There is a difference between Greatness and Destiny. And while there are times when being one or the other cannot be denied, being one does not mandate being the other. Thus it is with the Kansas City Royals. They beat the A's because they are a team of Destiny. The A's certainly added to that by being a team still in free fall. They steamrolled the Angels and the Orioles because they are a team of Destiny. The Angels and Orioles did their parts to help, but Destiny was far more a factor than Scioscia or Showalter. Kansas City is a team of Destiny. They are good. But they are not Great.
One of the lingering stains cast often upon the Angels' 2014 season was that they got into the playoffs by beating up on the downtrodden, while doing nothing special against the very good. So, when confronted by the very good, of course they got beat. It was smoke and mirrors anyway. And, in truth, there is good evidence to support this. The Angels were 21 and 5 against the Twins and Rangers. 33 and 12 when you add Houston. 48 and 17 when you add Red Sox/White Sox/Indians. Toss in the Interleague AAA games and they were 60 and 25. That means they were only 33 and 44 against teams that meant anything significant.
But, you know, the Royals are not so different. The Royals finished 2014 at 89 wins. Not too bad, except for the fact that they are in a very weak division. Still, 9 games behind the Angels. KC "pummeled" exactly three AL teams. Against the White Sox, Rangers and A's they were a combined 23 and 9 and their 7 games against the A's were in the second half when the A's were tanking. The Royals had a winning record against only 5 other AL teams: Orioles/Twins/Yankees/Rays/Jays, and not overwhelmingly so in any case. 3 game advantage over the Twins, 2 games over the Rays, and 1 game against the other 3. 27 and 19 in all. They did really well against AAA: 15 and 5. (They played the NL West, and went 3-0 against the Giants.)
My point, though, is that the same stain can be cast upon the Royals. Against 2014 contenders such as LAA, Seattle, and Detroit, they went 11 and 21. The Royals aren't rolling because they are Great. Dayton Moore is not one of the Greats. The Royals are not baseball's future. The Royals are just rolling through Destiny right now. Like broken clocks, it's finally their time. Good for them. But they are not going to go 162-0 in 2015.
In 2015, Destiny will shine on somebody. Maybe the Royals again. Maybe the Giants. Again and again. Or, even more maybe, maybe the Angels.
- KohnClusion: Well, that ends that. After the Halos DFA'd Michael Kohn back on September 2, they then granted him total free agency 6 days later. Any of you who might have been hoping to have him back in Spring Training so that you can practice your Star Trek references will be disappointed to learn that Kohn signed with the Rays yesterday, adding to the seeds that the LAA farm system keeps spreading throughout the rest of baseball.
- WWJ(H)D: Josh Hamilton nose tweak of the week. Hambone BEFORE he decided that fans suck.
- Spring!: Forget about all this distracting Giants/Cardinals/Royals noise, the Angels have released their tentative Spring Training schedule for next year.
This Date In Baseball History: 1960 - New York and Houston are voted National League expansion franchises, something that hasn't happened for more than 50 years. The New York lobbying effort is led by attorney William A. Shea...........1964 - After winning 99 games in the regular season, and then taking the Cardinals to 7 games before finally losing the World Series, the Yankees fire manager Yogi Berra. Meanwhile, Cardinal manager Johnny Keane, who was on the hot seat earlier in the year (they were 11 games back and in 4th place as late as August 23rd) and then managed the Cards to that WS title over the Yankees, submits his letter of resignation in order to take that newly vacated Yankee position..........1971 - The Pirates complete their surprising upset of the powerhouse Orioles and take Game 7 of the World Series. In this game Roberto Clemente homers in the 4th inning to extend his WS consecutive game hitting streak to 14 games. But AFTER the game Prates Bruce Kison (the groom) and Bob Moose (the best man), shed their champagne drenched clothes, hop a helicopter from the stadium to the airport, and then jump into a Learjet for a fast dash back to Pittsburgh. Kison will end up being a half hour late to his won wedding, but now he has a ring!...........1979 - Willie Stargell goes 3 for 4 with another home run, as the "We Are Family" Pirates once again defeat the Orioles..........1985 - Billy Martin, having been hired to manage the Yankees 4 separate times, is fired once again..........1987 - The first indoor World Series game is played in Minneapolis, with the Twins defeating the Cardinals 11-1..............1989 - Just prior to the start of Game 1 of the World Series between the Giants and the A's, a major earthquake rocks the San Francisco area. This was the worst earthquake in America since 1906...........2002 - The legal suit brought by friends of the dude who snagged Barry Bonds' 73rd home run, against that very dude, is settled...........2005 - In Game 5 of the NLCS, the Cards trail the Astros 1 game to 3, and by a score of 2 - 4 entering the 9th inning. the crowd in Houston is going apeshit. With 2 outs, and a count 1 ball and 2 strikes, David Eckstein(!) shoots a grounder through the left side of the infield to reach 1st base. Then Jim Edmonds(!!) walks. And on the 2nd pitch, the very next batter strokes a 3-run home run to deep left field to drive in 3 runs and send the Cards on to a 5-4 come from behind victory. The batter? Albert Pujols(!!!).
- A Giant Swing: After Cardinals manager Mike Matheny denied America of the chance to see one of those precocious and sneaky Grand Slam home runs by Peter Bourjos (sending in Oscar Taveras to knock a feable grounder back to the pitcher for the final out in the top of the 9th), Travis Ishikawa stepped up in the bottom of the 9th and crushed the hearts of The Best Fans In Baseball (tweet of the night right here) with a three-run, walk-off, NL pennant winning, trip-to-the-World-Series granting home run. Next time, Matheny, trust in the gritty miracle. Take my word for it...........But, yeah, the Giants defeated the Cards 6-3 in Game 5 to go to win the National League Pennant.............One of those troubling things that happens throughout the institution that is the MSM is the hagiography that follows the victors. Thus, we have World Series bound Giants a team built to take on all obstacles...........
- World Series: So here is your World Series Schedule. There is less than 2 weeks left to real baseball.
- Wacha Wacha Wacha: Poor Michael Wacha. Less than 12 months apart he has been the losing hurler for the Cardinals, ending their seasons both times. last year he was brilliant for his first 4 outings. As a 22-year old, he ripped through pittsbugh, the Dodgers, and his first start against the Red Sox throwing 27 innings and achieving an ERA of exactly 1.00. He had given up 11 hits and 8 walks against 28 strikeouts and was blazing. And he was then sent out in Game 6 of the World Seris with the Cards down 2 games to 3, and finally dumped. he never made it out of the 4th inning. It was an unfortunate turn in a pressure cooker situation for an amazing pitcher who had been incredibly successful up to that point...This year, Wacha was simply abused by his own skipper. We know all about Scioscia and Josh Hamilton, but Mike Matheny's decisions concerning Wacha may be the best candidate for usurping Sosh as King of Playoff Second-Guessing targets in all of the 2014 playoffs.
- Here We Go: This year there are quite a few stat returns concerning the idea of teams getting rest or not, going into the playoffs. The numbers reveal that there is nothing to it all. But people swimming in this particular ocean have a different opinion of the water temperature. Ned Yost: "The way it has all unfolded, I think this was a case where being a wild card ended up working to our advantage. That win over Oakland in the wild-card game showed our guys that they could win (in the postseason). If we didn't win that game in the fashion we won it, I'm not so sure we would have gone on and swept the next two series." And Bruce Bochy: "There's probably something about having to play that wild-card game. You know there's no lull in your play and there's no drop in your guard. You're not taking time off."
- Small Market Blues: It's a very old conversation, that small market teams are at a systemic disadvantage. It's true, of course. Over the past decade or some smaller-market teams have, on occasion, risen above the financial disadvantages of geographical happenstance. But eventually the larger teams figure out what the new magic might be and re-assert themselves. The Dodgers bringing in Andrew Freidman is triggering a new fear, that being rich AND being smart will be lethal to the chances of the Kansas Citys and the Oaklands and the Tampas. How Baseball is Still Unfair to Small Markets, Despite Small Market Success is one example. "Baseball is unfair for small market teams, but that doesn’t mean small market teams can’t win. At least for now. What about the next era? What happens when the big market teams decide to get smart? This isn’t a new concept. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, adopting similar strategies that the Oakland Athletics used with a much smaller budget. Theo Epstein left Boston to take over with the Chicago Cubs, and they’re now a huge threat in the NL Central — a team that built up some of the best young hitting prospects in baseball, with tons of money to buy a great pitching staff to pair with that group."
- Science Wins, Bitches: One of the cool things I tripped across this week while hunting for fresh news concerning playoff teams was this tidbit on Pacific Bell Park, and how they worked to minimize the notorious wind problems in San Francisco. I especially like the part where form came first, then science demonstrates that function suffers, so form took its proper place in the back seat. "White tested two proposed Pac Bell Park designs. He found that the design favored by the architects--one that opened on the city and allowed retail and restaurants to face the China Basin waterfront--would have been twice as windy for fans than 3Com Park. He recommended the alternative design--with the stadium rotated 90 degrees and the stands facing the Bay Bridge--which he found will have wind levels that are approximately half those at 3Com Park. That recommended design is now under construction and scheduled to be open in April." Yeah. You know. Thank you Mr. Architect for making something so pretty. oh, what? It would be WORSE than what we are fleeing??
Here is an idea for all you folks wondering what to do with your idle time and idle hands this coming winter: start whittling your baseball bats and hope you get as good as this guy..........So the Kansas City city council took time off from their day jobs to rename "Baltimore Ave." to "Royals Ave." for the duration of the ALCS. It happens. But is this the new mid-western precedent? What now does Hutchinson, Kansas do about "Frisco St."??..........You can get your first look at the use of the pitch clock experiment in the AFL...........A.J. Pierzynski: down to his final days, and still playing like an asshat...........I have never been to Wrigley, so I never sat in the bleachers and watched a game. And now I will never get to. Whatever they put back as new bleachers will not be the same thing............The threatening success of Tim Bogar as interim manager of the Rangers was not enough, so the Rangers hired the Pirates bench coach. What's a Bogar to do now? All the dude did was take that craptastrophe and go 14 and 8.............Hang around long enough, and Mike Scioscia might finally be right about Mike Napoli............
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Saturday: Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest carries on..........Best Damn SourFest IV shall be found at Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego..........Single, Fresh, Wet & Wild Harvest Festival at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico............Stone Tap Takeover Part III at Draughts Restaurant & Bar in Thousand Oaks...........Zombie Brew Crawl, kinda all over Martinez, CA..............Downtown Burbank OktoBURfest in Burbank............California Beer & Wine Festival in Yuba City...........Mountain Harvest Micro-Brew Tasting at Plumas/Sierra Fairgrounds in Quincy............Fall Beer Festival at Los Angeles Center Studios, 5th St.............Craft Beer Festival at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.............Santa Barbara Beer Festival at Ellins Park in SB.
Sunday: Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest carries on..........