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Tag Archive: Surprise Arizona

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.

May 02

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 15

Surprise Stadium turns 10

“Baseball? It’s just a game – as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It’s a sport, business – and sometimes even religion.”
–Ernie Harwell, “The Game for All America,” 1955?

Last year, I attended our Kansas City Royals spring training in Surprise, Arizona, my first visit to the Cactus League. This, year I went back to what is clearly becoming my spring birthday week pilgrimage to the desert to take in the joys and surprises of spring ball. I don’t mind saying that I am hooked.

And just like a year ago, I found plenty of surprises in Surprise. Here are my three favorite surprises of this year:

Top of my list is the realization that the Surprise Recreation Campus is 10 years old this year. The stadium is the centerpiece, the jewel, of the complex that serves as the spring training home to the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers. The Royals have been there 10 years and that fact alone surprises me. Furthermore, the stadium itself is indeed a sight to behold, but there is much more to Surprise than the stadium.

A decade ago, the Surprise area was nothing more than a small community surrounded by desert.

On its 10th anniversary, the Surprise Recreation Campus now includes a public aquatic center, a tennis and racquet facility that hosts American and international championships, a public library for visitors, a stocked Surprise Lake for anglers, Dreamcatcher Park (full-accessible facility for athletes with special needs to enjoy baseball, soccer and football), and doubles as an exciting location for high school football events and community programs.

I might be guilty of sounding like an exuberant travel agent here, but certainly, the complex surprised me again. Each year, the area grows and adds new recreational attractions.

Second on my list of surprises this spring has a lot to do with seat location and ticket prices. I’ll explain.

If you want to see the Royals in spring training, there still is time. The last KC game at Surprise is March 31st. Ticket prices range from $7.00 on the lawn to $35.00 for the lower dugout. Simply visit cactusleague.com or surprisespringtraining.com, select your seats and print out your tickets.

And speaking of selecting a seat, there is not a bad seat in the house. However because it was my birthday pilgrimage to spring training, I decided to buy my family and myself a birthday present. Good seats, nah, great seats!

The Royals game was almost sold out on the day we wanted to attend, but there to my surprise on the online ticket site were some seats left in Section 102, right behind home plate, $30 apiece.

When we got to the game, we were even more surprised to learn that we were sitting with the major league scouts. How fun was that! We bantered about with them, watched their radar guns record the pitcher’s speeds and eavesdropped as they suggested trades and recommendations for which players should be moved down or kept. Fascinating stuff.

So for $30, one can sit with the scouts in Surprise. I guess I just spilled the beans, but still what a surprise.

My third surprise is more of a quick observation. One meets the nicest people from all over the country at spring training games. Typically, fans visit several ballparks and watch as many teams as they can on their spring ball vacations to the Phoenix area.

For instance, sitting behind us this year were fans from the San Francisco Giants who were just delightful to meet– mom, dad and two grown sons, Barbara, Chuck, Pete and John. I told them I would give them a shout out in my column. So hello Giants fans!

Scenes like this repeat themselves over and over at each of the 11 ballparks in the Phoenix area. Everyone seems to be having a great time, no one really cares who wins, and most of us are there for the fun of watching pure baseball without any hype.

Oh, and did I mention that the grilled peppers and onions and Arizona-style ballpark food are irresistible?

I am blocking off the calendar for this time next year, as we speak, to see what new surprises are in store in Surprise. Hope to see you there Royals fans!

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