why 2015 is a year we will remember for the rest of our lives ...
“I was checked in by four;
Put the sign on the door.
Looked out the window
Of the seventeenth floor.
Talked to the city,
That knows me by name,
And all the bad things
That I do …
I shed five bitter tears?
Into five bitter beers!
Looked at my watch and said
Where have the years gone?
I’m wasting away,
Like a castle of clay,
Slowly crumbling too …
I get this pain.
It hits my brain.
Because every day?
I still think of you …”
-- “Every Monday”, by the most (the person formerly known as “the champ” voice) “criminitely” and “grousely” underrated band in modern music history – The Marvelous3. A sentiment I know that my favorite college hoops writer, @eamonnbrennan, shares passionately with me …
In case you haven't followed along, or were unaware of the project, the greatness that is Rany Jazayerli has posted his 218 biggest moments of the last two Royals seasons.
For the record, Number Eighteen is without question -- (allard baird voice) without question! -- my favorite of all of them. For the record, I watched Moment Eighteen at the P Otts on College after a sh*ttacular night of bowling, and let me tell you, when Kendrys Morales took Dallas Keuchel to the woodshed with what, at the time, became arguably the greatest home run this team has launched in my lifetime, I lost it. I could not stop crying for joy. I could not get enough of that replay.
But Game Five of that incredible Astros playoff series wasn't my favorite of the postseason.
Or even of the series.
(Although damned if the defining moment of the Royals / Astros series, didn’t rank fifth in Mr. Jazayerli’s countdown – ahead of every moment in time these last three seasons save for (a) the Series clinching out, (b) Salvy Perez’ single to win the 2014 Wild Card Game, (c) Eric Hosmer’s mad dash home to tie Game Five of the 2015 World Series in the 9th inning, and (d) the home run that replaced Mr. Morales’ effort as the unquestioned and inarguable greatest home run in franchise history, Alex Gordon’s tying shot in the bottom of the ninth of Game One of the 2015 World Series.)
Since the Royals just faced the Astros for the first time since that magical week seven months ago (Monday through Thursday in Houston), I thought I'd flash back to what is not only my favorite day of 2015, it might be my favorite day of my sports fan life.
Monday, October 12, 2015.
Buckle up, peoples and peepettes. This is going to be fun.
In order to properly put Monday, October 12, 2015 into perspective, you have to consider everything that occurred leading up to first pitch a little after noon that day – from not just the Boyz N Blue, but more specifically, the other team that occupies the Truman Sports Complex.
The Chiefs were coming off one of the most demoralizing losses in franchise history (and given that it's the Chiefs, that's saying something), blowing a two touchdown lead to a horrible Bears team, to lose 21-18 and sink to 1-4. That's bad.
Worse? Franchise back Jamaal Charles had left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. Season over. That's really bad.
Worst? The single most indefensible coaching decision of "Fat" Andy Reid's tenure, the decision with :04 left to have Cairo Santos attempt a 65 yard field goal for the tie, rather than have Alex Smith throw a 40 yard Hail Mary.
That's ... that's just utter and total insanity. Hell, it's worse than that -- that is utter and total indefensible insanity.
For starters, if you were there that afternoon, you know it was windy as hell. There was a solid 25-30 mph wind blowing into Mr. Santos' face. Secondly, even if the wind had been at his back, what are the odds, what are the f*cking odds, of a sixty five yard field goal being good at Arrowhead? Zero? Less than zero? Third, what has a higher likelihood of occurring: Cairo Santos draining a 65 yard field goal as time expires ... or the Chiefs lucking into some kind of a defensive penalty (pass interference, holding, illegal contact) that gives them a far better opportunity to try the field goal. To say nothing of the fact that, you know, there's the chance the ball might be caught for the winning points.
I've rarely left Arrowhead as enraged as I was that afternoon. At 2:15pm that gorgeous fall afternoon (it was perfect save for the wind), the Chiefs led by two touchdowns, Jamaal Charles was bleeding clock, I was about two first downs away from hitting “Perfect Game” status *, and I was ready to jump for joy in the grassy knoll north of the G30 sign to "Dancing On The Ceiling" in celebration.
The season, which needed salvation? Appeared to be saved.
Now, an hour later, the season and the franchise's best player lay in (stewie griffin voice) roo-eens, my pleasant disposition had turned ugly, and the only Lionel Richie song I had any interest in hearing was "Oh No", and go figure, that's not even a Lionel effort -- it's the Commodores finest hour **.
Dumb idiot coaching, coupled with indefensible on field performance, multiplied by irreplaceable loss to injury, and the Chiefs sat at 1-4, L4, already five full games behind the denver broncos (counting tiebreaker) with barely double that count to go. Worse yet, they had a trip to Minnesota up next, followed by the Steelers visiting for seems like their annual victory over the Red and Gold. Throw in looming roadies at denver, Baltimore, and our personal house of horrors (The Q), and this season was effectively over before the first leaves started falling.
And that? That was the positive news of the day!
Because no sooner did we get back to The Bus Barn, than Dallas Keuchel took over Game Three, defeating the Royals 4-2 to give the Astros a 2-1 Division Series lead, and knock the Royals to within 24 hours of elimination from the playoffs.
Much like what was happening at Arrowhead, the Royals true season? Was damned near over before it had barely begun.
It had been reduced to one last stand, to commence at 12:07pm CT, Monday, October 12, 2015.
Win ... or else everything this team, this franchise, this fanbase and this incredible city we call home, everything that had been building for three years, would probably never come to be.
(*: “Perfect Game Status”: when the Chiefs get a solid 14-17 point lead in the second half of an early regular season contest, because that means I can kick off the sandals, prop the feet up, and spend the rest of the game doing what I do better than anyone else in recorded human history: sit in the sun and drink, while wondering where the hell my t-shirt disappeared to.)
(**: my eleven favorite Commodores / Lionel Richie efforts: (11) Stuck On You (yup, still am, Mr. Richie, thirty years later); (10) Lady (not the Kenny Rogers hit, the Commodores hit by the same name); (9) Machine Gun (even if it has no lyrics, it's still a cool lil' tune); (8) Endless Love (terribly overrated); (7) Oh No (terribly underrated … and God do the lyrics never fail to hit me properly ***); (6) Hello (this music video deserves its own post); (5) Dancing On The Ceiling (it's the victory celebration song, after all); (4) Easy (about as perfect of a song as can be recorded); (3) Sail On (one of the greatest "f*ck you b*tch!" break up songs ever); (2) My Destiny (why he never released this as a single off "Back to Front" is beyond my limited comprehension); (1) Truly (not only my favorite effort by the bard known as Lionel Richie ... but the best ****).
(***: yes, “Oh No” IS The Commodores finest hour. Doubt me? Listen / read the lyrics. Go!
Verse Uno: “I want you? To want me! I’m going crazy? Knowing he will be? Your lover tonight! When he comes? I’ll let you go. I’ll just pretend? That you walked out the door. Oh no – I can’t sleep! Oh no – I’m going crazy with love? Over you!”
And that’s just Verse Uno!
Verse Dos (which somehow, is a hundred times better than the perfection Verse Uno is): “I need you? To need me! I want to hold you – but you’re holding someone else? In your arms! When I close my eyes? I see your face! I’m just not sure? How much my heart can erase. Oh no – I can’t think! Oh no – I’m going crazy with love? Over you!”
I cannot tell you people, how many times 18 Year Old Stevo, thought this song’s lyrics about his senior year in high school / freshman year in college crush … who probably needs a nickname, if only because Natalie was one of the few crushes I had? That dug me, far more than I dug her. And considering twenty years later, I still would meet that girl anywhere, anytime, anyplace, for anything? That’s saying something. Granted, not a positive something, but still – saying something.)
(****: true story time! For years – and I mean years – I always imagined the future Mrs. Stevo and, uuh, Mr. Stevo’s first dance, would be to “Truly”. I love that song irrationally. (Pause). I guess this is where the guy who is perfectly OK being single, cops to admitting, he’d like to meet “The One”, sooner rather than later. But I’m willing to cave on “Truly” for our first dance … provided it’s Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man”. Good bleeping God, that is hands down the best song of 2016. To say nothing of the best musical video in a long time. Sweet Jesus, where was a girl like that fifteen, twenty years ago! And more to the point – where the hell is she now?)
