The year is 2070. It is Opening Day. Jonny Gomes, age 89, is the last surviving member of the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals. He ambles out to the green space between the mound and home plate and, with the help of his grandchildren, throws out the ceremonial first pitch. The fans at Salvador Perez Memorial Stadium* roar.
*Perez, sadly, died on the field on September 30, 2018 when manager Ned Yost sent him out to catch his 162nd game of the season despite the fact Perez had a concussion, two strained hamstrings, dropsy, scurvy and a sucking chest wound inflicted by an errant crossbow bolt at a Medieval Times restaurant the night before.
The next morning, a column is penned by a baseball writer in which Gomes is hailed as the leader of the 2070 Royals. The heart and soul. A team which, if it fails to maintain ties with Gomes past opening day, “will lack the necessary professionalism and passion” he provides and will be doomed to failure.
Far-fetched? Maybe. But only a little bit. After all, he’s getting that treatment now, an he isn’t even on the playoff roster. From Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald:
Beard still long, red and curly, Gomes is starting to show signs of being 34 years old, but it’s not visible in his sturdy chest, nor in his fearless arms. He unleashed rounds full of powerful swings in batting practice, driving the ball as if it threatened him. To the casual onlooker, Gomes looks like the most prepared, powerful hitter on this potent Royals roster.
Except, again, he has taken no at bats in the postseason nor will he, in all likelihood. Mastrodonato goes on:
Time might be running out on his blue-collar career, one he built on sweat and heart, but to him there’s no end in sight.
“There will have to be a lot of people involved in ripping the jersey off me,” he said.
Tonight, Jonny Gomes is determined to help the Royals get to the World Series. Even if he doesn’t take a single at-bat.
There are quotes from current Royals saying they are happy to have him around. And I’m sure they are. No one, to my knowledge, has ever had anything bad to say about Gomes. But there’s a difference, it seems, between not saying anything bad about him and writing effusive columns about his grit, heart “fearless arms” (?) and the like everywhere he goes. The Atlanta writers did that this spring. The Boston writers have been doing it since 2013. The treatment will likely follow him wherever he goes and I just don’t get why he warrants all of that ink.
I wish I had his agent.