Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The World Series: Kansas City v. New York

I am one of the last people in America who still watches the World Series, and that's a shame because it is often very entertaining.  The recent seven-game battles between St. Louis and Texas (2011) and between San Francisco and Kansas City (2014) are two of my favorite sporting events of the last five years.  Of course, we've also had some duds -- I'm looking at you, Detroit, getting wiped out by San Francisco in 2012.  But we will hope that this year's Fall Classic is a good one.

There is no significant history between the Royals and the Mets, but there is some interesting sports history between Kansas City and New York.  Kansas City didn't get started as a big-time sports town until 1955, when the Athletics moved to Kansas City from Philadelphia.  (The last game ever played by the Philadelphia Athletics was an 8-6 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.)  But the Kansas City Athletics were not only a bad team, they became notorious for their habit of making generous trades with the Yankees, to the point where some observers mocked them as New York's farm club.  Finally, the Athletics left Kansas City after the 1967 season, and went to Oakland.

But by this point, Kansas City was regarded as a major-league city.  The Dallas Texans had moved to Kansas City for the 1963 season, and the new Kansas City Chiefs played in Super Bowl I.  So it wasn't surprising that Kansas City got a new major league baseball club -- the Royals -- for the 1969 season.

For Kansas City -- like other cities of similar size (Baltimore, Oakland, Pittsburgh) -- the late 1960's marked the beginning of a golden age in sports.  And so, for the only time in sports history, there were big-time games between Kansas City and New York.  On December 20, 1969, the Chiefs went to Shea Stadium and knocked the Jets out of the AFL playoffs.  Joe Namath went 14-40, throwing no touchdown passes and three interceptions.  It turned out to be the last time Namath quarterbacked the Jets in the playoffs -- the team wouldn't return to the post-season until 1981.

The Chiefs faded within a few years, but starting in 1976, the Royals and Yankees had one of the great post-season rivalries in baseball history.  In five seasons from 1976 to 1980, the Royals and Yankees met in the American League Championship Series four times.  They played 17 games against each other -- the Yankees winning 9, and the Royals winning 8.  It was that close.  The Yankees won the pennant in 1976, 1977, and 1978, but Kansas City got revenge in 1980 -- winning its first pennant in franchise history.  George Steinbrenner was so unhappy that he fired Yankee manager Dick Howser -- who promptly went to Kansas City, where he managed the Royals to their only World Championship in 1985.

At that point, the Royals were on top of the baseball world.  But after the 1986 All-Star Game, Howser was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  He died the next year, and the Royals went into a steep decline that only ended with their return to the playoffs in 2014.  Meanwhile, the 1986 World Series was a dramatic shootout between the Mets and the Red Sox -- a preview of the last 20 years of baseball, which have been often been dominated by the rivalry between New York and Boston.

Now the wheel has turned, and once again Kansas City will share the spotlight with a New York team.  For those of us who can still remember the 1985 and 1986 World Series as if they happened last week, it doesn't seem like it's been all that long.  But for fans of the Royals and Mets -- two of the best and most loyal fan bases in the sport -- it has been a long trip through the wilderness.  For one of those fan bases, that trip is finally about to end.

Here's how the Royals and Mets have done in the World Series:

Kansas City (1-2):  1980, 1985, 2014

New York (2-2):  1969, 1973, 1986, 2000

94 comments:

  1. This is a great game so far. Kansas City took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st on an inside-the-park home run by Alcides Escobar. The Mets fought back with one run in the fourth, a one-run homer by Curtis Granderson in the fifth, and another run in the sixth. Down 3-1, the Royals put together another late rally for two runs in the bottom of the sixth.

    So now we're all tied at 3 with two out in the top of the 7th. David Wright at the plate for the Mets, no one on base.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wright singles to left, thus bringing up Joe Hardy -- I mean Daniel Murphy. Murphy has one hit tonight, but no homers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Murphy whacks a single into center, and the Mets have runners at first and second with two out. This brings up Yeonis Cespedes, who had a hit and a run so far. He will be batting against Kelvin Herrera.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Herrera v. Cespedes:

    Pitch 1: Ball (1-0)
    Pitch 2: Foul (1-1)
    Pitch 3: Ball (2-0)
    Pitch 4: Cespedes flies out to left, and the inning is over.

