I am a very dedicated baseball fan. Besides being a long time Cub’s fan, I always watch the playoffs even if the Cubs may be years away from returning. But this year in the playoffs, we have seen that there are no longer dominating teams. You cannot predict via the records of the teams who will be the finalist.
But I will say that one key that many people believe is that good pitching can stop good hitting and the Royals and Giants who made it to the World Series this year is a very good example of this – the Royals had the least amount of home runs hit this year although they are hitting home runs in the playoffs and the Giants also are not known as a high powered hitting team.
No one, absolutely no one would have predicted the Royals were ready to return to the World Series after 29 years and that they would have swept everyone in the playoffs. They won a lot of games by one run but it does matter if you win a game by one run or 10 runs, one run is enough.
The Royals’ keys to success has been their speed – defense – and back end relievers who were untouchable plus each game it seemed another player was the hitting star. The Royals are truly a team effort as other than in their bullpen, they don’t have a superstar dominating hitter.
All the Royals manager needed to do is get a lead in their game, bring in his defense and 3 top relievers and this is how they made it to the World Series. Will this work against the Giants, a team very much like in the series? We will see.
Now the Giants on the other hand, just as they did in 2010 and 2012 when they won the World Series, did not come into the playoffs with the best record but probably because they have this experience as many of their players were on the 2012 team, plus doing the same as the Royals, winning with small ball, not power hitting – with good pitching and clutch hitting, good defense as well, they make it back to the World Series easily beating the Pirates, the Nationals and the Cardinals convincingly.
Also their star pitcher Baumgarner, an 18 game winner during the season has been unhittable. It will be interesting if the Giant Manager decides to go with him 3 times during the series as they use to do with teams 30-40 years ago. Again we find if we study the Giants wins in the playoffs that they had a different player be a hero in each victory.
Now if we compare the Royals and the Giants, the key for who will become the champion is if the Royals can hold the lead late and their starting pitchers do well, then the amazing relief of the Royals will win the game whereas the Giants if they can take the lead early the Royals don’t have the hitting to catch up. Another phenomena that we see in this year’s playoff is that finally good young players, that teams who have struggled in the past such as the Nationals, the Orioles and the Royals, that these young players are beginning to mature and pay off.
In the old day we would always see the Yankees and the Dodgers making it to the World Series or like has happened now in the National League with the Cardinal and Giants, but it is good for baseball fans everywhere to see different teams make it into the playoff and series. If we scan the records of the teams finishing the 2014 game season, no one team was truly dominate.
People have really followed this world series with more interest and the playoffs because these teams with the younger players is moving forward. No doubt with the great interest around the game, this will encourage more young kids playing baseball to dream of reaching the major leagues and going for a career in baseball.
Each playoff bound team had its strengths and weaknesses. Recently I had a chance to speak with Willie Aikens, who played for the Royals in the 1980 World Series which they lost and to other Royal Players, Hal McRae and Jeff Montgomery (one of the Royals broadcasters now) how much the fans in KC want to see a successful team and have been waiting but been very loyal. It is such a good thing for baseball to see finally one of the smaller markets teams do well.
There is no doubt the game of baseball will never die not only here in the U.S. but they are creating professional baseball teams in many other countries as well. And this year’s playoffs are showing that you don’t have to have a lot of money to create a championship team. The baseball team which has a harmony amongst their players and play like a team can see success. Leagues can have top quality baseball supplies and a variety of choices/colors (ie different types of baseball cleats).
Anyway we will know soon enough which of the wild-card teams to make the playoffs take the championship this year. And then as we look at the 2015, there is no telling who might be the next “Royals”, “National” or “Orioles” team to emerge. Maybe we see the Seattle Mariners return who missed the playoffs by one game this year.