Comparing the 1985 and 2015 Kansas City Royals

9 11 2015

How do the 2015 World Series champions stack up with the 1985 Kansas City Royals?

During the World Series, I compared these Royals to the 1986 Red Sox, who also took a 2-0 Series lead but eventually lost to the Mets in seven games. The Royals won most comparisons to the ’86 Red Sox. Then, after Game Four, I compared this year’s Mets to the 1985 Royals, who fell behind St. Louis 3-1 before roaring back to win. Royals won that comparison, too.

The Royals will win this one as well, but which Royals?

I didn’t do the other comparisons in identical ways, and I won’t do this one either. The first comparison was based on some research because I truly didn’t know (and had a travel day and some insomnia induced by drugs used in my stem-cell harvest to give me a little time for that research). The second comparison was shorter (but still long), based on less research. Each of those started with a position-by-position comparison, but my son Mike covered that well in yesterday’s guest post.

This comparison will be based mostly on memory, supplemented by quick research.

Superstars: ’85

Advantage ’85 (for now). This year’s team doesn’t have a superstar of George Brett‘s caliber. Brett had one of the best years of his Hall of Fame career, leading the league in slugging and OPS and finishing second (to Don Mattingly) in the MVP award. Brett won the award in 1980 and is still the only Royal to win it.

Returning to ’85, Brett was the MVP of the Royals’ comeback win over the Blue Jays in the ’85 ALCS and hit .370 in the World Series with just 1 RBI because the Cardinals (like most of the American League) refused to pitch to Brett with men on base (he drew four World Series walks).

No one on the ’15 Royals will finish second or even very high in this season’s MVP race. But as the current players blossom (and if the best stick around), I expect Royals’ fans 30 years from now to include at least one of this year’s players in their best-Royal-ever debates. But Brett wins all those debates now and for at least the next decade. It would take a run of multiple MVP awards for one of the current Royals to catch Brett faster than that.

Depth of quality: ’15

The 2015 Royals blow ’85 away with the depth of their greatness. Brett will be the only ’85 Royal ever to make the Hall of Fame. I’ll write later about the chances of these Royals to reach the Hall of Fame. Just within the seasons in question, maybe six or seven of the ’15 Royals had better seasons than whoever was the second-best position player for the ’85 Royals. The quality depth of this team is illustrated in the next comparison.

Batting lineup: ’15

Comparing the Game One World Series lineup for the ’15 Royals to the Game Seven ALCS lineup for the ’85 Royals (since they couldn’t use DH’s in the World Series):

  1.  Alcides Escobar had a great post-season and somehow worked in the leadoff spot, despite a low on-base percentage (.293). But Lonnie Smith of ’85 gets the advantage, with more runs and stolen bases (despite playing only 120 games for the Royals) and getting a .321 OBP. ’85 wins.
  2. Hard to compare their regular-season performances, since Willie Wilson played the whole year for the Royals and Ben Zobrist was a late-July trade. But Wilson’s 21 regular season triples and 43 stolen bases give him the advantage, plus he hit better in the World Series. ’85 wins.
  3. Lorenzo Cain had a good season and post-season, but George Brett wins most comparisons, including this one. ’85 wins.
  4. Eric Hosmer is at the top of his game (or rising). Hal McRae was on the decline. ’15 wins.
  5. Kendrys Morales drove in 106 regular-season runs, including 46 RBI with two outs, and added four homers and 10 RBI in the post-season. Pat Sheridan, the ALCS Game Seven starter, platooned with Darryl Motley, and together they didn’t approach Morales’ offensive production. ’15 wins.
  6. Steve Balboni had his best season in ’85 with 36 homers and 88 RBI, but he also led the league with 166 strikeouts. Mike Moustakas gets the edge on better overall hitting and better post-season hitting. ’15 wins.
  7. Salvador Pérez is a feared hitter in the 7 spot, better in every offensive aspect than Jim Sundberg, except for drawing walks. ’15 wins.
  8. Frank White moved up to the clean-up slot for the World Series, because he had more power than the right fielders and catcher and didn’t strike out as much as Bonesy. He wouldn’t even be close in this matchup at clean-up, and he’s only close at No. 8 because an injury limited Alex Gordon to 104 regular-season games. Gordon had better season offensive averages across the board and a game-tying ninth-inning homer in the World Series. ’15 wins.
  9. Even with Buddy Biancalana‘s strong World Series performance, Álex Ríos was a far superior hitter, though this wasn’t his best season. Here’s a comparison: That Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter that David Letterman had fun with the year Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hits record stopped at 113 hits in Buddy’s six-year career. Ríos has had 11 seasons with more hits than Biancalana’s whole career. ’15 wins.

