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Inscrutable Symmetry
In some parallel universe, I was rooting for the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. The San Francisco Giants would not have been in such a Series, of course; there is no universe in which I would root against them. In this imaginary parallel cosmos, though, the Giants would have been eliminated at one turning point or another along its timeline, and they would have failed and fallen away like all the other teams did this year — as must be if there is to be one champion.

The Royals, after all, were a Cinderella team, and I have no doubt that most baseball fans around the world were pulling for them. Hey, no hard feelings. Those fans were not rooting against the Giants, so much, as for the brash, exciting team from a city starved for a title. Indeed, the Royal Blue seemed marked by destiny this year. They had been red hot since the All-Star break, using a combination of speed and daring on the base paths, dazzling defense, and a ‘pen of fireballers to best the opposition. They came into the Series with an unprecedented eight straight postseason victories. It was hard not to like them.

They had great fans, too. They were led by George Brett, the great All-Star and leader of the 1985 team that last won for Kansas City, and they rooted for their team with a pure love. Newborns were named for players, and the team itself was treated like family by the KC faithful. There was no doubt, no second-guessing, no recrimination over small failures. A tanned Brett looked like he could still play, even after the twenty-nine year wait for a championship. “Let’s party like it’s 1985,” he kept saying, and the baseball world seemed ready to join in.

The fans, the city, the young, confident juggernaut of a team all seemed to be doing everything right. It was as though there was some grand symmetry of baseball history lining up to bring that fate to pass.

But it was not to be. The Giants, and history, had other ideas. There was Madison Bumgarner, of course, who made brilliance seem effortless, but there was also that game-stopping double play — Panik to Crawford to Belt — in the third inning of Game 7. It stopped the game for two minutes because the Giants challenged the safe call at first. It was the first time this kind of challenge had been used in the World Series because this was the first year that such video challenges were allowed. It went the Giants’ way, as we know, and the Royals’ promising rally was snuffed out.

If video challenges had been around in 1985, they might have changed that series, as well. In game 6, the Cardinals were up three games to two and had a 1-0 lead in the ninth. That’s when umpire Don Denkinger made perhaps the most famous blown call in baseball history. KC’s Jorge Orta grounded softly to the right, the Cardinals’ defense handled the routine play, but Denkinger ruled the runner safe at first. Replays showed Orta out by a yard, but there was no video challenge in 1985, and the Royals went on to take the game and the Series. It was a stunning turn of events, and it is my belief that it left the baseball universe badly out of balance.

And so, the baseball universe needed to right itself. It is unfortunate that the Kansas City Royals of 2014 suffered for a mistake made so long ago, but we can’t help that. It is the baseball gods alone who maintain the delicate clockwork of baseball history. Fans may have thought they saw a different fate unfolding this October, but we make such projections at our peril.

Now begins the long winter of introspection and rejuvenation. In Kansas City, fans may turn their attentions to the Chiefs for solace from their loss. So it is for those who follow the Detroit Tigers, who have already turned to the Lions, and the Nationals fans to the Redskins, and so on throughout baseball. For Giants fans, however, there will be no change of focus. We have what we wanted most, and it demands our undivided attention. Our time of contemplation is already underway, and we will have until spring to reflect on the meaning of our victory.

During this time, I expect, my thoughts will often return to the Royals faithful. They did everything right. Their team competed hard and fair and carried themselves with honor. The season was filled with heroism and high drama. The fans modeled the very best in rooting behavior. They believed in their team and supported them without question. And yet, they lost. So be it.

I honor Kansas City and her people. I know not what fate the inscrutable symmetry of baseball history may yet hold for them, but for now, the San Francisco Giants are World Champions.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon