Like the arrangements for getting cars out of the parking lot after baseball games. Those are still very much stuck in midcentury, shrugged-shoulders, “whaddaya gonna do?” mode. Which is why this recap of another relatively brisk–two-and-a-half hours–game is coming so late.
The game itself, early on, looked like it was going to replicate the last time Jim and I saw Zack Greinke pitch, when he lost to Joe Saunders in Anaheim 1-0 in one of the best-pitched ballgames I’ve ever seen. He and Jake Peavy held the offenses to one run apiece through five innings, making it look easy along the way. But then the Royals broke through for two in the fifth, then absolutely unloaded on the hapless Sox bullpen in the sixth: by the time the Sox recorded their first out of that inning, the Royals had scored four runs and sent two relievers to the showers.
All that time the Royals were scoring, however, Greinke was sitting. And sitting. And maybe playing a little Nintendo DS. Whatever he was doing, it wasn’t communing with the spirit of Saberhagen, because when he took the mound for the seventh, he promptly got knocked all over the yard. Hit after hit after hit. We’re talking Charlie Brown with the socks flying. He’d entered the inning with a six-run lead, and only a great catch against the wall by Jose Guillen (who had earlier been booed for letting a ball drop right in front of him) allowed Greinke to get out of the inning up by one. Enter Joakim Soria, the Mexicutioner, and all was well in Kauffman Kingdom.
Other notes on the day:
* Judging by the smell, Arthur Bryant’s barbecue is as good as advertised. Jim ate about forty pounds of burnt tips and drank a Red Creme soda, while I slathered fries with three varieties of barbecue sauce.
* The Negro Leagues Museum would have been worth the trip for the life-sized statues alone: they’re arrayed about a ballfield in the final room of the museum, and they do a great job of giving you, for a moment, the sense of what it might have been like to stand on a field with Satchel Paige, or Josh Gibson, or Martin Dihigo. The museum was full of interesting materials, from old uniforms to player bios and league information to fascinating old footage of Goose Tatum of the Indianapolis Clowns performing a goofy, Globetrotters-style routine on the field before a game.
* The Royals Hall of Fame, at Kauffman Stadium, was also impressive, much more so than I’d expected. We watched a brief video about the 1985 ALCS, but Jim
made me leave before we got to the disaster (for Cardinals fans) of that World Series. The most unexpected and interesting part for me was seeing a brochure for the team’s short-lived Royals Baseball Academy experiment: the brochure looked like any ordinary junior-college brochure, only it said on the front something like, “Full college credit and thorough training in professional baseball skills.”
* It was ’80s Night at Kauffman Stadium, which meant . . . a little bit of ’80s trivia, a few relatively uninspired costumes, and some ’80s music. Between innings late in the game, the stadium’s 70-foot scoreboard played “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and Jim immediately pointed out the blown opportunity: what better chance to Rickroll a crowd than to have it vote for an ’80s music video to be played the next inning, and then . . .
* Jim was asked by strangers to take their picture for the second night in a row. Apparently he looks more trustworthy than I do.
* One of the symbols of Kauffman Stadium is the spiral ramp that leads to the upper deck, and as we neared the bottom on our way out of the park, we noticed that it continued below ground level, not, as I first assumed, to a hellmouth, but to storage and waste disposal and such. As we watched, a kid working for the Royals was walking briskly down the ramp a level below ground, keeping one eye on the oversized rolling trash bin that he’d set free to rumble its way excitedly down the ramp alongside him. It looked like easily the most fun he’d had all night.
To Des Moines tomorrow!