2021 All Star Game

Congrats to Pete Alonso of the Mets on his Home Run Derby victory last night! I am a bit crushed that Salvador Perez got knocked out in the first round by Alonso himself, but I am glad that Salvy managed to put on a show of his own.

The 2021 MLB All Star Game takes place tonight at 5:30 pm Mountain Time at Coors Field. You can find the rosters for both teams here.

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2015 World Series thoughts

For the World Series this year, I decided to do something I’ve never done, and I scribbled down some thoughts/notes about the games as they were being played.  Granted, I didn’t jot down every single thought that popped into my head as the Series went on — I’d have a small novel on my hands if I did — but rather, I focused on moments that seemed (relatively) big or interesting to me at the time.

I will mention a couple things about this note compilation, however: First, for anyone who isn’t already aware, I have been a Royals fan since I was ten years old, and that bias is all over these comments.  Honestly, I don’t think I could’ve been objective about this World Series if I tried.  You’ve been warned.

Second, one note that I nearly made over and over again, though I managed to restrain myself, was a thought about the broadcasters of the game.  More specifically, my wish that we could just cut out all commentary and keep it strictly to the play-by-play and statistics.  For example, how many times did we really need to question the decision to allow Harvey to return for the ninth inning in Game 5?  Mention it once, maybe twice, then move the hell on already.

*

GAME ONE
~ Escobar with the inside-the-park home run!  Awesome start to the Series.  Wish I knew what happened to those guys out in that outfield.
~ FOX with the technical difficulties.  WTF?
~ Granderson homer… ouch.  Mets up 2-1.
~ Some impressive defense in this game.  From both sides.
~ Zobrist doing a fun little tarantella out on the base paths against Harvey.
~ RBI Moooooose!  3-3 tie after six innings.
~ Volquez’s father passed away prior to the game?  Oh man, that’s tough.
~ Misplay by Hosmer.  Nooooooooooooo……. 4-3.
~ Gotta figure out that Clippard change up.
~ Glad we got replay back for that caught stealing.
~ Bottom of the 9th.  Time for a rally!
~ GORDO!!!!
~ Aaaand… into extra innings.  Wouldn’t be a Royals game if it didn’t get interesting late.
~ I have a feeling I won’t be getting much sleep throughout this Series.
~ Hos redeems himself!  What a game.  14 innings, 5-4 Royals!

GAME TWO
~ Sure hope the effective Cueto shows up tonight.
~ I think deGrom has more hair than I do.  Cueto definitely does.
~ Low strike zone tonight.  Will make things interesting.
~ What’s up with all the throwback photos in this WS?
~ Bats finally come alive in the 4th.
~ Rally!  Royals up 4-1 after five.
~ Cueto still looking good.  Thank goodness.
~ Another rally in the 8th!  7-1 Royals.
~ Complete game two-hitter!  Sure wish this version of Cueto would show up more consistently.

GAME THREE
~ Can’t say I’m surprised that Syndergaard would throw at Escobar’s head, but it’s still dirty as hell.
~ Blown coverage at first.  Early Royals lead!
~ And a homer by David Wright.  2-1, Mets on top.
~ Wow, Salvy broke two bats in that AB.
~ Holy smokes, Ventura has some wheels.
~ Royals back up 3-2 after two innings.
~ Homer by Granderson puts Mets up 4-3.  This game is crazy.
~ Raul Mondesi becomes the first player in history to make his Major League debut in the World Series.
~ Morales doesn’t know where to throw the ball — should’ve just gone to first if he didn’t know.
~ Ouch.  Mets up after 6 innings, 9-3.
~ And that’s the final score.  Mets dominate.

GAME FOUR
~ Mets score first in the bottom of the 3rd on a Conforto homer.
~ Rios forgetting how many outs there are.  No room for mental errors in the World Series…
~ Gordon RBI to put the Royals on the board.  2-1 in the middle of the fifth.
~ Score stands at 3-2 after seven innings.  Royals need a rally.
~ Error by Murphy!  Tie game!
~ RBI Mooooose!!
~ And Salvy follows up with an RBI of his own!  Royals up 5-3.
~ After a much-too-exciting ninth, Royals hang on!  Now leading the Series 3 games to 1.

