Its hard to deny that the San Francisco Giants are an excellent baseball team. Some would call them an unstoppable dynasty. But as a cheerleader for the underdog, its hard not root for the Kansas City Royals. A team with the longest postseason drought in MLB history–in fact,in all of major North American pro sports–this is the Royal’s their first playoff appearance since 1985, and they’re trailing 3-2 in the World Series. Game 6 is back in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening. The Missouri and Kansas fans need a Royals triumph more than California needs water–this team lost 100 games in four different seasons from 2002-2006.
Here’s why the Royals can still win the last 2 games of the Series:
Bumgarner–Only A Maybe
How good a World Series pitcher is Bumgarner? The best of all-time, by one measure: Among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings in World Series play, Bumgarner has the lowest ERA at 0.29. The good news for Kansas City: Bumgarner, who threw nine innings of shutout ball Sunday night, is not scheduled to start in Tuesday’s Game 6 or Wednesday’s Game 7, if it’s necessary. Bumgarner has said he’s available to pitch in relief. So the Royals better smack around the starters: Jake Peavy Tuesday, and Tim Hudson Wednesday if it gets to that. Or if they see Bumgarner, they need to pray that he’s tired.
Ghosts of ’85
Since Kansas City won its last title in 1985, on nine different occasions a team returned home for a World Series Game 6 trailing 3-2, and needing to win two straight to close things out. Seven out of those nine teams accomplished that tough task. The Roylas can rely on their history for inspiration. In 1985, the team was three outs away from being eliminated in Game 6. But with the help of umpire Don Denkinger, the Royals rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat St. Louis 2-1. Riding that momentum, the Royals smacked St. Louis 11-0 in the deciding Game 7. If Kansas City can win tonight, history is on its side for Game 7: Since 1985, no home team has won a Game 6 in a World Series to force a deciding Game 7, and then lost Game 7.
Listen to the chicken
Kansas City fans, take comfort: In lampooning the trend of animals predicting sporting events, late night talk show host Conan O’Brien has introduced Chikpea, the World Series Predicting Chicken. The low-budget chicken puppet uses sabermetrics to make her selections, and last week Chikpea correctly picked Kansas City to wins Games 2 and 3. On Monday night, Chikpea returned to Conan and said that the Roylas would win Game 6, too.