The batting lineup comparison really illustrates the strength of the ’15 Royals. The ’85 Royals win the top of the order (where the ’15 Royals were solid), but the ’15 Royals were just relentless and far superior 4-9. “Keep the line moving” was not just a slogan. It was the offense that resulted in all the comebacks.

The ’85 Royals had a huge offensive weakness (Biancalana), a platoon combos that was average at best (Motley/Sheridan), a declining DH (McRae) and a feast-or-famine player (Balboni). The ’15 Royals didn’t have anyone as dangerous as Brett, but were dangerous whoever was hitting.

Starting pitching: ’85

This isn’t even close, either in context of the full season or the World Series. The ’15 Royals didn’t have that year’s Cy Young Award winner and the ’15 Series MVP didn’t come from the pitching staff. Bret Saberhagen won both and went on to the best pitching career of any Royal starter ever.

Add a Danny Jackson complete-game win and two strong outings (but no wins) from Charlie Leibrandt, and this was a dominant starting rotation. Bud Black pitched well, losing in his only start. Mark Gubicza, won more games in the regular season than any of this year’s Royals, 14, added a key Game Six win in the ALCS over Toronto and didn’t even pitch in the World Series. He could have been a Game One starter for the 2015 Royals.

Johnny Cueto‘s Game Three gem was the only win by a ’15 starting pitcher (and he was inconsistent during the regular and post-season). No other Royal starter pitched in the seventh inning. The ’85 Royals pitched three complete games (Sabes twice and Jackson once). And Charlie Leibrandt took a scoreless game into the eighth inning before losing the lead in Game Six and came within a strike of a 2-0 shutout in Game Two before losing in the ninth, 4-2. Jackson also pitched seven innings of two-run ball in a Game One loss. With the exception of Game Four, when Black gave up three runs in five innings, every ’85 start was better than the non-Cueto starts of ’15.

I’m not saying the ’15 Royals didn’t have good starting pitching. They kept teams in the game and pitched the six strong innings (sometimes five) that the Royals needed. But the comparison of starting pitchers was not even close.

Bullpen: ’15

Here’s how good the ’15 Royals’ bullpen was: The ’85 Royals had a guy who outpitched three Hall of Fame relievers in their overlapping primes. And the ’15 bullpen was even better.

Dan Quisenberry‘s dominance as a closer from 1980 to ’85 was one of the best stretches ever from any reliever in baseball history. In fact, Hall of Fame relievers Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage were in their primes for some or all of that stretch and Quiz was the very best of that time. And I’m not counting Dennis Eckersley, who hadn’t moved to the bullpen yet.

But Quiz was nearly at the end of his run, and Manager Dick Howser was losing confidence in his bullpen ace against left-handers. He didn’t turn to Quiz in the ninth inning of Game Two because left-handed hitter Andy Van Slyke was on the Cardinals’ bench and Howser had lost confidence in Quiz against left-handers. As I recounted earlier, Howser outmanaged Bobby Cox in ALCS Games Six and Seven, starting right-handers Gubicza and Saberhagen, then relieving with left-handed starters (the ’85 Royals had no left-handed relievers), so that Cox would pinch-hit his right-handed DH Cliff Johnson, removing left-handed Al Oliver from the games, so he couldn’t bat late against Quiz.

