World Series 2014: Royals or Giants – the 'experts' try to pick a winner
Both franchises earned their spot in the 'Fall Classic.' Now, both teams want to finish the job. Which club do baseball observers believe will take home the Commissioner's Trophy?
Both teams reached the postseason by virtue of the wild card route. The Giants finished second in the National League West division and had to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one-game wildcard playoff to determine who would move on to the Divisional series. The Royals finished second in the American League Central division to earn their wildcard playoff spot against the Oakland Athletics.
San Francisco then beat the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL playoffs to reach the club's 20th World Series. Kansas City swept the Angels and Baltimore Orioles, the teams with the two best records in the American League this year, to earn their third trip to the 'Fall Classic.'
The two clubs are the first wildcard teams to reach the World Series since the Giants and Angels did it back in 2002, with the Angels winning in seven games.
As for who might win the Series, a number of prognosticators are weighing in prior to the first pitch. ESPN has more than two teams' worth, including Buster Olney, who used to write for The New York Times. Olney is picking the Giants to win the Series in five games, adding "They need another MVP showing from [starting pitcher Madison] Bumgarner."
ESPN.com writer Jayson Stark, who used to cover baseball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is also picking San Francisco but he thinks it will go six games. "I've never seen them lose a postseason series since one BB (Barry Bonds) hit the exit ramp and that other BB (Bruce Bochy) walked in the clubhouse door."
Over at USA TODAY, Major League Baseball columnist Bob Nightengale says it will be the Royals in seven games, adding "Baseball Gods believe they've served their penance" 29 years after Kansas City won its first World Series.
Former Sports Illustrated writer Jon Heyman now plies his trade at CBSSports.com. He thinks Kansas City will win it all in six games. "The Royals may look like they're on a magical ride, but they've gotten this far with an established formula of pitching and defense -- especially defense," Heyman writes.
"Let’s take the chance. Don’t focus on the flaws. (Oh, they’re there.) Pull for the story. (Because it’s wonderful.) Giants, thanks for coming. But this is Kansas City’s once-in-a-generation royal World Series," Boswell writes.
Major League Baseball begins each season as late winter cold warms into spring. The goal of every major league player is to still be playing when the leaves turn and the air becomes cold again.
Giants pitcher Tim Hudson is a 16-year MLB veteran who has pitched in the postseason, but never in the World Series. Royals pitcher Brandon Finnegan is in his first year in the majors. But he has the chance to become the first player to pitch in both the College World Series and World Series in the same calendar year.
Both are still pitching into late October, as are their teams. Neither would want it any other way.