Happy Halloween!

No trick-or-treating for us tonight, though. See, one of the unique things of living in The ‘Ville is that the community does such a great job of offering family-friendly trick-or-treating activities that doing the traditional door-to-door candy begging on Halloween is an afterthought and almost unnecessary in these parts. ... Our doorbell rang just twice tonight, and we live on a fairly prominent residential street.

On the Saturday evening before Halloween, families flock to the lake and campground outside of town to trick-or-treat, collecting candy from all the RV campers – some of which turn their campsites into elaborate haunts. This was the first year since making the move here that Kates and I were unable to take our girls because of another commitment.

But we made up for it last night. First, there was the downtown trick-or-treating, which invites families to visit businesses on the town square for candy and other goodies. The churches participate by offering free games and prizes, and the Elks Club hands out free hot dogs fresh off the grill.

From the square, we headed to campus for the annual Trick-or-Treat in the Halls. Students in the university’s residence halls sign up to participate and then open their doors to hand out candy to any little ones who visit between the hours of 6 and 8.

It was a gorgeous evening to be out and we had great fun – perhaps the most fun of all our Halloweens with the girls so far. 

And this year, Phoebe went as Elsa from “Frozen,” and Faye went as her trusty companion, Olaf.

Phoebe, of course, decided months ago that she would dress as Elsa, and Grandma S. awesomely replicated the famous dress for her.

Faye’s fate as Olaf was sealed only a few weeks ago when Kates was doing some shopping and spotted the Olaf costume. When we shared it with Faye, she was all in and wore it adorably.

We were showered with “Awwwww” around every corner we turned with the girls last night, especially by all the college girls in university residence halls.

Of course – as this is the year of “Frozen” – we passed dozens of other little ones dressing up as “Frozen” characters, especially girls in Elsa dresses. It was no wonder that once I posted a picture of the girls in their costumes on Facebook that a friend of ours posted a reply of “And drink,” implying that she was playing a drinking game based on the number of pictures posted of children in “Frozen” costumes.

But I must say, of all the “Frozen” costumes we saw, Phoebe and Faye wore them best, by far .Jimmy Kimmel offered this reaction to all of this year’s “Frozen” costumes.

This morning, we all went out once more, joining Faye and her daycare group for trick-or-treating at the hospital. Phoebe and Kates didn't have school, and I took a couple hours away from my work, so all of us could share in the fun. ... What fun it was, and Faye filled her little plastic bag so full it was almost too heavy for her to carry. 

(Updated 11.04.2014)

It wouldn’t be a post-Halloween without Jimmy Kimmel also showing parents pretending they stole they ate all of their kids’ candy.


World Series Game 7: In the end

They had known loneliness and they had felt despair. This lost generation of fans had been left behind and cast aside across 29 seasons without October, the most bittersweet month in baseball. They never knew the exhilaration the playoffs could provide. They never knew the exquisite torture that lurks at the roller-coaster’s end for every team but one. 

The 2014 version of the Kansas City Royals believed they could be the one. They believed they could lift this city up and raise it to the throne they had abdicated after 1985. The players felt it in their bones. Their manager espoused his faith daily to the public. Belief is the most beautiful armor, capable of shielding away all the frailties of a baseball club, the qualities that leaked into view in a 3-2 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. 

The seventh game of the World Series baptized these fans and this team in all they had missed, all the hairpin turns and harrowing depths inherent in a game with no tomorrow. The season ended at 10:21 p.m. at the left arm of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, the lone figure standing between the Royals and a championship. ~ Andy McCullough, The Kansas City Star
And so it’s over.

It sucks, and it’s heart-breaking. But, dang, this season was a blast.

Like I said going into last night’s game, all I wanted was a Game 7. The Royals earned it, and tonight it was either team’s series to win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Royals.

As I write this, I’m watching the Kansas City postgame broadcast. I have no interest in watching the Giants celebrate. And if I hear one more word about the Giants dynasty, Bruce Bochy’s Hall of Fame credentials or Madison Bumgarner, my head might explode.

