Shields important piece of Royals' plan in action

Kansas City moved closer to World Series following trade for ace pitcher in 2012

Shields important piece of Royals' plan in action

KANSAS CITY -- James Shields was brought here to solidify the rotation and help teach this young Royals team how to win.

Along the way, he taught them how to celebrate a win.

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It starts with a fog machine, set off from the top corner of the clubhouse. Then the strobe lights come on and a Player of the Game is named, tasked with turning on the neon sign depicting a deer with a bull's-eye -- the "Texas Headshot," as it's called -- and then getting sprayed with water. The Royals did this after all 97 of their victories this year, including the eight in a row they've reeled off in the postseason.

"One of the points," as Raul Ibanez noted, "was that water feels phenomenal, but champagne feels better."

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"When I got traded over here, my mindset was just to be myself and have fun, and I feel like I take every single day like that," Shields said. "I think every game is precious, and as a little kid this is what we dreamed about doing, so there is no reason why we can't have fun out here and enjoy the moment."

Shields will take the ball opposite Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in Game 1 of the World Series tonight (air time is 6:30 p.m. CT/game time is 7:07 p.m. on FOX). It lined up that way because Shields was skipped on normal rest for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, partly because, as The Kansas City Star reported, the 32-year-old right-hander passed a kidney stone, prompting the Royals to go with Jason Vargas in an eventual sweep of the Orioles.

"It was excruciating pain," Shields told the newspaper. "I wasn't feeling good."

Shields said at the podium that he's "feeling good" now. The pain is gone, and he'll take the ball on 10 days' rest against a Giants team he threw a shutout against on Aug. 9.

Also feeling good these days: Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who acquired Shields in the polarizing trade of Dec. 9, 2012.

Video: Shields, Bumgarner to meet in Game 1

"That was part of our plan all along, to get a group of young players up here by 2012 or '13 and do everything that we can to support their talents to put us in a position to compete, from the first day to the last day," Moore said. "We didn't know how good we'd be, but we knew we couldn't do it without pitching. And James Shields was the very best pitcher that we could acquire."

For Shields and Wade Davis, who has evolved into one of baseball's best setup men, Moore parted ways with Wil Myers, who earned the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Award, and three other prospects in Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard. Some sympathized with the Royals, who could never afford an arm like that in free agency, while others condemned Moore for mortgaging the future of a franchise that didn't -- in their opinion -- have a clear present.

Billy Butler, now 10 years removed from being drafted by the Royals, saw it a different way.

"It meant that we were ready to compete now; that we were ready to take that next step," Butler said. "This is a team that has traded veteran guys away for prospects, and we did it the other way around. We got the veteran guys."

Shields, now weeks away from free agency, won 27 games, posted a 3.18 ERA and racked up 455 2/3 regular-season innings with the Royals from 2013-14. He took the ball in the first postseason game at Kauffman Stadium in 29 years, set the tone for a staff that has had to be pieced together and brought, as pitching coach Dave Eiland put it, "the attitude that we're going to win today and that you can't think any other way."

"I don't think they're going to criticize that trade now," Eiland said. "I mean, this is why we got him."

Shortly after the deal went down -- almost two years to the day after Zack Greinke was dealt for Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar, among others -- Eiland called Shields to remind him of that young, 2008 Rays team that marched all the way to the World Series.

"They were kind of like us," Eiland said. "They struggled, then they finally turned the corner and started winning."

Shields brought the postgame ritual from Tampa Bay along with his know-how for October success. Now, in what could be his final week in Kansas City, he has the Royals four wins away from a goal his Rays couldn't accomplish.

"I came over here with one mindset, and that was just to be myself," Shields said. "I can only do so much out on the field. I pitch once every five days, and my job is to go out there and try to get a win every five days. With that said, I also feel like I'm a leader in this clubhouse. I feel like I'm a leader on the pitching staff, and I have high expectations of our starting rotation."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Wait is over: Fall Classic returns to Kansas City

Wait is over: Fall Classic returns to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- Kansas City, with its couple hundred fountains and seemingly equal number of BBQ joints, is about to take its place as the epicenter of the baseball world tonight when -- after a wait of 28 years, 11 months and 25 days -- the World Series returns to Kauffman Stadium.

Six days after celebrating an American League pennant in front of their own fans by dispatching the Orioles, the Royals will host the Giants in the first World Series matchup between the clubs. First pitch in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET. Pregame coverage on FOX begins at 7:30 p.m.

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It is a Fall Classic matchup bubbling with intrigue, one that will feature newbies to this postseason stage against the every-other-year World Series regulars of late. The Giants, who defeated the Cardinals in a five-game National League Championship Series, returned to Missouri having won each of their last eight postseason series. In between, they've raised two World Series banners (2010, '12).

The Royals are riding their own streak, undefeated in their first eight postseason games, something never before accomplished. Their 11-game postseason winning streak (dating back to 1985) ranks as the second longest in Major League history.

"I think this city has been waiting for this for a long time, and the fact that we're doing it in the fashion that we are is tremendous," said James Shields, Kansas City's Game 1 starter. "This is our goal in Spring Training, and we had one mindset, and that was to go to the World Series and win it. And to be able to be here on this big stage is exactly what we've been working really hard for all season long."

Defying the assertion that the Wild Card Game, added in 2012, would prove to be an unclearable hurdle for a Wild Card team to advance to the World Series, both the Giants and Royals emerged from the winner-take-all Wild Card Games and then twice overcame the home-field advantage of their opponents. This World Series gets it start in Kansas City thanks to the AL's victory in the All-Star Game.

Since MLB started using the All-Star Game outcome to determine home-field advantage, the team that has held it has been crowned World Series champions eight times out of 11. That included the Giants in both 2010 and '12. With a series win over the Royals, the Giants would join the Yankees as the only clubs over the last 40 years to boast three championships during a five-year span.

"I was amazed at the Yankees on what they accomplished. It's not that easy," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will send Madison Bumgarner to the mound in Game 1. "I mean, first of all, you've got to get there. Then the road to get there now is a lot more difficult than it used to be. It used to be two pennant winners going at it, and now you have to go through some playoffs, and this year we had the extra one with the [Wild Card] playoff game."

While the two clubs have no October history, they aren't entirely unfamiliar with one another. In August, Interleague Play sent the Giants to Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals completed a sweep during a stretch in which they won 14 of 16 games. San Francisco was outscored, 16-6, with Bumgarner taking one of those losses in a complete-game effort.

Now, the Giants are back, with the lights brighter, the stakes higher and just the second World Series Wild Card matchup on tap. The first all-Wild Card World Series also involved the Giants, who lost a thrilling seven-game series to the Angels in 2002. An unexpected October clash, for sure. But one certain to add to the drama of a postseason in which there have already been 14 games determined by one run.

"This is final, you know?" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "This is the last big series, and there are two teams left standing, which is special. I think it's a great matchup between both clubs. I think that both teams are ready for this."

Giants: Morse set as designated hitter
Content to leave Travis Ishikawa in left field, Bochy intends to make room for Michael Morse in his Game 1 lineup by using him as the Giants' designated hitter. Morse came off the bench to hit a game-tying home run off Pat Neshek in the eighth inning to set up the Giants' walk-off win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. That was just the sixth at-bat Morse had taken since the end of August, as he spent six weeks recovering from a strained oblique muscle before being added to the NLCS roster.

Morse went 2-for-4 pinch-hitting against the Cardinals and has 33 career starts as a DH, including four earlier this season. This will be his first time filling the spot in the postseason.

Royals: A layoff letdown?
Kansas City knocked Baltimore out of the postseason last Wednesday, leaving the Royals with a five-day layoff before they pick up World Series play against the Giants. So will that downtime hurt? History suggests probably not.

Of the 13 teams with five or more days off between the LCS and World Series, seven have gone on to win a championship. Those clubs went 6-7 in Game 1. Short-sightedness may be contributing to the assumption that the Royals will be affected by the layoff, as only one of five teams since 2006 with at five or more days off between the two rounds has gone on to win it all.

Worth noting
• MLB announced that it will dedicate Game 1 to honoring veterans and military families as part of its Welcome Back Veterans program. There will be an on-field, pregame ceremony to highlight this initiative.

• With a Game 1 win, the Royals would tie the Yankees (1927-32, 1998-99) for the most consecutive postseason victories with 12.

• In winning 15 of their last 17 postseason games, the Giants have outscored their opponents, 77-32, while posting a staff ERA of 1.71.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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New WS gear player tested, fan approved

Wear the same on-field hoodies, T-shirts and caps as the Royals

New WS gear player tested, fan approved

KANSAS CITY -- Welcome to the 110th World Series. Fitting for a first-of-its-kind Fall Classic matchup, there is a fresh and must-have look being modeled by the Royals themselves on the field for Workout Day at Kauffman Stadium, and now it can be yours.

Orders for the new line of Royal oKCtober apparel are underway exclusively at the MLB.com Shop and at the Royals Majestic Team Store.

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When Game 1 gets started on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, the Royals will make their first World Series appearance since 1985. Celebrate with the "Royal oKCtober" On-Field 59FIFTY cap from New Era, the same one Royals players will wear for on-field workouts. It features the distinctive, long "KC" script within the wording.

Most of the Royals said the "Royal oKCtober" slogan on their workout gear symbolized the essence of their brand of baseball.

"We're playing in the World Series, that's what it means," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "Biggest stage in baseball, it's going to be awesome. The gear is awesome. It's comfortable, I'm stoked, I'm wearing it. I'll give some of the stuff away to my parents, let them hang on to it, but it's going to be fun."

"It just means everyone's enjoying this," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's all great gear. Anytime you get something new in your locker, it's fun to see what it is. Anything that says postseason or World Series, it doesn't matter what it looks like. It's going to look good on anybody."

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson broke out the Royal oKCtober 2Tone Stripe Pom Cuff Knit Cap from New Era, to go along with the fleece. "I rock it all. I'm a fashion guy, and I like looking nice," he said.

Then he replaced the knit cap with the 59FIFTY for batting practice.

Royals model gear

"It means a lot to be able to wear this in October. And [to still be] wearing it right now? Going to the World Series? Man, I need to collect more of this gear right now," Dyson said. "Who knows if I'll have it on again ever again? You never know in this career, so you have to take advantage of where you're at right now in your lifetime."

Speaking through an interpreter before taking the field, Royals right fielder Nori Aoki looked down at the wording on his own Royal oKCtober quarter-zip hooded fleece and said: "It's a special meaning. Just being able to play baseball in October, that's what all baseball players play for."

Major League Baseball's line of World Series merchandise is also available right now, including the Women's Half-Zip Wind Jacket from Nike Golf and the Always World Series Hooded Fleece from Majestic Athletic.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Holland has an edge -- and unhittable pitches

Royals closer a big reason why club has returned to the World Series

Holland has an edge -- and unhittable pitches

KANSAS CITY -- Royals backup catcher Erik Kratz has a hard time explaining what makes closer Greg Holland's pitches so wickedly effective. Which probably helps explain why they're so wickedly effective.

"There's just something about it," Kratz said Monday at Kauffman Stadium as the Royals prepared for their final workout before Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX). "It's spinning like a slider like other guys throw, and then it doesn't do the same thing. It doesn't act like a slider and it doesn't do the same thing twice."

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Whatever it is, it's helped Kansas City advance to the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years. Along with setup relievers Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, the back of the Royals' bullpen has been a bedrock of the team's success. But it's been up to Holland to nail down the wins in the ninth, and over the last two years, he's been wildly successful at it: 93 saves in 98 opportunities.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

This season Holland made his second straight American League All-Star team and held opponents to a .170 batting average.

Holland does it by throwing pitches that often seem unhittable, of course, but even that doesn't fully explain his dominance.

"He throws the heck out of it. He throws it hard," Kratz continued. "The whole package goes into it. His motion. He's not as tall as some guys [listed at 5-foot-10], so it's coming out of a different arm angle. It's exciting. I'm glad he's on my team, put it that way."

Added pitching coach Dave Eiland: "I think what he's done the last two years speaks for itself. It's just his makeup, his attitude that separates him from a lot of closers. He comes right at you. He believes in himself. He's very critical of himself, too. He always has that edge. He doesn't allow himself to get too comfortable."

It wasn't always that way, though. "He was a guy whose delivery had to be cleaned up a little bit," Eiland said.

Like any pitcher, it's not enough to have great stuff if it can't be commanded. And as he began his professional career, Holland was averaging more than four walks per nine innings. He knew that wasn't good enough, so he went to the Venezuelan Winter League following the 2010 season. Playing winter ball, he focused on pounding the zone.

"I was wild. I had control issues. I knew that if I wanted to improve and be a reliever at the big league level, I needed to get better," Holland said. "So I went down there and basically just tried to throw strikes. I don't think there was one instance where it clicked. Just that repetition that built on itself and you gradually get better."

Holland saves each ALCS victory

Royals bullpen coach Doug Henry, then a Minor League coach, was in Venezuela with Holland.

"It was one of those things where he had seen me in Triple-A," Holland said. "It was good having someone down there who kind of knew when you were getting out of rhythm, kind of got you back on course."

Now Holland is the anchor of one of the best bullpens in baseball, one of the best in recent memory. Royals outfielder Raul Ibanez is 42 years old. He's been there, done that. And even he finds himself shaking his head.

"It's just remarkable to watch," he said. "You get down to the last part of the game here and it's incredible. It really is. Those guys are unbelievable. ... You're talking about some serious thunder coming out of the 'pen. It's the best bullpen I've ever seen."

Knowing what's lurking in the bullpen can subtly change the approach of opposing teams. The opposition feels some pressure to get a lead before the seventh. The Royals' confidence increases because they know if they can just keep the game close they have a great chance to pull out a win.

