Playoff Baseball: Only The Hot Survive

by KC Baker | Posted on Sunday, October 12th, 2014
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Kansas City Rpyals

In 2005, the Houston Astros went to the World Series not as the best team in the National League but the hottest. This game is different and does not lend itself to the usual sports math.  Nearly every player who takes the field in the majors is, once was or could have once been a superstar.  Most every team boasts talent that qualifies to be in a major league stadium.  What’s the difference between winning and losing?  It isn’t the size of the payroll or if you are the media darling.  It’s not like football where the team with the best talent according to the stats almost always wins.  It is about getting hot and staying hot because it’s baseball, man.  My beloved Astros broke down the World Series door as the National League wild card team in 2005 with repeated feats of greatness from some known and unknown sources.  Whether it was Chris Burke’s 18th inning walk off home run against Atlanta in the NLDS or Roy Oswalt’s utterly nasty performance on the mound against St. Louis in the NLCS; the Astros burned hotter than the Houston July sun and willed their way forward.

I have a friend who is sort of normal who just checked out of Dallas and set up housekeeping with his lady on a white sand/blue water beach along the Florida-Alabama coast.  He’s an Astros fan and loves him some baseball.  We bicker about which team will succeed in post season play.  After the Kansas City Royals won the one game playoff to gain entry to the actual playoffs, I told my sandals and shorts wearing friend that Kansas City had the feel of the 2005 Astros.  They play the game with a fierce joy that is octane for a winner, I insisted; and they would likely go to the Series.  He denied my simplistic analysis, advising me that KC had to go through the Angels who had way too much talent to be beaten by the Royals.  I mean, for real, they have Albert Pujols a zillion dollar man that could have gotten rich selling baggies of flatulence in St. Louis but can’t get applause in LA for a double.  Yet, the lowly Royals brought out the brooms and sent Phat Albert on vacation.  Real fans of the game rejoice at such a sight.  Bad sports like me rub their friend’s noses in it when it happens as they called it; and indeed I did.

The first game of the ALCS was a gem and a petri dish for my theory that the hottest team wins. The Royals, steaming toward the Series, seemed to be knocked off the tracks in the top of the 7th.  Speedster Jarrod Dyson defied several pick off attempts to get a good lead and jump and reached second base before the throw but let his foot come off the bag allowing Jonathan Schoop to apply the tag.  Dyson started whining and that poisonous attitude infected the next batter who complained about balls and strike.  That is loser talk, folks; it’s not what hot, winning teams do; they dust off and keep burning.  It felt like the breaking point, as if a barrel of ice water had been thrown into the fire box of the Kansas City baseball locomotive.  Then came extra innings and rain.  And the oh-so-annoying “Oh-Ohhhhhhh” refrains from the crowd that is reminiscent of the worn out Braves tomahawk routine.  Somewhere in the Royals dugout though, someone added fresh coals and stoked the fire.  In the top of the 10th, Alex Gordon sent a no-doubter over the right field wall as if to say, “yeah, we back.”

The Royals are the hottest team in baseball. I stand by my theory and predict that they will make it to the Series.  That’s where they will truly be tested; if they remain hot, they will go back to Kansas City with rings.  If they cool off in the bright lights of the October Classic (like my Stros), they will squander one of the best playoff runs I have seen since 2005.  But you gotta love it for now;  go Royals!

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KC Baker
About the Author

K.C. Baker is an old school Astros fan, spending many a hot summer day in the cool confines of the Dome. He just finished his 28th year as a practicing attorney and likes to spend all of his spare time in New Braunfels, Texas with his wife of 29 years and their three children. Follow him on Twitter @KenCBake

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