There was a time when not knowing was as simple as not looking.
Those days are long gone, just ask Weber State center James Hajek.
A lifelong Kansas City Royals fan, Hajek wasn’t able to watch Game 2 of the World Series because of a previous commitment on Wednesday. The 6-foot-10 senior was busy playing in the annual Purple and White game at the Dee Events Center.
Ever resourceful, Hajek instead recorded the game on his DVR and did his best to avoid hearing any updates throughout the evening. The man practically wore a big pair of noise-cancelling headphones, just to make sure.
“I had a couple people try to tell me,” Hajek said Thursday morning, proudly decked out in Royals playoff gear.
At some point during the scrimmage, Weber State public address announcer Rob Alexander gave a World Series update but Hajek successfully tuned it out by focusing even more intently on basketball.
James and his father, Jerry – who was in town for the Purple and White game – made a plan to block out all references to the World Series until after the basketball game. When they got back home, they’d watch Game 2 together, as if it were being played live.
Everything went according to plan until technology interrupted.
“I got an ESPN update on my phone, like literally right as we started watching the game,” James said. “But my dad didn’t know the score so I watched it with him. It was cool.”
The Royals broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the sixth and held on for a 7-2 victory, leveling their series with the San Francisco Giants at a game apiece. Game 3 will be played Friday night at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
And unless he’s got another commitment, Hajek will be watching … intently.
See, the former Ogden Raptors’ intern is a big-time baseball fan and he loves his Royals.
Born in Kansas and brought up mostly in the Midwest, Hajek has seen his fair share of games at Kauffman Stadium. For much of the time the Royals were terrible, absolutely awful, often finishing last or at least near the bottom of the American League standings.
Although they were playoff regulars back in the 1970s and 80s, the Royals hadn’t been to the postseason since 1985, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
To some of us, that still feels like just yesterday.
To a young guy like Hajek, that’s forever.
In fact, until just a few weeks ago he’d never seen his team in the playoffs, much less the gosh dang World Series.
“It’s really fun,” Hajek said. “They’re doing SportsCenter from Kansas City, they’re setting up right outside the stadium. It’s just really cool. I watched this team lose 100 games for however many years. Now, yeah, they’re the talk of the country. That’s cool.”
So, please, forgive him for going a little K.C. crazy.
When the Royals clinched the playoffs, Hajek plunked down a hundred bucks on the latest postseason gear. And through their thrilling victory over Oakland in the one-game wildcard playoff, to their sweeps of the Angels and Orioles, he has added to his collection.
On Thursday he walked around campus wearing a Royals cap complete with a World Series logo and one of those sweet “Always October” hoodies you can see players wearing in the dugouts.
Who knows where the Royals will be this time next year, or the year after that or … well, you get the picture.
The point is, James Hajek is seeing something he’s never seen before and he doesn’t want to miss a thing, even if he has to record it and play it back later.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo