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