Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kansas City vs. New York in the Postseason

Just as we all predicted during spring training, the Kansas City Royals are back in the World Series and they'll be playing the New York Mets. Both teams try to end a title drought that's lasted nearly three decades and it renews a New York-Kansas City playoff rivalry that simmered in the 1970s. Here are the postseason meetings between these two cities in the four major professional sports:

MLB 1976 Yankees d. Royals 3-2 in ALCS
1977 Yankees d. Royals 3-2 in ALCS
1978 Yankees d. Royals 3-1 in ALCS
1980 Royals d. Yankees 3-0 in ALCS
2015 Royals vs. Mets in World Series
NFL 1969 Chiefs d. Jets 13-6 in AFL Divisional
1986 Jets d. Chiefs 35-15 in Wild Card

1976 ALCS

The Royals joined the league in 1969 and started well for an expansion team, finishing second in the AL West three times in their first seven seasons. After a 91-win campaign in 1975, they won 90 in '76 to overtake the fading Oakland A's dynasty and claim their first division title.

After a record 39 consecutive winning seasons from 1926-64, the Yankees spent a decade in the doldrums before winning the AL East in 1976. It was the Royals against the Yankees for the pennant, and they'd square off in the ALCS four times in five seasons.

The Yankees won the first game in Kansas City 4-1 behind the stellar pitching of Catfish Hunter. Two George Brett errors at third base keyed a two-run top of the first and that's all the support Hunter needed in a complete-game five-hitter.

K.C. evened the set with a 7-3 Game Two victory. Paul Splittorff worked five and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, and the Royals took the lead for good in the sixth inning with RBI hits from John Mayberry and Tom Poquette.

The best-of-five series moved to the renovated Yankee Stadium for the next three games. The Royals tagged Yanks starter Dock Ellis for three runs in the top of the first inning of Game Three, but Ellis kept them off the board for the next seven innings. Chris Chambliss pushed New York back in it with a two-run homer in the fourth before the Yankees rallied for three runs against five pitchers in the sixth. Chambliss, Graig Nettles and Elliott Maddox knocked in the runs to make it 5-3. Ellis made it stand up through eight and Sparky Lyle posted another zero in the ninth to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the series.

New York manager Billy Martin brought back Hunter on three days rest to try and close out the series in Game Four, but Catfish served up five runs in a three-inning stint. Freddie Patek had three hits and three runs batted in to help Kansas City force a deciding game.

Game Five was a back-and-forth thriller that started with both teams scoring twice in the first frame. Mayberry cracked a two-run homer for K.C., but the Yankees knocked out starter Dennis Leonard after three batters and tied the game. Buck Martinez singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the second, but the Yankees came back in the third with a Thurman Munson RBI single and a run-scoring groundout by Chambliss.

New York starter Ed Figueroa settled in with five straight scoreless innings while the offense added insurance in the sixth with another Munson RBI single and Brett's third error of the series. The Yankees were six outs from the pennant with a 6-3 lead, but Al Cowens led off the eighth with a single that drove Figueroa from the game. Jim Wohlford greeted reliever Grant Jackson with a pinch-hit single that brought the tying run to the plate. Brett shrugged off the lefty-lefty matchup and smoked a three-run homer that made it 6-6.

It was still 6-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth, when Chambliss would lead off the inning against right-hander Mark Littell:

With one swing, Chambliss sent the Yankees to the World Series and turned the Stadium into a madhouse. Fans immediately swarmed the field and Chambliss had to ram through the mob to get around the bases and back into the dugout. Home plate was quickly stolen, but Chambliss was brought back out a couple of minutes later to touch the area where the plate had been. After the mayhem, MLB added a comment to Rule 4.09(b), which says that on walk-off wins "the umpire shall not declare the game ended until the runner forced to advance from third has touched home base and the batter-runner has touched first base." The exception reads:

Rule 4.09(b) Comment: An exception will be if fans rush onto the field and physically prevent the runner from touching home plate or the batter from touching first base. In such cases, the umpires shall award the runner the base because of the obstruction by the fans.

The indelible video of the home run we've seen so many times is from the ABC broadcast, with Howard Cosell stomping all over Keith Jackson's call. Below is Phil Rizzuto's call on the New York broadcast for WPIX:

"My sides hurt, my head aches, but what a great feeling!"

It was the first of four League Championship Series ending home runs, with Aaron Boone (2003 Yankees), Magglio Ordonez (2006 Tigers) and Travis Ishikawa (2014 Giants) also swatting pennant-clinching homers.

