I predicted not too long ago that the World Series this year was going to be contested solely in Los Angeles, with the Dodgers and the Angels fighting it out. I look pretty foolish now, eh? The Dodgers have a shot, they’re playing tonight to attempt to survive against St. Louis, but that Angels pick really looks bad now. How could a team with so much talent and star-power lose to a group of no-names from a midsize Midwestern market? From an irrational and emotional standpoint, I wish that I knew.
After analyzing it though, the Royals just beat the Angels in every facet of the game, starting with pitching. The Angels were completely shut down, specifically the team’s biggest stars. Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout went a combined 3-37 in the series, with Josh Hamilton going completely without a hit in fact. Albert Pujols is a future Hall of Famer and Mike Trout is (arguably) the best player in the game today and this season’s AL MVP, yet they were atrocious in three embarrassing games against the Kansas City Royals. Instead of focusing on the shortcomings of LA for a moment, let’s give some much-deserved credit to the Royals. They defeated the Oakland A’s in a game for the ages, easily one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. The swept the best team in baseball (by record, anyway), the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). The team has finally found the long ball (at least Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have) and they can apparently outrun any other team in the league. They are not perfect, and many of Ned Yost’s managerial decisions are questionable at best, but this is a team that has what it takes to make a serious run here and October, a fact that we’ve already gotten to witness.
It’s not a surefire thing that Kansas City will be in the World Series, however. Don’t look now, but the Baltimore Orioles have been on fire too. The beat the Detroit Tigers in a three game sweep, taking advantage in all aspects of the game (and making the Tigers bullpen look even worse than they normally do). Considering how entertaining the two of these teams have been, and the fact that we’re likely to see either the Giants or Cardinals in the World Series as the NL representative again, this is the ultimate post-season series this year in my opinion. I’d rather see these two young and exciting squads than those damn red birds or the Giants again. The basis behind this, as I previously mentioned, is that these teams are exciting, and to go along with it, they’re fresh. It shows overall parity in MLB. I’m really excited for this series, something I rarely a say about a series between teams that aren’t my own.
The future for the teams that aren’t still in the playoffs (or may not be for much longer) is brighter for some more than others, both in terms of teams and individuals. For the Angels, they’ll be fine, they will be back and will continue to contend with their current roster. Manager Mike Sciossia however, well, he may be looking for employment soon. He’s a man who is resting on the laurels of a successful run from over 10 years ago who is deserving of a great deal of criticism. Yes, players need to play well obviously, but there have been many signs of bad managing for years and I’d say this should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. For the Dodgers, who may be ousted tonight, they will be back next year, mark my words. This team is fine, they just started to slump at an inopportune time. They still have a the best pitcher in the game, they have a good core offense, they’re going to be fine (even if Puig is being Puig). Oh, and Detroit? They need a bullpen. Badly.
Baseball can be boring, I get it. I love the game and I think it can be dull too. And frankly, unless the Dodgers win two in a row and make a run at the World Series, I couldn’t care less about the National League right now because it’s just more of the same. In the American League though, this is postseason baseball, this is entertainment. New faces, new styles of play, unpredictability (at least from Ned Yost), pure entertainment. Sports is the greatest form of drama because it is purely unscripted, and that couldn’t be more evident after watching Baltimore and Kansas City this season. Here’s to a great October (because frankly, the sport needs one).