After last night’s Game 6 win, I was on cloud nine today. Waking up this morning and knowing the Royals would play in Game 7 of the World Series tonight was like waking up the morning after a great first date as a youth. Euphoria. … As I drove to work this morning, I actually caught myself imagining what it might be like if the Royals won tonight.

The nervousness and stress set in this evening as I hustled to pick up the girls while Kates stayed at school to finish her week of parent-teacher conferences. We picked up some Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner and took it to church. We downed it there and the girls headed to their Wednesday evening church activities while I found a comfortable spot in a hallway to do some work.

We arrived home as the top of the first inning was getting underway and I planted myself, watching most of the first three innings from a standing position a few feet in front of the TV.

Once we got the girls to bed, Kates and I were finally able to settle down and focus in on the game without distractions.

The matchups were right on. The Royals had the Giants right where they needed them. After Jeremy Guthrie left the game, the bullpen came in and rolled along as they had all season long.

But the Royals couldn’t catch a break.

I’m sure I joined Royals fans everywhere as our hearts and hopes collectively sank when Bumgarner entered the game. He pitched 21 innings in the World Series and gave up one run. The Royals lost all three games in which he appeared. And social media was all over the lovefest Fox broadcasters were having over Bumgarner

I kept thinking they would break Bumgarner at some point. It was their destiny. And they came so close in the ninth.

Alex Gordon dropped a hit in left field and it rolled all the way to the wall. The San Franciso outfield struggled just to pick up the ball as Gordo raced around the bases. … I ended up flat on my belly in front of the TV pounding the floor for Gordon to try for an inside-the-park home run. The replay, however, showed the relay throw was coming in as he arrived at third base and he was right to stay put.

Then – then! – our cable feed froze and I nearly freaked out that we might miss something historic. Fortunately, after 30 seconds or so, it came back.

Salvador Perez had stepped to the plate. The hero of the epic Wild Card Game, he couldn’t keep the Royals magic going and popped up a foul ball to Pablo Sandoval.

The Royals lost the game 3-2 and were 90 feet short of tying it in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sigh.

It ends 29 days of exhaustion, the local news anchors just noted. If there’s a silver lining, I guess it’s that I can refocus on everyday life and reinvest in some of the other projects that I’ve neglected while being consumed with this Royals’ run for the last month-plus.

And here are some final words from The Star’s Sam Mellinger explaining why the Royals’ loss won’t diminish a magic season. “This is the team that made baseball fun again in Kansas City, finally, cool enough for kids to wear their gear to grade schools from Olathe to Oak Grove without risking ridicule,” he writes. For me, the sights of Royals gear displayed front and center in stores and Royals blue suddenly being fashionable will go down as some of the more lasting images of this run.

Mark my words. The Royals will be back in the postseason soon. I got to experience the American League Championship this year, and now I’m saving my cash in hopes of purchasing a World Series ticket.

(Updated 10.31.2014) Good reads and stuff … 

Superfan SungWoo Lee describes watching the Royals in the World Series

(Added 10.30.2014)

Today they gathered at Kauffman for a celebration …

And let the offseason speculation and moving begin …

As well as the game of predicting the 2015 World Series champions. I hate predictions and speculation. I’m a take-it-as-it-comes, live-in-the-moment kind-of-guy.

Three stories breaking down Alex Gordon's dash ... Sigh.

And two stories about the Giants good luck ...


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.


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.


Ok Go, they don't let you down

The boys from OK Go have done it again by producing a brilliant, eye-popping all-in-one-take music video set to a catchy song ...

Check out their newest music video below... (Update 11.29.2014: In case you're wondering, here's how they did it)

And let's take a trip down memory lane for some of the others, shall we ...

The Writing's on the Wall” ...

This Too Shall Pass” ...

White Knuckles” ...

And the one that started it all, “Here it Goes Again” ...


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." (Here's a good read about Trainor's "Bass.") 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.

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."


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


World Series Game 1: Royals vs. Bumgarner

Well, we can no longer say the Royals haven’t lost a postseason game since 1985.

Last night, they were trounced by the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series.

Let’s forget that for a moment, though. I got chills after we turned on the pregame last night and saw the sea of screaming blue at Kauffman Stadium. And the gorgeous aerial views of the stadium. Our hometown stadium. The Royals’ stadium.

