The Bronx is Boiling: World Series Edition


Another week has passed, and the continuing soap opera that is the Yankees’ offseason continues to turn. The Yankees’ have still not filled the void of hitting coach as Eric Hinske most recently turned down the Bombers’ offer. Meanwhile, Kevin Long has already found a job across town, which couldn’t make me happier. Right as the Mets were starting to turn that corner, Long will destroy them and set them back five years.

I’m not much for offseason drama. The rumor mill does nothing for me, listening to fans or beat writers tell me why Nelson Cruz or Victor Martinez are “perfect” fits for the Yankees in 2015. Nor do I care for postulating on the Yankees’ starting rotation or line-up with so much uncertainty surrounding it. Especially when there is still baseball being played. The Bronx is boiling and I need to blow some steam.


I understand it. I’m not supposed to root for the Kansas City Royals because I am old enough to remember when the Royals were our biggest rival. The American League representative in the World Series from 1976 through 1981 was essentially either the Yanks or the Royals, as they squared off four times for AL supremacy. The Yankees prevailed three of those times, but the Royals left their mark on our fans. We didn’t like them.

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Now is a different time. The Royals quickly became an after thought after their 1985 World Series victory, becoming the cellar dwellers of the soon-to-be AL Central. It was kind of like the Yankees after the ’81 World Series. We went through a Dark Ages. While the Yanks were able to get out of it more quickly than 29 years, it still took 15 years to return to the top of the mountain. Thats why I have taken a liking to this Royals squad. I see a lot of similarities between the 1996 Yankees and the 2014 Royals.

The 1996 rotation was led by some veterans who had been around the block. Jimmy Key and Kenny Rogers were always good, but they were never amongst the leagues elite. That’s a lot like Royals anchor James Shields. Shields has been an All-Star, but he has never been in the Cy Young conversation. Jason Vargas is the same way. He’s a guy that has consistently given teams wins over his journey man career, but has found new life in KC. The Yankees staff was rounded out by a “washed up” and “done” Doc Gooden, who would go out and win 11 games and throw a no-hitter. That’s a lot like Jeremy Guthrie.

Now, Guthrie was never as good as Gooden was, but both were seen to be at the end of the road. Gutherie had never had a winning record until he arrived in KC, and this year he went 13-11 and hurled some pretty important World Series innings. Both staffs were rounded out by youngsters who impressed beyond expectations. Andy Pettitte won 21 games in 1996 and would go on to achieve greatness in pinstripes. Yordano Ventura had quite a rookie year and like Pettitte, came out and stopped the bleeding after a big Royals loss.

Remember Mariano Duncan? He was the crafty second baseman taken off the scrap heap and at 34-years old, was a major contributor to the Yankees’ run batting ,340 with 8 home runs that magical season. Sure sounds a lot like Omar Infante, huh? The 32-year old veteran came over and helped establish consistency in the middle of the infielder and lineup.

The 1996 Yankees were led by a core of younger stars that would gel together and form the nucleus of a dynasty. Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, and Bernie Williams with the likes of Jorge Posada getting their first taste of the bigs were all under 30 years of age and would stick together for four titles. That’s a tremendous amount of pressure to put on these Royals, but everyone knows the story. Four first round draft picks that a lot of people had written off as misses have finally come together and are making a historic playoff run. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Billy Butler are all on the right side of 30, and with 28-year old Lorenzo Cain becoming the newest Mr. October, the Royals have a solid core to build around.

Then, of course, is that bullpen. What is being pegged as HDH (Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland) is one of the best backends of a bullpen that anyone has ever seen since…hmmm… Jeff Nelson, Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland. The 1996 New York Yankees were able to get by with crafty (and questionable) veteran pitchers because they knew that all they needed to do was get to the sixth inning and the game was over. That is exactly like these 2014 Royals. Wetteland of course would leave a year later and The Sandman would be born. I don’t see Holland going anywhere and that is gold for the Royals.

Am I implying that the Royals are about to embark on the beginnings of a dynasty? Not at all. What I’m saying is for as much as I love the Yankees, I love baseball. I remember that feeling of bashing my head into the wall for so many years with mediocrity quickly dissipating at hearing the Yankees are going to the World Series. These Royals are a good story, and baseball needs a good story. Plus, they beat the Orioles, and all of us Yankees’ fans can get on board with that!