Sunday, November 29, 2015

After two 3 and outs, I'm very much enjoying the Brock Osweiler era.
Going to a bar to watch the Chiefs game today. First time all year watching a game uninterrupted by kids.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The 12-0 Hawkeyes are the biggest frauds in history. Prediction: They lose by 14+ in the Big Ten Championship.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thank you Kansas City Chiefs for a happy birthday.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The 30 second shot clock in college basketball is perfect. Still have time for ball movement but it's not sluggish.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

29-13

On November 8th, Peyton Manning fell 3 yards short of breaking Favre's record for all-time passing yards in a loss to the Colts. I was amused, both by the loss and that he didn't get the record. But then I saw the Broncos next game. At home vs the Chiefs. Great, so he'll get the record against us.

There's a parallel between this and Super Bowl 48. I really, really didn't want the Broncos to go to the Super Bowl and I didn't want Peyton to break the record against the Chiefs. But both happened.

As it turns out, both went better than expected.

- - -

Coming into this game, Peyton's Broncos were 7-0 against the Chiefs. In 2013, the Chiefs were 9-0 and the Broncos ended that in Denver. Two weeks later, the Chiefs had a 21-7 lead only to lose 28-35.

In 2014, the Chiefs had a 10-7 lead on the road but would lose that game too. That loss put KC at 0-2. They would lose to the Broncos in Kansas City but still managed to get to 9-7, one game out of the playoffs.

I thought week 2 this year would be the one. Both teams were 1-0 and it was a home game on Thursday night. Chiefs jump out to a 14-0 lead. Arrowhead is rocking. Peyton looks washed up. With a minute to go, the Chiefs are up 24-17. All they need is one more stop. They don't get it. Peyton throws a touchdown with 36 seconds left. Tied at 24. Next play: Jamaal Charles fumbles and Broncos return it for a regulation victory. One of the worst games ever.

- - -

So now the 7-1 Broncos get to play the 3-5 Chiefs in Denver. Peyton's going to break the record. Great. Except a funny thing happened on his first pass. Marcus Peters (who might be a top 10 corner already--he's only a rookie) intercepts it. The Chiefs go 31 yards on five plays and are up 7-0 before Peyton gets the record. Of course, he gets the record, it was only three yards. But it was nice that the defense made a statement early.

It was the first of four Manning interceptions. It was so bad they benched him in third quarter. They put in Osweiler and he throws an interception. And it's 29-0 Chiefs. In Denver.

The Broncos added two touchdowns in garbage time but this was a domination from start to finish. When ever I think about Peyton Manning holding any NFL records, I'm going to think about the Chiefs defense forcing him off the field.

- - -

The Broncos are 7-2. They should absolutely make the playoffs. The Chiefs are 4-5, on the outside looking in. But no matter what happens, you can't take this game away. Now the Chiefs own a winning streak of one over Denver.

Fun Stats:

Manning had a better passer rating throwing to KC than Denver. That's counting interceptions as completions and completions as interceptions.

Throwing to Denver: 5/20 35 yards 0TD 4INT Passer Rating:0

Throwing to Kansas City:4/20 78 yards 0TD 5INT Passer Rating:3.75

Also, CJ Anderson had as many tackles as he had carries.




Monday, November 16, 2015

Nailed It


I mean technically "nailing it" will come when the Bengals lose their first playoff game, but the implication is that I don't believe in the Bengals, so to see them lose to a 3-5 Texans team is somewhat validating.

Manning Picked Off Four Times

Sunday, November 15, 2015

CFB Playoff Update

Let's start with the undefeated teams by conference

Big Ten: OSU/Iowa - in the playoff if wins out
ACC: Clemson - in the playoff if wins out
Big 12: Oklahoma State - in the playoff if wins out

Bama's not undefeated but the rules are different in the SEC

SEC: Alabama - in the playoff if wins out

- - -

I'm ignoring the current polls completely. To me it's like looking at bracketology.

So those 5 teams control their postseason.

Clemson should do it. I expect Alabama too as well. I feel less safe about Ohio State, but still confident. That's three.

The question mark is Oklahoma State who has to play Baylor and Oklahoma. That's a tough ask. So if they don't win, the door is wide open for Oklahoma or Notre Dame or who knows?








Watch This

Manning's thrown 3 picks. The Chiefs defense has completely shut them down. The Chiefs have scored 4 times.

And yet it's only a two possession game. 16 points is very easy to overcome. Don't feel great about this lead.

