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Tag Archive: losing

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 7 — Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal. First published April 7, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal.

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True.
And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.?– George F. Will

I might just burst with excitement if I don’t say this before I start waxing poetic about baseball. How about those Royals!

I feel better. Now, on to my story.

Baseball fever is here, and many of us have the bug. It happens every spring.

More than flowers or sunshine or April showers, it is baseball that is our true April love. It has been that way as long as most of us can remember.

After all, baseball is America’s game. Granted it may have gone global, but we invented it, and we love it.

In fact, we love it so much, that when opening day of baseball season finally arrives, folks take off work often braving bitter temperatures and cold rain just to watch. You know the drill.

Some of us have to be there. Period.

Others of us prefer the coziness of our homes or offices on opening day, but make no mistake, we are paying attention just the same.

Each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible (i.e. how about those Royals), for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series. The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

If they can be all things, then so can we. At least that is our hope each and every spring.

To be on the safe side, we throw up a silent prayer along with our hopes, “Please do not break our hearts this season!” How well we remember last year when our home team had an indescribably miserable and embarrassing record, we lament.

Let’s face it. Some years, it is nearly impossible to be a fan. We pray it will not be such a year. We pray hard.

“No more 3 to 2 losses in the ninth, please,” we beg.

“No more pitchers losing their groove.”

“No more batting slumps by our star hitter.”

Ernest Lawrence Thayer understood our baseball psyche, our worries, and desperate baseball prayers such as these as long ago as 1888. That is when he wrote “Casey at the Bat”, the single most famous baseball poem ever written. “Casey at the Bat” was first published June 3, 1888, in the San Francisco Examiner.

Another writer Albert Spalding once wrote of it, “Love has its sonnets galore. War has its epics in heroic verse. Tragedy, its somber story in measured lines. Baseball has Casey at the Bat.”

In his legendary poem, Thayer describes a baseball hero, the mighty Casey who is advancing to the bat just in time to save the day for Mudville’s home team.

It is fun to remember some of the poem’s perfectly written verses. Here are some excerpts:
“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play…
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to the hope that springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that,
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat…
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped,
‘That ain’t my style,’ said Casey. ‘Strike one,’ the umpire said…
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, ‘Strike two’…”

Thus the legendary story goes, but let us pretend we don’t know how badly the game ended.

After all, it is April. Baseball season has just begun and all things are possible once again.

Case in point. I have the fever and cannot for the life of me resist saying one more time “How about those Royals.”

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 12 — Royals fans, time for movie therapy — first published May 3, 2012 in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Royals fans, time for movie therapy

“You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back?”
–from the 2005 movie ‘Fever Pitch’

I read several sports stories the other day devoted entirely to how Royals fans are dealing with the fact that the Kansas City Royals are bottom dwellers in the Big Leagues early in the 2012 season.

The Royals’ arguably ill-timed slogan, ‘Our Time’, doesn’t help.

Is it a jinx? Do we fans need therapy?

I think I do and will have to rely on my tried and true method—movie therapy. Suffice to say, I use it when life throws me a right hook, i.e. Royals. I will explain more later about how watching movies helps me cope.

I love the Royals; don’t get me wrong.

If any of you dear readers recall, I waxed poetic back in March about the Royals after attending spring training in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals looked good, promising, exciting, and clicking on all cylinders, as the saying goes.

I believed that it absolutely would be our time, finally.

That bubble burst for diehard fans like me on opening day when the Royals dropped an embarrassing game, leaving fans like me with an undeniable, worried oppressive feeling of impending doom.

Sorry to say, we were right. The Royals went on to lose 12 out of their first 15 games, and not since 1994 has there been one winning season. They could be baseball’s answer to the NFL draft’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant’.

Sometimes I don’t want to watch the Royals games on television anymore; it is too painful. My powder blue Royals jersey hangs unworn in the closet on most game days.

I feel guilty because I love these guys—Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Francoeur, Moustakas, Pena, Duffy, Chen and all.

And I cannot begin to fathom what JP (on Twitter @LilFrenchie21) must think about all these losses. Incidentally, if you do not tweet, you may not know that J. P., a 7-year-old Kansas City Royals true-blue fan, has become something of a sensation in Twitter world. Is JP sad? I guess not because he recently tweeted this: “I still wear my Royals shirts to school almost every day! I don’t care if people tell me they are losing. At least I GO TO GAME!”

Now, I feel even guiltier, especially if a 7-year-old is this loyal. I should be, too.

But back to my movie therapy I promised to explain.

I started by watching Major League, a comedy aired in 1989 starring Bob Uecker and Charlie Sheen. In this film, the Cleveland Indians are in last place in the Majors, and inexplicably turn their miserable season into a winning one. Sidesplitting humor. I felt better.

Over the course of the next week, I watched ‘Money Ball’ three times. Yes, three times, mostly, because it was based on a true story. It ranks right up there with ‘Miracle’ and ‘Secretariat’ for me, and gets me out of the doldrums fast.

Remember Billy Beane, general manger of the Oakland Athletics who took that team out of the cellar to victory and into the history books by changing the way the game is managed. Now, I was feeling hopeful.

Since Money Ball is based on the Athletics’ true story, it could be possible, in my way of thinking, for the Royals to find success, too.

Finally, I watched “Fever Pitch,” the 2005 comedy about a diehard Boston Red Sox fan Ben Wrightman who never gave up on his team. He never lost faith despite the fact that the Red Sox could not overcome the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino” that legend says blocked them from ever winning the World Series because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

Ben’s friend Ryan asked him in frustration one day, “Why do we inflict this on ourselves?”

Ben’s answer: “Because they haven’t won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you.”

Ah yes, movie therapy. I’m all better now and wearing my blue again, but I might have to watch Money Ball one more time.

It’s still bad at the bottom folks.

Mar 08

From my archived columns: Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True.
And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” – George F. Will

Surprise Stadium

I might just burst with excitement if I don’t say this before I start waxing poetic about baseball. How about those Royals!

I feel better. Now, on to my story.

Baseball fever is here, and many of us have the bug. It happens every spring.

More than flowers or sunshine or April showers, it is baseball that is our true April love. It has been that way as long as most of us can remember.

After all, baseball is America’s game. Granted it may have gone global, but we invented it, and we love it.

In fact, we love it so much, that when opening day of baseball season finally arrives, folks take off work often braving bitter temperatures and cold rain just to watch. You know the drill.

Some of us have to be there. Period.

Others of us prefer the coziness of our homes or offices on opening day, but make no mistake, we are paying attention just the same.

Each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible (i.e. how about those Royals), for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series. The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

If they can be all things, then so can we. At least that is our hope each and every spring.

To be on the safe side, we throw up a silent prayer along with our hopes, “Please do not break our hearts this season!” How well we remember last year when our home team had an indescribably miserable and embarrassing record, we lament.

Let’s face it. Some years, it is nearly impossible to be a fan. We pray it will not be such a year. We pray hard.

“No more 3 to 2 losses in the ninth, please,” we beg.

“No more pitchers losing their groove.”

“No more batting slumps by our star hitter.”

Ernest Lawrence Thayer understood our baseball psyche, our worries, and desperate baseball prayers such as these as long ago as 1888. That is when he wrote “Casey at the Bat”, the single most famous baseball poem ever written. “Casey at the Bat” was first published June 3, 1888, in the San Francisco Examiner.

Another writer Albert Spalding once wrote of it, “Love has its sonnets galore. War has its epics in heroic verse. Tragedy, its somber story in measured lines. Baseball has Casey at the Bat.”

In his legendary poem, Thayer describes a baseball hero, the mighty Casey who is advancing to the bat just in time to save the day for Mudville’s home team.

It is fun to remember some of the poem’s perfectly written verses. Here are some excerpts:
“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play…
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to the hope that springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that,
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat…
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped,
‘That ain’t my style,’ said Casey. ‘Strike one,’ the umpire said…
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, ‘Strike two’…”

Thus the legendary story goes, but let us pretend we don’t know how badly the game ended.

After all, it is April. Baseball season has just begun and all things are possible once again.

Case in point. I have the fever and cannot for the life of me resist saying one more time “How about those Royals.”

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