May 2013

Go (AL) West Young Men

The Royals visited three American League Western Division cities in May. The results on the field were not too good. It began with a winning series in Anaheim, and became a rough trip after that.

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My college fraternity brother (Sigma Chi, SMU) is on the right, Jeff Lovell. Jeff’s father is Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (his dad was played by Tom Hanks in the film). Also pictured are Jeff’s daughters Marilyn (named for Jeff’s mom, for whom a mountain on the Moon was nicknamed by her astronaut husband), and Allie, as well as Jeff’s wife Annie (also a former SMU Mustang). Great family.

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One of the reasons I’m glad to have Houston in the AL is I love Minute Maid Park. Opened in 2000, it’s air conditioned when it’s hot and humid…which is often. Whenever the roof is closed for a game, they immediately open it so the next day the grass field gets plenty of sunlight before they close it again for batting practice the next afternoon.

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The view of Union Square in San Francisco from my hotel room. What a great city, and a beautiful area. Union square became a public park in 1850. The public plaza is 2.6 acres and always buzzes with activity.

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Actually the term Union Square refers not only to the park, but to the entire upscale dining and shopping district that surrounds it. The area where the park sits was used for rallies to support Union troops during the Civil War. Great area.

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The best thing about Orange County/Anaheim was the winning. The weather was a close second. First time this cold spring we actually felt HOT. It was warmer than normal in SoCal. At the hotel pool even the ducks needed a break.

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One more note on springs VERY late arrival. This was Denny sporting an Illinois Wesleyan ski cap in…not March, not April, but MAY! May 2nd. Yes we had snow! Hopefully it was, in fact, a once-in-a-century weather quirk.

NOT A ROAD TRIP, AN ODYSSEY

The Royals second road trip of 2013 will never be forgotten. It involved a little great weather, a lot of bad weather, a lot of good baseball and one manhunt that shutdown all of Boston. On the field the Royals won 4 and lost 3. Any winning road trip is considered successful. This one was against very good teams in very tough venues for visiting teams. But the Boston experience made it forever memorable.

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In Atlanta the weather was warm and the Braves were hot. We played two games against the Braves. Before Game 2 I had my first opportunity to meet Bo Jackson, who still receives votes on the Royals Hall of Fame ballot. He was recently judged to be THE Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN. Nuff said. He threw out the first pitch on Opening Day in Chicago, as well as for our day game in Atlanta.

Frenchy Atlanta

Of course Atlanta is a special place for Ned Yost and Jeff Francoeur, among others. Jeff was born and raised in the area and still lives there. He had a team party at his house while we were there. And as a former Brave, and Braves first round draft pick, he is always in demand by autograph seekers and well wishers.

TV Coverage Boston

In Boston things were much different. In front of our hotel CNN and MSNBC, among many other networks, set up shop 24/7 to cover the Boston bombing. The bombs went off just a block away from our hotel (2 days before we got to Boston). The city was still in a state of shock over what had happened. And every network in the world was there it seemed.

Closed Street Boston

Streets were closed off right across the street from our hotel as FBI and other investigators went over the bombing area with fine-tooth combs. There were many memorials set up as well. It was an eerie feeling and setting in what what is normally an area with lots of hustle and bustle and tourists.

Out To Eat

Before the city shutdown on Friday, I enjoyed dinner with relatives, several of whom live near the site of the bombings. Terry, Andrew, Bill, Feryal and John.

Anthem Boston

Fenway Park is now 101 years old and ceremonies/Opening Days are always big there. On Saturday April 20th the city of Boston, all of New England and the whole country tuned in to see Boston rally around their team and celebrate the end of the fear that had gripped the area for several days.

Big Papi

Of course David Ortiz got a lot of attention for his rallying cry for Boston fans. His choice of language was jarring to a lot of people, but locals seemed fine with it, after all the city had been through the previous few days. The FCC gave him and all of those broadcasting his remarks live over the air a pass under the circumstances.

Neil Diamond

The surprise of the day was when Neil Diamond, whose song “Sweet Caroline” is played during every home game with fans singing along, showed up in person to lead the crowd. Was a very special moment and the timing was perfect.

Tarp on Field Detroit

Of course we had an off day built in before each series began…in Atlanta…in Boston…in Detroit…then had the cancellation in Boston because of the manhunt…then (of course) we had a rainout in Detroit…but we finally got to play again. Splitting what was reduced to a 2-game series. So in a total of 11 days, we saw baseball on only 6 of them. A lot of sitting and waiting…but in the end a successful trip and one none of us will ever forget.

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