An Underdog With The Perfect Mix
Back before the 2014 MLB season started, I made my World Series pick.
One team, in my mind, was a layup. I picked the Los Angeles Dodgers not only get to the Fall Classic, but win it. It was hard to go against great pitching, especially Clayton Kershaw.
Then he went out and pitched a regular season for the ages. Kershaw put up crazy numbers, proving, for sure, that Kershaw was going to get it done, get LA back on the biggest stage in baseball and crown the City of Angels as champions once again.
That was the same reaction I got when I picked the second team to make it to the World Series.
It was resounding: no way, no how.
Some laughed at the pick. Others questioned my baseball acknowledge. Most ignored it and gave me reasons why the Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels would be there come October.
I never flinched.
I picked the Kansas City Royals.
Yes, the team that hadn't been to the playoffs in 29 years and hadn't won a World Series since 1985.
Back then, most couldn't see the Royals as real contenders. Sure, they had stud starter James Shields, but that was it when it came to star-status players.
Most knew that they had some promising young players, but none really registering on the fear-meter, especially at the plate.
There was no big bopper in the middle of the lineup, no one who was a proven raker at the plate.
In other words, it was a cute team that might finish over .500, but not ready for primetime.
Man, so many missed the boat on this team.
Well, here are the Royals, front and center, and, best of all, ready for primetime.
Tonight at Camden Yards in Baltimore, the Royals take on the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the best-of-seven, American League Championship Series.
Yes, those Royals are four wins away from getting to the World Series.
Of course, it won't be easy. The O's are no joke, either. They were 96-66 in the regular season, the second-best record in the AL. They swept the mighty Tigers in three games in the division series.
So the Orioles, despite missing three regulars from their lineup (Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters), are a force, the favorites to win this series.
It should come as no surprise. The O's are the bangers. They led the majors in home runs this regular season with 211.
"We tee high and let it fly," Adam Jones told the media. "That's been our motto.
"Sometimes it looks good and sometimes we look crazy for six or seven innings. But it helped us get to this point, so we're not gonna change."
Many hope not because fans dig the long ball.
The Royals, on the other hand, were the only team not to reach the century mark - just 95 HRs.
But the Royals led baseball with stolen bases with 153. The O's were last with just 44.
The Royals are a fun, energetic team. There are so many players that are exciting to watch, including Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez.
Despite their postseason inexperience, the Royals have played big. The formula has been simple; good pitching, great defense and timely hitting.
The Royals are 4-0 so far in the postseason, including a 3-0 sweep of the Angels most never saw coming. I had the Royals winning that series in four. Of course, fans on Twitter attacked me again for my crazy pick of Kansas City.
There's just something special about this group. It happens every once in a while in sports. The players just match, the mix is on point.
On paper, most would simply pick the O's. They have the better, proven players, more of a track record in big games like this.
Still, you can't ignore the Royals' three straight extra inning wins to open the postseason. That's called October magic.
The Royals have it. It's time for you to finally believe in them.
Royals over the Orioles in six games.
Cardinals over the Giants in six.
Rematch of the 1985 World Series. Royals over the Cardinals in six games.