Saturday, October 24, 2015

Kansas City Special: TWTW's 2015 World Series Preview

Danville, Kentucky -- Many people long desperately to return to a Golden Age; a simpler time, when Neil Diamond was on the radio, before grunge music, before NAFTA, when B. Sanders was just a kid from Wichita who knew how to break tackles and not a Leninist from Vermont. At least once in a man's life, the opportunity to revisit the glory days of old presents itself. For me, these opportunities have been few and far between. My life has been one of separation and severance; I've never known the catharsis of finally getting a second chance with the one that got away. I've been unemployed, stood up at an Olive Garden, and kicked in teeth by the forces of globalization repeatedly. Yet it wasn't always like this.

For one magical night, I could relive the best days of my life. I remember the rush of discovering a letter in the mail: You are cordially invited to the Danville High class of '72 reunion. It wasn't really a reunion for me, because I never really left Danville, and Danville never really left me. The shadow of the past clung to me like an overly-attendant waitress, topping off a drink when it's still three-quarters full. With an excited nervousness I hadn't felt since the salad days of the Big Red Machine, I slammed back half a handle of Kentucky Deluxe, put on my nicest attire, and drove to Danville High.

World Series 2015: New York Mets v. Kansas City Royals

Folks, the Royals are about to have a reunion that's nearly as magical as my own. A reunion with the World Series. By now we are familiar with the basic plot-line; a 2014 team that struggled out of the gate - a team that nerds said should fold and sell assets like James Shields at the trade deadline. A team of Cinderella men that ran the table with the American League until stranding the tying run 90 feet away from home plate in game 7 of the World Series. A team nerds said would win 72 games the following season, who defied the projections and spreadsheets of the fangraphs crowd. A team who proved in the ALCS that a championship-caliber baseball team is more than a collection of egos acquired at the deadline. A team that isn't just happy to be in the World Series, but expected to be.

Yet, the Royals now face their stiffest challenge yet. The New York Mets, who are having a season almost as magical. A team with a rotation that boasts Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey, all aces of Bumgarner-quality or better. A team with veterans like Curtis Granderson who are hungry for one more shot at a ring.

A team that has Yoenis Cespedes, the NL's one-true-MVP and phenom talent, who hits dingers to the moon and has an arm more explosive than the Volcano Taco.

A team with Daniel Murphy, post-season hero, who destroys baseballs like radical leftists want to destroy him for not being afraid to challenge their politically-correct anti-Christian worldview.

A team with Bartolo Colon.

By now the ending should be obvious. If the Royals went the distance but fell short à la Rocky I in 2014, 2015 is when Apollo Creed is defeated and champagne popped. It's time to stop doubting the Royals. This is a team that can't be killed, that never quits, that will hit infield singles and sacrifice flies until the enemy relents. Not to mention, the boys in blue have momentum and history on their side.

I understand that the Mets rotation has a better xFIP and that their hitters have higher ISOs, but too many intangibles are breaking in the Royals favor. Omar Infante will be on the sidelines cheering them on, willing the Royals to victory.

The Mets have Seinfeld in their corner, but Fetty Wap has endorsed the Royals. The nicest man in the game will be pulling for Johnny Cueto from afar:
Dixon handed Cueto an iPhone with a FaceTime request. On the other end was Brayan Pena, Cueto’s former catcher in Cincinnati. Cueto thumped his fist across his heart as he spoke to his friend. He had shown this city — and shown a baseball industry that doubted him — what he could do. (source: nerd-face McCullough
The entire Mets roster and fanbase will be distracted and humiliated; seething with rage over the disloyalty of Mrs. Met and the cuckolding of Mr. Met.
Then there's Alex Rios. The man waited his time. Then, he waited some more as his hope of an October with the playoffs seemed as illusory as Linus' hope of the Great Pumpkin. Sometimes hope can transform reality. Alex Rios didn't listen to the naysayers that said you shouldn't even be playing, and he didn't listen to Fangraphs when they said nobody steals on David Price. Alex Rios is too busy winning to listen to losers.

Ned Yost can't be discounted either. Yost has learned his lesson after game 6 of the World Series. Normally a brilliant bullpen tactician, Yost foolishly had his closer pitch the 8th inning. Going forward I'd expect Ned to let Madson keep pitching the 8th and Wade Davis to handle the 9th.

All these factors lead me to confidently predict a Kansas City Royals World Series victory in 5 games. It will be a reunion to remember, and a restoration of the franchise to glory it hasn't known since 1985, when Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan proudly presided over the zenith of Western civilization thus far.


Not all reunions can be as sweet as Kansas City's reunion with glory is about to be. My own reunion was hardly the escape to the glory days I wished it would be. When I walked into my old high-school gymnasium, onto the basketball courts where I used to school youngbloods with a reckless youthful abandon, I was disappointed. Instead of supporting a time-honored local business like Chili's or Dairy Queen, Danville High's class of '72 reunion was catered by Chipotle, which meant "Non-GMO" signs and other liberal propaganda all around -- but Queso nowhere to be found.

Danville High's stud second baseman, who had reliably scooped up ground balls for me during my no-hitter days, was working part time at a five-and-dime. Our power-hitting left fielder was between jobs and living with his parents again. My classmates seemed utterly uninterested in entertaining my yarns about no-hitters. How had the passage of what felt like only a few years turned myself and the other cool kids into has-beens? Aggravating the situation was the fact that the dungeons-and-dragons crowd had found nice jobs, a comfortable middle-class existence, and nicer cars than me. The woman that 17 year old Will Hart gave his heart to, and put a ring on, was at the reunion, under the arm of some twerp she met at art school. It wasn't the Danville High I remembered.

Drunk and in a bewildered state of despair, I made one last appeal to the woman I had once called my high school sweetheart. I told her I could change, that I was on the cusp of breaking into baseball again. Any day now, I would land a job with the Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds thanks to a friend-of-a-friend. She said she was married, as her eyes began to dart around the room, looking for the turtle-neck wearing nerd that she drug along to the reunion.

"This isn't right. You were supposed to run away to the West Coast with me - not settle down in some liberal condominium in Louisville with a visual-arts graduate student," I said, fighting back tears.

"Will, I loved you. I really did. But the seventies are over. I moved on. We can't go back," she softly spoke. With that statement I knew that the dream of Nixon was truly dead.