Kansas City Royals and the Romance of Baseball


The aching pins and needles of a world reawakening from its long, dark slumber are upon us. Spring, the perennial bringer of life from death, is all around us in the budding of trees, the painstaking clawing of flowers to reach the light, and the rebirth of baseball in the fields of dirt and grass around America. These fields are the backbone, the very soul of a country yearning for something pure, something authentic to enter the hearts and capture the dreams of the public over-stimulated by distraction and amusement.

Baseball is more than mere sport; it is not the bread and circuses of other sporting spectacle by virtue of its simple nostalgia, its sheer romanticism. Unlike any other sport, baseball is the romantic view of life, the mutability of a field of daffodils. It is, to borrow from Wordsworth, an overflow of emotions, which, by its very nature, we cannot help but reflect upon in tranquility as the years and seasons pass us by.

Opening Day is the just the beginning. As all things must have a beginning, so, too, must baseball have its beginnings here, in the just spring days of life returning to the northern hemisphere. April is Eliot’s “cruelest month,” but it is the beginning of an authentic life, the cycle of every living thing and the birthing of the boys of summer, America’s pastime.

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Pastime: the very word encapsulates baseball so well, suggesting at once both the sense of whiling away the hours idly but also, just at a glance, of something older, of bygone years. Opening Day breeds sport out the fallow fields, mixing the remembrance of things past with exuberance of youth and sagacity of age. Memories and desires are born anew among the sandlots and green grasses of the field, fueled by sullen April showers to birth the glory and fruitfulness of a season in the sun. Opening Day is the earnest beginning of Spring and of the authentic life of baseball fans everywhere.

For Kansas City Royals fans, Opening Day has long been one of anticipation, an amalgam of hope and dream, never knowing what, if anything, the harvest may yield. If any of us had known the abundant recompense of the 2014 season on Opening Day last year, perhaps, we would have taken our time a little more to soak in each of those victories, each stolen base, each strike out, and each of those so few home runs to savor more what would be the end of those much maligned drought years.

We didn’t know then what we know now, and we sit here as the 2015 season burgeons before us, its harvest yet to be seen, with the same amalgam of hope and dream but now tinged with the sweet taste of the fullness of life. We know nothing of what the season may hold, nothing of the success or failure of this team, but we do know that we can be successful. We know that the long years of abject futility are over, and today we will raise our first pennant over Kauffman Stadium in 29 long years as an arc de triomphe of the most amazing and romantic season of baseball any of us have yet seen. The flag will ascend the pole, taking its rightful place beside 1980 and 1985, viewable to any passers-by on a journey into the heart of this country along the interstate, and the pride that once accompanied being a Royals fan will take its place alongside that pennant, a pride that can never be diminished.

A year ago as spring rain stirred dull roots, much of the baseball world did not know Yordano Ventura or Lorenzo Cain. Now, these names are whispered among baseball intelligentsia like mystic incantations to summon the other-worldly spirits of strike outs and long balls with no business being caught being caught. A year ago hardly anyone knew Jarrod Dyson or Terrance Gore, but now these names, too, are whispered in secret to summon the spirit of Pheidippides’s urgency and speed. The Kansas City Royals are the conjuration of winning against the odds, and teams elsewhere will try to emulate the success of the Royals. Meanwhile, the proud and faithful in Royal blue pilgrimage to the K to celebrate a new tradition, a new sense of the past. The Royals celebrate their pennant, the tangible sign of success, not with vanity but with a sense of both accomplishment and what is still to be accomplished.

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  • The Royals celebrate all that is good and right about baseball. The Royals are the true, authentic version of America’s pastime, the physical embodiment of those deep romantic attachments still harbored deep in the hearts of America. In the recesses of the American psyche, the unplumbed depths of its unconscious, there lies an unabashed, authentic romanticism, yearning to be expressed fully and meaningfully. From the once fallow fields of the heartland, the Royals have emerged as a return to the purer, simpler ways of baseball’s past, sharing more in common with the heart of America’s sport, its storied past than the embarrassments of the steroid era or the mega-corporation franchise models.

    The failures and shortcomings of baseball itself coincide with the nadir of Royals baseball, and as such the Royals return to fruitfulness is also a symbolic return of authentic baseball. The Kansas City Royals are baseball at its most romantic. Winning the AL Pennant and coming within a game of the World Championship are but harbingers of things to come, good things to come to the Royals, their fans, and baseball itself.

    As we sit back today to take in the game, ducking out of work early, skipping classes, or any other manner of playing hooky to attach our self to something larger than any one of us individually, we celebrate the best our world has to offer and a connection to our authentic history. Today, for those few hours, it all begins on the field of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The flag will be raised, the hot dogs and beers will be consumed, and Ventura will throw the first pitch, ushering in a new era of baseball, an authentic version of what we have all wanted all along: baseball for baseball’s sake and the reascendency of America’s pastime.

    Today we return to the K for our love of the game and for our romantic attachments to the way things should be. This is what the Kansas City Royals really represent. As we all sit back and watch the just innings of baseball in just spring, we do so with a romantic awe and reverence at baseball the way it should be played and of our dreams of authenticity. The seeds have been sown, and we tend our fields with each pitch, hit, and catch. As we sit back and watch today, the Royals begin their pursuit of what they just missed last year, the World Championship, and in their pursuit, these same Royals will capture the hearts of America to help us reclaim what we have lost, the real meaning of things: to do things the right way for the love of what you’re doing.

    Next: Royals Questions for the 2015 Season