If you’re like me, you’ve discovered the last two Octobers are a bit of a letdown after the 2014 and 2015 postseasons. Playoff baseball is a drug, apparently, and withdrawal is not fun.
Although the Royals aren’t in the World Series (as you may have heard), perhaps choosing a side in the World Series will help fill the void. So which side should you, fellow Royals fan, choose?
The Former Royal Factor
As long as it’s not some bad apple like Neifi Perez or Kevin McReynolds, I like seeing former Royals do well in the postseason. Well, as long as they’re not a Yankee or Cardinal. In this area, Houston has a big advantage over Los Angeles. Astros DH/sometime outfielder Carlos Beltran was #RaisedRoyal, drafted by Kansas City way back in 1995. He was a very successful Royal and a delight to watch, at the plate, on the bases, and in center field. Now he has a chance to capture his first World Series title, which could be the capper on a Hall of Fame career—he at least has an argument.
The Astros also have former Royals all over their coaching staff—manager A.J. Hinch played here, and pitching coach Brent Strom and first base coach Rich Dauer coached here.
The “Did They Ever Break My Heart?” Factor
No, can’t say that they have. The Royals have never faced the Dodgers in the postseason, although the two teams have made the playoffs in the same season in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1985, 2014, and 2015 (phew). Meanwhile, I’m sure you all remember the only postseason meeting the Royals and Astros have had.
Confession time: a small part of me feels a little bit badly about the Royals’ comeback in Game Four of that series. Having watched some of my other teams (looking at you, Chiefs) blow winnable postseason games allows me to have a bit of empathy. So I was happy the Astros did not lose the ALCS in crushing fashion.
The “Tortured Fanbase” Factor
Last year’s World Series had this in spades, with two teams with a collective title drought of 827 years or so. This year we have a traditional power, yet one that hasn’t even been in the World Series for 29 years (where have I heard that before?). On the other hand, the Astros have a underrated history of postseason heartbreak. You know about 2015, and if you’re my age you remember the 1986 NLCS, but you might not know that in 1980, Houston had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five NLCS and needed just one win in two home games to go to the World Series. But they blew a two-run lead in the fourth game, then coughed up a three-run lead in the fifth game. Then they followed that up by blowing a 2-0 lead in the Division Series the next year…against the Dodgers.
Is a sporadic playoff history with plenty of gut-punch losses better or worse than making it seemingly every year, only to fall short of the World Series every time? I don’t know.
The “Fun” Factor
Plenty of fun players in this series, on both sides. Jose Altuve is a pint-sized hitting machine. Yasiel Puig brings a special joy to the game. Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel are the kind of pitchers who make for big walk-up sales. Cory Seager, Cody Bellinger, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman are all tremendously talented and under the age of 24. And Justin Turner has a great beard.
The “Intangibles” Factor
Houston had that hurricane a while back. Thankfully Los Angeles hasn’t had a big disaster in a while (insert “Michael Bay film” joke here). I don’t know how much a team winning a title helps, but maybe it gives Houstonians a little boost.
I don’t think I realized it until I wrote this, but I guess I’m leaning Astros. But really, I’m just rooting for well-played games. And seven of them. After all, winter will be here soon enough.