid, a prospect, a young player who makes mistakes, a star who carries an offense, and now a proud man with a world of hitting talent focused on making the most of the last decade of his professional life. Butler’s rise has been the Royals’ rise, and if he does leave after this season, it will be a little sad for both sides. It will be the end of something important to both the man and franchise.

Royals tie up World Series with 7-2 win over Giants

Steady, dominant bullpen helping Royals prove they belong on big stage

Sixth Sense for Royals and Giants … More about pitching

Paul Rudd and Eric Stonestreet celebrate the Royals' World Series run and Steve Balboni's forearms ... The video accompanying this story is worth watching, with good memories from the 2012 Celebrity Softball gameI was there. … I’m still waiting for appearances by the other Kansas City die-hards, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Riggle, during this postseason at Kauffman Stadium

Baby is ultimate World Series souvenir after mom's water breaks at the K

10 Unlikeliest World Series Heroes … Next to Omar Infante, of course, Mickey Hatcher and Pat Borders were two of my favorite postseason heroes growing up.

Bay Area brings back fond memories for Ned Yost