2015 MLB World Series – Kansas City Royals v New York Mets: ‘I’m going to Kansas City, gonna get my baby one time…’

 

I can imagine them singing the Beatles ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey’ in Kansas City, from Kauffman Stadium and drifting into the bars. McCartney ripping it up, raw and wild, as if inspired by Little Richard’s version.  The song was covered and recorded on ‘Beatles for Sale’ in October 1964 and in 2015 was the soundtrack to watching the Royals win.

October is a great month for U.S sports, a confluence of NFL, NHL, the NBA tip off and Baseball’s World Series. Every year, I find myself thinking this World Series is the best, when probably it’s the most I see and when I really get into it; grinding out hits and men on bases, before it’s all over in a mishit catch and lightning throw to first for a double play. Such was the ‘blink and you miss it’ finish to game four.

Neither the Royals nor the Mets had won a World Series since the mid 1980’s. The Royals were runners up last year and back again.

Game one in Kansas City lit the fuse for the series. The New York Mets – who had won the NLCS over the Cubs 4-0, breaking Chicagoan hearts and continuing the curse of the Billy Goat – led 4 to 3 and were just two outs from the first win, on the road.

Bottom of the 9th, Alex Gordon stepped up for the Royals and lived out a dream or part of a Billy Joel song.

 

“But here you are in the ninth

Two men out and three men on

Nowhere to look but inside

Where we all respond to

Pressure

Pressure” (1)

 

Close enough, anyway. Gordon put the ball and Missourian hopes into a night sky and went round the bags to save the game. Like any sport, there’s a moment that sends a contest yawing. The Mets must have been kicking themselves for not closing out and going 1-0 up in the series. From there, game one ran on another 5 innings and into the next day!  5 hours and 9 minutes in total, value for money for the fans.

 

In the 14th inning, Royal Eric Hosmer made a winning fly to drive Alcides Escobar in. 5-4. A 14-innings World Series game is uncommon, last occurring in 2005, but then you have to go back to 1916. Although only one of seven, history suggests game one is decisive. Teams that win it, go on to win the World Series 68-38.

 

Emboldened by their rally, the Royals were prolific in game two. They piled on 4 in the fifth inning and another 3 in the eighth. 10 hits to 2 for a conclusive 7 to 1 win.

 

Royals 2-0 and the series moved to New York.

 

In game 3, Billy Joel sang the anthem and the Mets were in a New York State of mind. Pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, whizzed one by the head of Escobar at 156 km’s per hour. Escobar hit the deck while his dugout was abuzz with expletives. The unsettling tactic seemed to work and the Mets attacked with a two-run homer from David Wright in the 1st and then another from Chris Granderson in the 3rd and from there would never relinquish the lead. 23-year-old Syndergaard (who Mets fans call ‘Thor’) did not concede a run after the 2ndinning, retiring twelve consecutive batters and striking out six.

 

Game four was in New York again and Mets shot out to an early lead, with two homers to 22-year-old Michael Comforto. The Royals had to wait until the 5th for their first courtesy of Alex Gordon’s hit into right field that put Salvador Perez in. The Mets responded and going into the 6th led 3-1.

 

This was the Mets chance – shut down the balance of the innings, square the series 2-2, with the next game also in New York. In the eighth inning, Mets brought on relief pitcher Jeuyrs Familia and the Royals scored quickly. Hosmer’s hit sent Ben Zobrist across home plate, before the Mets Daniel Murphy fatefully approached an undemanding ground ball. With a runner from first likely in the corner of his eye, Murphy leaned in for a ball that ran torturously through his legs. Around the stadium, New York and beyond, heads went into hands.

 

Watching ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ afterwards, analyst Jessica Mendoza said, ‘He didn’t get his glove where the ball was’ which conjured Roy and H.G’s, ‘a failure between boot, ball and brain’.

 

I felt for Murphy, who should not be scapegoated for a game the Mets let slip. Another day pay no mind, the big occasion shines a harsh light. Murphy homering six times in the post-season should not be forgotten – but will be. Prevailing comparisons were made to Bill Buckner’s grounder gaffe in game 6-’86 (ironically, the last time the Mets won the World Series). Hopefully Murphy will not be replayed to the Zapruder levels of Buckner. When Buckner was interviewed on an ESPN 30 for 30 doco (2) more than 20 years later, there was still evident distress from the media repetition and shoddy practice of turning heroes into goats.

 

“It is dreamstuff that luck plays everyone the same…”

[Kahn.R, “The Boys of Summer”; originally published: New York, Harper & Row, 1972. ]

 

Murphy’s error tied the game, but it felt lost. When Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez completed run-scoring singles off Familia it was.

A thrilling 5-3 result for Missourians but ‘horror on Halloween night’ for most of 44,815 at Citi Field, New York.

 

Game 5 was still in New York. Curtis Granderson had the Mets off to the perfect start with a home run against Volquez (his 3rd for the series) and Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey gave up only 3 hits and struck out nine Royals, by the bottom of the 6th. When Lucas Duda put a fly ball to centerfield, Granderson came in to score and, at 2-0, Mets were looking good to keep the series alive. Harvey shut out the 7th inning – the question was, how long could they keep him out there?

