Tag Archives: Royals

WORLD SERIES GAME 5: The Golden Ticket


Picture courtesy of Zack Hample

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to writing about Game 5. It would have been hard to write about if I watched the game on television, but it’s even harder because I was there at Citi Field. Do I start with the moment I got my ticket or the moment I started thinking about getting my ticket? Because that would start with Zack texting me early in the morning to see if I had bought my ticket to the game yet, as if it were a foregone conclusion.

“Well, my friend Garrett bought plane tickets from Kansas City last night after they won last night, so…”

So what was my excuse? “Well, isn’t it really expensive?”

“Prices have dropped because the Mets fans don’t want to see them lose.”

Game 6 and 7 are in Kansas City, but if people there are coming here to see Game 5,  that could only mean that the Royals were going to win it now and that I had to be there. I thought about my dream, the one I had way back during the ALDS. There was the stadium full of people in orange. They were cheering. There was a man on first. Someone named Flowers, whom can only be the Mets’ Flores, is at bat. The question is, did he strike out or did he hit a home run? After the at-bat I was sad. Was I sad because I was with the people in orange? Was I sad because this was not me at all in the dream? Was I somewhere else celebrating a World Series victory?

I went to StubHub. Zack was right, prices dropped. My roommates, who were cheering for the Mets, were complicit in my getting the ticket.

“You’ll be kicking yourself if they win and you’re not there,” they said. Then they lent me a computer and a printer for the ticket, which I still have. For the rest of day I walked around with the World Series ticket in my purse, thundering like a telltale heart every time I passed a Mets fan.

But I won’t start there either, or the ride on the train packed with  Mets fans, or the wait in line to get into Citi Field hoping to spot some Royals fans. There were many people like me who were flying solo. I scanned the concourse thinking, but not knowing, that some of these faces were ones I knew. Was that my sister’s friend’s mom? The waiter that works at Bella Napoli’s? As customer from the Dime Store, where I used to work? A guy I bumped into in the mosh pit at El Torreon? Someone I was in a high school play with? Probably not, but there was a sense that I was wading through my past, if not mostly because the last time I was surrounded by this many Royals fans was a long, long, time ago.

Before the game even started I recognized someone I really did know—someone from grade school. I’ll call her Sarah. She was a grade above me but we had recess and lunch together. She was there with her older brother, who I’ll call Matt. They adopted me for the game. But I can’t start this story there, or even a few innings from there, when we were adopted by a Mets employee that Matt’s friend’s friend knew, and we got to sit in the Caesar’s Club in the second level with the season ticket holders, where an attendant named Sal, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge with Tony Bennett, gave us cream puffs from a bakery in Astoria.

It’d be nice to start at the sixth inning, when Edinson Volquez made the best of a bases loaded situation and an error by Eric Hosmer (Is it now part of Royals dogma that when bad things happen to Eric Hosmer good things happen to the Royals? Or is it just the Universe balancing itself?) and got out of the game with just one run scored by the Mets. His performance did not earn as much hype as Harvey’s, but he got his job done—which was to keep the game close. Harvey, with all his brilliance, did not.

This story starts in the ninth inning, when Cain was walked. That was the end product of a chain of events that had been set off earlier, when Cain struck out twice. The Internet has all types of ways you can re-watch games. There’s versions where someone has filmed the game as it streamed from their television screen, there’s versions with Japanese subtitles, versions of the whole damn game that you can watch, there’s the highlight reels and then there’s the condensed versions which are like the highlight reel, but more extensive and without any commentary. Included are key moments and slow motion replays of the key moments. I don’t know who does these things, but it’s surely someone with a keen sense of narrative arc and plot twist. In the condensed version of Game 5 they found it prudent to show, in slow motion, each third strike in Cain’s at-bats. These were pitches below the knees that would have been balls had Cain not been fooled and swung at them. This time Cain put the brakes on his swing and earned himself a stroll to first after being 0 – 2.


Church of Harvey/I did not take this picture!

Ecstatic Royals fans who knew the script by now waited for Cain, grand larcenist extraordinaire, to steal second. Mets fans knew the script by now, too. Up until now it had been the Church of Harvey, and the congregants had been standing and chanting his name for hours. But the walk drew swears from the crowd and put bottoms on their seats. There had been no doubt in Mets fans minds whom they wanted to see pitch in the ninth. Harvey’s performance had been dominant all night, so much so that fans started uttering another name alongside his: Madison Bumgarner. Would he be this year’s Madison Bumgarneresque foe? But towards the eighth inning the whisper of Bumgarner soon faded and only one name could be heard from the fans, not one of who was sitting.


Not Harvey, but Hahvey, in case you forgot this was New York City. Pretty soon their battle cry was the only thing I could hear, over my own thoughts and beating heart. He was not the Dark Knight anymore, he was their gladiator and this was their coliseum.

“They can’t put him in, it would be crazy to put him in,” we told each other.  He still had to deal with the top of the order—it would have been their fourth time seeing him.

“Nah, they won’t do that,” Matt’s friend’s friend agreed.

But he did come out—no he charged out, sprinting towards the mound as if it were a clutch of barbarian warriors from Gaul. The crowd went wild.

Wow, they just jinxed themselves, was all I could think. We exchanged looks of incredulity. It was the best thing that could have happened. Harvey’s mind and body were out of sync with the game.  He acted like he had already won. It’s as if he forgot he had gone to the mound to make three more outs. When Harvey realized he had work to do it would be too late; his mind and body had already moved on. 

But back to Cain and the silence at Citi Field. This was the rally we were waiting for, but we allowed room for failure, not doing so would be tantamount to jinxing the whole thing. Cain did his dance at first and gave himself a big lead—not sure quite how big without Joe Buck to say, but it was a lead big enough to be a parking spot in New York City. All 44,000 of us of us in the stadium waited with bated breath. Mets fans and Royals fans alike were no longer looking at Harvey, they were looking at the dance at first. Cain did not dance for long before tearing towards second—there was no stopping him. It was already written.

Now it was Royals fans’ turn to erupt in cheers. Our scattered but substantial numbers could be heard throughout the stadium and we directed our attention to Hosmer. It was his turn to make something happen. I don’t know what I would have been thinking in his place. Did he utter words to a benevolent God? Was he praying a prayer of the penitent? Dear God, forgive me of my blunder, deliver me from erring?

I don’t know. When I saw a ball fly into the gap in left field I knew this was it. This was the rally, and if this was the rally, this was also the game. Cain raced home and Hosmer put on the brakes at second.

Terry Collins took Harvey out. The Mets gave him an ovation. His stunning performance was only marred by his stunning arrogance. He believed in himself, but not so much in his team. He still managed to author eight great chapters for Mets fans.


The view in SRO! Can you see Tony Bennett singing the national anthem? Neither can I!

Those same fans kept standing in anticipation of Familia, and our view of most of right field and most of the infield was blocked by backs and heads. Moose’s job was to move Hosmer to third, which is exactly what he did with a grounder to first.

Next came Perez, who I saw through a gap between one man’s hear and another man’s chin. I saw that he hit the ball and started cheering. I had no idea where the ball went. I was cheering in blind faith. If the ball is put in play the Royals will score, that’s how the script went. From the reaction of Mets fans I could tell my cheers were not unfounded. The scoreboard told me so as well. It had changed from 2 – 2 as quickly had it had changed to 2 – 1 from 2 – 0. The despairing Mets fans sat down and I saw that the Royals had been erased from the bases. Where was Salvy? I looked and saw the Royals had two outs, but how did Hosmer score if Salvy hadn’t singled? Did he hit a sacrifice fly?

Sarah, Matt and I were confused. What happened? We ran from our posts and joined another group of standing-room-only Royals fans that had crowded under the television to see a replay.

What I thought was a long-hit single to left field was only a little blooper quickly fielded by David Wright. So the inning must be over and Alex Gordon singled Hosmer home? Did we somehow miss two at-bats? Did someone mess up the scoreboard? We were still scratching our heads when we saw Hosmer pelting helter skelter towards home from third like there was a pack of hellhounds nipping at his heels. It was now unclear who he had been praying to during his at-bat because this was the kind of desperate act that only a man who had sold his soul to the devil would ever consider doing. We saw Duda catching Wright’s throw, getting Salvy out. All commonplace, all according to procedure. We waited for Duda to drop the ball, or pass out, or spontaneously combust, anything that would explain the tie, because unless you’re Jerrod Dyson you just don’t score from third on ball that doesn’t even make it past the infield.

Then Duda threw home. Great, I thought. These Mets fans should start getting happy real quick. But the throw was wide and high, like the 18-wheeler that Mets fans felt like they had been collectively struck by. The Mets catcher nicked the ball with his glove but was nowhere near catching it. Hosmer slid home.


Hosmer slides home/I sure did not take this picture!

