Doctors diagnosed Royals fans with a severe case of reality Friday afternoon, as Kansas City took the field against old friend Eric Hosmer and the San Diego Padres.
The Royals-Hosmer separation wasn’t like a messy breakup where you never want to see that person again. Both sides were extremely grateful for the time shared together, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less weird seeing each other out in public for the first time.
Regardless of how you actually feel, you want to put on a good show and make it look like you’re better off in the end without them, that they’re the one who made a mistake.
General Manager Dayton Moore was very clear, he wanted Hosmer in Kansas City. But there’s always other fish in the pond with more to offer, and Friday served as the first time the two sides rekindled on the field.
For some fans, the reality of a rebuild first set in after the last game of 2017. For others, it was when Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain officially signed elsewhere. And there may even still be a few in denial, half expecting to see the old favorites stroll out on opening day.
But what probably did the trick for most, was seeing Hosmer tame “the Hoz” haircut with a “SD” hat instead of “KC”, fouling off Danny Duffy fastballs and doubling down the line he called home for 10 years. Reality check, things are officially different now.
Before the game, Hosmer greeted fans of both teams by signing autographs and taking pictures, even answering Padre fan questions about whether or not he knew how to surf. A question he probably never got in Kansas City, just another sign of how everything in his life is also changing.
In Hosmer’s first at-bat of the game, catcher Salvador Perez greeted his arrival with a hug, while starting pitcher Danny Duffy greeted his arrival with three 94-mph fastballs.
Both Duffy and Hosmer would be locked in if it were the regular season, but even after the first two pitches, both couldn’t help but flash ear to ear smiles across their faces. Duffy got the last laugh, with Hosmer swinging at all three pitches and popping the last one up to Alcides Escobar at shortstop.
The TV cameras showed many conversations with Hosmer and former teammates laughing, while fans had to watch the trademark scoop at first, followed by a jumping strut over the baseline back to the dugout. They’d seen it all before, just not like this.
Their prized possession was no longer theirs, and now hoped to make new favorites with the likes of Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler and Bubba Starling. As Dozier and Hosmer stood together near first after a single, the symbolism of the past and future was clear. What wasn’t, was the present.
This 2018 season by itself brings almost exclusively unknowns. Expectations from fans to players to the front office to the media are all across the spectrum. What exactly the right path for Kansas City to take is anyone’s guess.
But for a day that provided new emotions for Royal fans, there were still occasional familiar signs that should comfort those who like to spend a weekend here and there at the K.
Perez snagged a one-handed grab in foul territory, Whit Merrifield lived up to his “2-hit-Whit” mantra and Jorge Bonifacio crushed a three-run home run, capped by a smile toward Hosmer as he rounded first.
The building block of the franchise is now gone, but what made the franchise as a whole great still remains. Now it’s just about building it all back up.
But that’s the case after every breakup. You mourn, you get angry and say or do some things you probably shouldn’t and will eventually regret. Then there’s the awkwardness of seeing them again, maybe with someone new.
Eventually, you move on and become a better version of yourself in the long run. Which is exactly what Kansas City now aims to do. The mourning and awkward phases are now over, with just an uncertain future lying ahead.
Opening day at Kauffman Stadium is set for Thursday, March 29.
Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.