Sunday, February 24, 2013
February 24- Kansas City Royals
It’s so good to be back home, back to the familiar. But mostly it’s great to be back with my large assortment of hats. I realize that being so attached to a material possession is probably not a good sign, but they give me a feeling of comfort at the start and end of all of my days. It’s the same for anyone who collects anything really: coins, baseball cards, Hot Wheels cars, or even severed heads. Wait, what!? Sorry. But you get what I’m saying.
Last night was interesting to say the least. I started this blog as sort of a personal mission to not only educate everyone about something that’s important to me, as well as help keep me in a better habit of writing every single day. Not only was I able to talk about a hat, I was also able to tell a detailed story about someone very important to me. Granted, I could have made the tale much longer, but I didn’t want to bore anyone. That is another challenge of this journey, let alone for any writer; keeping the audience coming back and growing. My viewership has jumped significantly this month. At the end of January I was averaging a little over 100 viewers a day. Now I’m bringing in around 150 a day. Something I am truly thankful for from all of you.
So with that, it’s back to business.
I’m not the biggest fan of taking the bus, but when you’re left with little to no choice, the idea sounds much better than walking 110 miles back to your house. My parents bummed me $50 and I was able to snag a ticket for $18. Luckily it was at night, so I didn’t have to worry about being chatted up too much by a random stranger with something hanging out of their nose. I propped my head against the window and kung fu gripped my computer just in case. After two and a half hours I was back on Eugene soil, with my friend Jared Clark waiting to pick me up. My original plan was to head straight home and crash, but I couldn’t forget to do my post tonight. Instead, I had him take me home to grab a new hat and then drive me on down to the library to crank this sucker out.
I picked this cap up some time in April after we got our first stipend check for our “work” at the MLB Fan Cave. My first order of business was going across the street to pick up all the hats I salivated over at the New Era Flagship shop across the street, as well as raiding the Lids Web site for a few hats I had my eye on for a few months. This was not one of those hats in the purge… sort of. Anytime I bought hats through the Lids Web site I always had them delivered to the shop three blocks away from the Fan Cave because it was free. When I went in for my first shipment I saw this guy kicking it at the top of the rack. I shuffled through all of the 7 3/8s and pulled at the one the fit the lowest to my head. I was such a happy kid when I left with me large box, but so overprotective on the trek back. There was no way I was letting any dubious roughians get there mitts on my wares.
Anyway, the Kansas City Royals wore this cap from 2002-2005, and it was also the hat used by a Bakersfield club team when I was growing up called the Kern County Royals. Clever. 2002 and 2005 were very interesting years for the Royals organization as five managers shuffled through in just those two years alone. Tony Muser, John Mizerock and Tony Pena in 2002. Tony Pena, Bob Schaefer and Buddy Bell in 2005. During that stretch the Royals only finished with less than 100 losses once in 2003 when they went 83-79 to finish in third place in the American League Central during Tony Pena’s first full year at the helm. Despite the rough outings, the Royals had a few bright spots in those years in the form of a few up-and-coming stars, as well as a few guys giving it their last hurrah.
#4- Here’s a name that will take you back, Angel Berroa! He was originally an amateur signed by the Oakland Athletics in 1997, but didn’t make his MLB debut until 2001 with the Royals. In his first two seasons Berroa played a total of 35 games, but it was in 2003 where he made his mark. The Royals have only had four Rookie of the Year award winners in their history dating back to 1969: Lou Pinella (1969), Bob Hamelin (1994), Carlos Beltran (1999) and Berroa in 2003. In 2003 Berroa had his only truly notable year on record by going .287/17/73 and 21 stolen bases in 158 games at shortstop. It should be noted that Berroa beat out Hideki Matsui and Mark Teixeira for the award that year.
#11- With four World Series rings under his belt, Chuck Knoblauch ended his career in 2002 after playing only one season with the Royals. Despite being a career second baseman Knoblauch filled in throughout the outfield and as the team’s designated hitter in 80 games going .210/6/22. I was 19 at the time and for some reason this always seemed really weird to me. I had witnessed all four of Knoblauch’s World Series victories, and couldn’t understand why or how he ended up in Kansas City. The thing that I will always be grateful to him for is that he always got my streak started in MLB.com’s Beat the Streak. My longest record is a modest 12, but Knobby was the guy who started it all for me. Thanks Chuck!
#29- 2002-2005 was an especially baller time period for Mr. Royal himself Mike Sweeney. Talk about a guy who never really got his due, but went out every day and played his guts out; Sweeney became a household name at the start of the 2000 season when he made his first of four consecutive All-Star game appearances, but 2002 was one of the best seasons he ever had. 2000 was hands down his best offensive production year on record; however, in 2002 Sweeney had his best average of his career when hit .340 in 126 games. Now, he hit .333 in 2000 with 159 games under his belt, but hey; I’m the writer here. Sweeney tagged 24 homer runs and knocked in 86 runs in the process, giving him a respectable 20th place spot in the American League MVP voting.
Yup! Those were some unfortunately mediocre years for the Royals, but it’s always good to look on the bright side of things.