Edit: The above was written before the last Broncos possession in the first half. I was afraid it would be 16-7 at the half. 19-0 is better than that, but still, another field goal. Three touchdowns wins it for Denver. Field goals are not enough.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

10 Years of Hoagie Central

I left the friendly confines of Champaign, Illinois, and moved to Chicago in June 2005. I had a 2-month internship at an ad agency. I was no longer a college student. I had entered the real world.

Unable to see my friends on a daily basis, I started sending emails. A lot of them were unorganized thoughts about sports and video games. This continued throughout the fall. I started pretending that I had a sports column like Bill Simmons but only sending them to a few friends via email. I even had gimmicks like Scary NFL Notes emailed on Halloween.

Here's an example. Note Niraj saying I should be a sports writer, and me completely validating his thoughts with my response. 




Eventually, I decided it would be better to just put everything up online instead of clogging my friends' inboxes. 

On November 14, 2005, I created a blog called SportsCorner. 


Although you wouldn't know that's when this blog was founded, because of the impressive ability to backdate blog posts. When I created the blog I went back through my emails and populated the previous months. I was happy to make a worthwhile first post (with bonus comment!) I also invented the Reverse Wildcat formation which you can only run when you have two good quarterbacks, something a team never has. 

Incidentally, my first live post actually got a bit of attention. It was suggestions for improving soccer and apparently before Twitter, people would search through blogger (in this case, presumably for "soccer") and actually leave comments on stranger's blogs. It was entirely surprising, the idea that strangers out there not only could read this, but would. And leave comments. 

This incident prepared me to expect that I would have tons of visitors and comments, increasing steadily over the years. This did not happen. 

I remember the Monday after Super Bowl XL, just two weeks after I started my first full-time job, writing this post. It was the moment that I felt like, this blog is something important, something that I will be using for a long time. 

On February 15, 2006, I changed the name of this blog from SportsCorner to Free Meat. Using the Wayback Machine, here's the earliest visual evidence of this blog: 



On May 10, 2006, I made a timeline post, showing how football video game graphics changed over the years. I emailed it to Will Leitch, the guy running Deadspin at the time. He made a post there linking to mine. I got a ton of traffic and a ton of comments. And then I realized, that I don't really care about such things. But it was sort of fun to do one time.

In July 2006, I got married. 

By October 2006, I changed the name from Free Meat to Hoagie Central. People might have thought that I would continually change the name, but this was it. I didn't really like either of the first two names. Hoagie Central is my brand. 

Also in the fall of 2006, I outlined how an 8-team College Football Playoff would work, 8 years before the NCAA implemented a 4-team playoff. I even had separate email debates with Dan Shanoff and Bomani Jones.

I also gave Will Leitch the idea for the Deadspin Hall of Fame, although I didn't reveal the conversation until a year later. 

In 2007, I chronicled my first of many weight loss journeys. The summer brought an instant best of live chat and one other instant classic. I made a lot of valid points and fostered some intellectual high-brow discussion.

I lost my wedding ring and Mrs. Hoagie Central found it.

This is how the site looked at the time. Here's when I added some visual navigation and of course the hoagie header. 



In 2008, I started writing a novel and tracked my progress on the blog. I even asked for contributions and Mark suggested something that made it's way into Autopilot. 

In February, I changed the URL from davefymbo.blogspot to hoagiecentral.blogspot. Aside from a few minor aesthetic changes, the site has pretty much been the same since that day.

In May, a couple of crazy kids drove to Memphis and ate some barbecue. And then I got all political about Obama. And he won. I was even there on Election Night.

2009 came and I went to Italy and had the best sandwich of my life. My novel came out. I won a softball tournament and a volleyball tournament. We moved from Chicago to Oak Park, rolling through the Portillo's drive-thru with two box springs tied to the roof of our car.

We made stupid bets and I played stupid (though not really) video games. I even answered the age old question, what does a $19 hamburger taste like?

In 2010, I finally got to see The Late Show with David Letterman. And Walden Pond, which I was too stupid to say yes to when my Dad offered to take me 11 years prior.

I ate foods from the earth. I ate pizza. I finally beat Kirat in tennis. Mark smashed Burnsy in the face with a burrito 13 times. Burnsy and I made VQ2 and The Interview.

For the first time in my life, I made a par on a par 4 hole. Matt got married. We went to South America and Kansas City.

I even did an in-depth personal evaluation in the form of an individual 2010 census. And Hoagie Central went widescreen.

Let's see...did anything happen in 2011?

Burnsy made some beer. I mailed in a post about Doritos. I got back in to hockey.

Oh yeah, I got a new job, we moved to Denver at 8.5 months pregnant and had a freaking kid.

Once I got to Denver, I discovered green chile. And we started having holidays at our place, which meant I had to cook my first turkey. This happened.