Matt doubled over in joy,  I grabbed my face, Sarah shook her head, we all hugged. When I tried to talk I sound like a broken record. I just cant. Holy shit. Wow. I just cant. Holy shit. Wow.

In retrospect, Hosmer’s explanation for running when he did makes total sense. We were up two games, Familia is hard to hit, and the scouts said Wright has a slow throw and Duda is not clutch in clutch situations. Plus there’s always that memory of Alex Gordon being stuck at third. No one wants to get stuck there anymore (Which begs the question, just what would have happened if Gordon ran?). But it would have been awful leaving that stadium that night if Hosmer had gotten out.

The Mets fans were reeling. Some of them started leaving so we grab seats and sit for the first time—as if the game were just starting and we were strolling in during the first inning. Sitting was nice. But sometimes we stood, just to shake away the jitters. We hated that the Mets were last to bat because if they scored a run that would be it.

The Mets fans stayed seated and would not stand again until the twelfth inning, when they started leaving. Herrera made a heroic effort, pitching three clean innings of relief, and Hochevar followed with two. November 1st turned into November 2nd and three outs in the ninth turned into twelve outs and extra innings and lemons turned into lemonade.

The twelfth inning brought a new pitcher, Addison Reed. Salvy singled and we knew this could be the last inning. Our hunch was validated when Yost unleashed Jerrod Dyson to blaze a path to victory. Dyson danced a little at first with Alex Gordon batting before dashing off to the races and sliding into second. Mets fans shook their heads, some started heading up the stairs and out of the stadium. Harvey and his exploits seemed like such a long time ago. Gordon got out but advanced Dyson to third. Everything in its right place, but wait, who’s batting next? Who could it be? What is going on? Who is this guy? We did not know. It was not a body or number or face we had seen the entire postseason.

It was Christian Colón, who had not had an at-bat since the end of the regular season. Having him bat would be either a stroke of brilliance or a monumental blunder on Yost’s part, but really, what were the options? It was Colón’s only at-bat so he had to make it count. And make it count he did. He ripped a single to center field and Dyson charged home. And then it rained Royals. It rained so hard the Royals scored five runs in one inning. The game only needed Wade Davis to punctuate it.

He struck out the first two batters, but Conforto got a hit. There was a man on, and who but Wilmer Flores came up to bat. At this point I didn’t care about my dream. We were going to win whether Flores struck out or hit a grand slam. But he struck out and we won the World Series and I was there to see it.

wade davis

Last inning…


Didn’t take this picture either, but it’s a good one!



Filed under personal essay, Uncategorized

WORLD SERIES GAME 4: Put Some Chapstick On It

daniel murphy chapstick incident

It’s past 8:30 and I haven’t even started watching the game yet. But I have a good reason. I’m at my friend Anesa’s good-bye gathering in Astoria before she heads out of the country tomorrow on a South American adventure and I don’t know when I’m going to see her next. Don’t even mention the fact that it’s Halloween because I don’t care. I have zero interest in getting corralled in a subway with a bunch of drunken sexy nurses, zombified hockey goalies or anything else.

Last year I was a booger for Halloween. Not a sexy booger, just a booger. I was too busy watching the World Series and then mourning the World Series to put much thought into my costume. A few years ago a friend and I made anglerfish costumes out of recycled material. We scavenged for boxes at bodegas and grocery stores and plundered neighbors’ recycling bins for cans and bottles and then spent a whole weekend engineering the costumes. We were a hit. Last year I took a five-second inventory of everything in my closet and realized that I had a lot of green stuff. I piled it on me, and taped some Saran wrap over my layers of green, and boom, I was a slimy booger.


Before last year’s World Series I could have been a zombified baseball fan because that is something I’ve never been in real life. Now being a rabid baseball fan is my reality. Because of this new reality I’m not even going to carve pumpkins with Anesa and company. We say our goodbyes at the grocery store, where they have a small clutch of pumpkins left. It’s a testament to Anesa’s character that she’s not even mad at me for ditching her to watch baseball, she says she’ll even cheer for the Royals.

baseball furies 2

Would have been an apropos costume…

I scurry past an Irish sports bar and try really hard not to find out what’s going on in the game. I don’t want to know anything until I get to my friend Noemi’s apartment in Long Island City so I can watch the game in neutral territory. But an eruption of cheers forces me to catch the score through the window: 2 – 0, Mets at the bottom of the third inning.

I am now very aware of the chips and guacamole that I had at Anesa’s place. Usually innocuous, the crunchy blue corn chips I love now seem to be shredding the lining of my stomach. I need to get to Long Island City fast. I start running frantically towards Broadway and hop in the nearest taxi. The driver, from Ghana, doesn’t know much about the World Series and has no sense of urgency.

“It’s like the World Cup, and my team is in it,” I explain, hoping this will get him to drive a little faster, but all it does is inspire a conversation about how confusing baseball is and why they even call it the World Series if it’s two American teams playing each other. The conversation goes nowhere fast—or at least quicker than it took for me to get to Long Island City.

I try not to trip over myself as I lunge out of the car and dash to Noemi’s building. When she opens the door I try to read her face for any signs of doom. She knows me well enough to deliver the good news first.

“The Royals scored a run!”

“Okay, cool, okay. Awesome, great. And the Mets? What about them? Have they scored?”

“It looks like they just got a homerun,” says Noemi’s husband, Daniel, from the couch.

I try not to react too histrionically. Noemi knows I am susceptible to dramatic outbursts and I want to prove to her that I can be a sane person under this kind of duress.

“That’s cool. It’s okay. I mean, it looks like we’re waking up offensively, you know?”

“What are the chances of them coming back?” Daniel asks.

I certainly can’t tell him that there is a good chance, a really good chance, that the Royals will rally because saying it out loud would only jinx it.

“Well, I can’t really say.”

“But you’ve been watching the team—you have a pretty good idea, right?”

“I do. But I don’t want to jinx anything.”

Daniel is an avid fan of the French national soccer team who suffered through the improbable Zinedine Zidane headbutt of the 2006 World Cup, so he has a healthy respect for jinxes. “Okay, but as a general observer of the game, and not as a Royals fan, what would you say the chances are?”

“As a general observer, I would say there’s a pretty good chance.”


It goes without saying that I still have to knock on wood. Stephen Matz, the Mets’ rookie lefty pitcher, has been on point so far, but the sixth inning will be the real test of how well he can keep the Royals at bay. He’s not as hyped as Harvey, DeGrom and Syndergaard and fans have not yet christened him with a quirky moniker, but he’s allowed less runs in five innings than his cohort did in each of their starts.

The first batter up is Zobrist who takes a leaf from Escobar’s book and swings at the first pitch. The ball flies into deep left field and Zobrist reaches second.

“YES!” I know it’s not a run yet, but it looks like a classic Royals rally in the making. Cain follows with a single and Zobrist scores.

“YES! YES!” I slam my fist into the couch. Daniel implores me to keep it down, because what will the neighbors think?

With their lead dangerously slim, Terry Collins pulls Matz from the game. The camera follows the young rookie do the dugout, where he slams his glove to the ground. If there were a couch, I’m sure he’d slam that too.

The sixth inning ends with no further damage and the Royals trailing 3 – 2. After a soundless seventh inning we enter the eighth, with Clippard of the aviator goggles pitching. In the first at-bat he gets Escobar to ground out, but then lets Zobrist take a stroll—and Cain too, after he had Cain 0 – 2 two pitches into the at-bat.

I am excited, but try to keep my tone conversational. “Okay! Keep the line moving!”

scary la familia

Scary Familia

Terry Collins and the Mets would prefer to bring the line to a grinding halt, so he swaps Clippard for Familia. Clippard can be seen mouthing a four letter curse. The levee hasn’t broken yet, so this is Familia’s chance to patch things up with Hos coming up to bat. Hos makes contact on the second pitch. It’s a soft grounder  that seems to be making its merry way to Daniel Murphy’s glove. But the ball is only flirting with the glove. It coyly stays low—millimeters away!—and scampers out of reach. Zobrist scores to tie the game. Daniel Murphy copes by applying Chapstick. Whatever helps.

Familia really has the worst luck—cursed since Game 1 by Alex Gordon’s home run. He can’t seem to pull himself together and gives away consecutive singles to Moustakas and Salvy, bringing the Royals on top 5 – 3. Yost wastes no time unleashing Wade Davis and the game is in the bag past midnight. It is a spooky Halloween indeed for Gotham City.

The Royals are one win away from winning the World Series. This year’s one-win-away sensation is much different than last year’s, because it was also a one-loss-away situation. This year there are lots of different ways we could win the World Series! We could lose two games and win one, lose one game and win one, or just win one without any of the losing! It is strange and novel to be from Kansas City and for the second year in a row and have one’s team be a game away from winning the World Series.

