Without a doubt, this has been the hardest weekend in a while to sit down and write. Usually, baseball is an escape for me, especially here on this blog. Yes, I will occasionally write about a bar, restaurant, or event in Kansas City in my Royals City posts, but for the most part, this blog is dedicated to baseball…Royals baseball specifically.
However, it’s been difficult for me to concentrate on anything else other than what is going on in our nation and Kansas City, specifically, in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
On Saturday afternoon, around 6 or so, I was able to meet someone for drinks at Kelly’s in Westport. It was the first time I had been in a bar since COVID broke out, and it was great to be in a place that was not just a classic KC establishment, but one that brought back some Royals memories as well (I remember watching some games at Kelly’s during the Royals 2015 run). Our conversation started well enough, as we talked a lot about baseball, how we both had tickets to Opening Day this year (until it got cancelled), how her family raised her on Royals baseball, and how I became one despite growing up in California.
Unfortunately, sitting at a tall table by the bar of Kelly’s, things got real when protesters en route to the Plaza for the Saturday #BLM rally, marched through the strip of Westport. Nearly everyone in Kelly’s went quiet and turned to the streets, including me and my date. And everyone felt that swoon of dread that things were going to be different in the Plaza Saturday night in comparison to the peaceful and relatively “quiet” protests on Friday night.
Since then, it’s been a struggle to focus on Royals baseball. I have been glued to Twitter and the news, watching the protests and riots not just in KC, but nationally as well, over the past two days. That being said, KC is the one that has been on my mind the most. Kansas City is a special community. Kansas City has grown a lot and become more diverse over the past couple of decades, and even though surrounding areas of KC can be a bit more conservative, Kansas City itself tends to be more progressive, and hence, a balance is able to be found in the Metro despite those political differences for the most part.
However, despite KCPD’s and Mayor Lucas’ best intentions, Saturday night proved that KC is not immune to the problems plaguing other cities across the nation. KC is not without citizens who are frustrated over the racial inequality in this city. KC is not immune to its share of chaos, as I have never in my seven-plus years in Kansas City seen tear gas, rioting, and vandalism to the extent I witnessed on the Plaza on Saturday night.
It’s hard to find balance in all of this. I stand with the #BLM movement and believe in the protests and their cause. It’s sickening to see what happened to George Floyd on tape, and it’s even more nauseating to see that there was a delay in justice for his murder. However, to see cars burning, stores being looted…it’s difficult to watch. I grew up in California, and even though I was very young, I do remember vividly the LA Riots of 1992. It was hard to see then watching it on a television screen, and now see something similar happen in my current city, just minutes away. It’s hard to fathom. It’s hard to figure out what is the right way to think about everything, if there is a right way at all.
And specifically, it’s hard to think about baseball…especially with no games scheduled, and a season perhaps even more in question.
The past couple of days have been deflating for someone who lives in Kansas City. And the current state of Major League Baseball only seems to add into the frustration, currently. Negotiations seem to be shaky between owners and players at this point, as players offered a 114 game season, only to be counter-offered by the owners wanting to shorten the season anymore, as they now want 50 or so games instead of their 80-82 initial proposal. While this kind of “offer/counter-offer” process is to be expected in any negotiation, we have just begun the month of June, and it feels like the clock is dwindling when it comes to finding an agreement. And that makes me as a baseball fan nervous, since it feels like if something doesn’t happen this week, the likelihood of a 2020 season may be kaput.
There’s a lot to be frustrated about now, not just as a Royals baseball fan, but as a person in general. It hasn’t been easy to sleep or find much hope in anything. That being said, there have been some glimpses of some good things to be proud of as a Royals fan. I challenged Sherman and the Royals ownership group to do the right thing when it came to paying Minor League players, and the Royals stepped up and then some:
The Royals, the second-least valuable franchise in baseball, made a commitment that few other organizations were willing to make. Now, it seems like the Royals have set the standard of what a baseball team should be doing with their Minor League players, and it’s a great thing. It shows the character of our ownership group and Sherman. It shows the character of general manager Dayton Moore, who continues to garner my respect as a Royals baseball fan with his actions and further prove that he is indeed the perfect man for the job in Kansas City. And it shows the character of our City, that even despite it’s small market and club that has lost over 100-games two years in a row, the Royals will always try to do the right things for the players and fans.
It’s been a challenging few days. But then I remember that Royals player announcement, and recall how current and former players came out in their support of the Royals, and it does pique my passion somewhat for Royals baseball to begin again soon. I’m still recovering of course, and that’s why I’m writing this rather than the typical analytical piece you would find on this blog.
But in a day or two, I will be fine. Royals baseball is like that for me. It reminds me…that despite all the challenges and heartache and frustration I feel personally, at the end of the day, KC is a great place to live, and be a baseball fan in. The protests, riots and the clashes on social media in regard to them has taken a lot from me, drained me almost. It made me question a lot about humanity and our society and how we can recover.
That being said, I know Royals baseball, with all the good vibes going for them during this COVID suspension, will nourish me, and other Royals fans soon enough…whenever it is.
Maybe Royals baseball won’t solve all the problems of Kansas City.
But it certainly will help the healing process…