This season has been an absolute roller coaster. The 2014 Kansas City Royals have rapidly oscillated between mediocre, awful, and amazing, with seemingly no warning. From the meh points of April to the low of May and pre All-Star break July to the fantastic run from August till now, the Royals have broken hearts, reconstructed them, and shattered them again and again.
Fortunately, that all ends tonight. Unfortunately, that all ends tonight.
Perspective is a fascinating thing, as it can completely change whether or not an event is viewed in a positive light. On opening day, if you would say that the Royals would close the season with a World Series Game 7 loss at home, we would have all taken that happily. At the All-Star break, the same question could be asked with the same response. Before the amazing Wild Card game a month ago, you could ask the same question and gotten the same response: 'that's amazing; I'll take it.'
Now, though, at the cusp of the most important game in a generation, something is different. We want to win. We want that trophy. And that totally makes sense; after all, we very much live in the moment, and it's pretty difficult to remove ourselves from that situation and see what's really happening. We want to take the crown.
Tonight, Jeremy Guthrie starts for the Royals and Tim Hudson starts for the Giants, although that's pretty much a technicality. At first sign of trouble, they'll get pulled for the excellent bullpen arms each posseses. For the visiting Giants, Yusmeiro Petit, Jeremy Affeldt, and Madison Bumgarner will be ready. Bumgarner represents an interesting case, as just three days ago he threw a 117-pitch complete game. On two days of rest, his options are limited, but he could enshrine himself as a World Series legend with a Giants victory powered by 3-4 innings of masterful work. For the home team Royals, the law firm/cyborgs of Herrera, Davis, and Holland are all plenty rested, able to pitch for 5 combined innings if necessary. Holland could nab a playoff record with 8 saves if he saves tonight's game. No matter the lead, Holland will be the guy on the mound if the Royals are ahead in the ninth.
On the batting front, Hunter Pence is still hot, and so is Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain. One could hypothetically see any of those three win the MVP with a sufficient performance tonight. The Royals probably don't have another 7-run inning in them, if only because Bruce Bochy will pull out all the stops to prevent that from happening. The Giants are on equal footing with the Royals now.
Let's take a step back, though.
Even if the Royals get blown out, even if they lose a heartbreaker, and even if they lose something in-between, this Royals team has accomplished what few ball clubs ever do. This season is worth celebrating regardless of the outcome. I'm ecstatic that we've gotten this opportunity, and I hope, with all my feeble human heart and mind, that the Royals win this and make it a season for the ages. But it's a fantastic, unbelievable journey that we'll all cherish no matter the outcome.
This insane season is coming to a close, and there isn't much left to say. The Royals have defied description, and they probably won't stop now.