And Hoagie Central went through it's last (to date) redesign.


In 2012, I tried curling for the first time and even made it to the championship game. I saw the Avs win in person for the first time. Mark Fever came to Denver for the first time.

I looked up. I busted out some advanced maths.

Just like with the BCS, I fixed the Electoral College. It will probably be a while before it goes into effect.

I suppose it doesn't seem like much else happened, because I spent a fair amount of time writing my second book.

In 2013, the book came out. Mark came back and I started rating beers. I saw the Avalanche win from the 2nd row. You can even see me holding my monster nachos in the replays.

I ranked pies. I sold -1 books. I spent a good chunk of time creating a full restaurant concept menu. I figured out much home field is actually worth.

The ultimate power of the internet revealed itself. A bunch of Bozos went to San FranciscoI turned 30.

Oh yeah, and we had another freaking kid. Holy crap.

Last year, the Broncos made the Super Bowl which I thought was going to be the worst thing ever but it was kind of the best thing ever. I finally saw a team of mine win a playoff game.

I built a soccer goal for my kids and played a game of indoor soccer.

I spent the summer searching for the best burrito in Denver. And went back to Kansas City for barbecue and a Chiefs' game. I ranked my favorite bands.

I cooked a 5-course dinner. I finally mastered Carbonara and made a cookbook.

And unfortunately, Mrs. Hoagie Central and I decided to get divorced.

This year, I predicted the Super Bowl. I got my first smartphone and Instagram. I ranked even more beers. I went snowboarding once and skateboarding several times.

I went back to Champaign. I got really into board games. I won an award. And had some good laughs. And a team I like actually won a championship.

Here's how the site looks at the moment, in case in changes in the future.

This blog got started because I was pretending to be a sports columnist. I wanted to share my sports opinions with my friends, so I put them on the internet.

And I'm glad I did. Because it transformed into a place where I could share anything. Where I could put up serious political thoughts and dumb videos and a lot of Chiefs and fantasy football garbage that isn't relevant to anyone.

I must give a special thank you to my loyal readers. I know who you are and you know who you are. It means a lot to know that someone is out there, reading my ramblings. It gives my words credence. Even for just a few people, I know that my thoughts have some purpose.

The most interesting thing is something that I didn't expect. I started this to share things with other people, but I'm the one who's benefited the most. As you can see, it's been and continues to be a time capsule of my life. As stupid as it sounds (and I think the word "blog" is incredibly stupid) my life is actually richer for having this blog. It is an incredible record of both big, important moments and silly, little jokes. Something that I can (and do) access from anywhere at any time to remember things that would otherwise be forgotten.

If you're reading this now, thank you. It probably means you've been here from the beginning. 

Friday, November 13, 2015


Battle for Illibuck



Ha ha, the spread is only 16 and a half! You think you're going to come and lay 17 in our house?! IN OUR HOUSE?!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Who's the 5th-hottest team in the NHL?

That's right! The Avalanche are on a 2-game winning streak for the first time all year. Good enough for 12th place in the conference!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Avs 6, Flames 3: I Was There

I try and go to one or two games a year. I got some tickets for 30 each in the upper deck on StubHub and took Tommy from work. Before the game we ate pork tenderloin sandwiches at Freshcraft.

The Avs opened with an unsuccessful power play and from then on it was mostly Flames. It seemed like whenever Colorado go the puck out of their own zone they turned it over or settled for a weak shot from the point.

Both teams have a shot that hits the post in the first period. With 9 minutes to go, the Flames have a wraparound attempt that looks like they should score on. Varlamov ends up doing a snow angel and the puck is sitting there near the line for a second, but no goal.

With 20 seconds to go in the first, there's a loose puck and Duchene finds it. He fires a backhand shot that gets saved and then uses some nifty hands to score with his body all the way behind the goal line.



It's only his second of the year and the Avs take the 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Here's a picture of the view from our seats:


In the 2nd period, the puck is deep in the Flames zone and they make a nifty pass along the boards to create a two on one. Tyson Barrie tries to hedge his bets by staying in the middle but the shooter never has to make a pass. Easy shot and score. 1-1.

On a Calgary power play, a Flame crashes the net and tips the puck toward goal. He careens into the net knocking it off the moorings a split-second before the puck crosses the goal line. We go to video review and the call is confirmed: no goal.

Soon after Barrie fires it toward the net and Iginla tips it in for a 2-1 lead.

Shortly after, there's another two on one for Calgary. This time the defender goes down, forcing the shooter wide. He gets off a decent shot and it's seemingly stopped under Varly's pads but no one knows where it is. A few seconds later, a Flame comes in and pokes at the pad. We never see the puck but it goes to a video review. For all I know it trickled across. But they confirm: no goal.

