Sunday, October 12, 2014

Media coverage and also a tribute to my sister

Let me begin with this post is all over the place.  It seems lately I can't sleep more than two hours at a time, so my head fills with random thoughts.  It's still sports and Royals related, but it can be a bit long and lead to nowhere, so I apologize in advance.

On twitter the other day I noticed the Fox affiliate in Kansas City was covering the Royals in every way they could.  They sent crews to Baltimore and everything.  It made me happy to think that they could cover this "magical" season with such enthusiasm.  I know it is biased coverage, but it was the morning crew, and you should never take them too serious unless it is major news.  It made me think back to 2011 when I spent a good deal of time in St. Louis during the Cardinals playoff and eventual World Series run.

Siteman Cancer Center, part of Barnes Jewish Hospital
The reason I was in St. Louis at that time was less than happy times.  My older sister Andrea was diagnosed with Stage Four cervical cancer, and after various attempts at treatment in Columbia, she finally was left with little options.  Then she went to St. Louis for treatments.  Since we lived over 100 miles away, she would usually take chemo and radiation on consecutive days.  It left he unable to do most things for a couple days.  She had to do this every 3 weeks.

2011 was a crazy year to begin with.  It started with a crazy snowstorm.  At the time I lived with my sister mainly because it was the same town I worked in, and it made sense.  In early February, Missouri was hit with a huge snowstorm.  It was so bad that my boss called me the night before it hit telling me something to the effect of "we need you to be able to work the next few days, we'll pay for a hotel room for you".  I worked at a Wendy's inside a Pilot Truck Stop, so even if everything else was closed, we were expected to be open. The hotel was about a tenth of a mile from there, so the company got about 7 people to work around the clock for what ended up being 3 or 4 days. I'm telling you this because it was one of the last times I remember working there.  After the snowstorm let up and everything was back to normal, I took a week off for vacation.  I was going to relax and enjoy my birthday.

I-70 near the location of where I worked in 2011.
 From there everything went haywire.  I work up on my birthday with severe back pain.  I have a history or back pain, so for the most part I accepted it.  However it continued for a few days after that.  When I finally went back to work the next week, I last 15 minutes.  I went to a doctor (who was clueless), and long story short, after 3 months of "rehab" (I made a few visits to a chiropractor that helped, but was never officially allowed to return to work), I mutually parted ways with the company I began with.  I actually turned in my uniform on the anniversary the store opened 9 years ago, I was one of the last two original hires.  It was bittersweet because I wanted to get out of there for years, but I wanted to go on my own terms and in good fashion.  I wish it would have ended better.

Around the same time as my birthday was when my sister got her bad news.  I was only five years earlier that my dad passed away from cancer, so we were probably able to handle it a little better, but never able to accept it.

By August of 2011 she was basically told she was out of options and told she probably had six months to live.  Andrea was a fighter though, and I know most people in the situation would be too, but she finally was accepted into Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.  After a few trips there with various family members, I started going with her the most.  Since everyone else had jobs, and I still didn't, it made the most sense.  I cherished those moments I got to spend with her one on one, and despite her only being almost 5 years older then me, we really started bonding again much like we did in childhood.

In a family who were either not sports fans or rooted for the Kansas City teams, Andrea somehow was a Cardinals fan.  I think it was because in the various places she would live, she would only get Cardinals games on TV, plus the area is all Cards fans.  She wasn't a lifelong fan, her passion for them only began in the last 5 years.  I don't even think she really cared for them when they won in 2006.  Maybe her friends excitement for them winning in 2006 got her into the team.

I watched KSDK because I liked Sara Dayley, (right pic) Ken Dayley's daughter
Anyways, I remember the first time she had to go for a visit in St. Louis was the night before the Cardinals first home playoff game in St. Louis.  Andrea, my mom, and I all watched TV in the hotel room as they did live reports from the Stadium and various bars around the city.  Much like this year in KC, you could see the excitement in the reporters faces as they showed the excited fans.  Each time the Cardinals advanced, it seemed to work like magic that they would play their home games the same days she would have to go.  On a few occasions we talked about maybe going a day early to try to catch a game or go to one of the rally's.  We never did, but I think what got he through some of those time was thinking about her team winning.