I could barely stop repeating, “I can’t believe what I’m watching …” Not to mention feeling jealous for the several friends I had posting pictures on Facebook of the views from their Kauffman Stadium seats. One of my high school buddies flew in from Washington, D.C., to attend last night's game, saying "You only live once." Another flew up from Texas. One of my best friends is flew in from Arizona to attend tonight's game.

As we ate dinner, Phoebe and I kept breaking from our chairs at the kitchen table to get a better of the TV. And Faye d ruburst into an impromptu cheer of “Let’s go Royals!” … Later, as I did the kitchen cleanup, Phoebe planted herself in front of the TV and recited the starting lineup to me, complete with “Big Game” James Shields as the starting pitcher.

Game time. I was excited for sure, but not overly optimistic. I’ve sensed during his recent starts that Shields is getting tired and shaky.

The Giants promptly scored three runs in the top of the first inning with the help of a two-run shot by Hunter Pence. Madison Bumgarner also was a gauntlet on the Royals offense as the Giants seemed to pile on the runs.

That 7-1 final score felt more like 20-1.

The only bright spots, for me, were Danny Duffy’s dominance after he relieved Shields in the fourth inning and Salvi Perez’s home run – finally – in the seventh inning. … I missed the third inning that so many people are talking about – the Royals had runners on second and third with nobody out and somehow didn’t score – because Kates and I were putting the girls to bed.

This morning my good friend Tom emailed me …
Does Shields start another game?
Should Shields start another game?
I would much rather string a tightrope with Vargie or Guthy than see another 4-spot on the board before I can get to my bullpen with Shields.
Hilarious that Perez finally goes yard when it does not matter at all.
Why are they not starting Duffy?

I thought all of those things during last night’s game.

Can’t look back though. Game 2 is less than an hour away, and I like the Royals’ chances looking at the matchups for the next three games. I’m thinking – hoping – this thing goes to six or seven games. Although, five games in the Royals’ favor would be just fine, too.

Here’s what The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger had to say about it today
If nothing else, these Royals have proved themselves to be fantastically resilient. And in the list of holes they’ve played themselves out of, a 7-1 loss to the Giants in the first game of the World Series on Tuesday would not even earn a medal. …

One of the striking parts of this loss was what the stadium felt like for virtually the entire night. The energy and noise around Kauffman Stadium has been one of the emerging stories nationally around this Royals’ rise, but no fan base can make a rock concert out of a dentist appointment.
There is no good time in the postseason to play a clunker, but nobody needed the Royals’ return to the World Series to also be the return of the mid-July Royals. But here they were. Mucky defense, no offense and bad starting pitching.
For now, I’m going to pretend I didn’t read 10 of the last 11 teams to win Game 1 of the World Series have gone on to win the whole thing. Or that Hunter Pence’s home run supposedly altered the trajectory of the entire series.

But I did read the Royals lost the first two games of the 1985 World Series, and we all know how that played out. So there’s that.

Game 2 coming up.

Good reads …

These Royals fans waited nearly 30 years to show off their postseason swag … So many memorable signs and images from this Royals postseason. So here’s more.

The best tip ever: A World Series ticket from the wife of pitcher Wade Davis

29 ways these Royals are like the 1985 Royals

Lights, Catcher, Action! Royals’ Salvador Perez Earns Respect for Play and Perfume … It has been a joy to watch him blossom these last two seasons and he’s arguably my favorite of the bunch.

In Kansas City, Daring Style Spans Years … Good read about Kansas City’s ties to Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues.


24 hours to Game 1

I’ve been soaking up every word under every headline that catches my eye in reference to the Royals  and the World Series these last few days. It still doesn't seem real to write those words in the same sentence.

Tomorrow night can’t get here soon enough.

A lot of people have asked me the last few days if I’m trying to get tickets to a World Series game, and the answer is: Nope. I’m perfectly content with what I got to experience last Wednesday. I figure that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a dream come true for me. Plus, World Series tickets are going for record amounts

Good reads ...

An Open Letter To Kansas City … Freaking yes.

