Despite no Phillies, unless you count Raul Ibanez (which you don't because I'm pretty sure he was left off the roster)(EDIT: Right, they also have Erik Kratz), you may still watch the World Series by accident. It may be on in a bar in the background or something. I don't know. And if you do, or it is, you're going to be rooting for the Royals (trust me).
They are the first 8-0 playoff team in baseball history, and the first team to win four extra inning games in playoff history. They're young, they're fast, and they're fun. They're the anti-Phillies.
So you may want to know a thing or two about them, like their names, who the manager is, what color their uniforms are (I wanna say… turquoise? Who knows).
Ned Yost was getting booed during the Wild Card playoff against Oakland. With the Royals down by four runs in the eighth, things seemed to be wrapping up in Kansas City. After they came back to tie the game, then fell behind, then came back again and won in extras, the boos have suddenly stopped.
The Royals' skipper since May 2010, Yost formerly managed the Brewers until his firing in September 2008, before Milwaukee and their new ace C.C. Sabathia were eliminated in the NLDS by the Phillies. He was groomed under Bobby Cox in Atlanta, where rules like "don't wear jeans on the road" taught Yost – eventually – that maybe being a vice-gripped authoritarian wasn't the best way to get young players to relax.
Like another recently successful manager, Yost saw his job as creating an open, comfortable clubhouse in which his players wouldn't have to follow strict regimens and could operate with the same looseness that would hopefully make it onto the field. And how about that – it totally has.
Wade Davis (1.00 ERA in the regular season), Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA), and Greg Holland (1.44 ERA) are one of those sexy trios in the back of the bullpen that are in a completely cohesive, shutdown stretch of their careers, and they have fortunately entered it while their team is in the playoffs.
They work as one unit that carries the team from the seventh to the save, refusing to allow runs as they haven't all season (the team is 65-4 when leading after the sixth). In 25 2/3 innings pitched this postseason, they've allowed a combined three runs (one each), with Holland tying Dennis Eckersley for the MLB postseason save record. Though it helps when your defense is the Royals' defense.
It's been called the "ultimate outfield," which is really nice, because not allowing opponents' fly balls and line drives to hit the ground is a huge advantage, especially in the playoffs.
There are only so many ways to beat them, and a lot of them involve luck, or somehow becoming extremely precise in the placement of your bloop single.
Left fielder Alex Gordon makes catches while hurling his face into the hard ground.
He also makes catches hurling his face into walls.
Now he's the "best left fielder" in the majors, which isn't bad for a guy who inspired the question four years ago, "Why do the Royals hate Alex Gordon?"
On top of that, the Royals know better than to let speed freak Jarrod Dyson waste away on the bench in late innings. When games get tight in the seventh inning or later, Yost deploys Dyson to play center, moving the equally speedy Lorenzo Cain to right field in place of Nori Aoki, and leaving three-time Gold Glove winner Gordon to handle left.
The result is almost all ground covered and an 8-0 playoff run.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, hitter of zero home runs in the month of September, career non-liver-up-to-of-expectations, has four home runs in the playoffs. So far.
He also made this catch, during which he was ASSISTED YET NOT INTERFERED WITH by his own team's fans (TAKE NOTES, PEOPLE).
First baseman Eric Hosmer's 12th-inning triple in the Wild Card game was a critical rally point. After they flattened the Angels in the ALDS, he picked up a $3,000 bar tab. He leads the team with 13 hits in the postseason, proving that the shortening of his stroke he did in August while recovering from a broken hand paid off.
Alcides Escobar handles shortstop, and he's got the third-most hits with 10 and along with Omar Infante, who seems headed for surgery in the offseason, provides sharp defense up the middle. Escobar is already being targeted by the Yankees to fill their hole at shortstop, which I guess isn't as good news as it was a few years ago.
The Royals steal bases as if they're being controlled by me in a video game. Fortunately, they don't throw at as many hitters as I do, too. (Hit one guy as a vengeance ploy and then hit the next guy so everybody knows it wasn't an accident – take that, technology!)
Fangraphs has an intense, .gif-rich breakdown of the Royals' thievery in the Wild Card game against Oakland, when it proved to be their most valuable resource. You feel bad for the A's catcher, Derrick Norris. His arm must have been gassed and he had nothing to show for it.
Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain, Terrance Gore; the Royals have so many speed threats their offense is basically eight sentient dust clouds and Billy Butler (who also stole a base during that A's game). Not only does their velocity allow for free bases, but it allows Yost to employ his precious bunts, which he does, although sometimes Cain just does it because he wants to.
If a Royals runner is going, he's probably already there.
They're psyched, they're delirious, and most of them are experiencing all of this for the first time. They seem mostly nice, and at this point, they'll cheer for anything.
Royals fans tried to point out how crappy Baltimore fans were for leaving ALCS games early, but these were the same fans booing their on manager in a playoff game they went on to win, so, you know, grant them a little grace.
Remember how you felt when the Phillies were in the playoffs – hell, when they won the World Series, former Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan had to remind you that you weren't in a coma.
"It felt like a dream, but it wasn't. You are wide awake and the Phillies really are World Series champions."