After that close call, Calgary goes on the power play again. But the Avs set up shop in their zone and Erik Johnson fires a slapshot. The goalie is screened and the Avs get a shorthanded goal. 3-1 and we're going nuts.

Just before the end of the 2nd, Calgary scores on a wraparound, a play that's been there all day for them.

3-2 Avs after two. During the intermission, Johnson gives an interview talking about how they need to learn from previous games mistakes where they've given up leads in the 3rd. I think this is pretty fun and make a few jokes about them being in a good spot because they've blown so many leads before.

Early in the third, the Flames shoot and Varly saves it, bouncing high and just over the top of the crossbar, landing on top of the net. Yet another close call.

With 12 to go in the game, a Flames shot from the point trickles through and it's 3-3 to the surprise of no one. As I always say when this happens, "on the bright side, we're going to see at least on more goal tonight."

With 7 minutes to go, Iginla makes a nice play in the zone to gain control of the puck. He's at an angle and I see an Av in the slot. Turns out it's MacKinnon. I scream out, "It's right there!" As I'm doing that, Iginla passes it to Mac and he shoots it. The puck hits the back of the net just as I finish saying it.



Great moment. Avs up 4-3 with 7 to go. Tommy and I joke around that Colorado scored way too quickly, way too much time to give up the equalizer now.

Right after the goal, Calgary trips a Colorado player. The Avs go back on the power play, I'm thinking there will be just 4 minutes left to kill after the power play is over. But instead Beauchemin puts it on net and Duchene tips it in. Power play goal and it's 5-3. Holy crap.

With 3 minutes left Calgary pulls the goalie and the Avs fling it down the ice. In a play reminiscent of the first playoff win I saw, the puck is sliding down and the defenseman is giving chase. This time he doesn't get there in time, but it hits the post. Instead of clearing it, he kinda parks in front of the goal and it's an easy put back for Iginla. 6-3 on the empty netter.

Great game with a ton of close calls. Calgary really could have scored 7 or 8. But hey, they didn't. Calgary was the opponent in the first game I ever attended but they won that time. Not tonight.



Complete History of Attending Avs Games

2011-2012 Season

November 6, 2011 vs Calgary Flames
Club Suite
Flames 2, Avs 1

I actually bought tickets, found somebody to go with, and then they got free tickets so we sat in the suite.

March 12, 2012 vs Anaheim Ducks
Section 138, Row 16
Avs 3, Ducks 2 (OT)

I bought tickets and took a friend, A.J. First win.


2012-2013 Season

February 18, 2013 vs Nashville Predators
Section 116, Row 2
Avs 6, Predators 5

This was an afternoon game on President's Day, which is why I was able to afford row 2. Took Brit's Dad.


2013-2014 Season

March 8, 2014 vs St. Louis Blues
Club Suite
Blues 2, Avs 1

Got free tickets through work and took both boys, hardly watched the game.


2014-2015 Season

November 22, 2014 vs Carolina Hurricanes
Section 342, Row 8
Avs 4, Hurricanes 3

This was a comeback on my birthday. First time in the upper deck and first time watching the game with just Brit.

February 18, 2015 vs L.A. Kings
Section 126, Row 8
Kings 4, Avs 1

Got one free ticket through work, went and sat with colleagues. First time sitting lower bowl between the blue lines.

- - -

2015-2016 Season

November 3, 2015 vs Calgary Flames
Section 346, Row 8
Avs 6, Flames 3

Took Tommy from work. It was 3-3 with 7 minutes to go, nice win to see.


March 7, 2016 vs Arizona Coyotes
Section 332, Row 8
Avs 3, Coyotes 1

Tommy got tickets, Avs never trailed, good game.


- - -

Record: 5-3

Pandemic Legacy: July Setup

Here's a recap of the developments in the first half of Pandemic Legacy. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Royals World Series SI Cover (slightly enhanced)



Back in 2007, I pointed out how SI took their covers from framable art to something disposable by adding pointless crap that clutters up even their most historic covers.

They did it again with the Royals cover. Here's the actual cover that went to press. Fortunately, they confined it to the top and made the background white, making it very simple to digitally remove.

Can you "throw the records out"?

This was my thought process:

Illinois is playing Purdue this weekend.
This is one of the only conference games that Illinois could win.
Illinois needs two wins to be bowl eligible, if they win this one, where could the other win come from?
Northwestern is good this year, but it's a rivalry game, so I wonder if the records matter in this series.
People always say that you can throw the records out in a rivalry, but I bet it's not true.

- - -

So how do I determine if we can throw the records out? I'm going to look at since I became an Illini when Illinois played Northwestern where either team was 3 or more wins better on the season. I figure the only time you'd use the expression is when one team would seem to be heavily favored.

2012: NU better season, NU win
2009: NU better season, NU win
2008: NU better season, NU win
2007: ILL better season, ILL win
2005: NU better season, NU win
2003: NU better season, NU win
2001: ILL better season, ILL win

So there you go. The team with a significantly better season is 7-0. In this particular rivalry, you can absolutely not throw out the records. Keep them in.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Kansas City Royals: World Series Champions

There was a hi-fi in our living room. The speakers were bigger than me. It had a record player that I wasn't allowed to touch. And it received AM/FM broadcasts. It didn't get much use in our house. Perhaps the occasional Bob Seger record. As a six-year-old I used it for two things. 1. I owned one vinyl record: Sesame Country by Sesame Street. 2. I listened to Kansas City baseball games on the radio.

The Royals were the first team I ever followed. Before the Chiefs. Before the Illini. I remember watching Cheers and Royals games on our 27" Hitachi.

I watched players like George Brett and Bo Jackson. But also Willie Wilson, Danny Tartabull, Jim Eisenreich, Mike MacFarlane, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Kevin Appier, and Jeff Montgomery. My favorite player was Frank White. They won some, they lost some. Games were cheap and we went to a bunch of them over the years.

It might have 1990 or 1988 when I won a drawing contest. It was for the Kansas City Zoo calendar. They selected 12 kids drawings. There were some older kids who represented the animals accurately. I was one of the younger kids who I guess got lucky. I'm not sure how you determine one crappy five-year-old's drawing is better than another's, but I got picked. Part of the prize was tickets to a Royals game. Along with the other winners, I got to go on the field. My name appeared on the large Royals-shaped scoreboard in centerfield. My dad even took a picture of my name in lights. It was all very exciting. I drew a toucan.

- - -

In the 28 baseball seasons from 1986 to 2013, from when I was roughly 2 to 30, here's how many times the Royals finished in each spot in their division:

Sixth: 2 times
Fifth: 9 times
Fourth: 6 times
Third: 8 times
Second: 3 times
First: 0 times

That is good enough for 0 playoff appearances.

Let's go a little deeper.

In those 28 seasons, here's how may times they finished within ranges of Games Back in their division.

0-9 GB: 5 times
10-19 GB: 9 times
20-29 GB: 8 times
30-39 GB: 5 times
40+ GB: 1 time

They were just as likely to finish more than 20 games back as they were less than 20 games back.

- - -

There are die-hard Royals fans. Fans that have stuck through losing season after losing season. I am not one of them. I've never picked another team but it was never worth it to me to watch the Royals play miserably. I've never cared about baseball enough so it wasn't a big deal.

I tried to get into them in 2007. I even live-blogged Alex Gordon's debut. 13 games in they were the worst in the league and finished last in their division.

When they finally made the playoffs in 2014, I was watching. I didn't consider myself a Royals fan, but I was rooting for them. I was hoping, even if I didn't believe in them.

And then one game changed everything. They were down 4 in the 8th. And did what no other team had ever done. It gave them an instant identity to the nation. This is a team that won't quit. That will always believe.

Then they swept the next two series. They made a believer out of most people, including myself. And their season ended with Alex Gordon on 3rd base. 90 feet away from tying up Game 7. Salvador Perez ended their season with a pop-up.

- - -

The Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning it all in 2011. They threw three pitches on that brink. One was a take, that could have been called a strike. The other two were hits, each tying the game. The next year, they lost the 1-game Wild Card. In 2013, they lost in their 163rd game. In 2014, they finished last in their division.

The point is that you can be as close as you can possibly be and then still never get there. While there have been plenty of teams to lose in the World Series and come back to win the following year, there's no guarantee. Getting close gets you nothing.

- - -

Every baseball projection system figured the Royals were a fluke. No one expected the AL Champs to even return to the playoffs. In fact, they improved. At the trade deadline they were buyers. They traded for Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto. They won their division. They hosted the Astros in the ALDS.

Down 2-1 in the series, the Royals were on the brink of elimination in the 8th inning. Their win expectancy was 3% in a must-win.

And then they loaded the bases with no outs. Cain singled in a run. Hosmer singled in a run. Morales hit a grounder up the middle that could have been a double play but it hopped over Correa's glove and the game was tied. And Gordon drives in a run to take the lead. The only team to ever come back that many that late in the playoffs? The 2014 Royals.

