Whether the Kansas City Royals go home with a World Series Championship or not, they have already won in the eyes of their devoted fans.
Has there been anything more exciting than watching this small market, Midwest team continue to exceed expectations in the postseason? Though it looks as if the Royals are destined to win it all, that is not always how it appeared. In fact, the Royals barely got into the playoffs and had to play the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Game just to earn a spot in the first round.
The A’s had been the best team in baseball before taking a dive in the latter part of the season. Still, Oakland was favored to win the game with ace Jon Lester on the mound. The Royals’ season seemed over when Oakland scored five runs in the sixth. The Royals’ late-inning heroics, however, tied the game against Oakland’s usually solid bullpen, and Kansas City went on to win the game in extra innings.
The Royals could not catch a break as they were then tasked with playing the favorite to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Angels, in the American League Division Series. If you blinked, you might have missed this series. The Royals took the first two games from the Angels in Anaheim and then sealed the series victory with a game three win at home.
Now the Royals have done the same to the Baltimore Orioles. After winning the series 4-0, the team is preparing to play either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals for the right to be crowned World Champions.
This season is a winner for Kansas City and for baseball itself. It is uncommon for a small market team with no real superstars to take on teams like the Angels and the Orioles, which have some of the highest paid players in baseball. Other than pitcher James Shields and first baseman Eric Hosmer, many have a hard time naming even one player on the Royals. They are the proverbial underdogs and score as a team, rather than on the back of one particular player.
Even more miraculously, this year is the first time the Royals have made it to the postseason in almost 30 years. They won the World Series in 1985 and have not smelled postseason baseball since. In the views of many, this is destiny. No one would have predicted that the Royals would have ever beaten Jon Lester, then swept superstar Mike Trout and the Angels and now have vastly outplayed the high-flying Orioles.
Baseball has a tendency to become repetitive with the same few teams making the playoffs every year. That is why watching a dark horse team blaze through the competition makes things exciting to watch. It is always good for any sport when everyone has a chance to win and the fans are mesmerized by a gripping storyline.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 16 print edition. Email Kyle Luther at [email protected]