Where to begin. Well, first, let me say how glad I am that they moved this to Bartle Hall from the OP Convention Center. I have no idea what the square footage comparisons are, but Bartle Hall feels much roomier. I have been known to have panic attacks when trapped in a large crowd and Mike Swanson said attendance was over 23,000 this year (more than double last year’s record breaking 11,000) so this was a large crowd. And although it was clear there were a lot of damn people there (especially on Saturday), I never felt trapped or like I didn’t have elbow room. So yay!
Second, we had really good luck with parking this year, despite being almost backed into in the middle of the street by some jackass in an absurdly big truck whose license plate read "CARDSFAN." Considering we just got the car fixed from being hit by a driver "under the influence" a few weeks back (allegedly, since I think her case is still pending), really didn’t want more car work or ice packs on our necks. But anyway, our usual spot - Barney Allis Plaza - was completely full both days, so on Friday we parked in the Folly Theatre’s garage which ended up being free because of a freak of timing, and Saturday we parked at Kauffman Center, which was only $3 AND because we approached from inside the building to the south, we completely skipped the long ass line to get in. So yay yay!
On Friday we noticed they were not checking bags at all, so for Saturday I packed us all food and drinks, which worked out really nice (especially the chocolate chip cookies ) giving how the timing of things played out on Saturday with them changing the schedule of main stage activies. So yay yay yay!
I tell you, I don’t often feel this way, but this weekend I was winning at life, yo!
So, anyway, here are my notes! We do not do autograph lines, so all these notes are from the panels from the main stage. I’m sorry, the Commerce Bank Main Stage (because sponsorships!).
Friday Pitchers Panel: Kris Medlen, Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Jeremy Guthrie, Brandon Finnegan, Louis Coleman, Greg Holland, Luke Hochevar, Wade Davis and host Ryan Lefebvre
Kris Medlen says he’s very happy to sign with the Royals because royal blue looks better on him than navy blue. They were wearing their white jerseys, so we couldn’t judge this statement for ourselves. He says he is recovering from the TJ and after signing with the Royals, the Royals shut him completely down for two weeks and now it feels really good to get back to pitching.
Edinson Volquez, who is from Pedro Martinez’s hometown, says he works out with Pedro twice a week and they have talked about how fricking awesome (my phrase, not his) Yordano Ventura is.
Luke says he’s ready for spring training and has been pitching off a mound.
When asked if he’d rather start or relieve, Davis said at this point he wants to do what he’s successful at, so that means relieving. He says he started pitching when he was 12/13 and that he changed his number to 17 because it was his brother’s (who died) number.
A fan asked Guthrie about his shoes, which is apparently up to 453 pairs (plus a half pair of Ventura’s shoes) and here's the video of his shoe vault. His favorite pair is the Air Jordan 3. Then Ryan asked him who wore it first because he’d heard the two-color thing was based on Georgetown’s shoes and for the rest of the weekend Guthrie gave him a hard time about how they’re called Air Jordans not Air Hoyas.
The guys were asked who their favorite pitcher was growing up (although some of the guys answered with position players, too). Medlen immediately answered John Rocker and just like that I like Medlen, because obviously he was kidding. I’m assuming not many people got this because the only laughter I heard was mine. His real answer was Greg Maddux. Davis said Mark McGuire and John Smoltz. Hochevar said Smoltz and Maddux for pitching because they had TBS and those were the players he saw the most of, but Ripken for everything else. Holland: ditto on the TBS with Smoltz and Chipper Jones his favorites. Then he threw in Mark Wohlers which perked Guthrie up (in an I’m-old way) because he played with Wohlers (I think he said on the Indians). Coleman said Ozzie Smith who was his dad’s favorite player. Finnegan said Ortiz and Josh Hamilton, Randy Johnson for pitching. Guthrie said David Cone. Ventura: Pedro Martinez and Jose Lima (which got a little Lima Time cheer). Volquez: Martinez and Roger Clemens. And Gavin, the little boy whose 12th birthday it was that Guthrie called on-stage and who sat there in between Coleman and Finnegan for most of the panel said his favorite growing up was Hosmer.
Asked about their favorite post-season moment:
Davis: the inning we came back late in the Wild Card.
Hoch: Wild Card Game
Holland: Wild Card Game when the ball went past Donaldson’s glove, then immediately flying to North Carolina for the birth of his son and immediately turning around and flying to LA for the Angels game, arriving in the 5th inning.
