“And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few, I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I’ve come through.”
-Queen, “We Are The Champions”
Baseball is the great American pastime, no matter how many people tell you it is boring. Therefore, it’s finally fitting that a Midwestern heartland team once again represents one of the leagues in the World Series. However, the underdogs, the franchise that has been absent from glory for so long, was forced to face off against a modern goliath with an even more storied past. It was a small big city verse a big city matchup.
The Kansas City Royals last won the World Series in 1985 against in-state rivals St. Louis. Since then they have failed to even make the playoffs, but finally a rebuilding plan paid off. Think of it like a furniture store that always has “going out of business” sales until they finally make a profit. The Royals are young and dangerous, and they swept the Angels and Orioles, the two best regular-season teams in the American League, on their way to an unexpected appearance for a chance at baseball’s highest honor. Their bullpen and the ability to execute efficient base-running and timely, perfectly place hits assisted in their postseason run, but momentum and confidence are equal contributors to the Royals success, becoming only the eleventh Wild Card team to reach the championship. Five before them have gone on to win the World Series.
The San Francisco Giants had won two of the last four World Series entering the championship this year. However, between their two hometowns (New York, no, not the football team), they have appeared in the World Series twenty times, winning on seven occasions. People (as in our older readers) remember the “Shot Heard Round the World” or Willie Mays’ outstanding display of defense, lasting memories from Hall of Fame players competing for a storied franchise. Yet, this year San Francisco played the role of National League underdog and became the twelfth Wild Card team to crush the dreams of other squads who built a fantastic season off of hard work and consistency only to see it washed away in a few games because of another’s momentum. With that being said, a sixth Wild Card team was set to win the World Series this year.
The World Series started off with a ban of Lorde’s hit single, Royals, in the San Francisco area. Hopefully the ban wasn’t lifted after the final game, but this is a post about sports and not overplayed music. If you wanted to learn about baseball at an advanced level, this was the series to have watched. Bullpens were utilized to their fullest extent, bunts were placed perfectly, runners acted as thieves around the base path, defenses were positioned as if hits were scripted, but through all of the strategy, one player made the difference: Madison Bumgarner. Yes, that’s his last name, and he simply ruled the entire World Series with historical control over the Royals. His pitches were perfect, even the ones that didn’t look to be, and the Kansas City hitters were defeated psychologically by Bumgarner’s pure dominance. It will be rare to see another pitching performance like his, just like it will be rare to see two Wild Card teams battle through seven games to reach baseball’s greatest achievement. However, five of the seven games were slightly less entertaining due to the score differential. Game Three was close, and Game Seven just as tight, and the San Francisco Giants eventually hoisted the trophy into the air for the third time in five years.
If the Royals were destined, wouldn’t they have won? If the Giants were a dynasty, wouldn’t they have been more consistent with playoff appearances between championships? As usual, these questions will be answered next season, but for now, we’ll let the magic of momentum, the pure dominance of modern heroes, and the thrill of Game Seven settle until Spring. Well done, Kansas City and San Francisco, well done indeed.