"There's nothing in this game that's a given. You're hanging on every pitch," Ibanez said. "But you feel good about, 'Let's get this game through the sixth inning.' You feel good about that. Feelings don't win games, but having these guys go out and dominate the way they do is what wins games. And they do it day in and day out."

Holland is quick to acknowledge that having Herrera and Davis ahead of him makes his job easier.

"There's a lot to be said when you've got that two-run lead and your seventh- and eighth-inning guys don't give up any runs and you get to pitch the ninth inning with a two-run lead as opposed to a one-run lead" Holland said. "That's a big deal because a solo home run doesn't tie the game, doesn't beat you. I think they've really helped me out as far as that goes."

These are exciting times for Holland. The Royals are in the World Series and, even better, his wife just gave birth. He said he's trying to relax, slow things down, savor the moment.

"As much as I can. It's a crazy time," he said. "I think good teams have the ability to just stay in the moment."

The Royals have been a very good team this postseason. Holland has had a lot to do with that. And if Kratz can't figure out how to explain what makes him so good, how do you expect the batters to figure out how to hit him?

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Following same path as '59 White Sox, KC eyes title

Royals hope to pick up World Series win that eluded 'Go-Go Sox'

Following same path as '59 White Sox, KC eyes title

KANSAS CITY -- Fifty-five years have passed since Jim McAnany stepped into the batter's box at Comiskey Park to face Johnny Podres, with the World Series spotlight shining on him. He hasn't forgotten how dry his mouth was as he dug his spikes into the dirt.

"My first time up, my legs were shaking," McAnany said. "But once you get past that, the next time you pretty well settle in and play the game. The only thing I prayed for was not to make a mistake that hurt our team."

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McAnany played right field for the 1959 White Sox, who closely resemble this year's Royals.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Like the Royals, who are meeting the Giants in the World Series, the so-called "Go-Go Sox" were built around speed and defense. They had finished 10 games above .500 the year before, exactly like the Royals, and found a winning formula that included a deep starting rotation and the best bullpen in their league.

That recipe for success did not include hitting home runs in volume, as they finished last in the American League in that category. These 2014 Royals are the first American League team since the Go-Go Sox to qualify for the postseason after finishing last in the league in homers.

Billy Pierce, a left-hander whose No. 19 has been retired by the White Sox, was the leader of Al Lopez's pitching staff. He retired in the Chicago area and still attends a lot of games. He was at U.S. Cellular Field on Sept. 26, when Ned Yost's Royals clinched their Wild Card spot with a 3-1 win in typically efficient fashion.

"They did things during the year that you could see they weren't done when they got behind," Pierce said. "That happened with us in '59. It was just one of those things. Good year, things fell right, the ball bounced right. You have to be a little bit fortunate with a round bat and a round ball. Things went right for us; things went right for Kansas City."

Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox were the White Sox's double-play combination, and center fielder Jim Landis played Gold Glove defense. They routinely took outs away from their opponents, as do the Royals, whose defensive strength lies in outfielders Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.

Like Gordon, Landis began his career as a third baseman, but the White Sox had a need in center field and Lopez suggested he give it a try.

McAnany says Landis was "a reindeer out there," covering ground that helped left fielder Al Smith and the right-field platoon of McAnany and "Jungle" Jim Rivera. Landis still marvels at some of the plays that Aparicio made at shortstop.

"I've seen Luis make plays I couldn't believe," said Landis, 80, who lives in Napa, Calif. "I was backing him up, and I'm standing there flabbergasted. 'He got to that ball! My God!' Luis was terrific. I'm not knocking Nellie. They were both terrific."

Landis has been impressed watching the Royals, but believes his team was better defensively. McAnany agrees, but Pierce says it's splitting hairs. He sees a lot of his old team in the Royals.

"Speed, defense, pitching, those three things add up to a pretty good ballclub," said Pierce, 87, who lives in Naperville, Ill. "If you don't lose many games, you're going to win a lot of games. Some teams, you lose the ballgame, it isn't that the other team always wins it. Kansas City didn't make too many errors, played good ball most of the year. We were like that. But they scored more runs than we did. They've come up with some good innings [in the postseason] that have carried them through."

In 1959, the White Sox finished sixth out of eight teams in the AL with 4.3 runs per game, stealing a league-high 113 bases (more than twice the league average) while hitting a league-low 97 home runs. The Royals were ninth in the AL with an average of 4.0 runs per game. They led the league with 153 stolen bases and were last in baseball with 95 home runs.

There's another common thread between the teams. Both did the best job of contact hitting in the league, with their hitters last in the league in strikeouts. Fox, who never struck out more than 18 times in any of his 19 seasons, epitomized that approach.

"If you put the ball in play, good results will happen," Landis said. "That's the key -- put the ball in play. You have to do that."

General Manager Dayton Moore's trades helped Kansas City get here. The biggest may have been the deal that brought Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar from the Brewers for Zack Greinke, but it was a deal that sent Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers to Tampa Bay for James Shields that gets the most attention.

Shields was the Royals' workhorse with 227 innings, going 14-8, and will start Game 1 against the Giants on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX). The Go-Go Sox had their version of him in Early Wynn, who was acquired from Cleveland along with Smith in a 1958 trade for Minnie Minoso.

While Fox was as the AL's MVP in 1959, Wynn finished third. He was at the end of his Hall of Fame career, straining to reach 300 wins, but went 22-10 and threw 14 complete games for Lopez, replacing Pierce as the most reliable starter.

"When you look at Early's year, he had a fantastic year," Pierce said. "The year before and the year after were so-so. But that year everything went right for Early. … Now Minnie was a great ballplayer for the White Sox for many, many years. But it just so happened that year Early was a key [player]. He turned out to be a very good player for that year, and we got Minnie back a couple years later."

When the World Series starts on Tuesday, the upstart Royals will face a Giants team that has won nine consecutive postseason series, including the 2010 and '12 World Series. The Go-Go Sox were facing an arguably more formidable powerhouse, as the 1959 Dodgers were going to the World Series for the seventh time in a span of 13 seasons.

Like these Royals, the White Sox were a confident group, and that confidence increased greatly when they won Game 1 of the Series, 11-0, with late-season addition Ted Kluszewski hitting two homers. They took a 2-0 lead in the second inning of Game 2, but from that point on were outscored 21-10, with the Dodgers winning the Series in six games.

Walter Alston's pitching staff featured Don Drysdale, Roger Craig and 23-year-old lefty Sandy Koufax, who opened the World Series in the bullpen before starting Game 5, which Bob Shaw won for the White Sox 1-0.

"Oh, man," McAnany, 78, said at the mention of Koufax. "The funniest thing was I had taken the count to 2-2 and he threw me a pitch that was wide of the plate, made it 3-2. All the guys said, 'Look for the fastball, he's not about to throw you a curve.' With that he throws a 3-2 curveball that drops off the table. I went back in the dugout, I said, 'Fastball my rear end.' He was something else. They don't get any better than him."

If the Running Royals are going to succeed against the Giants, according to their soulmates on the '59 Sox, they're going to have to do a good job getting on base. The Go-Go Sox held a speed advantage over the Dodgers, but wound up stealing only two bases while Los Angeles swiped five, including one by rookie shortstop Maury Wills.

"Let me put it this way," Landis said. "No matter how fast you run, you got to get on base. We had a little problem with that, really. Most times it worked, but against the Dodgers we just didn't get on base enough."

Another lesson learned the hard way by the Go-Go Sox: Beware the sneak attack.

While Drysdale, Podres and Koufax were the arms that the White Sox feared, it was pitching depth that carried the day in the Series. Larry Sherry, a 24-year-old right-hander who hadn't yet thrown 100 Major League innings, worked 12 2/3 innings out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, earning two wins and two saves.

"I hate that name," Landis said, laughing. "He was fabulous. He did one heck of a job. He was tough, period. I guess you could say he was their most valuable player, really."

Do the Giants have their own Larry Sherry waiting to cool off the Royals? Maybe Yusmeiro Petit? Maybe the well-rested Tim Lincecum?

Like Landis said, you've got to get on base to use your speed. The Royals have done that well enough to go 8-0 in the postseason. But the biggest challenge lies in getting the next four.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Game 1 dedicated to veterans and military families

Game 1 dedicated to veterans and military families

KANSAS CITY -- Five years ago, Major League Baseball introduced a significant addition to the World Series that would involve everyone in some way, even the players and umpires. Because only the first four games were a sure thing, each of those was dedicated with a theme of community service, serving as a high-impact backdrop for what happened on the field.

It all began in New York, with Game 1 dedicated to military veterans and their families. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, joined Commissioner Bud Selig at a nearby Veterans Administration hospital, spending an hour with veterans and then participating in pregame ceremonies before the Phillies played the Yankees.

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Today, the annual World Series Community Initiative program is an established tradition that gives two clubs and their fan bases even greater rewards for reaching the ultimate stage of international attention. The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants will each have two dedicated game themes -- starting almost exactly the way it did in 2009 -- to raise awareness for important causes associated with charitable initiatives and MLB partners.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Dedications at the 110th Fall Classic will include Veterans & Military Families for Game 1, Education & ALS Awareness for Game 2, Advancing the Fight Against Cancer for Game 3, and Youth Outreach for Game 4. MLB announced the themes and the event details at Workout Day on Monday.

"Major League Baseball is proud to utilize the global platform of the World Series to highlight causes that are important to so many of our fans and our culture as a whole," Selig said. "Baseball is a social institution with significant social responsibilities, and it is a privilege to draw attention to organizations that work tirelessly to address these challenges."

Here is a closer look at the plans revolving around each of the four games:

Game 1: Veterans & Military Families. As it did last year for the opener in Boston, this dedication will highlight support of the Welcome Back Veterans initiative. Selig will be joined on Tuesday afternoon by Royals chairman David Glass and president Dan Glass; Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry; U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald; and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld in a visit with veterans at the Kansas City VA Medical Center Honor Annex. Then there will be a special on-field pregame ceremony and other activities will take place at the ballpark.

Since 2008, MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation have committed more than $30 million to Welcome Back Veterans (WelcomeBackVeterans.org). To date, a total of approximately $17 million in grants has been awarded to nonprofit agencies and hospitals supporting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families' greatest needs, focusing on treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Game 2: Education & ALS Awareness. So many were involved in the phenomenon of this summer's Ice Bucket Challenge, which was inspired by Pete Frates and Pat Quinn and has raised more than $100 million for research of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Now the momentum continues. MLB, which held a league-wide recognition of the 75th anniversary of Gehrig's iconic "Luckiest Man" speech on July 4, 1939, will theme a significant portion of the pregame ceremony around ALS awareness and the fight to find a cure.

MLB also will celebrate its commitment to education and the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson through the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program, which is an MLB educational program inspired by Robinson. That day, Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter, MLB educational programming consultant and author) will visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with children from Faxon Elementary School to discuss the Breaking Barriers program with the students, and one of the 2014 Breaking Barriers essay contest grand-prize winners will be honored at the ballpark.

Game 3: Advancing the Fight Against Cancer. For the sixth year in a row during the Fall Classic (now also an All-Star Game tradition), there will be a special in-game moment, in conjunction with Stand Up To Cancer. Fans and uniformed personnel in the dugouts, as well as the umpires, will hold up placards with the names of loved ones affected by the disease. If you have ever experienced one of these moments in the ballpark, then you know what a moving and shared experience it is. MLB and its 30 clubs are the founding partners of SU2C and a lead donor since 2008, committing more than $40 million.

Earlier in the day, representatives from MLB, the Giants and SU2C will visit a local pediatric hospital. Gaylord Perry and Will Clark have participated in these World Series community events for the Giants in the past, and you can expect to see more of the franchise's legends involved this time.

Game 4: Youth Outreach. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure the passing of this sport onto the youngest generation, including those in underserved communities. This game will celebrate various initiatives that include Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Little League -- two organizations that receive significant support from MLB -- and MLB-affiliated programs Baseball Tomorrow Fund, MLB Urban Youth Academies and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI). There will be a special pregame ceremony, and earlier in the day, MLB will host a clinic for young RBI and BGCA participants (ages 8 to 13). Additionally, MLB will hold a showcase for older RBI participants (ages 14 to 18) with collegiate and professional scouts.

Additional community initiatives

In Kansas City and San Francisco, MLB will visit a children's hospital to donate a new Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit containing the latest gaming system that rolls bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients. MLB also will host two young fans from the Make-A-Wish Foundation whose wishes were to attend the World Series.

MLB, Anheuser-Busch and TEAM Coalition supported the designated driver programs at MLB ballparks during the regular season with a special incentive: Fans who registered to be a designated driver were entered into a drawing to be the club's official "Designated Driver." The "Designated Drivers" from the Royals and Giants will each receive two tickets and will be honored during Games 1 and 3, respectively.

MLB and the Natural Resources Defense Council will incorporate a variety of environmentally preferable efforts that include the "World Series Green Team" initiative during all World Series games, featuring volunteers collecting refuse for recycling and supplementing existing recycling programs; raising public awareness to educate fans about how to become more environmentally aware via online materials and PSAs; prioritizing recycled content materials at events throughout the Fall Classic; and addressing energy usage through efficiency measures and by investing in renewable energy offsets.

Visit MLBCommunity.org for more information on each of these programs and all of MLB's community initiatives.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

High-flying Royals set to put dazzling defense on display

High-flying Royals set to put dazzling defense on display

KANSAS CITY -- Prepare to be dazzled. That's because the Kansas City Royals do one thing better than any other baseball team on the planet.

This one thing isn't something you see every day. And you've probably never seen it the way the Royals do it.

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The Royals play defense. Actually, the Royals play spectacularly entertaining defense. Chilling, thrilling defense. They play the kind of defense that kills rallies and wins games.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

These Royals will do things that make you want to see the replay again and again.

Bodies fly through the air.

