Orioles Lose; Royals Disappoint

Wow! The Kansas City Royals are on one of the greatest post-season runs ever, and maybe the greatest ever. Playing flawless baseball, they swept the Orioles in four straight. Let there be no mistake: It’s not that the Orioles kicked the ball around and lost, it’s that KC played flawlessly and won, which really is an even more impressive feat.

What was not impressive was the juvenile manner in which the Royals handled their success. Such behavior crystallized for me when in Game 3, Eric Hosmer, broke his bat in the first inning, scoring two runs, taking second on the throw home. After sliding in, he promptly got up and patted himself on the back. There was Jeremy Guthrie’s tee-shirt and Jarrod Dyson’s stream of cocky comments. Fortunately, for Dyson especially, not Early Wynn, Don Drysdale, nor Bob Gibson pitched for the Birds, or Dyson’s ankles would have had bull’s-eyes on them whenever he came to bat. To the Orioles credit, they didn’t gripe about a lack of breaks and they didn’t drill anyone. The only way to respond was to win and since they didn’t, they kept their mouths shut and took it like men. That would be a good example for Kansas City to follow just in case things go badly against San Francisco. After all, the Giants are on an impressive run themselves.

MASN columnist, Roch Kubatko, rightly pointed out that the Royals went from the easiest team to root for to the most difficult. Read his excellent column here.

My Bird Lovers World Series prediction flew south for the winter. Instead, we have a match up of wild card winners. Did anyone out there predict THAT one?! I believe it’s a first, but my pick is the Giants for a couple of reasons. KC has a slightly longer layoff, but they have home field advantage which counts for a little bit. The Giants, however, have Bruce Bochy who will most likely out-maneuver Ned Yost, but who at least had the good sense to stay out of his players’ way against the Orioles. (Although even then, a couple of moves he made were more than questionable, but they happened to work.) And mixing a bit of probability with superstition, it’s in the Giants favor that they’ve already lost two games along the way. They are not on one of those streaks as are the Royals that makes you start to think, “Uh-oh; this has to end some time!”

Two teams, both on a cosmic-sized roll. As has been amply demonstrated, anything can happen and it probably will.

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About Austin Gisriel

You know the guy that records a baseball game from the West Coast in July and doesn't watch it until January just to see baseball in the winter? That's me. I'm a writer always in search of a good story, baseball or otherwise.
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10 Responses to Orioles Lose; Royals Disappoint

  1. Bill DeHass says:

    Dear Austin,

    I heard you and Gordy this afternoon as I do most every Thursday afternoon. I try and catch your segment on there every week. I have appreciated your analysis and input for quite a while – until today. I am life-long Royals fan – from day one in April of 1969. I was born and raised in KC and even though living in Pennsylvania since 1977 my sports heart is still in KC. So, yes, I am biased. And today you sounded like it too.

    I was glad that you acknowledged that KC was the better team this week and that they actually won and not that Baltimore lost. I agree. Kansas City was the better team but all of the games could have gone the other way. However, when you called KC a team of punks I take exception. You said KC lacks perspective. However, I think you lack a little perspective on some things. I would like to offer a few points to consider.

    First, what you perceive as the Royals self-congratulating themselves after making only one play is not what you think. You mentioned Hosmer’s blooper that scored two runs. You said he stood on second and called attention to himself. That is not it at all even though it could look that way. KC has played that way all year. What Hosmer and others do on base and at other times is not for themselves or to show up the other team – it is to encourage and excite the rest of the team. I know that sounds like garbage but it is true. Notice where the players look when they do this – not at the other team in order to taunt, not to the cameras and not to the fans. They look into the dugout.

    This team plays together as much as any team I have seen in KC. They like each other and they push each other on so that that can win together. All those hand signals you see the KC players are for the others in the dugout. I don’t know what they all mean, but the team does. Ask any of the players and they will tell you they are not doing any of that to call attention to themselves. Perhaps they need to learn to do something else – I won’t argue with that. But they are not a bunch of self-congratulating punks.

    And I would ask you – do punks come out of the locker room and spend time with the fans? Many Royals came back out and went into the stands to hug and high-five the fans. Even in Baltimore the Royals played catch with Oriole fans prior to the game.

    Do punks go down to the hot spot in town and buy drinks for the fans? Several of the players have done that twice now. When was the last the Orioles treated the fans at the Inner Harbor? Or the Yankees at Times Square or the Red Sox on Boylston Street? That doesn’t strike me as something that punks do.

    Second, yes we (and I include all the fans) act like we have never been there before. Many of the fans haven’t. Remember, it has been 29 years since KC was in the post-season (even though they have won a World Series more recently than Baltimore). In those years, even though Baltimore has not won it all, they have not been the butt of jokes on sports shows and late night talk shows. The Orioles have not been a punchline on Leno and Letterman. Your team has never been called out for contraction. Baltimore has never been called one of the have-nots for over two decades. So for the fans who have suffered and for the players, many of whom have had to endure some awfully crappy teams and seasons of losing, there is a lot of pent up frustration and anguish gushing out as well as euphoria. Pardon us if we party – we haven’t been on the dance floor for a long time and lots of people don’t think we even belong inside the building.

