The news of Danny Duffy walking away from baseball and the Royals turned the gloomy gray skies here in Kansas City just a little darker today. Despite this depressing news, all is not lost. A new voice is about to burst onto the scene here at Kings of Kauffman and that voice belongs to Michael Engel. He answered my call for help and will be contributing at least one article a week going forward. I am elated to bring him on staff and honored that he agreed to join forces with me on this site. Not only is he a talented writer capable of providing more great content to the growing Kings of Kauffman archives, he will also provide a new perspective and outlook which can only be a positive thing for the growth of this site.
I could tell you about him, but I think it is best to have him do so in his own words. So with all that said, welcome Michael, the floor is yours.
It started, really, out of curiosity.
“Dad, what do the ‘R H E’ mean?”
This was 1985 and my dad, while watching the Royals defeat the Cardinals, explained the baseball scoreboard to me.
If I knew that 25 years later, the Royals were still waiting to get back into the playoffs, I may have paid more attention, but I was five, what could I do?
I’m Michael Engel, and I’m here for the same reasons that you are. I just can’t quit the Royals. And at this point, why try? I’d be wasting the painful memories of the past if I jumped ship now.
I have to admit that my initial fandom of the Royals began out of practicality. Growing up in western Kansas and discovering baseball in the mid-80’s, Kansas City was the closest major league city by hours, and being perennial contenders, dominated the local sports coverage. It was fate, really. But over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate them as my team. For all their warts, I’m loyal.
Like many young Royals fans, I idolized George Brett, going so far as to portray him on Halloween three years in a row in grade school. Year after year, I’d don my replica youth size Royals batting helmet, my white sweatpants (I hadn’t yet graduated to the youth rec league baseball levels where real baseball pants were expected for you to be credible as a player – it’s all about reputation, of course), and a makeshift “jersey” that amounted to little more than a white Fruit of the Loom t-shirt with a script “Royals” on the front and blocky “Brett” on the back in blue permanent marker that usually started to dry out by the time I’d fill in the large number 5 on the back. It didn’t really matter to me, though. I’d add my mitt and start up door to door.
I could never hit left-handed, but lobbied like crazy to try my hand at third or first base during the summers, to mixed results. But spending my summers listening to Denny Matthews and Fred White, I found myself obsessed with doubles, because George Brett seemed to hit one every game. I have a sheet somewhere back home I’m sure that chronicled a game when I hit three doubles at the age of eight. (To be fair, they were probably two singles that turned into doubles, and one error but it’s youth baseball) I thought I was well on my way to taking my rightful place as Brett’s successor.
Well life’s dreams don’t always work out, so instead of playing first base for the Royals like I’d prefer to do, I’ll write about them instead.
What I hope you take from my articles on Kings of Kauffman is a little bit of analysis, a little bit of humor, and mostly, pure joy for the game of baseball. Wally runs a tight but flexible ship here, so I hope to give you some post-game reactions, perhaps a recap or two of my own visits to Kauffman Stadium (4th year of partial season tickets, and proud of it). I enjoy looking down the line and seeing which prospects are on the way and where they may fit so maybe some prospect profiles are in order. Heck, I may even dig up some players from Royals teams of yesteryear and talk about them. A Jeff Montgomery post would not be surprising, just a fair warning.
My approach sprinkles a little of the numbers (though I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no sabermatician), a little of normal observation, and even a bit of fantasy baseball tossed in the mix. There are a lot of ways to watch a baseball team, and I think they all help complete the picture.
Let’s be frank, this team isn’t that good. But it could be again, and hopefully soon. So you and I and all the other Royals fans who check the boxscore everyday and tune into the games and listen to Denny on the radio will have have our patience rewarded some day. People ask me how I can be a Royals fan. My answer is usually this: “I don’t know who else I’d ever want to root for.”
It’s still baseball…right?
Well said Michael, well said.