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 . . .

Edinson lights up for the Royals to open

Volquez after wringing his way out of the sixth inning on a night he owned the Blue Jays otherwise.You thought Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets bullpen knew how to handle the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series? You should have seen Edinson Volquez and the Kansas City Royals handling the Toronto Blue Jays in Game One of the American League Championship Series.

And if you thought often-enough criticised Mets manager Terry Collins figured out a few ways to work on the fly against a very deficient Don Mattingly, you had to watch often-enough criticised Royals manager Ned Yost defy a few expectations himself.

The Astros’ surprise ride crashes

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer's quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros' heartbreaking division series fall.

Gomez falling as he tries to field Hosmer’s quail becomes a metaphor for the Astros’ heartbreaking division series fall.

The good news is that the Houston Astros have more than a pleasant future ahead of them. The bad news is that the present now hurts like hell after spending a season surprising just about everyone walking the earth.

“None of us were ready to go home when we came here at one o’clock today,” said Carlos Correa, the splendid rookie who’s already considered the soul of this team. “We were ready to keep playing. Unfortunately, we’ve gotta go home now and be ready for spring training.”

Only the game was wild as the Royals clinch the Central

Last year they needed the wild card play-in game to kick their way into a postseason run that ended one short of a World Series triumph. This year the Kansas City Royals won’t have to worry about that kind of tension. Not after they thrashed their way into clinching the American League Central Thursday night.

The Royals clinch the Central.

The Royals clinch the Central.

Not after they got the biggest game of Johnny Cueto’s tenure since his arrival in a non-waiver trade deadline deal. Cueto couldn’t have picked a better time to win his first start in six weeks. So it wasn’t exactly pretty with three runs and seven hits against five punchouts and two passes, but nobody said it had to be pretty to win, either.

Angry Birds devour Royals

Reimold only began the Angry Birds' destruction with this grand salami . . .

Reimold only began the Angry Birds’ destruction with this grand salami . . .

News flash: The Royals’ bullpen is only human, after all. And the Orioles actually have pulses. If you don’t believe me, you weren’t in Camden Yards Friday night. For the eighth inning especially.

These were the Orioles who’d dropped sixteen of their previous 22, were six out of the American League wild card race, and started the bottom of the eighth in the hole 6-4. The Orioles whose manager said the team planned to win 23 straight from Friday forward.

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.

Johnny Royal, no-hit Cole, other trade winds, and Grienke’s streak stopped

Looks like he's Johnny Royal now . . .

Looks like he’s Johnny Royal now . . .

On the day where the big news should be a staggering group of pitchers (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz) and a sneaky-great infielder (Craig Biggio) entering the Hall of Fame, the Reds dealing Johnny Cueto to the Royals, right after Cueto knocked down health concerns with eight shutout innings against the Rockies in a park that normally vaporises pitching, threatens to equal it.

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.

On the Royal stuffing, continued . . .

Lorenzo Cain (left), a Royal who does belong as an All-Star starter, with Omar Infante, who doesn't---but might, with five more Royals thanks to apparent ballot box stuffing.

Lorenzo Cain (left), a Royal who does belong as an All-Star starter, with Omar Infante, who doesn’t—but might, with five more Royals thanks to apparent ballot box stuffing.

“We’ll see how it all turns out,” says baseball commissioner Rob Manfred about the All-Star voting that still has eight Kansas City Royals—only one of whom actually does deserve the honour—going to the American League’s starting lineup by dint of the fan voting. “We are responsive and open to change if we get a result that is not consistent with the goals of the system that is in place.”