A week without watch parties

There was evening and there was mourning at the end of last week.

The run that was the Royal’s playoff dream, the revitalization of a city, and the bringing together of family, friends, fun, and great food, ended with a pop up ball that Pablo Sandoval had the gall to catch. That Panda, he carries the full weight of Eli’s ire- “I am so mad at Pablo…I can’t believe he had to catch that ball!” Andi’s more bummed about Bumgarner.

With Eli and Andi out of school for conferences Thursday, it was an easy decision to attend the season-celebration rally at Kauffman stadium. Laura and June were up for attending and we donned blue for one more day. Hustling into the stadium, we were welcomed warmly by ushers saying, “Come on in. We’re glad you’re here! Come on in kiddos” and the balloon arches leftover from the previous night’s celebratory preparations. We stood on the lower level in packed stands with other blue-clad, and a bit blue-hearted, faithful Royal’s fans.

photo 3 (28)photo 2 (36)photo 1 (34)

The theme of the rally was gratitude. The city thanked the team, the team thanked the fans, the fans thanked the players. The loyal Royal fan base was back at the K, on their feet, with signs, cheers, and a few tears. Ten or so players showed up in street clothes and took pictures of the crowd on their phones. They received their Sly James gift of a bow tie and spoke with resilient pride and obvious emotion.

Laura remarked later that the rally was like a funeral. She’s spot on. It was a bunch of people gathered to remember, talk about, and celebrate what was great and alive and true, but is now lost, gone, and over.

We left feeling glad we came but really, really sad. Playing with the kids outside at a park helped, but the afternoon was terrible- I was dragging with a moping gloom! It didn’t help that I was carrying a sinus infection and cough sickness in addition to my broken blue heart.

Eli asked if I wanted to play catch at 4pm. We threw it around in the backyard which was really, really fun. A rooting into how we have changed (for one thing,Eli cares about playing baseball now), and that there’s so much to be grateful for and move on towards. Really, its a bummer they lost, but it’s a gift they got there at all.

Drew and I are still trying to compose a bit of a family diary of the whole month. We loved so much of what we saw, heard, cheered, talked about, crafted with paper (#paperroayls), and shared with friends and family.

While we compose ourselves and our memoir, might I suggest you read this one that is already published and excellent by Rany on the Royals writer,  RANY JAZAYERL.

It’s a well-written story with highlights, memories and good points. If you don’t read all of it, here’s a tidbit I found especially helpful in my healing.

What hurts so much isn’t that something was taken away from us, but knowing that something amazing and life-altering was very nearly given to us. A title is rare enough; to win a title like this — with a generation of irrelevance melted away in an instant — wouldn’t have  been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It would have been something most fans will never experience. We were 90 feet away from the kind of triumph you might see once or twice a decade in all of sports. We were so close to it that we were planning for it — by necessity. The city had the parade route mapped out for today. There was champagne on ice in the clubhouse. Everything was perfect.

Everything but the ending. And that will live with us for a long time.

But if the ending will live with us, so will everything that made it possible. The Royals didn’t just bring us joy for a month or give us memories to last a lifetime; they gave us a sense of mattering again. The Royals are relevant. They are the champions of the American League. Yost will manage the All-Star Game next season. We didn’t #TakeTheCrown, but we still own the pennant — a pennant the Yankees and Red Sox and Tigers can never take from us. More than one Cubs fan has already told me he’d trade a testicle for the chance to lose a World Series by one run.

The Royals have returned to the land of the living. Sports are pain, but pain is something only the living can feel. For far too long, the Royals weren’t good enough to trigger any nerve endings. You stand up after your foot’s been asleep for 29 years, and the pins and needles are going to drive you crazy for a while. But it’s better than being numb.

Here’s to a week of watching for other ways we can wake up, come together, and be relevant in making good in the world.





No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.