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 ...

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