As focus faded and losses picked up in late July, Royals changed their game … I had a good feeling when I learned the Royals picked up Raul Ibanez midseason. Turns out they needed him more than I knew.

Blast from past: Dayton Moore … An excellent word-for-word read, as always, from longtime Kansas City columnist Joe Posnanski.

After all this time, the Royals display perfect timing … And another from Joe Posnanski.

Lorde's 'Royals' Banned in San Francisco Ahead of World Series … Of course it is. Meanwhile, Kansas City's KZPT has announced they'll be pumping "Royals" into the highest-possible rotation, playing the song every hour on the hour on Tuesday.

And it was inevitable that some Royals fan created a version of the song with lyrics about the 2014 Royals

Did the Mets' Negro League throwbacks predict the World Series matchup? … Oh, this is awesome.

Royals superfan SungWoo Lee will be back in Kansas City for Game 1 of the World Series … Considering the tear the Royals went on while he was in town in August, this is a good thing.

25 years ago, the World Series shook … Interesting that the World Series is back in San Francisco and this is a trendy story during this last week. Great read about that night and the days afterward from the perspective of Milwaukee Sentinel reporter Tom Haudricourt.

What do previous Royals-Giants matchups say about the World Series? … Ah, yes. The Bo Jackson home run. I remember it well.

The Weirdest World Series: The Giants and Royals meet in a Fall Classic no one could have predicted
Why Royals great Frank White no longer associates with the team whose stadium he built
Hopefully, time will give Frank White even more wisdom than he has already and fill him with forgiveness as well, because this fight has gone on long enough already. The saddest estrangement in baseball doesn't need to be that way. Not when both sides have so much more to gain than they've already lost.

Denkinger cool with reminders of mistaken call in '85 Series

Quick on feet and to speak, Dyson helping Royals zoom

Royals fan Eric Stonestreet secretly mocks Giants fan on plane to KC ... Only Eric Stonestreet.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/stargazing/article3195803.html#storylink=cpy

Royals and Giants Make It a Wild-Card World Series

Sluggerrr vs. Lou Seal: Who would win the Mascot World Series?


Take more vacation

Just saw this new MasterCard commercial for the first time.

Cute. Good advice I need to heed.


Royal dreams come true

For almost three decades, the gold crown above the scoreboard at Kauffman Stadium had mocked the home team. The Kansas City Royals had not been kings of anything since 1985, when they won their only championship. They would never be royal.

All of that has changed. Across eight mystical games, a famine has given way a bountiful harvest. The Royals — yes, the Royals — have advanced to the World Series, finishing a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. ~ Tyler Kepner, The New York Times

More than 24 hours have passed and I’m still in awe.

I was at Kauffman Stadium yesterday to watch the Royals play in a postseason game. The American League Championship Series. Which they won. And now they’re going to play in the World Series.

The common catchphrase all of us seem to be repeating these days: Is this real life?

At this moment I’m watching Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with the Giants and Cardinals, and Michael Morse just crushed a solo home run for the Giants to tie the game at 3-3 in the eighth inning. Amid all of the Royals excitement, I’ve haven’t found much room to care about this series. Whatever. … Actually I do care. I really don’t want to see the Cardinals in the World Series.

The Royals are in the World Series, though. And that’s amazing.

We were wrapping up dinner Sunday night and I began checking the latest ticket prices on StubHub, as I had been doing all weekend. I wanted so badly to go to a game, but my hopes were fading. As I continued scrolling over the options, I found an appealing seat in the upper deck on the right field side. I reported the cost to Kates, and she said the magic words: “Go for it.”

I won’t say how much I paid for the ticket. But it’s down as an early Christmas present to me. And it was worth every dollar.

I awoke with the girls yesterday morning and took Faye to daycare as usual. On my way home I made a pit stop at Wal-mart, and there – front and center inside the entrance – was a rack of Royals gear. Of course. Because for the first time in decades Royals gear is in demand.

Instead of heading to my office, I had put in for a vacation day from work, so I could enjoy my morning at home and not have to deal with the regular distractions – although I spent the morning working on some important projects anyway. I hit the road at 11 a.m. and was pulling into the parking lot of the sport complex around 12:45.

