Royals in the World Series!!??
The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series for the first time since 1985. I don’t know if that has sunk in for a lot of people, particularly in Kansas City, where I’m sure tens of thousands have a massive hangover this morning.
The Royals completed their four-game sweep of the Orioles in the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. It’s the first time the Royals have ever swept a best-of-seven postseason series, and the first time the Orioles have ever been swept in any postseason affair, whether it be best-of-five or best-of-seven.
Today marks the 29th anniversary of the Royals clinching the 1985 ALCS in Toronto. Kansas City lost the first two games of that series in Canada and were down 3-1, but Dick Howser’s crew won game five at home thanks to Charlie Leibrandt’s shutout, then went back to Toronto’s frigid Exhibition Stadium and won the last two games.
As for the 2014 Royals, Tuesday was a very special anniversary for first base coach Rusty Kuntz.
October 14, 1984 was the day the Detroit Tigers clinched the World Series by defeating the San Diego Padres in game five. Kuntz was a reserve outfielder on that powerful Tigers team, which household names Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon and Kirk Gibson in the everyday lineup, plus a mighty pitching staff led by ace Jack Morris and shutdown closer Willie Hernandez, who came over from Philadelphia and won the 1984 American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.
I remember that 1984 Tigers team well. I recall Jack Morris throwing a no-hitter on the first Sautrday of April vs. the White Sox at old Comiskey Park. I remember the 35-5 start Detroit enjoyed and the fact they were never seriously threatened. The Tigers easily swept the Royals in three straight in the ALCS, then had little trouble with the Padres in the World Series. Had it not been for a three-run pinch hit home run by San Diego’s Kurt Bevacqua in game two, Detroit would have swept the Padres.
In the clinching game of the Series, San Diego trailed 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Gibson came to the plate with two on and two out. Padres manager Dick Williams ordered one of the great relievers of all-time, Goose Gossage, to intentionally walk Gibson. Gossgae told Williams no, that he wanted to pitch to Gibson.
Big mistake. Gibson crushed a Gossage fastball deep into the right field upper deck, and the TIgers had their first Series championship since 1968.
Unfortunately, Detroit fans did not know how to react to their first championship in 16 years. In the worst rioting in the Motor City since the 1967 civil rights riots, tens of millions of dollars of damage was undertaken by a bunch of thugs.