Thanks to the new Fox program Gotham and other hit fall shows, there’s been plenty to watch on TV in recent weeks. Perhaps the best drama of all however has come from the unscripted. Great sports makes for great entertainment. Athletic events were reality TV before reality TV existed. This year’s fall classic has been just that; a classic.
Fittingly the 2014 World Series will come down to a seventh and deciding game. It makes sense. In a series that has featured Mr. Momentum changing addresses from Frisco to KC and then back and forth once again, nothing short of a winner-take-all scenario would suffice.
The words “Game Seven” are a sports fan’s dream. Whether baseball, basketball, or hockey, the magnitude of a final game for all the marbles carries weight like nothing else. In the World Series it’s even more special. Thousands of MLB games are played over the course of the year and now the championship rests on just one contest. That’s drama at it’s highest.
“Anything can happen” in a Game Seven has certainly become a cliché, but at this point anything can happen. With Halloween almost here, the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals have fit right in by playing an eerily evenly-matched six games. The final go-around will serve as a finale that, at least for baseball junkies, is just as anticipated as the last episode of The Sopranos.
So how close has this series been so far? A quick glance at the numbers shows us it can’t get much closer. So far the Giants have scored 27 runs to 25 for the Royals. San Francisco has narrowly out-hit Kansas City 58-51. Total bases are a tie at 76 apiece. Uncanny. Imagine if the Game 6 blowout didn’t happen?
While these teams are even this season and in this best of seven, their recent history is far from equal. While the Giants look for their third world title in five years, the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985, the year they won their last and only World Series crown.
Perhaps home field will play a role. No team has won a World Series Game Seven on the road since the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates topped the Orioles in Baltimore in 1979. But the Giants have thrived on the road in recent years. The Royals won one more game than the Giants in the regular season and San Francisco lost two more than KC in the postseason. But now it all rides on a single game.
In football, officials flip a coin before kickoff to determine possession. You might as well flip a coin before this game to see who will prevail. It’s that close. No one will lose this series. One club will simply run out of outs.
Tonight, Tim Hudson will try to give old guys a good name when the 39-year-old gets the ball for Bruce Bochy’s squad. Ned Yost counters with Jeremy Guthrie. Both men have a chance to make history, positively or negatively.
Both pitchers play on a short leash, however. Thanks to the Game Six rout, both clubs have their powerful bullpens at full strength and ready to roll. Along with the stud relievers these teams feature, usual starting pitchers will be available too. There’s no tomorrow. All hands on deck.
For the Giants that list of arms includes Madison Bumgarner. The NLCS MVP and potential World Series MVP has been remarkable. He’s 2-0 in the series, including a complete game shutout in Game 5. His lifetime World Series ERA is a startling 0.29. If the 25-year-old can go, you can be sure Bochy will use him if he needs to.
In a series that has featured only five home runs, there’s been no lack of excitement. From personal storylines to magnificent pitching to superb defense, the Giants and Royals have answered the bell. After a regular season that was ho-hum for much of it, these playoffs have been about as good as it gets.
As we all learned in Bull Durham, baseball is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. The Giants and Royals excel in all three categories. Tonight, one club will reap the rewards for their efforts while the other will fall excruciatingly just short. Either way it’s must see TV. Play ball.