Ned Yost had full confidence in his bullpen in any situation. Wade Davis hasn’t had a full season as closer yet, but his two seasons and post-seasons in the eighth inning role before moving to closer late this season were as dominant as Quiz at his best.

Greg Holland was a dominant closer last year and good this year before an injury ended his season (he had Tommy John surgery). And without him, this bullpen continued to close out games strong, with Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson pitching strong. And Game Four starter Chris Young split time between starting and relieving, and won the 14-inning Game One marathon.

Even with Quiz, the bullpen comparison isn’t close, and the ’85 bullpen was otherwise forgettable: Joe Beckwith was the only other regular-season reliever other than Quiz who even pitched in the World Series. I already mentioned how the lack of a left-hander forced Howser to use starters in relief in the ALCS..

I haven’t done the research to prove that the ’15 Royals had the best bullpen ever. I fondly remember many bullpens with Mariano Rivera in the closer role and even the season he set up for John Wetteland. But I doubt any other bullpen was as dominant in a World Series. The Mets outscored the Royals 18-12 in the first seven innings, but the Royals prevailed 9-0 in the eighth and ninth innings and 6-0 in extra innings.

Offense has to do the coming back, but bullpens make comebacks possible, and the ’15 Royals’ bullpen didn’t allow comebacks.

Comebacks: even

Both Royal teams refused to die (sometimes you use a cliché because it just applies better than an original phrase). The Blue Jays and Cardinals both had the ’85 Royals down 2-0 and 3-1, and they just kept coming back. The Astros, Blue Jays and Mets all had the ’15 Royals down by multiple runs in multiple games, and they just kept coming back. Need a run in the ninth to keep Game One going? Gordon obliges. Need two in the ninth to keep Game Five going? Cain and Hosmer deliver. Think you have the Series wrapped up? Watch out for Balboni and Dane Iorg.

Call this a push: Two of the best comeback teams ever.

Power: ’15

Brett and Balboni gave the ’85 Royals two guys how hit more than 30 homers playing their home games in a big ballpark, and their team had more homers, 154-139. But the ’15 Royals slugged better (.412 to .401) and drove in more runs, (689 to 657). In the post-season, the ’15 Royals had 17 homers in 16 games, compared to nine in 14 games for ’85. Slight power advantage for ’15.

Defense: ’15

White may have been better than any 2015 Royal defensively. But I think six of the current Royals are better than the second-best ’85 defender. Sundberg was past his Gold Glove prime. Brett won his only Gold Glove that year and Wilson won only one, before moving from left field to center. I think Perez, Gordon, Hosmer (already multiple Gold Glove winners), Escobar, Cain and Moustakas were all better defenders in ’15 than anyone but White in ’85. Since Sundberg won his Gold Gloves for the Rangers, I think the ’15 version will surpass ’85 in career Gold Gloves for the Royals this year, with many more in their future. Clear edge for ’15.

Speed: ’15

I think Escobar and Cain were probably as fast as Wilson and Smith, but the ’15 team doesn’t steal bases as much (perhaps because Ned Yost bunts too much). I loved Mike’s line yesterday about Jorge Orta‘s speed from home to first. But I have to give the edge to ’15 here for multiple reasons:

  • Cain’s race home from first on a single to win the ALCS.
  • Escobar’s lead-off inside-the-park homer to get the World Series rolling.
  • The ’85 team didn’t have a pinch-runner as good as Jarrod Dyson.
  • Hosmer’s ninth-inning dash home on a ground ball to send Game Five of the World Series into extra innings.

The ’85 team might have a slight edge on actual speed, but the ’15 team used base-running more to win the World Series.

Memorable moments: ’15

Each of these World Series will be remembered and savored by Royal fans until death or dementia. For ’85 fans, the memory of the ninth-inning comeback in Game Six is the memory fans will always cherish. (I’m not counting memories of opponents, such as the ugly Game Seven meltdowns of the Cardinal pitchers and manager.)

