Welcome back to another edition of Out of the Park. After a six-month hiatus, we’re stepping up to the plate with all the action that a new season of America’s pastime has to offer.
For baseball fans, Opening Day is a cherished national holiday. While it’s an exhilarating time for me as well, it doesn’t come without some nerves and – if I’m being honest – a little bit of anxiety.
It has nothing to do with being back in front of the camera. That’s as natural to me as clocking in to any other job. What gives me pause is the grind of the season ahead. It brings travel, time away from family and a huge volume of games…but that’s also what makes baseball so unique.
The marathon-like season is one of the things that makes the sport so unique. This year, the introduction of a pitch clock has sparked discussion about pace of play, but pacing oneself – whether you’re an athlete, executive, broadcaster or coach – is essential to any long season.
My passion for the sport, the people and the unpredictable nature of the game is what keeps me going. I’m often asked by fans, “Are we going to win today?” and my answer is always, “I hope so,” but I never can know for sure. Football is easier to predict, but baseball rarely goes as expected.
By the end of April, two or three teams will captivate their cities as early-season Cinderella stories. But will they still be contenders when September rolls around? Time will tell as the haves separate themselves from the have-nots over the course of 162 games.
In college basketball, Cinderella stories reveal themselves through the thrilling upsets that define March Madness. They’re stories that captivate all of us, and the reason I chose it as the theme of this month’s newsletter. And of course, it’s time to get back to work…inside and Out of the Park.
My opinion on stadium rankings is always changing. There are some that will be perennial favorites, such as the San Francisco Giants’ Stadium the Royals will visit on their first roadtrip in April. Others evoke more mixed emotions. One thing I do know is that it’s hard to judge your own house against everyone else’s.
With baseball officially underway, I can look forward to spending half of the season at Kauffman Stadium, my home away from home. Because of it, I see it differently than I do any other venue in baseball. Visiting players and broadcasters always rave about ‘The K’. It’s aging yet remains beautiful, and the enthusiasm of a sellout Opening Day crowd made yesterday memorable.
The team wore full powder blues, including pants, for the first time in years. It was a look that brought me back to the ‘80s and I loved it. The fans left disappointed in a loss, but the festivities and excitement about the new season felt great. And any day at ‘The K’ is a great one for me.
Next month’s newsletter will see the return of my favorite road spots. The Royals visit both New York and Philadelphia over the summer, which are two cities I could write about month after month without scratching the surface. With so much to offer, I expect each will earn a dedicated Local Flavor later in the season. This month, I’m featuring both after taking my daughter to New York for her Senior Spring Break. What else would you expect for a theater kid?
I love New York for so many reasons. The hustle and bustle, the diversity, the food, the theater…I could go on. Staying in tourist areas like Times Square might seem like an obvious choice, but we opted for the Upper West Side. In one of the most New York things possible, we saw Jerry Seinfield in a coffee shop, though I chose not to ask for a picture so he could just enjoy his morning.
We also checked out an amazing breakfast place called Good Enough to Eat. The recommendation came to me from Taylor Kay Phillips, a KC native, writer for the John Oliver show and upcoming podcast guest. Like its namesake, everything on the menu sounded good enough to eat…and they had strawberry butter! It was a grand slam that I definitely encourage you to try the next time you’re in the Big Apple.
No trip to New York is complete without a visit to Broadway. We went to a show called Leopoldstaldt that cast a local KC actor named Drew Squire. He has been in shows with my daughter for years and we were excited to see him in action. It was a must-see if you’re able to catch it before the final curtain in July.
We rounded out our trip by ducking down to Philly for a few hours. I grew up in a suburb before we moved to the midwest when I was a teenager. When people learn this, they always ask me who has the best Philly Cheesesteak, which is akin to asking someone in KC who has the best barbeque. I often go to Pat’s or Geno’s, which are famous for a reason, but this trip I wanted to taste something new. We tried a little spot North of the city called Dalessandro’s. It was worth the stop, and when the Royals return this summer, I’ll search for a different one. It won’t be hard to find options.
Rounding the Bases Rewind
In celebration of Women’s History Month, every episode prior to Opening Day featured a female guest. Each had a powerful message and there was no shortage of Cinderella stories. The most poignant one was my interview with Mindy Corporon, including special guest Jake Goldman.
Mindy is the Founder of SevenDays, an organization that turned an unthinkable tragedy into an opportunity to create more kindness. Through single acts, Mindy, Jake and the entire SevenDays team are doing more than starting ripples. They’re actually changing the world. Listen to the full episode here.
My wife Susan and I were honored to be named the Honorary Co-Chairs of this years’ events. If you’re in the Kansas City area, I hope you’ll consider participating in the SevenDays Kindness Walk on Sunday, April 16th. Click here to register or get more information.
Don’t miss new episodes released every Monday and Thursday, available wherever you get your podcasts.
Would you or someone you know make a great guest on Rounding the Bases?
I look forward to all of the Cinderella stories and post-game “Savly Splash” celebrations that are to come during the upcoming baseball season. I try to share my favorites in this space, but with the season just beginning, I want to instead focus on a player I used to cover.
Jeremy Guthrie was a veteran pitcher who played a significant role ending the Kansas City Royals’ 29-year playoff drought in 2014. Nearly a decade later, he and former Royal Mike Sweeney have joined our broadcast team as TV analysts for select games during the 2023 season.
Guthrie is one of the more interesting athletes I’ve covered. From his Mormon missions around the world to his impressive sneaker collection, we had a lot to discuss. You can listen here.
Also be sure to check out this month’s interview with Casey Wright, the President of Chief of Staff Kansas City. We sit down to talk about Cinderella stories in sports and career.
Keeping the Score
Every week on my podcast Rounding the Bases I get the opportunity to interview business leaders, athletes and everyone in between. No two experiences are alike, but each conversation tells a significant story and provides an enlightening lesson.
My blog Keeping the Score rounds the bases with a single, double, triple and home run from each guest on the podcast. This month, my blog covers the topics of empathy and how to beat the odds. Check out all recent releases here.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
A huge thanks to Liberty Hospital CEO Raghu Adiga for inviting me to speak to his leadership team in early March. I loved talking Small Ball with their group, which reminds me of those Cinderella stories in sports. It’s an underdog who may not receive as much attention as the powerhouses. Instead, it succeeds by paying attention to detail and culture.
I am booking summer engagements as baseball allows and my fall scheduling is filling. If you would like me to speak to your organization, please contact my speaking manager, Charlotte Raybourn.
I’m also excited to release my new promotional video. Please check it out and be sure to share with anyone else you think will enjoy it.
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