Stranger yet is that this all happening less than ten miles from where I am sitting on a couch. The television fills up with blue—not blue and orange, but just blue. There is a whole legion of Royals fans at Citifield. It looks like half of Kansas City is hanging out in Queens.

“Wow, look at all the Royals fans,” says Noemi.

“I know! I should be there.”

But really, who are those people? If they are they made it to Citi Field there must be a way I can, too. This is what I think about as I pace the platform waiting for the G train. I forgot it is Halloween until I see a slutty librarian and Darth Vader.  The thunder of the train’s arrival brings me out of my reverie. The train is packed. It is not your Halloween type of packed, where you won’t escape without getting glitter bombed or elbowed by a dominatrix using the holiday as an excuse to wear her work uniforms in public. Nor is this the typical Saturday night type of packed, with red matte lipstick, high heels and gelled man-buns.

No, none of that. I see flashes of blue, flashes of orange and realize this is the crowd from Citi Field coming from the 7 train at Court Square, the same people whose misery I just saw on live television. They are in old Mets scarves, old Mets hats, Piazza jerseys worn over blue sweatshirts worn under jean jackets; they are wearing stuff they dug out of storage or an outerborough garage, stuff that was garnished with cobwebs until this postseason.

mets sad fan

I really do understand the pain

Other than a sporadic vampire, these are the only other people on the train. The only ones. The train comes to a stop and the doors yawn open. No one gets off. I make a big decision in this moment. Do I unbutton my jean jacket and ostentatiously broadcast who I’m cheering for, and by default, how happy I am? Or do I keep my jacket respectfully buttoned? If I stay buttoned I could be one of them, except for the fact that my visage is far too sanguine for me to pass as a Mets fan at this moment.

I usually avoid ostentatiousness but not provocation, so this is a dilemma for me. I go for a compromise, unbuttoning my jacket but not exuberantly letting it flap open like the shutters of a window on a spring day. I see this as a humble display of pride that won’t merit any kind of knuckle sandwich.

At first there is only room to stand. What my shirt says is of no consequence because no one can see it anyway. There is not much talking on the train as it worms its way through Brooklyn. Conversations are muffled by sweaters, scarves, hats and bodies. I find somewhere to sit once the train spits out a few bodies at Bergen Street.

There is now enough space in the train to hear all the conversations about What Went Wrong. Most people talk about Daniel Murphy. He is a hard one for them to talk about, because he was a big part of What Went Right earlier in the postseason.  I catch the serious conversation of a clutch of red-faced men who are having a nightcap of bagged beer.

“It’s not just on Murphy, though.”

“Yeah, but you really just have to catch the grounder. You can’t just let that grounder go.”

“Yeah, but that was one run. What about the other ones? What about Familia?”

“Nah, nah, nah. It was Clippard, when he walked those two guys.”

A third man agreed.

“And besides, we would not be here without Murphy.”

A big sigh is heaved.

“Yeah. But maaaaan. Murphy.”

“Those Royals are feisty, though.”

“They’re soooo fuckin’ feisty.”

The talk stops. The tallest guy in the group looks at me. I quickly avert my eyes. Only a sliver of the Royals Y peeks though my jacket and my bag, which is on my lap, covers most of it. Does he know?

He knows. He lowers his voice, looks at his friends, and gestures towards me with his chin. I hear him mutter as the group gets off at Smith and 9th.

“I bet she’s happy.”








Filed under personal essay, Uncategorized

WORLD SERIES GAME 3: High and Inside, Down and Out


Enemy territory! (photo by John Murphy)

Adam and I were supposed to meet at Foley’s, where we saw the first game of the ALCS, which already seems like a million years ago. It was a place where there were so many Royals fans, where I felt I had allies, where Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm were photographed sitting at the bar together. Did I recall seeing any Mets memorabilia on their walls all those weeks ago? No. But was I looking for any Mets memorabilia at the time? No. Should I now be surprised to see a giant Mets flag hanging outside? I guess not. I’m not sure why I didn’t see being surrounded by Mets fans as an inevitability here in New York City, but it certainly wasn’t part of my plans.

I got to Foley’s before Adam and it was packed, a sea of orange and blue and elbows and knees. My being stopped at the door had nothing to do with my Royals shirt, which was ensconced in several layers of sweaters.

“No room,” said the bouncer. “Gotta get on the waiting list.”

There was another Irish bar down the block that was less of a mosh pit and Adam and I squeezed through the Mets fans to back where we found a table.

And so here we are, in the belly of the beast. It’s the top of the second inning and the first thing I see is Escobar stealing second base. There is a unanimous grumble erupting from the Mets fans. It sounds like the stomachache of a sleeping dragon. I let my cheers bubble in fizz in my own belly and am so, so glad that one of the few things Mets and Royals fans have in common is their blue shirts.

Adam and I give each other conspiratorial smiles. The score is 3 – 2.

Due to all the necessary bar hopping we apparently missed one of the most exciting moments of the game—with Escobar, instead of the pitcher, being at the receiving end of some more first at-bat drama. Replays show him nearly losing his head to a 98 mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard that came high and inside.

Ahead of the game Syndergaard, who seems to be living up to his Viking moniker, had been hinting that he had “a few tricks up his sleeve.”As a baseball neophyte I had no idea what that could possibly mean. Will he be using a lazer pen to distract batters? Will he have pine tar up his sleeve? Did he choreograph a dance to rival Johnny Cueto’s shimmy?

It turned out what Syndergaard had in mind was a lot more boring than anything I could have come up with. A “statement pitch” is what the commentators called it. Luckily the statement didn’t cave in Escobar’s head.

escober high and inside

Splits better than a spatter!

The Royals stay up, but only briefly. After a two-run homerun by Granderson in the Mets lead 4 – 3, and now, in the fourth inning, they have two men on base and no outs.

Anyone who saw Ventura pitch in the World Series last year knows what he is capable of. His stellar pitching in the World Series last year helped keep the Royals alive to reach Game 7. But his great pitching performances last year were at home, and now he’s pitching in front of 44,781 World Series starved Mets fans—and every other one of them seems to be a famous person. This is on top of the fact that Billy Freaking Joel sang the national anthem.

“Hey look, it’s Seinfeld!” Says Adam. “Oh! And Chris Rock!”

Fucking great!

Ventura is pulled from the game after another guy singles and scores in a runner. Now the Mets lead 5 – 3, and the Royals bullpen must carry the game on their shoulders again. Duffy got the Royals out of the fourth inning and Hochevar pitches a clean fifth inning, and now we’re at the bottom of the sixth.

Much is said of the Royals’ vaunted bullpen, but no one talks about the guy who is up to pitch next: Franklin Morales. The last time this guy pitched was in the 14 – 2 blowout that the Royals won in Toronto, and before that was the 11 – 8 blowout the Blue Jays won in Toronto. He’s the guy that comes out when the Royals are either losing really hard or winning really hard. He’s not a changer of fate. He is the wood pulp in your parmesan, the yoga mat fiber in your Subway sandwich. He’s the guy you put in when you need to get through a full game and the outcome has already been determined. Even though the game is tight by Kansas City standards and there’s still lots of it left, I feel like Yost has conceded the whole thing when Morales comes to the mound.

In a way I get it, you don’t want to give the Mets too many looks at your game-changing pitchers. But this is also the World Series! You never know how things are going to turn out! You really, really don’t know if Cueto is going to pitch an entire, nearly scoreless game again, and you really, really don’t know how Volquez is going to pitch after his dad died. And you don’t know if the Dark Knight or the DeGrominator will start pitching like the playthings of the gods that everyone says they are. And do we really want to find out?

The inning starts decently enough with Morales getting the first batter out, but Lagares, the author of the epic battle against Herrera in Game 1 that turned the game briefly in the Mets favor, delivers a single. Up next is Flores, whom Morales promptly hits with the baseball. The Mets fans around me are booing and hissing, but soon they are cheering because some random pinch hitter singles, scoring in Lagares. And the bleeding does not stop. Granderson hits a liner towards Morales, who scoops it deftly enough, but doesn’t know what to do next. He can’t seem to get rid of the ball. He stares at Flores, halting him at third, but then pivots his body from second to third and back again, kind of like a basketball player trying to shake the defense and even more like someone who has forgotten who they are, where they are, what they are supposed to be doing and how to breathe. He could have helped turn a double play, but instead the ball never leaves his hand.

“Yikes,” says Adam.

“Oh man.” I almost bury my face in my hands, but one who is in the belly of the beast must keep her sorrows to herself. The whole thing is entertaining for the Mets fans, though.

“It’s like the Three Stooges!” I hear someone say.

