KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The fans here have a reputation. They’re tailgaters. Going to a game doesn’t start when the gates to the stadium open. It starts when they settle into the parking lot, open up a cooler and throw some meat on the grill.
Even in the rain.
In the hours leading up to Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, there was a pretty consistent drizzle. Sometimes it was a full-on rain. But if you walked into the parking lot, you’d still smell the smoke from grills and see beer cans aplenty. Fans had to huddle under pop-up tents and they were a little colder than normal, but they were tailgating. Some people still had their big smokers and their music blasting. Others went simple, like the duo that had two fold-up chairs, a beach umbrella and what had to be the smallest grill Walmart sells
The most hardcore tailgaters The Stew found were five people cozying up under three umbrellas while the rain came down. A small grill was on the ground in front of them and, of course, they had beers in their hand.
“We don’t know when we’re gonna be back,” said Matt Stucki of Kansas City. “We just want to take advantage of the time we have. We want to get here as early as we can and enjoy the experience as long as we can. Even in the rain.”
Their no-frills tailgate list was as such: ponchos, hot dogs, a grill and a cooler of cold beer. Tailgating minimalists.
“We’ve tailgated for every postseason game that’s been here,” said Lance Henry, who has Royals season tickets. “And the World Series, rain or shine, is no different.”
They even took a Mets fans into their small crew, proving that Midwest kindness doesn’t go away during the World Series. But it doesn’t exactly extend past the parking lot. Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays fans in the ALCS.
“We fed some Canadians,” said Brent Connelly of Omaha, “before we kicked their ass too.”
PHOTO(S) OF THE DAY
Here a few of the most interesting fans I saw around Kauffman Stadium in the hours before Game 1:
1. Girl with a Pete Rose sign, outside of the Fox broadcast booth where Pete Rose was sitting.
2. Royals fan dressed like The Pope.
3. Dude with a ton of back tattoos who probably isn’t rooting for the Mets.
Things I heard while in a K.C. taxi this week, Part 1. This came from a local driver who was very proud of his K.C. roots. “We’re not slouches when it comes to food and partying. They have a Burger King here that serves alcohol. Only in Kansas City do you see that.”
ON THE BARBECUE TRAIL
Kansas City is known for its barbecue, so as someone who has never been here in his adult life, the barbecue is an alluring side piece to baseball. Thankfully, there are many people here who know the in-and-outs of K.C.’s barbecue scene and have been happy to point me in the right direction.
The first stop was Q39, a newish addition among the long-tenured barbecue titans of KCMO. Ribs, burnt ends and brisket are staples here. They’ve got a nice selection of craft beers, both local and from far away. At the recommendation of Yahoo Sports’ Nick Bromberg, I tried the Pitmaster Brisket sandwich — brisket with provolone cheese, onion straws, on a toasted bun. It’s Q39’s version of the famous Z-Man at Joe’s Kansas City, just with onion straws instead of onion rings.
It was legit sandwich and a worthwhile first taste of the K.C. barbecue circuit. Q39 isn’t my favorite of the K.C. barbecue spots. For that, you’ll have to wait until Wednesday’s World Series Journal. But I spotted Curtis Granderson of the Mets a few tables down and he dug Q39. So consider that a celebrity endorsement.
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