The series that provided the name of our site begins on Memorial Day in 2013. As we honor the men and women around the globe that have given their lives in pursuit of freedom, we do so in many ways. The National Pastime stands tall at the center of those traditions.
Barbecues, friends, family reunions, swimming, camping, float trips and general outdoor activities dominate the kick-off to summer holiday. American flags line the streets and the cemeteries in remembrance of those who lost their lives either in battle or after serving their nations. That hits home a little harder for this writer this year.
This will be the first Memorial Day that I honor my father, who passed away in August of 2012. A man who loved his country, baseball, and his family left this world just a short time after my wedding last year. Memorial Day was one of his favorites as it allowed him to remember the men that fought along side of him in Vietnam and those that served next to him in Korea, Germany, and domestically in various locations in this country. It also allowed him to “fire up the grill” and watch baseball the entire day. Memorial Days are filled with memories of Jack Buck on the radio while Dad and I played catch and burgers cooked on the grill.
He taught me to respect the day and the people it honored. It taught me to stand at attention and remove my hat for the National Anthem. He was disgusted by the people that would not remove their hats, explaining to me that they had no respect for their country or what it took to defend them. He also taught me, while that was highly disrespectful, it was a right that they had because of the sacrifices we honored. That, ironically, fighting for their freedom was granting them the right to disrespect those that fought for them.
He also taught me to love the game. A game that he taught me was much more exciting on the defensive side of the ball and how a 1-0 ballgame was much more interesting than a 10-1 blowout. He taught me to appreciate a good “pitcher’s duel” and to look forward to games based on pitching matchups.
The start of the I-70 series provides just that as St. Louis Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright will take the mound in Kansas City against Royals’ front man “Big Game” James Shields. The two have provided their teams with exactly what was expected of them, solid pitching and a chance to win every five days.
Unfortunately, only one of the teams has taken those chances seriously.
The Royals have struggled to put runs on the board behind stellar pitching performances by Shields, leaving him with an astonishing 2-5 record to this point. Wainwright, however, has pitched well and been rewarded with a 6-3 record. Beyond that, the starters are almost identical in form coming into the opening matchup of the series and should provide an exciting, low scoring game under the afternoon sun.
As for me, I’ll put a flag out in my yard for Dad today. I’ll tailgate and barbecue with friends in the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium. I’ll stand proudly in his honor during the National Anthem and God Bless America as we honor him and the rest of our country’s fallen. I’ll think of him throughout the day as I cheer on the Cardinals while they visit Kansas City.
I’m sure he will be watching, too.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.