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Goodbye, 2004



In the baseball world that’s filled with Baseball Prospectuses and Moneyballs, it’s more than a little bit easy to forget what baseball really is in its purest form. It isn’t The Beane Way vs. The LaMar Way. It has nothing to do with Player A having a significantly higher OPS than Player B, and it certainly can’t be about parity. Perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse to make myself feel better, but when a guy’s favorite team has a 58-104 season, all the talk about matchups, the numbers, and what those mean don’t seem to matter anymore.

None of that is to say I wouldn’t do almost anything to have a playoff-bound Royals team to cheer for starting on Tuesday, but in a way, having nothing riding on Sunday’s White Sox/Royals game made the game experience so much more enjoyable for me. Because I attended yesterday’s game with nothing but an open mind and a good friend, my outlook on baseball has been forever changed. The game isn’t about numbers, or how it’s time for Joe Randa and the Royals to go their separate ways. It’s about what I saw while begging for autographs at the players’ parking area: Major Leaguers signing their name for anyone and everyone who wants an autograph. Randa’s two young sons playing catch in the parking lot, just the way Dad does when he throws the ball around the horn to celebrate a strikeout. Fathers bringing their sons and daughters to their first baseball game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

If I haven’t made myself clear, baseball is about family, good friends and some solid conversation, with a dash of good ballpark eatin’ (and hopefully a win!) thrown in for good measure. With those things in mind, here are ten things I’m thankful for from the most nightmarish season I’ve ever experienced:

10) Denny Matthews, whose voice on the radio will always be a welcome sound.
9) Carlos Beltran, who handled his touchy situation with class and dignity. Go get ‘em in the playoffs, Carlos!
8) Allard Baird, for continuing to show that he’s capable of building The Next Good Royals Team.
7) Chuy, the coolest Lemonade Guy in baseball.
6) Two great road trips to the ballpark. Thanks a lot Joe, good buddy. Zack’s the real deal, eh? We’ll do it again next year.
5) Kauffman Stadium, for being as beautiful as ever.
4) John Buck, for foreshadowing his future Captainship of the Royals.
3) Zack Greinke. You give Royals fans a reason to believe in a better tomorrow.
2) Joe Randa, who served the Royals well for eight seasons, and did so in a professional way.
1) The Kansas City Royals, who made 58 days of my life in the past six months just that much better.

Coming soon: Greinke v Crosby. Who should be voted the league’s top rookie?
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