The World’s Series preview

Royals vs. Giants

There are many, many very fine previews that focus on the numbers, important statistics, and anecdotes driven by data analysis.  This is not one of them.

Offense

Royals: Their lineup includes Mike Moustakas, who is not good, unless his bat somehow magically strikes the sphere (.655 slugging in the playoffs, whatever that means), which will make that ball travel very, very far; Salvador Pérez (hitting a sweet .118 in the playoffs); and designated “hitter” Billy Butler, who can’t.  This team is bunts, Big Billy turning larcenous, and crazy game-winning hits that missed being caught by a fraction of an inch.  How in the Sam Hill they got this far amazes me.

Giants: These lads can swing the switch.  And then there’s Hunter Pence, who does something that is not exactly “hitting” but is really very fun to watch.

Pitching:

Royals: The Royals are led by “Big Game” James Shields, who has a 5.19 ERA in 9 career playoff starts, all of them presumably big games.

Giants: The Giants ace is Madison “MadBum” Bumgarner, who is very, very good, has a great pickoff move, completed 6 whole games in his career (plus one in 10 playoff starts), and has a horrible, horrible nickname.

Both teams have terrific bull pens — Kansas City’s is better — but much like a lover with an unsightly boil, it is impolite to speak of such things in public.

Defense:

Kansas City’s players have accumulated 5.8 dWAR, according to baseball-reference, a site that charged me way too much money to continue sponsoring my own page.  The Giants, meanwhile, are at -2.4.  What does that mean?  I am but a simple man; such things are beyond my ken.  But I suggest you use this information to sound like you know more than you do.  If you are convincing, there is a career in the scribal arts in your future.  The same is true, alas, if you aren’t.

Managers:

Kansas City: Ned Yost, Phoenix Rebirth Edition, is fun to watch primarily because he has so many people scratching their heads.  Where did this guy come from, they wonder, while secretly hoping he will double-switch an ice cream vendor into the game and lose the DH. Fun fact: he once worked as a taxidermist.

San Francisco: You will hear a lot — and I mean a lot — about Bruce Bochy being a genius-level playoff manager.  He’s the Joe Maddon of the National League.  I’m not sure if this is an indictment of the need for sportswriters to say anything to fill the blessed silence for a few moments or a simple dearth of people in base ball who make relatively rational decisions based on relatively easy-to-gather information and not the rumblings of their intestines.  Fun fact: he has a sizable cranium.

History:

Kansas City: 1985. That is about it.

San Francisco: Now in danger of being referred to as a dynasty after winning the World’s Series twice since 2010.  This is a very liberal use of the word dynasty.  More importantly, this is America, the land of merit, hard work, and individual accomplishment.  There is no place for dynasties here.

Know your host city

Kansas City: A running theme throughout this World’s Series will be “did you know that Kansas City isn’t in Kansas?”  Ah, America, where geographical ignorance is assumed, normative, and to be celebrated.

The truth of the matter, of course, is that Kansas City does not exist.  It’s been entirely made up by elitist sportswriters from the coasts who have no desire to actually visit the flat crap in the middle of the country.  All of that succulent barbecue you hear about?  Arby’s.  Let’s face facts: sportswriters are not epicureans.  Trust not their opinion of good cuisine.

San Francisco: A wonderful city full of goodwill and eudaimonia.

Fun Player to Watch:

Kansas City: Former top prospect Eric Hosmer has had scouts drooling and making fantastic predictions for years.  He has lived up to none of it.  Until now.  He’s hitting .448 in the playoffs and slugging 1.314.  “Small sample size!” the surly mathematicians will shout from their subterranean lairs, and they are right.  But who cares?  I hope this vision of potential past continues for a few more games.

San Francisco: I like watching Hunter Pence bat.  It looks bizarre and fun things happen.  Base ball is best when it is weird.

Prediction:

My parents fled the tyranny of the Queen of England in the 19th century.  I hate all royals.  And yet this Kansas City (I’ll keep up the pretense that this place exists) team is a great deal of fun, even though their skipper removes his starters faster than a burlesque dancer sheds garments.  When evaluating my pick you must remember that 1) I am rooting for which outcome would be the most fun 2) that I believe in a flat earth, phrenology, and the power of the bunt double and 3) I have a history of making poor choices.  Royals in 7.