Monday, October 26, 2015

2015 World Series notes/oddities

By Rick Morris

^ We lead with one of the strangest items ever found for one of these features.  Exactly half of Kansas City’s four pennants have now come from dispatching Toronto.  Two other AL teams are 2-0 lifetime against other teams in the ALCS; Baltimore beat Minnesota in 1969-70 and New York beat Seattle in 2000-01 – thus, the Royals are the only other team to manage the feat in non-consecutive years.  Both teams are 1-1 in the World Series in this spot; the Orioles famously lost the 1969 World Series (to these very Mets!) and won in 1970 and the Yankees won the Subway Series (over these very Mets!), while losing the epic of ’01.  So the Mets, strangely, have factored into both of these scenarios before.  And the Royals cannot be very encouraged, as both of the teams to notch a 2-0 ALCS record over an opponent split their World Series and Kansas City, of course, followed up their comeback from being down 3-1 in the 1985 ALCS with the same feat in that “I-70 World Series.”

^ Here’s another extremely weird note.  When the Royals won the 1985 World Series, they were culminating a decade-long era of success that faded quickly in part due to the tragic loss of their beloved manager Dick Howser.  The Mets won their second and most recent World Series the next year, opening their short window of contention that ended with an NL Championship Series appearance in 1988.  This World Series marks only the second time ever that teams who won the championship 29 and 30 years ago are matched up: 1962 World Series pitted the 1932 World Champion Yankees and 1933 World Champion Giants.  The Yankees won the ’62 clash in seven games.  The 2009 World Series came close to this distinction, pitting the 1980 World Champion Phillies against the 1978 World Champion Yankees – a matchup of teams who had won exactly 29 and 31 years ago.

^ As has been widely noted, this is the first World Series ever contested between two teams who both hail from baseball’s expansion era, which dates back to 1961.  What hasn’t been as widely noted is how long the odds were against this development happening: while the Yankees were the only “old school” franchise in the American League playoffs, the Mets were the only “new school” franchise in the National League playoffs.  Literally any other team in the NL field would have precluded this development.

^ There’s not a tremendous amount of historical connection between the cities of Kansas City and New York in the sports arena, especially given that there is none at all in the NHL and almost none of note in the NBA.  In the AFL, the Chiefs did capture their only Super Bowl, #IV, by taking out the defending champion Jets in the divisional playoffs, so there’s that.  In baseball, the connection comes in two significant ways: the Kansas City A’s famously serving as the “farm team” for the 1950s New York Yankees by way of numerous lopsided trades and the 1976-80 playoff rivalry between the Royals and the Yankees.  New York won their battles in the AL Championship Series from 1976-78, before succumbing in 1980 when the Royals took home their first-ever pennant.

^ With all the recent hoopla about the anticipation circa 1985 with Back to the Future about the Cubs winning the World Series this year, it’s worth noting that the Royals’ window was obviously still open that year and the Mets were in the midst of a three- year progression from respectability to greatness, earning 90, 98 and 108 wins, respectively, from 1984-86.  So anyone coming forward to the future from 1985 would be completely unsurprised to see these franchises battling for a world championship and could be forgiven for their confusion upon hearing of the many lean years since for both of them.

^ The last team to lose the World Series and return the next year was the Texas Rangers and they dropped their second consecutive clash in 2011.  It’s a fairly rare feat in the modern era; you’d have to go back to the 1991-92 Atlanta Braves to find another team trying to climb the hill in the second try and they, too, failed (against the same Toronto Blue Jays that Kansas City just beat).  Before that, the 1988-89 Oakland A’s saw successive World Series appearances with the first one being unsuccessful; in the famous “Bay Area Earthquake” World Series, they did win on the second try.

^ There have been several World Series appearances in the last decade featuring teams with little or no previous such experience (Astros, Rockies, Rays, Rangers).  But the combined tally of a scant nine pennants between the Royals and Mets is the lowest since 2008, when Philadelphia’s seven league championships represented the only such history present in their matchup with Tampa Bay.

^ This is only the third World Series ever contested between teams from the AL Central and the NL East.  With the Braves and Marlins having won over the Indians in 1995 and 1997, the NL East is 2-0 in these meetings.


No comments: