Ready for some musings, World Series style? Here goes.
▪ I was surprised the St. Louis Cardinals made it to the National League Championship Series after a season in which nothing really fell together. That doesn’t mean I was less upset about them losing to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. I get upset when the Cardinals lose. Just ask my wife. Just ask the neighbors. But what I’m trying to say here is that it wasn’t a shock and I’m able to take satisfaction that the Cardinals made it this far in 2014.
▪ It will be an interesting off-season in St. Louis. The Cardinals have a glut of outfielders and will have to trade somebody. Will it be Randal Grichuk? Will it be Jon Jay? Will it be Peter Bourjos? Will it be Oscar Taveras? I hope the Cardinals tread carefully during the off-season; I would hate to see either Grichuk or Taveras traded, although there’s no guarantee either will be a strong every-day player in the big leagues. Both have tremendous upsides, but the key is approaching those upsides.
▪ I worry, too, about catcher Yadier Molina showing signs of breaking down. Molina has been catching a long time and catching a lot of games and innings. He missed a significant portion of the 2014 season and postseason. He’ll be 33 next July.
▪ OK, enough about the Cardinals. For now. I know you’re itching for me to get to the Kansas City Royals. Let me just say that in my very private thoughts, I consider the Royals to be a superior team to the Cardinals. Right now. The Royals are superior to the ‘27 Yankees right now. They’ve played an amazing stretch of baseball, having won eight straight postseason games.
▪ As e-mailer John Wilhelm points out, Kansas City played those games over a span of 17 days. And by the time the first pitch of the Royals-Giants World Series is thrown Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, KC will be playing its ninth game in 22 days. That’s a far cry from the regular season, when teams routinely play 20 days in a row, if not more. Yet the lack of rhythm, so important to baseball players, hasn’t had any affect on the Royals. Just another amazing tidbit from a remarkable postseason.
▪ Any Royals fans concerned about the lack of offense in Games 3 and 4 of the American League Championships Series against Baltimore? They were back-to-back 2-1 games and Kansas City didn’t do much at the plate.
▪ I would expect a pitching matchup of Madison Bumgarner vs. James Shields in Game 1 of the World Series as the Giants look to get off to a strong start on the road. And there’s no better pitcher to use on the road in the postseason than Bumgarner, whose 26.2 consecutive scoreless innings on the road are a postseason record.
▪ The rest of the Giants pitching rotation – Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong – isn’t all that formidable. But San Francisco, like Kansas City, has a lock-down bullpen. And the Giants probably have an edge in offense with a strong middle of the order of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence.
▪ San Francisco is also strong defensively, although no team is as good as the Royals with the gloves. And Kansas City will have a huge edge in team speed; the Giants just don’t run much.
▪ I like Kansas City in six games. No sweep. The Giants are too good to be swept. I think. Then again, who would have believed the Royals would have swept the Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels?
▪ I’ll be covering my first World Series next week in Kansas City. I love baseball and love writing about baseball. So I suppose I’m thankful for the Royals’ success because it’s given me a chance to write about the game I love more than any other. I’ve always loved a lot of sports, but none like baseball. I grew up with it. I perused box scores in the newspaper every morning. I played baseball every day during summer vacation. I went to games with my father. Baseball is in my soul.
▪ Did you catch the season premier of “The Walking Dead” last week? Wow, what a show. I complained some about last season not having enough action. That certainly wasn’t the case with last week’s episode, was it?
▪ I’ll be in Norman on Saturday morning for the Kansas State-Oklahoma game. The Sooners have been vulnerable the past couple of weeks so I expect they’ll do whatever they can to try and pull out of this malaise. Kansas State has a real opportunity here. After some crazy goings-on last week, the Big 12 looks like a heaping mess of unpredictability. KSU has its toughest conference tests on the road with games still remaining at TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. I think Oklahoma wins Saturday, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
▪ I half expect Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger to announce any day now that interim coach Clint Bowen is the new head football coach. I think momentum is building that way. I think it would be a great decision by Zenger.
▪ I’ll watch a few NBA games early during the regular season, especially the Cleveland Cavaliers. But then I’ll likely do what I always do, turn loose of the NBA as I turn my attention toward college basketball and then catch up with the NBA in the playoffs. The NBA Playoffs are a season unto themselves.
▪ Wow, Wichita State’s basketball exhibition game against Northwood is three weeks from Saturday. College basketball season is upon us and all three of the state’s teams are again going to be good. Perhaps all three will be really good. Bank on that for Kansas and Wichita State and if a few things come together for Kansas State, the Wildcats could be a Sweet 16-type team, too.
▪ It’s hard even for a Cardinals fan like myself not to feel good for the long-suffering Royals fans. Not you Johnny-come-latelys. I’m talking about the people who continued to pull for and love their baseball team even through the really bad times. They may have griped, complained and even threatened to jump ship. But they never did, hopeful but skeptical their team would deliver a reward.
▪ As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy the World Series, Royals fans.