This team.

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There are only so many ways to describe the impossible, so let me relate a personal anecdote. Minutes after the Kansas City Royals beat Baltimore and secured their first World Series berth since the first Nintendo game system was invented, my younger daughter, Katie, called on FaceTime. She was wearing a Royals sweatshirt.

“Mom’s crying,” she said.

My wife, Margo, is from a tiny town in Kansas called Cuba. Well, Cuba used to be a tiny town – it’s smaller than that now. Margo was valedictorian of her high school class of 12. That high school closed down a while ago.

In Cuba, when my wife was young, the years were marked by certain events. There was harvest, of course, and the Cuba Rock-a-Thon – which still proudly features delicious Czech food and more than 300 hours of people going back and forth in rocking chairs – and the Republic County Fair in Belleville. There was Kansas State football season and the college basketball season, Halloween and Christmas. As much as anything, there was Royals baseball.

Yes, the Royals were there, every night of summer on KSAL from Salina, Kan., (or, when the wind was right, the big station, 980 KMBZ out of Kansas City). Cuba folks would sit outside in the sweltering evenings and listen to Denny Matthews and Fred White call the action.

I know many people from tiny Midwestern towns – Minneapolis, Clay Center, Abilene, just in Kansas – and most of them seem powerfully impacted by Royals baseball on the radio. I’m not sure it’s an emotion I can fully explain, but I guess it had something to do with connecting to a bigger city, connecting to the country at large, reaching beyond the sometimes claustrophobic city limits and the often suffocating boredom of nothing new ever happening. The Royals of Margo’s youth were exciting and passionate. George Brett almost hit .400, Frank White made dazzling plays, Bret Saberhagen pitched games that were more like symphonies, and Dan Quisenberry closed the door.

Then, about the time Margo turned 16, the Royals just stopped. They didn’t just stop winning. They stopped being. The team of Brett and Leonard and Sabes and Quiz … well … what? Who could even say? One year they were a team of washed-up veterans. The next they were a team of overmatched kids. Then they were washed-up veterans again.

[ RELATED: Ned Yost doesn’t get much credit for Royals’ run. Maybe he should ]

The Royals never had any money, so the best players would dig holes in the walls behind posters to escape. They were never any good, so the only time SportsCenter or anyone else paid attention was when they went on 19-game losing streaks or when their first-base coach was attacked by a lunatic father-and-son fan duo in Chicago.

Margo never stopped caring. Our first date was a Royals game. Every summer, even after the kids were born, we went to plenty of Royals games. I don’t think Royals fans in general ever stopped caring, but I do think Margo stopped believing.

Every spring training, when I was writing columns for the Kansas City Star, I would write a column called, “Why the Royals are going to win the pennant.” She would read it, and ask doubtfully, “Do the Royals REALLY have a chance?” I would shrug and say something like, “It’s not impossible,” and she nodded and went on with her life.

When Kansas City made the playoffs this year, Margo was as excited as every other Royals fan. But I don’t think she believed, not yet. It’s hard to overcome a quarter-century of bloopers and busted prospects and failed plans. When the Royals trailed Oakland by four runs in the Wild Card game, she dozed off under her covers and was jolted awake by the sounds of a comeback.

When the Royals won, though, it was well past midnight, she called her mother Judy, who had instilled in her a love of the team, and for a half-hour, the two lobbed giddy versions of “Can you believe it?” back and forth at each other.

This team; these Royals were something. For one thing, they caught everything. Margo has always been partial to great defense; it was the defensive blunders through the years (like the time two Royals outfielders jogged toward the dugout to end an inning and forgot to actually catch the fly ball) that drove her mad.

But this team. Lorenzo Cain was supernatural in center field. How could he make hard catches look so easy? Alex Gordon seemed to have some kind of magnetic force in the way baseballs would bend to his will. Alcides Escobar made every kind of play at shortstop. No pitch – even ones that bounced angrily in the dirt – ever seemed to get behind that catcher Salvador Perez.

[ RELATED: Will too much rest before World Series ruin the Royals? ]

That whole defense was brilliant, and then there were those three relievers – the closing law firm of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland – and they threw so hard, they made hitters look so helpless. They seemed to make the act of swinging a bat pointless. The Royals beat the Angels in extra innings, then did it again, then came home to Kauffman Stadium and seemed electrified by all those fans – Margo found herself on the phone with her Mom nightly, and she found herself reconnecting with old friends she had not talked to in years, and old feelings returned.

Then came this Baltimore series, four heartbreaking games of staggering genius. There was no place in the outfield for Baltimore baseballs to drop. There was no opening to the left side of the infield with Escobar and Mike Moustakas. Baltimore won this year by hitting home runs, but those Royals relievers don’t give up home runs. So when the Orioles players got to Kansas City they found themselves lost in a cavernous place where home runs died before even reaching the warning track. It became very clear, very quickly that the only way the Orioles could win was if they somehow held the Royals scoreless.

This scenario – keeping the Royals scoreless – is not implausible. Scoring runs is the team’s one weakness. But they kept going. They scored their second run in Game 3 on a blooper, a ground ball and a fly ball. They scored their two runs in Game 4 by beating out an infield single, getting hit by a pitch, (the first sacrifice bunt of Cain’s Major League life) and hitting a ground ball to first that Escobar kicked out of the catcher’s glove. They had two runs, and that was enough. The law firm came in and made sure.