Dugout railings are no big obstacle to these Royals.

The Royals do it with flash and confidence, too. They make a play that takes your breath away, and then they top it.

The Royals may make you rethink everything you've ever thought about the importance of defense on a baseball diamond.

"At some point, you just feel like you're not going to see a better play," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. "And then you see another one. It's incredible."

Added reliever Wade Davis: They just keep doing stuff. You're like, 'Oh my goodness.' They just don't stop."

Left fielder Alex Gordon said, "Defense changes momentum throughout the game. We know it's the strength of our team. We take pride in it."

The Royals have been at their highlight-reel best during this 8-0 run through the postseason and into Game 1 of the 2014 World Series Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CT airtime/7:07 p.m. first pitch, FOX).

One moment, there's Gordon diving to make an amazing catch. Or there's third baseman Mike Moustakas leaping over the dugout railing to grab a foul pop.

Video: Moose's pair of catches

Along the way, other Royals had their moments, from Lorenzo Cain in center to Alcides Escobar at short to Eric Hosmer at first base.

Oh, and there are two others.

One is catcher Salvador Perez. If he's not the best catcher in all of baseball, he's almost certainly the best catcher not named Yadier Molina.

Video: Perez makes tough catch

And Jarrod Dyson might be baseball's best defensive outfielder, but because the Royals want Nori Aoki leading off and playing right, he's a late-inning replacement.

Video: Dyson shows off cannon

When Royals manager Ned Yost has an outfield of -- left to right -- Gordon, Dyson and Cain in the late innings, especially with all those hard-throwing relievers, the Royals are scary good.

"We're kind of bringing back old-school baseball," Dyson said. "People aren't used to seeing this."

The Royals were the best defensive team in baseball, finishing with MLB's highest ultimate zone rating (UZR), an advanced defensive metric that estimates each fielder's defensive ability vs. an average fielder at his position. The Orioles were second; the Giants 15th.

According to UZR, the Royals were first overall in outfield defense. Gordon was first in left. Cain and Dyson were first in center.

The defensive metrics speak volumes about the importance general manager Dayton Moore placed on defense when he put the Royals together.

Because Kauffman Stadium's outfield is so large, Moore believed defense had to be a priority.

Also, because the Royals might never have a top 10 payroll, he believed defense could make up for a lot of what the Royals didn't have.

The Royals hit 10 fewer home runs than any other team in baseball this season, but they were 16th in runs thanks to leading the Majors in steals and hitting .271 with runners in scoring position (fourth overall).

Their pitching staff was fourth in velocity, averaging 92.6 mph, and so with a defense that saved a ton of runs, and enough offense, the Royals found a formula that works.

"If you watch us practice, you see how hard we work at it," Dyson said. "When it comes to defense, we don't take any shortcuts. We definitely feed off each other. You want to catch every ball. You don't want anything to hit the ground.

The Royals have ridden that defense to within four victories of their first championship in 29 years. With the lights the brightest and the stage the largest, it has never been better.

"If we can get a glove on it, we've been making the play," Dyson said. "That's something special to have."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tale of the tape: Giants-Royals, Game 1

Tale of the tape: Giants-Royals, Game 1

Madison Bumgarner
Against the Royals
2014: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Loves to face: Nori Aoki (0-for-13), Alcides Escobar (1-for-6, 2 K)
Hates to face: Billy Butler, 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBIs

Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Because all he's done is win this postseason. In his four October starts, Bumgarner owns a 1.42 ERA, a .212 opponents' average and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 28-to-5. The Giants have won three of his four starts, including Game 5 of the National League Championship Series that sealed series MVP Award honors for Bumgarner and punched San Francisco's World Series ticket.

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  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Pitcher beware: If the Royals are going to get to Bumgarner, they should do it early. In his 33 regular-season starts, he surrendered 41 hits and 21 runs in the first inning, most of any frame.

Bottom line: Bumgarner retired the final 13 Cardinals batters he faced in the NLCS, and there's no reason he shouldn't similarly stifle the Royals. He is a true ace.

James Shields
Against the Giants
2014: 1 GS 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Loves to face: Hunter Pence (0-for-11, 3 K)
Gregor Blanco: 4-for-7, 3B, 3 RBIs

Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Because he's done it before, working a four-hit shutout at Kauffman Stadium opposite Tim Hudson on Aug. 9 for a 5-0 Royals win. Shields surrendered only one hit over the final five innings of that game and struck out Pablo Sandoval to end it.

Pitcher beware: Shields has never exactly earned the "Big Game James" moniker bestowed upon him in the Rays' Minor League chain, going 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in his first nine career postseason starts, including a 5.63 ERA in his three starts this year.

Bottom line: Positioned for a pair of starts opposite Bumgarner, this would be a very good time for Shields to earn his nickname.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Finnegan set for World Series after college run

Experience at TCU earlier in year prepared rookie southpaw for big stage

Finnegan set for World Series after college run

KANSAS CITY -- Sitting in his criminal justice classes four months ago at Texas Christian University, Brandon Finnegan could not wait to be done with college so he could go play professional baseball.

The Horned Frogs were poised to make a postseason run and Finnegan was set to become a first-round Draft pick. But he barely could have imagined what was in store for him -- "a whirlwind" he called it -- during the next couple of months.

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TCU made it to the College World Series. He was drafted 17th overall by the Royals in June's First-year Player Draft. And then the Royals promoted him to the main roster in September. If he appears in a game during this World Series, he will become the first player to play in both the College World Series and World Series in the same year.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"I'm living two kids' dream in one year," he said.

Finnegan tossed eight innings and allowed one unearned run in TCU's 3-2 loss to Virginia in 15 innings on June 17 in Omaha. Two days later, the Horned Frogs lost 6-4 to Mississippi and were eliminated

He started his professional career at Class A Wilmington, where he went 0-1 with a 0.60 ERA in five starts. The Royals liked what they saw and promoted him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas and put him in the bullpen with hopes that he could move quickly. In eight appearances, he posted a 2.25 ERA and 13 in 12 innings. On Sept. 1 came the call to the big leagues as a September callup. He did not disappoint, with a 1.29 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

The Royals have a secret weapon, one they unleashed this postseason. The apparently unflappable Finnegan has emerged as the fourth option in Kansas City's dominant bullpen -- behind the trio of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera -- with a record of 1-0 and a 4.15 ERA in five appearances.

Finnegan seems to be enjoying the ride, especially when he walks around town and people recognize him. He said every time a fan has stopped him for a picture, he has happily obliged.

"It's cool. I'm 21. I wasn't expecting that to happen this quick, but it's awesome," Finnegan said. "Still the same old Brandon I was before I got called up, just grinding through the season trying to win a World Series."

TCU's run in the College World Series lasted just three games. Finnegan believes that experience has helped him get through the postseason and can help going forward.

"The difference is, in the World Series for college they're not there for one team, they're there just to watch," Finnegan said of the fans. "Here, they're there for one team and one team only."

Finnegan still keeps in touch with his teammates from TCU, regularly exchanging text messages and conversations across social media.

His friends have spotted people wearing Royals jerseys around the TCU campus in Fort Worth, many with Finnegan on the back of it. His former teammates have gathered around to watch each Royals' playoff game eagerly anticipating Finnegan coming in from the bullpen.

"They've been going from the practice field straight to the DVR," Finnegan said.

Back when he was sitting in class, he could not wait to get out and go play baseball. Now he misses college, at least the part he shared with his teammates.

"But I can get used to this," Finnegan said laughing and smiling as he did for most of the day on Monday.

He paused and added: "But I don't want to go 0-2 in the World Series."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Zimmer injures shoulder pitching in AFL

Zimmer injures shoulder pitching in AFL

KANSAS CITY -- A slight hitch in an otherwise joyous October came on Saturday, when right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the Royals No. 2 prospect, injured his right shoulder in the Arizona Fall League.

The fear is that Zimmer, the Royals' first-round Draft pick in 2012, sustained the same injury that limited him to 4 2/3 innings in the Minors this season.

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Zimmer started on Saturday for the Peoria Javelinas, Kansas City's AFL team, but exited after one scoreless inning.

"He had some soreness in his shoulder, and rather than let him pitch through it, we just took him out of the game," said assistant general manager J.J. Picollo.

Picollo added that Zimmer, who is no longer listed on the Javelinas' roster, might be shut down.

"More than likely, we're not going to push it any further this fall and just try to get this under control," he said.

What the club is attempting to get under control, and how concerned it should be, is unclear.

"It's hard to answer. I think it's more disappointment in the sense that we know how hard Kyle's worked," Picollo said. "We don't have any images or anything like that right now. We think it's very similar to what he's been battling, and we've just got to keep working to figure it out."

The organization is particularly dismayed about the injury because it came on the heels of a five-inning, 11-strikeout performance.

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Crucial Giants-Royals World Series matchups

Crucial Giants-Royals World Series matchups

KANSAS CITY -- The fruitlessness of speculation at this stage is well-established by these Royals and Giants. Not only have they beaten the odds by becoming the first two Wild Card teams of the Wild Card Game era to advance to the World Series, but they've done it in dominant fashion, with a combined postseason record of 16-2, the best ever for two World Series participants.

It's doubtful any written word can properly prepare us for what's ahead in this World Series, but as these two Wild Card clubs begin battle at 8:07 p.m. ET (air time is at 7:30 p.m.) Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium and on FOX, some of us can't help ourselves. Here's an attempt (likely in vain) to pinpoint 10 matchups that could decide this Series.

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1. The Royals' bullish bullpen vs. the Giants' bats.

There is no single separator in this or any postseason series to date than that back end of the Royals' bullpen. We really haven't seen anything like it on this stage in a generation (the 1990 Reds "Nasty Boys" are a popular comparison). And considering that starters not named Madison Bumgarner haven't exactly gone deep into games with great frequency this postseason, the Royals' bullpen strength should continue to be a key factor going forward.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

In the ALCS round, Royals right-handers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland retired 44 of 54 batters, striking out 15 and posting a 0.61 ERA. That's as dominant as you can get at this stage of the game. And the presence of lefty Brandon Finnegan -- the first player ever to participate in the College World Series and the real World Series in the same year -- has only added depth and matchup possibilities for manager Ned Yost, who has called upon his 'pen for 32 percent of the Royals' postseason innings pitched so far.

The Giants have to pounce on these guys in fastball counts. Or else just root for mistakes that, to date, have been few and far between.

2. The Giants' underrated relief corps vs. the Royals' bats.

Hey, let's not focus completely on the Royals relievers and sell that San Francisco bullpen short. It does have a 1.83 ERA this postseason, after all.

In such a volatile area in a volatile game, it's amazing that Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez remain the bullpen linchpins they were for the Giants in the 2010 and 2012 postseason. This 2014 club is probably even more reliant on the 'pen than those previous two NL championship squads were, and that's why the late-inning matchups are so essential.

Here's where it gets really interesting: Affeldt is currently in the midst of 18 straight postseason appearances without a run allowed. That dates all the way back to '10. Lopez, meanwhile, has allowed just three hits and one run in 10 1/3 innings of postseason play with the Giants.

These are important points for the simple reason that three of the prime pieces in the Royals' lineup -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon -- are left-handed. The Giants have the tools to suppress those guys late in games.

Lineup differences between clubs

3. Billy Butler vs. Bumgarner.

As mentioned, Bumgarner, the NLCS MVP, is the only starter from either of these two teams whose postseason performance, in terms of dominating deep into games (he's gone at least seven innings in all four starts, and he has a 1.42 ERA and .170 average against), has truly stood out. It is imperative that the Royals get to him in Game 1, and doing so will be difficult given the aforementioned reliance on lefties and the fact that Bumgarner held lefties to just a .539 OPS (and one homer) this season.

So the time has definitely come for Butler to step up on the postseason stage. He was vital to this lineup when the Royals got hot in August and that might have to be the case again in Game 1.

This postseason, Butler is just 6-for-27 (.222), but he hit .321 against lefties during the regular season, and he's 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs against Bumgarner. Also of note, Butler is 14-for-33 with three homers, three walks and eight RBIs off Game 2 starter Jake Peavy. Perhaps Butler can rediscover those successes and ignite the Royals offense at home, before he is relegated to pinch-hitting duties in San Francisco.

4. James Shields vs. his nickname.

Not to totally harp on Game 1, but, seriously, Game 1 is huge. In the last 25 World Series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to claim the crown 21 times. So this would be an awfully good time for "Big Game" James to prove his nickname is as much reason as rhyme.

That hasn't happened this postseason. Shields has allowed 10 runs in 16 innings, with three homers and five walks. Maybe he's gassed (he's thrown 3,915 pitches this calendar year, by far the most in the Majors), or maybe this stage doesn't suit him. Whatever the case, Shields needs to shake off recent history and be the tone-setter he's been for this rotation the last two years.

"I'm a big believer in amnesia," he said.

Yes, the Royals have a deep and devastating bullpen. But that bullpen has the potential to be over-exerted going forward, as Yordano Ventura showed diminished velocity and battled shoulder tightness in his last start and Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie were both basically five-and-fly guys in the ALCS round. So it would sure help the Royals to get some length out of their ace in a pivotal Game 1.

5. The Giants' arms and positioning vs. the Royals' speed.

For all the attention the Royals' fleet feet deservedly received in advance of the ALCS, they managed just one steal in three attempts against the Orioles.

It wasn't just the O's pitchers living up to their reputation of being quick to the plate or Caleb Joseph's accurate arm behind the plate. It was also the unique positioning of first baseman Steve Pearce, who would set up some five feet from the bag while "holding" the runner, then scamper back to the bag for either a pickoff attempt or a basic deke job. It was weird, but it worked.

As one scout on hand said, "If I had to tell the Giants one thing about the running game, it's to go through the games and watch what Steve Pearce did."

