And that’s not just because we live 45 minutes from Kansas City, whose Royals won against New York’s Mets. Though that helps.
As the parade gets underway downtown, let’s rehearse some of the lessons. [For the vigorous opposing view, see Jason in the comments.]
The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth
“The meek shall inherit the earth” describes Christian holiness. It also describes every game the Royals played in postseason.
The final game of the World Series demonstrated this perfectly. Curtis Granderson, the Met’s lead-off hitter, hit a home run. The ball echoed off his bat, sailed through the New York air and was swallowed up by the thundering throngs. It was epic.
But it was also a strangely impotent act, a single hitter hitting a single ball for a single run in a giant stadium.
The Royals, meanwhile, spent the first eight innings getting nothing, then got a walk followed by a double in the ninth. They kept alive into inning 12, when they started a rally, putting each other on base and “keeping the line moving,” each guy advancing the guy before him.
There was no epic moment, just a series of small baseball moments … but the meek took the crown. The echo of that epic home-run was swallowed up by the sound of 14 cleated feet crossing home plate for the Royals.
Flyover Country vs. the Big Mean City
Lots of folks in Kansas City said they wished the final game took place here.
I’m glad it didn’t.
In America today, more than ever, there is a vast difference between the big cities on the coasts and the “flyover country” in between. It was a startling culture shock to move from Connecticut to Kansas. In Connecticut so much was unmentionable in so many situations: the abortion issue, patriotism, love for God, prayer.
In the Midwest people are as far from perfect as they are anywhere else, but the culture still allows you to be who you are.
So for a still-new Midwesterner, it was priceless seeing the contemptuous big city crowd cheer knowingly as the Mets established early leads over the Royals in Games 4 and 5, and then seeing them shocked into disbelief as the Royals took their leads away.
It was almost unbearable Sunday night. The New Yorkers chanted their pitcher’s name like a Roman gladiator and cheered like he had destroyed another victim each time he threw a strike
They were unbearably triumphal until the Royals quieted them with a meek little tie, then waited them out and did a base-running clinic in the 12th.
By the time it was all over, the stadium was emptying out. The New Yorkers were gripping the bars of the subway cars rumbling underground beneath while in Atchison, Kan., college students were dancing in the streets.
Flyover country struck back.
— Tom Hoopes (@TomHoopes) November 2, 2015
The Dominican vs. the Dark Knight
Game 5 of this year’s World Series was also a stark contrast in pitcher attitudes.
One pitcher, Edinson Volquez, flew in from his father’s funeral in the Dominican Repuiblic, reeling with the pain of deep loss.
“He was everything for me. He was one of the greatest men,” Volquez said of his dad. “I remember he bought me my first glove and my first spikes, brought me to the field … He [raised] me in the right way.”
He scribbled his dad’s initials in the dirt of the mound, then got to work, began pitching, working hard for his team, blocking all runs until a tough sixth inning. The bases were loaded with no outs and he only allowed one run. When his manager said “Thanks. You’re done,” he took his seat in a grateful dugout.
Meanwhile the Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, nicknamed the Dark Knight, is famous for coming late to practice recently, bleary-eyed and reeling from breaking up with his girlfriend, a Polish model.
He pitched brilliantly, effectively, epically in game 5. The crowd chanted his name.
I think it was the chanting that did it. Harvey finished pitching an eighth inning … his 102nd throw of the game. He wasn’t supposed to pitch more than that. His arm wasn’t supposed to be able to take it. It was time for a closer to take over, to seal the incredible game Harvey had pitched. His coaches told him to step aside.
Harvey said No, and hubris felled another hero. Harvey wanted too much. He was like the Tolstoy character who, given the chance to own all the land he could cover in a day, ran himself to death.
Harvey basked in the chants as he stepped to the mound … then walked his lead-off runner in the ninth, allowing a double and a score before being pulled a few pitches too late. “Matt Harvey’s overconfidence cost Mets Game 5 win in World Series,” reported the Daily News, but the URL tells a darker story: “matt-harvey-arrogance-cost-mets-game-5-win”
I tweeted out the lesson:
The Benedictine College Connection
The whole thing was made incredibly sweet by the connections Benedictine College, my employer, has to the Royals.
? Royals General Manager Dayton Moore was our commencement speaker (it was a good four days for our commencement speakers. One became a world champion and one became Speaker of the House.)
? Staff department heads have a retreat each summer at the Royals and usually hear from Moore. We have consciously and consistently followed two of his principles: “Do everything with class, professionalism and success,” and “develop your next generation.”
? Our key fundraising drive of the new millennium hit a turning point because of prayer advice Royals legend Mike Sweeney gave our president.
? Dayton Moore predicted the World Series Royals on our campus, and we cheered the team on at special days in Kaufman Stadium.
And so as the parade winds its way through the city once known for winning at barbecue but losing at baseball, I am content. I will keep searching Amazon for the commemorative DVD. I want to show my grandkids this series one day.
UPDATE: Archbishop Joseph Naumann weighed in: