Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Final Curtain

A Postseason that's been sublime will go the distance, as the Royals and Giants will seal the final chapter on the 2014 Baseball Season with Game 7 of the World Series tonight. The Royals, who returned home to their madhouse of fans in Kansas City needing to win to force a 7th Game, ensured that this would take place rather early in the game, bombarding Jake Peavy for 7 runs in the 2nd inning on their way to a convincing 10-0 victory.

This was a much-needed breakout for the Royals, who hadn't scored a run since the 3rd inning of Game 4 on Saturday night. That night, the Giants put together multiple middle-inning rallies and eventually overwhelmed the Royals, and on Sunday night, the Royals were little more than a minor irritant for Madison Bumgarner, who basically just swatted them aside, throwing a complete game, 5-0 shutout to put the Giants one win away from a World Series Championship.

In fact, take each game of this series individually and it hasn't exactly been the world's most exciting series. The first two games resulted in blowouts. Game 3 on Friday night in San Francisco was, to this point, the only close game of the series as the Royals used some timely hitting and their bullpen, surprise surprise, to eke out a 3-2 victory. Game 4 was wild early until the Giants pulled away late and Game 5 was all Bumgarner. And last night, Yordano Ventura pulled a reverse-Bumgarner, throwing 7 shutout innings at the Giants while his offense exploded for an avalanche of runs.

But consider this World Series, which is indeed going the 7-game distance along with this Postseason as a whole and it's easy to overlook that this series has, at times, lacked in excitement. Perhaps it's excitement enough that it's the World Series. Certainly, that must be true if you're a fan of the Royals or the Giants. Consider the preamble to the World Series—it's been one of the best Postseasons that I can remember as far as pure drama from game-to-game. After the way both LCS's played out, one-sided series with fiercely competitive games, it's hard not to simply be locked into this World Series just to see what happens next.

It hasn't exactly been a by-the-book series. These postseasons are so long now that players who got hot during the Division Series have now cooled off, and new hot hitters have emerged in their place. Players like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, who were on a roll in the ALDS, have been supplanted by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain as the hot hand (though Moustakas did hit his first Home Run of the series last night). For the Giants, it's been someone lesser like Brandon Crawford getting the job done. But that's usually how it works in the Postseason.

And so, it all comes down to one final game tonight, the breathless, frenetic energy that is Game 7 of the World Series. Conventional wisdom and strategy is often eschewed in favor of survival of the fittest. The starting pitchers for the game, Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie, could be considered simply ceremonial—if things don't go well for either of them, the hook will be quick—and anyone could come in, and probably will.

One thing's certain. After tonight's game comes to a close, the next time we worry about live Baseball Games will involve the Mets sometime in Late February of 2015.

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