I was talking to a good friend of mine last night, and we came to the conclusion that Patrick Mahomes wouldn't be nearly as awesome as he is if it weren’t for Salvador Perez. Some of you (especially my fellow Mizzou fans out there) might already know where this is going. Some of you are probably desperately confused and are now wondering what Mizzou has to do with this.
I love sports. Way more than I should. Sports have quite literally dictated the direction of my life. I made the decision of where to go to college based on sports, and then wound up switching majors because the school I attended was known for their education program. I wound up working a career as a teacher indirectly thanks to sports.
For most of my life, I was pretty well convinced that my favorite teams were incapable of winning championships. My favorite college, Mizzou, has never been to a Final Four and every single time we have a good football team, some blue chip gets in the way (Oklahoma, Auburn, Alabama). The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t win a playoff game until I was 21 years old, and I've still never seen them play in an AFC title game. The Kansas City Royals didn’t clinch their first playoff birth until I was 20 years old.
By the time I turned 19, I was 100% convinced that I'd never see a major championship (sorry Sporting fans). Then the Royals clinched their first playoff birth in 29 years, and all of a sudden there was hope.
Fast forward seven innings into the AL Wild Card Game and I was right back to square one. “Man, I should’ve known better than this. It’s too good to be true. Blah blah blah.” I was in attendance for that 2014 AL Wild Card Game. I went through all of the emotions with 40,000 of my closest friends. The Royals were coming back to earth, and this felt more normal than actually being in the game itself.
Then something crazy happened. For the first time in my entire life, one of my favorite teams caught a break. The Royals were actually going to win a playoff game. Salvador Perez snuck a ground ball past Josh Donaldson and the anxiety of bad sports teams could be shelved for at least one more week. My gosh, what a feeling. I will never forget that night with my family.
So what on earth does this have to do with Patrick Mahomes?
For those of you that are reading this and have similar rooting interests as myself, I guarantee at least some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. If Salvador Perez doesn't hit a walk-off single against the Oakland Athletics in 2014, and the Royals somehow never win nor play in a World Series, here would be my thoughts regarding Patrick Mahomes: “I wonder how good he’ll be when he regresses to the mean. I wonder how many times he’ll throw four interceptions in a game. I wonder if he can win a playoff game. Drew Lock is draft eligible next year, right?”
BUT NO. Salvador Perez DID walk off the 2014 AL Wild Card Game. The Kansas City Royals DID play in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. The Royals DID win the 2015 World Series. And now, thanks to the Royals, Patrick Mahomes is going to win the 2018 NFL MVP Award and the Chiefs are going to win the Super Bowl.
Alright, so it’s probably somewhere in the middle of these two trains of thought, right? But think about this for a second.
The way that some (most?) Kansas City fans under the age of ~40 view their favorite sports teams was probably completely changed during the 2014 AL Wild Card Game. For the first time in our memorable lives, one of our favorite teams was going to win a meaningful postseason game. For the first time in our lives there was a legitimate hope for a championship. Lin Elliott made the field goal. Pig Brown played against Oklahoma. Peyton Manning punted. Gary Pinkel put four down linemen in against Tre Mason. Etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.
As my buddy and I were talking, we decided that Salvador Perez is the reason that Kansas City fans are comfortable being confident in the future of Patrick Mahomes. That one moment in Kansas City history, that one swing, helped ease the sports anxiety that we all had. No longer will we sit around and wait for the decline of our quarterback of the future. No longer will we just assume that the worst that can happen, will happen. Patrick Mahomes is awesome and if I was a betting man, I'd have my money on him to win the NFL MVP this season. Thanks for that, Salvy.