It all begins tonight. The Kansas City Royals will begin their journey towards claiming the ultimate prize. They were the surprise team of 2014 and took the San Francisco Giants to a seventh game. The Royals lost that decisive battle but remained upbeat and determined to return. They became the darlings of baseball. They were David to the Goliath known as San Francisco.
Now the Royals have a chance to finish what they began.
The matchup is expected to be a classic confrontation. The Royals come into battle having the best batting average during the postseason. The New York Mets are countering those bats with the best pitching performance during the playoffs. Using that scenario, the series has the makings of one that won’t be skimpy on the drama.
In 1985, the Royals had to defeat a talented Toronto Blue Jays team on their journey to the Series championship. Could this be a sneak peak of things to come for the Royals?
The Royals are on an unbelievable roll and don’t look like they’re ready to stop. They weren’t picked to win the ALCS. They were outclassed on paper by the very team that they beat 30 years ago, en route to their first World Series title. By every statistic and research of hard-nosed analysts, the Royals are an anomaly. They should not be getting ready to play against the New York Mets. But the Royals are not your conventional team. They believe it will happen and it does.
Part of the Royals’ belief system goes far beyond comprehension. They believed that starting Alcides Escobar as the lead-off hitter would bring them luck. It seems to be working. In games in which he has batted in the lead position, the Royals are 82-49. If Escobar swings at the first pitch, things usually go in favor of the Royals. Teams like the Royals don’t pay much attention to the experts. They just go out and win.
The Royals’ payroll should be another factor against them. According to Forbes, the Royals are right around the middle of the pack at $125 million. They were one spot above their opponent, the New York Mets, who spent $120 million. Six other teams that had higher payrolls than the Royals will be watching them play in the World Series.
The Kansas City faithful are tired of the suffering. They’re ready to see their beloved Royals emerge victorious over the New York Mets. But the endearing quality of this matchup will be in the similarity of the fan bases. The Mets’ fans have had just as long to wait for their time to shine.
The Royals’ journey has brought them to the top of the mountain. Now, they have to stake claim to it.
[Feature Photo by Rob Carr / Getty Images]