    If the Nats and Dodgers could have retired Cespedes in key situations, this season might have been very different.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Still 3-3 as we go into the seventh inning stretch. Royals have a 58.3 percent chance of victory.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Royals have survived the red-hot Mets' starters. Matt Harvey is gone after six innings, and Addison Reed is in the game. Harvey will reflect that the Royals are much cannier at the plate than the Nats, the Dodgers, and the Cubs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Reed retires the Royals' 8-9-1 batters in a 1-2-3 inning. We're tied at 3 after 7.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Uniform watch: the Royals are dressed like George Brett in 1977, as they should be. The Mets are wearing gray pants with the blue Mets jersey. I don't like the colored jersey on the road -- it makes you look like a company softball team. I expect the Mets to wear the canonical gray jerseys tomorrow night.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Herrera still pitching for the Royals. He will face the 5-6-7 batters for the Mets in the 8th.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Actually, I found a picture of George Brett in 1977. Back then, the Royals wore a pullover jersey -- it was the 1970's. Now their shirts button up. And they didn't have their number on the front of the jersey, which they do now. But it's still the same basic look, and it makes me happy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I should be clear that I'm describing the Royals' home uniform -- I don't think they still wear that great powder blue uniform on the road that they had back in the 1970's.

    ReplyDelete
  12. With two outs and no one on, Juan Lagares has an enormous at-bat, fouling off at least five pitches before he whacks a single into center.

    This brings up Wilmer Flores, who is 0-3 tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lagares steals second on a close play, and the Mets have the lead run in scoring position.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Flores, looking totally over-matched, grounds a 2-2 pitch to first for what appears to be the third out. But SHADES OF BILL BUCKNER -- the ball takes a bad hop and bounds away from Eric Hosmer, the Royals first baseman. That is an ERROR on Hosmer, and Lagares scoots home with a run. The Mets lead 4-3 in the top of the 8th.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Mets do nothing else and the inning is over. But with two outs and no one on base, the Mets get a run from a single, a stolen base, and an error. The Mets are tough.

    ReplyDelete
  16. According to FanGraphs, the Mets now have a 71.8 percent chance of victory.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh, my! The Mets bring in former Nat Tyler Clippard to pitch the eighth inning. This is like when you were a kid, and one of your favorite team's players would get into the All-Star Game. It seems really odd to see Clippard in the World Series. I never had any faith in this guy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ben Zobrist, leading off for the Royals, hits Clippard's first pitch for a ringing double to right. That looked exactly what used to happen when Clippard pitched for the Nats.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lorenzo Cain comes up and tries to bunt twice, but fails both times. Now he's in an 0-2 count. And then Tyler Clippard strikes him out.

    I think it was a huge mistake to have Cain bunt in that situation. Clippard is on the ropes, and you just give him two strikes.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Eric Hosmer now up with a chance to make up for that error. And Clippard strikes him out!

    ReplyDelete
  21. So it's up to Kendrys Morales.

    Clippard v. Morales:

    Pitch 1: Swinging strike (0-1)
    Pitch 2: Foul (0-2)
    Pitch 3: Ball (1-2)
    Pitch 4: Ball (2-2)
    Pitch 5: Wild pitch! (3-2) Zobrist advances to third
    Pitch 6: Ball

    Morales walks. Runners on first and third.

    ReplyDelete
  22. That's all for Clippard. A double, two strikeouts, a wild pitch, and a walk. That's pretty much the Clippard I remember.

    But he didn't blow the lead. The Mets could still get out of this.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So here's the deal:

    Mets lead 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th.
    There are two outs.
    The Royals have runners on 1st and 3d.
    The Mets have a 71.3 percent chance of victory.

    ReplyDelete
  24. So the Mets aren't messing around now. They bring in their closer -- Jeurys Familia. He will face Mike Moustakas.

    Familia v. Moustakas:

    Pitch 1: Called strike (0-1)
    Pitch 2: Moustakas grounds to short, and the inning is over.

    Now see -- that's how you do relief pitching. Two pitches, one out. The Nats always have guys like Clippard -- there's lots of strikeouts and walks, and the innings go on and on, and even if you win you're just exhausted.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Mets lead 4-3 after 8. Now they have an 85.1 percent chance of victory.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The Royals send out Luke Hochevar to pitch the ninth. He'll face the top of the Mets' order.

    ReplyDelete
  27. And now someone in the Fox truck has woken up, and they are showing Bill Buckner's error from Game Six of the 1986 World Series.

    Meanwhile, David Wright is on second with one out, after a single and a steal of second.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wait -- now there's a challenge. Upon further review, David Wright is OUT at second base. Good job by the Royals. Two outs and nobody on.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Murphy flies out to center and the inning is over. We're heading to the bottom of the 9th -- Mets still lead 4-3.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Familia will still be hurling for the Metropolitans. The Royals are sending up the bottom of their order: Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, and Paolo Orlando.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I guarantee you that the Nats would have left Clippard out there to get the third out in the 8th inning. And the Royals would have taken the lead and won the game.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Perez grounds out weakly to short. One down.

    ReplyDelete
  33. A great stat from Dan Shulman on ESPN Radio -- neither the Mets nor the Royals have ever won Game One of the World Series.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Suddenly, ALEX GORDON CRUSHES A 1-1 PITCH OVER THE FENCE IN CENTER FIELD. WE ARE TIED AT 4.

    What a game! The Royals are tough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Royals are tough. I was very pleased that, in an interview with Erin Andrews after last night's Game 2, Moustakas referenced the Royals' come-from-behind win in the 2014 wild-card game as a steeling event for his team. I was very disappointed that Moustakas mistakenly identified as the Astros as Kansas City's opponent in that game.

      #greencollar.

      Delete
  35. Paolo Orlando, the only Brazilian ever to play in the World Series, flies out to center. Two outs.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Escobar grounds out to first and the inning is over. Familia was almost unhittable. But the one hit he allowed was a game tying home run, and we are heading to extra innings.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This has been an outstanding game. This is just wonderful, smart baseball from both teams. And even though it's Game One, you feel like there's a lot at stake here.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Now Wade Davis, the ace reliever for Kansas City, comes on to pitch the 10th. The last time we saw him, he was escaping from all sorts of drama to clinch the American League pennant.

    ReplyDelete
  39. On Twitter, someone pointed out that Familia had not blown a save since the Mets picked up Cespedes at the end of July.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Cespedes, leading off the 10th, works the count full, but strikes out on a high pitch that should have been ball four. Big mistake by him, big out for the Royals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bet this was good execution of somebody's good strategy (and mistake by Cespedes as you say). The Royals are tough.

      Delete
  41. Davis strikes out the side, and Kansas City can win the game with a run in the bottom of the 10th.

    ReplyDelete
  42. The Royals will be sending up their 2-3-4 hitters -- Zobrist, Cain, and Hosmer.

    Who's left to pitch for the Metropolitans? Jonathan Niese, a starter who went 9-10 with an E.R.A. of 4.13 in the regular season.

    Bringing in starters to pitch relief in post-season baseball almost always goes badly.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Niese was born on the same day that the Mets won their last World Championship.

    ReplyDelete
  44. But Niese blows away the Royals, getting a pop-up and two strikeouts. Back and forth we go. On to the 11th.

    ReplyDelete
  45. See? This is great stuff. It's a shame more people don't watch the World Series, but I enjoy it almost every year.

    Now Ryan Madson pitching for Kansas City.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is great stuff. It is just on way, way, way too late for a lot of people to stay up and watch a great extra-innings game like this one. Instead, when we do watch a game to the end, it tends to be a tidier, less-great package like Game 2.

      Delete
  46. Lagares, who entered the game as a defensive substitute, is now 2-2 after leading off the 11th inning with a bunt single.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Flores, showing how you do fundamental things, bunts Lagares to second. One out.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Michael Cuddyer strikes out, and it's all up to Curtis Granderson.

