Joe Posnanski has a lot of things going for him: Award-winning sports columnist, author of four books, father of two daughters, Twitterer to 104,000 followers. But for 29 years, Poz has also had an albatross hanging around his neck. That's right, he's a Kansas City Royals fan. For Posnanski, the emotional baggage that comes from three decades of futility has vanished these past few weeks, as the Royals have gone on an enchanted run to the World Series. But can his Royals keep playing like Midwestern baseball gods, or will they get scared on the big stage and poop the throne? Posnanski spoke to San Francisco editor-in-chief Jon Steinberg about his team's chances against the Giants.
I'm sorry to say this to your face, Joe, but I think the Royals are about to lay a big, fat, royal blue egg. They can't keep playing the way they have since their epic Wild Card win against the A's. They are just too young, inexperienced, and offensively challenged. Is there any way that they can keep this run going?
Sigh. Jon, you are looking at this all wrong. The days of scoring runs are over. Teams don’t win by scoring runs. Teams win by playing amazing defense and by shutting down the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. You would think watching the Giants these last five years, you would know that. No team in baseball—few teams in memory—play better defense and shut down the late inning like this Kansas City team.
I'll give you the bullpen—the Royals' is definitely superior to the Giants'. And KC is much faster than us. But the starting pitching isn't as good as the Giants' earlier opponents, their offense is sub-par, and skipper Ned Yost is, as one KC blogger recently put it, "the village idiot of baseball managers." Why should Giants fans be alarmed by this team?
Because none of that other stuff matters. Ned Yost isn’t exactly Copernicus, but last I checked managers don’t play in the World Series. And it isn’t about starting pitching anymore—it’s about bullpens. As for the Royals offense being subpar, you do know the Giants scored just fourteen more runs than the Royals all year, right? You do know that the Giants just went, what, 674,593,384 plate appearances without a home run? Jon, ALL offenses are subpar in this new realm of baseball, and Giants fans should be alarmed because they’re probably not going to beat the Royals with late-inning comebacks and having opposing pitchers throw the ball away. They’re going to have to beat this team. It’s a dead even match-up, I think. The Royals won one more game than the Giants this year and have looked better in the postseason. The Giants have more experience. Maybe that will matter. Maybe it won’t.
There's an article by a Forbes columnist going around saying that the Giants are boring and will kill this year's World Series ratings. We think that's complete garbage: The Giants are a scrappy, grinding, blue-collar team loaded with players with funny animal nicknames and impressive beer drinking techniques. What do you think, Joe: Are we bad for baseball?
I love the Giants. I love them because my hero Duane Kuiper is the announcer and because I think San Francisco is one of the greatest cities on earth and because I think the atmosphere at AT&T Park is the best in baseball. I love them because I played a role in the career of Jeremy Affeldt (a story for another day), and I love watching Panda play, and because Maddy Bumgarner grew up about 90 minutes from where I live now in North Carolina. I love them because Bruce Bochy is a fantastic manager, and Buster Posey is a rock, and this team just keeps finding ways. No, of course the Giants aren’t bad for baseball.
Obviously, you're biased, but how do you really think this series will turn out? Or, to put it another way, how can the Royals possibly win this thing?
One of my best friends in the world is a huge Giants fan and he was trash talking about how this series is over before it starts. One, he’s insane. But two, that bugs me because I think Giants fans should be way cooler than that. You’re in San Francisco, for crying out loud. You have a team that won two of the last four World Series! You’ve got the whole world beat—and you’re going to trash talk the Kansas City Royals? Who have not been to the World Series in 29 years? I saw a couple of radio stations are refusing to play the song “Royals.” Really? Banning a two-year-old song? People think I’m offended by that—I’m not offended. That just seems so BENEATH San Francisco to me. I have so much higher expectation of the city; it’s like finding out that your hero reads Internet comments and responds to them under a pseudonym. The Royals and Giants had essentially the same record, they have essentially the same skill set, the Giants have experience and a superb manager, the Royals have homefield and mojo—it's a toss-up. Winner of Game 1 wins the series, I think.
I'm going to pose the same question that I posed Will Leitch when we chatted during the 2012 NLCS: On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your anxiety level about this series? One = mellow as Tim Lincecum after another sunny afternoon on the bench. Ten = Anxious as Ned Yost after Jarrod Dyson gets caught stealing 3rd to end the 8th inning.
0.2 — mellow as Kuip after one of of our lunches talking about old Cleveland days. It’s already a glorious season for the Royals. Two of my favorite teams and favorite cities are playing in what I really think will be a magnificent World Series. I’ll get some Arthur Bryant’s Ribs in Kansas City, and go to Slanted Door in San Francisco, and enjoy every last minute of it.