The Washington Post reported this week that the Kansas City Royals, not the Orioles, “have captured the hearts of the nation.” Just like the trumpet of Capitol Hill to report on baseball by citing a poll. Oh, and Wednesday, the Kansas City Star added that Canada is pulling for the Royals, too.
Give us a break.
Did John McGraw, the O’s tough-as-nails, dead ball-era third baseman, give a damn about polls? Earl Weaver, we’re pretty sure, would’ve stubbed his cigarette butt out on the paper any baseball poll was written. Frank Robinson would’ve torn it in half. Did you think Steve Pearce is interested in polls? The guy bounced around the majors for eight seasons and was placed on waivers earlier this season—then responded with 21 home runs in 383 at bats. Do polls capture that kind of fierce determination? Screw the hearts of the nation.
Here’s five reasons why the O’s whip the Royals:
1. Nelson Cruz: The guy becomes Babe Ruth in the playoffs. He delivered six hits and two HRs in the sweep of Detroit—and that’s par for the course. He was the ALCS MVP for Texas in 2011 with six home runs and 13 RBIs and is climbing the list of career, post-season HR leaders with 16.
2. The Royals lineup is lefty-laden and we have tough lefty pitchers: Kansas City’s four leading hitters against the Angels—Eric Hosmer, Nori Aoki, Alex Gorden, and Mike Moustakas—all swing from the left side. Not only do we think that bodes well for Wei-Yin Chen’s next start, but our top relievers, Andrew Miller and Zach Britton, are southpaws. Plus, the O’s likely will add lefty Brian Matusz and/or lefty T.J. McFarland to the ALCS roster.
3. J.J. Hardy: What can we say about a shortstop who flashes a Gold Glove all year and then hits .300 and blasts a key home run in the ALDS? We think the O’s signing him to a three-year extension Thursday is a great move—and an omen of more good things to come.
4. We’re the best and getting better: The O’s are 53-27 since July 1—tops in the majors. And yet, given the new addition of left fielder Alejandro De Aza (three hits and two RBI in two starts so far in the playoffs) and Miller, plus strides made by others, like starter Bud Norris, we look tougher than ever. Vegas agrees, by the way—we’re favored to the win the World Series right now.
5. Buck and our home-field advantage: Okay, we crammed two reasons here to keep our list down to five. But they’re related. Buck Showalter is the best manager in the game at the moment, exhibiting Yoda-like wisdom in the dugout. The home-field advantage and boisterous Baltimore crowds (not to pat ourselves on the back, but, let’s face it, we were incredible at Camden Yards during Games 1 and 2 against Detroit) give both Buck an advantage in making moves and the boys in the orange and black a chance to play an extra game on their home turf—if need be.
Hope the rain holds off and see you at the ballpark this weekend. We’ll be in orange.