So Brandon Belt could have as much of an impact here as Buster Posey. But for the record, Posey threw out 29.8 percent of opposing baserunners this season, which was not an elite percentage. And in this postseason, runners have successfully stolen on Posey three times in four attempts.

The onus is also on the Giants' pitchers to be quick to the plate. In the regular season, Peavy (one steal in four attempts while with San Francisco) and Bumgarner (seven steals in 17 attempts) were effective at guarding against the run, while runners were much more effective against Ryan Vogelsong (12 in 18 attempts), Tim Lincecum (22 in 28), Yusmeiro Petit (15 in 19) and Tim Hudson (15 in 18).

6. Giants pitchers vs. the "pound the strike zone" mindset.

Per FanGraphs.com, only the Nationals (63.3) had a higher first-pitch strike percentage than the Giants (62.8) this season. Ordinarily, that ability to pound the zone and establish yourself early in the count is considered a good thing. But against a team like the Royals, who finished second in the Majors in contact percentage, the Giants might have to rethink this strategy. The Royals are not a team prone to swinging and missing in the zone.

Actually, both of these clubs have done an excellent job of avoiding strike three this postseason. The Giants are averaging 7.05 plate appearances between strikeouts, while the Royals are averaging 5.44. Both marks are above the league average from the regular season. But for the Royals, especially, the put-it-in-play perspective is not a new one, and the Giants would be wise to try to use that against them.

7. The outfielders vs. the dimensions.

Travis Ishikawa's bat propelled the Giants into this World Series in the most dramatic way imaginable. But in Games 1 and 2 at Kauffman Stadium, the converted first baseman's glove could be a focal point.

Kauffman has the largest square footage of any outfield in baseball, and the home club's tendency to put the ball in play will test all of San Francisco's defenders, most notably Ishikawa in left and Hunter Pence in right (Gregor Blanco has filled in admirably for the injured Angel Pagan in center). Bruce Bochy will also have the option of playing Juan Perez in left.

"I don't see any changes right now with how we're going to start the game, and that's Ishi in left field," Bochy said. "But we know we have that option of a guy that's probably a little faster."

And when the Series shifts to San Francisco, Royals outfielders will also be challenged. They can clearly cover a lot of ground (there are times when it seems Lorenzo Cain is capable of simultaneously manning all three spots), but the quirky layout of the outfield wall at AT&T Park will definitely take some getting used to.

8. Royals pitchers vs. the Panda.

Pablo Sandoval is a .325 (41-for-126) career hitter in the postseason, and he's reached base in 23 straight postseason games. Vargas (3-for-9, one walk) and Guthrie (3-for-6, two doubles) are the only two Kansas City pitchers who have faced the Panda more than a few times, and they've both struggled to get him out.

In general, though, the lefties on the Royals -- Vargas, Finnegan, Danny Duffy and Tim Collins -- could all be important weapons in neutralizing the switch-hitting Sandoval. He was 0-for-3 in his only at-bats as a right-handed hitter thus far this postseason, and he hit just .199 from the right-hand side this season.

9. Bochy vs. Yost.

Well, here we go again. Yost -- arguably the most criticized strategist in the game -- matching wits against a skipper with growing Cooperstown credentials. Last round, it was billed as Yost vs. Showalter. How'd that turn out?

Yost simply had the magic touch in the LCS. For instance, in Game 2, when he had Moustakas, his biggest power threat, lay down a sacrifice bunt in a lefty-on-lefty matchup that didn't favor the slugger, that tactic worked out wonderfully, with Moustakas advancing what turned out to be the winning run. And the Royals' bullpen has been so good that Yost has been able to put it on cruise control. Whether it's bunting or sacrificing their bodies to snag an out, the Royals have shown a real unselfishness on this stage that's worked wonders for them, and, anecdotally, Yost has helped instill that in them. So give him a little credit, eh?

That said, Bochy is the one who has been there, done that, entering his fourth World Series and gunning for his third win. The aforementioned success and stability of the bullpen is ultimately a credit to him putting the right guys in the right spots without overworking anybody. And the "cockroach" mentality this club has taken on is also a credit to its cunning leader.

So we'll see if either skipper pushes the wrong button at the wrong time. But going in, both of these guys are on a managerial "hot streak," so to speak.

10. Both clubs vs. the "10th man" element.

The pent-up frustration of a 29-year playoff drought has come roaring out of the mouths of Royals fans this October. They have created one of the loudest home environments in baseball during this postseason run. AT&T Park, meanwhile, has long been able to boast that trait.

So it will be interesting to see if either club gets rattled on the road. One would think this might be the one area in which the Royals' relative inexperience compared to the Giants might come into play. But they sure didn't look rattled in Angel Stadium or Camden Yards, did they?

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Royals' success can be traced back to 2010 trade

Royals' success can be traced back to 2010 trade

KANSAS CITY -- It was called the "Zack Greinke trade," and it was a trade that almost didn't have a chance to happen. But happen it did, and now manager Ned Yost calls it "the start of all of our success."

The facts are these: On Dec. 19, 2010, the Royals sent a dissatisfied Greinke and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee for outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.

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"We're in the World Series right now, and we've got an outstanding shortstop and an unbelievable center fielder, and that's all I need to know," Yost said after Monday's workout at Kauffman Stadium.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

The 2010 Royals had lost 95 games, finished last and Greinke, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner, wanted out. General manager Dayton Moore wanted to emphasize athleticism, defense and, as always, pitching depth.

"Greinke was great, but he made it known that he didn't want to be here, so I think Dayton did a good job of finding what he needed to do to make this team better," left fielder Alex Gordon said. "At the time we were struggling pretty bad."

Yet that deal almost didn't happen. Earlier that month, the Royals were poised to accept a package from the Nationals that, according to The New York Times, included pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen, second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Derek Norris. The stumbling point was that Greinke had to waive his no-trade clause and agree to a contract extension, and he declined, because he felt the Nationals weren't quite ready for a breakthrough.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin recalled telling Moore: "Dayton, I think I can give you as good a deal as anybody," and the two had a hush-hush meeting at the Winter Meetings at Orlando. Several days later they had the deal in place.

Cain, just off a .306 rookie trial of 43 games with the 2010 Brewers, was in Miami with his agent when his phone buzzed.

"It was my mom texting me and telling me that she saw I got traded, on ESPN, and actually that's how I found out," Cain said. "I didn't know much about Kansas City. Once I got here, I heard mostly about how they'd been losing, [but] the team embraced me and I ended up getting a chance, so they've definitely been patient with me through all the injuries, and I've just been trying to make up for lost time."

Has he ever. Cain hit .301 this season with 53 runs and 28 stolen bases and, as of Sept. 13, wound up batting third. In 22 games in the three-hole through the postseason, he's hit .333 with 11 RBIs and six steals.

When the trade was made, Escobar had just finished his first year as the Brewers' regular shortstop.

"Before my first full season, 2010, they traded J.J. Hardy to Minnesota and they said, 'Now you'll play shortstop every day,' and I felt comfortable, happy," Escobar said. "Then they traded me after that year and I asked, 'Why did you tell me that? You traded me.' But I came here and forgot about that. Now I love this team.'"

Escobar this season hit .285, knocked in 50 runs, scored 74 and swiped 31 bases. When Yost revamped his lineup, Escobar went into the leadoff spot, and in 23 games there, he's hit .340 with 13 runs and seven RBIs.

"I've been rooting for them," Melvin said. "I think it's just a credit to our farm system and player development, when you take two raw kids like Escobar and Cain and they spend most of their time in our system. It shows that it can be done. Those are the stories that I love to see."

Yost, then still a front-office advisor with the Royals, remembered Escobar and Cain from his years as Milwaukee's manager and recommended to Moore that they be included in the Greinke deal.

"From the minute I saw Escobar in Spring Training as an A-ball player, the kid was as big as a broomstick, and he just covered the whole left side of the infield," Yost said. "He was making fantastic plays as a kid out of A ball. I fell in love with him, and I knew when he filled out, he'd be a really good offensive player, because his hands worked."

Melvin remembers Cain from those formative years.

"How raw and crude he was, but a great personality," Melvin said. "It just goes to show you that patience pays off with young players."

At that point, Moore was willing to wait for Escobar and Cain to develop further.

"The deal worked perfectly for both organizations," Moore said. "We got what we needed, we got players for the future, they got a Cy Young Award winner that helped them get back to the playoffs for the second year in a row. So it was good for everybody."

It got even better for the Royals because, on Dec. 9, 2012, they were able to obtain pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays in a trade for prospects, a deal that included Odorizzi along with outfielder Wil Myers. (Earlier that winter, Jeffress was dealt to Toronto; is now back pitching for Milwaukee.)

Kansas City fans viewed the Tampa Bay deal with skepticism, especially after Myers became the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year and the Royals, with Shields and Davis, finished in third place. Now, obviously, the consensus has shifted along with the Royals' stunning success.

"Us and Kansas City, we kind of mirrored each other," Melvin said. "We were just a few years ahead of them at the time. They traded Greinke for young players, and then they traded young players for Shields. I think they looked at what we did and said, 'When you have an opportunity, you have to try to capitalize on it.'

"I don't think we would [second-guess] any of those trades, and I don't think they should look back on trading Wil Myers and Odorizzi [for Shields and Davis], either. It's very similar. I'm happy for them."

"When you sit back and look at it, the Escobar and Cain trade was the one that put us in position to start our championship climb," Yost said. "The Wade Davis and Shields trade was the one that got us here. I don't think we'd be here right now without either one of those trades."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Royals ham it up during meet and greet

Players dish on fashion, hobbies and more in laid-back setting

Royals ham it up during meet and greet

KANSAS CITY -- He's best known as a veteran presence who is currently helping to anchor a World Series rotation, but apparently, that's not James Shields' only redeeming quality.

The guy has style. Lots of it. Just ask his teammates, who almost universally gave the same answer to the same question: who is the best-dressed player on the team?

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"James Shields," said Salvador Perez.

"James Shields," said Billy Butler.

"One hundred percent, James Shields," said Danny Duffy.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

OK. So that's settled. On travel days -- affectionately known in the industry as "getaway days" -- players are required to wear suits. Apparently, not all suits are created equal, with Shields -- dapper, hip, trendy -- setting himself apart from the rest.

"Ooooh," Perez said with admiration. "He looks clean. He's got everything -- he just looks good."

Shields carries it well, too.

"Dude has more charisma than I've ever seen on anyone," Duffy said. "The dude's got it all together. He's a stud. That's all you can really say."

Well, that's actually not all he can say. Duffy heaped several more accolades on the Royals' World Series Game 1 pitcher, calling him "an ace in every form of the word, in every aspect of life."

And he's got good hair, too.

"He doesn't have the flow that I've got going on," Duffy said, referring to his, ahem, ever deepening hairline. "I'm kind of going about 420 in the power alleys. He's got a good flow going."

"Good flow" is an appropriate term for what's happening to the Royals lately. There's never been a better time -- save for maybe 29 years ago -- to be a baseball player in Kansas City, where the good times are seemingly unending and life within the friendly confines of the Royals' clubhouse is loosey-goosey.

But really, outside of this charming Midwestern town, how many of us really know the Royals? To that end, we took advantage of a 50-minute media session on Monday at Kauffman Stadium -- a free-for-all of sorts -- where players were stationed inside one room at the Royals' Hall of Fame and fielded questions from dozens of media types.

Think Super Bowl media day, without the outrageousness and uncomfortably silly questions. For the most part.

Because Shields is starting Game 1 of the World Series, his media session was scheduled for later in the day, making him exempt from this particular interview exercise. When asked to respond to his teammates' unified admiration as the team's "Most Sharp Dressed Man," Shields took the aw-shucks approach.

"I don't necessarily call it style," he said with a laugh. "But I wear my suit when we go on the road. I mean, I guess that's an honor. I'm not really too prideful in the way I dress. I like to look halfway decent."

Clothing wasn't the only topic of discussion in our quest to get to know the Royals. Off-the-field antics also came up in conversation, with most players agreeing that catcher Perez, a jolly man by nature, wins in the category of "Clubhouse Clown."

Video: Who is the goofiest Royal?

Perez, however, picked Duffy.

Any particular reason why?

"He has a big head," Perez said. "He looks like a clown."

Perez said he'd vote for himself as the second-place winner.

"I like to be happy in the clubhouse," he said. "I don't want anyone to be serious. Before the game, we have to enjoy the moment. It's still a game. We'll be happy to play the game hard and enjoy the moment. That's what I like to do every game."

But there is something to be said about Duffy, who credits his left-handedness as the source of his goofiness.

"I just try to keep the guys laughing and on their toes," Duffy said. "We're with each other eight months out of the year, in a row, and we have about 10 days off. You've got enjoy your time with everyone. Whether it's wearing a bear suit, or Raul Ibanez running around in a Spiderman suit."

Wait, what?

Who wore a bear suit?

"Me," Duffy said. "I ordered it a while ago. It was kind of a joke."

One that apparently caught on among the other Royals. Yordano Ventura has also been spotted in an animal suit recently.

"So, we're just costumed out," Duffy said.

In the category of "Most Interesting Hobby," that award would have to go to starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who collects shoes. He started this when he was seven years old, scoring a pair of Air Jordans -- the early model that said "Sky Jordan" with little wings on the sides.

Growing up in Oregon, where Nike was based, helped fuel Guthrie's passion for shoes. Michael Jordan ruling the sports universe at the same time didn't hurt, either.

"I had his rookie card, as most kids did at that age, and he became my favorite player," Guthrie said. "The shoe became associated with him and then I got into shoes."

To date, the 35-year-old Guthrie estimated he has about 430 pairs of kicks. He keeps most in a vault in his home in Utah, as well as in a "shoe room." He also has a large closet at his home in Kansas City that houses around 100 additional pairs. As for actually wearing the shoes, Guthrie said he has a 35-pair rotation.