In the World Series, the Yankees ran into a Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. The defending champion Reds steamrolled them in a four-game sweep with a combined score of 22-8.

1977 ALCS

Both teams were the AL's best the following year, with the Royals winning 102 games and the Yankees winning 100. This was the "Bronx Zoo" Yankees at their most tumultuous, with Reggie Jackson fighting with Billy Martin, Martin at odds with owner George Steinbrenner, Jackson feuding with Munson. The Royals finished the season on a 38-9 run, and as Joe Posnanski recounted in the Kansas City Star, both sides were quite confident:
“It won’t take us long to win it this year,” New York manager Billy Martin said to reporters the day before the Yankees and Royals played in the American League Championship Series.
“We might sweep them,” Royals first baseman John Mayberry said. “We can sweep anybody.”
“They’re not even as good as Baltimore,” Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson said.
“They beat us last year because we didn’t know what we were doing,” Royals third baseman George Brett said. “We know what we’re doing now.”
That’s how one of the angriest, craziest, fightingest playoff series in baseball history began. Only three things were clear. The Royals despised the Yankees. The Yankees despised the Royals. And no one was tipping his cap.

Rad more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article19219905.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article19219905.html#storylink=cpy
K.C. jumped on Don Gullett in Game One, scoring twice in each of the first three innings with two-run homers from Hal McRae and Mayberry, and a two-run double from Patek. Splittorff shut down the Yankees into the ninth and the Royals cruised to a 7-2 win.

The Yankees were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning of Game Two, when Brett bounced a potential inning-ending 5-4-3 double play with runners at first and second. Graig Nettles double-clutched before sending the ball to Willie Randolph at second base. McRae broke up the twin killing with a ridiculous "slide," barreling into the fielder and sending them ten feet past the bag as Patek scored the tying run. Chase Utley has nothing on this one:

The Yankees answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, with Cliff Johnson doubling home the go-ahead run. Randolph got some revenge when Brett misplayed his grounder, allowing two more runs to score. He added an RBI single in the eighth and the Yankees won 6-2 to tie the series.

Leonard was in complete control in Game Three, a 6-2 Royals win. The Brooklyn native held the Yankees to four hits and allowed only one earned run as Kansas City went ahead 2-1 and had two chances to win their first pennant at home. But the Yankees skipper thought they'd beat Larry Gura in the fourth game. Here are Martin's thoughts about the Royals' Game Four starter:
“I just hope he doesn’t get in a car wreck coming to the stadium,” Martin said. “I ought to put a bodyguard around his house. We’ll beat him.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article19219905.html#storylink=cpyOk
OK, I don't think Terry Collins or Ned Yost will be saying anything like that this week. In that fourth game, seven of the 13 batters Gura faced reached base and the Yankees led 4-0 in the third. The first run of the game scored when Graig Nettles answered McRae's hit on Randolph with one of his own on Frank White.

The Royals chipped at New York's lead with two runs in the third, and after another Yankees tally in the fourth, two more in that inning. It was 5-4 with two on and two outs in the bottom of the fourth when Martin brought in his closer, Sparky Lyle. He retired Brett to end the threat, then pitched five shutout innings to secure a 6-4 win.

Brett drove in the first run of Game Five with a triple in the bottom of the first. He slid hard into third, Nettles kicked him, and Brett punched Nettles in the head, setting off a benches-clearing brawl.

No one was ejected from the game!

Meanwhile, Splittorff held the Yankees to one run in seven innings. The quiet lineup was without Reggie Jackson, who Martin benched against the southpaw. Trailing 3-1, Randolph opened the eighth with a single that knocked out Splittorff. Doug Bird came in and struck out Munson before allowing a single to Lou Piniella. That's when Martin turned to Jackson, who smacked a pinch-hit single to cut the lead to 3-2.

Herzog replaced Bird with Steve Mingori, who worked out the jam to preserve the lead. He still needed three more outs to win the pennant and he called on Leonard, the starter who stymied the Yankees in Game Three, to close the series. Paul Blair singled to start the inning and Roy White worked an eight-pitch pinch-hit walk. Herzog turned to lefty Larry Gura against lefty-swinging Mickey Rivers, but the speedy center fielder slapped a single to right to tie the game: 

With runners at the corners and no outs, Randolph lifted a sac fly to left to plate White with the go-ahead run.

Two batters later, Brett's errant throw to first on a Piniella bouncer brought home an insurance run for a 5-3 lead (2:05:00 mark of video above). In the bottom of the ninth, Frank White's one-out single sent the tying run to the plate. But Lyle got Patek to roll into a 5-4-3 double play and the Yankees won their second straight pennant.

