The New York Mets completed a surprising sweep of the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night and continue to wait for the American League to finish its championship series and send an opponent to the World Series.
The Kansas City Royals are certainly in a better position on Friday afternoon, as they'll take a 3-2 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays at home into Game 6. If they win one of the final two games of the series, they will win their second consecutive American League pennant and play the Mets in the World Series.
However, the Blue Jays are certainly capable of fighting back and winning the final two games, even though both are on the road. They have three home run bashers in the middle of their lineup in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson who are capable of breaking open any game.
The Mets were underdogs in their series against the Cubs, and even though they have a dominant group of starting pitchers, it would not be a surprise if they were underdogs in the World Series.
|2015 World Series|
|1||Tuesday, Oct. 27||at AL city||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|2||Wednesday, Oct. 28||at AL city||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|3||Friday, Oct. 30||at New York||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|4||Saturday, Oct. 31||at New York||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|5 (if necessary)||Sunday, Nov. 1||at New York||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|6 (if necessary)||Tuesday, Nov. 3||at AL city||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
|7 (if necessary)||Wednesday, Nov. 4||at AL city||Fox-TV; MLB.TV|
That should not be taken to heart. The 2015 Mets bear a striking resemblance to the 1969 version of the team, and those Mets shocked the baseball world when they beat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
Those Mets were viewed by some as a fluke team that got hot at the right time and were lucky to win the World Series. The '69 edition did get hot, but it was no fluke.
The '69 Mets had a remarkable pitching staff that paved the way for them to sprint past the Cubs in the regular season and then down Hank Aaron and the Atlanta Braves in the first NLCS before taking down Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell in five games in the World Series.
The Orioles won 108 games that season and were managed by Earl Weaver. There is little doubt that those Orioles were quite remarkable, as they had top pitching of their own, as well as power bats and an airtight defense.
But the Mets had pitchers Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and a young flamethrower named Nolan Ryan. They also had clutch hitting from Donn Clendenon and Cleon Jones, remarkable play from Tommie Agee in centerfield and a group of contributors featuring Ed Charles and Ron Swoboda that rose to the occasion.
History shows that there was nothing fluky or lucky about the '69 Mets. They beat great teams because they got hot and had underappreciated talent.
The 2015 Mets may be the same way. The pitching staff is talented and deep, thanks to Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Has there ever been a hotter postseason power hitter than second baseman Daniel Murphy and his seven postseason home runs? Not according to the history books.
The Mets have made all the plays in the field and have run the bases with speed, decisiveness and a determination that allowed them to force the issue against the Dodgers and Cubs.
If the sweep over the Cubs teaches us one lesson, it's that the Mets cannot be taken lightly.
Having said that, the Royals have been determined all season and are motivated by their falling one run short in the seventh game of the World Series last year.
The Royals are a team of nasty hitters who can build rallies by stringing extra-base hits. Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Sal Perez feed off each other. It seems that when one or two get big hits, they all have the ability to contribute.
The Royals don't follow the current all-or-nothing, home run-or-strikeout pattern that is so popular these days.
That old-school, full-contact approach makes them dangerous.
In addition to Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion, the Blue Jays have an X-factor named Troy Tulowitzki. The former Colorado Rockies superstar has been somewhat inconsistent since coming over at the trade deadline, but when hot he is capable of carrying a team with his hitting or his fielding. The shortstop has great range and an even better arm and can take the heart out of an opponent when he gets on a roll.
If the Royals win the ALCS, look for them to engage the Mets in a hard-fought and memorable World Series and win in a classic seven-game struggle.
But if the Blue Jays overcome their current deficit and beat the Royals, they will run into a Mets' buzz saw that will cut them down in five games.
These Mets are not miracle-workers. They are simply an underrated team that has been playing to its potential at the most important time of the year.