This Old Stub: Kansas City

Posted: November 16, 2012 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, sports, Uncategorized
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The second installment of This Old Stub takes us down to Kansas City, Missouri and straight to Kauffman Stadium. What’s better than a weekend drive to experience baseball in another city and another ball park. As a kid in the 80’s, the Kansas City Royals and George Brett were talked about a lot. Between the ’85 World Series and the infamous pine tar incident. Now, I may have been too young to remember those moments but spending as much time as I watching baseball, I’ve sat through my fair share of rain delays. Before the national networks took over, and before I had cable to watch in my room, they showed a lot of baseball films during these delays and with the MLB Network needing programming for the offseason. But really starting to understand the game around 7-8, one of the greatest athletes to grace the diamond and the football field, everyone knew who Bo Jackson was. Bo was the man when I was growing up and made many highlight plays but what always stood out to me was the Royals Stadium. It was the most unique I had ever seen with the outfield having all those water fountains. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. So, when the Cubs released the 2011 schedule and I saw that they were playing down in KC, I called my dad and said, “We’re going to Kansas!” Growing up, going to a Cubs game was the one thing we did no matter what each summer and he said, “We are?”

Now it amazed me that I was not the only to have this wonderful idea because I called Royals ticket office the day their tickets went on sale and all they had were single tickets, yuck. I sat and I watched StubHub for weeks and as the Cubs seemed to decline in performance, so did the cost of tickets. In the end I was able to land Diamond Club Tickets which were about 10 rows behind home plate and paid about $90/ticket. Not bad at all.

We packed up my mothers PT Cruiser and drove down, once you pass Joilet, IL on I-55, there isn’t much at all until you hit ST Louis, but you don’t have to go through downtown St Louis, you head west on I-72 until it ends. South on I-35 and besides the Black Wing Shaped aircraft that flew over us at only about 5-10k above us, there was nothing, you’d pass through a couple suburbs but that was about it. Great for passengers to sleep. Now we stayed just outside KC in a small town. Honesty I don’t remember, but the hotel was filled with Cubs Fans. We drove down Friday morning, ate at a local restaurant, which I love doing the food always seems to be much better. The place we ate at didn’t even have take out menus but it was great food. Little did we know, that we should have saved our appetites for the game. We were probably about 15-20 outside of KC. Of course it seemed like the longest ride there. I just remember finally being able too see the tops of the crown and as we approached closer and closer… like I’m 7 years old again and seeing my first game, the only thing that’s changed, I don’t have my mitt…the crown gets bigger and bigger. I can’t wait to get inside. We park, I’m practically running towards the gates. I’ve got all our tickets, take yours and yours and here’s yours. As soon as we get in, I already know we’re behind home plate. Lets walk around the whole park. Great part of this stadium is you get access to everything. However, I didn’t do my research and found out that day that the stadium was remodeled to add more seating to the outfield, so many of the fountains were gone but several still stood in center field and incorporated throughout the outfield. I also didn’t know that in left field, they built the Royals Hall of Fame. But on to our seats we go, to discover our tickets are checked again by security this time and he opens the glass door and let’s us in the Diamond Club. The diamond club has its own bar, gourmet chefs, servers for our entire section, separate bathrooms. To top it off at the top of the landing they have these half circle 50s diner style booths at the top and if you missed the play just look up because each booth had its own 32in flat screen. Phenomenal. I felt like VIP. Now if your looking to be on TV, you need to be in the first couple rows, I guess we were just out of view. Speaking of views, not a bad seat in the house, but that’s just me I love baseball. Our seats had almost a two in cushion and I landed myself the aisle seat. Game hasn’t even started and I can’t wait to come back here one day. After hitting the gift shop and picking up a George Brett Tee, we go back to our seats and I check in on MLB At Bat and it tells me that I just won a free Tee. I go pick it up and it’s a throw back with the old mascot Mr. Royal. How can the day get better.

Two of the worst teams in baseball but the place still drew about 45k that day and I’d have to say at least 2/3 was Cubs Fans. Once all the opening ceremonies are over, the home team takes the field with Brian Pena behind the plate, batting 7th, he begins to warm up Bruce Chen. Leading off, Kosuke Fukudome flies out to right. Starlin Castro sends a screamer to center and then moves to second on Aramis Ramirez’s single to center. With Jeff Baker in the box, Castro makes an attempt on 3rd but is thrown out by Pena. Baker sends a fly ball to right scoring Ramirez, the whole stadium erupts, for a moment its like were in Chicago. With Baker on 3rd, Catcher Geovany Soto, strikes out to end the inning. Ryan Dempster takes to the mound. Center fielder Melky Cabrera, 1B Eric Hosmer and DH Billy Butler make it a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 2, Carlos Peña (1B), Alfonso Soriano (LF), and Lou Montanez (RF) go down in order. Bot 2, Alex Gordon (LF) smacks a line drive to RF giving him a lead off single. With hopes to move him over, Jeff Franceur (RF) flies to LF. Mike Moustakas (3B) moves Gordon over to 2B on a softly hit ball to CF. Brayan Pena battles Ryan into throwing a wild pitch advancing both runners and then sac flying out to LF scoring Gordon for the home teams first run. Shortstop Alcides Escobar grounds out to end the inning. With all the excitement I forgot to make sure I still had everything in my pockets. I swear you can never keep anything in shorts pockets. Top 3 DJ LeMahieu (2B), Fuludome and Castro go down in order. Sending us to the Bot 3, where Chris Getz (2B) singles on a bunt to Dempster. Getz then gets caught trying to steal. Could have been a botched hit and run because Melky smacks a ground ball double to RF. Hosmer then Butler both manage to strike out swinging but Melky still manages to steal 3rd base. Ramirez with a lead off double to start the 4th. Baker grounds out to third, Soto walks. Man on 1st & 2cd, Peña sends a soft liner to right scoring Ramirez and the Cubs take the lead, Soto tags second on his way to 3rd, Franceur sends a rocket to Moustakas to tag Soto, allowing Peña to move to 2B. With 2 outs, Chen intentionally walks Soriano. Montanez doubles to LF, scoring Pena. Soriano rounds second, third on his way home, Gordon to Escobar to Pena and Soriano is tagged out at home. That’s 7-6-2, if your scoring at home.