And in Game 5, Johnny Cueto only allows 2 runs in eight innings. That's why you get Cueto. And the Royals advance to face the Blue Jays.

That series went to six games and the last was the best of all.

All of a sudden, the Royals were in back-to-back World Series.

- - -

World Series Game 1

The World Series opened for Kansas City with an inside-the-park home run. One pitch and it's 1-0 Royals. And that play captured a lot of what the series would offer.

The Royals were aggressive, both for not taking on a pitch in the zone and running on the base paths. And the Mets made a defensive mistake that cost them a run.

Then the Mets' bats made an appearance. They held a 3-1 lead but the Royals came back and tied in 3-3.

In the 8th, the Royals had the comeback momentum, but a rare error by Hosmer cost them a run. The Mets had a 4-3 lead with their closer Familia coming out.

Gordon comes up to bat and the Royals have an 11% chance of winning. If Familia gets the save, I think the series is drastically different. If he gets those last two outs, the Mets would have shown they can be comeback kids too. They would have capitalized on a defensive error. They would have shown that pitching trumps everything. Their closer would have the confidence to attack this lineup. They would have taken Game 1 on the road and at that point have the opportunity to win it all in New York.

All of that was on the line...with a 89% chance of that coming true.

So for my money, that at-bat was the biggest of the Series.




That's the only ball the Royals hit out of the park all series. It showed that the Royal's magic lives on. It showed they didn't have to be afraid of Familia. That if they kept it close, and kept fighting, they could win games that they weren't supposed to win.

- - -

World Series Game 2

Johnny Cueto followed his amazing performance in the ALDS elimination game with a disaster in the ALCS. He was chased in the third inning. No fan knew what to expect from him again. He gave up a run in the top of the 4th and the Royals once again found themselves in a position where they had to come back.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Royals tied it 1-1 with two outs. Hosmer comes up to bat. Going into the 9th inning less than 24 hours ago, he was the goat. He ends up winning the game with a sac fly last night. In the 5th, he hits it up the middle scoring two. With one swing it's now 3-1. The Royals pile on the runs and win 7-1.

Cueto pitches a complete game and only gives up 1 run. That's why you get Cueto.

- - -

World Series Game 3

The series shifted to New York. Syndergaard pitched as well as Harvey did in Game 1, allowing 3 runs to the Royals. The difference was the Mets got to both the Royals' starter (their ace, Ventura) and the bullpen. The final was 9-3 Mets.

At this point each team had won one game going away. There were two more games to be played in New York and two more if necessary in Kansas City. The difference in the series was Game 1, one the Mets were in a position to win.

- - -

World Series Game 4

Once again, the Mets take the lead. It's 3-2 Mets in the top of the 8th. Royals down to a 18% win expectancy. Zobrist earns a walk to get on base. Cain comes up, fouls two off to start in a 0-2 hole. Would foul off two more in the process of taking four balls. He fought for a walk to get two men on. That brings in Familia.

Hosmer at the plate and hits a chopper to Murphy at second base. If he fields it cleanly his only play is to first. There would be two outs and a runner on second and third for Moustakas. But Murphy doesn't field it cleanly. It gets past him into the outfield. Zobrist scores from second and it's a tie game. It was Murphy's offense that helped the Mets get to the World Series but his defense that cost him once they got there.

Moustakas and Perez both single after Hosmer, each driving in a run. It's 5-3 still with one out. Obviously, if there's two outs we don't know that those at-bats happen the same way. But I think it's worth noting that the Murphy error cost them one run. The next two hits off Familia cost them two more.

5-3 is enough to get the Royals out of there, though not before some drama in the bottom of the 9th. Davis started the inning with a 96% chance to win. After getting one out and allowing a runner on first and second, it was down to 82%. One swing of the bat would have won the game for the Mets. Instead, a double play that relied on poor Mets' base running wins the game for the Royals.

Another example that the Mets' strength was pitching and power hitting, not defense or base running.

KC leads the Series 3-1. There's one more in New York. Even if they lose that, they'll have two chances to win it at home.

- - -

World Series Game 5

Harvey vs Volquez, a rematch of Game 1. They tell us it's the first time Harvey's pitched on full rest in a while. And he's great. The Mets get a lead-off home run and right away it looks like the series is headed back to Kansas City. But Volquez settles down and matches Harvey for the next five innings.

In the bottom of the 6th, Volquez loads the bases with no outs. That's the situation the Royals were in against the Astros facing elimination. That time the Royals scored 5 to take the lead. Cespedes is at the plate, the player they Mets acquired and turned their season around. Royals 11% chance of winning at this point.