The day started off quiet yet busy. The good folks from True Green were scheduled to come aerate the Second Parents yard that afternoon, so the morning was spent moving plants and objects in the way?
Out of the way.
Once that was accomplished, it was time to set up The Deck for the game. I hauled the flat screen out of the basement, and went about arranging the patio Sunday Ticket style. There were going to be at least 12 people showing up to watch; that meant said flat screen needed to be perfectly visible from twelve different vantage points.
In case you’ve ever wondered what that setup looks like, I give you the setup for some random game over the last few pre-December months:
(The seat to the left of the red Chiefs cup, is mine for any event watched on The Deck. (mr. t voice) I pity the foo’ who sits next to Stevo on that couch! Also, I am 92.68% sure this was the setup for the Bengals game to begin October, based on the download file date it landed on my laptop in. Image Credit: me, via my iPhone 6.)
After stocking up The Beer Machine with what everyone wanted (and yes, I may or may not have had a frosty cold Coors Light or two off of my row), and a healthy breakfast of biscuits and gravy, hash browns with corned beef, and some potent bloody mary's, it was game time.
At exactly high noon, the DirecTV receiver took over the screen, noting that we needed to allow an upgrade to download and process, that would take about ten minutes. Said message gave us the option of delaying the upgrade by an hour. I chose to delay the upgrade, since after all, the whole point of having that receiver on at that moment was to watch the Royals / Astros Game Four. We ain't got no time for your stinkin' upgrade!
Slowly yet surely, folks began to arrive. Chris' comment when she arrived was simply yet necessary:
(chris) you didn't buy any champagne, did you?
(stevo) no. Hell no! That ain't going so well for the Chiefs!
(chris) no sh*t.
I guess I should note: it is tradition that I buy a bottle of champagne for each consecutive win, plus one for the win to come, for Chiefs tailgating. Needless to say, it was a really lonely bottle of champagne the first six weeks of the season. (Pause). What? (Pause). Well hell yes, buying a dozen bottles of champagne for the Patriots game was expensive! But it was worth it!
Unlike many other playoff games in 2015, Game Four did not start for the Royals with Alcides Escobar putting the first pitch in play. In fact, he didn't even swing at the first pitch he saw from Astros starter Lance McCullers. But the sixth pitch he faced did get put into play -- right off his body. Plunked to start the festivities.
Sadly, the Royals could do nothing in the top of the first, leaving the runner. Thankfully, the Astros weren't much better, leaving two on in their half of the inning. Zero to zero after one.
In the top of the second, though, the Royals took the lead by more than a run for the first time in the series. After a Mike Moustakas walk, Salvy Perez strolled to the plate. On the fourth pitch, the hero of last September launched the pitch high, deep, and gone. Royals 2, Astros 0, Top Two, in the first "must win" game the Royals had faced since Game Seven to end the previous year's World Series. No matter what, at least this year, the Royals would hold a lead in the biggest game of the season.
In the middle of the inning, I ran in to use the bathroom. When I came back out at almost exactly 1pm, that DirecTV upgrade message had once again appeared on the screen. I chose to delay the upgrade installation for another hour.
I then retrieved a frosty cold Coors Light out of my row in the Beer Machine *****, and settled back down in my seat for the start of the third inning, the Royals leading, 2-1.
(*****: for the record, let’s see how well I know everybody’s row. Russ is on top, usually with High Life, but if we’ve made a trip to Texas recently (or Texas has made a trip to us), it’s Red Dog. Mona’s row is next (Miller Lite). Oh – and their rows are double stacked. Hey, you own the machine? You get to double stack your beer of choice!
Then my row – which (senator edward m. kennedy voice) you can bet your ass is always Coors Light. Then Cindy’s row (Bud Light). Then Susan’s row (Diet Coke – she’s not a drinker). Then Joyce and Jerry’s (Miller 64). Then Gus’ (Busch Light). The next two to three rows are for out of town visitors – when the South Dakota folks are here, it’s Miller Lite; when Jeff and Paula are here, its Bud Light. The next to last row is cans of tonic water when they’re available (to be mixed with vodka and fresh limes, of course), and the bottom row is for whatever beer catches the fancy of someone when they hit up the liquor store. Believe me when I say, the saddest day of the year? At least for me? Is the day the machine is emptied and unplugged, for the winter.)
