Royal’s Comet

george brett saberhagenTwenty-nine Years – I was in Kindergarten the last time the Royals were in the playoffs. Today, as the Royals return to the playoffs, I have a kindergartener (plus a third grader and a two-year-old).

Over time the world has changed. It was half day kindergarten for me. Now my little girl goes all day and comes home exhausted. While I struggled to spell my full name, she is already learning how to read.

The differences between then and now are even more apparent as I re-watch the 85 series on DVD (I can barely remember the actual games). Beyond the screen’s lower clarity, the announcers discuss a drug scandal –  not performance enhancing, but cocaine. The interviews with players are interesting, but I am most surprised by the amount of yellow, crooked teeth. No braces or teeth whiting, but lots of chew.

Even the style of play has changed. With the advent of sabermetrics, the baseball world stresses learning like today’s kindergarten (think Moneyball). Walks are seen as more important. Steals are down. Teams are shifting their defense. New statistics have been created, which even full-day kindergarten grads can not compute (WAR, RC, xFIP).

Yet our Royals are somewhat of a throwback. The team leads the MLB in stolen bases. They enjoy bunting. They swing away – fewest walks and fewest strikeouts in the Majors. Unfortunately they also have the fewest home runs in the majors (the first team to make the playoffs with the fewest home runs and walks). Yet the strength of their defense and especially their pitching reminds me of the 85 team.

I am not sure if this should give me hope or fear. Really I am not sure what or how to feel. My five-year-old self expected and got winning baseball. But the rest of my life, the life I remember, has only seen losing. After all my irrational hoping (ask the people in GA, who had to be reminded KC still had a team) the playoffs have finally arrived.

I may not know how to act, but I know where I will be tonight. Watching the game at Granny’s, since she has cable… after all, the games are no longer broadcast over-the-air.

Hopefully my exhausted kindergartener will be able to stay up and watch it with me!

UPDATE: Last night the Royals came back from the brink to win in 12 against the Oakland A’s (after A’s took the lead in the top of the twelfth, the Royals scored two in the bottom!). An amazing stressful game. Royals down by four, tie it in the bottom of the ninth. Highs and Lows. Joy in the end! The girls had a blast watching, but stumbled into bed around ten. They woke up to the news this morning and I must say my kindergartner was cranky. I do not envy kindergarten teachers across the area this morning!

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