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Royals Are Hollywood’s Dream

It’s been nine hours since game one of the World Series and to quote the great Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw”. I don’t know if there is anyone in Hollywood paying attention to this Kansas City Royals team, but if there isn’t they should get here immediately. I’m starting to think the Angels in the Outfield has a more believable plot than this Royals team. Last night’s game was enough for a full summer blockbuster.

It all started with Royals shortstop Alcedes Escobar in the bottom of the first inning. It’s almost a joke at this point at how Escobar always swings at the first pitch. I think Fox announcer Joe Buck might fall out of his press box if Escobar didn’t swing at the first pitch of the game. Lucky for Buck he was safe, as Escobar swung at first pitch fastball down the middle of the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left center field. The two Mets outfielders had some miscommunication allowing the ball to not only drop between them, but bouncing off Yoenis Cespedes leg shooting into left field. Escobar, running the whole way, scored easily for the first inside the park homerun since Mule Haas in 1929. It was the first ever inside the park homerun to leadoff game one of a World Series and only the second leadoff inside the parker in WS history in any game. Just like any great movie, the Royals started fast to suck you in and put you on the edge of your seat early.

The game then settled down for a few innings, good time to get some popcorn. Then the bad guy showed up in the movie as the Mets scored a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth the Royals do what they do and made a comeback. A couple hits, stolen base and sacrifice fly later the Royals tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals coming back in the late innings is becoming as predictable as a hero defeating fifty people by himself.

Then came the twist and surprise plot turn that you never saw coming. In the top of the 8th with two outs and a runner on second, an easy grounder bounced over the glove of Eric Hosmer into right field scoring the runner from second. Hosmer is a two time Gold Glove Award winner who makes that play 99 out of a 100, but unfortunately that one time happened to be in the World Series. The crowd was shocked into silence, not that we were losing but just the fact that Hosmer missed it. Of course last night just happened to be the 29th anniversary of the Bill Buckner play against the Mets in the 1986 World Series. I don’t think Steven Spielberg could make this stuff up.

So we head to the bottom of 9th with the Royals down 4-3. With one out and the Mets dominant closer Jeurys Familia on the mound, Alex Gordon walks to the plate. While the Royals haven’t named an official Team Captain since Mike Sweeney, everyone knows Gordon is the unofficial Captain of this team. Drafted number two in the 2005 draft, Gordon was projected to be the next George Brett. Being blunt, he was a major bust before the 2011 season. That year he was moved to the outfield in one last ditch effort to get something out of him. What they got was a four time gold glover outfielder with a consistent bat and leader of the team. So the old man of the team steps to the plate and crushes a ball 438 feet over the center field wall to tie the game at 4. It was the first time a player hit a homerun to tie or take the lead in the 9th inning of game one of the World Series since Kirk Gibson hit his walk off against the Oakland Athletics.

The stadium is in a frenzy as the Royals once again come back from what looked like certain doom. The game went into extra innings as bullpen battled bullpen. It all came down to a pitchers’ duel between starters turned relievers; Chris Young for the Royals versus Bartolo Colon of the Mets. They dueled until the bottom of the 14th inning. The man who started it all, Escobar, hit a hard grounder to third which was bobbled by the Mets team Captain David Wright causing a wide throw allowing Escobar to reach first. A single by Ben Zobrist and intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with no outs as Hosmer came to the plate. After being just two outs away from being the new Buckner he would have his chance to be the hero. He didn’t disappoint as he hit a long fly ball to right field plenty deep enough to score Escobar from third for a walk off win. The fourteen innings tied the record for longest WS game played by inning and the over five hours of game time was good enough for the second longest game in WS game history by time.

The stadium erupted as fans high fived everyone within reach and hugged people they’d never met. Fireworks were going off, the W sign was being hung on the Royals Hall of Fame and Salvador Perez was dumping a Gatorade bucket of water on Hosmer during an interview. Is there a better ending to a movie than a crazy walk off turning the hitter from goat to hero in one of the longest games in WS history?