While I think forcing Morales to buckle down and scrape his way out of the inning in front of a hostile crowd would be a good character building experience, Yost is not in the habit of torturing his players and brings out Herrera to pick up the broken pieces, which is in itself a different kind of torture. Herrera is not good at dealing with other people’s messes. He’s great at keeping the bases clean during his innings, but dealing with inherited runners is not his forte. I’m not nervous though. The Mets already have this game in the bag. I have truly accepted it, and I know I’m not lying to myself because I order an entire shepherd’s pie and eat it without any help from Adam even though he offers it once or twice or three times.

captain america

The Captain and Crew. (I am not responsible for this great photo-shopping job!)

Next up at bat is David Wright, Captain America, longstanding hero to Mets fans. He had a hard time against the Royals pitchers’ fastballs in the first couple games, but tonight has been his big night. He hit a two-run homerun in the first inning, and now he has another chance to perform in front of an adoring audience.

And perform he does, hitting a single to center field. Two runs score. The crowd’s eruption of joy ricochets off the walls and pummels my soul. I hope my sigh of resignation is interpreted as a sigh of relief.

“Hey, it’s only the sixth inning!”  Adam says.

“Yeah. Whatever. We don’t need to win this one.”

The inning comes to a merciful end after Herrera gets Cespedes to fly out and Duda to strike out, there is no offensive action from the Royals.

“Hey, there’s still six outs left!” says Adam after that the seventh inning ends with more of nothing.

But six outs turns into three, which turns into none, which turns into a Mets victory.








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Filed under personal essay, Uncategorized

WORLD SERIES GAME 2: Watching Baseball in Belgium



I watched Game Two of the World Series at Zack’s place. It was me, Zack, and a Joanne, a Phillies fan. I got through the day on glee and many cups of coffee after the 14-inning victory the night before. The olfactory aftermath of all the anxiety-inducing moments of the game clung to my shirt, but I couldn’t not wear it.

The thing about most of these games is that most of the time things don’t look great for the Royals until the end and fans can never get too comfortable, but the Royals got in gear early this time. The Mets were first to score but they never got more than one run on the board. The Royals were losing until the fifth inning and then scored four whole runs in one inning, and then three more runs in the eighth. The real Johnny Cueto showed up. He pitched the whole game. The bullpen never even made it out onto the field. At one point the cameras showed Herrera, Madson, Davis, Duffy and Hochevar all sitting on a bench in the bullpen. The Royals’ vaunted bullpen, who are usually as fierce as shotput throwers looked instead like bored Catholic schoolboys lined up on a pew.


and the bullpen is…quiet

What can I say about this game? It was easy for me to eat, it was easy for me to drink, it was easy for me to watch, and so hard for me to write about.

But while I was sitting on a couch a little past dinner time in the Upper West Side of New York City, my sister Beanie was up at 1 a.m. at an Irish bar in Ghent, Belgium, watching the World Series. Her trip to Ghent was part of her first trip abroad, a two-week foray across the Atlantic that started in England, hopped across the channel, wound its way through Belgium, France and across the channel again to conclude in Ireland. Her travel buddy for most of the trip was her friend Jamie, a fellow Kansas Citian.

Beanie was incommunicado through most of the trip, but one dispatch did come through: a picture of Beanie and Jamie holding cardboard signs, posing in front of a balding man in a large truck.

As far as we knew hitchhiking was not part of her travel plans, so what happened? Well, the World Series happened. Beanie and Jamie missed the 14-inning saga that was Game 1 and did want to concede another game. Upon converging in Kansas City for the holidays, Beanie treated us to quite a yarn, one that involved a lot of beer, a little baseball, enemy fans, guys in semis, something called a BlaBlaCar, and a strange trip to Paris. I decided to interview Beanie about the whole thing, and here is the story of how she watched Game 2 of the World Series:

Did you have any idea how you were going to watch baseball in Europe?

No, but was the World Series and I had watched all the playoff games up to that point. At the hostel we were staying there was a guy from Toronto, and the Royals had just beaten the Toronto Blue Jays. And he was like Aww, screw you guys I’m cheering for the Mets, and that motivated us to find a way. So, we went to this bar and we asked the guy there if they would show baseball. But the game started at one in the morning and they weren’t going to stay open for us to watch baseball, so they recommended this Irish pub that was really close to our hostel. The guy was all like, (launches into Belgian accent) They might play it for you. I don’t know. Baseball is boring.

So, in America Irish pubs are not really Irish but here there was an Irish person working at the Irish pub, and it’s like you’re in Ireland, in Ghent, in Belgium, Europe. And we were like Hey, can you play the World Series? It’s baseball? Just this once? It’s our team and they’re playing and we gotta win! And he was like (launches into Irish accent) We’d be happy to have yeh, but could yeh bring yer friends yeh know? It’s really late, but that’s fine, if yeh bring enough people we’ll play the game for yeh. And we promised him we’d bring people—so many people.

We go back to the hostel and there’s Americans, including this guy from California who was all about the Giants and hated the Royals. We try to rally up some people—there were a lot of people there, but we only rallied two of them.


Yeah, sad. One was a British lady who was a huge alcoholic and this other girl who lives in L.A. We brought them to the bar and it wasn’t very heartening. There’s not a lot of people at the bar so we’re kind of desperate, but we see this group of guys outside, and I think, Oh! They’ll want to come and watch the game with us, because we’re girls.

I gave them a saucy wave as they were passing and they saw us and did a double take, and waved back. And they came in and we were like Come watch baseball with us, or else we can’t watch it!

And all of these guys were from England. They didn’t really care about baseball, they cared about drinking and flirting, but whatever, the more people that were there the better it was for us to watch the game. Jamie was explaining baseball to the British girl from the hostel, which she later said was way harder to explain than she ever thought it would be—to explain that well, now they’re, you know, pitching and they have to get three strikes to be out, but there’s balls and they can walk. It sounds crazy.

Did anyone know anything about baseball?


Did they know what the World Series was and why you wanted to watch it?

We told them it was our hometown and we had gone last year but we lost so this year we have to win. We were like, It’s really important, guys! C’mon! This is a big deal!

Did anyone cheer for the Royals out of solidarity even though they didn’t know what was going on?

Yeah, everyone was rooting for the Royals. It was an international support group. And we were playing this drinking game with these Irish people and every time the Royals did really well Jamie and I stopped what we were doing and went YEEAAHHHHHH, RRRRROYALS!!! and we were going crazy—the only ones going crazy.



At some point one of the British guys, he was like forty, a big brutish guy–he was arm wrestling me and he wins and he’s like, Yeah! I’m such a man! And then he singled out Jamie, who is like five-foot-two and a hundred pounds, and he says You’re next. And I’m like Hey! Why don’t you arm wrestle someone your own size and be a big man that way?

I go to the Irish bartender, because Irish and English people don’t get along, right? So I go up to him and I’m like Hey, do you want to arm wrestle that guy? He wants to arm wrestle my friend, but she’s tiny. It’s not challenging. You should do it! And he says yes. So I had it all set up, this arm wrestling fight, and I bring them both together and once they saw each other in person up close they were both scared that they were gonna lose and they backed out, and I was like You’re a fucking pussy! You’re gonna arm wrestle this little tiny girl but not this guy? Screw you! Obviously I’m really drunk at this point–

Okay, but do you remember anything about the game?

Ha ha, I remember…not a lot. I remember the bases were loaded at some point…but no, I can’t really say too much about the game.

Okay, so what time does the game end back in Europe?

At 4:30. We were in bed at five.

Did you have plans for the next morning?

Our plan was to do this: we had a train from Ghent and we had to get to the train station at 7:30. Going to bed at five was not a good idea. I was so drunk because I was taking shots and drinking Guinness all night that I didn’t set my alarm. Jamie set three alarms and her alarms go off, but she didn’t get up at all for any of those alarms. So at ten in the morning, she says Beanie, we missed the train. She sounded really calm. But it didn’t help. I was freaking out. The train was twenty euros so it’s a big deal when you’re poor in Europe and you’re trying to save all your money and you miss the train. We were supposed to take the train to Lille, in France, and from there we were going to take a blah blah car at 10:20 to Paris.

Wait. What is a blah blah car?

A BlaBlaCar is like Uber, but long distance and you plan it ahead of time. It was really hard for us to find a BlaBla to get to Paris from Ghent. The only one was this guy driving from Lille to Paris at 10:30 in the morning, so when we didn’t get up in the morning in time for our train we were like, Fuck, and then we were like, Shit, because all the trains to Paris after that were eighty dollars. We were looking for more BlaBlaCars, and none of them were working out. We were kind of running out of options and we hadn’t booked another night in the hostel.We had talked about hitchhiking before so we Googled how to hitchhike in Europe. The Internet was like, have some pieces of cardboard and one of them should say were you need to go, and the other should say SVP, for s’il vous plait, if you’re trying to go to France and be polite. We decided to try it. It’s legal, we’re traveling together and I’m not going to spend eighty dollars on a train.

