I don't want to brag, but I totally called it.
Today, the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals visited President Obama at the White House. Watch it:
Just before Opening Day 2014, more than 100,000 people signed a petition on the White House's We the People platform calling on the President to make baseball's Opening Day a national holiday. As one of the biggest baseball fans in the West Wing, I penned the response and snuck this in:
"I'll spend that day visualizing what it would be like to welcome my 2014 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals to the White House."
Granted, this visit was anything but a foregone conclusion two years ago. After back-to-back AL pennants, it's hard to remember that the Royals began 2014 hoping to end the longest playoff drought of any major league team in North America - in any sport. But, like I said, I called it.
The wildest Wild Card game in baseball history. Sweeping the Angels and the Orioles in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. Then, taking the Giants to the limit and watching Game 7 end with Alex Gordon and the tying run just 90 feet away.
After Royals fans spent the off-season debating whether third-base coach Mike Jirschele should have just waved Gordon home, the Royals began 2015 on a mission. They stormed to the best record in baseball and engineered more come-from-behind playoff victories than any team in history. I snuck back to Kansas City for 24 hours to watch Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium for what turned out to be the most exciting athletic event I have ever attended.
Did I actually predict that? No. Did I dream of this ever since I was a little kid? Absolutely. I spent many summer nights as a kid watching my hometown Royals from the cheap seats at then-Royals Stadium or secretly listening to the end of the game on my radio long after my parents thought I had fallen asleep. When I was ten, I even got a rare day off from school to go to the ticker tape parade in downtown Kansas City celebrating the Royals only other World Series title in 1985.
And yesterday, it was hard not to feel like a kid again. The President I work for and the team I cheer for in one room, reflecting on a well-earned victory and giving me my fair share of ribbing for out-and-out fandom.
President Barack Obama receives a Royals jersey from Royals general manager Dayton Moore and team manager Ned Yost during an event to welcome the Kansas City Royals to the White House to honor the team and their 2015 World Series victory, in the East Room, July 21, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
But you can't blame me for loving this team. They put everything they have into the work they do -- both on and off the field. As POTUS noted, this Spring the Royals broke ground on their Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City. It's a place where young kids can find a path away that leads away from drugs, gangs, and violence and toward a future in in baseball -- not just as players, but as broadcasters, sportswriters, analysts, and whatever other career I might've dreamed of myself growing up.
It's exactly the kind of mentoring and opportunity building that lives at the heart of President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative. And it's incredible to see the Royals team, and players like Gordo, Hoz, Salvy, Moose, and Chris Young, donate more than just their time to make this Academy a real opportunity for so many deserving Kansas City kids.
So after years of watching the Royals, I just want to reiterate: I called this. Plenty of those petition signers doubted me. In fact, plenty of Royals fans did too. But I took a page out of our manager's sometime unpredictable playbook -- and now, like him, I can bask in the glow of a long-awaited victory, and White House visit. So, as they say, to all of you who doubted us diehards that this day would ever come ... #yosted.
President Barack Obama joins the Kansas City Royals for a group photo during an event to honor the team and their 2015 World Series victory, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)