The moment of truth has arrived: Game One of the 2014 World Series will be played Tuesday evening in Kansas City, and the only thing we can guarantee is that very little will go as planned.
The Kansas City Royals are 8-0 this postseason, from the No. 4 seed in the American League playoffs. Their opponent — the San Francisco Giants, aiming for their third World Series title in five years — came from the No. 5 slot in the National League playoffs, losing just two games in 10 on the way here. This is the first time in the history of the Fall Classic neither team managed to win even 90 games in the regular season.
Thanks to the AL victory in the All-Star Game this summer, the Royals have home-field advantage and will host Games One, Two, Six and Seven (the last two if necessary). Of course, Kansas City would have had this home-field advantage anyway, if MLB did such things the right way: the Royals won 89 games this year, one more than the Giants. Kansas City also swept the season series between the two teams, winning all three games by a combined 16-6 score.
But literally none of this matters, as we’ve seen this postseason. The Giants and the Royals got here by playing better baseball than better teams, and now it’s up to the fates to decide who will be remembered as the 2014 champion.
5 Reasons the Royals Will Win the Series
1. The Royals’ defense is the best in baseball, and it’s hard to string together lucky hits against those gloves — especially in an outfield anchored by Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain.
2. The Royals’ bullpen is the best in baseball, so if you’re behind after six innings, it’s goodnight to you, sir. Kevin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland are the new Nasty Boys.
3. The Royals don’t know how to lose right now, because they haven’t yet — they win any which way they can.
4. The Royals have home-field advantage, and some of the best baseball fans in the nation are in Kansas City.
5. The Royals don’t know they’re not to supposed to win, so the moment will not be too big for them.
5 Reasons the Giants Will Win the Series
1. The Giants have a former National League MVP in the heart of their lineup. And even if Buster Posey is not that good any more, he’s still the best hitter in the Series.
2. The Giants have the best starting pitcher in the Series, and Madison Bumgarner could get three starts if needed.
3. The Giants have been here before, and the organization hasn’t lost a postseason series since 2003.
4. The Giants seem to always beat teams they’re not supposed to in the playoffs, so why should that stop now?
5. The Giants are chasing history, trying to become one of the rare franchises to win three World Series in a five-year span. Only the New York Yankees (three times) and the Philadelphia Phillies/Oakland Athletics (twice) have done better.
And the Winner Is …
It’s hard to pick against the Royals, because they’ve been on a roll. And thanks to the Giants winning the NL Championship Series in five games, both teams have relatively equal rust in terms of an almost-week-long layoff from live baseball. What happened to the 2007 Colorado Rockies and the 2012 Detroit Tigers will not happen to Kansas City.
The Giants have been here before, and the Royals have not. But that “inexperience” didn’t hurt San Francisco in 2010 when they won the Series, and it shouldn’t hurt Kansas City in this Series. The Royals have the better pitching and the better defense — plus home-field advantage.
Kansas City will complete its miracle season by winning the Fall Classic in six games.