The Yankees advanced to the World Series and beat the Dodgers in six games, with Jackson smashing three home runs in the finale.

1978 ALCS

It certainly didn't look like there would be a third straight meeting in mid-July of 1978. The Royals swept the Yankees in the Bronx to put New York 14 games behind the Red Sox. The Yankees won their next five games, but Steinbrenner fired Martin, and after Dick Howser managed one game in the interim, Bob Lemon came in to manage the club.

The Yankees tore through the American League down the stretch, going 52-21 to force a one-game tiebreaker against the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the A.L. East crown. They came back to win that one on Bucky Dent's home run, and New York was somehow in the ALCS once again.

The Royals hosted Game One, but the Bombers still drilled them 7-1 behind Jackson's three-run homer and a two-hit shutout from Jim Beattie and Ken Clay.

K.C. tied it up in Game Two when they scored five runs before Ed Figueroa could record four outs. They peppered the Yankees with 16 hits, 13 of them singles, in a 10-4 win.

George Brett belted three solo homers off Catfish Hunter in Game Three, becoming the fourth player to go deep three times in postseason game (along with Babe Ruth, Bob Robertson and Reggie Jackson). He hit a leadoff homer in the top of the first (0:27 in video below), another in the third (20:45) and a game-tying shot in the sixth (50:40).

The Yankees took the lead again in the bottom of the sixth on Jackson's sac fly off Splittorff. Rich Gossage came in for a nine-out save, but the Royals rallied against Goose, scoring twice in the eighth to take the lead on Darrell Porter's RBI single and Al Cowens' RBI groundout.

It was 5-4 Kansas City in the bottom of the eighth when Herzog brought in right-hander Doug Bird to face Thurman Munson with one on and one out. He hadn't homered since August 9, but the captain hit a mammoth home run into the Yankees bullpen in left-center field to give the Yankees a 6-5 lead.

Gossage set down the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth for a 2-1 lead in the series. This time, the ALCS would not go the distance. Graig Nettles and Roy White homered, and Ron Guidry outdueled Dennis Leonard 2-1 in Game Four to clinch New York's third consecutive A.L. pennant.

Just like in 1977, the Yankees beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the World Series.

1980 ALCS

Both teams missed the postseason in 1979. The Royals finished second in the West, three games behind the Angels, while the Yankees came in fourth in the East, 13.5 behind the Orioles. But the following year brought one more Royals-Yankees ALCS.

The Yankees had baseball's best record in 1980 at 103-59, edging the 100-win Orioles for the A.L. East title. They were favored to roll through Kansas City again en route to the World Series, but this time would be different.

Guidry didn't make it past the third inning in Game One, and his counterpart Larry Gura pitched a complete game in K.C.'s 7-2 win.

In Game Two, Willie Wilson's two-run triple off A.L. ERA leader Rudy May keyed a three-run rally, and Dennis Leonard made it stand up in a 3-2 victory. The Royals were one win from slaying their nemesis, but it would have to come at Yankee Stadium.

Tommy John and Paul Splittorff both opened in the third game with four scoreless innings. Frank White's solo homer gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the fifth, but the Yankees fought back in the sixth. Reggie Jackson's double knocked out Splitorff, and ace fireman Dan Quisenberry entered in relief. The first batter he faced was Oscar Gamble, and he'd tie the game on a strange play.

Gamble reached on an infield single to second. A perennial Gold Glover, White kept the ball from reaching the outfield, which would've allowed Jackson to score, but he threw wildly to third in an attempt to nab Jackson, so the tying run came home anyway.

The next batter, Rick Cerone, singled to left-center and the Yankees took a 2-1 lead.

John got two quick outs in the top of the seventh before Willie Wilson hit a double to put the tying run in scoring position. Yankees manager Dick Howser called upon Goose Gossage to close the game, but he allowed an infield single to U.L. Washington, setting the stage for the 1980 A.L. MVP George Brett. He hit a towering home run into the upper deck to stun the Yankee Stadium crowd and make it 4-2 Kansas City.

The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth against Quisenberry, but Rick Cerone lined into a double play that quelled the threat.

Quiz worked out of trouble, then zipped through a 1-2-3 ninth inning to send the Royals to the World Series.

They had finally beaten the Yankees, but they lost to the Phillies in the Fall Classic. Kansas City made it back in 1985, and with Howser managing them, beat the Cardinals in seven games for their first (and to date, only) championship.