The next question posed to Royals players involved clubhouse music: Who controls it? Who decides what's played?

Seniority goes to that day's starting pitcher. If he doesn't have a preference, it becomes a bit of a free-for-all, with any number of Royals players giving input as to what they listen to on a game day.

There are a few exceptions, of course -- like players who have horrendous taste in music. For example ...

"Danny Duffy," Butler said.

Why?

"He plays Christmas music in there," Butler said. "In July."

Duffy, listening from the next booth over, agreed.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," he said. "Give it a little shout out."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Sundberg remembers Royals' 1985 championship season

Rangers Hall of Famer spent his only postseason with Kansas City

Sundberg remembers Royals' 1985 championship season

ARLINGTON -- Jim Sundberg used to wear the World Series ring that he earned with the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Now he is not sure where it is.

"I hid it one day because I was going out of the house," Sundberg said. "I think I know where it is, but I never put it back on."

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Sundberg's memory of where his World Series ring may be a little hazy, but he still vividly recalls the events of October 1985. That was when the Royals played in their last Fall Classic, and Sundberg played a significant role in bringing home the only World Series championship in club history.

Now, 29 years later, the Royals are back in the World Series and will host the Giants in Game 1 on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

"There are a lot of similarities," Sundberg said. "Nobody expected us to be there either, but both did it the same way with pitching and defense and key hits. I don't think their rotation was as strong as ours [Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson, Mark Gubicza, Danny Jackson, Bud Black], but their bullpen is better, especially their last three guys."

Sundberg played 16 years in the big leagues and 12 were with the Rangers. He is in the Rangers Hall of Fame. But the ride to the 1985 World Series was the only time he ever played in the postseason.

"I didn't experience the pressure of the postseason like I thought would be there," Sundberg said. "We weren't expected to win our division and we won it in the last week. That was where the pressure was."

Sundberg spent the first 10 years of his career with the Rangers but was traded to the Brewers after the 1983 season. After one year with the Brewers, Sundberg was traded Kansas City because Royals manager Dick Howser wanted a veteran catcher to handle a young pitching staff.

Sundberg did just that and the Royals, after being 7 1/2 games out at the All-Star break, rode their young pitching to a division title.

Sundberg only hit .208 in 14 postseason games. But he led the Royals with six RBIs in the seven-game American League Championship Series victory over the Blue Jays and he led them with six runs scored in the World Series.

"I didn't hit for big average, but I did have some key offensive contributions," Sundberg said. "What I did really counted."

No kidding. Sundberg had the biggest hit of the ALCS and scored the biggest run of the World Series.

The Royals had a 2-1 lead in Game 7 of the ALCS when Sundberg came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning. Facing Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb, Sundberg hit a three-run triple and then scored on a single by Frank White. The Royals won 6-2.

"That was the single biggest moment at the plate in my career," Sundberg said.

Sundberg was also involved in one of the biggest innings in World Series history: the bottom of the ninth in Game 6 against the Cardinals. At the time, the Cards had a 3-2 lead in the Series and a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth in Kansas City. They were three outs away from winning the World Series.

Jorge Orta, facing reliever Todd Worrell, led off with a chopper to first baseman Jack Clark. Orta appeared out at first base as Clark's toss to Worrell beat him to the bag. But first-base umpire Don Denkinger ruled Orta safe in one of the most crucial calls in World Series history. Steve Balboni followed with a single, only after Clark misplayed his foul pop.

That brought up Sundberg with runners at first and second, and nobody out. Howser had Sundberg bunt, but the ball went back to Worrell, who got the force at third.

"I thought it was a good bunt," Sundberg said. "I don't think Orta got a good jump or a good lead. It was on turf, so the ball rolled quicker too."

With pinch-runner Onix Concepcion at second, Sundberg was now on first base as the winning run.

"I remember wondering why was Dick Howser not pinch-running for me," Sundberg said. "When I realized he wasn't going to pinch-run for me -- I had always been a good baserunner, although not very fast at that point of my career -- I just reminded myself to get a good lead and a good jump."

A passed ball by catcher Darrell Porter moved the runners up to second and third. After Hal McRae was intentionally walked, Dane Iorg blooped a single to right field.

"Get a good lead, get a good jump and cut the corner hard at third," Sundberg said. "When the ball came off the bat, I knew it was a hit, I knew it would be down."

Sundberg went for home, even though Cardinals right fielder Andy Van Slyke had a great arm.

"When I came home, I saw Porter had given up too much of the plate," Sundberg said. "He went out to get the ball. I dove headfirst, getting as far away from Porter, staying low and getting the plate with my hand."

With what broadcaster Jim Palmer said on national television was "a great slide," Sundberg scored the winning run that sent the World Series to Game 7. The Royals won, 11-0.

"The last day of the World Series was the only day that I felt any pressure," Sundberg said. "The Sundberg family went to a Kansas City park for a picnic. We were throwing the Frisbee around, but I was really on edge. But once I got to the ballpark, I was fine."

It was a magical time for Sundberg and the Royals. Now it starts again on Tuesday night in Kansas City.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB announces World Series umpiring crew

MLB announces World Series umpiring crew

Major League Baseball announced its World Series umpiring crew Monday, led by crew chief Jeff Kellogg, who boasts more than 22 years of experience and will be umpiring his fifth Fall Classic.

Ted Barrett and Jeff Nelson, also regular season crew chiefs, were named as part of Kellogg's team, as were Eric Cooper, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and Hunter Wendelstedt.

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Meals will be behind the plate for Game 1 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX). He'll then head to New York for Game 3 to serve as the replay official for the remainder of the series. Nelson, the replay official for Games 1 and 2, will join the rest of the crew in San Francisco for Game 3.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Brian O'Nora will serve as replay assistant to Meals and Nelson during the series.

All seven umpires named to the World Series crew also worked in the Division Series. Barrett was the crew chief for the Royals' ALDS win over the Angels.

As for the 53-year-old Kellogg, 2014 marks his first World Series as crew chief. He most recently umpired the Fall Classic during the Giants' victory over the Rangers in '10.

Barrett and Nelson will be umpiring their third World Series, while Cooper, Meals, Reynolds and Wendelstedt will all be making their debuts. Wendelstedt, whose father, Harry, worked five Fall Classics, will become part of the fourth father-son duo to ever have worked on baseball's biggest stage.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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A baseball latecomer, Cain's determination led way

ALCS MVP didn't play until high school, but work ethic aided development

A baseball latecomer, Cain's determination led way

Of all the players who have cradled an MVP award in their hands following the final out of a League Championship Series, Lorenzo Cain of the Royals probably lays claim to the most unusual backstory.

The 28-year-old breakout star has shined on both sides of the ball this postseason, stroking hits with regularity and chasing down drives in the outfield gaps. Those feats would be impressive even without the knowledge that he didn't play baseball at any level until his sophomore year of high school.

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"I had to work on everything, because I was starting from ground zero with everything," Cain said. "The one thing I had, I could always run. I was always fast. But I had to learn to hit and throw correctly, and field. It was definitely tough. I never thought I would get drafted."

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Perhaps it is Cain's spotty jump shot and unimpressive dribbling that are most responsible for his presence on the national stage this October, preparing to lead his Royals to face off against the Giants in the World Series. (Game 1 is Tuesday: 7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX.)

Cain's first love was basketball, a lanky freshman with a crestfallen face, unable to find his name on the roster after tryouts at Madison County (Fla.) High School. His mother, Patricia, steered Cain away from the dangers of football, and so Cain abandoned sports in favor of filling his afternoons with household chores and video games.

"My mom was working two jobs at the time, so I didn't want to put any extra pressure on her about getting me to practice, picking me up and all that stuff," Cain said. "I just didn't worry about it."

Jeremy Haynes, a friend who later pitched in the Braves' system, told Cain during his sophomore year that he might be able to make the baseball team -- by default, as Madison's junior varsity squad had just eight players as the 2002 season neared, putting coach Barney Myers in danger of forfeiting the season.

Myers described Cain as "skinny, gangly and goofy," to the Kansas City Star, but no matter -- the season would be saved. Cain picked out leftover equipment from the fieldhouse, catching the first fly ball hit to him, then revealing that the plastic glove he'd chosen was on his throwing hand.

"I don't even think he had seen a baseball game," Myers told the paper. "Much less played in one."

The rules were foggy and Cain was extremely raw -- a right-handed hitter, he even had to be instructed how to hold the bat correctly, with his right hand over the left -- but there were indications of promise, as well as a devoted work ethic. He'd often trade his books for a bat during lunch period, taking 100 hacks at the school pitching machine.

"I was determined to never sit on the bench," Cain said. "That was the thing about me, I just couldn't settle with sitting on the bench."

Perez interviews Cain

Cracking the starting lineup as a senior, Cain earned the attention of area scouts, including Doug Reynolds, who scored a signature on a contract after the Brewers selected Cain in the 17th round of the 2004 Draft.

"I'd like to know if there's anybody that's played at his level and didn't play baseball until that late," Reynolds told the New York Post. "You had guys where you'd say he was a football guy and maybe he crossed over. But we're talking about a non-athlete at any level."

Cain opted to attend Tallahassee Community College, giving him more time to develop, but the Brewers retained his rights as a part of the now defunct draft-and-follow process. In 2005, Cain went pro and was quickly dropped into a world of long bus rides and improved competition.

"I just had never seen that type of pitching before," Cain said. "For me to stick around, I definitely had to fight and learn as quickly as possible."

Royals manager Ned Yost recalls watching Cain, then in Class A ball, as their time overlapped in the Milwaukee organization. Cain's speed, baserunning instincts and outfield jumps would all improve over time, but the building blocks were present then.

"You could envision this kid with this skill set, even though it was raw early, that he would turn into one heck of a baseball player," Yost said. "It's been fun watching him develop."

Going into the 2010-11 offseason, Cain owned a .306 average in his first 43 games of big league duty -- enough, he thought, to provide a crack at the Brewers' starting center-field job. The Brewers and Royals had other plans, triggering a five-player December deal involving ace Zack Greinke that pinned Cain to Kansas City's Triple-A Omaha squad.

"They sent me back to the Minor Leagues, which was tough for me, but I felt I had to go out and prove what I could do," Cain said.

Accumulating 3,169 plate appearances over 728 Minor League games, Cain endured a long wait, but one that offered needed repetitions. Slowed by injuries the past two seasons, Cain has been able to put it all together this year as an everyday contributor -- and as in all things with his story, it's better to happen later than never.

"It's something I still have to continue to work at and continue to perfect my craft, but it's been worthwhile," Cain said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Dick Kaegel, a reporter for MLB.com, contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Affeldt's career comes full circle in facing Royals

Veteran and key cog in bullpen will match up against former club in Fall Classic

Affeldt's career comes full circle in facing Royals

KANSAS CITY -- The letter, handwritten and rather harsh, arrived at the Colorado Rockies' clubhouse, directed to Jeremy Affeldt. Just because the words were difficult to read didn't mean they weren't accurate.

It was a letter from Royals general manager Dayton Moore. It was August 2006, and Moore had just traded Affeldt to the Rockies. But rather than let the trade (Affeldt and right-hander Denny Bautista for righty Scott Dohmann and first baseman Ryan Shealy) speak for itself, Moore took a moment to write Affeldt a note of both admonishment and encouragement.

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"I needed to give you an opportunity to succeed," Moore wrote, according to Affeldt's re-telling on the eve of the World Series. "You were at a point where I didn't think you could do that [in Kansas City], because you're not approaching the game with any joy."

Was Moore right? Absolutely.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"I hated the game," Affeldt recalled. "I almost quit. I remember sitting at the counter at my house at 135th and State Line Road, crying and telling my wife, 'I'm done. I don't want to play anymore. I'm tired of failing. I can pitch good and still be bad. I get the same result every night.'"

This is all hard to believe now that Affeldt is such a long-standing key cog in this Giants bullpen. He has a 2.76 ERA in 362 regular season appearances over six regular seasons with San Francisco. More impressively, he has a 0.87 ERA in 20 2/3 innings over the course of their 2010, '12 and '14 postseason runs.

But in 2006, Affeldt had a 5.91 ERA at the time of the July 31 trade, and a career that had begun with the Royals in 2002 appeared to be going nowhere. If not for the words of two people -- Affeldt's wife, Larisa, and Moore -- he might have called it quits. Larisa reminded Affeldt that he'd never be able to look a kid in the eye and tell them not to give up on their dreams if he did just that, and Moore reminded him that a fresh start could do him some good.

Things didn't immediately improve for Affeldt on the mound in Colorado, but his outlook did. And in 2007, he not only had what was, to that point, his best statistical season but was part of a Rockies team that won the NL pennant.

"If I would have been released, I might have taken it as my out and said, 'I'm done,'" Affeldt said. "But [Moore] didn't allow me to do that."

So remember this little story in those late innings of this World Series. If Affeldt gets key outs against this Royals club in the heat of battle, Moore, in a weird way, will be the one to blame.

But in a game that is often about business, Affeldt's personal anecdote suggests that sometimes the game is about people rooting for each other.

"I have a lot of respect for Dayton Moore," Affeldt said. "And I'm happy that the product that he decided to build has paid off and he's put a World Series team into place."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Matthew Leach

Royals' machine built to perform in October

Royals' machine built to perform in October

As baseball has changed over the past half-decade or so, it seems that the formula for winning in October may have changed, as well. And if that is in fact the case, then the best example is the American League champion Royals.

Some things are as true as they ever were -- catch the ball and get primo relief work, or you'll be in trouble. But some have changed quite a bit -- or at least it appears that way -- and suddenly general manager Dayton Moore's work looks positively prescient.

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Moore's team doesn't hit for a lot of power and it has a good rotation, but not the pair of aces long believed to be key to a deep October run. Instead, it puts the ball in play, runs wild, catches everything and shortens the game to six innings -- at most.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"We've been playing good defense, scoring timely runs, and doing the little things that have gotten us to this point," said third baseman Mike Moustakas. "There's still some plays that I'm sitting back, like, 'Wow, I don't know how Lorenzo Cain got there or how [Alex Gordon] got there.' But it's almost like you expect them to make those plays."

Mind you, defense and relief pitching are nothing new to postseason winners. Even at the peak of Major League Baseball's recent high-offense era, a lockdown back of the bullpen and an airtight defense were keys to winning in the postseason. And the Royals have taken lockdown relief work to another level this month.

The other two aspects? Those weren't exactly in fashion as recently as a few years ago.

But here we are with these 2014 Royals, a team on a roll taking advantage of the way the game is played right now. For all the talk that they are something out of the '80s, they're also awfully reflective of October 2014.

The first thing that jumps out about the Royals is that bullpen -- and more specifically, those last three pitchers. All year, it's gone Kelvin Herrera to Wade Davis to Greg Holland, and now once in a while Herrera comes in before the seventh. If you don't lead the Royals through six, you're almost certainly not going to beat them.

That's a great way to play all year, but especially in the postseason, as extra off-days mean a manager can ride his best relievers game after game.

The Royals' defining offensive trait, meanwhile, is that they put the ball in play in an era where that is less and less common. They ranked second in the Major Leagues in contact rate (a simple ratio of the percentage of at-bats that do not end in a strikeout), and first among postseason teams.

When you can take away the opponent's greatest weapon, you change the game. That's what Kansas City does on offense. Scoring is down in large part because pitchers strike out more batters than ever. The Royals don't strike out, relative to the rest of baseball.

Again and again, that has paid off, as simply putting the ball in play has made good things happen.

When you combine that with speed, you get a potent mix. Without speed on the bases, putting the ball in play is less valuable. And if you don't put the ball in play, it's hard to take advantage of speed. When you do both, it can be maddening to try to stop.

"There's not a night goes by I don't see something on the field, [and think], 'Wow, that's pretty cool,'" said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "These guys are really good."

Now, let's take note of one important reality. The Royals have, in fact, hit for power this month. They didn't during the regular season, but they have lately.

Kansas City has amassed eight homers in eight games, well ahead of its regular-season pace. But all the rest of it is still in place. The Royals have racked up 13 steals, played their usual brilliant defense, taken the extra base and showcased that absolutely impenetrable bullpen.

When you can do all of those things, you're going to win a lot of games.

Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Quick on feet and to speak, Dyson helping Royals zoom

Outfielder's speed proving to be weapon for KC on scorching World Series run

Quick on feet and to speak, Dyson helping Royals zoom

KANSAS CITY -- Reporters digging for even a controversial quote during the American League Championship Series didn't have to look very far in the Royals' clubhouse. Jarrod Dyson obliged by declaring the Orioles were finished and the series wouldn't return to Baltimore.

Dyson might have ruffled some of the Orioles' feathers, but he was right.

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"I'm not afraid to say what I think. I'd rather take the heat than have any one of the other guys in here taking it," Dyson said. "I speak out basically because of the confidence I see in here. I feel like we're a great team, we work so hard and I know what we're capable of doing and the way we've been playing, there just [isn't] doubt in my mind, we're going to get the job done."

Dyson has certainly gotten the job done for the Royals this season, primarily as the fourth outfielder, although he did start 66 games. He hit .269, scored 33 runs, knocked in 24 and swiped 36 bases to lead the Majors' top team in stolen bases (153).

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Dyson has been enjoying the rash of World Series fever that has swept through Kansas City. On Friday night, during a Miami Heat-Golden State Warriors exhibition at the Sprint Center, he and teammate Jeremy Guthrie were invited to demonstrate their basketball skills in a shootout. The crowd loved it.

"He made every shot and I made two dunks, and that was it," said the 5-foot-10 Dyson. "I got the T-shirt, so I guess pumped the crowd up with my dunks.

"It was nice. I loved being out there with the crowd and seeing their reaction toward us. I've never been a part of anything like it, and I'll never forget it."

Dyson, in the last three seasons, increasingly has become more important as a Royals pinch-runner, basestealer and defensive replacement.

"Speed and athleticism, that's what he does," manager Ned Yost said. "He's a 50th-round Draft choice that's made it to the big leagues and is now playing in the World Series. And there's a reason for it. He's tremendously athletic, and he's got something that very few players have, and that's speed."

Yost often has noted that speed guys like Dyson take longer to develop, because they have to accept that they're different than most players and they must sharpen a skill set that involves slapping the ball on the ground and bunting. Indeed, it took Dyson a while.

"I loved hitting home runs, though. Home runs feel better than anything I think except probably for robbing one," Dyson said. "I had to kind of get away from hitting fly balls and all that. After so many struggles, you tend to find yourself -- what type of hitter you are and what type of player you are, and that's what I've learned to do."

As the second half unfolded, Dyson became a late-inning replacement for Nori Aoki by taking over center field while Lorenzo Cain slid over to Aoki's spot in right. It strengthened an already tight outfield.

Video: Dyson turns two

"Another thing going for Dyson, too, is he's totally, totally fearless," Yost said. "He's tough as nails, he's not afraid of [anything]."

Perhaps that stems from an early childhood in "the Bricks," the projects in McComb, Miss.

"I never forget those days that we had struggles," Dyson said. "My mom was a strong woman, making ends meet for us kids to survive. She deserves all the credit, all the thanks. It was an uphill battle. I was around a bad neighborhood, but you put your mind together and things'll happen. My mom was able to move us into a decent home and a better neighborhood. We kind of like took off from there; who knows where I would be if I'd have stayed in the projects?"

It was just happenstance that Dyson ended up with the Royals. During the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, they were down to their 50th and last pick, and there were three or four portfolios of players lying on the desk. Senior advisor Art Stewart took a look and an "80" score, a scout's highest, on speed jumped out at him. With that, Stewart announced Dyson's name, and Dyson has been in the organization since.

"No one ever expected me to be here. It's just a lot of hard work and dedication I put in," Dyson said. "This staff did a great job of keeping me around and letting me showcase my ability. I thank them a lot for that, because I couldn't be here without them."

In recognition of his speedy nature, Dyson had his barber carve a lightning bolt on one side of his head and chisel the word ZOOM on the other. And, of course, he also talks a blue streak.

Now 30 years old, Dyson's goal is to be an everyday player.

"Next year, I hope I'm there -- I mean, I'm tired of backing up," he said. "… I need to see what I can do with 600 at-bats or something. I think I can do something special."

And how's this World Series going to turn out? Nothing even remotely rash came out of Dyson's mouth.

"I'm making no predictions right now," he said. "We're taking it one game at a time. That's a prediction."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Royals owner Glass sharing KC's pride, joy

Royals owner Glass sharing KC's pride, joy

KANSAS CITY -- Back in 1946, Royals owner David Glass was taken to a Major League Baseball game for the first time. It was at old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, and the Cardinals were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"For a kid that lived in a small town and going to see a big league park for the first time, I was more impressed with the park than anything else," Glass said.

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"That was in 1946, and in '47 when I saw them play, Jackie Robinson was with the Dodgers at that point, and he was unbelievable. If you're an 11-, 12-year-old kid and seeing that stuff, you get hooked for life."

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Another unforgettable moment happened for Glass on Wednesday at Kansas City's jam-packed Kauffman Stadium, where his Royals won the American League Championship Series -- the AL pennant.

Has that reality hit Glass yet?

"Probably not," he said. "It is so much fun. I don't know how to describe it. We'll wake up and retrospectively we'll look back on it and say, 'You know what? That was really a lot of fun.'"

Especially when you're accepting the title trophy with a sellout crowd of blue-clad fans roaring their approval. Probably very few of them expected to see this -- not quite yet. But there it was.

Glass had waited a long time. He became interim chairman of the franchise upon founder Ewing Kauffman's passing in 1993, and he purchased the club in 2000. Glass dedicated the championship to the fans, but his wife, Ruth, and their three children -- team president Dan Glass and board members Don Glass and Dayna Martz -- were deeply involved, too.

"They've watched every pitch of every inning, and it's really been a lot of fun for them -- exciting," Glass said. "They haven't experienced it before and so it's really been special."

With success has come the inevitable calls and good wishes.

"I have more friends than I ever dreamed I had," Glass said with a chuckle. "That goes with it."

Glass' fellow MLB owners, even those of teams the Royals bested, have chimed in.

"They've been really kind. I've heard from a lot of the owners, congratulating us and telling us that they're happy for us," Glass said. "Everybody has been really nice. I haven't had any negative comments from the owners and lots of support."

Glass also talked to Commissioner Bud Selig.

"He's going to be there sometime Tuesday. So I'll get together with him then," Glass said. "And he has a relationship with [Royals manager] Ned [Yost]. Ned was a player for Bud on the Milwaukee team that went to the World Series."

Indeed, Yost was a backup catcher for the 1982 Brewers team that lost to the Cardinals in the World Series.

Glass has heard stories about how the Royals' players are being toasted publicly all over Kansas City and Yost getting a rousing reception at The Capital Grille after eliminating the Orioles.

"Things like that are really fun and really exciting," Glass said. "If this group isn't pumped up, I don't know what it'll take to get 'em going. The city is really supportive.

"I was impressed in Baltimore by the fans, and they were really good, really supportive of their team. And then I came back to Kansas City, and I was really proud of our fans. I'm undoubtedly prejudiced, but our fans are the best fans that I've seen. You talk about supportive of the team and loud and hanging in there, they really are great. It's just a fun thing to see."

The Glass family is quietly arranging a trip for the work force, the associates in the Royals' office, for the middle three games of the World Series in San Francisco.

"These people really work hard and they really care about this team, so it's getting tickets for them and fixing it so they can go -- it's just a good thing to do," Glass said.

Now the Glass family is just one step away from their unheralded Royals team winning baseball's big bundle. 

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Denkinger cool with reminders of mistaken call in '85 Series

Umpire, players reflect on infamous play as expanded replay makes its Fall Classic debut

Denkinger cool with reminders of mistaken call in '85 Series

Twenty-nine years later, as the Royals prepare to finally play in a World Series again and Kauffman Stadium gets ready for a rocking Game 1, the unavoidable name of Don Denkinger is being brought back down from the shelves of the sport's lore.

The old umpire says that's OK. He's used to it.

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"It's life and it goes on," Denkinger says from his Arizona home, where he is retired, playing a lot of golf and enjoying the October sunshine.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"I'm obviously reminded constantly that I made a mistake. You know what? I was an umpire for more than 30 years in the Major Leagues. I know I made a lot of mistakes. That one was just blown out of proportion."

And one that wouldn't have even registered if the game in question had been played in 2014.

"If it happened now," Denkinger says, "they'd review it and overturn it. Just like that."

* * * * *

It's difficult to forget the images if you were even the most casual baseball observer on Oct. 26, 1985. It was Game 6 of the World Series, with the Cardinals leading the Series, 3-2, and the game, 1-0, as the Royals came to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

It starts with the ball on its impossible AstroTurf infield path, hopping along between first and second base as Royals pinch-hitter Jorge Orta steams up the line in home whites.

There's the split-second moment at which Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark moves to his right in front of second baseman Tom Herr to field the ball because reliever Todd Worrell is on the move to make the play at first. Clark fields the ball, pitches it sidearm to Worrell, and it's a close play. Denkinger rules the runner safe as Orta falls to the turf after hitting the bag. Worrell, Clark and Herr argue with Denkinger as St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog comes jogging from his dugout to do the same.

On television, broadcaster Al Michaels announces it in real time: "Little squibber to the right side. Worrell races over to cover the throw … doesn't get him! Worrell back to the bag and an argument here, and here comes Herzog amongst the other quartet."

The TV replay comes a moment later, with Michaels' booth partner, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, viewing the play from up above and somewhere near the third-base line and saying, "Looks like he's out." Then another replay is shown from another angle, this one from closer in, on the right side of the bag along the first-base line, and there it is: clear evidence of Worrell's red cleat touching the base as Orta's blue one still lunges in the air.

Michaels says, "Oh, yes." And moments later, "I don't think there's any doubt about it."

Herr saw it better than anybody even before the replay sealed it for eternity, looking over from his position and unencumbered by the action of the play. And now, with the Fall Classic coming back to that ballpark and the technology of instant-replay review having fully emerged, he, like every other baseball observer who remembers the call, can't help but think of what would have transpired if it all happened in 2014.

"They'd review it, and he'd be out," Herr says. "There'd be one out, nobody on."

* * * * *

What happened after Orta was called safe is what hasn't been discussed much in the past 29 years. There's an urban myth that Denkinger kicked the call in the ninth inning of Game 7 with two outs. That the game ended on that play. That Denkinger's career ended on that play. All are untrue.

So, again, nobody out, Orta on first. The next batter is burly first baseman Steve Balboni. On the first pitch, Balboni pops a ball foul, right in front of the Royals dugout, and Clark, a converted outfielder still somewhat new to first base, looks like he has an easy play on the ball but takes a look at oncoming catcher Darrell Porter, hesitates for a moment and loses track of the ball just long enough for it to fall to the carpet behind him -- a strike instead of an out. Two pitches later, Balboni reaches out and slaps an outside fastball to left field for a single, moving Orta to second.

The crowd is percolating. The Royals in the dugout are up and alive. Onix Concepcion is brought in to pinch-run for Balboni as Herzog heads for the mound to talk things over with Worrell.

Catcher Jim Sundberg strides to the plate and shows bunt on the first pitches, both balls, and then bunts the next two pitches foul. At 2-2, Sundberg takes a chance and bunts, but right at Worrell. The pitcher fields it and throws to third baseman Terry Pendleton, nailing Orta for the first out.