We wasn't in St. Louis when the Cardinals won the World Series, but we were there when they played one of their games there.  Every time the Cards would score we could hear the other guests scream in excitement.  The days after the wins we'd go downstairs for breakfast and all the conversations sounded the same, "DID YOU SEE THAT GAME LAST NIGHT?"

A few months later in 2012, the St. Louis Blues had a similar experience.  The city was buzzing with excitement, and just like when the Cardinals went to the playoffs, Andrea would somehow have her visits the same days the Blues had home games taking place not too far from the hospital (Busch Stadium is less than 4 miles from Barnes, and the hockey arena is slightly over 3 miles, both straight shots).  The announcers glee was still there, just as it was from the fans.  Andrea wasn't a hockey fan, but it was the talk around the floor at the hospital she was getting treatment from, so she was rooting for them.

WDAF in Kansas City has Royals Fever.
I love how a city can get behind a team, and be genuine about it.  You can really tell the difference between the ones who are really excited, and the ones just doing a job.  It's that support that brings a city together.  I wish I lived a little closer to Kansas City so I could see their TV broadcasts, but thankfully I can see stuff on twitter and various media.  Every city should have excited media, and an excited fan base who are with the team every step of the way.  I'm not saying they can't be critical (I will have a story about that sometime in the future), but the teams need to be treated like family. You give your undying love to them and want whats best, but will speak up when they make obvious mistakes.  I hope this momentum carries on into next season for Kansas City.  It didn't begin with this playoff run.  The excitement dates back single moments that built up and energized a town.  It began a couple years back with hiring Andy Reid as the Chiefs coach, gained traction with the James Shields trade (though some saw it as a mistake), but it really began last fall when a vocal soccer fanbase was rewarded with Sporting KC winning the MLS Championship.  It was followed up with an exciting Chiefs season that resulted in a playoff berth.  The Royals waited for the perfect time to get everything going, and no matter what happens, the fans have already been rewarded.

My initial reason for posting this was to discuss the media and the excitement.  However I can't finish this without telling you what happened to my sister.  Shortly before noon on April 6th, 2013 (which is my oldest sister's birthday), Andrea passed away.  She was told she had 6 months to live around July of 2011.  From that moment on, she made the most out of what little time she had left.  On October 14th, Andrea would have turned 37 years old.  Happy Birthday Andrea.  I know in Heaven right now, Andrea is rooting for the Cardinals to win it all this year (and I can't be too mad because of her), and my dad is rooting for the Royals to win it all (and I can never be mad at that). 

Thank you for reading such a long post, have a great night.

Oh, before I go, I forgot to mention this.  2011 was when the Rally Squirrel was trending in baseball because of the squirrel that ran onto the field during the Cardinals playoff games.  When Andrea had treatment once, we was at the hotel and they was talking about all the measures the Stadium grounds crew took to assuring they got rid of the squirrels.  Less then 10 minutes later, one of us happened to look out the window and a squirrel was climbing up the wall and it stopped to stare at us few a good half minute before it ran off.  We liked to think of it as the Rally Squirrel trying to find a new place to go after being run out of the Stadium.


  1. Great post. I'm glad you were able to spend a lot of time with your sister before she passed.

    1. Thank you. I noticed a lot of typo's and other mistakes after I re-read it. I need to work on that.

      We are a pretty close family to begin with, but yeah, this gave us more one-on-one time and allowed us to not have any interruptions. While most were not sports related, I might just tell stories sometimes about some of the stuff we did and said.

    2. That is cool. The blog is a great way to let off some steam.

      Thankfully our blogs are void of the grammar police.