Sunday at the ballpark

Today was a lucky day because I got to go to a Royals game.

My friend John texted me Friday afternoon to say he had a couple tickets to this afternoon's game and wondered if I wanted to go with him. Of course I wanted to go with him. But I had to check with the Mrs. first. She said yes. I said yes.

So, after another long and stormy night of having Faye wrestling with Kates and I for room in our bed, I traveled to Kansas City this morning. I picked up John at his place and we headed for the stadium.

I drove through a heavy thunderstorm about halfway between The 'Ville and Kansas City, and the storm found me again as we arrived at the stadium. ... Go figure. Every time I've gone to Kauffman Stadium this summer, rain has followed. And on a related note, I heard this weather stat the other day: During the month of July we received about 17 inches of rain. Our average annual rainfall is around 34 inches. So much for that drought so many people were forecasting for our region this summer.

John and I dodged the rain by going through the Royals Hall of Fame, and the rain had ceased by the time we returned outside. We made a pit stop for some food - I went with a chilli cheese dog with a Mountain Dew today - and headed to our seats in the lower level on the first base side.

Today was Star Wars Day at The K. But it sounded better to me than it looked. I expected, and hoped for, a lot of good people watching. People dressed as the array of Star Wars characters. Lots of storm trooper and Darth Vadar costumes. But it wasn't that way at all, and the most common sight was girls with their hair in buns a la Princess Leia. Slugerrr also was dressed as a Jedi and he participated in a couple skits with Darth Vadar, Darth Maul, and some storm troopers on the field between innings. The Crown Vision flashed Star Wars trivia between innings, too. 

And John took a picture of this guy boarding a minivan, not the Millennium Falcon, in the parking lot after the game.

A photo posted by photogwingsfan (@photogwingsfan) on

As for the game, I got to see another good one. Facing the White Sox, the Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom the first inning on a  and a Kendrys Morales home run.

Starting pitcher Danny Duffy seemed to be rolling, getting 1-2-3 innings in the first and second. But he lost his control in the top of the third and the White Sox squared off on him to tie it up. Ned Yost didn't waste any time pulling Duffy and brought in Kris Medlen, who held the Sox hitless for the next 3 2/3 innings.

The Royals went ahead, 4-3, in the fifth inning, but the White Sox tied it again in the eighth. The White Sox tied it just after Mike Moustakas made a diving stop on a Jose Abreu ground ball and threw him out while keeping Adam Eaton at third base. Heck, I hadn't realized Moustakas came into the game; Ben Zobrist had been manning third up to that inning.   

The Royals put it away in the bottom of the eighth inning, though. After Alex Rios got on and advanced to third base, Omar Infante came to the plate and hit a slow roller on the first base side. Jose Abreu fired the ball to home plate, but Rios slid under the tag. Then  Ryan Madson shut down the White Sox in the ninth to give the Royals the 5-4 win and a series sweep.

Here's the game winner ...

And, for the cherry on top, we got to see Salvy Perez dump the ice bucket on Madson.

Here's the view of Salvy's ice dump from where I was standing  ... 

Having watched the Royals win another thriller in front of a blue-clad capacity crowd at Kauffman Stadium -- a long way from the losing ways of just a few years ago -- I'm again left wondering, What world is this?! The Royals are 66-44 with a winning percentage of .604. They are 11 1/2 games ahead of the Twins -- the exact same margin of the five other division leaders combined -- and they are the only AL Central team with a winning record. ... What world is this?!

It also felt really good to attend a game with a friend who enjoys baseball as much as I do and focus on the action on the field. It's been awhile since I've had that privilege.

Meanwhile, after last weekend's escapades and extending their winning streak to eight games today, the Blue Jays still scare the heck out of me when it comes to the Royals and the postseason.

(Updated 08.10.2015) One team I'm not scared of and would love to see the Royals face in, oh, the World Series: the Chicago Cubs, who swept the Giants over the weekend. Sadly, distance and change -- ownership, the roster, Wrigley Field, no more WGN -- has softened my affection for them in recent years, but I still yearn from afar to see them in the postseason and especially a World Series.
Yes, the Cubs made it look relatively easy against the defending World Series champions for their first four-game sweep of the Giants since 1977 — a gigantic step indeed. Not since the end of 2008 — their last playoff season — have the Cubs been 14 games over .500. ...

For the first time since the Ricketts family bought the team in 2009, the Cubs are for real. ~David Haugh, Chicago Tribune

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