It was a picture perfect day.

Already, the lots – which opened at 10 – were packed. Vehicles were parked on the grass. Royal blue-clad fans were tailgating. And, oh, the smells coming from those grills were good. Clearly, a lot of fans had come just to park, tailgate and enjoy the atmosphere, even if they didn’t have tickets to be inside the stadium. I had never seen so many happy people tailgating in all my years of going to baseball games at Kauffman Stadium.

Not to mention the sight of the tress surrounding the stadium sporting autumn shades of gold, brown and orange. We’re used to the summer greens surrounding Kauffman Stadium, but, yes, this was October baseball at Kauffman Stadium. Amazing.

And the music. The music blaring throughout the day from my iPhone, in my car, from the parking lot and inside the stadium was at times totally fitting for the setting and at times totally making me nostalgic for all the afternoons and evenings I spent sitting in Kauffman’s left field cheap seats with my buddies. …

The first song to play on my iPhone as I started driving toward Kansas City was “Feel This Moment.” As I walked through the parking lot, I caught, of course, Pharell Williams’ “Happy” and Lorde’s “Royals.” Inside the stadium, the batting practice music was chock-full of ’90s rock – including Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and Len’s “Steal My Sunshine,” to name a couple. The stadium played “Don’t Stop Believin’” during the sixth inning break. And the first song to come on my iPhone as I left the stadium was “Pinch Me.”

Once I was through the stadium gates, with my coveted Royals rally towel in hand, I began taking in everything I could. I made my way down an aisle on the third base side while a pair of ushers were wiping the seats clean. The Royals were taking batting practice while the Orioles warmed up on the left field grass. The red, white and blue bunting adorned the railings. Postseason banners and signs graced all corners of the stadium and the dugout roofs. The stadium’s iconic scoreboard flashed “Welcome to the ALCS.”

Media swarmed the grass behind the batting cage from dugout to dugout. And fans in Royal blue T-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts and jerseys crowded the areas from dugout to dugout on the other side of the railing. I watched Joe Torre interact with a group of important-looking men. I watched George Brett command the area behind the batting cage with his presence and his classic smile before stepping into an interview with a few reporters. I watched a Royals PR executive lead rookie pitcher Brandon Finnegan off the field to a camera and lights set up at the backstop wall. I watched Jarrod Dyson come off the field and toss a ball up to some cheering fans before disappearing into the dugout. I watched Ned Yost, with Dale Sveum trailing behind him, head for the dugout and wave his hands at fans as they applauded him warmly.

After a while, the Orioles took to the batting cages and I decided to explore the rest of the stadium. I soon found the TBS stage set up on the left field concourse. Casey Stern, Gary Sheffield and – my favoritePedro Martinez were on the set and appeared to be recording some commentary. After enjoying a ballpark cheeseburger, the TBS crew was taking a break and I noticed Pedro appeared to be signing some autographs for fans. I didn’t have anything on me that I wanted him to sign, but I took advantage of an opportunity to be near his greatness anyway. I stood within a few feet of Pedro and snapped some pictures, taking in another aspect of the whole atmosphere and watching him sign everything from tickets to baseballs to hats to game programs to a tennis shoe that some kid took from his foot right then and there. 

Pedro was patient and gracious, signing autographs and conversing with fans for what must have been a solid 15 to 20 minutes. I always enjoyed watching him as a player, I’ve enjoyed his commentary on TBS, and witnessing his personality and interactions up close only made me admire and respect him more.

At one point a Royals fan asked him, “What do you think, Pedro? Are our boys going to do it today?” In his Pedro way, he answered, “You know, I think they will. Looking at everything, I think they’ll win.” … That was good enough for me.

Around 2:15, some fan entertainment activities were beginning on the field and I decided to head for my seat. Section 438, located on right field corner of the upper deck. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised with how great the view was, and the sentiment remained throughout the afternoon. In the meantime, the fan activities continued on the field for prize packages; there were some trivia games and a boy who was tasked with kicking a soccer ball into a series of four nets at varied distances – he made two goals and just missed the other two. Several quips also were made by the stadium emcee girl about all of us skipping work.

