No more one-and-dones. No more five-game series. We’re on to nice traditional best-of-seven baseball now and, with apologies to the fans of teams recently eliminated, it’s hard to see how we could’ve gotten a better set of League Championship Series.
In the NL we have the Mets and Cubs who, as I noted the other day are — fair or not — perennial punchlines. Yet here they are, having vanquished the big-payroll Dodgers and the 100-win Cardinals. MLB is likely happy that two huge media markets are being represented. In Toronto we have a team an entire nation is cheering for and, it just so happens, possesses the most impressive offense in baseball. In Kansas City we have a rabid fan base and a team that, as the Astros can contest, never, ever can be counted out.
Just some fantastic baseball ahead, and it all kicks off tonight.
The Game: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Kauffman Stadium
The Channel: Fox
The Starters: Marco Estrada vs. Edinson Volquez
The Upshot: A rematch of the 1985 ALCS which . . . obviously none of these guys remember and for which a great many of them were not even born. But 40-year-old+ fans in Toronto and KC will enjoy it, no doubt. Neither Dave Steib nor George Brett will have much to do with the outcome here, sadly, but as this year’s matchup has a couple of decent players I suppose.
Not that the past is meaningless here. At least the more recent past. The last time these teams met, in early August, benches cleared and tempers flared after Royals starter Volquez hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch and nearly hit him again his next time up with a pitch up and in. After the game Volquez called Donaldson “a little baby.” I assume that, like the Mets and their recent Chase Utley-related beef with the Dodgers, these clubs will realize that settling scores is nowhere near as important as winning these games, but watch out for the first Donaldson-Volquez battle tonight.
The Jays will go with a rotation of Estrada followed by David Price in Game 2, Marcus Stroman in Game 3, and R.A. Dickey in Game four, with the first three getting second starts if necessary. The Royals will go with Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Johnny Cueto and, in all likelihood, Kris Medlen, though Chris Young could be the choice (I’d go Medlen, as he’s more of a groundball pitcher and that game will be in Rogers Centre, but no one asks me these things).
Like seemingly every other matchup this postseason, this one seems very, very close. The Jays’ power vs. the Royals’ annoying (to the opposition) habit of making contact and stringing together hits. Stroman and Price at the top of the Jays’ rotation vs. a Royals team which still possesses an amazing bullpen. Crazy fans in both places, dying for a decades-long World Series title drought to end.