In recent days there have been a number of articles asserting that the 2014 postseason is either boring or not lucrative for MLB because of the absence of any teams with a national following, like the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. Leaving aside the question of why an ordinary baseball fan should care whether or not ratings are up for the World Series, these assertions, at least with regards to the teams and the game on the field, are inaccurate.
Clearly baseball isn't for everybody. Some people did not grow up with the game and have never fully learned the beauty and nuance of baseball. Others are simply not sports fans. Some are obsessed with another sport or pastimes and have never paid baseball much attention. Those people probably won't watch the World Series this year, but for any baseball fan, even a casual one, this should be a great one.
Despite not playing in Boston, New York or even the eastern time zone, both teams are, at the moment, excellent, exciting and fun teams. The Kansas City Royals have not been in the World Series, or even the postseason since 1985. The star of that 1985 team was the greatest player in Royals history. George Brett still attends all the Royals' home games and roots his old team on. Brett is also the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who can be seen in a YouTube video -- that may be the reason the Internet was invented -- describing how he once lost control of his bowels in Las Vegas.
This Royals' team is hard not to enjoy. A trio of relievers, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, throw in the high 90s were dominant in the regular season and in the recent Royals ALCS sweep combined to allow one run and only ten base runners in 14.2 innings. The Royals' signature asset is their extraordinary outfield defense. Great defensive plays in the outfield are the most graceful, beautiful and athletic part of baseball and no team makes more of them than the Royals starting outfield Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki, as well as Jarrod Dyson, a fourth outfielder who enters most games in the late innings for defense.
There are no players on the Royals' team that have any real national fame. The most well-known Royal might be Billy Butler, but that is probably more due to him having played on the team since 2007 than anything else.
The San Francisco Giants are different. They are making their third World Series in appearance and have a nucleus of recognizable and in some cases, even colorful, characters. Manager Bruce Bochy speaks in a stream of baseball cliches, but is the best manager in the game and after he retires will be doing that from a dais in Cooperstown. The Giants pitching rotation is led by Madison Bumgarner, a Bunyanesque left hander who at the ripe age of 25 will be pitching in his third World Series. In his first two, all he did was combine to pitch 15 innings of shutout ball.
The Giants' offense is led by catcher and number three hitter Buster Posey, an all-American type out of central casting complete with two adorable twin toddlers. Posey, who is completing his fifth full year in the big leagues, has already won an MVP, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year Award and will be one of the top 10 finishers in this year's MVP balloting once again.
The Giants' cleanup hitter is a big man known for years as the Kung Fu Panda. Pablo Sandoval is big with a funny nickname but is one of the game's best hitters. He is a fun to watch player whose fast-hitting reflexes and sometimes questionable pitch selection make him the kind of player who can not only swing at a pitch well off the strike zone, but drive it somewhere for extra bases. For good measure, the Panda has recently added Gold Glove quality defense at third base to his skill set.
The games themselves still need to be played and it is possible this World Series could be a less than dramatic one, but that can happen any year, even when the Yankees or Red Sox are playing. However, the stories, players and characters behind this World Series are as compelling as in almost any year. If you're a baseball fan and don't realize that, you haven't been paying attention.