McCullough: The night Kansas City baseball came back to life

From Andy McCullough at the Kansas City Star on September 27, 2015:

Inside a fourth-floor suite at Kauffman Stadium, J.J. Picollo averted his eyes from the diamond, grabbed his phone and prepared to concede defeat. He had toiled for eight seasons aiding the resurrection of the Kansas City Royals as an executive working under general manager Dayton Moore, preparing for a night like this, Sept. 30, 2014, the American League Wild Card Game.

The team’s first playoff appearance since 1985 looked set to end before October even began. Down four runs to Oakland as the seventh inning ended, Picollo sought refuge in the desert. He opened his Southwest Airlines app and searched for flights to Phoenix and the fall instructional league. Maybe scouting in the sunshine could soothe the sting.

Picollo thumbed through his options in silence. The stadium sat stunned after Yordano Ventura surrendered a three-run home run in the sixth inning. Unable to decide on a flight, Picollo pocketed his phone and headed toward the bathroom. Along the way, he crossed paths with the greatest player in Royals history and the front office’s connection to the franchise’s glorious past.

“Hey,” George Brett said, “we’re winning this game.”

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Originally published: September 29, 2015. Last Updated: September 29, 2015.