We remember the celebration, too: Brett heading to the mound with two outs in the ninth inning of an 11-0 blowout to tell young Saberhagen that he’d better run toward third base after the last out, then Brett embracing Bret after Motley squeezed the final out.

As vivid as the Game Six comeback remains, the ’15 Royals provided more moments (in the World Series alone) with potential to last as long in Kansas City memories:

  • Gordon’s game-tying ninth-inning homer to send Game One into extra innings.
  • Hosmer’s 14-inning sacrifice fly to end that game.
  • The eighth-inning comeback, two-inning save and game-ending double play to win Game Four.
  • Hosmer’s dash home to tie Game Five.
  • Maybe the five-run 11th inning to win Game Five had too many highlights for any of them to stand out as iconically.

Of course, ’15 has a huge advantage over ’85 where memories are concerned. Those memories are all fresh and we don’t know which will endure. But I can’t imagine memories of Gordon’s homer or Hosmer’s dash home fading.

Managing: ’15

Mike covered this well. Both are excellent managers, but sometimes frustrating (what manager isn’t frustrating?). I give Yost the edge here for bringing his team back from last year’s Game Seven heartbreak to a dominant regular season and an 11-5 post-season against tough competition.

Front office: ’15

I agree with Mike that Dayton Moore‘s achievement in putting this team together through player development, trades and free agent signings has been masterful. John Schuerholz was good, but not this good.

Context: ’15

The ’85 championship capped a decade of disappointments and improvements: three ALCS losses to the Yankees in the 1970s, then finally beating the Yankees in 1980 only to lose to the Phillies in the World Series, then post-season sweeps by the A’s in ’81 and Tigers in ’84 before the championship season in ’85.

We don’t know the context of the ’15 championship. If the Royals return to years of mediocrity (which I doubt), I’ll amend this someday. But back-to-back World Series (and losing in seven games) are achievements the Royals of the 1970s and ’80s didn’t match. I give ’15 the edge here.


The ’85 team was great and fun to watch. But I have to say this year’s team is even better. I hope we don’t have to wait until 2045 to make this a three-way comparison.

Goggles: Who wins?

Final comparison: I don’t know whether this reflects toughness or preparation, but the 1985 Royals didn’t need (toughness) or use (prep) goggles to protect their eyes from champagne:

Bottom line: Both teams celebrated. They share a spot in Royals’ fans’ hearts, and this is only a fun argument. Whichever team you favor, you love the other.

Sam Mellinger’s comparison

Sam Mellinger also compared the 1985 and 2015 Royals for the Kansas City Star.

Mike Buttry compares the 2015 and 1985 Kansas City Royals

8 11 2015
Mike Buttry and Susie Burke at Kauffman Stadium for Game Two

Mike Buttry and Susie Burke at Kauffman Stadium for Game Two

This continues my family’s posts on the Kansas City Royals and their 2015 World Series victory. Because I had a busy week last week and wouldn’t have time to share all my observations on this year’s Royals as quickly as I wanted to, I invited my sons to write guest posts.

I told them I was working on a comparison of the 1985 and 2015  Royals. I will publish that shortly. I wasn’t planning on including a position-by-position breakdown, since I did that in comparing the 2015 Royals with the 1986 Red Sox (both got 2-0 leads on the Mets) and the 1985 Royals with the 2015 Mets (both fell behind 3-1 in World Series).

Mike, who watched Game Two this year in Kauffman Stadium (we watched Game Two there last year with his brothers), took the position-by-position approach to a comparison, so that’s today’s guest post (with editing links, visuals, editing and occasional commentary in italics from Dad):

Manager: Dick Howser vs. Ned Yost

Both had great runs, but I’d go with Howser because of how he played Bobby Cox in the ALCS. He won games for them. He might have lost Game Two of the ’85 World Series by leaving Charlie Leibrandt in too long.

Ned is fun to kick around but he really did almost cost them Game 6 against Toronto and the Wild Card game last year. Ned has to get a lot of credit for:

  1. The stuff you can’t see on the field. He has to be central to this team’s resilience and ability to show up to play every day.
  2. Making changes to the way he managed in the playoffs (e.g. Davis for two innings, he was tremendous in Game 7 last year).

Dad comments: I may address managing in my own comparison of the teams. Both were outstanding, and I echo Mike’s analysis here. For details on how Howser outmanaged Cox, click the Bobby Cox link above, where I explained in detail.   Read the rest of this entry »

Tom Buttry: Rooting for the Kansas City Royals in New York

7 11 2015
Citi Field last week from Tom's seat in New York

Citi Field last week from Tom’s seat in New York

We’re not done with posts about the Kansas City Royals. I have a few more posts coming myself, but I’ve been too busy to finish them. I asked my sons if they wanted to weigh in. Oldest son Mike will have a post coming tomorrow. Today’s guest post is from youngest son Tom (with editing, links and some visuals added by Dad): 

Tom Buttry

Tom Buttry

As Mike Moustakas drove in the game-winning run in the eighth inning of Game Four, I stood the upper deck of the left field corner in my Moustakas jersey at Citi Field, profoundly happy, but limiting my visible celebration to a brief fist pump and giving a fellow Royals fan two seats over a bit of dap. I had endured trash talk, getting roundly booed when I walked down through the stands to go the restroom, and had someone shout at me “Moustakas, make me a gyro!” But with the Wade Davis Experience looming for the Mets, I felt pretty good that I was bringing home a winner. And I wasn’t about to antagonize these folks into moving beyond their vocal, but good-natured ribbing.

Perhaps, I should take a step back, though. Since 2005, when my family moved away from the Midwest, the vast majority of the games I’ve caught of the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs have been when we’re the visitors. While I had been to opposing gyms as a high school sports fan, the close proximity of the schools and the large visiting student section always gave me strength in numbers. Being a fan of a Kansas City sports team on the East Coast can be a lonely experience.

The first time I truly went into opponent territory was on December 17, 2005, when my Dad and I went to the old Meadowlands to watch our Chiefs take on the New York Giants. It was a big game between two teams with strong playoff aspirations. I was feeling confident, though, because no one in our family had ever seen the Chiefs lose in person before.

As Dad and I walked into the upper reaches of Giants Stadium (we were in the second-to-last row by one of the end zones, but that may just be my memory exaggerating it), there was some trash talk, but nothing too bad. In the second quarter when the Giants took the lead on a long Tiki Barber touchdown run, there was some ribbing from the folks next to us, but nothing too bad. Then, early in the third quarter, Chiefs running back Larry Johnson broke off a long touchdown run of his own to tie the score, prompting my dad and me to give each other a high five.

At that point, the only guy behind us in the stadium gave us a true New York welcome with a loud thickly New York-accented, “Sit down, ya assholes!” Read the rest of this entry »

Fond (and scary) memories of Kansas City’ 1985 championship parade

3 11 2015
More than a decade ago, my middle son, Joe, made a display case for my newspaper collection. The plexiglass front slides out, so I can change the paper displayed frequently. This front page from 1985 is going to stay up all week, maybe longer.

More than a decade ago, my middle son, Joe, made a display case for my newspaper collection. The plexiglass front slides out, so I can change the paper displayed frequently. This front page from 1985 is going to stay up all week, maybe longer.

Kansas City’s ready to celebrate. Wish I could be there again, but without the fires this time.

No, Kansas City doesn’t riot to celebrate championships. It just doesn’t know how to do a parade. Or it didn’t in 1985. Here’s hoping in the past 30 years the town has figured this out. At least we don’t have those dangerous dot-matrix printers any more.

I was on Grand Avenue when the champions paraded past in 1985 and it was as exciting in its own way as the Series itself. The parade came down Grand Avenue right past the Kansas City Star building where I worked, roughly the same route as the parade planned for today.

