It was a high stakes game. Kansas City hadn’t seen postseason baseball since I was in kindergarten and watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe on television. Kauffman Stadium was filled to the brim with anxious Royal fans roaring to life after every pitch James Shields hurled in the first inning. It was one of those baseball games which reminded you why this game is so beautifully poetic. They say you can’t predict baseball, but I for one knew that the home field crowd in Kansas City would propel their team to victory over Oakland on Tuesday evening.
At first, I thought it was nice to be able to sit back and watch the AL Wild Card game without stress while I kicked back and waited for the Dodgers to begin the NLDS on Friday afternoon. Instead, I suddenly was pulled into the wild game and became emotionally invested somehow. Perhaps it was because my best friend moved to the Kansas City area around seven years ago, and she was watching the game along with nearly every other Kansas City native. Maybe it was all the Blue, maybe it was the fact that Oakland’s general manager went for broke earlier in the season and traded away Yoenis Cespedes, or maybe it was just the fact that rooting for the underdog is fun. The Dodgers should draw some inspiration from Kansas City’s epic comeback extra-inning win over Oakland in the Wild Card game. The
Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) celebrates with fans after defeating the Oakland Athletics in the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
lesson learned is that you may be down but not out until the final out is recorded. The Dodgers often have trouble coming back to score in later innings when they are behind. Even though Brandon Moss put Oakland ahead by four runs going into the eighth inning, the Royals weren’t about to pack it up. Even though things looked grim, Kansas City fans roared back to life and urged their team to keep fighting. Eventually the final knockout walk-off run came in the bottom of the twelfth inning, and Oakland looked like they had just been punched in the gut.
I want to see the Cardinals with the same look upon their face when the Dodgers defeat them in the NLDS. After watching the Red Birds embarrass the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS last year, the pain has yet to wane. Dodger fans, with all that pent up aggravation and hopes of retribution, will gather at Blue Heaven on Earth on Friday in order give their team a boost against St. Louis. The crowd is the 26th man, and Kansas City proved that home field advantage can be a real game changer especially in a one-game elimination.
One thing I’d like to note about the Kansas City win is that there was way too much bunting. Oh, the bunting. It was like a bunt fest. I have never seen an American League team bunt so much! Hopefully Don Mattingly will not draw inspiration from Ned Yost‘s use of the sacrifice bunt nearly every inning during the Wild Card game. Mattingly has actually been bunting much less than last season, yet I fear that his love for the bunt won’t be overlooked in the postseason. One thing I ask is not to call for the bunt when Dee Gordon is on base.
Many saw the Royals vs. A’s game as a battle between the Moneyballers and the small ballers. While I feel that I’m somewhere in the middle when it comes to sabermetrics loving statistic heavy strategy and the gristle and hustle of small ball, I can say that there is no stat that can quantify the joy Kansas City felt last night.
Missouri came out on top against the California team on Tuesday, but I want the So Cal team to be victorious against the other Missouri team on Friday. Dodger Stadium, dubbed the Magic Castle last season, is set to stage a glorious NLDS victory over the Cards on Friday and Saturday. All I ask is that the Dodgers channel a little bit of that Kansas City enchantment which encompassed Kauffman Stadium even if they find themselves trailing the Red Birds. I’m ready for some bat flips and bubbles.