When I was a cub reporter in KC back in 1970, I was introduced to Royals baseball. This happened a year after the team was hatched. Oh, how times have changed!
I remember covering Lou Piniella, the team’s first legitimate star. “Sweet Lou” won the AL Rookie of the Year award. He loved the nightlife and the bright lights. He wasn’t alone. Many of his teammates also loved these things back in those days. Lou played here five seasons and moved on to become a pretty good player with the Yankees. He made his name in the big leagues as a manager. All the while, he maintained ties to KC and was part owner of a bar on the Plaza in the 1980s. What you saw is what you got with Lou Piniella. He was an unpretentious straight shooter.
The 1970s and 1980s were my favorite years covering the Royals. As reporters, we got to know some of the players well. We played golf together during spring training in Ft. Myers, FL. We would have a “cool one” together from time to time. I have fond memories of Dennis Leonard. He was a real character and was a lot of fun to be around away from the ballpark.
Of course those reporter/player relationships have pretty much gone away now. I think the money had a lot to do with this change and the way the media covers the team as well. As reporters, many of us have an adversarial relationship with those we cover and that is not a bad thing.
There’s a fine line you walk as a reporter. You must be careful not to betray the confidence of those who have confided in you. At the same time, there’s a responsibility to speak out and not sugar coat the message. Social media changed the way news is disseminated these days. It’s right now. It’s instantaneous. However, it has a tendency to often be erroneous and inaccurate.
I’ve always been a fan of the printed word, but unfortunately newspapers are dying on the vine. In many cases, beat writers have become nothing more than a PR extension to the teams they cover.
I have been fortunate to work the previous three World Series the Royals have been involved in. This will be my first as a fan. I must admit how enjoyable it was taking in Game 6 of the ALCS as a spectator on Friday night with a rooting interest. No notes. Just a couple of beers with my son and plenty of tweets expressing my displeasure with the manager’s decisions. It was refreshing to be among the 40,000 plus in the open air and not worrying about the repercussions for making a little noise in that so-called “sacred sanctuary” above home plate called the press box. Again, it was fun to just be a fan.
I do like the way these two World Series combatants match-up. The Mets starting pitching will certainly favor the Metropolitans. Matt Harvey faces Edinson Volquez in Game 1 on Tuesday night. Jacob de Grom faces Johnny Cueto in Game 2 on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals hit nearly .300 as a team against Toronto in the ALCS. Keep in mind, the Mets held their own against Kershaw and Greinke of the Dodgers and Arrieta and Lester of the Cubs. The New York Mets swept the Cubs to punch their ticket to the World Series.
I’ve got this one going the full seven games with the Royals winning their first World Series Championship in 30 years. It will be a November to remember in this great city.