For the first time since a fateful and deflating cold evening in October, 2014, the Kansas City Royals baseball club will face the San Francisco Giants baseball club. The ending of 2014 World Series Game Seven was truly epic. Down one run with two outs, Alex Gordon hit a pitch from he-who-must-not-be-named, a single that turned into a double and then a triple due to a series of defensive blunders. With the tying run on third base, Salvador Perez swung at a collection of fastballs at should level before popping out to Pablo Sandoval.
I wrote about the game that night. I was deeply aware that my game recap would have been read by tens of thousands of fans after a win, but also equally aware that the recap would be extremely painful if they lost. The Royals lost. I wrote this in the comments:
But part of the reason I’m so unhappy is because I think this is the high point of the next decade or so of Royals baseball. This team is getting old. There are zero impact position players in the pipeline until 2016 at the earliest. Gordon’s getting older. Moustakas is, realistically, a bust. No Shields next year but still saddled with the inflated contracts of Guthrie, Vargas, Infante, and Davis. Second and third order wins suggest this season benefited from quite a bit of luck.
I see this more as a brief burst of brilliance than a beginning of consistent winning. That, more than the loss, makes me think that the Royals just missed immortality. Like the Tigers, the Rangers, and the Rays before them, the Royals have missed their chance, and baseball has moved on.
Of course, the Royals won the 2015 World Series. In a way, that validated the 2014 season as a delicious appetizer to the main prize. But we didn’t know that—how could we? It was totally conceivable that the Royals just scraped against the ceiling and lost their only chance.
The Giants coming back here transports me to that place, and its nostalgia is thick enough to cut with a Joe Buck-sized knife. Thanks to 2015 though, it no longer stings, and exists as an extension of the Third Golden Age of the Royals.
Jason(xander) Hammel(ton) starts. Whit Merrifield returns, and starts in right field.
Matt Cain starts. Cain had a perfect game in 2012, one of 24* perfect games in Major League Baseball history. Cain has pitched only 249.2 innings over the last four seasons with a 5.12 ERA. Cain is only 32. Baseball is weird.
*Heck yes I count Armando Galarraga’s 28-out perfect game with the Detroit Tigers, and you should too. Jim Joyce should be ashamed to this day.
Anyway, let’s hope the Royals win the game they should have two and a half years ago.