The last—and only—time I ever attended a playoff game came on October 13, 2011.
Of course, given the year, that postseason game didn’t involve the Kansas City Royals. No, instead, the game took place in St. Louis* with the Cardinals hosting the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 4 of the NLCS that the Cardinals led two games to one.
*I went to this game with my father and one of my sisters, who, I’ll note, attended the Cardinals’ recent Game 1 collapse against the Phillies. She, unlike others, stayed to the end.
When I left Busch III that night, the Brewers had knotted the series, winning 4-2 behind seven strong from southpaw Randy Wolf. Royals legend Yuniesky Betancourt went 1-for-4 with an RBI, which tied the game at two.
The Cardinals rallied to win not only the pennant but also the World Series that year. I, however, did not attend another playoff game.
Unfortunately, I also didn’t attend a Royals playoff game in either 2014 or 2015, but for vastly different reasons. I regret missing Kansas City’s first run to the World Series in 29 years, but I’ve never thought twice about missing any of the 2015 games.
In 2014, some of my best friends reached out to me to see if I wanted to go in on playoff tickets with them. If memory serves (and it may not), there were four of us but only three seats, so, if we had all chipped in, one of us would be staying home for every game.
But it enticed me. Earlier that season, I sat in a bar in Brookside with a different group of friends* as the Royals defeated the White Sox to clinch their first postseason bid since before any of us had been born. I watched that happen with my wife and three guys I’d lived with for two years while attending Mizzou. I couldn’t have asked for a better group with which to witness such an event.
*Not to brag, but I have between eight and nine friends.
Now I had the opportunity to watch playoff games—live! in person!—in my hometown.
Still, I had only passed the Bar Exam less than a year ago, and worked a bit of a ways away (still do, though now I like that aspect of The Job). As I worked for a small firm, I didn’t have...oh, what do you call it...ah, yes—I didn’t have any money.
Instead, I listened to the Royals playoff games on the radio and watched them on television whenever I had the chance. This being the Royals, I didn’t think they’d advance far, and, much to my chagrin and shame, I went to bed before the conclusion of the Wild Card game.
The next morning, when I saw they’d stormed back and won, I felt a lot of emotions—mostly anger directed at myself that I missed such an epic contest but also excitement that this team had shown such determination in taking down Jon Lester and the rest of the A’s.
Then they steamrolled Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and the rest of the favored Angels in three straight.
After that, the winning streak continued, as they swept the Baltimore Orioles. I got him just in time to watch the final out. My wife was out to an early dinner with one of her friends at a restaurant where a youth sports team had gathered, and she loved the way those little kids reacted to their team clinching the pennant and advancing to the World Series for the first time in their young lives.
The season didn’t magically end, though. As I’ve written before on this site, my wife became very mad when the Giants clinched, wondering aloud if it would be another 30-ish years before another chance like this came along.
Here’s what I remember about 2015: my wife was expecting our first child in December, and starting mid-October, things started going not great.
Before that, I listened to Game 4 of the ALDS in my office, completely enthralled by what was happening in Houston in the top of the eighth. As that frame began, I had all but written off the season. Unlike with the Wild Card game the year before, I stuck continued listening and following GameCast, to the detriment of my professional productivity. I do not regret it.
Without getting into too much detail, my wife and I spent our second anniversary watching the Royals battle the Blue Jays from the hospital’s maternity ward. That would not be the last game we watched from the hospital.
But that makes it memorable, right? I vividly remember going directly to the hospital after work one night, still in my dress shirt, suit, and tie, sitting beside her and watching the Royals fight Toronto.
This should come as no surprise as I’ve written it before (including at the beginning), but I am also a St. Louis Cardinals fan. The Cardinals went to the World Series a month after my birth. When I was nine, they blew a 3-1 lead in the NLCS to the Braves. In 2004, they won the pennant. They won the World Series in 2006 and 2011 before reaching it again in 2013. And they’ve gone to the playoffs a bunch of other times in that time period and since then. I’m lucky to have watched so much playoff baseball in my life, especially for a team in which I’m invested.
That’s what I witnessed in that hospital room those October nights in 2015: my super duper pregnant wife watching her favorite baseball team challenging to get back to the World Series for only the second time in her life.
It was something to behold.
Thankfully, we were home for Game 5 of the World Series. She’d fallen asleep but I awoke her when things got funky in the ninth. She got to witness Eric Hosmer’s mad dash, and stayed up for all of extras as the Royals finally captured the championship.
Immediately afterward, our neighborhood lit up with fireworks. We opened the front door to watch, and I loved hearing one particular little boy yelling, “We won the World Series! I can’t believe it! We won the World Series!”
That was seven long years ago. At this point, I have no rooting interest in the remainder of the playoff teams. (Go Padres, I guess? Maybe the Guardians? As long as it’s not Houston.)
Making the playoffs in consecutive seasons is pretty rare for a team with a small-market mentality.
Next time the Royals reach the postseason, you should be there. It might not be another 29 years, but seven seasons also feels like forever. I know I’ll attend.
And I’ll be there with my wife and my sons, including the one born a week after the Royals defeated the Mets. I cannot wait to hear him scream with glee that the Royals—can you believe it?—the Royals have won the World Series.