GAME FIVE
~ Mets strike first with a Granderson homer.
~ Volquez gets a hit!  Nice.
~ Save for the homer, both pitchers are rockin’ it tonight.  Harvey looks especially sharp.
~ Still 1-0 after five.  What a game.
~ Volquez escapes a jam giving up only one run.  2-0, Mets, after six.
~ Royals tie it in the top of the ninth!!
~ And now into extra innings…
~ Dyson scores in the twelfth!  Royals up 3-2.
~ Royals now up 7-2 in the middle of the 12th inning…!!!
~ And that’s the game!!  ROYALS!!!!!!!  Fireworks already going off here in town.  There is no way I’m going to sleep tonight.

*

As a follow-up I managed to get about 3-4 hours of sleep before I had to get back up for work on Monday morning, but the lack of sleep didn’t really affect me.  Even now, I’m still running on the adrenal high of it all.  In my baseball literature class yesterday, we didn’t discuss literature at all — the conversation revolved completely around the Series and the playoffs as a whole.

The decision to name Salvador Pérez the Series MVP, I think, was a good one.  To be honest, had I been asked to make the decision, I don’t know whom I would have chosen.  The thing about the Royals is that they really don’t have a superstar, no single, go-to player in their lineup.  Several players made significant contributions to their success.  I do believe Salvy was an appropriate choice in the end due to his work with the pitchers especially.  Watching him work with the Kansas City pitchers is impressive to behold.  He clearly has a rapport with all of them, and serves as a calming influence when things start getting out of hand.  The fact that he’s bilingual allows him to do this with the entire staff.  Furthermore, I’m impressed by his ability to take a beating and yet continue to play well.  Multiple times throughout the month of October, I found myself worrying that the latest foul ball off his body would take him out of the lineup, and yet he persisted.

All in all, this note jotting exercise proved an interesting experience.  And reading back over my random scribbles, it feels like fast-forwarding through the games all over again.  I had considered keeping score throughout the Series, but decided I would become too excited to stick with it, and I think that was probably a good call.  The notes, however, were perfect.


Back to good

The Royals managed to break a 3-game losing streak yesterday, defeating the Rangers 4-3.  The win also broke a losing streak for me, as this was the first victory I was able to see in person this year.

With no promotions to entice me to the ballpark early (except Kansas State University day, and I’m not a K-State fan), and due to my laziness in getting up and around yesterday morning, I arrived at the ballpark a mere 45 minutes before game time.  I had to park in the farthest spot from the K that I’ve ever had to park.  Having attended games even throughout the Royals’ rough years, it is still strange to me arriving even when I did that I should have to park so far away.  That is another benefit of low attendance: better parking, and less stress leaving when the game is finished.  This is hardly a complaint, however, as I intentionally view my trips to the K as relaxing time, so even the extra time it takes to walk to and from my car and to deal with traffic I see as a chance to slow down mentally.  It gives one the opportunity to take in the sensory experience, too — the early summer heat surrounding the event, the smell of hot dogs on tailgating grills, the sounds of parking lot games, and the smell of grease as one approaches the stadium.

To my surprise, the ballpark was only half-full by the time I took my seat, though it filled up quickly in the last twenty-or-so minutes before the game.  I suppose that many folks in attendance were like me, with no incentive to arrive early for K-State day.  My crowd experience was much more pleasant than the last game I attended, as the people whom I noticed not paying attention to the game were at least a couple rows away from me.  This was also the first game where I’ve observed the ushers actually enforcing seating, as at one point a large, yellow-shirted man chased down a couple girls with smirks on their faces, demanding to see their tickets.  The fuller a stadium gets, the more important it becomes for people to sit where they’re supposed to sit.

stands

Jeremy Guthrie had another great start — it’s refreshing to see him have two consecutive good starts given how rough his season has been prior to now.  The top of the seventh did give me a bit of a scare, however, when the Rangers put up a three-spot to tie the game.  A friend of mine texted to me at that point, “Now this feels like it’s going to be a loss :(.”  I, however, had come into this game determined that the Royals were going to win and I would end my losing streak, so I refused to agree.  After all, the game was only tied.

