CHARLOTTE, NC, October 17, 2014 – Cinderella is going back to the ball after a 29 year absence.
Not that there haven’t been other “Cinderella” teams since 1985, the last time Royals were in the World Series, but Kansas City is special for a number of reasons.
IF, and it’s a big “if”, the World Series can take sports lovers’ minds off of football in the early games, the Kansas City Royals will probably capture the hearts of America.
Baseball experts say the two things you cannot teach are power and speed. Since, Kansas City doesn’t have any power and they play in a big park, they must beat you with speed — and pitching and defense. In the diamond world, that is exciting.
So far in the postseason, Kansas City has had 14 infield hits. The nine other teams playing in October also had 14 infield hits…combined.
Why does that make the game more exciting?
To begin, opposing pitchers must concentrate on runners as well as hitters. That opens up the game for more defensive possibilities as well unexpected physical or mental errors.
Next, infielders cannot play back and let ground balls come to them with the threat of a bunt or a runner stealing a base.
Third, outfielders must always be on guard for runners taking an extra base on a hit. That can lead to wild throws, plays at the plate or diving for fly balls to keep runners from advancing.
Though the Royals are young, they play the game at a veteran’s level, and their youthful spirit carries over to their attitude on the field.
One old adage says that “aerodynamically it is impossible for a bumblebee to fly because it defies the scientific protocols. Since the bumblebee doesn’t know it isn’t supposed to fly, it just goes ahead and does it anyway.”
The Kansas City Royals are the bumblebees of baseball. They do not believe in losing. In their four game sweep over Baltimore, the total margin of difference was a mere six runs.
In the last two games against the Orioles, Kansas City scored four runs, two in each game. They won both contests, but NONE of their four runs scored as the result of a hit. The Royals used a sacrifice fly, a ground out and a fielder’s choice to win their way into the Series.
Even Jason Kendall, who has the reputation as the “grumpiest man in baseball” was quoted as saying “it was pretty (bleeping) cool.”
Kansas City is a small market team which means they cannot compete with the big boys when it comes to paying salaries.
That translates to developing players who are largely “unknown” until they reach free agency age when they are able to sell their services to the big market teams.
But youth is a wonderful thing, because the Royals have players who compete for the love of the game as much as they do for their paychecks. When it all comes together it shows, and this year in Kansas City, it all came together.
For years the Royals lived in the shadow of the New York Yankees. Many called the team them the Yankees’ triple-A franchise in major league uniforms because the Royals would develop the talent and when they were ready for prime time, New York would buy them.
This year is different, and that’s part of the fun.
Baseball critics say the game is too slow. There is truth to that statement, but not in Kansas City.
Truthfully, a major league baseball game is frequently shorter than an NFL game. Rarely does a pro football game finish in the three hours allotted by television.
When speed, defense and pitching are part of the action in baseball, it is just as compelling as it was back in the day.
Add in the fact that right now baseball is nothing but pure sport at a time when football is battling domestic abuse and concussion controversies. Baseball, for the moment at least, is about what is happening on the field.
Stir in ebola, ISIS and a multitude of Washington scandals, and the grand old game has temporarily brought us back to the future of a more innocent day thanks to the Kansas City Royals.
The Royals National League opponents, the San Francisco Giants, play baseball in much the same manner as Kansas City.
This year’s World Series will not feature big name magic, but the games should be fun to watch.
And after 29 years, Cinderella may just get that glass slipper back.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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