Tag Archives: Wade Davis

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.”

“Okay.”

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.”

F_royals

Happy

 

 

 

 

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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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ALDS GAME 4: Have Pulse, Will Win

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. 

USA TODAY Sports

I already do not remember what I was thinking on the train ride to Carroll Gardens. Did I try to read Middlesex? Was I on the lookout for Astros fans? Did I turn the stove off when I left the house? I don’t know. All I know is that we have to win this game and the thought kept me in slow motion all day.

But now I’m at the bar with Katie at bar near Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s the top of the second inning, and the score is 2 – 0. We’re winning and even though Ventura concedes a run in the second inning I decide it’s safe to eat. Katie and I each order turkey burgers and something to drink. I get a ginger beer and Katie gets a real beer.

Katie and I are the only daytime drinkers here. The television mounted above the sink is not a widescreen, but that’s okay, we’re close enough to see the game unfold. The volume is low but audible. Katie and I are relaxed and even venture to talk about something other than baseball, like the ways in which Jon Snow could come back from the dead.

But by the bottom of the third Carlos Correa hits a one-run homerun and the game is tied. The Astros score again in the fifth inning—off a double by Correa. That’s okay, as long as we keep the score close there is hope. That is what I tell myself, anyway. My stomach knows I’m bluffing, though.

In the seventh inning Salvy is hit by the pitch and Terrance Gore comes in to pinch run. Katie and I exchange loaded glances. We are sad to see Salvy go, but we know this is going to be exciting.

Our excitement is not unfounded. Gordon strikes out, but not before Gore steals second. Then he steals third during Alex Rios’ at-bat. Wow. Awesome. Katie and I are on the verge of spilling our drinks. The tying run is at third! But the Astros manager demands a review of the play. Gore has to be safe, he’s never not been safe when stealing bases, we say to ourselves. This will be a waste of time.

They replay is broadcast in slow motion, in many angles, Gore slamming into third, tagging the base, and his body and the third baseman’s collide. They show the replay again and again, each time slower than the last. The slower the replay, the more momentous and cataclysmic it seems. The convergence of the twain is now as serious as two tectonic plates crashing into each other. The is an aftershock. You can almost see the players’ bodies ripple like the crust of the Earth. The replay is so slow you think the collision will last forever, their bodies gathering power and momentum, and soon you can see mountain ranges being created before your very eyes where there were once baseball players.

The issue seems to be Gore’s foot. Did it get off the plate or did it not get off the plate? Was he pushed by the third baseman or not? These watchers, being slightly biased, did not think his foot off the plate—and if it was, it’s because Gore was pushed. But when the umps phone New York they do not talk to us and Gore is ruled out.

Our rally is killed, but that’s fine, we tell each other. We have momentum. This is not over.

But half an inning later it certainly does seem over and I think maybe my roommate is right after all. Ryan Madson concedes a two-run homer to Correa, who has been prolific today. Then, the homerun-hungry Colby Rasmus gets one too, just for good measure. A four-run deficit heading into the eighth inning is not good. Sure, we overcame it in the Wild Card game last year, but that was that was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. That’s what made that game so special. Things like that just don’t happen a lot.

I almost want to leave the bar then and there. The end of game seven of the World Series was really hard, but at least we knew that we made it tremendously far, ridiculously far given who we were up against and our extreme lack of postseason experience. We came ninety feet away, and isn’t that something?

If we lose this, the Royals will not be thought of as the team that defeated the odds and the oddsmakers who thought we’d win 73 games this year, and who certainly didn’t expect us to be back in the postseason. Instead, the Royals would be the team that failed to finish the job, the team that left Alex Gordon on third—where, in an unknown galaxy, on a planet of broken dreams, he still stands, waiting to go home. Which isn’t fair, but that’s how people think in posterity.

“Well, we won the Central Division for the first time, and that’s something,” I say to Katie.

“Yeah, and we had the best record in the American League.”

We know we can handle this loss. We are Royals fans.

“I think we should go for a walk in the park when this game ends,” I say.

“Yes, we should definitely take a walk in the park.”

I don’t have time for the postseason anyway, I tell myself.

The commentators seem to have written the Royals off, too, and start a long-running cascade of hogwash, saying things that range from “this could be Alex Gordon’s last game with the Royals,” to “the Astros have struck out 48 times and this could be the first time a team that strikes out so much makes it to the ALCS!”

