Well, here we are again. It seems like just yesterday we were watching men with disgusting beards complete an improbable run that inspired the city of Boston at a point where Bostonians were desperate for something to cheer for. Nevertheless, that amazing story is last year’s news and has been pushed aside by two teams with remarkable stories, themselves. However, these teams have used the month of October to prove that they do belong, and the way they have done it has been oh so special.
Let’s begin by giving a quick shout out to the 2014 Postseason in general. While it has been a strange postseason regarding the fact that none of the games have gone to a decisive fifth or seventh game. However, saying that the postseason has lacked excitement would bring you and your family to shame. We have had a record-breaking fourteen 1-run games in addition to six games that have gone to extra-innings. Additionally, there have been numerous walk-offs that have left home crowds in awe and viewers in disbelief. Major League Baseball changes in a way that is unmatched when October comes around and these playoffs have fully embodied that ideal.
The more probable of the two journeys to the World Series was embarked on by the San Francisco Giants. While the fact that they are in the Series may be surprising in the sense that they were the second wild card team, it is not surprising when you look at the roster and how much experience lies within their players. They were able to handle less experienced Pirates, Nationals, and Cardinals team on their quest for success. When you talk about the Giants having success, the first two guys that come to mind are Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey and rightfully so. Pablo has hit a remarkable .326, and Buster has hit a not-too-shabby .302. The two have them were part of the 2010 and 2012 World Series Champion Giants, and they have set the tone for guys who have less experience to play a crucial role in their run. On the mound, Madison Bumgarner has been the cornerstone of their rotation all year, and he demonstrated just how impactful he can be with his magnificent start in the Wild Card Game, shutting out the Pirates. Despite all of the magnificent moments that these playoffs have displayed, there is none better than little-known Travis Ishikawa’s walk-off three run blast that led the Giants to their third World Series in the last 5 years.
Let’s travel back to Kansas City during the top of the 6th inning in the Wild Card game. Brandon Moss has just hit a three-run home run, and The A’s have taken a 7-3 lead, and the ending of a 28 year playoff drought seems to have been a waste.
But then again, how often does the probable actually occur in the world of sports?
The A’s would score three in the eighth and one in the ninth to tie the game up, and Salvador Perez would end up hitting a walk-off single to start a memorable run to the World Series. Since apparently pulling off the miraculous wild card win wasn’t enough, they decided to take care of the AL-best Angels in three games. Surely their dramatic victories would come to an end against a red-hot Orioles team. Not so fast! The Kansas City Royals have not lost a game yet in this postseason, winning eight straight in their playoff expedition. To win eight straight is a remarkable accomplishment in itself, but to do it against the best teams on the biggest stage is truly outstanding considering the lack of experience this Royals team possesses.
The Royals roster truly lacks postseason experience, but you would not know it by watching them. First of all the Royals play perfect defense. The amount of diving plays they have made in the postseason is unreal. The Royals play an incredible brand of small-ball, while they have stolen a postseason record 13 stolen bases. No team in baseball embodies the “Next guy up” mentality as much as the Kansas City Royals. Whether its Alex Gordon or Eric Hosmer coming up with a clutch hit, Jarrod Dyson stealing bases, or Mike Moustakas diving into the stands to catch a foul ball that the Kansas City fans gladly got out of the way of… I’m looking at you Bartman. Additionally, when the Royals can get a lead into the 7th inning, you might as well kiss the game goodbye. Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Greg Holland have combined to give up two runs in twenty-six innings pitched. In the late innings, those guys are money, and when you have that in your bullpen, you are poised to make a run.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have an obsession with the “Cinderella Story.” I have fallen in love with teams such as the Oakland Athletics, Florida Gulf Coast, VCU, George Mason, and many others. The San Francisco Giants are a great baseball team with a plethora of experience, and all signs point to them having the advantage in this World Series. Nevertheless, my soft spot for the amazing story leads me to pick the Royals. This series will be full of the drama we have become used to during the postseason, but I do believe that the series will be settled in six games. The Giants may have the edge statistically, but what we have seen from the Royals this postseason is incredibly rare. While, being a Cubs fan, I think that the 28 years of waiting for the postseason is a miniscule amount of time, it still makes for one heck of a story. The franchise, who has made their fans suffer through years of mediocrity has finally emerged on the scene and in a big way. My apologies to the Giants, but this year is one for Royalty.-Ben Greer