The late baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was also known for his poetic writings about the game of baseball. One of them, ‘The Green Fields of the Mind,’ begins with the lines “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” Those very lines, written about the 1975 Boston Red Sox, could have been written about the Kansas City Royals Game Seven loss last night.
Yes, last night was heartbreaking. It is the type of loss that will likely have players and coaches waking up in the middle of the night, wondering what they could have done differently. What if Alex Gordon had tried to score on that error in the ninth? What if Alcides Escobar swng away, and did not bunt when Madison Bumgarner was struggling with his control int he fifth? What if Ned Yost had pinch hit for Salvador Perez in the ninth? What if Omar Infante had not slipped fielding Pablo Sandoval‘s ground ball?
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However, this is not a time for second guessing or to play the ‘What if’ game. This is a time to look back at the magical run that the Kansas City Royals went on, and to look back with pride. The little team that could, that would not go away despite falling behind the Oakland A’s 7-3 in the eighth inning of the Wild Card Game, or being under .500 as late as July 22nd. This is a team that helped prove that Kansas City is a great baseball town, and that fans do care about the Royals, no matter what the national media may have one believe.
Even though the Kansas City Royals fell just short of the prize, this season was still a resounding success. The Royals proved that there are other ways to win in baseball, that a strong bullpen, stellar defense and amazing speed still have a place in a game that is all to often dominated by fearsome sluggers and superstars. The Royals went back to their roots, back to the teams of the mid 1970’s through the mid 1980’s, and designed a ballclub perfectly suited for Kauffman Stadium. Amazingly, it worked.
The Royals success was about far more than baseball as well. They were the embodiment of those people who were told that, for whatever reason, they were not good enough. The Royals gave people a reason to believe, something to look to as they were struggling, and a reason to know that things will eventually get better. After all, it took 29 years before the Royals made it back to the postseason.
A truly magical season came to an end last night for the Kansas City Royals. Even though it did not end with the Royals hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy before a roaring crowd at Kauffman Stadium, it was still a successful year. The Royals came back, taking their place on baseball’s grandest stage, putting the tying run on third in the bottom of the ninth before falling in Game Seven of the World Series.
Along the way, the Kansas City Royals gathered the support of almost everyone that was not a San Francisco Giants fan. Seemingly everyone who did not have a team remaining in the postseason was rooting for Kansas City, as the Royals became America’s team, adopted across the country. The Royals became a bonding experience, not of misery, but of pure, unmitigated joy.
The season may have ended in disappointing fashion, but 2014 was a success for the Kansas City Royals. This was truly a memorable season, and hopefully, the start of a new era in Royals baseball.