 

The Mets stuck with their man, into the final innings. It seemed to make sense not to change, go for the shut out, but they went to the well once too many. Hosmer drove deep and sent Cain home. The Mets immediately finished Harvey for the night and Jeuyrs Familia relieved. Just as in game 4, it was a change of fortune the Royals needed. Salavador Perez got a hit away with a broken bat to David Wright. He was thrown out on first, but then first baseman, Duda, threw wide to the plate, allowing Hosmer to dive home to tie the game! 8 innings of shut outs before fiasco.

 

The Mets couldn’t score in the bottom of the ninth and it was echoes of game one as game five went into extra innings. Familia continued pitching and seemed to settle in as the tenth and eleventh went scoreless. However, at the top of the twelfth the Mets went with Addison Reed and the Royals locked in. Christian Colon’s base hit into left field allowed Perez to cross and when Paulo Orlando’s hit to the infield slid up the glove of Wright and away from him – setting two Royals on bases – New Yorkers must have had a sinking feeling.

 

Escobar’s hit down the line saw Colon score. Bases were loaded up before Cain cleared them with a double – 5 Royal runs in the inning (after 0 from 8)! Davis pitched a shut out and the Kansas City Royals had clinched the 2015 World Series.

 

Like AFL, Baseball is a tale of two teams. Mets fans will be frustrated by the promise and the missed opportunity – particularly when it was right in front of them, in games one, four, and leading 2-0 into the final inning of game five. It’s the same the world over, got to nail your chances. A pity, as the series deserved a game 6 and 7. The Mets have a young team and rotations – might be better next year.

The Royals batting depth meant they were never out of any game. Their ability to comeback and score late no fluke. Kansas City had 9 come-from-behind wins in the post-season, 5 of them in this World Series. Undeniably, they know how to win. Mike Lupica wrote in the New York Daily News, ‘making a trip through their batting order feels like a trip through barbed wire’ (3), this as much as their closing pitching is why the World Series is going to Kansas City.

 

 

(1) ‘Pressure’ Billy Joel song, from the album ‘The Nylon Curtain’ (1982)

(2) ‘Catching Hell’ 2011. Executive Producer Alex Gibney et al.

(3) Lupica.M, “David Wright leads the way to show Mets aren’t done yet’ New York Daily News October 31, 2015.

About Paul Campbell

Lawyer, left footer. Loves the Hawks and follows a few U.S sports.

Comments

  1. Great write up Paul. I hoped you watched all these games live. The drama sounds amazing. I love baseball and only caught up with the scores on mlb.com
    World Series is morning tv here in Perth so it clashes with work commitments. In retirement I promise myself I will indulge in a full series.
    A young side not taking their chances in the brief periods they had them in the first and third quarters against a wizened team of old champs? Vaguely reminds me of something but the memories are repressed.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Thanks Paul, I no longer have pay TV, so have to rely on snatching bits of this online.

    The MLB app at least has access to lots of highlights and condensed games, but, like PB, a full series will be an indulgence I’ll be taking up when time permits.

  3. This is truly a brilliant report, Paul. thank you.

    I watched quite a bit of the World Series, but apart from the first game,
    I struggled to get engaged for much of it,
    but love the thought of McCartney yelling “Hey hey hey hey…”

    I have watched “Catching Hell” twice, and am still shocked, amazed,
    dumbfounded by it.

  4. Dennis Gedling says:

    Baseball at this level is an amazing game to watch at the sharp end of the season but you need time and a lot of it. The Mets v Dodgers series had some great drama including that dog act of a Dodgers player sliding in on the Mets’ second baseman breaking his leg.

  5. Paul Campbell says:

    Thanks Peter, Swish, Smokie and Dennis.

    Peter – I managed to 50:50 the games either live or recording/watching them at home – while avoiding media – to contrive the live experience. Actually avoiding media was pretty easy, media in Melbourne seemed to rank it alongside the Luge world cup.

    Peter, I knew you were also a baseball fan, from your previous comments and a Dodgers fan if I’m not mistaken. I’m determined to do a baseball trip to the States in coming years, when children are bigger. I feel something for Baseball I don’t feel for footy. Michael Baumann condensed it on Grantland (28.8.2015). “Even the best hitters fail two-thirds of the time…this is a game for nihilists…it’s an endeavor that requires unceasing effort every day, but in which most of that effort goes to waste, and the bit that doesn’t is set adrift in a sea of uncontrollable and often inexplicable factors, ending in failure most of the time. That sounds like real life to me. Baseball is like having your soul crushed slowly by a steamroller made of platinum and diamonds. (The sunshine and the smell of fresh-cut grass are nice, too.)… but it can be so intoxicating when it’s good.”

    Smokie – the song, Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! is played from Kauffman stadium, Kansas City, Missouri after every win by the Royals. I can’t think of a better song to ramble to.

    Dennis – enjoyed your writing on the Giants game.

    Cheers.

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