Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Royals have won the World Series

This will likely be the last post that appears on this blog, which I created in 2007 just before the start of the Royals' first full season with Dayton Moore as GM. I had to stop regular postings after moving to China, but I've always followed the team from afar, from arguing the Myers-Shields trade (can we call it the Davis-Odorizzi trade now?) to whispering in the spring of 2013 about how good that team could be.

But this good? No. Not ever had I imagined that, because the 2015 Royals are literally unimaginable. If I were blogging regularly, I'm not sure I could conjure enough words to describe this team game after game, after every new inventive way of winning. Maybe I'll just keep it simple then (something I wish this current version of me could go back in time to tell former me): the Kansas City Royals are World Series champions. The city is about to shut down for a championship parade, and I wish I were there.

I want to leave you with a question. But first, I need to set up that question with a bit of context. You already know all that follows, but let's call this for posterity's sake --

The Royals won the World Series for the first time in 30 years. They did it by winning against a team with the presumptive American League Cy Young winner, against a team with the highest run differential in baseball, and against a team with four starters with sub-3 ERAs and a closer who had not blown a save since July 30.

That Cy Young winner? Knocked around for 3 earned runs in one inning in a series-clinching game. That invincible team? Beat them so bad in Game 4 that they called on a position player to pitch, the first time that's happened since Babe Ruth. That closer who hadn't blown a save since July 30? He blew THREE saves in one week against the Royals.

The Royals won games after being shut out for eight innings, won in which their win probability dipped as low as 25%, 18%, 16%, 10%, 8%, and 1%, and won by holding a one-run lead in the 9th with a runner on third and no outs.

They won that do-or-die Game 4 in Houston after trailing by four runs with six outs to go. (However many years later, that victory will not seem less miraculous.) They won in 14 innings, tied for longest game in World Series history by innings. They won in 12 innings after scoring five runs in the top of the 12th, the most ever in an extra-inning World Series game.

They won while scoring 40 runs -- FORTY -- in the 8th inning or later this postseason, while no other team had more than 5. This feat will not be duplicated. They won seven times after trailing by multiple runs. Seven! This will not be duplicated. They won three times in the World Series after trailing in the 8th inning or later. That's never happened before, and is unlikely to happen again.

They won when a tie-breaking run was scored from FIRST BASE on a SINGLE. One year after the tying run was stranded 90 feet away in Game 7 of the World Series, they won after a 90-feet mad dash that was equal parts daring and outlandish. They won when a player who had not recorded an at-bat all playoffs -- whose last RBI came 41 days prior -- drove in the game-winner.

Little League coaches will tell their players to have fun like the Royals. Baseball executives will emulate Dayton Moore's team-building philosophy. Baseball analysts will conduct exhaustive studies on the flaws of their projection systems. National baseball writers will run out of words. And a generation of fans in Kansas City will never forget the names Gordon, Davis, Hosmer, Cain, Escobar, Perez, Volquez, Zobrist, Hochevar, Jirschele, Kuntz, Yost...

So, my question:

Is it possible that for the rest of our baseball-rooting lives, however hard we root, it will never get better than this past month when we rooted for THIS team?

(And how are we supposed to feel about that?)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In Dayton We Trust: Vindicated

This blog was created nine years ago. Here's what happened tonight:

-- Johnny Cueto pitched eight innings of two-run ball, retiring the final 19 straight batters. He was acquired in a midseason trade.

-- Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales, signed in the offseason, were supposedly downgrades from the free agents the Royals lost. Alex Rios hit a two-run double in the 5th to bring the Royals back from a 2-1 deficit. Morales hit a three-run home run in the 8th.

-- Ben Zobrist, who is an all-around fantastic baseball player and made a great grab to begin the 7th, was obtained after Cueto in a trade.

-- Wade Davis, as we know, came to KC with James Shields in The Trade.

All of these players factored into tonight's Game 5 win. How do we like Dayton Moore now?

Let's go Royals. Onward.

p.s. Also see this story by Rany Jazayerli:

Having finally embraced analytics these last few years, Moore’s strengths in other departments that are far harder to teach are now shining through. In a world where every team has a general understanding of analytics, themarginal benefit of being a trailblazer has shrunk, increasing the importance of traditional skills like scouting and player development. That plays into Moore’s strengths perfectly.
All of this has made the 2015 season a delightful, delicious, dizzying experience. It’s been difficult coming to terms with the reality that Dayton Moore is an excellent general manager, but no more difficult than coming to terms with the reality that the Royals won the pennant last season, or that this season they really are the best team in the American League.