Another Royal day for baseball

The Royals are heading to the American League Championship for the second consecutive year.

What a game. What a series.

I’m feeling relieved this one’s over and they’re moving on. All the emotions.

Random thoughts, reflections and observations from the day …

I turned on the Toronto radio feed in my office this afternoon to begin listening to the Rangers-Blue Jays game shortly after the first pitch. I was totally rooting for the Rangers, and early on it looked like they had it in hand with a 2-0 lead.

Then things got crazy in the seventh inning …

First there was this ...

Then there was this ...

And this ...

Oh by the way, here's that Chambliss home run. Against the Kansas City Royals.

And Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger eloquently recalled some of the postseason's most memorable turning points -- the Denkinger call, David Tyree’s helmet catch, Bill Buckner, Steve Bartman, Michael Jordan's flu game -- in his column today: Cool comeback, Royals, but now it has to matter.

I was following the Blue Jays game along on Twitter and with the radio feed, but it’s only now that I had a chance to see the video replays. The Rangers imploded in that seventh inning worse than than the 1985 Cardinals, 1986 Red Sox and the 2003 Cubs combined.

With the Blue Jays win complete, I walked out my office around 7, like I do every Wednesday night and headed to pick up Phoebe and Faye from their church activities. On the way home Phoebe, like she does, started asking questions and processing the situation …
Phoebe: How many games have the Royals won now?

Me: Two. And the Astros have won two. So whoever wins tonight keeps playing, and the team that loses – their season is over. The Blue Jays won today.

Phoebe: So the Rangers lost?

Me: Yep, so they’re done. If the Royals win tonight, they’ll play the Blue Jays.

Phoebe: (after a sigh) But the Blue Jays are so good. Soooo freaking good.
We arrived home and promptly turned on the Royals game as it entered the bottom of the first.

Luis Valbuena hit a two-run home run in the second inning to give the Astros an early lead. I shrugged it off. The Royals had been down early in every game of this series. Ned Yost shrugged it off as the dugout analyst pressed him during his in-game interview, too, saying, “There’s still a lot of baseball left.”

Eric Hosmer came through with a big hit when the Royals needed it in the fourth, and watching Lorenzo Cain fly around the bases, from first to home without stopping, was a beautiful thing.

Hosmer’s hit propelled me from my couch seat to the floor. I stayed there, and Phoebe joined me in my lap. Neither of us moved from our spots for the next inning and a half.

Alex Gordon’s double to kickstart the rally in the fifth was huge.

Alex Rios’ double down the third base line to give the Royals the lead in the fifth was huge.

Phoebe and I, still sitting together on the living room floor, were clapping and cheering and could barely contain our excitement, while Kates was putting Faye to bed. When the fifth inning finally ended, I gave Phoebe a piggy back ride to her bed, and we proceeded to listen to the Royals radio feed – the great Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre with the call – as we laid in her bed.

Alex Gordon and Ben Zobrist made some huge defensive plays in the top of the sixth, and Johnny Cueto was out of the inning in something like five pitches. Phoebe said, “Johnny Cueto is a good pitcher tonight.”

With Phoebe asleep, I headed back to the living room for the bottom of the seventh.

“Johnny be good tonight,” I posted on my social media feeds after he completed the eighth and it was clear his work was done. Outside of one pitch that went out for a two-run home run, he pitched the game of his life. The game the Royals badly needed from him. Eight innings of work, retiring the last 19 batters he faced.

In a desperation move, Houston brought in their ace Dallas Keuchel in the bottom of the eighth, and when Alcides Escobar singled, I said, “It’s not over yet.” Then Lorenzo Cain got on. And when Kendrys Morales launched a ball into the outfield seats, I launched myself from the couch and leaped a couple laps around our living room. … My colleague Katie, who lives down the street, sent a text to me immediately afterward, saying: “Pipe down up there. I can hear you cheering all the way down here!”

The ninth inning belonged to Wade Davis and the Royals. Houston didn’t stand a chance.

The Royals closed it out on a breath-taking Paulo Orlando catch. Kates had joined me on the couch during the bottom of the eighth and we enjoyed watching the postgame celebration together. "They're reverent," Kates said of the Royals.

One of my favorite things after a Royals win is to watch the celebratory Facebook status updates and tweets pour in from all of my Royals fan friends. Some highlights from tonight …

My friend Dionna, who lives down the street from Kauffman Stadium: We heard the fireworks and started cheering before we saw that amazing final out.

My friend and work colleague Jeff, who is Canadian: A quandary of loyalty: Toronto vs. KC

My friend Daniel, after such a frustrating September: These are the Royals I know!

My friend and former classmate and colleague, Carli, who now works in Arizona: When the Royals score 3 runs in one inning (twice) and you’re in a work-related meeting and can’t express your true feelings!

And my friend Ryan, referring to the Texas governor’s Twitter blunder before the Royals’ comeback Monday: Any words from the Texas Governor tonight?

Now I’m overdosing on the highlights by watching Sportscenter.

The Cubs advanced last night. The Royals advanced tonight. If the Dodgers advance tomorrow night, and this were 1991, and the Milwaukee Brewers were still in the American League and advancing in place of the Toronto Blue Jays – I’d have my ultimate baseball final four.

My heart is full tonight.

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