On June 28, 1910, Chicago Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker stole home plate twice, en route to an 11-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. This made Tinker the first Major Leaguer to accomplish the feat, which has been accomplished less than a dozen times total in Major League history. Tinker went on to be elected into the Hall of Fame in 1946.
Winning streaks can only last so long. Otherwise, they wouldn’t really be “streaks.” The Kansas City Royals recently saw the end of a ten-game winning streak that had temporarily catapulted them into first place in the AL Central. Going into last night’s game, I had a winning streak of my own, in which the Royals won each of the last four games I attended at Kauffman Stadium. That run also came to an end last night, as the Royals proved unable to provide any run support for Danny Duffy’s solid quality start. They lost 2-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
About the only consolation regarding the Royals’ hitting last night was that Clayton Kershaw did not manage to notch his second consecutive no-hitter. The Royals eked out six hits over the course of the game — scattered hits — no more than two in a single inning. We kept hoping for them to string something together, but the rally proved elusive last night.
Attending a ballgame is never a bust of an evening, however. For the ceremonial first pitch last night, we got to witness this young fan reunite with his dad, who had spent the last year in the Middle East with the Air Force.
It was also T-shirt Tuesday, and while they had run out of shirts by the time I got there (an hour early, even!), the friend I met up with had arrived half-an-hour before I did. Not wanting to add yet another shirt to her wardrobe, she graciously allowed me to have hers. After the game, I picked up a few more abandoned souvenir cups to add to my ever-growing collection. By the time I walked out of the stadium, my hands were full.
There’s more to attending a ballgame than just T-shirts and souvenirs, of course. Kauffman Stadium is one of my favorite places in the world to spend a few hours of my time. The atmosphere relaxes me, from the smell of unhealthy food and beer, to the lush green of the outfield grass, to the fountain display beyond the outfield fence, to just being surrounded by baseball. And really, it doesn’t even have to be Kauffman Stadium. Just being in close proximity to the dirt infield of a Little League diamond relaxes me. My favorite team just happens to reside at the K, and I feel lucky to be able to root for them in such a great stadium.
Maybe tonight will be the start of another winning streak.
Just in time to get me worked up for a trip to Kansas City tonight to watch the Royals in Game 2 against the Dodgers, I have finally tracked down the KC version of “Talkin’ Baseball.” Here’s to a good Royals season, another World Series in the near future, and, more immediately, here’s to hoping that Clayton Kershaw balances last week’s no-hitter with a bad performance tonight!
Click here for the collection of “Talkin’ Baseball” videos.
In a game against the Washington Senators on June 23, 1917, Boston pitcher Babe Ruth angrily charged umpire Brick Owens after Owens called ball four for the first batter of the game. Ruth was ejected from the game, his teammates dragging him from the field. Ernie Shore came into the game in relief and proceeded to set down the next 26 hitters. The only hitter to get on base — Ruth’s walk — was caught trying to steal second.
Though written in homage to the great Lou Gehrig, I felt this piece seemed appropriate, given the events of late. Published in October 1955 in Poetry Magazine, this poem engenders a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality.
He was all back,
his stance was clumsy,
ran like a horse,
smiled with a dimple,
but Time cut him,
as easy as that,
bowled him right over,
muscle and all, for
a crick in his honest back–
the wellwrought stallion,
cleats on his shoes,
and a hometown shoulder,
full of country bumps.
We read about Herakles,
and the hairy Samson,
and fake Olympic games:
the whole world boos;
but here’s Big Lou
whom Death bowled over
as the sun rose,
a lazy foul ball,
and a whole generation
of the running boys
pull up, cry loud,
at what Death caught.
The Royals have moved into first place in the AL Central. A nine-game winning streak tends to help with things like that. The first place Kansas City Royals — that’s a phrase one doesn’t hear too often these days.
They had to claw their way up for it. The Royals have hung around, mostly in the middle of the pack for most of the season, doing stints at the bottom of the division. Excluding the first week of the season, which doesn’t count anyways, this is the first time this year that the Royals have made their way into the first place slot.
It’s a good feeling, if you’re a Royals fan.
Thing is, Kansas City fans are fickle. Fair weather fans, and not just when it comes to baseball. Chiefs games are always packed because this is football country, but that doesn’t stop Chiefs fans from dissing on their own team when things are going badly. Royals fans show their lack of loyalty by not going to games. In a stadium built to hold over 37,000 people, a crowd of 24,000 at a Royals game is considered a good crowd. If the Royals hold onto first place for a while, I imagine attendance will peak even higher than that for awhile. If they lose today and drop back into second place, however, the reaction will be, “Welp, that figures,” and Kansas Citians will continue about their business.
I probably shouldn’t be so harsh a judge about it. For decades, the Royals have offered lots of hope, but few results. Many fans have likened the team to a farm team, producing names like Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Zack Greinke, only to trade them off to other, bigger markets. The frustration over that is justified. It’s tough, being a small-market team.
But these last two seasons have brought more than just talking about having hope. They have actually brought hope. Playoff contenders last year, and looking to be about the same this year. If we’re really lucky, we may even see a playoff berth this year, but I’m not holding my breath just yet. Just as fans are fickle, streaks — both winning and losing streaks — are also fickle, and one streak in either direction can change everything.
It’s a long season, but I’m hopeful.