As I packed up my bag after last night’s “Blog Your Way to the K” event, I was on top of the world. But like any deal that appears too good to be true, I eventually figured out the catch.
I was now going to have to put into words what had just been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Going back to last Friday, when I received the call from the Royals telling me that I had been selected to participate, I had a mixed pot of emotions. I was completely ecstatic, and could not believe that this dream was going to come to fruition. At the same time though, I darted to the part of my personality that fears being underprepared and out of my element.
In the time leading up to Wednesday’s event, I was still shaking my head and trying to figure out how I was going to document this (hopefully not) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I have to admit that after talking with participants from the first Blog Your Way to the K and adding in sprinkles of my own wishes, I had built up the night to almost unrealistic expectations. Surprisingly, the Royals somehow found a way to exceed those expectations.
It has to be said – and this is important for those who have never had as close of interaction as I had with these guys on Wednesday – the Kansas City Royals are a top notch professional organization. From the gentleman who greeted us at the front door to General Manager Dayton Moore, the Royals were classy, accommodating, and knew how to take care of their guests.
It would have been easy to blow the seven of us off as dorky internet hack writers with no credibility or worthy opinion. However, never once was I made to feel like that by anybody that we came in contact with throughout the evening. I was on the lookout for, but never noticed, any awkward glances, patronizing smirks, or behind the back comments.
Dare I say that for a moment, I felt like I belonged there.
And I did my best to fit in. Equipped with a small notebook and pen (ok, three pens, a pencil, a red marker, and a highlighter), and a digital recorder, I was able to stand at attention just like the big dogs and ask questions of everyone that VP of Communications & Broadcasting Mike Swanson placed in front of us. Like true professionals, they answered every question they were asked by our group. They didn’t dodge anything, didn’t hold back details for those they might deem more worthy, and never behaved in a way that would have demeaned someone who is not a professional question-asker.
I didn’t stop at the digital recorder though – I also brought along my Canon Rebel and Flip Video recorder. Yes, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough material to properly document this journey into the world of my childhood aspirations. It was a lot to juggle, but other than being convinced that I had lost the digital recorder for a period of about five minutes, I came away with everything intact. Oh, and plenty of good material.
I feel that if I were only able to do it on a more consistent basis, then I would be able to establish a routine that works best for me…
After our dugout experience, we went back upstairs to the Joe Burke suite – right next door to the press box – and got to spend about 20 minutes with Royals GM Dayton Moore. I thought that the time spent getting to pick his brain about the state of the team and the future of the franchise was absolutely priceless. It quickly dawned on me that we as fans really only know such a small sliver of what really goes on with a professional baseball team. Similar to how a politician knows the details of a military operation, but can only inform the public of the most basic points, the General Manager has to live with the fact that he knows more than all of the people who would criticize him.
After chatting with the GM, the bloggers did what they do best – the thing that got them here. Each of them took a seat by the open windows, opened up their laptops, and proceeded to blow up facebook and twitter with “best night ever” and #countrybreakfast references galore.
I was different though – I sat in the row above them for a couple of innings, just reveling in the fact that I was right where I always wanted to be – working at Kauffman Stadium. I could not imagine anywhere that I would have rather been at that moment.
The rest of the game itself went by in a flash. Before I knew it, the crowd was belting “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and I felt my dream experience coming to an end too quickly. Like Cinderella racing the midnight clock, I did my best to take note of my current situation. I tried to soak it all in before my press pass turned back into a pumpkin.
As the final out was recorded, we all raced down the stairwell as though we were fleeing a towering inferno to the Press Room for the Post Game press conference. After going through their nightly routine, Ned Yost was nice enough to stick around and take a couple of questions from the bloggers. After all, we had earned our way there. Ned was escorted away, on to the next game.
In the end, we had held our own. Nobody embarrassed themselves too badly. There were no inappropriate questions or unnecessary autograph requests. I’ve got lots of good material that I will use that came from the mouths of Eric Hosmer & Mike Moustakas. I gained knowledge that could potentially be useful in my broadcasting ventures from Ryan Lefebvre, Nate Bukaty, and Joel Goldberg. I learned about what goes into the nightly production of Royals baseball from Mike Swanson, David Holtzman, Erin Sleddens, and John Haley.
This experience is one that would have never taken place if not for the willingness of the Kansas City Royals to reach out to the fans of this team. To look beyond the everyday media figures who show up and do their job so well. To think outside the box and find ways to promote an organization that I was happy to find is even better on the inside than it is on the outside.
I offer a great big thank you to everyone involved with the Royals from the bottom of my heart. And until I get the call to do this again, I will reminisce in the memory of one night where I was able to play the part of a man who got to live his dream.