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The sports muse - unleashed!

I have a confession to make: it was really hard for me to sleep last night, and it's been hard for me to operate in general today.

This is me venting in the wake of the Cardinals winning the World Series last night. It's a long entry, and I'm not sure you will understand what I'm talking about, but you're welcome to read it anyway. Sports Journalism is a little dream of mine, so I decided to jump on the wagon and support my favorite team, the Kansas City Royals, in the aftermath of a third 100-loss season. You don't have to read it, but I needed the outlet anyway. : )

Glad to see you ladies had a fun time here last night. And thanks for the Smallville link, Bisty! That's one I'm going to join ASAP! I wanted to get on here during the seventh inning stretch, but I was a little occupied with my niece and her adorable antics in fooling her Grandpa. I'm sure I'll be hiding in the house most of the day. *glares at horns honking down the road* It's going to be a little crazy this weekend. I wonder what the muse is doing...?

Perpetual Putridity was an article that sports columnist Bill Simmons wrote at the half-way point in the football season last year. The name stuck with me for numerous reasons, the main ones being the cleaver name and the truth behind the words for the teams mentioned. He never wrote one for baseball, but I don't think he needed to. People know when their team sucks. You can see it in the open seating at the stadium, the low ticket prices, the lack of merchandise worn around your hometown. The few that eat, live, breathe baseball find October a hard month to live through because they know their team isn't in it. For some of us, the pennat race ends in June.

Moments after the Cardinals won their 10th Championship in franchise history, my Dad rose to take his soda into the kitchen and found me huddled on the love-seat with tears streaming down my face. Being the life-long baseball fan he was, he stopped and said, "Are you okay? What's wrong?"

During the course of my ten hour day yesterday, I found myself seething in quite anger and jealousy. Cardinal fans everywhere were sporting red and couldn't stop smiling when mentioning their team on the brink of their first title in nearly 25 years. When I mentioned to one I was going home soon, they said to me, "Go home, get some food, relax, and watch the Cardinals win the World Series!" It took everything inside for me not to scream at them. For the twelve years that I've lived in this city, the Cards have been in the postseason for nearly ten of them. The city flows in Cardinal Red.

This is where I'm the blue polka-dot on the red shirt.

When I became the dedicated baseball fan that I am, it was in Kansas City. My first ever ball game came in George Brett's final season. The details are as clear in my mind like the game last night. The White Sox had a one-run lead going into the sixth inning with Brett up to bat. I don't remember who the pitcher was, but I do remember Brett hitting that ball down the left field line and the crowd erupting with noise when the ball left the park. Seeing the euphoria, seeing the love of baseball and the excitement of a living legend's career coming to a close cemented one thing in my mind: for the rest of my life, I was a Royals fan.

From that moment on, I've subjected myself to a life of pure torture. Really. Ask any other Royals fan.

Since Brett's retirement following the '93 season, the Royals haven't had a chance to get anywhere within sniffing distance of a World Series title. As a matter of fact, it's been hard for them to stay out of the cellar in their division. There was magic in '03 and, similar to the magic that played out in the North Side of Chicago, the season ended on disappointment but hope that next season could only be better. That's the only winning season I can remember, as the Royals have gone on to three straight 100-loss seasons.

During this time, the heart of Cardinal Nation has been pulsing with life. After their pennant in '04 and LCS loss in '05, I was confident the Cards were going to see their season flush down the toilet again. After all, manager Tony La Russa is known for asking so much out of his players during the regular season that they're worn out and exhausted by the post season. It's happened for several years now. What's a few more? At least they can get to the post season.

When Adam Wainright threw that final pitch for the last out, eerily similar to Bruce Sutter's closing pitch in the '82 Series, I felt my stomach drop. This was only more torture, more things for Cardinal fans to throw at me during the off season. I'm made fun of at work for being the 'Royal activist', wearing my Royals cap during my shopping trips, and talking about the team with pride. How can you have pride in a team that sucks? Valid question. Any fan of a consistent winner will ask you that one.

Sure, it's easy to be a Yankee fan or a Cardinal fan. Heck, I'm sure it's easy to naturally assume they're going to be in the postseason. Multi-million dollar payrolls, Gold Glove winners, batters who can make any pitcher cringe, a great bullpen... it all adds up.

But life isn't always that easy, is it?

We can't naturally assume that life is going to go the way we want it. We know it has ups and downs, highs and lows, and the memory of the lows can sometimes overpower what highs we have had. But doesn't that make the highs all the more sweeter when they finally do happen?

Ask a Tiger fan. Three seasons ago, they were the punch-line of the American League, losing 119 games in a single season - tying a Major League record. Now they will start the 2007 season as the defending American League Champions. It can happen. It takes time.

Euphoria is a word that I've never known as a sports fan. I've never known a pennant or a conference championship, a division title. Thanks to the Chiefs I know of winning records, but not because of the Royals. Much like life - good things can happen on one side, but are still shaky on the other. I've never known a World Championship.

But I ache for it. I ache for it every season. Isn't that what being a sports fan is all about?

When my Dad asked me that question last night, I turned to him and pointed at my Royals shirt that was slowly becoming stained with my tears. Brokenly, I whispered, "That's going to be us someday."

And I believed it with all my heart. I made myself watch the celebration in St. Louis, logging away the heartbreak so that I could remember it clearly. When the Royals make it to the post season for the first time since 1985 - the year of their World Championship over (ironically) the St. Lois Cardinals -  I'll remember  that night and what it felt to have my heart broken. Then I'll think of those 100-loss seasons and the excellent players that we've let go over the years. Then I'll grin at the memory of it, because I'll be watching the Royals spray champagne over each other in the clubhouse much like the Cardinals did last night.

That's going to be us someday.

I know it will be. I've been patient for nearly twenty years. Euphoria will come soon.

Until then, all I have is faith.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
*in best Barney voice* "Have you met Mark?" (mark_clark)

Seriously, girl, you are not the only one of my online buds who is totally depressed by that outcome. My very lovely co-author Mark C is a dyed-in-the-wool Tigers fan - he has been posting a game recap on his LJ since the divisionals.

At least you'll have someone to commiserate with...
Oct. 28th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
I have not met mark_clark, but I've been following his recaps since I found he had a Tigers icon on one of your entries, and I knew he was a friend of yours. I might have to go lend him a hand or something. I'm still reeling over this outcome, and my team wasn't even in the World Series. : )
Oct. 28th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
As I most this comment, I wear a hat with the old english 'D' on it and I wear it proudly. I believe that the Royals will someday have a winning season and make the playoffs again. Hopefully after the Tigers win a World Series or two, lol.

The Tiges suffered 12 consecutive losing seasons and I don't think that's a record. They finally bought into a system that proved successful and hopefully with a few additions during the offseason, they make another run. I watched two other Detroit teams make the playoffs and fall short this year and my hope that the Tigers would win it all would make up for the Pistons and Red Wings not making it to their respective championship finals. Perhaps next year will be different.

One of the things that I hate is to see a team to make it all the way to the finals of any sport year after year, I love variety especially one time hasn't won a title in a long time. Those are the teams that I really cheer for.

The Royals need what the Tigers got: a good front office, key player acquisitions, a good manager and coaches, and some good on -field talent.

Don't lose faith, but it's very hard to keep it. Take from a long suffering Tigers fan, things will get better but it unfortunately takes time.
Oct. 28th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
As I post this comment, I'm wearing my Mark Teahen t-shirt jersey. I wear it proudly, too. : )

Hopefully after the Tigers win a World Series or two, lol.

Or TWO?! Gee, thanks. : ) Well, if the Yankees have won the Series four times since the Royals last title in '85, I guess I'll be patient. Just don't let the drought of two titles stretch for a long time, okay?

The Royals need what the Tigers got: a good front office, key player acquisitions, a good manager and coaches, and some good on -field talent.

You know the one thing that ticks me off the most? David Glass lives, eats, breathes, sleeps money and he doesn't invest it in his team. You'd think the co-chairman of WalMart could spend his time doing something a little beneficial with the organization. I like the changes going on in the front office though, but I'd love to see a new manager with a winning record instead of 'okay'. No chance for Joe Girardi I'm sure. We've got some decent fielding acquisitions, but not enough to get us anywhere at the moment. It's just a matter of time, though.

Sitting in Cardinal Country, it's going to be tough keeping the faith. But I love the looks I get from Cards fans when the Royals beat 'em, so I can deal with it. Patience is a thing I've learned to love.

I will take it from a 'long suffering Tigers fan', though. Your words are an encouragement and I thank you for them.
Oct. 28th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
I think the Tigers are due to be in a few WS and hopefully win their TWO, lol. The Cards may have won the WS, but the Tigers kicked their ass during Interleague play this year. Hopefull Jim Leyland can manage the AL all stars to a victory next year.

Changes to a team start with the owner and that's what Mike Illitch did with Red Wings and what he is doing now with the Tigers. Like I said, the right mix of management and talent will help. But what would really work is a salary cap in baseball. That would even the playing field for all the teams, its worked wonders in the NHL.

Plus, it's good to have a new friend.
Oct. 28th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
The Cards may have won the WS, but the Tigers kicked their ass during Interleague play this year.

That's the big reason why my money was on the Tigers. Then again, regular season play means nothing if your team can't perform in the post season. I can see Leyland getting the AL the win in the All-Star game, but, depending on how the Cards do this year in the All-Star category, it won't be an easy battle. Not that it ever is...

But what would really work is a salary cap in baseball.

I agree. If the salary cap issue can be resolved, I can see a lot of these cellar teams getting better in the future.

Don't get me started on the ownership, though. My blood pressure has been high all night, and I don't need it elevated now! : )

Plus, it's good to have a new friend.

New friend, indeed! One can never have enough baseball buddies! Welcome aboard!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 28th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)
Hugs are being passed out a lot today, huh? Not that I EVER complain about a hug. *hugs you back*

See, if Superman had been playing in left field, he wouldn't have missed that pop like Granderson did, or his fastballs would have been on the spot with no wild pitches. *knows she's dreaming* You can't blame the Tigers, though. Great job by the defending American League Champs!

I hate birds. Birds are stupid. *walks away muttering*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )