If at the the beginning of the 2014 MLB season you had the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS then you’re lying. Either that or you should let it all ride in Vegas because you might be on the verge of a lucrative lucky streak.
We’d be more inclined to believe you if this were the 1980s and parachute pants ruled over skinny jeans. Back then the American League was aligned differently, the gap between markets large and small much less defined. Long are the days of Whitey Herzog and Earl Weaver. Believe it or not, this is the first time since 1997 that the ALCS hasn’t featured one of four teams: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels. Ironically, ’97 was the last time Baltimore played in the ALCS while Kansas City hasn’t made it this far since 1985.
The Orioles and Royals have many similarities and differences. Baltimore hits home runs while Kansas City steals bases. Both have lock down bullpens, young lineups, solid starting pitching and play above average defense. Each team is built to win now. Next season the Orioles may be without Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and JJ Hardy while the Royals will in all likelihood lose staff ace James Shields. Buck Showalter traditionally manages laps around Ned Yost but the Royals have belief especially since their Wild Card comeback against the Oakland A’s.
Home field advantage is a real, palpable thing especially for crowds unaccustomed to October baseball. You won’t find many fans in either Camden Yards or Kauffman Stadium who have been spoiled by success. BBQ and crab cakes aren’t the only reason to root root for the home team and for two cities where the NFL has been king, this ALCS will be a refreshing reminder of the once proud yet too often overlooked tradition of both franchises.
Non partisan baseball fans will enjoy watching Baltimore/Kansas City because of the nostalgia while fringe fans will appreciate the novelty of this once in a generation ALCS. If not, there’s always football.