Coleman: said he and Crow and Downs had a great view from the dugout and they all started to chew their gum the same way while cheering on the team.
Finnegan: Wild Card Game
Guthrie: The introductions at the Wild Card game. His first time ever making it to the post-season, and the energy was electric and as he stood there on the baseline "I fought back tears."
Ventura: Game 6
Friday Infielders: Christian Colon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez
The guys were really goofing around a lot, mostly telling in jokes among each other. And they kept pulling little kids up on stage. Having older brothers and having lived in a co-ed dorm in college, I’ve seen 20-year old boys hang out with each other before, so I didn’t find this panel very interesting, but the rest of the crowd loved it. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man trapped in the body of a 39-year old woman.
Perez answered the first few questions, "I’m only here so I don’t get fined." which I actually did think was hilarious. He also pretended to steal an All-Star jersey from some lady who asked him to sign it. He gave it back to her at the end of the panel.
Regarding That Catch, Moose said it’s always been one of his dreams to crowd surf at a rock concert, but that was way better.
The only other thing I wrote down from this panel was that they were each asked who early on inspired them to get into baseball. Colon said his dad and Roberto Alomar. Hos said his older brother and, of course, Salvy. Moose said his dad and his high school coach. Salvador said it was his mom, to whom he sends flowers sometimes because he loves his mom.
Friday New Royals: Medlen (#39), Volquez (#36) and Rios (#15)
Um….in my notes I wrote that Medlen was wearing a HUGE wristwatch. And that Rios said this is an aggressive team on the bases and he thinks he can bring something to that.
Ned Yost (Friday and Saturday):
So this is were it hit me how different things were this year. In the past there have always been a lot of questions about prospects coming up and plans for the coming year and "are we finally going to win this year" and what not. This year was like Chris Farley was running the thing. "Hey, remember when that happened? That was awesome!" Not that I’m complaining, 2014 post-season WAS cool. But it just hits me every once in a while: THAT REALLY HAPPENED.
So the first line of my notes from Ned’s main stage appearance are: "something something something hunting fishing something"
So this guy asked Ned about why he had Cain bunt. I’m not really sure how to tell this part. Basically Ned says that his style is to let his coaches coach and his players play and he doesn’t really call for plays very often ("No-Sign Ned" as thayne mentioned earlier). He ended with a very animated, "So all that stuff you guys like to blame me for, well - HA HA - it’s not me!"
He said he was nervous going into the Wild Card game because: "A Wild Card game is not the playoffs to me. I had butterflys going into that game" because to him that was their do-or-die game to make it to the real playoffs. But after that, he was convinced that we were going to win the whole thing right up until that last out, which stunned him.
He says the line-up is completely open, other than Escobar will probably lead-off. Other than that all he knows is he wants it to be speed at the top, power in in the middle, speed at the bottom.
Asked about his plans to stay in baseball, he says he’ll either be here in KC or he’ll retire. He only wants to stay if he can do it 100%, and then he reminded us all that he is 60 year's old.
Re: Perez’s work load, he says he always intended to get him more time off, but when the time came to fill out the line-up card he’d find a reason to put Perez in. He’s thinking this year he’ll probably have Perez catch pitchers 1-4 and the back-up guy be #5’s personal catcher, just to make sure Perez gets time off.
Re: his managerial style. He talked about not being a micro-manager (Ryan's word, contrasting him with an unnamed-but-we-all-know-he-means-Hillman former coach) and never wanting the players to have two voices in their heads, i.e. just their coach, not him. He likes to give coaches the freedom to coach and players the freedom to play, which means they make mistakes, especially early on, but that's how they learn so they can perform when it's time to compete. He lets the coaches handle the baseball issues and only gets involved for "other" issues. He said sometime in August it just clicked with him that he can't control everything and that helped him down the stretch and in the post-season to just focus on what he could control.
Gave a lot of love to Rusty Kuntz on his preparation and work with the boys on base stealing. Then he did a hilarious impression of the Rusty-Billy exchange that resulted in Billy's stolen base.
Re: Madison Bumgardner. MadBum told Ned he'd seen all of Ned's hunting videos. Ned said he was happy when Bumgardner came out to pitch the 9th in game 5 because in his mind that meant they wouldn't see him again. He says he was convinced that we were going to get him when he did come out in Game 7 and that we started to, but Panik's incredible double-play changed that. Even then he still had no doubt we were going to win and was shocked when we didn't.
Re: Omar Infante's contributions, said Omar was extremely valuable in the clubhouse as well as on the field, especially in regards to Escobar. Says they really bonded and Omar helped Escobar find a new focus that helped him every single day of the season.
Final note: DM's assistant showed him a youtube video taken outside Kauffman Stadium during the last pitch of the ALCS and he said it gave him chills, hearing the crowd that way.
Saturday with Dayton Moore: so we missed most of this panel. It was originally scheduled for 3:45, but apparently it started much sooner, because when we arrived Saturday around noon, it was half over. The only notes I have are that in response to a question from the audience, DM says Bubba Starling is major league ready defensively but needs more at-bats in the minors to continue to develop. He says it's not clear whether they'll have him start in Wilmington or head to NWA out of spring training. Sorry I didn't get more.
Saturday with the Outfielders: Gore, Cain and Gordon
Gordon gets the removable cast off in 9 days. He says when he's taken it off a few times, it feels good and when the doctors went in, they didn't find anything other than what they thought it would. He says he'll be ready for spring training, although perhaps not on the usual schedule as he finishes his recovery.
Re: his mind set down the stretch that helped him have such a phenomenal post-season, Cain said it started in that Detroit game when Cabrerra was being friendly at first, and Cain said he just had enough. He was tired of getting beat by them and didn't want to be friendly. It got him fired up and fueled him through the post-season. Cain also says he's working on not lunging for the bag, but that it is a work in progress.
Gore gives all thanks to Rusty on his success stealing. Rusty told him "let your eyes move your feet." He also said the reason he holds his batting gloves when he runs is it helps me land differently so that he doesn't jam his wrist, which had been a problem for him.
When asked about the outfielders defense, Gordon said it's a mindset. None of them wants to be the one to let the ball touch the ground and they feed off each other's energy.
"TGM" - Total Gordo Move, so named by some of the guys in the clubhouse, when Gordon slams into the wall to make a catch and then lies there like he's dying for a minute while everyone freaks out, but he pops up and is fine.
Their favorite post-season moments:
Gore: scoring from second on Cain's in-field chopper
Cain: the Wild Card game
Gordon: clinching the ALCS at home during the day and being able to celebrate with the city, and continue the celebrations on their own
Saturday with The Broadcasters: Denny, Ryan, Physioc, Steve Stewart, Hud, Goldberg and Monty
Mike Swanson announced that Denny had signed a contract guaranteeing he'll keep broadcasting through his 50th year, which will make him only the 3rd broadcaster ever to call games for one team for at least 50 years.
Denny said he thinks that sometimes, it's just your year, and that back in early August he had a feeling that we were onto something.
Ryan's favorite post-season moment was the end of the Wild Card game when he had to make his way from the radio booth to Rivals for the post-game show and just walking through the crowd that was just delirious with excitement.
Stewart said he's kind of superstitious so he never brought a spare suit to the clinching games even though that meant he was stinky afterwards. Joel said there was no way in hell he was getting on a plane drenched in champagne, and he always brought a change of clothes.
The (all white guy) panel was asked about their favorite season with the Royals besides this one:
Denny: 77 & 85, but personally his favorite moment was his first game in 1969 because he was in the big leagues
Ryan: 2003, their first winning season he experienced. He especially remembered some make-up game with the Diamondbacks and that the crowd was so electric for this random game and that's when he started to get how much this town was ready to love this team, if they would just stop losing
Phys: hasn't been here long enough, but gave a shout-out to Gio's HR against Seattle early in the year, which ended being huge down the stretch because that game gave us an edge over Seattle
Stewart: 2013, getting over the .500 hump and having a winning season
Hud: 2012 - even though we lost, like, 92 games, could see the nucleus of the team forming
Joel: 2008 - 1st year here after leaving St. Louis by choice and just looking back and seeing how far we've come
Monty: 1988 - his first year as a Royal. Monty also said that for his whole career, we never made it to the post-season and this post-season, being part of it was his proudest moment as a Royal
George Brett says he's learning stats and now knows what WHIP, WAR and BABIP are. He also says he'd love to be a 20-year old ballplayer coming up again. "They got rid of the stupid astroturf. They have a chef in the locker room. Tubs you can actually sit in."
Seattle's clubhouse has a softserve ice cream machine.
The hockey game we went to immediately after leaving Fan Fest on Saturday: we won! And the goalies duked it out in center ice! I think that might be my first goalie fight. It was hilarious.