The following is not a Guide entry, because I am still shifting through my notes on how one should best fully experience Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. That said, Eric previously suggested that we could always use more content regarding my experiences on the road.
This field report will be somewhat different than previous field reports in that I will be breaking up the action by city, which will be covered in separate essays.
Part 1: The Quest for Perfect BBQ in Kansas City
First, I must start this report with a bit of a confession: I honestly could take or leave barbecue. I have not gone full vegan (ha!), but I have realized that if I do not want to keel over dead at my keyboard at 42, I probably should switch to leaner proteins.
But with all that said, this three-game set in Kansas City was circled on my calendar for the better part of a year. And while I ended up attending these games solo, I made friends along the way while enduring the sultry, sweltering Missouri weather.
I have noticed that folks from Kansas City can be a bit surly, mostly due to the weather or the futility of the Royals/lack of dominance of the Chiefs. The cheat code to get most natives of Kansas City to open up to you is to say the following words, and I am being completely serious: “St. Louis sucks.”
Personally, it felt weird to knock St. Louis as I enjoyed my time at Busch, but if one stumbles upon a cheat code, one would be best served to abuse it for one’s gain. Let’s get started, shall we?
August 12, 2022 – The Beatles as to Oasis as Kershaw is to Gonsolin
Okay, stop me if you have heard this one, but when I was present at a Dodgers game, a Dodgers pitcher flirted briefly with perfection before Reyes Moronta came in and blew up the shutout. But rather than watch Clayton Kershaw be perfect for exactly seven innings, I was treated to Tony Gonsolin making the Royals bow to his whims…like a cat.
But unlike other outings with Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin also flirted a bit longer with a no-hitter before Moronta did his usual bit. I did get some interesting footage prior to the game, because, once again, I miscalculated what time I should arrive at the ballpark.
Kauffman has been compared to a Triple-A ballpark, and I will have much more to say on the subject when it’s time to write my Guide entry for Kauffman. I would disagree with the notion that Kauffman is an inferior ballpark, as I feel it’s generally fine. The food in the stadium could be better though, although the parking lot outside Kauffman is easily the nicest smelling parking lot I have ever been to.
I arrived in Kansas City around 11 am on Friday, well before my hotel was ready. While I waited, I decided to get some lunch and I had the ZMan sandwich from Joe’s BBQ in Kansas City. I would disagree with the actor Paul Rudd in his belief that the sandwich is the best ever, but it was not “Dairy Queen-level” food as other posters on the Kansas City SB Nation site would describe it.
Gonsolin was as sharp as I have seen him all year and his continued maturation into a legitimate ace is quite heartening considering the “Tony Gonsolin is great” train was a mite lonely apart from Gonsolin’s loved ones and friends around this time last season.
After the Royals literally gave the Dodgers two opportunities with the bases loaded, the offense finally erupted in a similar fashion to the postgame fireworks extravaganza.
August 13, 2022 – Or Michael and Adric run around all over Kansas City for 24 hours
This day literally had it all. Do you want highlights of my tour at Kauffman Stadium? You got it! My tour guide was quite excited about the Hall of Fame plague of Buck O’Neil being on display at the Royals’ Hall of Fame, which was free, and more importantly, air-conditioned.
As with most stadium tours I have gone on, this one was taken by mostly a contingent of Dodger fans. It was neat to see various spots in the stadium, including the home dugout, the press box, and various suites. I could already tell that the day was going to be a scorer.
Immediately after the tour, I received word on Twitter that Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum covering a private event that the Dodgers were having at the museum. My original plan banked on the team being gone from the museum by the time I got there, which would give me a couple of hours at the museum before I went to grab lunch, return to the hotel, change and go to the game.
That sequence of events did not happen as I was trapped outside of the museum with about 150-200 other Dodger fans that were paying attention to Twitter and wanted to see the Dodgers. I did get to meet Fabian Ardaya, who seems like a really nice guy which was neat. But due to the delay, I had to speed-run a museum that I normally could (and would) spend all day in. I am glad the Dodgers got their private tour of the museum though.
After leaving the museum, I went to Q39, an upscale, upstart barbecue place on the Kansas side of the state line. The food was absolutely divine and more akin to what I had in mind when I thought of examples of Kansas City barbecue.
After I finished the first proper meal I had all day, I went back to the hotel, changed, and raced over to the ballpark for the game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Kansas City Monarchs, a hypothetical game that might have occurred in gentler, more tolerant times.
It was miserably hot and humid that night. The Dodgers romped to an early lead and never looked back. Blowouts, from time to time, are fun, and allow one to stop watching the game and find cooler conditions, if possible.
Will Smith ended up homering about twenty feet away from where I was sitting. I have included a screenshot from the night’s telecast and magnified the ball’s location for your convenience.
Kauffman is not a ballpark I would recommend if you wanted to interact with the bullpen (that honor still goes to San Francisco and St. Louis), but the seats were relatively cheap. I made a point to get to the Buck O’Neil plaque at the Royals Hall of Fame before it closed after the seventh inning. The game was well in-hand well before that point and frankly, I was grateful for any excuse to get out of the muggy conditions.
I knew that when the Dodgers started hitting bombs off position players all but the most faithful would remain and needless to say, that’s what happened.
August 14, 2022 – Michael and the Dodgers race to the airport
For the second time in my life, I left a Dodger game early. To be fair, I debated even going to this game because I figured I would not be able to enjoy myself if I kept looking at my watch. I ultimately decided to go because I was already here and worst comes to worst, I’d just leave early to beat the traffic out of the stadium to head straight to Kansas City International to make my connecting flight to Chicago. My planning worked like a charm, and I even sprung for premium parking, which put me right outside the stadium gates, making my connecting flight with about 30 minutes to spare.
The Dodgers’ bats, clearly, went to the airport before I did because they only had three hits for the entire game. But I did record now-former-Dodger, Tony Wolters, striking out. I wrote the “I’m heading to the airport” tweet as Craig Kimbrel decided to put the cherry on top of the game by way of a no-doubt home run.
But the true story of the day involved a sandwich that should not exist and some really gross corn. Prior to the trip, I had stumbled across word of this eldritch horror: a BBQ pork sandwich with bacon bits and Resse’s Cups.
Kidding aside, I can see the throughline of logic on how this sandwich could work. Seems like it would be heavy on the sweet combined with the savory, but I could envision how the sandwich might work. However, it did not.
So this happened…
It was better than Skyline Chili. I wouldn’t recommend it other as a novelty.
— Michael Elizondo (@elidelajandro) August 14, 2022
I spared everyone a recording of me eating in the hot Kansas City sunshine. The bun disintegrated almost instantly so my hands were covered in pork, chocolate, and barbecue sauce. Yet I finished the sandwich and it stayed down. The worst part of the meal was the ballpark’s signature cheesy corn, which is basically cream corn with cheese and ham. I didn’t finish it.
Kansas City was fun, but I knew the emotional part of the field report would be coming up at my next stop. Next time, a meditation on loss and grief in Milwaukee while showcasing the romance of baseball. And then everyone lost their mind because of an entirely avoidable mishap on a slide. See you then!