Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The 1985 ALCS / 2015 ALCS Not-So-Parallel Parallels

Much has been made of the fact over the past week that this year's ALCS rematch between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals is a rematch of their 1985 ALCS meeting, one which is considered by many to be a classic series. But the similarities between the two end there. After the Royals went up 2-0 after the first two games, many sports writers and fans began drawing parallels to that 1985 series when the Jays were up 2-0. They would go on to be 3-1, needing only one more win in the final three games to advance to the World Series. The Royals would stage a historic comeback, winning the three remaining games to knock out the Blue Jays to go onto the World Series.

With Game 5 about to start and the Jays facing elimination, many Jays fans are looking to that 1985 series to flip the script. Many parallels have been drawn, with the Jays winning game 3 at home just as the Royals did in '85. Unfortunately, and I say this is a life long Jays fan, don't expect history to be flipped this year.

While the Jays probably have the best lineup in the big leagues this year, in their nine postseason games this year, they've struggled. With the exception of the four games they've won, their offense has been very dormant in the rest, silenced by the pitching staffs of both the Rangers and Royals. In fact, the Jays owe their ALDS victory to the three 7th inning errors by the Rangers offense which led to Jose Bautista's monster game winning home run. Before those errors, the Rangers' starting pitcher had kept the Jays at bay.

So has been the case not just with the Royals starting pitching (with the exception of Game 3's starter Cueto), but their frighteningly effective bullpen as well. Outside of the eleven runs the Jays scored in Game 3, their offense has only produced five runs. And even their victory in Game 3 was closer than it needed to be as the Royals scores four runs in the 9th inning to make it am 11-8 game. The Royals have produced most of their runs in the final three innings of each game in this series, with nine runs produced in the 7th, 8th and 9th last night. The Royals have proven that they are very effective late in the game, while the Jays have done more damage in the beginning.

But the biggest factor, I believe, is that while the Jays might be able to win tonight's game to force a Game 6 in Kansas City, I just don't see them winning both Game 6 and Game 7. One or the other, sure, but considering their current position, they won't have that luxury. As postseason - starved as the Jays and their fans are, the Royals and their fans want this more after last season. The Royals are playoff hardened, having been here before. They've had a taste, gone the distance but just missed it. So they have the hunger more than the Jays who are doing this for the first time since 1993.

In order for the Jays to be serious contenders, they need to get a taste and lose it just as they did in 1991 before winning in 1992 and 1993. From what I've seen, the Royals want it, they've tasted it and are ready to take all of it this year.

Maybe next year, Jays.

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