Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Three Thoughts about the Royals

Before this amazing season fades into memory, I want to get on paper (metaphorically) three thoughts I've been having about the Royals.

1- How I became a Royals fan

I grew up a hardcore Mets fan. I can still remember who wore various numbers in the 70s and 80s.

In the 90s two things happened. First, I lived in Israel for four years, when the internet was just getting started, and I kind of lost the thread. Second, I met and married a girl from Kansas City. I started following the Royals so I would have something to talk about with her father. I used to call her brother during the All Star Game when the one Royal representative made an appearance. I traveled to Baltimore from Philadelphia  a couple of times to see the Royals play the Orioles. Over the course of time we moved here, and it's become more of a hometown to me than my real hometown.

I had the misfortune of picking up the Royals just as they were entering the hell years. They were usually out of contention by Memorial Day. The Mets had also often sucked when I was a kid, so I was used to it. And the band of Royals fans in those years (now linked by Twitter) were a hardy bunch.

But everyone, including me, has now rewarded in spades for our fortitude by what's happened over these past couple of years. Speaking of which...

2 – Bandwagon Fans

When I was back east the hardcore fans used to resent it when the team got good and people who usually had no interest started following along. Metsie-come-latelies, we called them. They made it harder to get tickets and in two weeks when the fun was over they would go right back to arbitraging their derivatives or whatever it was they did the rest of the time.

You never hear anything like that here. The city got behind this team in an amazing way, especially
over the last couple of months. They broke their record for home attendance; the TV ratings were through the roof; and of course yesterday hundreds of thousands of people descended on downtown KC for a Royal celebration.

Most of those people were not among the 15,000 die hards who attended games during the hell years, but who cares? The Royals' run through the playoffs brought the city together in a way probably nothing else could have. I drive Uber on the weekends, and there were people in my car who you know didn't know a bunt from a sac fly, but they knew the score of the game and exited the cab with a “Go Royals!” It was like a mood elevator for the city – municipal Prozac. I wasn't resentful, I was excited, and I guarantee you every long-time Royal fan felt the same way.

Actually, the concept of “bandwagon fan” was brought up by one person in my car. I asked him where he was from, and he said, “St. Louis.”

3 – Shut up.

But that doesn't mean there aren't killjoys, both in and out of town.

My father wrote me to say that I should be more concerned about economic concerns in Kansas than about the Royals.

A number of people posted on Facebook that if as many people voted as went downtown yesterday it would make a big difference.

One of my environmental colleagues asked why 1% of those who attended yesterday can't come to a climate change rally, to be heard on an issue that 'really matters.”

One of the rabbis in town had a letter in the paper today decrying the fact that the schools closed yesterday to allow teachers and students to attend the parade.

To all I say – shut up.

It's not just that you're trying to be buzzkills when everyone is in a state of happy reverie. It's that you're wrong. This is not simply some frivolity that has captured the attention of the community to the detriment of other issues. Civil engagement is important. Feeling like a community is important. Feeling good about the city you live in is important. People who attend such an event may now feel that they have an emotional investment in the city and the area that they didn't feel before. They may realize, if they hadn't already, that in many ways - more than just in baseball - Kansas City is, indeed, a major league city.

And as far as school is concerned – every kid who went yesterday, or watched on TV, will remember this a lot longer than they'll remember another lesson in multiplication tables or sentence diagramming. And they'll add the day to the end anyway, like a snow day. So double shut up to you.

Go Royals!   


  1. Wow. This is a beautiful take on the story of the Royals' win. Thank you so much! I'm proud to call KC my hometown, even though I've lived in Israel almost 50% more time than I lived in KC. Doesn't matter. Enjoy the good feeling. It gets all the way over to here.

  2. Dead on, Moti. And to add to the "Shut up!", I'll say it since modesty prevents you: there are few people of my acquaintance who have their eye more firmly and constantly on the ball of fighting the good fight for the environment, human rights, etc. than one Moti Rieber. I think you can take some time to enjoy the life you spend so much of on others.