KC: City of Fountains AND a team on a down cycle
Kauffman Stadium (and other places)
Kansas City, Missouri
July 23, 2018
Detroit Tigers 5, Kansas City Royals 4I spent my seventh wedding anniversary in Kansas City enjoying the company of my beautiful bride, Penny. That accounts for the picture at the top of this page, which ordinarily would be a baseball stadium photo - or something along that line. This photo, however, is a shot of Penny standing near the base of the World War I Memorial and Museum, located on a beautifully landscaped hill that offers an impressive view of downtown Kansas City.
The trip to Kansas City was prompted by a visit to Stadium No. 22 in our multi-year quest to see - wait, make that "see a game in" - all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. We could claim 24 if if all we had to was ride by an empty park. (We did that in Denver and Seattle.) We've also thrown in a few minor league games, by the way.
I should point out - as Penny often reminds me - that this baseball journey was her idea. Men across America are jealous, she adds. That is, no doubt, true.
As has been the case with some destinations, we didn't know what to expect on our trip to Kansas City. Oh, you can read all about the stadiums and follow the standings, which can give you a heads up on some aspects of what to expect at the park. But every park looks different in person than what you've imagined or what you've seen on television and via photos.
The same holds for the cities themselves. You can read all about a city, but until you get there and nose around a little, you don't have a clue what kind of vibe you're going to get. Our trips are short in duration, but certainly long enough to form a seemingly reasonable first impression.
Trivia: Did you know that Kansas City is the City of Fountains? If no, I’m right there with you.
We also visited the downtown City Market, which also was not bad. It offered an eclectic group of shops and restaurants, including an Ethiopian diner, where we ate in what made for a first-time dining experience for me - Ethiopian food, I mean. I should add that I'm aware that Kansas City is considered barbecue Mecca. But we missed the barbecue, primarily because Penny is a long-long-time vegetarian, which - in the words of Pulp Fiction's Jules - pretty much makes me a vegetarian. I might have been tempted to cheat for some Kansas City barbecue, but we all make our choices.
I also know that Kansas City is famous for jazz. Aside from a couple of street musicians, one in town and one outside Kauffman Stadium, we missed the music scene - sad to say.
We also intended to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, but it was closed during our time window of opportunity. We took that time to cross state line into Kansas, where we checked out the Kansas City T-Bones stadium. The T-Bones play in the independent American Association, and their
|Home of the Kansas City T-Bones|
Kansas City had hills. I had expected mostly flatness.
Regarding expectations generally, I had figured we'd try to find something interesting to do in our off-time, but we would be mesmerized by Kauffman Stadium and seeing the Royals. After all, this is another place that I had seen a million times on television. Watching the World Series games from Kansas City three years ago had seemed nothing short of amazing. And the stadium is located in the suburbs - far out in the suburbs, in fact - on a plot of land that also holds Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs and, allegedly, some of the loudest and tail-gating-est fans in the NLF.
In short, I had no special expectations for Kansas City, but plenty for the Royals.
I can't seem to pinpoint exactly what the issues were. Whereas a small-town feel, compared to other venues, might not be such a bad thing, our experience was that it was a little too small-time - even with the scoreboard with the crown thing on top, which is roughly the size of Delaware. Ushers and other stadium officials were friendly, kind of in the manner that a Walmart greeter is friendly. By that I mean we generally got smiles; but when we asked a few questions about the stadium, we got a "can't really help you with that one" response. Easy questions, I might add.
A group of fans wanted to enter the Royals Hall of Fame museum, which is opened every game an hour prior to the first pitch. It was closed. No one knew why. Not even stadium officials, who eventually informed us that they weren't aware of this, but apparently it had been rented for the evening by a private company. It should be open sometime after the first inning, but, sorry, it will be closed at the end of the seventh inning.
Penny told a stadium manager, "We came halfway across the country to see a game here. We came to the park when the gates opened, so we could see your Hall of Fame AND not miss any of the game."
We received an Amos Otis bobble-head doll as an appeasement gift. Ah, the joys of the small-town feel.
Baseball, however, almost always delivers. The game was interesting, as baseball often is, even when played by two teams with sub-.500 records. The Royals are actually dreadful this year, but they entered the game with the Tigers on a three-game winning streak, having just swept the Twins.
And life looked good again for the Royals. Rookie Heath Fillmyer was dazzling for seven innings. The Royals held a 4-2 lead going into the ninth when veteran Brandon Mauer gave up three straight hits without recording an out. Four-to-three, just like that. Two men on. Mauer gave way to Jason Hammel, who gave up a rocket-shot double that scored two runs. Five-four Tigers.