    The last thing I would say is that you still seem to think Ned Yost is a dunce and Buck Showalter is a mastermind. You do realize that Buck might have cost the Orioles the game on Tuesday evening. He decided he was not going to be done in by the KC stealing so he had Pearce play in front of the runners – especially Dyson in the sixth inning. However, that left Pearce out of position and a wide gap between and second base. It made it very awkward for Pearce to do anything but retreat to first base. Had Pearce been playing the normal position for holding a runner he probably is in position to field Hosmer’s grounder and either get a double play or at least get an out and keep Dyson at second. Instead, Hosmer singles right, Dyson to third and home on Butler’s sacrifice fly. Game, set, match. Maybe it is pick your poison but I think Showalter out-thought himself.

    Yes the best thing Ned Yost did was mostly stay out of the way, but he did handle the bullpen better than you give him credit for. Rather than sticking with starters longer than he did in the regular season and then using a strict seventh, eighth and ninth inning guy – he did get a little creative- using Herrera for more than one inning and using Davis for both the eighth and ninth in game one so Holland could close it out. Ned is still a knucklehead a lot of the time but I actually think he is evolving. I am not sure that Showalter is that smart or Yost that dumb.

    Austin, thank you for letting me vent. I will say the Orioles had a great year and had Machado, Wieters and Davis been available things might have been different (even though I think Flaherty and Pearce did admiral work filling in). I think the Orioles have a bright future for 2015 and I expect them to be in the middle of things next year. I just hope you can give a break to Kansas City for what you perceive is a lack of class. There is more there than what you are seeing.

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    • Thanks for listening, Bill, and thanks for such a thoughtful and passionate response! Writers live to know that they’ve inspired a reaction in their audience.

      I think my bias in this case is towards the old school, “act like you’ve been there before” approach. I understand that a new generation of ballplayers is far more expressive than the one I grew up watching. The line gets crossed, however, with things such as Guthrie’s tee shirt. It’s not reasonable to think that he was unaware of what he was wearing to that press conference, especially since he came out of the game after the 5th inning. There was apparently also a great deal of trash talk directed at the Orioles, as Kubatko points out in the piece I cited.

      As to the games themselves, I don’t think Showalter can be criticized for his positioning of Pearce–it worked, as KC stole only one base and indeed, on that particular play, had Dyson stolen the base, he would have scored on the ensuing single (the fallacy of the pre-determined play notwithstanding.) Besides, I think Pearce would have needed 8′ arms to snag that one!

      You have helped explain why KC’s fans are so defensive about the Royals, but there is no need to be defensive: You won.

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      • Bill DeHass says:

        Thanks Austin. I should have put in my first response that Guthrie’s t-shirt was out of line (he did apologize) and Dyson should keep his mouth shut. Those things were not acceptable to me.

        As far as the Showalter strategy we can disagree. That is what makes baseball fun. Besides, as Lee Judge of the KC Star wrote – Dyson was not going to steal. Chen is 1.1 seconds to home and as you know that is really fast. Judge knows this because Rusty Kuntz told him and Rusty knows just about everything. He probably knows how fast you run. Rusty probably times the baristas at Starbucks. I think he has a stopwatch surgically implanted in the palm of has hand.

        I will look forward to hearing you with Gordy after the games in KC next week and on your blog.

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      • We’ll be two games in to the Series by next Thursday when Gordy and I will do our thing, so we should have something to talk about. I really don’t have much of a feel as to the outcome. I’m sure you’re picking the Royals and with many reasons! What’s your prediction?

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  2. Looking forward to reading your summaries of each game Austin (how bout it now?).

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  3. Don Hoover says:

    I am picking the Giants to win the Series, based on the NLCS with the Cardinals. The Giants in someways displayed the same talents that the Orioles had during the season, and I can’t help but think that the Royals can only go to the well so many times.

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  4. Bill DeHass says:

    Hi Austin,

    I missed the first half of your time with Gordy today. I did hear you give me a shout out at the end about watching the games. Yes,I can’t wait until Friday evening. If my team was not in the Series I would also be watching about five or six innings. They are incredibly long and late games. I looked up the time of some World Series games. 1960 game 7 took 2 hours and 37 minutes and you know the score of that game – 10 to 9. That game would be four and half hours today. 1971 game seven — 2 hours and 10 minutes. I know you watched that game.

    I still have a good feeling about the Series although Tuesday night was a let down. Bumgarner is pitching so well right now so it is not like KC gave the game away. I figured the game was over in the bottom of the first and it was. Wednesday was a nice bounce back.

    I figure if KC can get one game in SF they have a good chance of taking the Series. If they get two then I am quite confident they will finish it at home. But SF is a very good team and it won’t shock me if this series ends in SF. If it does end there it means SF takes all three games. I don’t see KC taking three in SF especially with Bumgarner pitching the final game out there.

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    • That’s a good analysis, Bill. One key for SF might be whether they can get Bumgarner into a game 7 in relief if needed. Of course, it seems that SF’s park is actually built for KC’s outfield. We’ll see. In any case, you are correct: The games last too darned long!! Or, perhaps more accurately, their rhythm is interrupted too often.

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