Cespedes is terribly unlucky and hurts himself severely, fouling a pitch off his kneecap. You hate to see it but it helps the Royals. He pops up and there's 1 down. Duda hits a sac fly to make it a 2-0 game. With two outs, Volquez gets a ground out. Even though the Mets extended their lead, the announcers called it a win for Volquez. I had the sense the Royals could come back from 1 or 2 without too much trouble. 3 or 4 is questionable.

Moustakas gets a hit in the 7th but they strand him. In the 8th, Harvey retires all three batters on 9 pitches. Harvey was pitching too well for the Royals to do anything.

Before the 9th inning, the broadcast shows the Mets manager telling Harvey he's coming out of the game. Harvey is livid. He yells, no way are you taking me out of the game. I was hoping to see Familia. I've seen Familia blow two saves and I just saw Harvey retire the last five batters he faced.

Harvey takes the mound in the 9th.

Broadcasters, columnists are focused on that decision. Should he have stayed on the mound or come out of the game. But that's not what won or lost the game. They had a 94% chance to win at this point.

Cain comes up and takes the first three pitches and finds himself in 1-2 hole. Takes another: 2-2. Fouls one off. Takes another: full count. The next pitch is a curve over the plate. Cain takes it. It's low. Cain's on first. On the next pitch he steals second. Cain's taken the Royals from a 6% chance to win to 15%. On the next pitch Cain scores. Hosmer cracks a double to the left field warning track. It's a 1-2 game with no outs. 35% chance of winning. Harvey comes out now. In comes Familia, who's already blown two saves this series.

Moustakas hits a grounder to the right side, advancing Hosmer to third base. 90 feet away. One out.

Up comes Perez. It's a broken bat, weak shot the left side of the infield. David Wright fields it, checks Hosmer at third and fires to first for the second out of the 9th inning. On Wright's release, Hosmer goes for home. Duda catches and turns the ball for home. A play at the plate to win the game. But the throw is terrible. High and wide, to the wrong side of the plate. Hosmer should have been out before he begins he slide but he scores easily. Once again this team stays aggressive and the other team makes a mistake. When it happens once or twice you can say they got lucky. When it happens game after game, series after series, you see a team making their own luck.

According to Baseball Reference, the Royals still only had a 40% chance of winning with a 2-2 game in the top of the 9th, with no one on and two outs. But you show me a Royals fan who didn't think it was twice that.



We go to the 12th inning. Perez starts it off with a bloop single down the right line that falls a foot fair. I think they can't take out Perez because he's so important defensively, but Yost does. In comes Dyson. He steals second on a 2-0 count and it's not close. That's what speed do. Puts him in scoring position and takes away the double play. Gordon hits one to the right side advancing Dyson to third. 90 feet away.

With one out I look at the screen and see the batter. I say out loud, "Who the hell is that?" Who the hell is that is Christian Colon. His last at bat was October 4th. It's November 1st.

His first appearance in the postseason is with a chance to take the lead in the 12th of a World Series elimination game. He takes a strike. He swings and misses. He takes a ball. And on 1-2 count, he cracks it into left field. The 3-2 lead says 85% chance of winning.

Escobar makes it 4-2. Cain makes it 7-2. It says 100% chance of winning. You and I know that really means 99.5 or above. Turns out to be 100%.

Davis gets the first two batters and allows a single. Then he gets to a 1-2 count. At the Power and Light district in downtown Kansas City, they're chanting "one more strike, one more strike." They get it. It's a called third strike and the game is over. The series is over. The season is over. A 30-year-wait is over.

It's time to party like it's 1985.

- - -

The Royals became the first team with 3 wins in the World Series after trailing in the 8th or later.

From the 6th inning on, here's how many runs the teams scored:

ALDS: Royals 14, Astros 6.
ALCS: Royals 22, Blue Jays 5.
WS: Royals 21, Mets 3.

That's 57-14 over 16 playoff games. They won 11.

KC broke a record with 6 postseason wins in which they trailed by multiple runs. And then they extended it with a 7th win in the clincher.

This is their trademark. This is what they do.




- - -

Eric Hosmer published a piece on The Player's Tribune on October 12th. It's a very impressive read with one main takeaway: The 2015 Royals aren't just playing for 2015. They're playing for 2014. They don't want to be considered a fluke, just a team that stumbled their way farther than anyone expected and then disappeared. No one remembers or respects those teams.

The 2012 Detroit Tigers swept the Yankees in the ALCS but got swept in the WS by the Giants.
The Rex Grossman Bears made it to the Super Bowl but lost to Peyton's Colts.
The Dwight Howard Magic made it to the Finals but lost to the Lakers.

