Monday, October 20, 2014

It's been a long 29 years

It's World Series Eve and everything that could be written about these amazing, logic-defying Kansas City Royals seems to have been written.  Media outlets from the Huffington Post to the Wall Street Journal to Buzzfeed to the New York Times have sung the praises of this team and the town that they are representing.  It's one big, nationwide love affair, outside of the state of California, with the boys in blue and their long-suffering fans who have waited a generation--in some cases, a lifetime--for this moment.

From a local perspective, the eight wins in a row have ignited an outpouring of affection, pride, catharsis, giddy behavior and genuine love for a franchise that had lost this community.  Because, you see, while the eight wins are great and ultimately the reason for the Royals' first appearance in the World Series since 1985, it's the guys who are donning the uniforms and the relationship they've created with Kansas City that is truly special.

This is a franchise, after all, who had little in the way of a public persona in Kansas City.  The owner and his son were vilified for running a "stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap" retail-like operation and the GM was guilty by association.  Where the Chiefs and Sporting KC had cultivated civic and community relationships by engaging with fans and local leaders, the Royals seemed to have a bunker mentality with players who quickly came and went.

All of that has suddenly changed.  Yes, winning does wonders at changing perceptions but let's give this team and its ownership credit--they won with gritty play and with a cast of characters who have not only played hard and smart but have shown their human, personal sides as well.  Newborn babies are part of this storyline as are hot prospects given up for baseball dead; $15,000 bar tabs paid for by Royals players combined with a Korean fan-of-fans; guys sharing their ALCS trophy at an NBA exhibition game--all of this has combined into a story of redemption, community pride, and shoulders held back a bit more straight.

This has been a magical two weeks in Kansas City for a franchise that was down 7-3 in the 8th inning of a lose-and-go-home Wild Card Game against one of the best pitchers in baseball.  And, we all know what happened next.

Continue to ride with us, enjoy the moment, and let's all say "thanks" to a team of good guys who are representing a city with humility, grace, smiles and hard work.  That, I'd say, sounds like a description of the people of this wonderful town.  It's nice that the rest of the world seems to now be noticing.

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