Craig Calcaterra

Royals celebrate

Game 1: A long, weird overture to an epic drama

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KANSAS CITY — In their combined seven World Series before this one, neither the Mets nor the Royals had ever won a Game 1. As it passed midnight here in Kansas City and we entered our sixth hour of baseball, it seemed that the streak would somehow continue.

That would certainly be weird. Actually, it’d be impossible. But anything seemed possible on this night, when the Mets and Royals spent so much time playing each others’ games and the final pitching showdown featured nearly six combined innings from a couple of guys in Chris Young and Bartolo Colon who could’ve faced off a decade ago if the Rangers and the Angels’ rotations were jiggered just so.

Anything you can do I can do better . . . New York scored the go-ahead in the top of the eighth by taking advantage of the Royals’ bullpen with some solid base running, some porous Royals defense and key contact on a shortened swing, shooting a ball through the infield on some solid contact. All of which were the sort of things that were supposed to bedevil the Mets, not the Royals. The Royals, for their part, relied on the longball, with Alcides Escobar‘s inside-the-park home run kicking the game off and Alex Gordon‘s deep shot to straightaway center in the bottom of the ninth bookending things in regulation. In a most unusual turn of events, Daniel Murphy had no homers . . . I can do anything better than you.

Then there were just some unexpected things to which neither team can lay claim as their typical m.o. Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jon Niese pitching solid and, in Niese’s case, fantastically out of the bullpen while the usually dominant Jeurys Familia blew the save on that Gordon homer. Or Young coming in for the Royals in for the 12th, 13th and 14th, striking out the side in the 12th and tossing another two scoreless innings after that. Meanwhile, Kelvin Herrera allowed that run in the eighth, unearned as it may have been. Everyone’s polarities were reversed in some way, shape or form on this night.

But then, just after midnight, order, such as we’ve come to know it, was restored. Order in the form of the Royals doing what they’ve done so many times this year: stringing a rally together without the aid of anything hit particularly hard. Alcides Escobar reaching first on a David Wright error and then reaching third on a Ben Zobrist single. Eric Hosmer driving him in with a a middling fly ball off of Colon at exactly 12:18PM Central Time. There was nothing unusual about the game-winning rally in a postseason full of rallies for this Royals team other than the hour in which it came and the fact that it came against a pitcher who made his big league debut when the 25th man on the Royals’ roster was still in diapers.

And, while there may be some naysayers around the water cooler later this morning talking about Game 1 being too long or too boring or too weird or filled with too many intentional walks and 2-3 strikeout/putouts and too few extra-base hits for the Mets, don’t listen to them. For whatever else this game was, for good and for bad, it had all the feeling of an overture. A few bars of music before the serious drama begins. An entertaining drama to be sure, as these two actors are far too closely matched in skill for anyone to steal the show.

The curtain for Act 2 rises in around 18 hours.

Alcides Escobar leads off Game 1 with an inside-the-park homer

Alicides Escobar
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KANSAS CITY — We’ll, we’re off with a bang. A big bang, actually, as Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series with a first-pitch inside-the-park home run off of Mets starter Matt Harvey.

But let’s be real about it: it was a ball that should’ve been caught by center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. He didn’t have a good bead on the ball, however — maybe the mist that’s still spitting around here bugged him? — and ended up giving it something on olé backhand job. The ball kicked away, Escobar turned on his jets — and he really was flying — and it was 1-0 before most people were three sips into their first beer.

The official scorer didn’t give Cespedes an error because no official scorer ever gives a player an error when his mistake is mostly mental and when he doesn’t actually get leather on the ball. But as we’ve said many times around these parts, the kind of play Cespedes put on that ball is just as much an error as a bobble is, even if it’s not ruled that way.

So, per the scorecard, Escobar has an inside-the-parker, the first in World Series since play Mule Haas in 1929. We’ll update with some video once MLB releases it.

As of now it’s 1-0 Royals at the end of two.

Lenny Dykstra pathetically claims he blackmailed umpires when he played

Lenny Dykstra
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Much like a hearsay statement during a trial, I am not offering this utterance for the truth of the matter asserted therein, but rather, to simply note that it was a thing that was said. And, for that matter, to ask whether or not we should be surprised.

The statement: Lenny Dykstra’s claim on Colin Cowherd’s show today that he hired private investigators to follow umpires around back in the 80s and 90s and then blackmailed the umpires with the information he obtained in order to get favorable ball and strike calls:

“Their blood’s just as red as ours. Some of them like women, some of them like men, some of them gamble…” As a result, the ex-ballplayer said, umpires sometimes called balls instead of strikes. “Fear does a lot to a man,” he said.

“You don’t think it was a coincidence that I lead the league in walks the two years, was it?,” he asked.

No, it was because you had a good batting eye, Lenny. See, despite all of the awful, criminal and/or sleazy things you have done, some of us still remember you as a dang good ballplayer. It’s sad that that’s not what most people think of now when they think of you, but I suppose you brought it in yourself.

In other news, Dykstra’s claim is pretty laughable. I give it a 99% chance of being totally phony and only reserve that 1% because of the impossibility of actually knowing what’s in the mind of another person for absolute certain. I also wonder why, if Colin Cowherd works for MLB rightsholder Fox, he can’t get a better quality of baseball guest for his show.

Here’s the video: