The American League Championship Series is well under way this week as most Major League Baseball fans, and especially Royals fans, know.
For the folks who don’t follow sports too closely, here’s the recap: The ALCS is the series that decides who will be in the World Series. The American League’s two teams left dueling it out are the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays. It is a best-of-seven series and the Royals had a 3-1 game advantage going into game five.
Talk of the series can be heard all around the Newman campus, but nowhere is it more prevalent than among the NU baseball players.
Of course, college baseball players are going to talk about baseball. That’s natural. However, this year’s roster has three Canadian players on it – senior Mitchell Beaudreau from Nova Scotia, sophomore Dan Jahnke from Saskatchewan, and freshman Paul Rupnik from Ontario.
This adds a bit of excitement to the ALCS games because the three Canadians are undoubtedly cheering on the Jays as they hail from their homeland, whereas most of the Kansas-bred players are rooting for the Royals with every last bone in their baseball-loving bodies.
Rupnik, a Jays fan who attends a game about once a season, said the team loves to poke fun back and forth about the series.
“The Royals fans love to yell the score out to us during batting practice or something, let us know every time they score or every time we mess up,” Rupnik said.
Jahnke, who’s also rooting for the Jays in this series, said they all talked a little smack after the Jays took game three, but tried to keep it to a minimum.
“Paul was in the Royals fans ears about that win right away,” Jahnke said. “Of course, I was talking a little bit, too. But I try to not get too cocky with it.”
Senior Nick Middleton, a Royals fan since he moved to Basehor, Kan., in 2000, said he loves having the Jays guys around to poke fun at.
“The Royals fans and the Blue Jays fans on the team always give each other crap,” he said. “Especially me – whether it’s repping the team’s gear or going crazy every time the Royals win.”
Senior and third-generation Royals fan Skylar Barnes said he got excited when he knew it was going to be a Kansas City – Toronto ALSC.
“I like getting to mess with [the Jays fans] a little, bring up one of their player’s errors or something,” Barnes said. “It’s all fun, but I try not to push it too much.”
The team keeps the afternoon series games playing over the radio during practice, but when they get the chance to watch a night game they don’t do it together.
“We watch it by ourselves,” Rupnik said. “It’s just us and the other Jays fans at the school. No Royals fans involved.”
Although this ALCS may have brought about a little more rivalry than in normal years, Middleton says this part of the MLB season is always a good time.
“It’s always fun when this time of year rolls around,” he said. “We’re all watching the games and we’re all into it and having fun messing around with each other.”