You can call me what you might consider a bandwagon Kansas City Royals fan.
Prior to the 2013 season, baseball was, in my opinion, a trivial pastime that lacked any intellectual stimulation and was solely a talking point for meatheads. I may have had a brief fling with baseball during the spring of puberty, hoarding the works of Donruss and Upper Deck; flailing about a muddy YMCA diamond, I displayed my inherent athletic ability by fleeing from every softball hit in my general direction. The initial scouting reports had me picked in the 50th Round as “Bat Warmer.”
I preferred the arts. I listened to music, took photography, watched television. But what became my obsession was the cinema: I watched at least eight to ten movies a week, talked about movies with my friends, and studied how to make movies for a total of seven years. I wanted to direct. I wanted to be Stanley Kubrick, or Martin Scorsese, or even Woody Allen. I’d even welcome the chance to be Michael Bay. I wanted the ability to take a vision, put it on paper, and work with others to create a story.
It took seven years of wanting to be someone else before I realized who I wasn’t: a filmmaker. Mixed into that realization was a toxic amalgam of four years and two failed relationships, with just a heaping dash of soul-crushing debt that would even give the Federal Government pause. At the conclusion of 2012, I had excelled in twelve-hour naps and successfully re-watching all six seasons of LOST in less than a month.
I didn’t know about the All-Star game. I didn’t know about Billy Butler’s home runs.
2013 was to be a new year.
Among the collection of exhausting duties like doing nothing all day, I was privy to lay about the couch and watch television with my father. If it wasn’t part of the rotation of courtroom shows, the Kansas City Royals game was most likely on. At first, I would just surf the internet while baseball happened. Then, I got a little more interested. I started to pay attention to the details, ask my father questions, got a feel for how the game was played. And then, on April 24th, 2013, I saw Alex Gordon hit a grand slam against the Tigers.
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That grand slam was the catalyst for all of it. It was the seventh symbol to the Stargate of my life, the hatch on my Lost island; it unlocked that buried joy I had watching my father’s VHS tapes of the ’85 World Series. I became immediately obsessed in baseball and the Kansas City Royals, despite their rough opening to the 2013 season.
In July of that year, I went to a game against the Indians. Some nobody named Corey Kluber was pitching to Alex Gordon, and Alex decided to tie the game up on one swing. Another grand slam. I expected a Denny’s sponsorship any day.
Baseball, like life, is a long, elliptical narrative that twists and turns and can change in the fluttering of a hummingbird’s heartbeat. Who you are as a person when you are born is far removed from who you are in your twenties. The Kansas City Royals are no different.
In some ways, the Royals resurrected my life. They couldn’t solve my existential crisis, forgive my financial burden, or give me better results on OKCupid, but they certainly gave me a constant in my universe: a sense of community and belonging. Despite facing tough losses in the past two years, namely losing Game 7 at home, the Royals have never, ever given up. That sense of determination in the face of impossible adversity is better than any pep talk or time spent on a couch. In essence, Mike Moustakas is my spirit animal.
The Kansas City Royals may not be able to answer the meaning of life, but they sure know how to give life meaning.