The Kansas City Royals lost the World Series, but won over a country
By EVAN BUDROVICH
College Contributor Network
The Royals did the right thing, even as their postseason run came to an end 90-feet away from forcing another extra-inning thriller. It was a series lacking that game filled with nine innings of drama, but that took a sharp turn back to reality in a record-setting Game 7.
The season ended on a sour note, but that final out didn't destroy a month of emotions that almost came to an end way back on Sept. 30. The Royals were two outs away from ending it that night, but the magical underdog story got their legs churning for an incredible 9-8 extra-inning victory over the Oakland A's. But down to their final out against the best World Series pitcher since Curt Schilling (maybe even best ever), the Royals just kept fighting.
Alex Gordon found a hole in the Giants' no-double defense, which ironically resulted in three bags for the vintage defensive specialist who had been cold with the bat all series long. After struggling for 20-plus innings swinging and missing against a World Series star in the making, the sold out crowd of 40-thousand plus fans decked in Royals optimism at Kauffman Stadium found a jolt of confidence.
In a postseason run filled with four one-run games in the first two rounds to get to the Fall Classic, the Royals gave baseball fans just what they wanted. The series may not have showcased the greatest set of games in postseason series history, but the counterpunches thrown back and forth made the tornado of emotions burst into a winner-take-all game for the ages. Credit the Giants for playing clutch postseason baseball, winning Game 5 in dominant fashion setting up this mano a mano meeting. But the baseball gods must be thankful for how both teams came to play when it mattered most.
The Giants struck first, the Royals responded right away, and then all hell broke lose in a slugfest for one final run, one final out and one final win in the record books.
The Kansas City Royals' dominant three-headed monster of a bullpen (Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, Greg Holland) went pitch for pitch with the San Francisco Giants' World Series Champion legend; providing 23-million plus a five-act drama on the baseball diamond. It all ended as Salvador Perez, who made a major-league record 158 starts overall at catcher, couldn't deliver but, boy did he make things interesting with a great at-bat.
To be honest, I don't even think the pop up in foul territory, caught by postseason hero Pablo Sandoval of all people, dampened the closing touches on this series. The fact that the game came down to one final at-bat, as the Royals had a legitimate shot to both tie or even win the game, made every single pitch of the contest worthwhile. You just don't see that a lot of that in the MLB postseason, and the return of a highly competitive, rather dramatic, record-setting season finale made for one epic night.
Bruce Bochy's club may have owned the better collection of stars, but the Kansas City Royals embodied the essence of team baseball. Not to discredit the Giants for their great defense, timely hitting and clutch pitching (things which won them Game 7), but watching the collection of pieces come together in front of our eyes made the Royals' rise from mediocrity all the more rewarding.
Fans in Kansas City may not admit to this fact, but transforming 29 years of frustration into a program finally worth believing in brought together an entire generation of young Royals fans who knew no better. The San Francisco Giants were in a similar position back in 2002, losing a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Anaheim Angels. Since then, things have changed for the better, defying the traditional path of postseason success.
The Royals snuck under the rug and scrapped their way into the World Series, playing fundamental baseball that was both beautiful to watch and filled with the meteoric rise of young stars like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Yordano Ventura. Kansas City has stars to build around, and despite the fact that Kauffman Stadium will not be raising a World Series banner, the Royals' fan base won something just as valuable. A brand of baseball worth cheering about for years to come, Be Royal KC.Evan Budrovich is a senior at the University of Southern California. He has a passion for the 49ers, Dodgers baseball and USC athletics. Follow him on Twitter: @evanbud