The rest of the game is a blur: A breaking pitch to pinch-hitter Hal McRae gets by Porter for a passed ball and the runners advance to second and third.

Royals rally in ninth

"It's almost like he crossed up Porter," Palmer says on the broadcast. "It's the first slider he's thrown today."

Worrell puts McRae on first base intentionally to load the bases, setting up a force at home, and pinch-hitter Dane Iorg ends it with a two-run bloop single off the fists to right field.

The telecast plays for another five minutes, mostly with ambient sound from the frenzied ballpark. The call is not mentioned, and Michaels signs off with, "All we can say is that the baseball season will end tomorrow. Guaranteed."

Iorg's game-winning hit

The World Series ended the following night with 21-year-old Bret Saberhagen shutting out the Cardinals on two hits in an 11-0 Royals victory while Don Denkinger worked behind home plate.

* * * * *

"A team has three outs to go to become world champions," Herr says today. "This happens on the leadoff batter of the inning. You're already under enough stress and tension. Now you have this happen. It kind of blows the lid off your emotional stability. The whole inning unraveled after that, to the point where we gave up two runs and lost the game, and then had to try to regroup for a Game 7, which we were obviously unable to do.

"We were kind of a wounded team physically going into that series, and were not real healthy. We didn't have [outfielder] Vince Coleman for the whole series. It was important for us to end it that night [of Game 6]. It was brutal. Something we just couldn't recover from."

Herr said he never considered the possibility of replays being used to correct umpire's mistakes in 1985, but since he's forever linked to that particular error, he's been asked about it. A lot.

"I'm not a big fan of it, but if it was in place in my career, I'd have two World Series rings instead of one," Herr says. "I'm still not a big fan of replay because everyone's calling to speed the game up, and checking replays slows the game down. That's a negative.

"Certainly I'm for getting the calls right, especially in something like a World Series game. I really think replay takes something away from the emotion of the game, though. There are no real arguments from the managers anymore. There's just quiet waiting for the replay. Don't you miss Lou Piniella ripping first base out of the ground and throwing into foul territory, or Earl Weaver offering to give his glasses to the umpire?

"But I guess that was one play, especially because it happened in the World Series, I think it kind of got the discussion going."

* * * * *

On the other side of the diamond from Herr, rooted to the dugout, not destined to play an inning that night, was Royals veteran Jamie Quirk. Even though he got a ring as a member of that championship team, he's tired of hearing about the call, too.

Quirk, now a Class A manager in the Padres organization, still lives in the Kansas City area and has raised three children -- ages 25, 28 and 29 -- who haven't seen a Royals pennant in their lifetimes … until now. He said he was recently chatting with Hall of Famer George Brett, his teammate on the 1985 squad and now the Royals' vice president of baseball operations, and they both said they would have liked to have seen the Cardinals beat the Giants in the National League Championship Series just to get a rematch of the 1985 Fall Classic.

"Then we could beat 'em again," Quirk says, "and they can finally shut up about Denkinger."

"Look," Quirk adds. "He was out. That was clear from the replay. But when the play happened, watching it with the naked eye, you kind of thought Todd Worrell was off the bag. We're sitting there in the dugout, yelling, 'Safe!' It wasn't as obvious as everyone thinks.

"And other things happened, too. How about Jack Clark missing that popup? Couldn't the Cardinals have gotten out of that inning with a runner on and nobody out? Does a bad call mean you have to lose 11-0 in the next game?"

* * * * *

So the phone calls are coming again, and Denkinger doesn't shy away from them. He never has.

He says that back in 1985, post-mistake, when he was asked about the possibility of replay being introduced to baseball, he never conjured the thought.

"I didn't think we were ready," Denkinger says. "Now, we are. It's quick. They know right away. They can get the play right and speed the game up, so why wouldn't you have replay?"

Denkinger would like people to know, if they don't already, that he was very good at his job. You had to be to be selected for the World Series in the first place, and he had already been in big games, the 1978 Yankees-Red Sox 1978 tie-breaker, the one with the famous Bucky Dent home run. He worked the plate in that game. And he spent 13 years in the big leagues after the blown World Series call.

"There are plays that happen that you can't correct," Denkinger says. "You live with them. You just don't want to do it in the World Series, of course."

Twenty-nine years later, Denkinger will watch the Royals in the World Series again. And when there's a close call and there's a replay, he says he'll be happy about it, regardless of all the turmoil he had to go through after his 1985 mistake.

"The object is to get the call right," he says. "That's a good thing. So I'm all for review. And if they had it back then, probably nobody would ever know my name."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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KC has home-field edge, should feel at home in SF

Built on pitching, defense, speed, Royals comfortable with playing at spacious AT&T Park

KC has home-field edge, should feel at home in SF

KANSAS CITY -- For the first time since the American League Wild Card Game, the Royals will have home-field advantage for a postseason series.

After starting the AL Division Series in Anaheim, then the AL Championship Series in Baltimore, the Royals open the World Series vs. the Giants at Kauffman Stadium, with Game 1 on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, 7:07 first pitch) and Game 2 on Wednesday.

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  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

But due to the similarity of the opponents, the location of the games could be less of a factor than how it was initially perceived in the ALCS.

The main concern for the Royals, before they swept the Orioles, was the stark contrast between the teams in the way they approached scoring runs -- Kansas City finished 30th in home runs in the regular season (95), while Baltimore topped MLB with 211 dingers -- and how the ballparks played -- Kauffman Stadium averaged an 0.868 home run factor in the 2013 and '14 seasons (23rd in MLB), while Camden Yards averaged a 1.172 HR factor (sixth). Home run factor compares the rate of homers at home vs. their rate on the road, with 1.00 being average.

Throw that discussion out the window for the World Series.

The Giants checked in at 17th in home runs this season, and before they hit three homers in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, the Giants had gone homerless in their previous six postseason games. Additionally, AT&T Park allowed an MLB-low 0.677 HR factor this year, setting up what could be a double home-field advantage for Kansas City due to its emphasis on pitching and defense.

"The San Francisco Giants," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "They're a lot like us."

"It's a pretty big ballpark here, too," said third baseman Mike Moustakas. "It's very comparable."

While it makes sense that the extra real estate would benefit a rangy Royals outfield, AT&T Park offers some strange quirks, including a small amount of room to maneuver in right field; a dauntingly high angled wall in right; then a seemingly endless power alley in right-center.

Video: Keys to the World Series

"I think our speed in the outfield as a whole is going to be a benefit to us," said Royals outfielder Josh Willingham, who's played 16 games at AT&T Park. "It's not as big an outfield as we have here when you factor in the short porch in right field."

After the first two games at The K, Yost -- along with outfield coach Rusty Kuntz -- will use Thursday's off-day workout to acclimate the outfielders to San Francisco's park.

"When we have our workout out there, everyone will get a chance," Yost said. "Rusty is really diligent with all the angles and making sure the outfielders understand."

While a good majority of the starters will make their first appearance at AT&T Park, Kansas City's success on the road this season bodes well. The Royals finished 47-34 away from Kauffman Stadium in the regular season and 9-2 in their last 11 games, postseason included.

They also had success in some of the stingiest ballparks for home runs. Excluding Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City is 13-9 at parks that rank in the bottom 10 in ballpark factors this season.

"It will be new to us, but it will be something we adjust to quick," said first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

October Giants: KC to see foe of a different color

Ten things to know about San Francisco, entering its third World Series in five seasons

October Giants: KC to see foe of a different color

The euphoria in Kansas City is wonderful to behold. When you wait three decades to party like it's 1985, you don't want it to end. And this is one serious party, starting with the American League Wild Card Game conquest of the A's and riding right through playoff sweeps of the favored Angels and Orioles.

Now here come the Giants in the World Series, bringing a sobering reminder. While the soaring confidence of the K.C. faithful in these dashing young Royals is fully justified, they haven't seen anything yet quite like this troupe from San Francisco.

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The Giants' track record is beyond impressive, with World Series championships in 2010 and '12. They have acquired a deeply rooted belief that October belongs to them. Something will break their way and they'll eventually prevail, no matter how bleak it might appear.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Thirty wins in the past 41 postseason games will do that.

Here are 10 things to know about the team that plans to crash the big party:

1. The Giants are tougher than they might look
San Francisco doesn't run out a band of hulking, menacing figures. When you get past ace Madison Bumgarner and outfielder/pinch-hitter Michael Morse, you find a collection of normal-sized Giants, and one not so normal in shape. Pablo Sandoval, playful as a baby panda, might not look like an elite athlete, but looks can be deceiving. Like his team, Sandoval thrives on pressure.

The Giants do have a size advantage at one position: manager. Bruce Bochy is a big dude, with inches and pounds on Royals manager Ned Yost. There is no better leader in the sport than Bochy, but physical intimidation has nothing to do with it.

Bochy imposes his will in ways so subtle hardly anyone even notices. He walks slowly and carries no stick, but his athletes will run through walls for him -- not that he'd ever make that request, being much too cool and smart.

The Giants' toughness on the field springs from Bochy's faith in their ability to handle themselves in any situation. If push comes to shove, they'll shove back. But their toughness is on the inside. Last time they were in the big show on the grand stage, two Octobers back, they swept a Tigers outfit that looked like it could have competed in the NFL. Size doesn't matter in this sport -- unless you're talking about the organ in the chest.

Video: Bochy on Giants' continuity

2. This isn't the Olympics
These Royals are breathtaking. We've seen relay teams in the Summer Olympic Games that aren't much swifter. The Giants can run, but not like these guys. On the track, it would look like Jamaica matched against a Bay Area high school team in the sprint relay.

Speed kills -- the Royals' athleticism has separated them -- but you shouldn't get overconfident about running circles around the Giants. What speed they do have, they put to use at just the right moment.

Young bench guy Matt Duffy scored from second on a wild pitch at a critical moment in the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals. The Giants pressure teams into lapses and mistakes, changing games. They might not steal a lot of bases -- or any bases -- but they'll take the extra base and they rarely run into an out. Their outfielders can't fly like Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, but they get there and catch almost everything.

Video: Duffy scores on wild pitch 

3. MadBum stands alone in October
Bumgarner has emerged as a 6-foot-5, 235-pound security blanket. When it comes to delivering the goods in postseason play, the Giants' 25-year-old lefty from North Carolina takes a back seat to nobody in the game.

Two months past his 21st birthday, when he made his postseason debut in 2010 with the championship-bound Giants, Bumgarner is 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 11 postseason appearances, 10 as a starter. His first gem came in Game 4 of the World Series that October, when he shut out the Rangers on three hits across eight innings in Texas. The Giants won it the following night behind Tim Lincecum.

Bumgarner's only subpar outings came in the NL playoffs in 2012 against the Reds and Cards, but he got it together again in the World Series with seven scoreless innings against the Tigers, holding them to two hits while striking out eight in Game 2.

Calling on that experience, MadBum has been MadBomb in 2014. In 31 2/3 innings against the Pirates, Nationals and Cards, he has yielded five earned runs and 19 hits, striking out 28 while walking five. His ERA in the four starts is 1.42. He is on one of the great postseason runs in history, mixing quality breaking stuff and premium heat with that deceptive cross-firing delivery.

Royals ace James Shields has earned his "Big Game James" designation over the years, but he has not had an October comparable to Bumgarner's.

"We've got a lot of guys that [have] been through this," Bumgarner said. "They know what to expect, and they are not afraid of the moment, by no means. And I think the young guys that we have that have not been through it, they feed off of that, and they know that they don't have to be afraid either. They are stepping up and making some big plays for us and getting some big hits.

"I really like the group of guys that we have here. It's going to be a fun Series against Kansas City."

Video: MLB Tonight analyzes Bumgarner

4. Aging starters won't scare
Behind Bumgarner, their horse, Bochy lines up three righties -- Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong -- who haven't heated up radar guns in a long time. But these are tough-minded, battle-tested vets who love the moment, bringing wisdom and guile to their starts.

Experience in a World Series, with everything so magnified, can be an asset. The Giants have it in large volume.

Video: Hudson on Giants winning NLCS

5. The bullpen gets it done
They don't blow teams away in the fashion of the Royals' three flamethrowers, but the Giants' relievers have a history of getting outs when it counts. Santiago Casilla is their third closer in the three October runs, and he is ably complemented by lefties Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, along with Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo from the right side.

You don't get a steady diet of 97-100 mph heat from these guys, but they are smart and tough in that Giants way. This might not be the slam-dunk Royals advantage everyone assumes it is.

Video: Casilla shuts door on Cards in Game 4

6. Buster Posey is the new standard for winning
Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, with no hint of bravado, Posey is the game's premier winner in Derek Jeter's wake. Posey has caught every game in the Giants' three postseason runs, starting as a rookie in 2010. They are 30-11 in October -- think about that for a second -- with Buster calling, blocking and hitting pitches. It's no accident.

Adopting the demeanor of his manager, Posey delivers in subtle ways. Nobody will call him Mr. October with all those singles, but that's who he is.

Video: Posey on third trip to World Series

7. They make themselves right at home on the road
Kauffman Stadium will feel like a college football crowd for Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7. The Giants might have a hard time hearing each other, but they are so finely tuned, verbal communication is not always necessary.

This is one of the great road clubs in postseason history. Since 2010, the Giants are 16-5 in hostile environments -- even better than their 14-6 record at home. This speaks to character, mental toughness and chemistry, the intangibles that drive this amazing team.

8. They have rediscovered the long ball
Through their first nine postseason games, the Giants had been outhomered 10-2. They were scoring in creative ways -- errors, outs, wild pitches, walks -- but rarely with loud noises off the bat.

That changed in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Cards. Rookie Joe Panik ended the team's homerless drought at 242 at-bats with a two-run shot, Morse tied it with his eighth-inning blast, and Travis Ishikawa struck the decisive blow. During the regular season, the Giants hit 37 more homers than the Royals. Kansas City stole 97 more bags. This could make for a fascinating contrast of styles.

