WS Game Three: Thor’s hammer from Brushback Mountain

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.

Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:

WS Game Two: When a gut runs empty

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d'Arnaud) stayed with deGrom's gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Collins (in jacket, amidst Wilmer Flores, David Wright, and Travis d’Arnaud) stayed with deGrom’s gut just a little too long in Game Two . . .

Standing by your man and trusting his gut is one of the most admirable qualities a baseball manager can have. Until or unless even his gut runs out of sustenance. When Jacob deGrom’s gut ran out of sustenance in the fifth inning Wednesday night, Terry Collins was caught flatfoot.

WS Game One: Crazyball

What Escobar began on the first pitch with a little help from two miscommunicating Mets . . .

What Escobar began on the first pitch with a little help from two miscommunicating Mets . . .

Open a World Series with an inside-the-park home run thanks to an unexpected brain vapour by the opposing battery and a pair of outfielders. Finish the game after fourteen innings and with a sacrifice fly.

These Kansas City Royals may have done crazier things than that in their two-season-and-maybe-counting return to American League supremacy. But they’re not about to bet on it.

The Royals win the pennant on the run

In 1946 it was Enos Slaughter’s mad dash home in the eighth inning while Johnny Pesky held the ball. (Actually, he didn’t, but Pesky had no chance to throw home in time after taking a high throw in from center field.)  And it meant a World Series triumph for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Almost seventy years later, it was Lorenzo Cain’s mad dash home while Jose Bautista threw to second. Also in the eighth inning. But it meant a trip to the World Series for the Kansas City Royals Friday night.

Lorenzo Cain, channeling his inner Enos Slaughter . . .

Lorenzo Cain, channeling his inner Enos Slaughter . . .

The Royals need their diapers changed

Boys will be boys, but little by little, piece by piece, the Kansas City Royals seem determined to prove they can set a record for going from Cinderella boys one season (2014) to public enemy number one with their dirty diapers the next. If their weekend in Toronto is any suggestion, losing two of three to the Jays won’t prove half as significant as will the Royals finishing 2015 as either the single most hated team in baseball or one of the top three.

It’s Trout’s All-Star Game, everyone else is just along for the ride

Mike Trout launches in the first. And what's with the gold trimmed gear on Buster Posey?

Mike Trout launches in the first. And what’s with the gold trimmed gear on Buster Posey?

What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?

* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.

So it won’t be the Royals v. the NL after all, but . . .

Cain will be an All-Star starter; Infante (thank God) won't.

Cain will be an All-Star starter; Infante (thank God) won’t.

As regards the final All-Star voting—fans, players, etc.—minus the Last Man online vote, a few sobering thoughts:

1) Four Royals turned out to be voted as starters, after all, compared to eight Reds voted but six left remaining in the 1957 ballot box stuffing scandal. (Then-commissioner Ford Frick, we repeat, removed Wally Post and Gus Bell from the starting lineup in favour of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.) Apparently, the Kansas City stuffers just didn’t quite have what it took to set a new record for voting perfidy.

The All-Star fan vote’s broken; here’s one way to fix (ahem,—repair!) it

Kipnis, the AL's leading WARrior at second base through Friday . . .

Kipnis, the AL’s leading WARrior at second base through Friday . . .

I didn’t cast my own All-Star vote until this past Thursday, but I’d like to think that I applied a little more intelligence and a lot less up yours to the exercise than seems to have been applied by those determined to stuff the American League’s starting lineup with Kansas City Royals whether or not said Royals (I’ll get to that shortly) actually deserve starting berths.

Roenicke run, but he wasn’t the Brewers’ problem

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn't deserve.

The manager usually takes the fall, of course, but Roenicke really took the fall he didn’t deserve.

The Milwaukee Brewers have thrown out the first manager of the season. And while you expect that when a team starts slowly, you also can’t help wondering how often throwing out the manager is the kind of move made by the general manager who should be measured for execution and just might get it yet.

Ron Roenicke, a graduate of the Mike Scioscia school of coaching, wasn’t the garrulous type fellow alum Joe Maddon is, but he is an acute tactician and handler of players. The problem wasn’t Roenicke’s game thinking or personality balancing, the problem was and is the team he was handed from the outset.

The Royals execute a Game Six slashout . . .

Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas

Escobar (2) and Moustakas (8) enjoy scoring on shuttlecocks as well as bullet hits . . .

Hands up to everyone who expected Game Six to be a blowout on either side. Join the club, I didn’t expect it either. So let’s be reasonable, consider the source, and call what the Kansas City Royals did Tuesday night a 10-0 slashout.

Now, hands up to everyone who thought the Royals would hang up a seven-spot in the second inning Tuesday night. Join the club, I didn’t expect that, either. But there they were. The Roach Coach’s windows were wiped, the oil was changed, the tank was filled with fuel, and the Royals sent it into runaway train mode before the San Francisco Giants had a clue to what was hitting them.