Well, it’s not quite Opening Day. But it is the Home Opener. Just as good, if you ask me.
In my almost 30 years of following the Royals, I’ve been to several openers. Some good and some not so good. I watched in awe as George Bell teed off on Bret Saberhagen. I watched in dismay as John Wathan kept Mark Davis in the bullpen. Those are a couple that I remember. But for me, there are two Openers that stand out above the rest.
One was 1986. That day is almost as vivid in my memory as Games 6 and 7. The Royals were champions! It was a huge celebration with the players getting their rings, the World Champion pennant being raised and Mr. K addressing the crowd and promising a return trip. That day just felt…right. It was the culmination of everything the Royals had battled for over the previous ten years. Sure, there were the celebrations after Game 7, the parties, the parade, the rallies. But the pre-game ceremony was a fitting way to honor the champions, and as it turned out, to mark the end of the Royals era of success.
The other memorable Opener was last year. High expectations, an enormous crowd and a comeback the like of which are rarely seen made that day unforgettable for those who were there, and unforgettable for those who gave up and left early as well.
The Royals return home today at .500, with a 3-3 record. I’ll gladly take that. In fact, there are a ton of positives to take from the first week of the season: Most of the starters are swinging the bat well. The starting pitching (with the exception of Lima) has been better than expected. Our leadoff hitter is getting on base. Andy Sisco looks ready. Mike Sweeney has stayed off the DL. And as far as we know, Tony Pena hasn’t guaranteed a damn thing.
Today will be a great day. Play Ball!