Making it to the Finals in any sport is an incredible achievement, but if you don't finish it off, it's almost as if it didn't happen.

These Royals just became the best Kansas City baseball team ever and won the 2015 trophy. But they also redeemed the 2014 Royals.

This World Series was about redemption as much as anything.

Last year ended with Alex Gordon 90 feet away. His clutch home run in the bottom of the 9th in Game 1 changed the whole series.

The guy that ended it last year at the plate was Perez. This year he started the winning rally in the 12th and was awarded Series MVP.

In the regular season and the ALCS, Cueto was not the guy the Royals traded for. But he was the man in the ALDS elimination game and WS Game 2.

Moustakas and Hosmer both made fielding errors in the World Series but came through with big hits and timely running.

Even Yost who was a national punchline in 2014 has the last laugh in 2015.

For the last thirty years, no one has believed in the Kansas City Royals. But the players believed. And now everyone does.

Going back to the Hosmer article. I assume he wrote it before the playoffs started. But it was posted to the Player's Tribune at 7:03 am on October 12th. At that moment the Royals were down 1-2 to the Astros. If they lose that game, Hosmer looks like a joke. Everyone would just say the Royals were a fluke. They find themselves down four runs in the 8th and everyone, including the die-hard fans thinks the season is over. But the players don't.

Moustakas riles everyone up in the dugout. He's yelling at them, "We're not losing this game."

- - -

Life is full of moments that happen sequentially. Especially sports.

A player fumbles on a 3rd and 1 and loses the game. But that doesn't happen if they picked up one more yard on the previous play and are passing on first down.

A manager is using his closer in the bottom of the 9th because they got the lead in the top of the inning.

Every sport is full of moments that may not have happened the same way if previous outcomes were different. This is obvious and taken for granted.

Which is why myself and other Royals fans go back to that wild-card game against the A's. It looked like that was the end of the 2014 Royals season. No playoff wins.

If that's the case, no one knows what happens in 2015. Maybe they're not buyers at the deadline. Maybe they miss the playoffs completely or maybe they don't comeback agains the Astros. No one knows for sure. But I can tell you, I don't think they're champions this year if they don't go through last year.

- - -

Perhaps the most beautiful thing now is that next year doesn't matter.

I know the players will want to win again. The front office will want to keep making moves to preserve a future. But from my vantage point, they've climbed the mountain. Yes, it would be fun to stay there. But once you've climbed it, you've reached the top. There's no where else to go.

Just do it? You've done it.

This is something that can never be taken away.

Cueto and Zobrist and maybe more will go to another team. Odds are they won't repeat. But they are already forever royalty. George Brett is a champion for life because of winning one World Series 30 years ago. They still show his face on TV. He reached a level that few people ever do. And this roster just did the same.

Every player on the roster, every pitcher, every pinch hitter, even the backup catcher played.

They never have to achieve anything more and they'll still always be champions.

- - -

For me personally, there's still some internal conflict. This wasn't the Chiefs or the Illini or even the Avs. It's not a team that I've lived and died and with. The Royals were miserable and I walked away. I stopped watching when they were bad. I never gave them the chance to rip my heart out with a 38-31 playoff loss to the 2003 Colts. Or a 44-45 playoff loss to the 2013 Colts. I didn't walk out of the K with my head held low like I've done at Memorial Stadium, the Pepsi Center or the Edwards Jones Dome.

The bottom line is I haven't suffered for the Royals.

It's been a long stretch of apathy followed by a burst of exhilaration. The authentic sports fan in me understands the greater the suffering, the greater the catharsis. If I ever see the Chiefs win a Super Bowl (or hey, maybe even a playoff game for once would be nice too) it would be a bigger emotional impact. Just typing that sentence made me nervous inside because I imagined them getting to the Super Bowl and losing.

So I can't claim that I was always there for the Royals. Truthfully, there were so bad for my entire life that this moment is never even one that I dreamed of. In the same way that I've never dreamed of winning the lottery because it never seemed possible.

And now that it's here, that one of the most exciting playoff runs ever just fell into my lap, I almost feel guilty. I gave the Royals no suffering and they gave me intense joy. It almost doesn't seem fair. But you know what? I'll take it.










Tuesday, November 03, 2015

I've been working on the Royals post since they won. At 2600 words right now. Hope to finish tomorrow.

Edit: Finished at 3858 words.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Zero People Got This Correct


Thoughts from the Top 6th

I love how the announcers are acting like Harvey and the Mets are blowing out the Royals in a 1-0 game, when the Royals have dominated after the 6th inning. In my opinion, the Royals have the advantage here only down one. Also, CAN'T WAIT to see Familia again.