(Updated: Oct. 16, 1:01 a.m.: With the Royals dispatching with the Orioles in four and the Giants plucking the Cards 6-4 to move within one game of the Fall Classic, so much for the Orange Is The New Black theory,,,How about the frst-ever Wild Card World Series under MLB's new format?)
Before the first pitch was thrown out on the 2014 MLB postseason party -- and prior to the Kansas City Royals starting to evoke the 2002 California Angels -- there were plenty of monikered World Series in play.
Bay Bridge: The potential San Franciso Giants-Oakland A’s fight fell on the playoffs’ first night with Billy Beane’s go-for it version of Money Ball cratering behind a series of KC rallies on TBS, culminating with Salvador Perez’s spinner down the third-base line that yielded the first of four Royals’ extra-innings’ wins to date. Even Ernie Johnson didn’t miss that one.
Rust Belt Review: The Pirates and PNC Park went quietly after Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford connected on a fourth-inning grand slam in ESPN’s first trip to the postseason since 2006. So much for the chance of the Buccos plundering Detroit’s pizza-purchased Cy Young triumvirate.
Freeway: What could have been a matchup of the game’s next faces in the post-Jeter era crashed behind more Royals’ magic that made Mike Trout’s first postseason appearance far from Angelic and the St. Louis Cardinals’ hold on Clayton Kershaw that transformed this generation’s Cy Young into Ken Clay, not Sandy Koufax.
The Dodgers, the best team Time Warner Cable’s money could buy, didn’t get any favors from some questionable decisions from Donnie Baseball, as Mattingly’s non-World Series streak as a manager continues to grow beyond his one shot as a Yankees' player.
LA's exit also ended any chance of the 5 Drive to San Francisco in the NLCS. Or for those who espouse the palaver about the game’s length, the Pacific Coast Highway Pacer.
Beltway: Those in the Baltimore-DC metroplex had high hopes for a MASN-Angelos- Animus encounter. But the Nats bats ran cold, save for Bryce Harper, who seemed poised to oust brand names Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones and Miggy Cabrera from the record books. Each swatted four postseason homers by the time they celebrated their 22nd birthday.
The Giants took care of that piece of business with three tight wins, including a 3-2 triumph in 18 innings during MLB's longest postseason battle. The 6-hour, 23-minute marathon showed there was still some Nielsen life in the old ballgame as its audience grew over the innings and against the teeth of the college football day and night.
So of MLB’s Moniker Matchups that leaves only the Show Me Series, a rematch of the 1985 Don Dekinger-Jorge Orta-Todd Worrell error that cost the Redbirds a clinching victory in Game 6. The Royals seized the ninth-inning opening that night and claimed their only title with a 11-0 whitewash of Herzog’s crew in Game 7.
Geographic proximity be damned, that Series averaged 34.5 million watchers on ABC. Of course, that was long before cable had really taken root and football had ascended to its full dominance of the American sports landscape. Given the Classic’s Fall over the past decade, Fox execs would kneel before the Nielsen gods for half of that.
Despite the Royals’ resilience and win in the 10th in Game One of the ALCS at Camden Yards, I still like Buck Showalter’s bunch to reach his first World Series and the O’s to return to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1983.
As far for the Giants-Cardinals, the battle for senior circuit and sabemetrics domination, is on the line. The Redbirds are looking for a return trip, after playing poorly in their loss to Boston in last year's championship, and a third crown since 2006.
But, it’s an even year this decade, so it’s the Giants turn, right?
Just call it the Orange Is the New Black Series.