This isn’t just a one game series though; there are at least three more to go, maybe as many as six. So we all knows what that means; sequels! The sequel to this amazing movie that was game one was set in motion when the news broke that the Royals starter Edison Volquez father had passed away just hours before the game started. The family however told the Royals to not tell Eddie because they wanted him to pitch. The Royals agreed to the family’s wishes and only told coaches and pitcher Chris Young so he could be prepared to come in for relief if Eddie found out and wanted to leave early. The news however did make its way to social media and by the second inning the only people who didn’t know was Eddie and the rest of the players. Fox and the Royals radio team did a great job of not talking about it on air just in case Eddie was in the clubhouse and hear the news that way.  When he came out of the game after the sixth inning he spoke with his wife and got the devastating news. He left almost immediately to fly to the Dominican Republic to be with his family. Manager Ned Yost told the rest of the team after the game turning a great celebration to a more subdued affair. Despite winning one of the greatest WS games in history, the players first thought in every interview was on Eddie and his family. The Royals family has had a tough year with now the third parent passing away joining Mike Moustakas’s mother and Chris Young’s father who both passed away in August.

This series was already going to be a fight with every game sure to be close; now you mix in the heavy hearts of the Royals players wanting to win for their brother and something special is building. Game one was a summer blockbuster for the ages that had everything a good movie needs. There was drama, heart break, redemption, good versus evil and an emotional roller coaster from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows. Fans are screaming for a sequel because they want more of this amazing theatre. Unlike the movies, you won’t have to wait a year or two for the sequel; game two starts in just a few hours. So get your popcorn ready, get in that comfortable seat and sit back and enjoy the show.

 

Three Decades, But Only A Moment For Tribe Fans, To Wait

Ronald Reagan was president, Whitney Houston released her first album, the underdog Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. The next year, news breaks of the Iran-Contra Affair, Mike Tyson wins the WBC Title, and the New York Mets need seven games (and a legendary error in Game 6) to defeat the scrappy Boston Red Sox to win it all.

Thirty years. Thirty-one years. Seems like a long time ago… until a Cleveland fan gets an assignment to write something about the Indians that can tie into the current baseball landscape.

In 1985, the Indians were 37 years removed from their last World Series. Hell, the Indians 1948 World Series Championship happened before the Mets or Royals even existed. It would be easy to pen another tale of woe, from another sad, jilted Indians fan. It would take almost no imagination for me to tell you my age1I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny. and add up all those Cleveland championships that don’t exist, as if the city’s bare trophy case is justification for a lifetime of whining about sports. If I wanted to spend the next 500 words typing different combinations of “Only in Cleveland2OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.,” I could finish this column in my sleep.

Nope. I’m here to give Indians fans hope. Or, at least take away the hopelessness.

Only half of the teams in baseball have been around for as long as the Indians, which was chartered as the Cleveland Blues in 19013The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.4I Hate the Yankees. That leaves a robust 15 teams that didn’t even exist before 1962. I’ll spare you the list that compares World Series Championships against league tenure. Instead, let me say that the Indians are a few unlucky bounces away from the same historical success that the Royals and Mets are experiencing this season.

Kansas City had a good ten year run, then disappeared for three generations before their recent turnaround. While the Mets haven’t even mustered a string of consistent success, instead scattering eight playoff appearances – and two championships – over 54 years. That’s what baseball is like if you’re not the Yankees527 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances., Cardinals, Giants, or Dodgers.

It’s been a tough road lately for Tribe fans, but Jose Mesa’s blown save is certainly no worse than Bill Buckner’s error. Those Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner contracts don’t really stack up to the horror that Bartman inflicted upon the Chicago Cubs. It took 86 years for the Red Sox to lift the Curse of the Bambino, which is 85 years and 10 months longer than it took Francisco Lindor to the majors in 2015.

Being a sports fan in Cleveland is hard, it’s the fanhood equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck. Every season we sit on the couch and daydream about all those things we’ll do with the next season. It’s a stressful way to pay the bills and to root for teams. But next payday… let’s just say there’s hope for that vacation we’ve all been dreaming for.

Sources:

World Series History stuff – Baseball Reference

References
1 I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny.
2 OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.
3 The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.
4 I Hate the Yankees
5 27 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances.