It is definitely a great time to be a Kansas City Royals fan, but unlike some of the fly-by-nighters or frontrunners who have latched onto this team over the past year plus, I am a lifelong KC fan. In fact, my first big-league game was at Kauffman Stadium, then known as Royals Stadium, back in 1981 against the Yankees, one of many games my late father and I attended.
Back then, KC was a perennial playoff team and in 1985, when I was 14, the Royals won the World Series over the Cardinals. But little did I know they wouldn’t be back in the Fall Classic for nearly three decades much less make the postseason.
I watched as all the players from that great ’85 team, guys like George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Frank White, my personal favorite, got old and retired. Then I watched the next generation of Royals, guys like Bob Hamelin, Wally Joyner and Jose Rosado also come and go.
There were years and years of bad baseball, especially during my year and a half in grad school at Arkansas, in 1996 and 1997. I made countless trips from Fayetteville to the K, about four hours each way and usually headed back to Ark with the Royals losing, but I didn’t care.
When I moved to the Metroplex in 1997, I figured I’d get to see KC whenever they came to Arlington to play the Rangers, which I did for a while.
And almost from the time I moved here, I developed a great appreciation for Ranger fans. Not only were they passionate souls who knew and loved the game, but they were die-hards who had sat through years and even decades of bad baseball while holding onto the one thing that keeps every true sports fan coming back to see their favorite team-hope.
(Full disclosure, my work has blessed me with the opportunity not only to get paid to be at Globe Life Park working on the home or away TV broadcasts, but it’s also allowed me to be in both clubhouses, interviewing players for various media outlets).
So when the Rangers made the World Series in 2010 for the first time, I was most definitely pulling for them. Maybe it was the whole thing of rooting for a team that mostly got little or no national attention until they started winning. Or maybe it was also empathizing with Ranger fans who had seen guys like Chris Davis and Adrian Gonzalez come up with the organization only to be traded and now star for another team. I feel your pain as just a few KC-related examples of that are Johnny Damon, Tom Gordon and Zack Greinke.
Naturally, I am hoping the Royals finish the job and win the Series this time. And if they do, I will enjoy it. But then my thoughts will shift to Ranger fans and when they will hopefully get to experience this ultimate baseball euphoria because the payoff or potential payoff is part of what being a fan’s all about, isn’t it?