Thursday, October 23, 2014
2014 World Series
The 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals opened on Tuesday night in Kansas City. The teams will play two games in Kansas City, fly out to the West Coast to play two games, potentially three, then fly back to KC for the final games.
Both of these teams arrived rather unexpectedly in the final. They were both “Wild Card” teams. A brief explanation: each time did not finish well enough in the division to merit an automatic berth in the playoffs. They both had to sneak in the back door by winning a qualifying game; however, when they got to play in these playoffs, both teams turned it up a notch or two, and charged to the finish line.
The Giants were led by All Star catcher Buster Posey. He is a team leader on the field, and with the bat. But it is a team game, and the Giants have received unexpected help from other sources. Michael Morse came off the bench against the Cardinals and clubbed a decisive home run to help the team advance to the finals. With the Series starting in Kansas City, he has earned himself a spot on the roster as the Designated hitter.
The Royals have just completed a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, in four games straight, to win the League Championship Series. The Giants knocked off the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. This is the third time in five years that the Giants have gained a berth in the finals. Naturally, experience can play a big factor in these things, and the Giants will rely on that as they take the field.
On the other hand, it has been quite some time since the Royals dug in at home plate in Championship play. In 1985, they faced the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. In order to get to the finals that year, they had to dispose of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays led the Royals three games to one, only to lose the final three games. Those were exciting times in Toronto, the first post-season experience for the Jays. They borrowed from that year less than ten years later, when they went on to win the World Series in 1993 and 1994. Only the work stoppage in 1995 prevented them from accomplishing a “Three Peat”, according to many baseball analysts.
The Giants have a strong starting rotation to begin the Series led by Madison Bumgarner. He is a crafty left-handed pitcher who relies on his slider to confuse opposing batters. The North Carolina native averages a strikeout per inning, and he has pitched more than 200 innings the past four seasons. Another brilliant Giants hurler, Tim Lincecum, has yet to pitch in the post season this year for the Giants. The enigmatic Lincecum began his career in San Francisco in 2007, winning Cy Young Awards and world Series rings. But it has been a rocky road for him lately, undoubtedly due to injury.
The Royals will rely on speed and defense. That was the assumption going into the playoffs. I recently heard a report indicating that the Royals outfield, led by Lorenzo Cain, ranks with the best in baseball history. They are quick, and have a lot of ground to cover in both cavernous stadia. But they also have been swinging the bats on their way to the championships. They have won eight straight games in the playoffs, going back to 1985. The Giants have a string of 8 straight playoff series titles. Neither team is interested in breaking those strings.
Pablo Sandoval leads the Giants from the cleanup position. The popular player, affectionately known as “The Panda” caries almost 250 pounds on his frame, less than six feet in height. He also turns in spectacular plays from the “hot corner” at third base.
To those of you who put all your sheckles down on both teams in Vegas prior to the start of the season, I tip my cap. A most unexpected pairing in the final games of the season. In this World Series, I predict that anything can happen!
October 21, 2014