Then, the emcee girl signaled the national telecast was about to begin, encouraged the crowd to get excited and counted down … 5… 4 … 3 … 2 … 1. And we were cleared for takeoff.

The crowd erupted in boisterous cheering and a sea of blue and white rally towels. … A few minutes later, American Idol winner and Kansas City native David Cook sang the national anthem. And there was a flyover.

Game time.

With a blue-hued throng of 40,468 fans roaring on a sunny, 65-degree afternoon, the Royals struck for two runs in the first inning with an infield single, a hit by pitch, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice, capped by Alcides Escobar kicking the ball out of the catcher's glove on a play at the plate, clearing the way for a second run to score. It was all they would need

That first inning was terrifically exciting inning. Then things went quiet. … And the Orioles got one on the board with Ryan Flaherty’s no-doubt-home-run in the third inning.

As the game progressed, I kept good conversation with a guy sitting to my left who was about my age and attending the game with his wife. This guy had with him a little stuffed Eric Hosmer doll that he pulled out every time Hosmer stepped to the plate and insisted that all of the people around him rub the doll for good luck. As luck had it, Hosmer was productive in the first three of his four at-bats yesterday. He got on with a fielder’s choice in the first, a single in the third and an intentional walk in the fifth, before striking out in the seventh.

If only Salvador Perez had the same success. His at-bats have been tough to watch and out of form this postseason. ... But, let's not forget he got us here.

The longer the Royals clinged to that one-run lead, the more tense the crowd seemed to be and I got anxious. I kept wanting SOMEBODY to do SOMETHING for the Royals’ offense. No matter how good the Royals bullpen has been, I’m not taking any lead for granted. How long could this magic possibly last!?

Then there was that Alex Gordon catch. I’m not sure anyone in the stadium thought he was going to get to that ball. I still don’t know how he got to that ball. If that wasn’t Royals magic …

As I mentioned above, here's that “Don’t Stop Believin’” scene during the sixth inning ...

Still, once Kelvin Herrera was through the seventh inning the mood in the seats seemed to lighten. Once Wade Davis was in for the eighth inning we began counting outs.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Royals had as good as any chance to score an insurance run. Billy Butler led off with a line drive double to left field, and Terrence Gore replaced him as a pinch runner. Gore eventually got to third base and the Orioles gave Omar Infante an intentional walk to put runners on the corners with two outs. But Mike Moustakas popped up to second base for the third out. Grr. 

Then Greg Holland came in for the ninth inning, and we held our breaths.

Every other person pulled out their phones for an attempt to capture the final out of the game. …

J.J. Hardy hit a sharp grounder down the third base line. Mike Moustakas gloved it – he’s had some trouble throwing across the diamond to first base at time – and we collectively held our breaths, but his throw was on the mark. Eric Hosmer caught it at first base.

Around 6:05 p.m. last night, the Royals were American League Champions. The Royals are heading to World Series after sweeping the Orioles.

Here’s how it looked from my vantage point, and watch how quickly the grounds crew is wheeling out the set for the postgame celebration …

Here’s a neat video of how it looked and sounded from the parking lot

Random people hugged each other and slapped high fives. Some people wiped tears from their eyes. … As I wondered about what the moment might be like beforehand, I wasn’t sure how I might react. For me, it turned out to be utter awe and jubilation at witnessing such a moment. After so many years of going to games at Kauffman Stadium and watching so many bad teams. I noticed my eyes a little watery, too.

Hardly anyone left as the postgame celebration continued to play out and the trophy presentation got underway on the stage set up in the center of the ball field. I stayed through all of it, bursting with pride for Ned Yost as he took the stage and joked that he and Dayton Moore had been planning this point for five years. And for Lorenzo Cain, smiling wildly with him as he accepted the ALCS MVP trophy

I couldn’t be happier for Lorenzo, Alcides Escobar, Nori Oki, and – especially – Ned Yost and Dale Sveum, the former Brewers and Cubs managers who came so close and had been so far in recent years before it all clicked this season. Heck, this has been a long time coming for the entire enormously skilled Royals coaching staff. Ned Yost has earned this moment
When the postgame party ended – the broadcast portion, at least – I decided to head for the parking lot. After all, it had been a long day and I was ready to get home to my girls. I headed for the ramp and started down it with the crowd – although I veered back toward the stadium at the 300 level and caught one more glimpse of the party on the field, which now involved the players taking a lap around the field with the American League Championship trophy.

In the parking lot, it was controlled pandemonium. Fans hooped and hollered on their way to their cars, while the cars heading out of the lot were blasting their horns. There were so many police cars manning the intersections and adding security around the stadium that I cruised to the interstate on-ramp. … I learned later last night that a chant of "Let's go Royals" erupted in the performing arts center on campus while students waited for a comedy show.

I arrived home around 8 and basked in the emotional high of my day, reviewing the recaps, social media posts and images. My voice was hoarse and my ears were ringing from the crowd noise – that’s normal for my concert nights but a definite first after a ballgame. It was worth every dollar.

It took 29 years, but the Royals are ready to bring a World Series win back to Kansas City.

Enjoy this

And this. This really made me well up

Here's another ...

10:35 p.m. We have a Wild Card World Series! Thank you, San Francisco Giants
The Giant put two runners on in the bottom of the ninth and then Travis Ishikawa got a hold of one and dropped it in the right field stands to end the National League Championship Series. I hopped off the couch, landed in front of the TV and pumped my fists almost as hard as I’ve pumped them for the Royals’ wins.

In the top of the ninth, Brandon Crawford also made an ridiculously beautiful, game-saving play … 

Good reads and stuff …

Buster Olney's podcast today is worth a listen. He's brings in The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger around the 15-minute mark and his insight, including his thoughts on Ned Yost, are excellent. And totally on par with my thoughts.

Hey, Paul Rudd was at Game 4, too!

27 Reasons The Kansas City Royals Are Becoming America's New Favorite Team

Royals making the extraordinary routine, riding improbable playoff run 

From wild cards to World Series, Giants, Royals endured 

Constructing a World Series team: Royals Royals Envisioned Success, and Then Saw It Through  

The World Series-bound Royals have transformed KC’s sports identity
Part of that is the movie-script way this season has played out. They were bad enough in May that they fired the hitting coach. Demoted their third baseman. Got swept by the Houston Astros, which some inside the organization still mark as the season’s low point. Look at them now: Salvador Perez leading his friends and teammates in a victory lap around the stadium, in front of the seats in the outfield that didn’t even exist when the team started building toward this moment.

But so much of the joy is that they’ve done this here, in Kansas City, where this is appreciated and celebrated in a way that perhaps no other place in baseball could. Celebrations run hotter and harder when fueled by a generation of pain.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article2849191.html#storylink=cpy

The Kansas City Royals' Huge Appeal 
The Royals are also a great story because they play an unusual, exciting, nostalgia-tinged brand of baseball. With the fewest home runs of any team in the majors, they are the epitome of “small ball,” winning with speed, pitching, timely hitting, and ridiculously good defense. Manufacturing runs from what feels like thin air, their style hearkens to a better kind of baseball, before steroids warped the game, erasing so much of its subtlety.
This team. ... A Joe Posnanski story to which all Kansas Citians my age and older can relate.
Then, about the time Margo turned 16, the Royals just stopped. They didn’t just stop winning. They stopped being. The team of Brett and Leonard and Sabes and Quiz … well … what? Who could even say? One year they were a team of washed-up veterans. The next they were a team of overmatched kids. Then they were washed-up veterans again.  The Royals never had any money, so the best players would dig holes in the walls behind posters to escape. They were never any good, so the only time SportsCenter or anyone else paid attention was when they went on 19-game losing streaks or when their first-base coach was attacked by a lunatic father-and-son fan duo in Chicago.
More KC fountains turning blue for Royals

Unlikeliest World Series Winners … Good stuff.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the famed bleachers are being ripped out of Wrigley Field as its rehab continues. I know there will be improvements, and it’s not like the ballpark is being torn down, but this saddens me. I liked it the way it was.