The legend of the 2015 Kansas City Royals came to a full and insane completion at Citi Field on Sunday night as the team from Missouri did a "Show Me" tap dance on the heads and hearts of every New York Mets fan in the fifth and ultimately final game of the 111th World Series.
The Royals are baseball's champs for the first time in 30 years, 7-2 in 12 innings. But that number "111" may actually be more appropriate than any score or time between titles. Apparently, that's the number of times you have to kill the Royals to keep them dead. Otherwise, it's just Halloween every day of the postseason until the last soul-scorching defeat they inflict on a merely mortal foe.
The Mets will tell their grandchildren, "Turn off that damn horror movie! No more Night of the Living Dead. I had to play the Undead Royals in the World Series!"
Perhaps you need a sense of baseball odds to grasp the near impossibility of a team having eight come-from-behind wins in its 11 road-to-a-title victories, including seven comebacks from two-or-more runs behind.
Nah, you get it.
What the Royals did to the team with the superhero nicknames for its stars was right out of a comic book: Stomp, Crunch, CRASH!!!
That was the sound of two Royals runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game 2-2. Both runs were charged to Matt Harvey, but the blown save should be shared by closer Jeurys Familia and Mets manager Terry Collins who manned up and said, "It was my fault."
Whomp, Smash, CLOBBER!
That was five-run humiliation in the 12th.
No matter what, it's the ninth inning that will be remembered as the Royals' symbol, the moment when, no matter how things seem, they don't think they have lost.
First, Lorenzo Cain drew a leadoff walk against courageous starter Harvey, who battled through 111 pitches and argued his way back onto the mound — unwisely — in the ninth to try for a complete game.
"He said, 'I want this game. I want it bad,' " said Collins of Harvey.
Possessing a four-hit shutout going into the ninth, what harm could another 15 or 20 pitches do? As it was proven, they could cost a lot.
"I let my heart overweigh my gut," said Collins. "I said, 'Go get 'em.' "
After the leadoff walk, Collins doubled down on "the book" when he should have been using his eyes. "If you're just going to send him out for one guy, you shouldn't send him out at all," said Collins, reciting the managerial mantra.
Eric Hosmer ripped an RBI double into the leftfield corner and the Royals suddenly had an arm and a leg out of the crypt. If Collins had trusted Familia with the entire "clean" frame, couldn't he have held a two-run lead? We'll never know. Instead, he got his third blown save of this World Series. Yet it was hardly a fair fate.
After Familia got a groundout (with Hosmer moving to third), he also induced a grounder to third by the Royals' Salvador Perez. Then, pure torture. Hosmer broke from third as David Wright threw out Perez at first base. It was a up-three-games-to-one gamble. And a crazy (smart) one.
Met first baseman Lucas Duda should have thrown Hosmer out by 10 feet, if not more. Instead, his throw was a complete horrified choke — well wide to the first base side of the plate as Hosmer slid home easily. "Didn't work. My fault," Collins said.
The final shattering moment arrived in the 12th and in absolutely perfect Royals fashion against Mets reliever Addison Reed. Perez poked a leadoff single to right, the opposite field. With the Royals, it always starts with a single. The Royals keep 17 pinch runners on their bench. Or so it seems. Jarrod Dyson did the duties and, like a good Royal, stole second base. Alex Gordon grounded out, moving Dyson to third. Textbook.
Far at the end of the Royals' bench sat utility infielder Christian Colon. He had not batted in this postseason. Thanks to a bad umpiring call on a checked swing he was quickly in an 0-2 hole. This is when you know a season is one for the ages. Colon ripped a line-drive single to left to tie the game as if the ball had been put on a tee.
Thereafter, Daniel Murphy, goat of Game 4 for an error, booted another grounder and, as will happen, more Royals scored — one on an Alcides Escobar single and the final three on a scorching Cain double.
Someday, the Royals will awaken from this magnificent trance and look at the backs of their baseball cards. They will see a team of very good to just-short-of-wonderful players. But they will not discover Hall of Famers. They will realize that they are talented mortals. Don't tell the Mets.
— Washington Post