I am a Cubs fan first and foremost, and it was a sweet year that came out of nowhere. Ninety-seven wins, a whitewashing of the Pirates in the wild-card game, and then curb-stomping the Cardinals in the National League Divisional Series put the Cubs' future trajectory further ahead than I ever imagined. Even a sweep by the Mets in the NLCS couldn't dissolve the joy on the North Side. The heights are so dizzying now, I'm afraid of ESPN jinxing the whole operation with their way-too-early predictions for next year.
But when the dust settled, I had to be proud of the Kansas City Royals. What a team. What a year. And what a city.
I know I run the risk of incurring the wrath of Cardinals fans here in St. Louis, some who still have raw memories of the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. (News flash: GET OVER IT, PEOPLE!) But the Royals entirely deserved the postseason laurels this year.
Interestingly enough, I've been to about seven Royals games in my lifetime. Every time, Kansas City has won. Without exception. Not that they needed me through this postseason.
Our family has had particular interest in the Royals since 2010. We discovered we could go across the state, get a hotel in KC and get four tickets to a Monday night game for a total cost less than going to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals. So in late June of that year, we took in a 3-1 win over the White Sox on a beautiful night in gorgeous Kaufmann Stadium. The crowd of 13,000 that night loved their team; it was just a shame that they were mired in last place in the American League Central Division at the time. But I was watching the Royals and saw they had a great cache of talent in the minor leagues that was tearing things up. And I thought, If they keep these guys together, there's no telling what can happen.
2014 came and the Royals found themselves in the World Series, where they lost narrowly to the seasoned Giants. That experience paid dividends for this year. In their eleven postseason wins, the Royals came from two runs down seven times. SEVEN TIMES! Plus, that includes ninth-inning rallies in Games One and Five against the Mets. This was the stuff of legend.
It was topped off yesterday by a victory parade and rally that seemed to attract at least a half million folks for the love-in. No fights, no pushiness, no riots. Just a classy service of reciprocal thanks from town to team and vice versa.
It was a celebration that I look forward to happening for the Cubs in a year or so. But this year, Kansas City supremely deserved it. What a team. What a year. What a city. A Blue October it was.