The Astros make two more hits after the Rasmus homer, getting on third and second. There are still two innings left for the Royals after this, but they seem like a formality. The undertaker has already started digging a grave.

“This is it right here,” says one of the commentators. “If they get these two runs in you can pretty much just wrap it up for the Astros.”

Keuchel agrees, and is seen sanguinely petting his beard in the dugout.

The excruciating inning does close with no more damage, though, but it still seems like a wrap for the Astros. Alex Rios steps up to the plate again. Katie and I are clenching the bar with white knuckles and knotted stomachs. He swings and hits a single on the first pitch. Katie and I punch the air and pound the bar. Considering the odds we are more excited than we should be, but now it seems like there is still so much game left!

And boy there is. The Royals don’t want to die. Neither does this inning, and for a while it seems like it’s immortal. There are five hits, two walks, one error, two pitching changes and eleven at bats—with Rios batting twice in the same inning. Drew Butera, our backup catcher who had not had a single at-bat in the post season drew a walk after ten whole pitches off the unfortunate Luke Gregorson, who did not fare well against the Royals in the Wild Card game last year. After it all, Astros fans are clasping their hands beneath their chins in utter sorrow. The Royals have scored five runs.

sad saddity sad

sad saddity sad /AP Photo

What happened? Is it that the Royals are fans of a huge narrative arc? Has everyone crapped their pants and cried into their cups? Yes? Okay, let’s win this thing! Is that what they say to each other? Or was it just a matter of probability? That the team with the best record in the American League wins against the Astros and it’s only a matter of when and how? Or are the Royals blessed by the gods? The problem with being blessed by the gods is that one becomes, by default, their plaything.

I can see it now—somewhere in the 7th inning, just for the heck of it, Nike, the goddess of victory, launched a boomerang into the nether—so far that it reached Hades. This boomerang, being the Royals, hovered over the banks of the River Styx, where Cerberus spotted it. A glistening rope of saliva trailed from the beast’s three be-fanged mouths as the he lept up to ensnare it in his frothy jowls. But to the great hound’s vexation, the boomerang snaps away and heads back towards Victory.

Yogi Berra might have been a Yankee, but right now the team that best plays to his motto is the Royals. My team!

The cameras zoom in on the Astros players. They are deflated. Their smiles have wilted. They are slumped on their bench, chewing their tobacco and gum and sunflower seeds not with bravado of a team that can smell victory, but with the resignation of a cow chewing cud.

“If we win this game we have to have shots,” Katie says. She is careful to use if because she doesn’t want to jinx anything.

“Totally, and we still have to go to the park.”

At the top of the ninth, Ben Zobrist walks, and Hosmer hits a homerun. Though it’s good to have insurance runs, Wade Davis is coming back out in the ninth, so it all seems like it’s for shits and giggles at this point.

wade davis pitching

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Wade Freaking Davis. He and Mariano Rivera have been mentioned in the same sentence on several occasions, by sports writers who don’t even work for The Kansas City Star, and he is on my team. My team! The Royals! As long as I can remember, no one on my team has been compared to anyone as high caliber as Mariano Rivera.
Wade Davis’s hat is angled so that his eyes are obscured by shadow. When other pitchers spit and shuffle about the mound, it feels like a tactic for them to gather their wits about them, but when Wade Davis spits, it’s the spit of a cowboy who has just done eight seconds on the bull. When he shakes off pitches, it’s a small and subtle. If you blink you’ll miss it. There’s another thing. Does he blink? You catch other pitchers blinking, staring up at the sky asking for deliverance, but I don’t think I’ve seen Wade Davis blink. If you can’t see him blink, you don’t know he’s human. When other pitchers wind up for the pitch cameramen seem to zero in on only the grotesqueness of their extreme physical exertion; we see their bulging eyes, their straining neck, and their jowls quivering like jello during the slow-mo replay. But by the look on Wade Davis’s his face, you would think he’s simply meditating. The cameras can’t catch anything. I don’t know how the batters feel, but I know I’d be scared.

Regardless of how the Astros feel, Davis retires the side and that’s that. Katie and I each have a shot Jameson and walk off into the sunset. Holy Mackerel. What a game.

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