The K. May 2011. k.barnes
The K. May 2011. k.barnes

Baseball’s a funny thing when you are North of 49°. It doesn’t seem to exist most of the time. If you want baseball that far  north, you are looking at small local leagues, the ones that are overshadowed by the almighty hockey.  Until the Blue Jays made the American League Championship Series this year, I didn’t think Canadians outside of Toronto realized baseball was a viewing option.

It’s a beautiful sport, though. Quietly tense,  but the fireworks can blow you away.  I can’t think of another sport that balances these polar opposites so well. Baseball is like a good book– it can suck you in, keep you on the edge of your seat and make you forget about the world around you, yet you still have a visceral reaction to what you witness. There’s nothing suspenseful about hockey; it’s more like a good popcorn action flick.

The K. May 2011. k.barnes
The K. May 2011. k.barnes

I’ve witnessed a lot of great sporting experiences. My dad always made sure I watched March Madness and we were ecstatic by the Chicago Bulls’ wins with Michael Jordan. I remember the heartbreak with the 2003-2004 Calgary Flames lost the cup, and I remember Crosby’s golden goal.

I still can’t get seeing the Royals in May 2011 out of my head.

We were visiting family before my cousin’s wedding, and it was decided we were going to see a baseball game.  I was excited; I’d only ever seen small local games or watched it on TV. After an early meal, we all packed into the SUV my parents rented (by packed, I mean that we had to shut Dave in the trunk) and we pulled up to Kauffman Stadium. The parking lot was pretty full since there was a Chiefs game and the tailgaters were still enjoying the sunshine.  We walked into the stadium to find our seats– down low by 1st base. I wouldn’t realize how lucky we were until my mom had to splurge for Jays tickets at the equivalent level in Toronto a couple of years later.

The stadium was remarkably empty, but Dave said it was because the Royals never win…

The stadium was so full of life, though. The families with small children who were terrified of the mascot Sluggerrr. Drunk college students singing with all their good-natured hearts. Drunk oddballs who knew every player and still could recall their stats in an inebriated state.

COME ON, BABEEEEEE! IT’S ALL ON YOUR SHOULDERS NOW! – drunk fan behind us who was wearing both home and away caps, paired with yellow-lens sunglasses

While I can’t remember who the Royals were playing, I remember feeling in the stadium. The Royals would get ahead, then the other team would get 3 RBI and the lead would switch. Pinch-hitting. Base-stealing. It was tense. It was exciting. It went for 13 innings, and the Royals won.

We didn’t get back home until midnight, but the feeling didn’t leave. That night was when I saw the romance of baseball.

Back in Canada, baseball’s beauty flies under the radar, a bit like the cute neighbour next door. Everyone is busy obsessing about the popular kid– hockey. Few people outside of Toronto seem to remember the back-to-back World Series wins for the Blue Jays and most beyond the GTA only start paying attention once there is a title at stake.

I think you need to sit in a stadium to see the beauty of baseball. Look it straight in the eye and watch your team battle back from  deficit to a win at the change of a hairpin turn. You have to feel the anxiety of the batter while you wait for the pitcher to throw. You need to hear the silence when you watch to see where the ball lands. You must feel the roar of the crowd at a home run.

Thank you, Kansas City for making me romantic about baseball. ❤

The K. May 2011. k.barnes
The K. May 2011. k.barnes