Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dreading a possible farewell

I touched on this idea in my earlier post, but Michael John Sweeney deserves his own post right now. I'm honestly a bit teary-eyed at the prospect of one of my all-time Royals heroes reaching the end of his Kansas City baseball career. I do not want to see him in any other uniform, and I do not want him to be done with baseball forever -- he loves the game too much for that.

Here's something from

Finale for captain? Mike Sweeney is scheduled to play first base on Sunday for the Royals.

"It's a wild feeling because I don't know if Sunday is going to be my last game as a Royal," Sweeney said. "There's a chance of it but there's a chance I could come back next year."

His five-year contract is up and he can become a free agent. He's played just 73 games this season because of injuries.

"My back, thank God, has held up since the middle of last year, so I think my new workout has helped that," Sweeney said. "This year's injury, the knee surgery, was just kind of a weird thing. So, if I'm healthy next year, I'd love to play first base and maybe DH or however the team could need me. I've always been willing to strap on the gear as a third catcher. But it all depends on what team and what role they want me in."

Sweeney has spent half of his 34 years in the Royals' organization and is interested in staying. General manager Dayton Moore has said only that the Royals will evaluate their options.

"The Royals don't owe me a thing. They've been more than fair with me," Sweeney said. "I'm going to see how Dayton and the Glass family weigh out the next month or two with the new manager and see how Billy [Butler] is doing at first base in winter ball, and I'll respect their decision whether they invite me back or not."

This came after Friday's game, for which Sweeney provided tickets for the first 500 military families to show up at The K. I suppose that if that was a goodbye gesture, it is perfectly fitting for a man who has done nothing but give, give, and give some more.

I will be checking more obsessively than usual this winter to make sure my team does not deal away my hero. I have no way of knowing how I'd react to that, and I don't want to figure that out right now, or ever.

I know that not all of you reading this feel the same way I do about Sweeney. There were times that I wasn't to sure what to think of him either. But I know now, and nothing could change my mind, that he is a professional athlete -- one of only a few -- who is worthy of admiration. His actions merit imitation in every regard. The amount of love that that man shows to his teammates, his God, his fans, and everyone else he encounters, has been an inspiration to me in ways to which I couldn't do justice. I can honestly say I'm a better person because of Sweeney's influence, and I know a few other Royals fans who can say the same. I hope he will be with us in '08 to touch the lives of the rest of the Royals Nation.

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