The nightmare week for Kansas City sports finally got a ray of sunshine when the baseball commissioner himself arrived in town and officially told the city they were hosting the 2012 All-Star Game. Earlier, the town endured the strong possibility of losing the Big 12 Conference, which is really the only college league it can play host to during its activities and tournaments. While for the meantime, it looks as though the Big 12 is saved and the city can sigh relief, the All-Star game announcement should be a real celebration for this town on the plains. Nothing on this level has been in the city since the final game of the 1985 World Series with the cross-state nitwits from St. Louis.
While the Royals, as politely as I try to say this, have sucked royally for the past 24 years, they do still play in a town with an colorful baseball history. The town was home to the glamour team of the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Monarchs, a squad that saw Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, and many other greats don the uniform. The Negro League Museum is in the city on 18th Street. It is my hope that baseball takes the opportunity to acknowledge this part of its heritage while it has the world focused on the city in 2012. Sure, Kansas City has done something that no other town has really been able to do: take a 1970s (late 60s) stadium and make it look new and even more beautiful. Conservatives and environmentalists should be cheering this on. Yet, the history and baseball culture is just as rich and interesting in this old cow town.
While the Royals have become a true joke (the old A’s were still more so before bailing out for Oakland), it has had a fun past as well. George Brett smacking them out of the ballpark, Frank White bringing home another Gold Glove, Bo Jackson breaking bats over his knees, Whitey Herzog feuding with the Kauffmans, a series of AL Championships with the blasted Yankees, two World Series appearances, Hal McRae and his meltdown that seemed to light a fire under the team’s stagnant hind parts (I hated the day they fired him), and Brett Saberhagen winning two Cy Youngs are just some of the shining moments in the history of this franchise. Hopefully Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, and even the owner with a Wal-Mart past, David Glass are finally exploring the recipes for success. There are promising features to this current team, and its Double AA affiliate in Northwest Arkansas is dominating the Texas League North Division right now. Hopefully Glass has learned you can’t run a team on Rollback prices.
This is an opportunity that Kansas City has to seize. The world will be coming to town, and the ones that don’t come will be watching on television. This could be a final opportunity to keep up with the big dogs in baseball, and show people that good times can be had in the city and at the K. Get the barbecue going, polish up the fountains, don’t worry so much about 12th and Vine (the lovin’ can be fine all over town), and get ready to put on a show! Baseball is ready to once again sing, “Kansas City here I come!” If Kansas City doesn’t respond, then it better cling to the Chiefs and accept the fact it is only a football town now.