So we asked the hostel guy for pieces of cardboard and permanent marker, and he says, Oh, are you trying to hitchhike? And we’re all, Maybe we are, maybe we’re not. And he’s like, I have hitchhiked 65,000 kilometers. Let me help you. He told us where to go, what corner, what side of the street, what our signs should say. So we made our signs and went to this triangle overlooking a bridge going to the highway.

We had someone stop after two minutes, and we were really embarrassed. It’s kind of humiliating to hitchhike, because you’re like a hobo. So this guy was an old man and he didn’t know much English and he kept mentioning this town. But the guy at the hostel was like, Just go to Paris, don’t go anywhere else. They have to say Paris. But the guy was not saying Paris. And he kept saying this other town, and we kept saying, No, no, no, just Paris. And he was confused and we were blocking traffic so we said, It’s okay thank you so much, bye.

And then this other guy stopped and he was young and cute and he was in this work car. He was, I dunno, a mechanic? I’m not sure. But he kept mentioning the same city that the older guy kept talking about. He spoke better English so we asked him if this town was on the way to Paris and he said yes. But he only had one seat, so we didn’t go with that guy. But at least we figured out that this town was legitimate. Another work truck stopped, and they mentioned the same town, that it was a truck stop. We decide to get in the truck with these four guys in their Carhart jackets and all their tools.

It was dark by the time we got to the truck stop and there were not a lot of people passing through.There was this one guy that was creepy. He kept asking us why we were going to Paris, and he was staring at us with his—he had White Walker eyes. Jamie and I had a code for Are you creeped out? which was Are you hungry? I asked Jamie if she was hungry and she said she was starving. So we walked away from that guy and found another guy who was going to another town near Paris. He was really cool, he had a semi. Jamie sat in the passenger seat and I sat in a little bed behind the seats. All his bags were there and my feet were where his pillow was. I wondered what he did in the bed when he was by himself. And then he told us, When we get to the border, make sure you hide, because there’s only supposed to be two people in here.

The guy picked the back roads for us, but traffic was so bad. When we crossed the border I ducked down behind the passenger seat. We were with that guy for three or four hours. I fell asleep at one point because I was really tired, obviously. He was really nice. He talked about his brother. I asked him what he thought about when he was on the road, he said he thought about his family.

When he dropped us off at the truck stop we grabbed some food and powered up before we continued hitchhiking because we really hadn’t slept. It was three in the morning and we were near the parking lot. No one was stopping. At some point, though, this one guy just shows up smoking a cigarette. He stopped for a second, and waved and motioned at us. We see where he goes and he’s parked at the rest stop. We walked over to him and asked if he was going to give us a ride. And he says (launches into French accent), I eat, and then, yes. He was French, he didn’t speak a lot of English. Jamie asks me Hey, are you hungry? and I’m like, No, I think I’m okay.

He was nice. He smelled like B.O. And cigarettes. I wanted to practice French so I saw this as an opportunity to do that before I got to Paris, because he didn’t really know English. I was thrown into the deep end, but it was funny. I’d ask him something in French in the simplest way I could think of and he always, always, almost always looked at me like I said something really weird. So I was like, Nevermind. Nevermind. Just nevermind. And he would do the same thing. He would say something in French, and I would be like, What? What? And he’d say, Nevermind—in French. We never really had a full conversation. At one point I asked him about something that was on a sign that I kept seeing on the highway—I didn’t know what the hell it said. I repeated to him what the sign said—I don’t even remember what it said –and he didn’t know what I was saying. And then I said Comment se dit sign? And he didn’t know what I was talking about, so I point at it—while he’s driving. That thing right there—that thing we’re passing right now! We’re on the highway and everything’s moving really fast—he was lost, and kept shaking his head. I don’t know, I don’t know, he said. So I’m like, Nevermind, again. But, he took us to the hostel and he gave us the whole French kiss on both cheeks thing, lit a cigarette and left.

And that’s how we got to Paris.



Filed under interview, Uncategorized


daily news

Last year my fellow Royals fans and I spent the World Series exchanging high-fives in bars with baseball fans throughout the five boroughs. They came in many hats and with varied allegiances from the Yankees and the Red Sox to the White Sox and the Cubs. They were excited to see a new face in the postseason and an underdog is easy to cheer for. This year is not a World Series of bar-hopping, but a World Series of hiding out in other people’s homes and staying away from mine. While some Yankees fans are not cheering for the Mets my roomies, all native New Yorkers, don’t have a problem throwing in the towel for another hometown team.

The colors of the Halloween season this year are orange and blue and those are the colors that have painted this town from the light-strung stoops of Katie and Colin’s neighborhood in Carroll Gardens to the top of the Empire State Building. Before I head to their apartment I go to a nearby grocery store to buy beer. A dozen Mets fan with the same idea wait in line with me.

My family wonders what it’s like to be entrenched behind enemy lines. My dad asks me if I have conflicting loyalties, and I assure him that I sure do not. My mother implores me not to advertise my Royals fandom. My sister Ellen, in Portland, tells me to be careful. Beanie, the most provocative member of my family, is all the way in Belgium right now and is thus mute on the subject—though I’m sure she wouldn’t be against me tattooing my face with the Royals colors.

I’m not sure what to do, but luckily the weather leaves me no choice but to button up and hide my shirt. Besides, there is less glee in showing my colors to fans who have experienced a parallel trajectory of suffering in the past three decades.

Ever since the Royals won the pennant I’ve been undercover, especially on the train. The Mets fans have brought out their hats and their jerseys and on the subways they grip the poles with a renewed sense of purpose. Instead of ignoring each other New Yorkers are looking at each other (but never too long) with a sense of solidarity.

At the office I’m greeted with a life-size poster of Duda taped to my coworker’s cubicle and the doorman who steadfastly wished the Royals well during the pennant has now taken to hollering “GO METS” at me. At least one college friend, a native New Yorker, has suggested that I move back home.

Shit has gotten serious. But to the Mets fans’ credit no one has yet called for local stations to ban Lorde’s Royals, and no one has been as outwardly venomous as the Giants and Cardinals fans I encountered earlier in the postseason. And my barista still makes me coffee.


Friendly foes!

He was crestfallen and confused at seeing my Royals shirt. But why? He wanted to know.I wondered if he would tell me to go back to Missouri, but instead he took a deep breath and wished me luck.

“May the best team win,” he said.

“Let’s shake on that.”

And we did. And then he made me an Americano.

That was all earlier today, when I was sure we’d be the no-contest winners of not only the series, but this game. Earlier today I wanted to apologize preemptively to all the Mets fans who would be heartbroken at the end of the series. We are just destined to win it. But now there is no bravado, no swagger anymore. We’re not looking for a winning run right now, we are looking for the tying run.

The game started in an epic and bizarre fashion with an inside-the-park home run from Escobar. It was the Royals’ first at bat,  Matt Harvey’s first pitch of the series, and the first inside-the-parker to happen during a World Series since  1929.



Then the Mets chipped away at Edinson Volquez and we felt bad for him for that, and then felt even worse for him when it was announced after he left in the sixth inning that his father died that day and that his family was heading towards the Dominican Republic with the game still underway. And then I wondered if it right for us to continue watching this game, for us to even care. I mean, it’s just a game! But it must be so much more because so many people care, right? And if it’s not just a game, then what is it?

Well, all I knew was that it was something I was going to keep watching. But there were so many moments when we were challenged and even forced to look away: a blackout in the fourth that lasted four minutes, and then there was Eric Hosmer’s error in the eighth inning.

The blackout wasn’t so bad, especially since we got a reprieve from Joe Buck.While I sat on the couch twiddling my thumbs Katie and Colin start pulling things from the oven and soon we are eating cookies and drinking beer, wondering if we’re going to have to hide ourselves away like a bunch of lepers for this whole World Series.

The beer stopped being recreational in the eighth inning. After a nine-pitch at-bat, with two men already out, the Mets’ Juan Lagares singled off of Herrera. It was an epic at-bat. A heroic one if you’re a Mets fan, a grievous one for Royals fans because Lagares stole second base in no time and then made it home when Hosmer missed a grounder that Flores sent to first base (At least it wasn’t a two-run home run!). Hosmer, owner of great hands (commentators’ words, not mine), three Gold Gloves and a hairdo replicated by grade schoolers throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, has made an error on a an innocuous grounder. The ball was so close, inches from his glove, and then so quickly gets so far away. And then we learned who Bill Buckner was—the Red Sox first baseman who let a grounder get away from him, thus allowing the go-ahead run in the World Series. The Red Sox went on to lose the World Series to…the Mets.

The eighth inning seemed like it would yield something for the Royals too. There were  two men down and two whole runners got on base with Mets reliever Tyler Clippard of the aviator goggles pitching. And then Terry Collins decided to swap him for Juerys Familia, the fearsome closer who hasn’t blown a save since July.

It’s okay, he’s not Madison Bumgarner, we tell each other.