After a play like that, it’s time to get some snacks and use the restroom. I almost forgot to check my pocket and see if it was still in there. Yup. Now back to my extra comfy seat behind home plate. Bot 4. Gordon reaches on a throwing error by Dempster. Franceur up to bat…he sends a rocket to left field and thank god Boomer isn’t calling this game in my head because that baby is out of here. 2 run homer to left and we are all tied up at 3. Moutakas & Pena get the first two outs. Escobar walks & moves to third on a line drive to center by Getz. Man on 1st & 3rd, Melky sends a screamer to left, scoring Escobar. 4-3 with Eric Hosmer ending the inning on a ground out 3-1.
The fifth inning sees Butler the only one with a hit then both teams are down in order. Still in my pocket, hope no one sees me checking my pockets. After the 5th inning, they announce that there will be a fire works display after the game. Couldn’t have picked a better game to go to. We were able to tour the park in the day, catch some partial day ball, I got a free Mr Royal tee and now a firework show, could this day get any better? No action in the 6th. Top 7, Carlos Peña doubles and causes the Royals to bring Blake Wood in from the bullpen. Sori sends Peña to third on a single to Francoeur. Blake DeWitt is brought in to bat for Montanez hitting into a 4-6-3 DP scoring Peña. We’re all tied up again, DJ & Kosuke both get singles causing a visit to the mound. Castro singles loading the bases for Ramirez, who goes down swinging. Bot 7, Tony Campana replaces DeWitt in Center, Kosuke moves to right and James Russel relieves Ryan and gets Melky & Hosmer out. Cubs bring in Chris Carpenter who walks the next two batters but gets out of the inning on a soft ground ball by Francoeur. 8th inning. Aaron Crow replaces Wood getting a 1-2-3 inning. The Cubs bring in Sean Marshall for Carpenter and he also has a 1-2-3 inning.

Top of the ninth, Alfonso strikes out but Campana reaches on a popped bunt to 3rd. He moves to 3rd on DJs single. Kosuke reaches on a force out error by Getz sending DJ to 3rd and scoring Tony. 5-4 with Castro in the box, ground ball to Melky scores DJ. Top 9, 6-4, man on 1st & 2cd, Aramis Ramirez at the plate, the pitch, ground ball to Getz, throws it Alcides, to Hosmer, 4-6-3 DP and we move to the bottom of the 9th. Reed Johnson to left and Carlos Marmol in for a chance at a save. Marmol starts with walking Getz but catches Melky looking and sends Hosmer back to the dug out swinging. Bottom 9, 2 outs with a man on first, Billy Butler doubles to right, and Getz holds at 3rd. Butler being the potential tying run, is replaced with Jarrod Dyson. Alex Gordon at the plate, the potential winning run. He sends a ground ball to Castro, throws in to Peña and the Cubs Win, Cubs Win, Cubs Win. If only Harry were still here. What a perfect day, visited a different ball park, got a free tee shirt, the Cubs won and now we get a firework show. It begins, red, blue, green explosions raining in the sky. I turn towards my girlfriend, make like I’m grabbing my bag under the seat, drop to a knee and get a crazy look and “What the hell are you doing?” I look up and spit out the words as nervously and quickly as one can, “Will you marry me?” I’m sure I heard a yes and I tried but made her put her ring on. All the while my mother photographed everything. The only way I knew how to make an already great day even better. Say what you will, I did it the only way I knew how and I will definitely not here any complaints if I ever want to go visit Kaufmann Stadium again. Of course by the time we hit the road, she posted it on Facebook. We had several phone calls, even had my cousin ask what’s the date? Pretty great weekend with my parents and now my fiancé. We now have a long drive back to Chicago. Somewhere in southern Illinois, we got good and bad news. Free tickets behind home plate at Wrigley Field that Monday afternoon. Score! But then to learn that one of my friends passed away. It hit me harder than I had expected, he was the type that always had a smile on his face and never seemed to have a care in the world. A tragic loss but as they say, the end of a life, is just the beginning of a new life.

@mantime8

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