The MLB offseason always seems to drag on forever. It seems that way to me because I don’t have enough people to talk baseball with. I have several theories for why this is:

1) Sadly enough, baseball is no longer America’s pastime. The NFL is a powerhouse and football has passed baseball as the most popular sport in America. This makes it easy for people to forget about baseball and focus on the football season. Don’t get me wrong, I love football and I also love college basketball* which falls right in alongside the season of the football juggernaut,** but I don’t think that’s a reason to pretend that that baseball doesn’t exist, which seems to be the consensus of a lot of the people around me.

*NBA = “meh”

**As if the NFL needed any help.

2) The Royals are striking early in the offseason and have acquired an interesting left-hander who I want to see in a Royals uniform. Couple that with a bunch of guys from the minors and bullpen vying for a chance at the starting rotation and the result is an excited Ethan Evans who wants to see how our starting pitching rotation rounds out…..Now….not in 4 months…today…right now.

3) There is nothing like being at Kauffman Stadium. Nothing. That poor stadium must be so lonely during these bitter months.

Anyways, while many people around me seem to be focused on everything but baseball, I’ve been constantly searching for people to simply talk baseball with. When you’re as desperate for that as I am, you end up talking baseball in places you weren’t expecting. This happened to me awhile back.

I walked into my barbershop to get my hair cut. I sat down, told him to give me the “usual,”* and sat back and waited for him to go about doing what he does. Typically this means I sit there in silence for 20 minutes, pay the man his money, and head out. This time however, I was surprised when he asked me if I was going to watch the World Series game that night. I told him I was going to listen on the radio and explained that I wasn’t superbly interested because of my being a Royals fan. We started talking about baseball in general. Highlights of the conversation included Buckner’s flubbed ground ball in the ’86 world series, George Brett’s ferocity over the “pine-tar” incident, and Bartman “ruining” the hopes and dreams of Cubs fans everywhere. (I really enjoy rehashing famous baseball moments with people. Everyone’s got a different perspective and it always makes for good discussion. Incidentally, we came to the same conclusion that Bartman got a bad deal. Anyone would have made the gut reaction to reach for that foul ball. I’m pretty confident I would have done the same thing without thinking.)

*I love having a “usual.”

Then he told me a story about his son striking out Ryan Howard with curveballs while facing him during college ball….after Howard had hit two of his fastballs for bombs that luckily happened to be juuuuuust a bit outside….the foul pole. It was a great story that stuck with me the past month or so and I didn’t know why.

I think it’s the simple fact that baseball stories are my favorite types of sports stories. Baseball is a game with so much history that there are naturally a ton of things to talk about when you find a fellow baseball fan in an unexpected place. And when you chance on random stories like the one I heard about Ryan Howard, you can’t help but smile. I can’t anyways. Not being able to hit a curve in high school didn’t stop that guy from getting to the League.

I wish I had a cool story like that.

Like maybe if I’d kept playing baseball I could have somehow been struck out by Mark Buehrle or….someone else who would have grown up locally that might have had the off-chance of playing me.

Finding people to talk baseball with just makes me get more and more excited for the following year’s Royals. I love it.

So, in the spirit of the recent holiday, I’d just like to say that I’m especially thankful for this blog and the blogging world in general. If not for all of the people spending time writing articles and/or commenting about the Royals, I’d probably go insane.

Trust me. No one would want that.

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