Royal Underdogs
Royal Underdogs
"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." -- Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth

"Our people just aren't sporty, Mom," my DD (darling daughter) says about our lack of athletic prowess. She does manage to fit in time for pilates while balancing a schedule that's on steroids as a busy working wife and mother; I get my sportiness fix on a mat in the yoga studio. But, beyond that, you'll never hear anyone who knows us exclaim, "Yep, those two are headed for the cover of Sports Illustrated!"

I guess that's why we both appreciate anyone who does possess the skills, tenacity and sheer athleticism to excel at a sport--especially an unexpected underdog like the Kansas City Royals baseball team, the 2015 World Series champions.

One thing that mr. invisible, my ex-husband, contributed to our marriage was his love of baseball trivia and a knowledge about players that spanned decades since his childhood spent listening to games on the radio. Invisible and I had season tickets to the Royals in the 1980s--and witnessed their zenith in '85 when they won the World Series for the first time. I'll never forget the deafening roar of that crowd, the sky ablaze with fireworks, people around me sobbing and hugging as we jumped up and down like we'd won the lottery on that crisp, exhilarating October night.

But for years after that, I sat through endless August games, dreading the enveloping humidity, my thighs stuck to a sweaty stadium seat. A cold beer was my only consolation for the Royals' inability to string together a winning anything.

And I don't even like beer.

Last year, the Royals made it to the series, but lost in a 7th game heartbreaker. That gave these underdogs and those who love 'em all the more to hope and wish for this year, and the boys in blue delivered: Kansas City welcomed the team home from its comeback kid victory over the Mets in the 12th inning of the Series finale, and a half million people crowded like ants along the Royal Blue parade route. Schools and businesses closed as the city's streets and highways gridlocked.

Most of us have felt like underdogs in our lives at some point; the first year after I left mr. invisible, I felt like I'd been kicked to the curb with steel-toed boots. But that's the thing about plummeting lower than low--there's only way way to go from there, and that's up. A dear friend who's a grief counselor likes to frame it like this: Think of all the times you've failed, been depressed or sad about something in your life. What happened? Things got better, the world kept spinning, and your resilience pulled you right back out of that hole you found yourself in.

I used to say I didn't care for underdogs. In my know-it-all younger years, I equated the term with victim, someone who'd thrown in the towel and stayed there. As I've gotten older, I see the difference: An underdog has a hungry look in her eye and knows life is a cycle of ups and downs, bunts and homers, wins and losses.

But most of all she knows you'll never get to second base with your foot planted on first.

Click to read the next post: "Master Of Disguise"
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