"Mirror Image" World Series begins tonight

By Steve Sell
October 21, 2014

The World Series has a couple of tough acts to follow, and let’s hope the long layoff between the playoffs and the Fall Classic hasn’t taken the steam out of what has been a dramatic postseason so far.

While Kansas City and San Francisco won their league championship series in four and five games, respectively, they produced more drama than there’s been in years.

Kansas City swept Baltimore, but its first two wins were by two runs apiece and the second two were a pair of 2-1 hair-raisers. Two of the Giants’ four wins were of the walk-off variety, including the clincher.

This could be called the “Mirror Image" World Series. Both teams rely on terrific pitching and defense, while hitting few home runs. Both play with an indomitable spirit. Both play in charming, fan-friendly ballparks, with San Francisco’s unique from the standpoint of its quirky walls and balls that land in McCovey Cove and Kansas City’s maybe baseball’s most beautiful with its gushing fountains.

All the signs are there for a seven-game series. Kansas City has not lost yet in the postseason (8-0) and San Francisco is 8-2. Series that look so even on paper, however, often turn one-sided and boring. Let’s hope this one can go six or seven games and that both teams approach their earlier postseason level of excellence.

I do wonder about the Royals having had so much time off, though it’s just one day more than the Giants. But they were on such an emotional rush and in a rhythm. I have a feeling, though, at least for tonight, they’re going to be handcuffed by Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who is baseball’s next big thing.

I think he’s going to be the difference in the series. Country-boy strong, the lefty slinger already has pitched three postseason gems. He’s going to match up with “Big Game James” Shields tonight and if Shields continues his six-week malaise, it’s going to be a long night. For all his notoriety of being a money pitcher, Shields has not been delivering He has been stung by the home run ball and struggles at the outset of games. If he doesn’t find his form, the Royals are in trouble.

I like the Royals’ complementary starting pitchers better than the Giants’ and I really like the Royals’ back-end bullpen.

Offensively, the Royals must get on base and create havoc. That’s their game, getting inside the opponents’ heads. It will be interesting to see how Giants catcher Buster Posey can negate the Royals’ speed.

San Francisco has a little bit more power and one huge advantage is that it works pitchers, while the Royals hack at every offering and take few walks.

This is a tough Series to call. Most of you know I’ve been a doubting Thomas of the Royals all year. If it comes down to managerial “strategery,” the Giants have a wide edge. San Fran’s Bruce Bochy is one of the great managers of this era, while Kansas City’s Ned Yost is quirky and unpredictable. Put a big check mark in favor of the Giants.

If pressed, I would have to say the Giants rate the edge. Bumgarner is probably going to win twice and I worry the Royals’ bats are going to turn to jello. There’s no substitute for experience and the Giants have loads of it.

Giants in 6.