But it was quickly not okay because Moustakas grounded out to end the inning.

And now it’s the top of the ninth and Familia is pitching again. The first batter Familia faces is Salvy, who hits a blooper that doesn’t make it past the infield.

Okay, two outs to work with. Now comes Alex Gordon. It’s a different game, a different ninth inning, but it feels uncomfortably similar to Game 7 last year. Since then Alex Gordon has existed in two different realities. One is the Here and Now, Tuesday October 27, 2015. The other reality is in a parallel universe. Sure, he’s at Kauffman Stadium and it’s the ninth inning but he’s not at home plate, Jeurys Familia is not pitching, and Salvy did not just bat. Instead Alex Gordon is standing on third base waiting to score. He’s been there since October 29th of last year.

The Here-and-Now Alex Gordon wields the bat, shifting his weight from foot to foot with his batter’s cadence. With his beard and wad of pink gum he is half lumberjack, half little leaguer. There is the usual smear of pine tar on his helmet, like the remnants of a fresh, well-aimed cow pie.

It is only the first game, there’s many games to go, but the first game controls the tempo of the series. Rally now or never. We hold our breaths. The first pitch Gordon meets from Familia is a ball. Then he fouls off the second pitch. The third pitch he meets with a mighty smack.


AG goes home

You know those people who always seem to know when a hit is a home run?  You hear them at the games—their whoop or groan always precede the stadium’s collective whoop or groan.  Some of the early whoopers and groaners are just the excitable sort, but others whoop and groan early because they know. They are fluent to the sounds of baseball. Zack and Muneesh are these such people.

But how do you even know? I’ve asked them on several occasions.

The sound, many will say. That’s the most important thing. It’s something I don’t think I’ve understood until now. A home run sounds like an exclamation point.

Katie, Colin and I stand upon hearing the smack. We look at Gordon, who looks up at the ball, which the cameras don’t seem to have found yet. His eyes are wide, like he just saw Haley’s Comet. Now we wait. The disappointment of last year and the hopes and dreams of this year are all compressed into the millisecond it takes for the ball to reach its apex and crash behind the outfield wall and through a wormhole. In that parallel universe, Alex Gordon perks up (the waiting has made him despondent), and starts trotting home. Here on this planet he is rounding the bases.

Alex Gordon has sent himself home, and the Royals and their fans are sent into a frenzy. We’ve been waiting a whole year for this to happen, after all. Replays focus on Hosmer, who is now off the hook. His eyes are wild and wide and he celebrates in every way possible. He is jumping, he is doubled over with joy, he might kiss the ground, no, he is back up, hugging everyone within arms-length. Jeremy Guthrie happens to be standing next to him, and receives a mighty tug on his sweatshirt.


The happiest guy

I am tugging at my own shirt, and Katie, Colin and I tugging at each other and our leaps and bounds add some percussion to the soundtrack of the downstairs neighbors’ lives.


Okay, so far this game has gone through ten pitchers in eleven innings. Hochevar had a clean inning, Wade Davis struck out the side, and Madson pitched out of danger in the eleventh inning. The game is now a pitching duel between the Royals’ Chris Young and the Mets’ Bartolo Colon. Height versus mass. 81 mile-per-hour fastballs that are optical illusions versus well-placed bullets. Young looks like gumby, and Katie and Colin call Colon the pitching potato. He sure looks like one. Young could have been picked off the bench of a Division III college basketball team and Colon, with forearms the size of tree trunks, looks like he was snagged directly from the streets of Queens—from behind the counter of a pizza parlor, whisked from a construction site, or recruited from behind the wheel of a mafia getaway car. Young strikes out the side, and Colon pitches out of trouble—not batting an eye after loading the bases when he intentionally walks Hosmer. My dad texts to say that it was a ballsy performance—pun intended!

On a different note, Alex Rodriguez is now commenting on the game, to the almost certain dismay of Mets fans and anyone else who doesn’t want to hear from a juicer.

young and colon

A pitchers’ duel (photoshopping intentionally horrible)!


Nothing. Nothing is happening this inning, except that Katie and Colin have already packed their lunches for tomorrow and are now brushing their teeth. My mom texts that this is madness and she’s going to bed. Ellen texts that there’s sure a lot of Mets fans in Portland. I remember Beanie is in Belgium. Why is she in Belgium during the World Series?


Chris Young is in cruise control and the Mets batters go softly in the top of the fourteenth. The top of the fourteenth. Yep, that’s what inning we’re in, which merits another seventh inning stretch. Kauffman Stadium is as packed as it was in the first inning. Time reveals itself to be a beast that we have no control over. It’s running in circles, eating its own tail. The score is as even as it was in the first; it’s not the end if the game, it’s just the beginning. Two more outs for a Mets victory turns into a game that could last forever. Chris Young, like the starting pitcher that he is, is pitching like he’s planning to pitch a whole new game and Colon does not seem to be tiring either. The Royals have already proven that they could play baseball for days. The extra innings, where you don’t get second chances, is where the Royals find their Zen. I don’t get it.

Katie, Colin and I have stopped talking. If the Royals want to go on forever, we will go on with them, but without words. We have none. They have become as meaningless as time. We are slack of jaw and sunken of eye.

Here comes Escobar again. What is this, his twentieth at-bat? C’mon Escobar. Another inside the park home run! Please. Or a conventional one. I don’t care. Can you just please?

Escobar does not hit the first pitch, or even the second pitch. He fouls off another three pitches and hits the sixth. The ball bounces obligingly into David Wright’s glove.

But David Wright’s glove does not want ball! It spits ball out! Wright still gathers ball and sends it sailing towards first, and it looks like Escobar will be out. But! Wait! Wright’s throw is too far from Duda. Doubtful Duda must leave bag to catch ball and Escobar is safe.

Yay. Earlier, we cheered uproariously in the twelfth inning when the bases were loaded, and then quickly remembered that some people in this city were not watching baseball and might want to sleep. We stifled our cheers again when Moustakas got a single in the thirteenth inning.

But fourteen innings in, our tone is more sober and business-like. No stifling needed.

Okay, great. Awesome. You can do this. Keep the line moving. Move that line.

 Zobrist is up next.

Can you please get a home run right now, Ben Zobrist? You got this Benny Z.

 Zobrist does not get a home run, but he does get a single that sends Escobar all the way to third with no men out.

Okay! Great! Well done! 

 We are now standing again, but with the loose limbs of people drunk on tiredness. The commentators, who have spent the past couple of innings talking about how Colon could go on forever are now singing a more somber tune: “And now Colon is in a jam.”

And now Cain is up. Colon wants no part of Cain, wants to give him no part of any baseball. He walks him. And now Colon’s jam is jammier because the next batter is Hosmer. He’s hungry for victory, but also for redemption.

When people get hungry for victory and redemption, they tend to try to outdo themselves. We hope Hosmer takes an easy-does-it approach.

Just keep that line moving!

 First he takes a ball, then fouls off the next two pitches. Then another ball. And the next he does not take easy. He offers it a mighty whack. It does not sound like an exclamation point but it sails far—into Granderson’s glove, but far nonetheless, far enough for Escobar to tag up and tear his way towards home.

Granderson’s throw home is quite spectacular and Escobar would have been out if it were even a foot closer, and if Escobar had been just a little bit slower. But as it is, Escobar is fast and the throw is long but short. He slides home, adding an extra embellishment of victory dirt onto his uniform. The Royals storm onto the field and into each other, a mosh pit of brotherly love.

We are all tired, but we still have strength to jump and hug and rejoice quietly, emitting muffled hollers of mirth. And then I quietly head downstairs, buttoning my jacket before I head out into a joyless Mudville, a city that is just getting to know the Royals. Joe Buck, though I still begrudge him for turning last year’s World Series into a long-running monologue about Madison Bumgarner, summed it up best: Kansas City is Comeback City.

game one yay


I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.


















Filed under personal essay, Uncategorized

ALCS Game 6: Wade Davis Is a Heckuva Guy


wade davis celebrates

There’s nothing like a good hard rain to remind you that a game is just a game, to show you just how Mother Nature feels about this human spectacle. You want your team to go to the World Series? Fine, but first you have to deal with an antediluvian downpour above Kauffman Stadium in the middle of the eighth inning after Wade Davis was brought out to save everyone’s ass.

An inning ago we were ahead by two, but  Madson took over from Herrera and Revere singled off him and then Thor struck again, hitting a homerun and tying the store. The rain is just an encore to his at-bat. It feels like this must have been brewing all along—it’s the second homerun for Bautista tonight.

The question everyone seems to be asking is why Ned Yost bring out Madson. Bless him, but he was the guy who necessitated the Royals’ spectacular ALDS Game 4 comeback. Since you can’t have Wade Davis all the time, maybe go for someone who hasn’t allowed a single run in the postseason—like Hochevar.

