I’ve been lucky to have attended a lot of baseball games in my lifetime.

In the very first, an Atlanta Falcon cornerback hit a Grand Slam.

During the Great Home Run Chase of 1999, I personally witnessed Mark McGwire launch a homer–and then saw Sammy Sosa hit one, too.

I’ve witnessed multiple Albert Pujols walk-off home runs–both in Busch II and Busch III.

On Sunday, July 17, 2005, my father, an uncle, and I spent the afternoon watching Chris Carptenter win a 3-0 duel against Roger Clemens in a game that took less than two hours.

In 2010, I went to a Double-A ballgame in Springdale, Arkansas, and watched for the first time Mike Moustakas and several other future Kansas City Royals before they reached The Show.

But of all the players I’ve watched play, in person or on television, none exuded more joy than Lorenzo Cain.

Image result for lorenzo cain

(Photo Courtesy of YardBarker.Com)

So it was sad to read tonight that Cain has officially left the Royals after seven years with the organization to re-join the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that originally drafted him, on a five-year, $80 million deal. It was inevitable, and the right move for the franchise to make.

Since Cain signed for more than $50 million guaranteed, the Royals will receive a compensatory draft pick in this year’s upcoming draft, a pick that will fall somewhere in the early 30s. That is exactly what the team needs to start rebuilding.

Still–this is tough to swallow.

Not that the writing wasn’t on the wall. Two years ago, when the Royals could have signed Cain to a long-term deal, the brass, led by general manager Dayton Moore, passed, instead signing him for two years.

That was right after the Royals defeated the Mets in the World Series, the franchise’s first championship since 1985. But that offseason, it was made clear: the fairy tale was going to come to end sooner than later.

Then, in the last home game of the 2017 season, Royals manager Edgar Yost III (or, if you prefer, Ned) made the awesome and chill-inducing decision to pull off the field at the same time four future free agents: Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escober, Moustakas, and Cain.

Image result for cain hosmer, moustakas escobar leaving field

(Photo Courtesy of KansasCity.Com)

If that doesn’t say farewell, so long, auf wiedersehen, goodnight, then I don’t know what does.

Cain was a wonderful player, patrolling center field with a grace I’ve rarely seen. He could seemingly sprint from gap to gap, elegantly running down the hardest hit baseballs, and then using the rocket attached to his right arm to nail a runner daring to tag up from second to third. On the basepath, he didn’t run so much as he glided.

And he’d do it having fun, living his dream, winning with his friends, flashing that killer smile.

Image result for lorenzo cain

(Photo Courtesy of RoyalsReview.Com)

It’s hard being a fan sometimes. You want your team to keep together its core, especially when that group came up through the farm system together, lost together, started winning together, went to Game Seven of the World Series together, suffered heartbreak together, dominated together, and finally reached the summit together.

Bringing a championship to a city that hadn’t experienced one in a major sport (no offense, Sporting) in thirty years.

But this is the right move–for both player and team. Cain joins a Milwaukee club that’s going to compete for a playoff spot next year, and the Royals embark on a harsh rebuild. Had he stayed (and there is no indication the Royals tried to keep him), Cain would have wasted his final years on a team going nowhere.

Even though the Brewers go against the Cardinals, I wish Lorenzo Cain all the luck in the world for the rest of his career. He was a fun player to watch, a key cog in turning a dormant team into a championship one. Hopefully, either at The K or Busch, I’ll be able to watch him one more time.

The 2015 Royals were the most fun team I’ve ever watched, and it’s sad to see one of its best players move on.

Farewell, LoCain. Thanks for the memories.

Image result for lorenzo cain laughing

(Photo Courtesy of JimRome.Com)

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