After you get past the whole #phrasing thing, you can understand what I mean. Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past week, the biggest baseball story that I've been following isn't about Javier Baez's callup or the Cubs getting Jacob Turner for next to nothing. It's actually not even remotely Cubs related, but in a way, it relates to every one of us who follows sports and baseball. This is the story of Sung Woo Lee, a Korean baseball fan who, unless I missed something, has never even been to the United States, let along a Kansas City Royals game.
You can catch up via the HBT article or Rany Jazayerli's blog. I have to say that I'm glad Rany is still writing on his personal blog as I know he's busy most of the time with all his other baseball (and professional) ventures, and he's an awesome writer that I aspire to become when I grow up. But getting back to Sung Woo, think about the story...here's a guy that no one really knows, from halfway across the world, who decides of all things to become a a Royals fan. It's similar to my decision to become a Cubs fan once upon a time, but that was because of Sammy Sosa and I had USA-based cable so that's not too farfetched. Sung Woo had little access to American sports feeds back in the day, yet his fandom persisted until present day when he finally set up a Twitter and became, apparently, one of the most beloved personalities on Royals social media. And if you read the accounts of what Sung Woo has been up to since he stepped on American soil, it's incredible. You can't help but be happy for the guy and feel very warm inside.
I wonder how Sung Woo feels right now, being so welcomed by a community that might not have even known of his existence until a couple weeks ago, and hanging out with a few hosts who only knew him as pixels and ones and zeroes over the years. The internet has connected us more closely than ever previously imagined and this #SungWooToKC thing is, to me, an example of the positivity that can emanate from global human interactions. In many ways it's really inspiring and shows just how awesome people can be to each other.
I think of my son getting his first foul ball and the joy he had holding it in his hand, and for Sung Woo that feeling has to be about 10000 times more intense, getting the full "Royal" treatment from a small market community. Or maybe he doesn't feel any different, being the eternal optimist that the stories purport him to be. Maybe it's just the way he looks at the world and it's rubbed off against the American hosts and the host city, folks who can normally be great cynics but have set that aside for a week or two because someone with such a great outlook on life is in their midst. Either way, it's a wonderful story and I'll be sad when it ends.
Although with a guy like Sung Woo Lee, maybe it won't end, because I think after this he'll come back sooner rather than later. He likely won't receive as much fanfare the next time around, but I doubt he'll care. He's the kind of fan that in different circumstances might be ridiculed, but this is such a great story that most people wouldn't have the desire to do anything but go along for the ride.
Here's the part from Rany's blog that may be relevant to us Cubs fans:
In the end, this really isn’t a sports story, or at least it’s not a story about sports themselves. It’s a story about what sports does to us. It’s a story about how sports can bring us to a higher place, about why we cling to fandom no matter how bad our team is playing or how far away they are. The reason we’ve all stayed Royals fans through a generation of sadness and failure is because the joy we took from being Royals fans wasn’t derived solely from their success on the field. It was from the joy of being part of something bigger than ourselves. It was from the joy that comes from connecting with others. Being linked together by sadness and failure is far better than not being linked at all.
I can't say it any better. Of course, for Cubs fans, maybe the sadness and failure will be replaced soon. But the part about how sports can bring us to a higher place, about our fandom? That's us.
Go forth and have a blast, Sung Woo Lee. Go Royals. And go Cubs.