October’s heroes rode through the heart of town, basking in the love of a city that hadn’t celebrated a championship since Super Bowl IV in 1970. George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Dan Quisenberry, Frank White, Dick Howser and even celebrity weak-hitting shortstop Buddy Biancalana soaked it in, riding vintage convertibles slowly through a corridor of adoring fans.

Well-connected Royals fans with ragtop Thunderbirds and Corvettes from years gone by chauffeured Jorge Orta, Steve Balboni, Jim Sundberg and pinch-hitter Dane Iorg, the role-player heroes of the epic Game Six comeback, smiling and waving from the backs of barely moving cars.

And Willie Wilson. I remember Wilson best. Read the rest of this entry »

Worth the wait: Buttry boys celebrate 2015 Royals

2 11 2015

What a team

Mike, Joe and Tom Buttry waited 30 years for this. So did their Dad.

I’ve loved the Yankees since I was 5, falling in love from Utah as a little boy. I was born in Romulus, not the Bronx, but I knew I was from New York, so I cheered them against the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates until Bill Mazeroski broke my young heart. But the next year was a great year to turn a young love into a lifelong loyalty, so I am a Yankee fan.

I happily embraced the Royals as my second team when we moved to Kansas City in 1985 (though that was heresy to Royal fans). I was going to spend a lot of time at the ballpark, so I quickly developed a second love. I remained faithful to my first love, though, wearing my Yankee gear and cheering for New York only when my first love visited town. I was sort of a baseball bigamist.

I took my sons (8, 4 and 2 at the time) out to the ballpark regularly, intending to make them baseball fans and tell them about all the Yankees’ glorious years, including some great victories over the Royals and one painful loss. I would instill in them a lifelong love of baseball and the Yankees.

Mike, Tom, Joe and me, Game Two of the 2014 World Series, back in our old seats

Mike, Tom, Joe and me, Game Two of the 2014 World Series, back in our old seats

Well, I only partly succeeded. Sons don’t always listen to the Old Man (who knew?). They remember all those Yankee stories only for trash-talking purposes (I might have succeeded in teaching that).

But they did become lifelong baseball fans. And Royal fans. And loyal fans. I guess if you’re going to take your sons to the ballpark a lot, you should expect them to fall in love with the team they were watching.

Well, they did. The Royals were good when we were in Kansas City, from that 1985 championship season to 1991, and even the not-quite-championship seasons included cherished memories of George Brett, Bo Jackson and Bret Saberhagen.

But after we left Kansas City, the Royals started to suck. For more than two decades. But, like their Dad, the Buttry boys stayed loyal to their first love.

As I recounted last year, we all met in Kansas City for Game Two of the 2014 World Series, when the Royals were on the verge of another championship, but fell 90 feet short of tying Game Seven.


Tom and Ashley’s wedding, father of the groom at center, bottom of the photo in blue cap.

Because I had brain surgery in August, I wore a Royals cap at Tom’s wedding in a wooded setting in Maryland on Oct. 10, a travel day in the American League Division Series with Houston. The family worried about acorns hitting my fragile dome, so Mike supplied a cap, and I stuffed a washcloth between cap and skull for extra padding. And we celebrated all weekend, with lots of anticipation for more celebration to come.

greatest monthMooseBecause of my medical treatment (I watched Game Two from the hospital), we couldn’t meet again this year, but we all watched every inning, bantering constantly by text, occasionally by phone or email.

Some text messages reflected those conversations of 30 years ago, when I tried to help the boys manage along with Dick Howser and later Royal managers. We’d speculate or argue about whether it was time yet for Wade Davis to enter the game or whether to steal a base or send a runner. We’d express confidence that this resilient would come back. And then we shared our joy in the comeback.

Mike attended Game Two again in Kansas City. Tom attended Game Four in New York, wearing the jersey of Mike Moustakas, who turned out to be the hero of the game. Joe couldn’t make it to a game, but he and I joined by frequent text from afar, me in Baton Rouge and him in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

We all expressed confidence as the Royals entered the ninth inning, trailing a strong pitcher 2-0. The boys (men now, but when we’re talking baseball, they’re always my boys) expressed absolute confidence after the Royals rallied to tie in the top of the 9th. They went nuts when the Royals scored five runs in the top of the 12th, then held the Mets scoreless to start the celebration.

As the Yankees won five World Series between the Royals championships of 1985 and 2015, I kept encouraging the boys to come over to the Dark Side, but they never did. I enjoyed each of those Yankee victories. But I enjoyed this one even more. Because as much as I love the Yankees, I love my sons more.

My goal all along in bringing them out to the ballpark was to bring some shared joy to their lives. Done. Finally.

Patience 1

Patience 2

2015 World Series echoes Mets’ and Royals’ mid-’80s classics

1 11 2015

The challenges and opportunities of this World Series continue to echo those from 1985 and ’86, the last two times the Royals and Mets won.

I blogged Friday comparing the 2015 Royals to the 1986 Red Sox, after Jim Brady noted the first similarity to the ’80s (third straight day I’ve used this tweet in a post):

A win Friday night set the Mets on the course Jim wanted. He gladly retweeted this ’80s echo from a fellow Mets fan:

The Royals’ win last night (in contrast to the ’86 Mets, who tied the Series in Game Four), set up a another fascinating and coincidental parallel to those Back to the Future days:

Of course, each of those World Series is burned into the hearts and memories of the four teams’ fans, particularly because of Game Six. The ’85 Royals scored two runs in the ninth to win, 2-1, and the ’86 Mets scored three in the 10th to win, 6-5.

Jeff Edelstein, a former mutual colleague of Jim’s and mine, was clinging to hope in the ninth inning last night, again remembering Game Six in ’86:

Each of those mid-’80s Series featured a 1960s expansion team, taking on a storied original major-league franchise.

Say “Game Six” to a Mets fan or a Royals fan and you don’t have to say which year. They know what you mean. The Royals lost in six games to the Phillies in ’80, but fans were excited that year just to be playing. Memories of that Game Six have faded with time, the pain eased in ’85. After a 29-year absence from the World Series, the Royals returned last year and lost to the Giants, but Game Seven is the one fans will always remember. Game Six means only 1985 to a Royals’ fan. Read the rest of this entry »

You can’t win baseball arguments with friends, but still you try

31 10 2015

Good-natured arguments are a treasured experience of friendship. Whether we’re bantering about sports, food or politics, our friends will forgive us for insulting them. Occasionally they will set us straight bluntly, and everyone needs that now and then.

And, when you’re sparring over the World Series, with strong, opposing loyalties, trash talking with a friend is just plain fun.

Jim Brady, a Mets fan and friend, started an argument after the Royals’ Game Two win Wednesday night:

Not argumentative, you say? But he said the ’86 Red Sox were a “better team” than the 2015 Royals (my second-favorite team). And my favorite team is the Yankees, which ramps up any argument with a Mets fan. Especially if you bring the Red Sox into the spat. The last two Octobers, I’ve been a passionate Royals fan.

Many times when a friend tweets something that just isn’t true, you don’t actually have to argue. You just point out the error briefly and politely, and the friend agrees and thanks you. But not when baseball loyalties are involved.

So I went into a bit more detail in a blog post yesterday, providing a detailed comparison of two teams that both took 2-0 World Series leads on the New York Mets. Disclosure: detailed is a nuanced synonym for l0oooong; my brother Dan, who got a mention in the post and a plug for his latest book, said it was more long-winded than one of his sermons.

You never start or join a sports argument thinking you’re going to win. All the facts that I cited yesterday will never prevail over loyalty, emotion and memory in a sports argument, and Jim has those abundantly. 1986 was a great World Series with a good Boston team, and Jim has savored this achievement for 29 years. In his heart, that had to be a great team his Mets beat, even if that was the only World Series the Red Sox made in a stretch of, well, 29 years. I am similarly respectful of the 1985 Cardinals, which the Royals beat in seven games the year before (also after a Game Six meltdown by the other team that focused on a memorable play at first base). Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,127 other followers