The inning ended in a spectacularly Wade Davis style, striking out Tulowitzski after getting down in the count 3 – 1. But the tie in the eighth does not bode well. Late inning heroics are the meat and potatoes of the Royals! Not some other team!

nervous ned 2

Nervous Ned, moments before disaster struck.

The game has become torture for Royals fans and thrilling for everyone else. Zack and Muneesh especially. I’m at Zack’s place again. He and Muneesh want an exciting game and I just want the Royals to go to the World Series and maybe be able to eat some food in the meantime.

Among the Royals fans are me, and Rob, from Lawrence, Kansas. Most of the expletives currently bouncing off the walls are coming from us. Rob copes by staying glued to the couch and staring doggedly at the television. The weathermen point to the bad weather on the screen. It is a small, green strip that looks like cooked spinach that Popeye accidently splattered on the map. The singular blob hovers over the greater Kansas City area and nowhere else.

I cope by pacing and going to the bathroom a few times.

Before the rain delay and the big homerun the big point of discussion was the garden gnome who caught Moustakas’ home run, and then it was the catch that Revere made in the seventh when he pancaked himself against the outfield wall to catch a Salvy fly ball, turning a sure double into an out. We ended up scoring a run that inning, but could have done much more damage. Oh, and there was also the Fox News jinx. At the bottom of that same inning, before Thor struck, FOX accidentally advertised a Mets versus Royals World Series. The jinx is reminiscent of the Texas governor congratulating the Astros on winning the ALDS when they were up 6 – 2. If we lose this thing I’m blaming it on FOX.

But now all the talk is about the rain delay. Muneesh is castigating Yost for bringing out Davis to finish the eighth inning instead of beginning it, or saving him for the ninth.

“If the Royals win, it will be despite Ned Yost.”

Wade Davis was brought out after the damage was done, and now he might not come back to shield his team from any additional blows. Muneesh was convinced they would not bring him out again.

Even starting pitchers don’t withstand long rain delays. Way back in Game 1 of the ALDS, Ventura was pulled out after a 47 minute rain delay. But that could have also had something to do with the fact that he gave up three runs in the first two innings.

But when the rain finally ceases and the tarps are pulled back to start the bottom of the eighth there are no new faces warming up in the bullpen.

“Are they actually going to bring Wade Davis back in?”

“I doubt it. They shouldn’t.”

“But it’s Wade Davis.”

The Wade Davis question is temporarily forgotten when Lorenzo Cain works a walk from the Blue Jays’ own closer, Roberto Osuna. Everyone knows things start happening when Lorenzo Cain is walked. Hosmer singles into far right field as if on cue. Thor chases after it.

Rob and I erupt from the couch as Cain heads to third. But our rejoicing is premature because Cain is not done. He keeps going. He is hungry, he is tenacious, and he does not want to be stuck on third. Everyone is on their feet. Tulowitzski catches the ball after Cain rounds third and throws it home. Will Cain make it? He only allows a split second to wonder because in no time he’s already there. Lorenzo Cain has scored from first base on a single. Replays show Royals third base coach, Mike Jirschele, as he waves Cain home. He is helicoptering his arms so fast he looks like he’ll levitate.

cain can

Go home. /I did not take this picture

Morales then gets a single. Hosmer goes to second, and Terrance Gore is put in to pinch run. But after that the line does not keep moving. Moustakas hits a fly ball that is caught by Bautista. Any hope for us to add runs is stifled when Salvy grounds into a double-play.

Now we wait to see who will come out to pitch in the ninth. Rob and I agree that Hochevar would be a good pick. But jaws are dropped and gathered from the floor when Wade Davis does come out.

After hearing Muneesh, perhaps I should be a little more anxious. But really, as far as Royals fans are concerned, it’s in Wade “Get the Job Done” Davis we trust.  Wade Davis approaches the mound not with the gusto of an incumbent conqueror, but with the excitement of someone clocking in for an overtime shift. Then, he stoops down to scrawl something in the dirt.

Has anyone tried to google Wade Davis? When you do, two Wade Davises show up. One is our Number 17, the other is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. He’s worth looking up, too. If you google videos of Wade Davis, one Wade Davis has reels of epic strike outs, the other Wade Davis does TED talks on indigenous cultures. The reason I googled Wade Davis in the first place is because I wanted to know what he writes in the dirt. If he does yoga. How he stays so composed.

It turns out Wade Davis of the Royals, not National Geographic, does not do yoga, but he does fish. He also lost a brother and writes his initials on the mound. Number 17 is the number his brother wore when he played baseball.

I don’t think Wade Davis writes on the mound all the time, but this time he does and for some reason I have the feeling that this inning will be a Big Moment in Sports.

Rob and I are only slightly rattled when Russell Martin gets a single. It’s fitting, maybe even poetic, that a guy who caught for Mariano Rivera gets a hit off Wade Davis. It’s just one man on, and not a fast man at that. Except that it’s not Russell Martin on first base anymore. It’s some other guy who’s put in to pinch run. We quickly learn his name after he steals second before the first pitch is even thrown, and then he steals third. He is Dalton Pompey and I like him not one bit.

There is a harmony of ooohs that follows Pompey’s slide into third. Some are high, excited sopranos, and there are low, mournful tones coming from Rob and me. Is Pompey about to pull a Jerrod Dyson? Are the ALCS Game 6 Blue Jays the 2014 Wild Card game Royals? Sure, there’s always Game 7, but this would be a terrible, terrible plot twist to endure.

Pillar is now up to bat. Pompey menacing at third complicates things. Wade Davis obviously can’t let Pillar get a hit, but he also can’t afford to get Pillar out on a fly ball—something Davis induces a lot.

Davis walks Pillar after having him at a 1 -2 count. Oh man, oh man. I feel like I’m on amphetamines again. My foot is shaking. I grab my head to make sure it’s still there. Oh, Wade Davis, you can do this.

Mostly everyone is too enthralled by the game to string together complete sentences, except for Muneesh, who eloquently bashes Ned Yost. Nothing makes sense. Has the rain washed away Wade Davis’ magic powers? Right now he is not the guaranteed victory at the end of the game, not the period at the end of the sentence. He is now a question mark (Or maybe I shouldn’t be doubting Wade Davis. Maybe the problem here is that I don’t have enough faith).

But there are so many questions running through my mind. If we go to game seven the Blue Jays will be the ones with the momentum and that’s not good. Also, Johnny Cueto will probably be pitching and that could be either horrific or sublime. So basically it would be really great if Wade Davis could pull a win out of his behind right now.

He is not pulling anything out of his behind, however. He is straightening his slouch and tucking in his shirt. I am sweating, but he is not.

The next at-bat simultaneously loosens and tightens the noose. In the last pitch, Davis strikes out Navarro right as Pillar steals second base.

“OOOOOOOOOOHHH, ho-ho,” exclaims Zack.

“Holy shit,” exclaims Muneesh.

“Fuck,” say Rob and I.

The camera zooms in on Escobar, whose eyes are as wide as baseballs. Wade Davis seems to be the only one not freaking out about what’s happening to Wade Davis.

escobar looks nervous

I feel the same way

One down, two men on, two men up. Can he really get the next two batters out? The answer is yes, of course, he’s been doing it all year. But can he do it with a Cheetah on third and another guy on second after a 45-minute rain delay?

Revere comes up to bat. He’s the guy who robbed Salvy of a double back in the seventh inning ago. It is a hitter’s count, 2 – 1. Davis throws the next pitch and Revere sees a ball. But it’s a mirage, says the ump. A mirage he calls a strike. Revere jumps up and down in protest. His frustration shows us that he knows Wade Davis can do this. He is Wade Davis the closer, and also Wade Davis the reliever–Wade Davis, the guy with the 0.00 postseason ERA, no question marks. He proves it by striking Revere out on the very next pitch. Revere is next seen in the dugout taking his frustration out on a trash can. Is he frustrated because he might have been hero of the Blue Jays and he couldn’t make it happen? Is he more frustrated about the 2 – 2 pitch or the last pitch, a filthy, dirty, beautiful knuckle curve that dropped right as he swung at it? It doesn’t seem safe to ask.

There are two men out but the danger is very real still because Donaldson is next at bat. Donaldson, the MVP of the American League. Donaldson, who is followed by Bautista. Will Wade Davis vanquish him or set the stage for extra innings and a Bautista at-bat?

The count is 2 – 1 when Donaldson hits Davis’ next pitch. I hold my breath until I see the trajectory of ball–straight into Moustakas’ glove and then to Hosmer at first base to get out of the inning and into the World Series. There is a frenzy on the field and in the stadium, and in Zack’s living room.

I can’t say enough about Wade Davis. This was the most Royals-style inning Wade Davis has had. This inning was to him what Game 4 against the Astros was for the entire team. First you dig your grave, then you put one foot in it, and make sure your back is firmly planted against the wall. And then start making things happen. If there was ever a question as to whether or not Wade Davis is human, there is your answer. A definitive yes, with an exclamation point.

salvy exclaimation point

I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.







