ALCS: Royals, Orioles back where they once belonged

There was a period of time where these two franchises competed regularly for the American League pennant.

Paul Sancya/AP
Baltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz (23) celebrates with Adam Jones after Cruz hit a two-run home run during the sixth inning in Game 3 of baseball's AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Detroit.

The Baltimore Orioles last played in the World Series in 1983.

The Kansas City Royals haven't been to the Fall Classic since they won it all in 1985. Both were played during the Reagan administration, before the World Wide Web and electric cars.

Now, both franchises have an opportunity to return to the World Series by reaching the American League Championship Series (ALCS), which starts Friday night in Baltimore. The Orioles are playing in the ALCS for the first time since they went in consecutive years, 1996 and 1997. The Royals haven't been there since that '85 season.

Baltimore will start Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA) in Game 1 of the ALCS. Kansas City will counter with James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA). Both hurlers pitched their respective clubs to victories in the American League Division Series.

The Orioles had a stellar season, taking first place in the American League East division, then sweeping the Detroit Tigers, three games to none in the Divisional Series.

On the other hand, the Royals had to work very hard to reach their first postseason in 29 years, coming from a record of 48 wins and 50 losses back on July 21 to finish second to the Tigers in the AL Central Division and qualify for the AL wildcard playoff against the Oakland Athletics. After beating the A's, Kansas City then swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to get back to the ALCS.

Back in the day, these two American League clubs were regular postseason participants, from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s with cagey managers like Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog, and Dick Howser.

The Orioles played in the World Series in 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, and 1983, winning championships in '66, '70, and '83.

The Royals, a franchise that came into existence in 1969, competed for American League pennants against the New York Yankees in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1980, finally reaching the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. They won their first World Series title against the St. Louis Cardinals five years later.

Professional baseball, both at the minor- and major-league level, has been a longtime part of the fabric of the two cities. Even casual baseball fans know that George Herman Ruth, aka 'Babe,' hails from Baltimore. Amateur baseball in Kansas City dates back to just after the Civil War. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is also located there.

As for current history this postseason, the Royals have been sparked on offense by first baseman Eric Hosmer. He's hitting .500 with two home runs and 5 runs batted in.

The Orioles feature a productive player of their own at the plate – Nelson Cruz, who also has two homers, five runs driven in, and is hitting .500 for the postseason.

Game 1 of the ALCS can be seen on Turner Sports' TBS Friday night, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

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