Tuesday night the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals played an American League Wild Card game that will go down in history as legendary. A back and forth contest where any time one team looked to gain the advantage the other came back to retaliate. Or more appropriately, the Royals kept coming back and just would not die. This isn’t an article going into mass detail about the game, breaking it down point by point. This isn’t even one going over the main points. We all know about the bad decision manager Ned Yost made in the 6th inning, bringing in rookie Yordano Ventura out of the pen rather than a lefty or just going to ‘old reliable’, Kelvin Herrera. We all know about the bunting, oh the bunting! You know it’s a good game when I don’t even have issue with 3/4 of the sacrifice bunts that were laid down. There is the A’s outfielders colliding on a ball hit by Eric Hosmer in the 12th inning and the subsequent squibbler hit by Christian Colon to score him. It’s not even about Salvador Perez, coming off of a plate appearance where he swung at three pitches low and outside that weren’t even in the vicinity of the strike zone, who came through with the clutchest(new word) of hits to win the game and advance the Royals to the American League Divisional Series. No, this column is simple; this team defies logic, no matter how many times I try to make sense of their winning.
This is a team that plays like it’s 1982, where power hitting isn’t as important as speed or doing the little things. The Royals are all about pitching, defense, speed and some timely hits. Screw plate discipline, hitting for extra bases or taking walks. This team plays like a team of a bygone era, when bunting was a weapon and game winning RBI’s were on the back of your baseball cards. If you are a stat guy(or gal) in any way, this team frustrates the hell out of you. Take a few pitches? Nope, too busy trying to make contact. Drive a ball into the gap? Sorry, we need to move a runner over into scoring position and take one for the team. For anyone that believes that “numbers don’t lie”, this team is your worst nightmare.
The thing is, at this point I don’t care. The Royals are winning and moving on in the playoffs. That is all I care about at the moment. It might be bowling shoe ugly at times, but who cares? This Royals team knows how to play one way and that way is helping them not get eliminated. This club, built by GM Dayton Moore, is not a team I would have put together. But it’s working. Logic tells us this team shouldn’t even have gotten to the playoffs. The last Wild Card team to make the playoffs with less than 90 wins was all the way back in 1996; this year both the Royals and A’s made it below that number. So everything that has happened so far this season has seemed to be off-base, so why would that change now? It’s almost like recently this Royals team woke up one day, realized what their weaknesses are and said ” You know what? Let’s play to our strengths.”
So bring on the Angels. Let’s find out just how far this team can take things. Tuesday’s game had so many twists and turns that I felt like a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. If playoff baseball means I spend the entirety of every game on pins and needles, then I’m all for it. We’ve waited 29 years to be in this moment and something as minor as the ups and downs of a close game isn’t going to scare us away. This Royals team has spent the majority of this season winning in spite of their flaws, so they might as well continue on the path they have worn. I’ve spent years just saying I wanted the Royals in the playoffs; well it is here and in all of it’s nailbiting glory. Thank you, Kansas City. Let’s win 11 more games!