Welcome to swing week. Who knows if we will be celebrating or crying a week from now, if it will be warm or cold, if rain will be pelting our windows or sun making us peel off jackets? Platte County is in the middle of Middle America regarding geography and whimsical weather. That we expect. But America watching us as an epicenter of Major League Baseball, this is something new.
Which way will things swing this week?
It feels like we’ve been gliding over the flat land of late summer and early autumn, and suddenly we’re rolling over the edge onto a steep hill facing downward, motion speeding up, no brakes installed.
A late afternoon walk along the Missouri River at Parkville’s English Landing Park on Saturday was sunny and warm, no jacket needed. By Sunday afternoon, clouds blocked the sun and wind brought a chill. The first wee hints of autumn color along the river bluffs were showing as last weekend began. By Monday, the yellows were stronger in the foliage, ash tree leaves held some lavender and the crimson Virginia creeper vine leaves were already beginning to blow to the ground.
We know the weather can go either way on any day, since we’re veteran Missourians, and autumn color’s full show is a ways away.
But still it feels like the season is changing rapidly. At least we know for sure where the nature’s season is taking us, eventually.
Baseball though, that’s another matter.
I guess we should enjoy the novelty. This paper goes to press on the eve of the Kansas City Royals starting the 2015 American League playoffs against either the New York Yankees or the Houston Astros, depending on which won a wild card game on Tuesday. By The Citizen’s next edition, we could be looking forward to more playoff games or mentally packing away the season.
Will we be celebrating or mourning?
The non-fan or casual fan may wonder, what’s the big deal? It’s just baseball, right?
Well yes and no.
You see some of us spent many a summer night or afternoon listening to the Royals on radio or watching them on TV. We hoped for something, anything, positive. They were a mediocre to bad baseball team.
Mediocre was worse.
Our hopes got higher then, only to be flattened. When they were bad we could enjoy seeing how bad it could be.
Some of the most wonderful baseball radio broadcasting occurred when announcers Denny Mathews and Fred White would veer off into the unusual subjects as the Royals were getting soundly beaten on the field.
So for the Royals to barely make it to and through a wild card game last year and roll on to Game 7 of the World Series with hope still burning until the final out, that was giddy stuff.
Now here we are, not surprised to be here but not relaxed about things, either. And at the same time the trees are changing colors, winter is nearing and the weather bouncing between seasons.
At my day job, I have fellow employees who are from St. Louis or who are longtime Cardinal baseball fans. They don’t look the least bit surprised or worried that their team is in the playoffs. They’re used to this. They’ve been smugly congratulating their Royals comrades as if we’ve suddenly been adopted into the royal court.
Some folks will tell you they’re hoping for an I-70 World Series between the Royals and the Cardinals, just like 1985.
Not me, I want to win a World Series or two before we play the Cardinals again. My baseball fan nerves need more steeling experience first. I couldn’t take it if we lost to the perennial braggarts from the metropolitan island on the state’s east side.
But if it happens, I like others will muster the courage to watch every pitch and cheer the boys in blue in victory or defeat. I just hope our chances are not crushed early.
First we have to make it through swing week, and I guess if it wasn’t scary it wouldn’t be as much fun. Let’s go Royals.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.