The Sunday Notes: 2015 World Series
Now that we have enjoyed baseball’s playoff appetizer, it is time for the main course, the 2015 World Series. The plucky Kansas City Royals host the New York Mets starting Tuesday night at Kaufman Stadium in what we hope to be a classic matchup.
No deficit is too large for the Royals, who pound out hit after hit. Their bullpen is the best in the game and the starters have pitched well. If you are a fan of small ball or small market teams, then Kansas City is for you.
If, however, you are a fan of big starting pitchers, then look no further than the Mets. Their starting rotation shut down the Chicago Cubs during the National League Championship Series and handled the Los Angeles Dodgers well in the National League Divisional Series.
It should be an intriguing one and I’ll give you my pick below.
Now, onto the links!
–Despite taking the San Francisco Giants to the limit last year, the Royals have not won a championship in thirty years. In 1985, the Royals came back from a three-to-one hole in the American League Championship Series over the Toronto Blue Jays to set up a classic against cross-state rivals St. Louis. Going into the bottom of the ninth of Game 6, the Cardinals had the lead and fans reaching for champagne.
Then, as this clip shows, umpire Don Denkinger mistakenly called Royals batter Jorge Orta safe on a close call at first and all hell broke loose. St. Louis blows the game and the Royals storm through Game 7, 11-0, behind phenom Bret Saberhagen on the mound and Darryl Motley’s bat.
With the craziness that followed in the 1986 World Series, the 1985 Fall Classic has taken a back seat to history. Frankly, an undeserved one.
–Speaking of the 1986 World Series, pardon me if I do not join Mets fans in watching Game 7 of one of the best championships ever played.
In all its glory, here is NBC’s magnificent production with the Mets storming back in the seventh down three to win.
Looking back on it, how in the world were they not a dynasty?
Cain, whose blazing speed scored the winning run in Friday’s Game 6 of the ALCS, never played organized baseball until his sophomore year of high school. Naïve about his own ability, he was surprised when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted and, eventually, traded him with Alcides Escobar to Kansas City for Zack Greinke. Think the Royals lose sleep over that deal?
–After a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, people wondered if Mets third baseman David Wright would ever play again. That would include, as ESPN’s Ian O’Connor writes, part of his family. Never fear, the man called Captain America will be starting this week.
A Mets favorite, seeing Wright play in a World Series is comforting. He could have left for greener pastures as a free agent or complained the dimensions of Citi Field were too big as his power numbers dropped after the move from Shea Stadium. Instead, on Friday night, he will stand on the first base line in front of over 40,000 hungry fans as a Gotham baseball legend.
–Before we leave the World Series for this week, Andrew Martin passes along this gem from the Philly.com archives on the backstory of how Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof struggled to get the book published. Fighting lawsuits, Asinof sold the movie rights for a pittance. His book advance earned him less than the research cost of writing the definitive story of how the Chicago White Sox became involved in throwing the 1919 World Series.
Baseball movies are hard to get right, but this one remains captivating. With the money even bench players make today, it seems impossible the best players of that era lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Understanding the background of how the book came to be adds to how compelling it is.
–Sometimes nearly making the World Series is a successful season. Ask the Chicago Cubs.
On Twitter and in the media, fans and players alike shared a virtual group hug after the Cubbies were swept out of the NLCS. This essay from Fansided’s Mike Niederman is an example.
From first-hand experience, the best championship runs are the ones you least expect. In baseball, the 1986 Boston Red Sox meet the criteria, and if you will indulge me a moment, the Montreal Canadiens run into the Eastern Conference Finals in 2014 does as well. The hurt still stings when the season ends, but there is an awful lot to look forward to on Chicago’s North Side.
This was not a fluke.
–As the Cubs say good night to 2015, we say a fond farewell to veteran starting pitcher Dan Haren.
A baseball lifer, Haren retired once the Cubs finished the season. After Game 4, he stood, cried and hugged teammates and fans at Wrigley. A three-time All-Star, he won over 150 games while fanning 2013. With Oakland, Arizona and the Los Angeles Angels, he had three total seasons winning fifteen games or more.
Underappreciated, Haren will go down as a good pitcher in a batters era. He will never have his day in Cooperstown but his career should not be forgotten.
—Also calling it a career is Barry Zito.
The wily pitcher, who called the San Francisco Bay Area home, announced his retirement this week on the Players Tribune website.
Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Oakland Athletics, signed a huge free agent deal with the Giants before watching his career tumble then recover.
In his well-written retirement note, Zito credits finding faith as helping him through rough personal and professional stretches. In the end, he got the last laugh winning a 2012 World Series ring with the San Francisco and starting Game 1 against Detroit.
After missing all of 2014 in the big leagues, and most of this year, the Oakland A’s recalled Zito from the minors. He started twice and retired on his own terms.
–I missed this last week, but wanted to pass along this remembrance from the Orange County Register of California Angels and Minnesota Twins pitcher Dean Chance. The 1964 AL Cy Young winner passed away last Sunday at 75.
Overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale of the Dodgers, Chance dazzled Angel fans in ’64 with an ERA of 1.65 and 11 shutouts. In time, the arm gave out from over use and, just like Koufax, he retired at 30 in 1971.
—Also last week, I mentioned the kid from Ontario who painted a beard on his face and imitated Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista’s swing on camera moments before Bautista bat flipped his way into history. From Twitter, we see that slugger and child met and exchanged a memory lasting a lifetime.
What a moment for all involved.
–I’m taking the Mets in six. I think the Mets starting pitchers are better than KC’s. Mind you, I thought the Royals would sweep Toronto and the Cubs would win in seven.
Until next week.