The Royals go quietly – one, two three – in the top of the third. And in the bottom of the third, a third baseball found its way to the (not even remotely) cheap seats – this time, our “good friend” Carlos Correa, who drills the first offering from Mr. Ventura over the wall, to tie the game at two.
As Houston celebrated, The Deck was turning strangely quiet. The early optimism that Salvy’s homer provided, had faded in five hitters, via two “no doubt about it” dongs. Once again, the Royals had struck blow early, and once again, the Astros had answered the punch with a solid one-two comeback combo of their own.
After three, the game was tied at two.
And would remain tied at two, until the bottom of the fifth, when once again, with two outs, our “good friend” Carlos Correa delivered, this time a double to right that scored George Springer, to put the Astros ahead 3-2.
The bottom of the fifth was it for starter Yordano Ventura, and having given up three runs in five innings, it meant that for the fourth time in the series – and the fourth time in the four playoff games staged so far – the Royals starter had failed to record a “quality start”.
Call me crazy, say I’m a little naïve … but when you starter is getting lit like me on Thanksgiving morning ******?
You’re in deep, deep trouble, my friends.
Through five, Astros 3, Royals 2.
(******: the last few years, Thanksgiving morning has taken on a tradition for me and my family. Well, at least me and my mom.
In my family, we have our big family Thanksgiving on the Wednesday before, at my brother and his wife’s house. And it’s never turkey that we have – always Italian. Then I stay over at my folks that night, and stay at my brother’s to dogsit on Thanksgiving night and if need be, that Friday as well.
But Thanksgiving morning, when I get up, my mom and I get the Christmas decorations out, and get them all up and ready. (Dad just can’t do it anymore, after his near death a couple years ago.) How, you ask, do you properly get up a couple trees, a bunch of ornaments, and hang stuff outside when its 22 degrees with a howling wind and sleet / snow? Easy – mimosas. Lots and lots of mimosas. By the time I have turkey with the ‘rents around noon? The drunk to sober ratio is heavily tilted towards drunk.)
The top of the sixth saw another one, two, three half inning for the Boyz N Blue. The Royals at this point only had three hits, and none since Moose had singled to open the fourth.
Also in the top of the sixth, that damned DirecTV upgrade screen popped up again. I squashed it like a pro at this point, delaying that sucker another hour. I even made a comment, something along the lines of “yeah, you’re no match for me today, DirecTV!” that got a decent round of laughs.
I ran to the bathroom after that half inning, grabbed another frosty cold one, and noticed something that surprised me occur when the FOX Sports broadcast returned.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, according to the old saying. If you needed any indication as to how desperate the Royals were at this point – trailing with just nine more guaranteed outs to play on their season?
Ned Yost brought in Kelvim Herrera to start the sixth.
That one surprised me, and I even said so out loud. I was stunned the call wasn’t to Ryan Madson. That seemed the more reasonable choice for the sixth. Especially with the lower third of the Astros lineup due up in the half inning. Why not use Madson against the weaker part of the lineup, and have Herrera face the heart of it?
Herrera did what Kelvim Herrera do – he struck out the side, to get this thing to the seventh still in manageable shape.
It was about 2:20pm CT when the sixth ended. To this point, the first two hours and change of this game, had been fun, and stressful, but not exactly exciting. Certainly not memorable.
All that was about to change. Big time.
After Moose led off the top of the seventh with a harmless grounder to first, Salvy Perez stepped into the batters box. For better or for worse, the defining at-bat of the game had arrived.
Even if it took almost an hour, to figure that out.
On the second pitch he saw, Salvador Perez was plunked. Not drilled, but definitely plunked. And perhaps, even if Mr. Perez had reached via a base hit, or a walk, or some other method of reaching that didn’t involve a ninety plus mile an hour pitch hitting him in the leg, perhaps Ned Yost doesn’t pinch run in that spot.
But one on, one out, top seven, trailing by one, in a do-or-die, win-or-else ballgame of critical importance, with a slow catcher who had just been plunked by one standing on first, perhaps Ned Yost had no choice.
Because Nedley made his move. And his move was to insert Terrence Gore, to run for Salvy Perez.
And with the move made, AJ Hinch made his. Which, to be fair, was getting made irregardless of who was standing on first. Lance McCullers 110th pitch, would be his last. In from the bullpen trotted Will Harris.
The next twenty minutes would see these three moments entwined in one at bat – a hit by pitch, leading to a pinch runner, giving way to a relief pitcher – cause both fanbases to feel pure ecstasy … and both fanbases to feel the cruelest that agony can offer.
To the surprise of noone, Terrence Gore lit out on Will Harris’ first pitch, and successfully stole second. At the plate was Alex Gordon, and really, if you’re the Royals, this is just about the dream scenario, isn’t it? The fastest (or one of the two fastest) guys on the team standing at second, one out, and the f*cking franchise standing at the plate.
Sadly, Alex Gordon did not deliver in the seventh – he struck out swinging at ball two.
Now, with a runner at second, but two out, and Alex Rios strolling to the plate, Nedley Yost decided on an incredible roll of the dice. A move that if it worked, might shift the momentum of the series to the Royals for good. A move that if it failed, might be the moment two hours from then, that everyone pointed to as the “how could you do that; you cost us the game and the f*cking season!” maneuver.
Ned sent Terrence Gore, attempting to steal third. At first, Mr. Gore is ruled safe. Then comes the challenge. Then comes the replay review.
And then, after what seemed like a four hour delay, then came the crushing reality. Terrence Gore wasn’t safe. He was out. And the inning – and potential rally – was over.
On The Deck, I was irate. I was that guy screaming at how stupid and reckless sending Mr. Gore there was. It wasn’t needed. A wasted out. Fuming mad, I grabbed another Coors Light, only to notice that it was the last one in the Beer Machine.
Yeah – this was going from bad to worse, fast.
Seventh inning stretch time – Astros 3, Royals 2, and the heart of the order coming up, “Deep In The Heart of Texas”.
Kelvim Herrera started the seventh. Faced one batter, Jose Altuve. And walked him.
That sent Ned Yost to the mound, and he wasted no time. In from the bullpen trotted Ryan Madson.
And on The Deck, this hot as hell (at the time) 38 year old lost it all over again. I was beyond irate that we’d wasted Herrera on the bottom of the order, and were turning to a less desirable option to face the heart of the lineup now as a result.
Two home runs, three plated Astros, two curtain calls, and three outs later – to say nothing of me damned near having my first of what will be at least a couple myocardial infarctions – the Royals get out of it.
But sweet Jesus, the damage was done. Six outs remaining in the season, and the Royals trailed by four. This season was all but officially over.
After seven, Astros 6, Royals 2.
I stormed off to use the bathroom again, and remembering my row of Coors Lights was drained, I poured myself about the stiffest Weller and Diet I’ve ever poured in my life. I think maybe two drops of Diet Coke made it into the drink; the rest was straight whiskey.
Had I not plowed through a twelve pack in barely a couple hours, then I wouldn’t have needed an extra 30, 45 seconds to fix a drink.
Thirty to forty five seconds, that occurred at exactly 3pm CT.
How, you ask, do I know that?
Because as everyone came back out (we all needed a break after that half inning) we realized in horror that nobody had been there, to stop the DirecTV update. And once that bastardo starts, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. And believe me, I tried everything, including unplugging the receiver. The download just continued once the receiver was plugged back in.
For a solid eight minutes, this was the view on The Deck:
(photo: me, via my iPhone 6.)
Finally, at 3:08pm CT, the update was finished, and I frantically typed in the Fox Sports 1 channel (which I believe is 213 … but it might be 214. I just know it’s located right about the last ESPN channel, on the DirecTV tier).
It is at that exact moment, that the True Green lawn folks show up. There were four of them, and to protect the potentially guilty, I’ll leave names out. (That, and I don’t necessarily remember all of them.) Like us, they’d written this game off after the seventh. And (by choice, as opposed to DirecTV hostile takeover) they too had failed to catch the eighth inning up to this point.
As they came strolling in through the gate to the back patio, as the picture came back on, and showed the current reality, the chick in the group of True Green lawn folks said it best:
“Holy f*cking sh*t! Is this for real?”
When the picture came back on, Lorenzo Cain had just singled to drive home Alex Rios. Apparently, this was the fourth straight single the Royals had successfully managed against Will Harris, and now, the bases were loaded, nobody was out, the score was 6-3, and Eric bleeping Hosmer was strolling to home plate.
The lawn folks sought out Russ and Mona to get started … who politely informed said yard folks that “this (meaning the aeration) can wait until this (meaning the game) is over, ok?” The lawn folks happily agreed. I offered them a beer, happily accepted, to watch the inning unfold.
Our party of about twelve, was now pushing twenty, between the late arrivals and folks “on the clock for the man”.
I guarantee you, NONE of the twenty some odd of us crammed onto that patio, saw what happened next, coming.
Eric Hosmer singled off new Astros reliever Tony Sipp (who’d locked the Royals down in the series so far). Now it’s 6-4, the bases are still loaded, there’s still nobody out, and to the batters box strolled Dayton Moore’s biggest free agent acquisition of the offseason – if not of his career – designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
I mentioned at the start of this post, that Mr. Morales’ home run about 53, 54 hours later, would be my favorite moment of this run the Royals have made the last three years. That one swing of the bat was utter and total validation that this was real, and it was spectacular. There was no denying who the best team on the field was, and it was the one who had just taken the Cy Young Award winner to (reggie jackson voice) “second f*cking base” *******.
But to get to that moment that reduced me to a crying mess 53, 54 hours later, Mr. Morales had to do something that even I concede, was greater.
He had to navigate this at bat, without destroying “The Comeback” ********.
That, he would do.
It’s how it was done, that to this moment, still defies any semblance of logic, reason, or rational thought.
(*******: this might be my favorite f*cking quote of all time. When asked by a f*cking NBC f*cking reporter after Game f*cking Six of the f*cking 1977 World Series, when he hit three f*cking home runs … in three f*cking at bats … off of three different f*cking Dodgers pitchers, the f*cking reporter asked him if he knew where the last of the three (a shot off the façade in right field) f*cking blasts had ultimately f*cking landed. Reggie’s f*cking response? “Second f*cking base”. Meaning, he hit the bastard so f*cking hard, it flew all the way back to the f*cking infield, when it hit the f*cking façade. That’s one f*cking awesome quote, if you f*cking ask me.)
(********: no, not this “comeback”.)
After taking a strike, Kendrys Morales swung at the second pitch he saw. He hit a bouncing grounder right back at Tony Sipp. Mr. Sipp appeared to have gotten a glove on it, and slightly altered the trajectory of the ball.
If Tony Sipp fields that ball cleanly, it’s a double play, and while a run would have scored, it would have been 6-5, runner at third, two out.
Once it got past Tony Sipp, the next player with a crack at it was Carlos Correa, the hero of the game, the Astros season, and to this point, the Divisional Series. If Carlos Correa fields the ball even semi-cleanly, he easily gets Eric Hosmer at second, and probably the double play occurs, with the anything but speedy Kendrys Morales lumbering towards first.
But somehow, the ball went under Carlos Correa’s glove, and on into center field. Two runs score. Royals 6, Astros 6. Still nobody out, runners at first and third.
In Houston, there was utter silence. On The Deck, I can assure you, our cries of joy were heard two blocks away, because Alex (the newbie who lives across Woodson) heard the shouts of celebration as he left his garage, headed our way to watch the rest of the game.
My phone was blowing up. My brother’s only response just about mirrored mine: “holy sh*t!” My co-worker Dusti: “I can’t even imagine how crazy it is (on The Deck) right now. It’s insane (here at the office)!” Anthony: “can you believe this?” Even my buddy Rudy up in South Dakota (a gigantic Twins fan): “I wish my team gave me one game like this!”
Uuh, Rude Dog? They did. It’s called “1991 World Series,Game Six”.
To say nothing of Game Seven that year.
The crowd on The Deck just kept growing. No sooner did Alex walk in, than Chris’ boyfriend Freddie came in. A huge Yankees fan, Freddie hated the Astros almost as much as all of us did (since, after all, they’d ended the Yankees season exactly one week earlier, ruining the matchup damned near every Royals fan wanted – to face the Yankees in October for the first time since I was four.)
Dan, the neighbor across the street, came over armed with a bottle of Fireball, and even the youth minister who bought Joyce and Jerry’s old house down the street strolled up to watch the last few innings with us foul-mouthed, half-tipsy heathens.
After Mike Moustakas struck out (and Jarrod Dyson, pinch running for Kendrys Morales, stole second), at damned near exactly one hour to the moment from when he was plunked, Salvador Perez’ backup approached home plate, for his first (and ultimately only) at bat of the postseason.
Because for all the excitement of the previous fifteen minutes – and all the depression of the previous fifteen minutes – the fact remained that the Royals still hadn’t come all the way back yet. They had runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out.
But this was still a tie game. The Astros still had more outs to play with than the Royals did. And oh yeah, the season now fell on a dude who hadn’t even seen playing time in four weeks.
A dude by the name … of Drew Butera.
Tony Sipp was yanked for Luke Gregorson, as Drew Butera came to the plate. Again, from that whole “desperate times call for desperate measures” department – AJ Hinch was turning to his closer, with five outs to go in a tie game, at home. He wanted no part of a Game Five in Kansas City.
And given how that turned out, you really can’t blame him for feeling that way.
But of all the people to turn to, to stop a Royals rally from down four with six outs to play, of ALL the people in this universe to turn to, to hang on at the end?
Yeah. Luke Gregorson wouldn’t even be on my elongated list. Let alone the short list.
Let alone the roster.
If a walk can be a thing of greatness, then the next ten pitches were greatness on steroids, at the height of the Barry Bonds Era.
Because after pitch number ten, Drew Butera drew a walk, to reload the bases, and send to the plate Alex Gordon.
How huge was this walk? For starters, it didn’t result in an out, and really, that’s about the only reason it’s huge.
If Drew Butera makes an out, instead of drawing a base on balls, then Alex Gordon’s groundout to follow doesn’t score the winning run, it ends the inning.
If Drew Butera makes an out, instead of drawing a base on balls, then Eric Hosmer never bats in the ninth inning, to belt the two-run home run that put the game out of reach.
Hell, you can reasonably argue that if Drew Butera makes an out, instead of drawing a base on balls? Then the Royals don’t win Game Four, and their season ends on late in the afternoon of Monday, October 12, 2015, the best day of the year for me, and for many other Royals fans as well.
But we don’t have to wonder “what if”, and we don’t have to reasonably argue, because Drew Butera took ball four, on a pitch close enough that most hitters swing at it.
Again, call me crazy, and say I’m a little naïve, but if Alex Gordon deservedly has a statue of his reaction to tying Game One of the 2015 World Series with his bottom of the ninth home run, erected in the Outfield Plaza someday?
I’m good for a $20, to contribute to a fund to build a statue of Drew Butera looking at Ball Four, in the top of the eighth inning, of Game Four of the 2015 Divisional Series.
We all know what happened over the remaining thirty some odd minutes, after Drew Butera walked.
Alex Gordon drove home the winning run with a simple groundout.
Eric Hosmer did get one additional at bat, and he deposited it in the bleachers in right-center field, to put on ice what for many teams would be the greatest comeback in franchise history … but for the Boyz N Blue, might be only the fourth or fifth greatest comeback of the last two seasons alone.
Wade Davis faced seven hitters; six of them failed to reach base.
The Royals won Game Four 9-6, extended the season one more game, and then won Game Five 7-2 in a game in which starter Johnny Cueto gave up one hit (lionel richie voice) all night long.
And the Royals never trailed in a series again, disposing of the Blue Jays in six, and the Mets in five.
As the great Ian Darke noted six years ago, in what can only be described as one of the most “holy f*cking sh*t!” endings in sports:
“You could not write a script like this!”
Well, of course I couldn’t. Jesus, anyone who has ever read this site knows I’m not talented enough, I’m not creative enough, I’m not dedicated enough … (pause) … fine – I’m usually not sober enough, to write a script as captivating, as engaging, as incredible, as the script the Royals have written over the last two seasons.
I could not write a script like we’ve seen unfold in so many venues, over the last year.
But I can write a recap about them.
We’ve all seen “Hoosiers”. (And if you haven’t, you should.) The pivotal scene is when Jimmy shows up at the meeting where Coach is being sh*t canned, and simply says “I don’t know if it’ll make any difference or not, but I reckon it’s time I start playing ball.”
Readers and readettes? I don’t know if it’ll make any difference or not, but I reckon it’s time I start posting again.
There’s a lot I’d love to say about the 2016 election.
There’s a lot I’d love to say about the NBA season about to end – and the playoffs about to begin. (To put it mildly, I think this is the best year in NBA history in many regards, and I think the Western Conference playoffs may be the best month-long run of greatness in sports history, when they’re said and done six weeks from now. (Pause). What? (Pause). Yeah, good point – the only team Golden State hasn’t mopped the floor with the last two seasons? Your likely three seed in the East, the most storied franchise in The Association … led by the one coach not residing in San Antonio, smart enough to outthink and outcoach Steve Kerr for a ten day stretch in mid-June. To say nothing of the fact that Brad Stevens is the only coach with the balls not named Gregg Popovich, to believe he has the smarts and skill to outthink and outcoach Steve Kerr for a ten day stretch in mid-June.)
The only hockey team I give a sh*t about, has home ice advantage throughout the NHL postseason for the first time since … well, since I lived in the Metroplex. Welcome back to meaningful existence in my life, Dallas Stars!
We’re barely six weeks away from the most monumental Indy 500 ever – the 100th.
I’m barely 90 days away from seeing a milestone I never imagined achieving when I showed up on Thursday, June 29, 2006, for an interview at current employer: Year Eleven. (I officially hit Year Eleven on July 10th, God willing.)
And man, how many of us are about to hit a milestone birthday none of us are necessarily happy to achieve … but have to secretly admit, we’re proud we’re there – the big Four Oh.
My buddy “The Perpetual Intern” is about to welcome twins into his life. “bts” is about to welcome his second kid. Thank God, I’m not about to welcome my first, at least that I’m aware of, so all is good in the baby making section of my world!
If you’re coming to The Pool this summer, you’ll notice some changes that I think will be agreeable. The “New Deck” construction got underway on Monday. It is my sincere and genuine hope that every person reading this, gets to spend at least one day floating in the pool, enjoying a Stevo-style vodka tonic while taking in the soothing pipes of Ryan Lefebvre and the annoying pipes of Rex Hudler, at least once this summer.
My great friend Penny began her new career. Thirty months ago she was downsized from my current employer. She has spent damned near every moment since that disgraceful, indefensible decision by my current employer, to get to where she is: as a registered nurse at one of our fine hospitals in this amazing metropolitan area we call home.
And – oh yeah – we’re barely three months from everyone’s favorite summer obsession – “The Chenbot”, and the sixteen worthless bar-flys, bartenders, delusional models, the token angry black chick, the token flamboyant gay dude, and the “wait, this is the role Stevo was born to play!” houseguest – entering our lives, via the greatness that is “Big Brother” *********.
(*********: admit it: love me or hate me, I’d be the biggest thing trending on Twitter for as long as my season of Big Brother airs. Because I do have a pair, and I’m not scared to use them … but I also have an incredible ability to somehow, someway, hold things together that seem unsustainable. Such as my own self-existence in life, for example.
That, and come on – all I’d have to do for ten weeks is sit in the sun with a shirt off, get drunk once the sun goes down, while sarcastically mocking my fellow contestants – and occasionally, it is all caught on camera to my mommy’s great shame.
Really? That’s worth half a million dollars?
That’s me on a typical Tuesday in August for Christ’s sake!)
There’s so many things going on I’d like to comment on.
For far too long, I’ve held it in, be it out of laziness, a lack of motivation, a lack of whatever.
When I look back at the origins of this site, I notice a lot of the posts tend to be no more than a couple quick paragraphs, rather than the next great American novel the last couple years worth of posts have tended to devolve into.
I reckon it’s time to start blogging again.
I hope you’ll be here to read it.
I started "This Comeback" with a post I’d been working on since the day it occurred – Monday, October 12, 2015.
It is my sincere hope, I never again take half a year, to chronicle greatness, when it occurs.
And it is my sincere hope, I never leave you hanging for half a year again, waiting for said chronicle of greatness.
Because “Every Monday”? Should matter.
If only because the Royals came really, really, really damned close, to making verse two of that epic song from 1999, the opening lyrics, that epic Monday six months ago:
“I was f*cked up by five!
Talkin’ nothin’ but jive!
Told the bartender,
He’d never take me alive!
All of this because
My favorite show?
Was cancelled last night
On TV …”