World Series 2015

Well the World Series, the ultimate baseball classic traditional end of the season has come and gone, so quickly that if you blinked you may have missed it! The Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 4 games to 1, and it was just over Sunday….In almost every game, the Mets had the lead late in the game, but in every game except for one, the KC club staged a late inning comeback….They were relentless, aggressive and  stubbornly always refused to go down quietly….In the final game on Sunday, the Mets had a 2-0 lead going into the 9th inning, and all they needed were 3 more outs to extend the Series and force a game #6 back in KC…..But it was not to be….

As they did so many times, both in the playoffs leading up to the World Series and then the Series itself, the KC Royals would not be denied…They fought, clawed and scratched out a tie in their last at bat in the top of the 9th, extended the game into extra innings (for the 2nd time in this World Series) and eventually came out the winners, flying back home to KC triumphantly….In fact, the Royals set a record for most comeback wins in playoff and World Series history…..In 8 out of 11 of their post season victories, the Royals were able to overcome a deficit, including in all 4 World series games to win their first World series title since 1985….

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I have to admit, as a San Francisco Giant’s fan, I don’t like the KC Royals, because they gave us all kinds of trouble (and excitement) last year…. But we eventually beat them in the 7th game of the 2014 World Series thanks to a super human, MVP performance by our superstar ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner, whose incredible feat of pitching 5 scoreless innings in relief just two days after he had started and won his 2nd start in the Series earned him the MVP trophy in 2014……KC admitted that last year, they were just glad to be there, this year they wanted to win….

Injuries wracked the Giants roster this year and we did not even make the playoffs, but with everybody back and healthy we fully expect to be back in the World Series, possibly against these same Royals, but only time will tell…Actually the odds against being in 3 World Series in a row are prohibitive, most teams don’t even make it back the next year….The Giants have accomplished the remarkable feat of winning THREE World Series in 5 years, although they are all in the even numbered years, 2010, 2012, and 2014…But hey, next year is 2016, an even year so we will be expecting to be back on the grand stage and I, and all true Giants fans, fully expect us to emerge victorious again in 2016!….

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But this is the KC Royals time to enjoy their bitter, hard fought and well deserved victory…This year, 2015, they were clearly the better team over the New York Mets……The World Series itself is an incredible culmination of a long, long season; 162 full games, plus spring training, and it has been accurately described as a marathon, not a sprint…You have to keep after it each and every game, knowing you are going to win some and lose some…You just hope to win most of the 3 or 4 game series you play, have at least a .500 record on the road and a winning record at home….

But the KC Royals were a gritty, gutsy never say die team all year long, and they fully deserve to win this year’s trophy and being coronated as the World Series champions, the reigning elite team of all of baseball! They persevered against all odds, and they overcame those odds just by making it back to the World series, so my hat is off to them…Baseball is a grind of a game, and marks the summer months in a uniquely American way…. It defines and mirrors the American way of life in so many ways….

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Oct 31, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Fans of the Kansas City Royals cheer during game four of the World Series against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball rewards those who stick to it, who fight and battle their way through the inevitable slumps, the ups and downs of life just like us common Americans do…It has truly been said, baseball is a metaphor for America…As the Beatles said, in another context, it is a long and winding road and there are so many obstacles to overcome along the way….There are so many times you just want to throw up your hands and quit, so many times you have to fight back from both minor and major setbacks to just keep going, to keep plugging and grinding along, to overcome the obstacles and avoid the pitfalls of daily life, the temptations and adversity we all face each and every day….

And at least in baseball, your efforts are rewarded at the end of every season…True, for the rest of America, we have an even longer grind to achieve our goals, but we can celebrate life’s little triumphs along the way, and just by following baseball and identifying with the players we can share in the reflected glory of our home town teams winning, especially when they win the World Series…

There is nothing more exhilarating to a sports fan, especially a baseball fan, than to have your own home team, whom you have suffered and exulted with for a full 6 months out of every year, come out triumphant in the end….Because of the long season, there is a baseball game on almost every day of the season, and baseball has been the background and constant companion of all true baseball fans their entire lives…

I know, the flashier, more dramatic football season is on in full force, and football televises very well, but the specter of all those football head injuries, multiple concussions and growing public awareness of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, causing permanent brain damage are always lurking in the background whenever you watch a football game…It almost makes watching football a guilty pleasure these days, with the added knowledge of how these football players are sacrificing their long term health for their own and our, short term enjoyment…

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One of my youthful heroes, QB Jim Plunket, who played and excelled for the local college team Stanford and was later a San Francisco 49er and a two time Super Bowl winner with the Oakland Raiders was in the news the other day, revealing he had had EIGHTEEN operations because of his football career….This included replacement of both knees, replacement of a shoulder and numerous other grisly operations over the years…

And Jim Plunket was not one of those affected by multiple concussions syndrome, or CTE…He never complained, is currently a TV announcer for the Raiders organization and simply regards his multiple operations and battered body as a fair exchange for the thrill of excelling and having a long successful career in his chosen sport…

Baseball is a much cleaner sport, although concussions, especially suffered by catchers on foul balls, is becoming more of an issue here too…But for the most part, baseball is still a skill sport and little contact occurs among the players themselves…The emphasis is on skill and strategy, not brute force and physicality…Baseball is also the only sport an average sized person can play; you don’t have to be a hulking behemoth like football players or a glandular freakish giant like most basketball players to participate in the game, and hence it is easier for the common fan to identify with baseball players…

I think that baseball always has been and always will be the national past time because of all these reasons, the slow leisurely pace of the games, (baseball is still the only sport without a clock to regulate it) the slow but steady grind it out approach of the players and managers and coaches as they deal with day to day injuries and setbacks and the exciting reward of your home town team making the playoffs….

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And then the ultimate thrill of playing in and winning the World Series all make baseball the king of sports…So congratulations, Kansas City for overcoming all obstacles and going all the way to the top of the baseball world by winning the World Series! You earned it and are the Champions of baseball 2015!

For me, and millions of baseball fans like me, baseball will always be the true national past time, the quintessential American sport of all time! Long may it reign!

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

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