1969 AFL Divisional

Joe Namath and the New York Jets shocked the football world with their Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts. Their title defense started with a 10-4 regular season record and AFL East crown. The Kansas City Chiefs went 11-3, but finished behind the 12-1-1 Oakland Raiders in the West Division, so K.C. had to travel to New York for the first round of the playoffs.

It was bitterly cold at Shea Stadium, as the "25-mile per hour wind made temperatures in the high 20s feel more like 20-below." Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud and Jets kicker Jim Turner both booted a pair of field goals and it was only 6-6 in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Len Dawson finally found the end zone for the Chiefs early in the final period when he hit Gloster Richardson with a 19-yard TD strike.

Namath "had three more chances to bring his team back, but with 1:42 left and the crowd standing and screaming 'Let's go, Jets,' Joe's pass to George Sauer was intercepted by Kansas City's Jim Marsalis." It was Namath's third interception of the day, and the Jets' fourth turnover.

K.C. moved on to Oakland and knocked off the Raiders 17-7 in the AFL title game. The Chiefs were 12-point underdogs against the Minnesota Vikings, but they rolled to a 23-7 victory to gain even more credibility for the AFL in the final game before the merger with the NFL.

65 Toss Power Trap!

1986 Wild Card

The Jets and Chiefs both earned AFC wild card spots with 10-6 records in 1986, setting up an opening-round playoff game at the Meadowlands.

New York coach Joe Walton benched starting quarterback Ken O'Brien for backup Pat Ryan, who made him look like a genius by throwing three touchdown passes in a 35-15 rout of the Chiefs. Kansas City struck first for a 6-0 lead in their first postseason appearance since 1971, but the Jets scored 28 straight points to make it a laugher. Freeman McNeil ran for 135 yards and scored twice, and the Jets defense made three takeaways.

The Jets moved on to face top-seeded Cleveland in the next round, where they'd lose a 23-20 double-overtime heartbreaker. The Browns then had their souls crushed a week later, when John Elway made The Drive in the AFC Championship Game.

Yoenis Cespedes Tyler Clippard Bartolo Colon Michael Conforto Michael Cuddyer Travis d'Arnaud Jacob deGrom Lucas Duda Jeurys Familia Wilmer Flores Sean Gilmartin Curtis Granderson Matt Harvey Kelly Johnson Juan Lagares Steven Matz Daniel Murphy Jon Niese Kirk Nieuwenhuis Kevin Plawecki Addison Reed Matt Reynolds Hansel Robles Noah Syndergaard David Wright Terry Collins Drew Butera Lorenzo Cain Christian Colon Johnny Cueto Wade Davis Danny Duffy Jarrod Dyson Alcides Escobar Alex Gordon Terrance Gore Kelvin Herrera Luke Hochevar Eric Hosmer Ryan Madson Kris Medlen Franklin Morales Kendrys Morales Mike Moustakas Paulo Orlando Salvador Perez Alex Rios Yordano Ventura Edinson Volquez Chris Young Ben Zobrist Ned Yost

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The New York Mets and How Often Teams Finish the Sweep

Update: The Mets beat the Cubs 8-3 on Wednesday to sweep the NLCS. MLB teams going for a sweep are now 29-6 in Game Four (.829 winning percentage).

The New York Mets (yes, the New York Mets) are one win away from the World Series. They've raced out to a 3-0 lead in the NLCS and have a chance to secure a sweep tonight at Wrigley Field. Let's take a look at how often MLB teams finish the sweep.

The Mets are the 35th team in major league history to go up 3-0 in a best-of-seven postseason series. Those teams are 28-6 in Game Four, good for an .824 winning percentage!

Of the six that managed to stay alive for another day, three were put away in the fifth game. The 1998 Braves won two games in San Diego to become the first team to force a Game Six after being down 3-0, but they lost. A year later they were on the other side when the Mets came back to push it to six games, but an Andruw Jones walk-off walk won the pennant, 4-2. The only team to force a Game Seven after losing the first three games is the 2004 Red Sox, who finished the job with a 10-3 thrashing of the rival Yankees in the Bronx.

