Friday, June 13, 2008

How I Became a Royals Fan: Jack Dempsey

Name: Jack Dempsey
Location: Kansas City
Age: 21
Website: Royals Nation

You run the Royals Nation website, correct? Why did you start the website?

Yes, sir. I created Royals Nation as a supplement to what I feel was an exemplary blogosphere dedicated to the best and most pure franchise in the world—the Kansas City Royals. I began the site by linking articles to virtually everything Royals-related I could find on the web, and I still do. However, such events as “Survivor” contests, pick-to-click contests, and game threads surfaced due to the popularity of the forum. The real reason I created the site? I crave baseball and, perhaps more importantly to some, crave the Royals. Since I have too much free time on my hands, why not exercise the demons in the form of written word?

For Royals fans who haven’t visited your website yet (and I highly encourage them to do so), what do you have over there that will be of interest to Royals fans?

In my opinion, one of the attractions of a message board like Royals Nation its interactive nature. I create forums for different types of Royals fans. Obviously, not many casual fans are even going to feel motivated enough to search for blogs surrounding their local baseball team. However, Royals Nation caters to many different types of fans—Minor League fans, recent or converted fans, and baseball fans in general. Each information belongs in its own forum—Major League Baseball, Minor League Report, Indy/College/H.S. Baseball, and of course, General Discussion (surrounding the Royals). In addition to the features mentioned above, there is an entire trivia forum, created and now handled almost entirely by RN member RoR1fan. I feel like I’ve dedicated quite a bit of my past 18 months to Royals Nation, so check it out sometime! If you’re a Royals fan, I guarantee you’ll find something that captures your interest and keeps you coming back for more.

What do you like to do for fun? What are your hobbies?

Besides writing or watching the Royals? How about coaching baseball or thinking about baseball? Baseball encompasses so much of my life....many friends think I’m possessed. Ironically, a few of my good friends are actually dedicated fans of the sport. Beyond baseball, I would like to think I have a wide range of interests. For one, I love music, and have taken several theory courses and diligently try to remain hip to the latest in alternative/indie/emo/post-grunge/ new-wave/and whatever is hitting big on the alterna-music scene these days. Also, I have exercised my love of music in the form of a love for radio. I interned for three local rock FM stations most of last year, and one of my career goals is to become engrossed into the life of radio. Another hobby of mine is writing. I love to write—or ramble incessantly—on any given topic without rhyme or reason. In fact, I am probably doing that right now!

How old were you when you first started following the Royals?

I was approximately seven years old. I remember developing a profound curiosity for the whereabouts of this beloved franchise around 1992 or 1993, as my father began taking me to many Royals games during this time period. I remember craving going to a Royals game after summer school in 1993, and being completely crushed when I discovered that my dad did not have tickets or couldn’t attend that night’s game. I have fond memories of those early 1990s squads, which ironically I didn’t feel were necessarily playoff-caliber at the time, but in retrospect, were pretty good squads, at least in comparison to.....well, the miserable road that lie ahead. (Usually, isn’t that the other way around?) That 1994 squad likely would have made the playoffs, in my opinion.

How did you initially become interested in the Royals?

As I mentioned above, I had a profound curiosity for baseball in general, and growing up in the center of Kansas City, I became engrossed in all things Royals baseball. I memorized everything—statistics, lineups, the bare bones of the front office. I credit my uncle, my grandfather, but most of all, my father, for making me become interested in the franchise I know and love today. (Side note: During the Royals’ recent slide, my father repeatedly apologizes for making me a Royals fan. I keep reassuring him that he should not apologize, nor should he ever apologize....come on, Dad!)

Who was your first favorite Royals’ player and why?

This day in age, I try to refrain from choosing one favorite player, for several reasons. A) I love all Royals players equally, and want each of them to succeed. B) I try not to hold personal biases or grudges against particular players. However, that wasn’t the question, was it? I would say my first favorite Royal was George Brett, and I’ll explain that reason below.

Can you remember the first time you saw a game at Royals / Kauffman Stadium?

Yes! It was an especially cold day. Opening Day, 1991 (I believe). I would have been four years old. I remember how awe-inspired I was at the gigantic crown-scoreboard and Jumbo-Tron. I don’t remember paying attention to the players, but I do vaguely remember Bo Jackson! I remember that, despite clear skies, it was about 30 degrees. And I remember the Astroturf. That’s about it.

Are you old enough to remember the 1985 season? If so, where were you when Darryl Motley caught the final out of Game 7?

Nah. I wasn’t there for 1985. Sorry!

Are you old enough to remember seeing George Brett play? If so, what is your favorite George Brett memory?

As I mentioned above, my first favorite Royals player would have to be George Brett. Sitting in the club level, third base side—which is exactly where I sit to this day—I remember tearing up after he waved farewell on his final home game. Although I only vaguely remember witnessing his final two or three seasons as a Royal, this moment helped solidify him as my first definite favorite Royal.

Tell me your favorite memory from the 2003 season when the Royals spent most of the season in first place in the AL Central.

Easy. The Kevin Appier complete game shutout against the New York Yankees. It occurred in August on a muggy summer evening in Kauffman Stadium. I remember feeling on top of the world that evening. I had just finished eating dinner with my father and his girlfriend on the Plaza. My father and I were in such a good mood. For that instant, I was convinced the Royals would sniff the playoffs. Listening to 810 WHB throughout the day, mowing the lawns, and discussing Royals baseball with my friends and father—I remember that summer like it was yesterday.

Who is your favorite Royals player right now? Why?

Zack Greinke. I just contradicted my “unRoyal bias” credo, but it’s true. Every time I see his face on the television, or overhear a segment on the radio introducing his name, I stop my other, frivolous-in-comparison activity and listen carefully to every word he says. I feel he’s a pretty insightful and smart young man. Furthermore, he seems pretty down to earth.

What are your favorite memories of Mike Sweeney?

I’m probably unlike most people in that I never had a significant one-on-one encounter with Mr. Sweeney (other than receiving his autograph at the Royals banquet in 1999). His outgoing and down-to-earth nature really made him compatible with Royals fans and the rest of the world, in my opinion. My favorite memories of him would have to take place in the nitty-gritty: on the diamond itself. Around the turn of the century, he was an absolute beast at the plate. I remember feeling incredibly confident every time he stepped up to the plate. It seemed that, usually, he proved me right with all those extra base hits to the gap in left-center and late-inning clutch hits.

What are your thoughts about the current Royals roster?

I’ve given Dayton Moore more than his share of hardships within the comfortable realm of the Royals blogosphere. Instead of writing a manifesto, let me just say that I feel that this ball club is too talented to be performing at this level this season. I do feel that, although I like where our pitching is headed, our GM needs to readjust his thinking on offensive management. Perhaps even more importantly, some will say, our owner needs to commit to building a winner in KC. Although he has taken some steps to “right the wrongs” he has committed in the previous dozen or so years, he still has a long way to go. It starts with overloading on the draft, Minor League player development, and scouting, and it manifests with a respectable Major League payroll. We’re getting there, but the work is far, far from done.

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