Welcome to the World Series: Two teams look to shed lovable loser image

  • Buddy Biancalana #1 of the Kansas City Royals tries to score as Darrell Porter #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals tags him during Game 2 of the 1985 World Series at Royals Stadium on Oct. 20, 1985 in Kansas City, Mo. 
  • Kansas City Royals Lonnie Smith (27) argues with home plate umpire Jim Quick during Game 6 vs St. Louis Cardinals at Royals Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 26, 1985. 
  • Kansas City Royals Jim Sundberg (8) leaps into the arms of teammates Lonnie Smith, left, and Buddy Biancalana after Sundberg scored in the ninth inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1, in a World Series game, Oct. 26, 1985, Kansas City, Mo.
  • The New York Mets fans join in on the celebration of the New York Mets defeating the Boston Red Sox in Game Seven of the World Series at Shea Stadium on Oct. 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets defeated the Red Sox 8-5.
  • New York Mets Rafael Santana (3) during Game 7 vs Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY, Oct. 27, 1986.
  • Howard Johnson of the New York Mets celebrates after scoring at home plate during the Mets 8-5 win over the Boston Red Sox in game 7 of the World Series at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York, Oct. 27, 1986. The Mets won the series 4 games to 3. 
  • Bird’s-eye view of the remarkable doings at Shea Stadium during Game 7 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, Oct. 27, 1986. 
  • In this Oct. 25, 1986 file photo, Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner misplays the ball during Game 6 of the World Series against the New York Mets. 
  • Gary Carter #8 and Wally Backman #6 of New York Mets celebrate after winning the 1986 Major League Baseball World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox during game seven on Oct. 27, 1986 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. The Mets won their second World Series, first in 1969, by beating the Red Sox 4-3.
  • New York Mets’ reliever Jesse Orosco and thousands of Met fans lift arms in jubilation as Marty Barrett, last Boston Red Sox hitter, bites dust at Shea Stadium, Oct. 28, 1986. The Mets defeated the Red Sox, 8-5, in Game Seven of the 1986 World Series for championship. 
  • We did it, yells a fan at Rusty’s, on the upper East Side, after the New York Mets’ defeated the Boston Red Sox, 8-5, in Game Seven of the 1986 World Series. 
  • Hal McRae of the Kansas City Royals and teammates celebrate after World Series game seven between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals on October 27, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Cardinals 11-0. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
  • Kansas City Royals’ fans run on the field iafter the Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in game seven of the World Series, Oct. 27, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won the game 11-0 and the World Series 4 games to 3.
  • George Brett #5 of the Kansas City Royals is doused with champagne by pitcher Joe Beckwith after winning Game Seven 11-0 to win the 1985 World Series on Oct. 27, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
  • New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry gestures number one from an open car as he and his wife Lisa, holding their son Darryl Jr., ride through a ticker tape parade in honor of the World Series Champions in lower Manhattan, Oct. 28, 1986. The Mets defeated the Boston Red Sox Monday in game seven of the World Series. 
  • Thousands of people line downtown Kansas City to greet the World Champions Kansas City Royals with a noon time ticker-tape parade on Oct. 28, 1985 in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals defeated the Cardinals in six games to capture the coveted baseball crown. 

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Two storied Major League Baseball franchises are vying to do something they haven’t done since the Reagan administration – win a World Series.

On Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets in one of the longest and action-packed Game 1’s in championship history. Their match-up should be one of the most competitive and improbable match-ups in baseball history.

This is the first time in the history of the sport that two expansion teams (the Mets were created in 1962, the Royals in 1969) have competed for baseball’s biggest prize, but these two pennant winners’ remarkable journey to the seven-game series is really what makes them both special. 

The last time the Royals won it was in 1985. But after decades of futility, the team’s patience with their farm system started to pay off, and the world took notice last year, when they pushed the closest thing to a dynasty in baseball – the San Francisco Giants – to seven games in the World Series. They became lovable underdogs to the casual baseball fan, but entered this season with the expectation that they would be poised to become champions.

So far they have not disappointed. The Royals were one of the most dominant teams in baseball during the regular season. And they proved their mettle once again in the playoffs, escaping a close series with the Houston Astros for a victory in the first round, and defeating the tireless Toronto Blue Jays to advance. As they entered their second World Series in a row, it was hard to not see them as the favorite. Certainly no one is scratching their head about their being there now.

The last time the Mets won the World Series was 1986. No one expected them to make it back to the World Series this year. It seemed like the team was doomed to be the butt of baseball jokes for yet another season (they hadn’t been to the post season in a decade). Sure, they had a top-flight pitching staff but their offense was one of the worst in the league, and yet somehow they hung in there.

Then during the trade deadline midseason, the Mets made a terrific acquisition – signing power-hitter Yoenis Cespedes, who gave the team the firepower they were lacking. Several other Mets hitters started to get hot at the right time, and suddenly the team’s former liability became a huge asset. Veteran Daniel Murphy turned into Reggie Jackson 2.0 in the playoffs, blasting a record six home runs in six straight games and helping the Mets power past the Los Angeles Dodgers and to a relatively shocking sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

Suddenly, the Mets’ famous slogan “You Gotta Believe” was starting to feel more authentic to the team’s Big Apple fan base.

Which team will finally be able to put an end to their decades-long losing drought? Stay tuned to find out.

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