1907 WS Chicago Cubs swept Detroit Tigers (Game One called a tie after 12 innings due to darkness)
1910 WS Philadelphia Athletics (lost Game Four to the Cubs, won Game Five)
1914 WS Boston Braves swept Philadelphia Athletics
1922 WS New York Giants swept New York Yankees (Game Two called a tie after 10 innings due to darkness)
1927 WS New York Yankees swept Pittsburgh Pirates
1928 WS New York Yankees swept St. Louis Cardinals
1932 WS New York Yankees swept Chicago Cubs
1937 WS New York Yankees (lost Game Four to the Giants, won Game Five)
1938 WS New York Yankees swept Chicago Cubs
1939 WS New York Yankees swept Cincinnati Reds
1950 WS New York Yankees swept Philadelphia Phillies
1954 WS New York Giants swept Cleveland Indians
1963 WS Los Angeles Dodgers swept New York Yankees
1966 WS Baltimore Orioles swept Los Angeles Dodgers
1970 WS Baltimore Orioles (lost Game Four to the Reds, won Game Five)
1976 WS Cincinnati Reds swept New York Yankees
1988 ALCS Oakland Athletics swept Boston Red Sox
1989 WS Oakland Athletics swept San Francisco Giants
1990 ALCS Oakland Athletics swept Boston Red Sox
1990 WS Cincinnati Reds swept Oakland Athletics
1995 NLCS Atlanta Braves swept Cincinnati Reds
1998 NLCS San Diego Padres (lost Games Four and Five to the Braves, won Game Six)
1998 WS New York Yankees swept San Diego Padres
1999 NLCS Atlanta Braves (lost Games Four and Five to the Mets, won Game Six)
1999 WS New York Yankees swept Atlanta Braves
2004 ALCS New York Yankees (lost four straight to the Red Sox, flopped into history books)
2004 WS Boston Red Sox swept St. Louis Cardinals
2005 WS Chicago White Sox swept Houston Astros
2006 ALCS Detroit Tigers swept Oakland Athletics
2007 NLCS Colorado Rockies swept Arizona Diamondbacks
2007 WS Boston Red Sox swept Colorado Rockies
2012 ALCS Detroit Tigers swept New York Yankees
2012 WS San Francisco Giants swept Detroit Tigers
2014 ALCS Kansas City Royals swept Baltimore Orioles
2015 NLCS New York Mets swept Chicago Cubs

Here's a different look at the group:

Year Up 3-0 Down 3-0 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Game 7
1907 WS Cubs Tigers Win
1910 WS Athletics Cubs Loss Win
1914 WS Braves Athletics Win
1922 WS Giants Yankees Win
1927 WS Yankees Pirates Win
1928 WS Yankees Cardinals Win
1932 WS Yankees Cubs Win
1937 WS Yankees Giants Loss Win
1938 WS Yankees Cubs Win
1939 WS Yankees Reds Win
1950 WS Yankees Phillies Win
1954 WS Giants Indians Win
1963 WS Dodgers Yankees Win
1966 WS Orioles Dodgers Win
1970 WS Orioles Reds Loss Win
1976 WS Reds Yankees Win
1988 ALCS Athletics Red Sox Win
1989 WS Athletics Giants Win
1990 ALCS Athletics Red Sox Win
1990 WS Reds Athletics Win
1995 NLCS Braves Reds Win
1998 NLCS Padres Braves Loss Loss Win
1998 WS Yankees Padres Win
1999 NLCS Braves Mets Loss Loss Win
1999 WS Yankees Braves Win
2004 ALCS Yankees Red Sox Loss Loss Loss Loss
2004 WS Red Sox Cardinals Win
2005 WS White Sox Astros Win
2006 ALCS Tigers Athletics Win
2007 NLCS Rockies Diamondbacks Win
2007 WS Red Sox Rockies Win
2012 ALCS Tigers Yankees Win
2012 WS Giants Tigers Win
2014 ALCS Royals Orioles Win
2015 NLCS Mets Cubs Win

Yoenis Cespedes Tyler Clippard Bartolo Colon Michael Conforto Michael Cuddyer Travis d'Arnaud Jacob deGrom Lucas Duda Jeurys Familia Wilmer Flores Sean Gilmartin Curtis Granderson Matt Harvey Kelly Johnson Juan Lagares Steven Matz Daniel Murphy Jon Niese Kirk Nieuwenhuis Kevin Plawecki Addison Reed Matt Reynolds Hansel Robles Noah Syndergaard David Wright Jake Arrieta Javier Baez Quintin Berry Kris Bryant Starlin Castro Trevor Cahill Chris Coghlan Chris Denorfia Dexter Fowler Justin Grimm Jason Hammel Kyle Hendricks Austin Jackson Tommy La Stella Jon Lester Miguel Montero Clayton Richard Anthony Rizzo Fernando Rodney Hector Rondon David Ross Kyle Schwarber Jorge Soler Pedro Strop Travis Wood