Buck O’Neil, the wonderful Negro Leagues player, manager, and spokesman, used to say, “I don’t like that word unbelievable. … Nothing is unbelievable.” Buck had a gift for suspending belief and expecting good things even when there was no reason at all to expect them. Most of us don’t have that gift, certainly not to his extent, and so when the Royals got the final out and won the Championship Series and clinched their place in the World Series, I think it all just hit Margo, suddenly; the way people’s kindness hit George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the way a belief in magical things hit the farmer in “Babe,” the way it all finally made sense when the son asked his Dad for a game of a catch in “Field of Dreams.”

So Margo started crying. I know she wasn’t alone. The Royals are winners again. That word Buck loathed, that word “unbelievable,” lost some ground.

A’s running out of time to find home in Oakland, Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Athletics have spent years trying to get a new stadium while watching Bay Area neighbors such as the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and Raiders successfully move into state-of-the-art venues, and now time is running short on their efforts.

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and though they might be forced to extend the terms, the club and Major League Baseball have deemed the stadium unsuitable for a professional franchise.

They are searching for a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, but they have experienced difficulties in both areas. The A’s missed a major deadline in October to get a deal done in Oakland, and there has been little indication they will receive the kind of funding they want from Las Vegas.

“I think the A’s have to look at it in a couple of ways,” said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner at Las Vegas-based B Global. “Obviously, they have struggled in Oakland to get a deal across the line. It isn’t for a lack of effort. . You have an owner that’s willing to pony up money, you have a club that wants to sit there and figure out a way to make it work, and you keep running into obstacles along the way.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait. Oakland, do you want them or not? And if not, where are the A’s going to get the best deal? Is it Vegas? Is it somewhere else? They’ll have to figure that out.”

What the A’s are thinking is a little bit of a mystery. Team President Dave Kaval was talkative earlier in the process, saying the A’s are pursuing two different tracks with Oakland and Las Vegas. But he went silent on the subject several months ago. A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said mostly recently that the club would withhold comment for now.

The A’s have been negotiating with Oakland to build a $1 billion stadium as part of a $12 billion redevelopment deal.

Newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao said reaching a deal is important as long as it makes economic sense to the city. Her predecessor, Libby Schaaf, led prior efforts to reach an agreement, but after the city and the A’s missed that October deadline, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed reservations a deal will ever get done.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said at the time. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.”

Recent California history justifies his concerns. SoFi Stadium in Southern California and Chase Center in San Francisco were built with private money, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was 90% privately financed.

“And then I think there was some contagion where around the country people realized these deals could be done well privately and could generate a return on investment to those investors,” said David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California. “Why are we throwing public money at it at all?”

That’s also a question being asked in Las Vegas, even though the Raiders in 2016 received $750 million from the Nevada Legislature for a stadium. That then was the largest amount of public money for a sports venue, but it was surpassed last March by the $850 million pledged to construct a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Another deal like the one for Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play, appears unlikely in Nevada. T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2017, was privately financed. An arena planned for south of the Las Vegas Strip also wouldn’t rely on public funds.

Las Vegas, however, has shown financing creativity. Its Triple-A baseball stadium received $80 million in 2017 for naming rights from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room taxes fund the authority, so it was public money in a backdoor sort of way.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who is on the board of the convention authority, has spoken with A’s representatives about their interest in Las Vegas and said he is aware of the club’s talks with other Nevada officials. He said the A’s are taking a much different approach than the Raiders, who identified Las Vegas early as their choice landing spot after many years of failing to get a new stadium in Oakland.

“When the Raiders decided to come to Las Vegas, they had a clear plan,” Naft said. “You had a clear body that was tasked with assessing the worth and the value, and they committed to the destination. I have not seen that from the Oakland A’s at any level, and it’s not really our job to go out and beg them to come here because we have earned the reputation of the greatest arena on Earth. We have put in both the dollars and the labor to make that the case.

“I think I’ve made myself clear, but from conversations with others, I don’t think I’m alone on that.”

New Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo “will not raise taxes” to attract the A’s or any other team, his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, said in a statement. But she said the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs,” which could mean tax breaks similar to what Tesla received in 2014.

Manfred said in December that the A’s relocation fee would be waived if they move to Las Vegas, a savings to the club reportedly of up to $1 billion.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said then.

Naft said Allegiant Stadium filled a hole that went beyond landing an NFL team. It allowed Las Vegas to attract major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four and major concerts such as Garth Brooks and Elton John that “in many cases we would not otherwise have.”

He said he doesn’t believe a baseball stadium would accomplish that, and sports economist Victor Matheson agreed.

“I think there’s a real question about how much people are willing to watch baseball in Las Vegas,” said Matheson, a professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not like locals don’t have a huge number of entertainment options right now, and it’s not clear exactly how much people might travel to watch baseball in Vegas, either.”

If the A’s truly want to be in Las Vegas, Naft said they need to make that clear.

“I just believe you can’t play destinations against each other,” Naft said. “If you want to come here and you want to be met with open arms, you’ve got to commit.”

Should the A’s fail to reach an agreement in Oakland or Las Vegas, they could consider other destinations such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and Portland, Oregon. Whether they would have the time to explore such options is another question.

Oakland has already shown it will watch the Raiders move to Nevada and the Warriors go across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Las Vegas, Matheson noted, is hardly in a desperate situation. He also expressed caution that Las Vegas could go from being among the largest metropolitan areas without a major professional sports team to among the smallest with three franchises.

“So you’ve gone from kind of being under-sported to being over-sported in a short period of time if the A’s were to go there,” Matheson said.