Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
It would have been enough for the Royals to win the World Series. I’m sure, after 30 years, their fans gladly would have taken a boring, ho-hum, drama-free five games, so long as Kansas City ended up on top.
But that’s just not how the Royals do things.
Kansas City is like TNT in that they’re both dangerous when they catch fire, they’re both accustomed to long stretches of no one watching them on TV — and oh yeah, they know drama.
This year’s World Series lacked for storylines the way a Bartolo Colon birthday cake lacks for candles. (It didn’t.)
First and most notably, you had the comebacks. The Mets’ 4-1 lead didn’t last in the first game, nor did their 1-0 lead in the second, or their 2-0 leads in the fourth and fifth. From the eighth inning on, the Royals outscored New York 15-1 in the series.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Royals were the first-ever World Series champions to win three games in which they trailed after the eighth inning. Seven of the team’s postseason wins came after Kansas City was down two or more runs. It’s almost like the Royals knew all along they were going to win and just wanted to have some fun with our heart rates.
Game 5 alone had a playoff’s worth of narrative material. There was Matt Harvey, the New York kid, pitching in the World Series for his hometown team as it clung to a season on its last breath. He pitched great, he was the hero Gotham deserved but not needed, or something like that, and he fought to finish the game on his own, Terry Collins’ managerial experience be damned.
And then, of course, he blew it — or at least started to blow it, as the Royals put up two runs to force extra innings.
The Royals are all about storybook endings, so long as they’re the ones writing them.
Enter Eric Hosmer, who already had his own HBO miniseries in Game 1 when his error gave New York the lead before his 14th-inning sac fly gave the Royals the win. Down 2-1 in Game 5, Hosmer stood at third in the top of the ninth, when Salvador Perez grounded to first for the second out. And then, inexplicably, Hosmer broke for home, despite already being looked back to third by David Wright. But Lucas Duda threw home without accounting for the huge gust of Royals Devils Magic that would blow the ball to the backstop and allow Hosmer to score the tying run.
Again, that play would have been cool enough on its own accord. But if you remember the finale of the previous season of “Royals” — I think they’re all streaming on Hulu — you’ll remember the decision whether or not to leave third base for home is a recurring theme for Ned Yost and Co.
Last year, Alex Gordon was stopped at third instead taking a risky shot at scoring on an error by San Francisco. Fans lamented third-base coach Mike Jirschele’s stop sign all through the offseason. Like Hosmer’s play, Gordon would have been beaten to the plate, with time to spare, by anything resembling a good throw. This season, however, the Royals forced the opponent to make a good play, and — narrative alert — it worked as it had all series.
What’s more, Hosmer’s head-first slide across home plate came 17 hours and 38 minutes into the series, a nod to Fetty Wap and his Remy Boyz crew. (You either know what I’m talking about here or you don’t.)
But for my money, the coolest story of all in the 2015 World Series was that of Edinson Volquez. Most years, his ordeal would have more than sated the search for a World Series storyline. In this series, however, it seemed like it was lost in the sea of crazy.
Volquez’s father died the day of the first game of the World Series, a game the 32-year-old Volquez started on the mound. He started the last game, too, and in between flew to the Dominican Republic for his father’s funeral. The Royals won both.
Volquez wasn’t the winning pitcher in either game, and there’s no way a ring can fill the void left by a father. But it still felt important that Eddie was able to be with his teammates and enjoy the fruits of their long, long season.
It was heartbreaking and heartwarming, all in one. It reminded us all that there’s a lot more to life than baseball, but there’s a special space in life for baseball, too.
It had all the makings of a great story.