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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

How Many People Came to the Royals Parade? ALL OF THEM!

I think I saw that the 1985 World Series parade in Kansas City drew 300,000. That's a lot of people to line two and a half miles of streets and clog up the lawn of the Liberty Memorial (a venue that supports an annual music festival that sells 55,000 tickets). So when they said they expected 200,000 for the first one after a 30 year drought, one which featured a lot of years where the team was excrementally bad, followed by last year when we were painfully close to winning it all, well, I thought that was a low expectation.

Some sources said they expected more like 500,000 and that I could buy. It's a mess getting a half million people in and out of downtown Kansas City, but yeah, I could see that. Remembering how many people skipped out of school in 1985 (or pulled their kids), pretty much all the schools in town closed, and a lot of businesses followed suit, including my employer. Then add an amazing Indian summer day and yeah, that half million might be a low number. I've heard estimates as high as 850,000, and I'm skeptical of the high number by default but it was definitely packed.

I had apheresis in the morning, which I almost cancelled out on just so I could scope out a good spot. I could have seen a lot more of the actual parade up close had I done so, but I reasoned that I would probably be done at noon or thereabouts (sometimes, when the lovely and talented Nurse Jennifer has to stick me a few times, it takes longer), and with a bicycle to cut through the traffic bullshit, I'd be able to get from KU Med to the Liberty Memorial in about a half hour (normally that's more like a ten minute ride, but I knew it'd be crazy).

And the parade was scheduled to start at noon and finish at Union Station at 2:00 with a rally, so I figured that was good. I pictured being able to get closer to the route than I managed, so maybe I should have just headed straight downtown at 7:00 in the morning with a canvas chair on my bike rack and a picnic cooler of food and beverage, gotten a nice piece of sidewalk on Grand. Next time, I guess. Hopefully I won't be 76 years old next time (that'd be the same interval as this year and last time we had such a parade).

And damn it, we need the Chiefs to have a championship parade, too. Their drought is even longer in terms of championships, though they did have a lot of years with Schottenheimer and Vermeil where they at least reliably went to the playoffs. And I think Andy Reid is the coach to get us back to that level, where it's at least possible to make a run at a championship. If you didn't know, championships aren't something you can just order out of a catalog: there's hundreds of the most talented athletes on earth trying to stop you so they can have it, coached by the best minds in their sport.

Which is why I'm so totally in love with the 2015 Royals. As was pointed out at the rally, Cy Young winner, not on our team, but we beat them. League MVP, not on our roster either, but we beat them. We have All Stars, we have Gold Gloves but we don't have some superstar who carries the team on his shoulders, we have a lot of really good baseball players who all contribute significantly to the team's success and don't think it's all about them. And that's so charming, a half million plus people will drop what they're doing and muddle their way in and out of downtown to be a part of it.

I know if you want to get technical about it, Sporting KC got a national championship last year and didn't get a parade as far as I know. And that's fucked up if you're a soccer fan, though I suppose MLS to soccer what the Nippon League is to baseball: they're quite good, better than minor league, have quite a few fans in their local country, but their best players get siphoned off to play in the real deal elsewhere.

And soccer is growing in popularity here, it can still have it's day, it just wasn't November 3, 2015. That day was for a city to shut down and tip its hat to a team that used to lose as many games in a season as we won this year, a team so bad it didn't take a team photo the year before Dayton Moore was hired because 'nobody wanted to remember that group.' Just under a decade later, a mostly homegrown group took the crown with such a diverse set of contributions the MVP wasn't an obvious vote: you could make the case for Salvy (who got it), Escobar, Moustakas, Hosmer, Davis, Volquez, Zobrist (does he know how to hit anything but doubles?), etc. Or Alex Gordon, clearly the best player on the team, but the overall team was so good that even without him for two months they still ran away with the division title.

Framing all this, besides my apheresis therapy, I had to take one of our cats, Bulldog, to the vet. Abscess tooth. They gave him a big antibiotic shot, a big pain shot, and a plan to pull that tooth for almost $500 over what they charged for the shots. I dunno, Corinna is going to get a second opinion from another vet, but given all the cats that need homes, and I threw good money after bad trying to save Jello who was much, much younger than Bulldog (he's already had a few molars extracted), while the Humane Society is turning cats away, this might be the end of the line for my gray tabby friend.

Ooops, party foul on me. That's a downer.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, though it was exhausting getting in and out of there even by bike. The fact that I only saw a dozen or so bicycles, well, that's where we have some serious educating to do. Folks, don't try to take your car with you when you're going into a super dense situation like this, but you don't have to hoof it. A bike is about five times as fast for the same effort as walking, but takes up a fraction of the space of even a compact car. I didn't set out for the parade until 12:15 and I was back at the vet to see about my sick kitty before 4:00, and I guarantee you nobody driving a car to the parade could say anything like that (witness the fact that it took me 90 minutes to get home from the vet once I was in my car, a trip that would normally be about fifteen minutes by car).

I hope Glass will spend the money to keep Gordon and Zobrist. I know we didn't grow Zobrist and I know Gordon can probably get insane money as a free agent, but putting a winner on the field put fans in the seats in a big way (record attendance), and that as well as post season games make the team money. And you've got a winner here, and hopefully more winners in the pipeline of the farm system. Baseball doesn't quite have revenue sharing the way the NFL does, but they've moved away from a model where only five or six teams are ever in contention, and there's no reason we can't be forever Royal, always going into April thinking maybe this year we can make a run at a title, not thinking maybe we'll lose in triple digits and trade away our only decent players.

Next year? I dunno, it's hard to repeat. When we got to game seven last year and lost, the idea that we had unfinished business and would come back, well, that gambler who bet $100,000 grand on it, he got $2.5 million in payoff because that's how slim the odds of that are. I just hope we can get back to it before there are people who were born, grew up here, went to college, started families and still hadn't ever known of a championship. There were a lot of those twenty-somethings in the crowd today, and for perspective, 30 years ago, when the Royals last won it, the team was only 16 years old (and had recently been to a World Series they didn't win)

But this was a peak experience for me. I've never seen so many people come together for something like this. Would the world be a better place if they came together this way for something that mattered more than a baseball game? Sure, fair enough. But you could cancel the World Series and it's not going to change how many earthquakes, wars, other natural disasters the world has to cope with, and in the meantime, Lets Go Royals!

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