Video: Ishikawa's homer sends Giants to World Series

9. They keep things loose to manage stress
The team personality is even-keel, but the Giants have imported some high-energy performers in recent years to lighten and brighten the atmosphere. Hunter Pence is an original, arguably the most interesting individual in baseball. Peavy, Hudson and Morse are live wires.

The Giants are all business between the lines with Posey, Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford and Co. But they know when and how to have a good time. Balance is everything.

Video: Pence on winning NLCS at home

10. Pence, Panda love the moment
Sandoval already has his place in postseason history with his three-homer performance in Game 1 of the 2012 Fall Classic in San Francisco. "The Panda" is not one to change his style in the postseason, hacking away at anything that looks good -- which is pretty much anything from his toes to his nose. He's a .325 career postseason hitter in 32 games, with six homers and 16 RBIs, and his glove is pure gold. Beware the Panda.

Video: Sandoval joins MLB Tonight

Like Sandoval, Pence plays with a heightened spirit reflecting his love of the game and the challenge it presents every day. He plays every day with the same passion, and it clearly spreads through the ranks. Everything he does looks unconventional, but the results are all that matter. An All-Star this season with 29 doubles, 10 triples and 20 homers, Pence has been held to three doubles and three RBIs this postseason. He's due to break out.

Video: Pence on MLB Tonight

Lyle Spencer is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Royals fan fixes logo on I-70 with own money

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Royals fan fixes logo on I-70 with own money

Just east of downtown Kansas City -- along the side of highway I-70 -- sat an old Royals logo that time forgot. It was one of those fancy rock logos that looks like it belongs in a hotel courtyard or Martha Stewart's garden, except that it looked like it hadn't been cared for since the last time the Royals were in the World Series.

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Negro Leagues Museum a jewel of Kansas City

Negro Leagues Museum a jewel of Kansas City

One of the best things about the Royals winning the American League pennant is that in addition to putting Kansas City back on the map, it reminds fans all over that this city has a tremendous baseball history.

And the history is not limited to what's happening at Kauffman Stadium. While the young, fast, enthusiastic Royals prepare to host the San Francisco Giants for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, 7:07 first pitch) there is another baseball gem lurking around the corner in this very city, offering some amazing history lessons from one of the most important eras of American baseball.

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The World Series presents the perfect opportunity to take a slight detour to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located in the historic district of 18th & Vine, which in its heyday was the center for black culture and life in Kansas City from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

What was once a hub of activity for homeowners, business and jazz music is now home of a slice of baseball history, a place where some of the best players in baseball are honored for carving out an impactful influence on the game, thanks to some of the game's greatest talent flourishing in a league that helped set the tone for today's Major League Baseball.

We remember Jackie Robinson for breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947, but the talent flow to the game of baseball began years -- decades, actually -- earlier with the formation of the Negro League in 1920. The league was put together at the Kansas City YMCA, located only blocks from where the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum stands today.

The Museum is geared up and ready to go for a celebration of baseball in Kansas City. As the baseball world descends upon this charming Midwestern town, the NLBM has several exciting activities planned to coincide with the World Series.

It will host a World Series Game 1 watch party on Tuesday. On Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT, Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, author and longtime MLB ambassador, will read to kids. At noon the same day, the museum will host members of the 1985 World Series champion Royals to reminisce about that special year in Kansas City baseball history. Willie Wilson and Frank White, among others, will be in attendance.

"I hope the thousands of baseball fans who come here gain an understanding and greater appreciation that there were two professional leagues operating in our country," said NLBM president Bob Kendrick. "One, we know a lot about -- the Major Leagues. The other, we know virtually nothing about -- the Negro Leagues."

The museum has reaped the benefits from the Royals' postseason success. Baseball fans hungry for more have flocked there this month, looking to soak in everything they can about the national pastime and its history.

"When people are excited about baseball, we are the other thing to do in Kansas City," Kendrick said. "It's had a tremendous impact. This time of year is usually quiet. It isn't quiet now. There is a buzz."

During the American League Championship Series, the NLBM welcomed many from both the Royals and Orioles fan bases.

"They just want to be around baseball," Kendrick said.

In that respect, the NLBM is a must-see. It tells the story of the founding of the Negro National League by Andrew "Rube" Foster in 1920, and its rise to prominence over the next several decades, during which it produced some of the greatest talent in baseball history -- not just in the African-American ranks, but of all time.

We know a lot about Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella, Ernie Banks and Monte Irvin from what they did in the Major Leagues. But they got their starts in the Negro Leagues, where the talent was churning long before Robinson was signed by the Dodgers.

"There were good young players in the Negro Leagues who developed into superstars in the Major Leagues," Kendrick said. "It's just a sample of the talent from the Negro Leagues. It's ludicrous to think that black players were only talented starting in 1947. The Major Leagues didn't get a lot of the superstar Negro League players. They were too old or beyond their prime in 1947."

The centerpiece of the museum is a mini-baseball field that houses life-size statues of the Negro Leagues greats. They're in position as if they're playing a game, and they're so true to life that you can see the expressions on their faces.

The players represented are the first group of Negro Leaguers to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. On one side is a statue of Buck O'Neil, as the manager of this All-Star team.

The beauty of this display? You first have to walk through the full length of the museum, learning about the struggles, talent and competition that pushed the Negro Leagues into prominence. Only then, after understanding the obstacles the players endured and overcame simply to play baseball, are you granted entrance onto the field of All-Stars.

"In many respects, it's the same thing these men went through to earn the right to play in the Major Leagues," Kendrick said. "We segregate you from the field, then, when you learn the story, it leads you to the field. Essentially, you're being rewarded to be on the field with some of greatest players in history.

"You get a triumphant feeling -- 'Now, I can walk on the field with these giants of the game.' It's highly effective and visually stunning."

And a great reason for a detour on your way to Kauffman Stadium.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hurdle doesn't think long layoff will affect Royals

Pirates manager traveled similar road while in charge of Rockies in 2007

Hurdle doesn't think long layoff will affect Royals

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By the time James Shields delivers the first pitch of the 2014 World Series on Tuesday night (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, 7:07 p.m. first pitch), his Kansas City Royals will have had five full days of rest since Greg Holland delivered the final pitch of the American League Championship Series.

Five days of rest for the red-hot Royals, and as manager Ned Yost tries to rally his troops to prolong an 8-0 postseason, only one other big league manager can possibly relate to the challenges he faces.

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Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle travelled an amazingly similar road in 2007 as manager of the Colorado Rockies, who paid for their postseason perfection by showing up flat after a long layoff for the World Series, where they were swept by the Red Sox.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Similar, but not the same. No team has faced those Rockies' test: They had eight days off between finishing off Arizona in the National League Championship Series on Oct. 15, 2007, and opening the World Series in Boston on Oct. 24; in the interim, the Red Sox played four games, outlasting the Indians in a seven-game ALCS.

"I remember watching when Cleveland was up 3-1, and if they closed it out, it would have been a much easier transition," Hurdle said. "It didn't work out that way. That was hard. It's not an excuse, but we faced a challenge that doesn't come up any other time."

This time, the Giants closed out their NLCS victory one day behind the Royals. That levels the playing field for a World Series matching the two hottest postseason teams. There hasn't been a World Series played between two teams with records better than the combined 16-2 mark of these Royals (8-0) and Giants (8-2). The only ones close were the 1995 Indians (7-2) and Braves (7-1), a World Series that Atlanta won in six games, and the aforementioned 2007 Rockies (7-0) and Red Sox (7-3).

Another huge difference is the Royals getting to start at home -- compared to the Rockies' 1,800-mile trek to Fenway Park.

"Time will tell, but I do think that's an advantage," Hurdle said. "It's nice to get to stay at home. It's a much different factor. You get to work out at home, in familiar surroundings, then you're back at work in front of your crowd. And they've both been off a while. At eight days, we had way more than the Red Sox. Once we got to Boston, we ran into a really good team that was really hot, and they stayed on a roll."

Video: Rockies win 2007 NLCS

The same could be said of these Royals, who have played at a higher level for a longer stretch than any team in baseball with a 41-23 sprint from July 22 to the regular-season wire. In contrast, the Rockies were barely above .500 (76-72) in mid-September before catching fire. Those Rockies entered the Fall Classic with 21 wins in their last 22 games, having outscored the Cubs and D-backs 34-16 in sweeping the NLDS and NLCS. They were outscored by the Red Sox in the Fall Classic, 29-10, as their run turned out to be a flash, not a fire.

"It was a challenge we weren't ready to handle -- and we tried everything," Hurdle said. "We didn't apologize for sweeping [the NL playoff series], but it led to way more time off than we needed. It was almost like a mini-Spring Training. We tried everything: We played simulated games, actual squad games with umpires and everything, did the whole thing."

Video: Red Sox win 2007 World Series

Hurdle was asked, paradoxically of course, what he would do differently if he had a do-over on the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Jam the park full of people for those simulated games, because the one thing we couldn't simulate was 48,000 people screaming," he said.

Hurdle remains close to the Royals -- the team that made him a first-round Draft choice in 1975, and with which he spent the first half of his 10-year playing career. The Pirates' manager has been somewhat preoccupied with the early stages of rehabbing from Oct. 6 hip replacement surgery.

Hurdle, however, has grooved on the Royals' ride.

"Each passing step they have taken has reminded me so much of what we went through," Hurdle said. "It's a great story, and when you dig deeper, other things come up to illustrate the similarities."

It starts at the very beginning, in a 163rd game to advance to the meat of the playoffs. The only difference is that for the Royals, it was the AL Wild Card Game; for the Rockies, it was a tiebreaker game for the one NL Wild Card spot in effect at the time.

Both teams pulled out extra-inning wins by the same 9-8 score in identical fashion: Colorado had to score three runs in the bottom of the 13th to beat San Diego, and Kansas City had to score two in the bottom of the 12th to beat Oakland.

"You're only the second person to become aware of that commonality, after me," said Hurdle, a strong link between the two chapters. "The first time it happened, I was involved. And now, I'm a big fan of the Royals."

That's not bandwagon stuff: Hurdle made his Major League debut with the Royals in 1977, and he remains close to former Royals teammates.

When the Pirates clinched their postseason spot last month, George Brett called with congratulations and Hurdle countered with "Come on, let's go" as the Royals were still chasing their berth.

The Royals will be going again, after nearly a week of rest. A big piece of Hurdle hopes it won't be their bye-bye, as it was for his Rockies.

"They have a chance to finish what we didn't. It's a great story," Hurdle said.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Players are getting Royal treatment in Kansas City

Fans showing how much they appreciate first postseason baseball since 1985

Players are getting Royal treatment in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- Alcides Escobar, wife Francys and their infant son stopped by a Kansas City area restaurant for dinner the other night. It turned into a love feast. Royals fans -- longtime and recent -- couldn't get enough of the rail-thin shortstop.

There were countless autographs and phone photos of Esky with mom, pop and the kids. A parent with a traveling girls softball team from Iowa quietly picked up Escobar's tab. Before the Royals star could leave, the waiters and waitresses asked for a group shot with him -- but not until the cooks came rushing out of the kitchen to join them.

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The World Series-bound Royals are the toast of the town.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Third baseman Mike Moustakas has experienced it.

"When you go out to dinner and you're hanging out, people are starting to recognize you, starting to look at you," Moustakas said. "They come up to you and say, 'Congratulations, you've done so much for the city.' And I don't think people realize how much the city's done for us and how much we appreciate what they've done for us."

Moustakas' over-the-rail catch in the American League Championship Series was drawn beautifully in chalk on the wall of a downtown coffee shop.

"That is unreal. That is crazy," he said.

It's a crazy time. The San Francisco Giants are in the World Series for the third time in five seasons, so there's probably not that much spontaneous combustion among Bay Area fans. But Kansas City folks, deprived of playoff baseball since 1985, are downright goofy since the Royals reeled off eight straight postseason wins.

"It's been fun," Moustakas said. "It makes you not want to play any other type of baseball."

Like a losing type. Perish the thought.

The Kansas City Star decided that a flood of youngsters storming barbershops for replications of first baseman Eric Hosmer's haircut was Page 1 news.

"That's ridiculous," Hosmer said, laughing. "I think there's a lot more important things going on besides my haircut for the front page."

Maybe not in Kansas City, not now. (For the record, Hosmer's 'do is described as a modified Mohawk.)

Video: Keys to Royals' postseason run

"It's crazy, but I remember the same thing as a kid," he said. "You idolize these guys and, for us in here, we all realize we were in the same shoes and how cool it is to be in the shoes we're in now. We just want to give back as much to the fans as they give us."

The adulation goes on unabated as Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series approaches (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, first pitch at 7:07).

"We meet a lot of people and they're happy," said catcher Salvador Perez. "They say, 'Thank you, and thank you for being a Royal. Let's win the World Series. Good luck. God bless you.' That's awesome."

Designated hitter Billy Butler, easy to spot in a crowd, is being bombarded.

"I always got a certain amount of attention, but now it's incredible," he said. "Everybody's really nice about it."

Even pinch-runner deluxe Terrance Gore, a big leaguer for about a month and a half, is recognized. When he stopped for coffee on Saturday morning, a young lady insisted on buying his coffee. Gore politely declined but she insisted. It's a community-wide phenomenon.

"This hasn't all really sunk in yet," Hosmer said. "It's nuts."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Whose celeb fans are funnier: Royals or Giants?

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Whose celeb fans are funnier: Royals or Giants?

It's no wonder that the baseball world is set to watch the Royals and Giants in the 2014 Fall Classic with all of the steals and postseason home runs and stellar pitching from guys like Big Game James Shields and Madison Bumgarner.

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