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ALCS Game 5: Baseball on the Radio

I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.

baseball on the radio


 I’ve parked the car, but I can’t bring myself to turn off the radio. I’ve never listened to a baseball game over the radio, but there’s a first for everything.

I spent the whole day driving to from Binghamton to New York City. We drove through the rust colored fall hills of rural New York on Interstate 81, and then through the marshes and highways of northern New Jersey. It was much colder upstate than it was downstate and I was sweating by the time we got to the city.

Extra grime adds a few more measures of good luck on a sports shirt, right? I was looking forward to finishing my day at the office and heading home, and was definitely looking forward to giving my Royals shirt a break.

But when I walked into the office my coworkers were congratulating me about the Game 4 victory (yes, I had a lot to do with it), and asking if I was ready for the game this afternoon.

The game this afternoon?

“We’re not playing until tomorrow,” I told Stewart. Stewart is a Yankees fan who seems to be an in-the-closet Royals fan this postseason.

“Are you sure about that?”

“Um….I think so?”

“You better check.”

I checked. Stewart was right. The game was in an hour.

It’s moments like these where my dearth of postseason experience really shines through. I knew the ALCS was the best of seven. But the pattern I had seen in the ALDS was two games at home, two games away, and a game a home. I assumed there would never be more than two games in a row until the World Series. And last year, well, we only had to play four games in the ALCS!


I didn’t have a game plan to watch the game. My unit has a fleet of cars we use if we have workshops in the distant reaches of the outer boroughs. My next workshop was in the morning, in Staten Island. I had no choice but to use a car. There were plenty of bars to watch the game around the office. But drinking cranberry juice at a bar during a baseball game because I’m my own designated driver is lame. It was best just to take the car home and try to catch as much of the game as possible there.

But this afforded me an opportunity to do something I’ve never done before: listen to baseball on the radio. My dad used to fall asleep to the sound of Vin Scully’s voice as he stayed up to hear the Dodgers games as a kid in Orange County. The thought of listening to a pennant game while driving over the Brooklyn Bridge in afternoon traffic seemed like a fun throwback to a different era, and an interesting way to round out my postseason spectator experience. I’d be really well-rounded if only I could somehow make it to a game…

I clocked out right as the game started and tapped my foot as the elevator went down 34 floors, spitting and swallowing people at at least five stops. I jogged towards the revolving door but skittered to a stop when I heard a shout from the reception.

“Go Royals!”

I turned to see the afternoon doorman waving at me. I have never spoken a word to him before, but I guess my shirt said enough.

“Wow, thanks!”

“You guys got this!”

“I sure hope so!”

He needed no explanation as I ran out the door and to the car. Stewart, being an inveterate radio listener and overall sports fan himself, gave me a hefty list of stations I could choose from. He wrote them all down on a post-it note I stuck to the steering wheel.

That is what I’m staring at it right now as I listen to the bad news coming from Toronto. It is the sixth inning. So far Volquez has kept the Blue Jays to one run, but already Revere has been walked and Donaldson has been hit by a pitch. There are no outs. I had to listen to this as I merged onto the Prospect Expressway from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. My heart is pounding and my palms are sweating. You would think I was on amphetamines but, no, I was only driving under the influence of the postseason.

MLB: ALCS-Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays

Sad Volquez / Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Now Bautista is at bat, and thankfully I’m parked. The first pitch is a strike. Hassidic children cross skip past me as the second is a ball. A Bangladeshi woman in a colorful head scarf hurries by with groceries as he gets another ball. But apparently this one doesn’t have to do with command. The men in the radio say the pitch had been called a strike for the entire game until this point. A pitch later it happens again. Three balls, one strike. The commentators say Volquez looks confused. I wonder what that looks like. Where is the strike zone? It has become an oasis in the desert. He needs it more than ever, but he can’t seem to find it.

Bautista fouls off the next pitch, bringing it to a full count. Then he fouls off the next four pitches. Volquez has thrown a total of nine now—all sinkers, all in the same location. The men in the radio speculate that Volquez is afraid to let the ball wander to the outer edges of the plate due to the suddenly diminished strike zone. The tenth pitch could be a big one. Salvy and Volquez confer about it. What is the grand plan? The grand plan is a knuckle curve that passes through the bottom of the strike zone. It is a good pitch, a great pitch, say the men in the radio. I don’t remember the words they use. Probably nasty. Anything that’s beautiful in baseball is called nasty.

But it’s a mirage, says the umpire. The nasty pitch is called a ball and Bautista walks. It would have been Volquez’s most glorious moment—a ten-pitch duel that vanquished Thor, the biggest strike of the game yet.

volquez pitches


I’m glad I made it home before any of this happened. I wonder how many accidents occur because of road rage caused not by the road but by a game happening miles away.

I still don’t move from the car. The men in the radio have me captivated. They hold a complete sensatory monopoly over how I experience the game. There are no visual checks and balances.

It is also very surreal. The reel of the game that plays out in my head is fighting with the reel that my immediate reality urges me focusing on, and sometimes one reel is spliced into another. Eric Hosmer was at first base and then suddenly he’s among the tourists walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Alex Gordon did not catch a baseball, he was hailing a cab. Jose Bautista didnt’t use his turn indicator as he cut me off on the BQE. I can almost see Volquez in peyas.

I wonder what he looks like as he struggles to grasp the reality of the situation. The Blue Jays haven’t gotten a single hit in the inning yet, but the bases are loaded.
Encarnación is now at bat, and it’s a full count.

A leaf lands on the windshield, next to a Jackson Pollack splatter of bird shit. I can’t sit in this car for the rest of the game. I turn it off and head home. It is a few-block walk, plenty of time for things to take a turn for the better.

I walk briskly but can’t help but marvel at the trees, whose golden leaves and dark trunks make me feel for a second like I’m in Lothlorien. If it weren’t for the game I would have taken some time to wander in the park and catch the sunset.

But being one game away from the World Series is not something to be taken lightly. I take a deep breath as I unlock the door. My roommate’s dog, Tyson, barks at my entry, and then greets me with a wagging tail and a knee-high trail of saliva on my pants.
I turn on the TV to find that Volquez did not work his way out of the inning. He was driven from the inning after walking Encarnación, allowing Revere to walk home. Herrera is pitching now and strikes out the first batter he faces, but the next thing I see is Tulowitzski swooping in like a carrion bird on roadkill and hitting a double. Two men score. Herrera strikes out the next two batters.

We have three more innings to catch up, but we don’t. We do finally drive Marco Estrada, who has been as stingy as Ebenezer, out of the game when Salvy hits a home run and the two Alexes follow with singles. Although at that point the score is 6 – 1 Gibbons decides the Blue Jays can’t afford to let Estrada finish this game. The reliever strikes out Escobar, and Osuna is brought out in the ninth to end the game, 7 – 1.

That is fine, but nerve-wracking. I remember Muneesh saying that it’s best to win the pennant in six games. That way, the players get enough rest, but not too much. The thing is I just kind of want to get to the World Series already and this whole pennant thing is standing in the way…

When my roommates come home they all want to see the Mets play the Cubs. They are Yankees fans, but they’ll cheer for a New York team over a Chicago team. I still don’t know who to cheer for between these two. The Cubs are three games behind but have the Back to the Future prophecy on their side. Plus, if they are able to come back from being three games behind they’ll be like the 2004 Red Sox, and everyone knows how that ended. But if the Mets win, that means I’ll be surrounded by people who are cheering against the Royals. Also the Mets have orange in their uniform, and I haven’t written off my dream quite yet. Usually my dreams are complete absurdist nonsense—like the time I took a hot air balloon over the Alps, or when the Beatles came to play in the empty wading pool at the park across the street from my house. But nothing can be written off as nonsense in the postseason.

As it turns out the Cubs are not the 2004 Red Sox, and the Mets win 8 – 3, and we will play them when we go to the World Series, knock on wood. My only relief is that they are not as orange as the Astros. I flitted in and out of the game after the second inning, when the Mets had already scored six runs. When tuning in I tried to listen for the name Flowers—the guy who had the last at-bat in my dream, the guy who either struck out or had a game-winning two-run homerun. The last Mets batter to be retired was Wilmer Flores and I realized to my horror that while there are no English Flowers on the Mets there are certainly Spanish Flowers.

Also there’s that Daniel Murphy character. It hasn’t been since early October that Daniel Murphy and home runs haven’t been mutually exclusive. The man continued his home run a streak, hitting his seventh in six games in the top of the eighth. It is slightly scary, but if we can get to the World Series and survive the Blue Jays then I think we can survive Daniel Murphy. We just have to get to the World Series.

And I just have to never listen to the radio while driving ever again.

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