I don’t consider myself a superstitious person, but I have to admit that I do get that way just a little bit when it comes to sports.  At one point last year, it seemed like every time I tuned into a Royals game, they lost.  So for two weeks straight, I refused to turn a game on until it seemed like it didn’t matter whether I was watching or not.  Going into yesterday, a part of me feared that I was jinxing their chances for victory, but I decided that I would refuse to believe that they would lose, no matter what.  A part of me feels that this resolve is what got the win, as cheesy as that sounds.

Salvador Perez was the hero once again, sending a solo home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the eighth.  During his post-game interview, the crowd erupted in a chant of, “Sal-VEE!  Sal-VEE!”  The crowd lingered more than usual after a game.  It’s nice to bask in a victory, once in a while.

Royals win


Reflections on the Royals’ 2014 season

The last few moments of the 2014 Royals season didn’t turn out the way that I hoped that they would.  Indeed, falling a mere ninety feet from tying up Game 7 of the World Series proved heartbreaking as a Royals fan, especially considering that, in the twenty years that I have rooted for this team, this is the first season in which they even achieved a playoff berth.  The last time they did so, I wasn’t old enough to even grasp the concept, much less to root for a team.

I didn’t make it to as many games as I would have liked this past summer, but each trip to the K remains as memorable as ever.  As the season progressed, and the Royals continued to hold their own, bouncing between first and second place in the division, I watched the crowd at Kauffman grow increasingly larger and more rambunctious.  I’m generally a pretty introverted person, but there is something about a stadium full of people cheering devotedly for its team that evokes a sense of solidarity in me.  I had the privilege of attending Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, and never before in my life had I seen so much blue in one place.  That, combined with the energy that emanated from the crowd, made me fall in love with the stadium and the Royals all over again.

As the regular season came to an end, I found myself checking the standings daily, sometimes more.  The Royals had a shot at winning the division, but if they didn’t, it was also a close race in the fight for a Wild Card spot.  When the Royals made the Wild Card, I cheered at the prospect of a “Blue October,” not realizing just how true this prediction would become.

My October flooded with late nights, which culminated in exhaustion as I no longer slept enough each night.  Many times, especially when games went into extra innings, my adrenaline would get pumping so hard that, even when the final out was made or the winning run was scored, I wouldn’t be able to sleep right away.  I exchanged numerous excited texts, phone calls, and emails with friends and family as the Royals not only won the Wild Card, but went on to sweet the Angels and the Orioles, en route to their first World Series in almost thirty years.

When the World Series won, I prayed that the Royals’ winning streak would continue, but was unsurprised when it did not.  Streaks, as we all know, are fickle, and they are always broken sooner or later.  The roller coaster of the series as a whole put me on the edge of my seat throughout.  When the Giants took a 3-2 lead, I found myself filled with a curious combination of dread and confidence.  When the Royals came back in Game 6 with a whopping 10-0 victory, I knew that Game 7, with the possibility of Madison Bumgarner making an appearance out of the bullpen, would be close.  I just hoped that Bumgarner would be too exhausted following his complete game performance in Game 5 to pitch more than an inning or two.

This is where I, and the Royals, fell short.  Once again, Bumgarner wowed the baseball world with a first-class performance, and the Royals simply could not figure out how to make anything happen offensively.  When Alex Gordon landed on third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, I started to shake with hope and anxiety.  Surely Salvador Perez could pull off the late-inning heroics just one more time, right?  But, alas, it was not to be, as Salvi popped out to end this amazing run of a season.

I turned off the television immediately following the final out of the game, having no desire to have the loss drilled in any deeper, but come Thursday morning, I was pleased to learn that fans in attendance at the K had broken out in a chant of, “Thank you, Royals!”  It truly was a season to remember, and while I have been a baseball fan for most of my life, my love for the game increased two-fold this year.  And, yes, I have the Kansas City Royals to thank for that.

Kauffman Stadium during the National Anthem, ALCS Game 3

Kauffman Stadium during the National Anthem, ALCS Game 3