KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Moustakas did not dive into a camera well to make a catch.
Alcides Escobar did not man the leadoff spot, though he did swing at the first pitch he was thrown.
Lorenzo Cain did not take on the wall for a catch, but he did finish .300 on the season.
Eric Hosmer did not go into a full sprint for home plate while digging for the go-ahead run.
Oh, but Hosmer did homer Sunday in Kauffman Stadium. After a rousing ovation from fans who were still standing when the first baseman unbelievably blasted an 0-2 pitch the opposite way in the first inning.
“I had tears in my eyes trying to hit after that,’’ Moustakas said.
That was how Grateful Day at The K started as the Royals played their last game of 2017.
It ended with a 14-2 loss to Arizona, though the appreciative crowd of 32,227 (the last of 2,220,370 on the season) was not overly concerned about a sweep of the playoff-bound Diamondbacks or the .500 finish the 80-82 Royals failed to attain.
This was a curtain call. Not just for the season, but an era.
For a core group of players who brought respect, redemption and relevance to the long-suffering Royals.
Flashbacks like those aforementioned, which Moose, Esky, LoCain and Hos provided on chases for championships, were rekindled once more. The foursome left the field together with one out in the top of the fifth after another Royal whose contract is up, pitcher Jason Vargas, was pulled in the same inning.
Forever Royal? Don’t count on it.
Raised Royal? Absolutely. Not just Hosmer and Moustakas, but others who grew into champions, like Cain and Escobar.
The jarring reality, which grew even more depressing with the performances of subs who entered far too early for Kansas City on Sunday, is so many mainstays will entertain new offers and most, if not all, will probably land on new teams in 2018.
“They’ve turned this organization into a model of consistency,’’ said Ned Yost, once a model of malfunction before the Royals claimed a mind-blowing wild card win and, suddenly, so much of what the manager touched turned to gold.
“We (were) going for our fifth straight year of not a losing season. It’s been a great run,’’ Yost added. “It’s all attributed to them. But not only did the fortunes of the Kansas City Royals turn around, I think the fan base has been so wrapped up in this team for years and years with these kids.’’
Many fans shed tears, which pooled ever so lightly into something blue.
A replica jersey, Moose antlers, an Ace 30 patch, a World Series memento – something proclaiming pride in a franchise that was so forgettable for oh, so many years.
The players they saluted sobbed too.
“I had my shades on all day for a reason,’’ Moustakas said.
A final tribute was played on the video board after the game. Each Royal stood near the mound. As they watched, the postseason highlights — from the improbable AL pennant in 2014 to the World Series crown in 2015 — flowed freely.
So too did tears.
“When Ace popped up out there,’’ said Hosmer, “it was tough.’’
Memories of Yordano Ventura, and the tragic death of the pitcher, which launched this season with a sad, yet impenetrable, team bond, also was on the mind of the Royals and their fans.
But then, so many thoughts were unavoidable.
Including the worries, and also the hopes, that will shape the start of next season and again tax the abilities of Yost and general manager Dayton Moore.
Each of the Royals who could belong on other teams next year expressed desires to remain in Kansas City, while conceding that contractual deals can always lead players down new paths.
“The opportunity to throw the uniform on one more time for these fans,’’ said Hosmer, “and show them how much appreciation we had for them during this whole entire ride was the main goal and what the message was from this weekend.’’
Not just this weekend, either.
Veteran Royals, and new players too, noticed how fans saluted key contributors such as Kendrys Morales, Jarrod Dyson and Greg Holland, when they returned for opposing teams.
The stitching on a flag, a pennant, a banner is sometimes stronger than that on a uniform.
“From here on out,’’ said Moustakas, “we’re always going to be considered world champions.’’
To have lived it, both in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest, is to fully realize the extent of that achievement.
Contact Kevin Haskin at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.