Dear Readers: This column was published back in the day when there was not much hope about the Kansas City Royals winning the Pennant, let alone the Division. That changed, as the photo below shows, with the Royals celebrating their big win in the 5th game of the 2015 World Series v. the Mets in New York.
Here then is a look back at one of my columns about the Kansas City Royals–Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) First published April 9, 2009, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.
Photo flashback: Royals win 2015 World Series
“You always get a special kick on Opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio.
Brimming with optimism as I drove along the interstate, I tuned the dial to sports radio hoping to find a pleasurable experience listening to the Kansas City Royals on Home Opening Day 2009.
And truthfully, I found one, even though the “boys in blue” had already lost their season opener away at the Chicago White Sox.
Yes, each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.
Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series.
The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.
“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness,” author George Vecsey writes in A Year in the Sun (1989).
Thus, beating back my own disappointing memories, I decided to believe, really believe, in the home team despite its heart-breaking precedent and its past mediocrity.
The ghosts of failure would not haunt me this season, I vowed.
After all, it was Opening Day. They might win!
They did not.
However, these guys are pretty good, or so they say in Chicago.
The son who moved to the Chicago area called to say the local media there were highly respectful of the Royals and that they have some real talent on board this year. “The Sox won,” he reported.
The son who moved to Boston sent an iPhone photo from Opening Day at Fenway where the Boston Red Sox were playing Tampa Bay. “The Sox won,” the lucky duck texted.
So, should we rename our team Sox, I pondered? How about the Kansas City Royal Sox? Has a nice ring to it.
Not discouraged yet, I called the son who lives in Kansas City to tell him how great the Royals were in defeat. He quickly reminded me that I say this every Opening Day.
Baseball-almanac.com agrees, “Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can’t wait to hear those two magic words again, Play Ball!”
And if you will, those magic words, “We won!”
The late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster, summed up best our Opening Day dreams with his original on-air radio poem, titled “365”:
“When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.
In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.
They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the Pennant on Opening Day.”