    But first, the Royals are going to have a meeting at the mound. The pitching coach and the whole infield gather round. No one is up in the Kansas City bullpen.

    Madson v. Granderson:

    Pitch 1: Called strike (0-1)
    Pitch 2: Ball (1-1)
    Pitch 3: Ball high -- it almost hit him! (2-1)
    Pitch 4: Ball (3-1)
    Pitch 5: Ball. Granderson walks.

    ReplyDelete
  49. So the Mets have runners on 1st and 2d with two outs, and David Wright coming to the plate. Wright is 2-5 in this game.

    Madson v. Wright:

    Pitch 1: Ball (1-0)
    Pitch 2: Ball (2-0) (That's six balls in a row.)
    Pitch 3: Called strike (2-1)
    Pitch 4: Swinging strike (2-2)
    Pitch 5: Foul (2-2)
    Pitch 6: Foul (2-2)
    Pitch 7: Foul (2-2)
    Pitch 8: Swinging strike. Wright is out!

    Great battle there. Madson comes out on top. Still 4-4 after 10 1/2 innings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few posts ago, you had something about the greatest Mets of all time in terms of Wins Above Replacement, and David Wright was very, very high on the list. I have, of course, heard of David Wright and watched some highlights, but, being more of an American League follower, I've pretty much been out to lunch on his greatness. If you had me guess at the Mets' WAR list, I might well have gotten to Lee Mazzili before I ever came up with David Wright.

      Delete
    2. I felt bad for Wright that he couldn't be the hero here, and I felt even worse that his error was what started Kansas City's rally in the 14th.

      Delete
  50. Jerrod Dyson entered the game a few innings ago as a pinch-runner for Kendrys Morales. He now comes to the plate and rips a shot to right field, but Granderson makes a great running catch to prevent a triple.

    ReplyDelete
  51. With two outs, Salvador Perez rips a shot down the third base line. David Wright is perfectly position to make the play, but the BALL HITS THIRD BASE AND BOUNDS INTO THE AIR! Shades of the 1924 World Series (look it up). Perez reaches first base. And now Alex Gordon -- last seen homering in the bottom of the 9th -- returns to the plate.

    ReplyDelete
  52. But Niese strikes out Gordon and the inning is over. On to the 12th.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Up until this year, the best Game One in World Series history was Game One of the 1954 World Series, which featured a miracle catch by Willie Mays and a game-winning homer from Dusty Rhodes. But this game -- with an inside-the-park homer, a bottom of the 9th homer, and at least 12 innings of drama, may be even better.

    ReplyDelete
  54. The Royals bring in their seventh pitcher of the night. His name is Chris Young, and he's normally a starter. He went 11-6 in the regular season with an E.R.A. of 3.06. He's also 6 feet 10 inches tall.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Murphy misses strike three, but the ball gets past Perez and heads for the backstop. Murphy breaks for first, but the ball bounces right back to Perez, and he guns out Murphy. One out.

    Cespedes up next. He's 1-5 tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Cespedes -- looking for all the world like that sister in "A League of Their Own" who couldn't lay off the high ones -- swings at a 3-1 pitch that was clearly high. And strikes out soon afterward on a pitch in the dirt.

    Clearly, where National League pitchers went wrong in pitching to Cespedes was putting the ball anywhere near the strike zone. The Royals know better.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Duda strikes out and the inning is over. Mets go down 1-2-3. Still 4-4 after 11 1/2 innings.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Young struck out the side. And now the Mets are out of pitchers, so this game will be over soon.

    Well, technically, they are bringing in Bartolo Colon, who I thought retired about six years ago. But actually, he's still playing. He went 14-13 this year, with an E.R.A. of 4.16. That's hard to believe.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Paolo Orlando beats out an infield hit to third to lead off the inning. He's on first, and it won't be long now.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Escobar, who hit an inside the park home run a long time ago, is up next. He bunts Orlando to second.

    ReplyDelete
  61. And now here's Ben Zobrist. He is intentionally walked. And that brings up Lorenzo Cain.

    I'm irrationally convinced that this Series turns on Cain and Cespedes. If Cain gets the game-winner here, I'll be even more convinced of that fact.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Colon v. Cain:

    Pitch 1: Ball (1-0)
    Pitch 2: Cain grounds out to first. Two outs. Runners on 2d and 3d.

    So Cain and Cespedes have both struggled in the late innings.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Colon intentionally walks Hosmer, and he will now pitch to Dyson, who batted .250 in the regular season but who is now batting fifth and playing designated hitter because he pinch ran for Kendrys Morales a long time ago.

    Colon v. Dyson (bases loaded, two outs):

    Pitch 1: Ball (1-0)
    Pitch 2: Foul (1-1)
    Pitch 3: Ball (2-1)
    Pitch 4: Foul (2-2)
    Pitch 5: Dyson flies to center. Three out.

    I am very surprised that Colon got out of that inning.

    ON TO THE THIRTEENTH!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Colon was great with the A's a few seasons ago. I was sorry to see him move on to New York.

      Delete
    2. And it's still one of my favorites. Watching this postseason has not only been like being somewhere by myself and seeing some woman I had a crush on out with somebody, it's been like living in a studio in an apartment building in which all of the women I ever had a crush on now have really nice apartments above me, and they're constantly having people over until late in the night, and they don't even recognize me when they see me at the mailboxes, and I can never get maintenance to come and fix my clogged toilet.

      Delete
    3. This may be the best comment in the history of the Heath Post.

      Delete
  64. This is the 111th World Series, and it's the first time that Game One has gone to the 13th inning.

    ReplyDelete
  65. When I was 11 years old, my favorite baseball team that ever existed -- the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers -- lost Game One of the World Series to the Yankees. That game went 12 innings, and was apparently the longest Game One in history until tonight. My sympathies go out to all 11-year-olds rooting for whichever team ends up losing this game -- because losing that game was awful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back then, boys and girls, they played Game One of the World Series on October 11. And the Yankees went 12 innings with only two pitchers.

      Delete
    2. Actually, that was a spectacular game -- one of the best Game Ones ever -- but I never considered it to be a great game because I hated the outcome so much.

      Delete
    3. A few years ago, ESPN did a poll on the greatest Monday-night football games of all time, and that horrible game where the Jets came from about 90 points behind to beat the Dolphins on a pass from an offensive lineman to an assistant coach or something like that ranked No. 1. There are moments in this life where, no matter how nice and easy one has had it, one still feels like one got the black dot in The Lottery.

      Delete
  66. With two outs in the top of the 13th, Wilmer Flores draws a walk. The Mets send up Kirk Nieuwenheis to pinch hit for Cuddyer.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Nieuwenhuis pops out to third, and we head to the bottom of the 13th.

    ReplyDelete
  68. It is 11:53 Central Time in Kansas City. I used to live in the Central Time Zone, and I can tell you that this is very late.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One hour and 53 minutes ago, 10-year-old me would've had to pick up my Blue Jays and Mets baseball cards and get to bed, no matter how great the game was. Thanks, Adults.

      Delete
    2. They take bed time very seriously in the Central Time Zone, or at least they did when I lived there.

      Delete
  69. OK, this is the last half-inning I'm going to do. Some of us have to work in the morning. Years from now, people will say -- "Do you remember that time that the Royals and Mets hooked up for that amazing game in 2015?" And for most people, the answer will be, "No, I was asleep."

    ReplyDelete
  70. Moustakis leads off the bottom of the 13th with a single to center. Surely Colon can't escape again. The man is 42 years old!

    ReplyDelete
  71. But Perez pops up the first pitch he sees. One out.

    OK, here's Alex Gordon. It's his fault we're all still here. He grounds out to first, and Moustakis moves to second.

    ReplyDelete
  72. The winning run is on second, there are two outs, and it's all up to Paolo Orlando.

    Colon v. Orlando:

    Pitch 1: Ball (1-0)
    Pitch 2: Foul (1-1)
    Pitch 3: Orlando grounds out to Flores at short, and the inning is over.

    It's Midnight in the Central Time Zone, and that's as far as I can go. Great game!

    ReplyDelete