Benjamin St. Pierre
The 2014 World Series was between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, two teams for which playoff hopes seemed grim at certain points in the season, never mind making it to the Series itself. The Giants started out hot early in the season, had a forgettable summer, and turned it around later in the season to earn one of two National League wild card spots (the other going to the Pirates).
The Royals, meanwhile, played mediocre, at or near .500 ball for much of the season, at times well behind the Tigers in the AL Central, but wrapped the season up with an unprecedented hot streak to scorch into the playoffs after a come-from-behind victory over the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card game.
The Giants defeated the Washington Nationals and the Royals defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for each’s Division Series, with the Royals sweeping the Angels. The Giants then went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in five games (4-1) in the NLCS to advance to the World Series; the Royals swept the Baltimore Orioles in four games to become the first team in MLB history to start the playoffs 8-0.
Despite both teams entering the World Series as Wild Card berths with similar regular season records (89-73 for KC and 88-74 for SF), the Giants were considered the favorites for many, as they are what can only be billed as a dynasty (now, anyway, after this year’s win), after becoming the 2010, 2012 and (now) 2014 champions. The Royals, conversely, had not made the playoffs prior to this season since 1985, when they last won the Series as well. The Royals were relying on their underdog status, flame-throwing bullpen, timely hitting and overall hot streak to win it all; the Giants were relying on their experience, poise and collective talent.
Game one immediately went in the Giants’ favor, knocking Royals’ ace James “Big Game” Shields off his feet and going on to win 7-1 in a blowout. In Game two, the Royals rebounded nicely and put a seven-spot up themselves, after it being a close game until the later innings, going on to win 7-2. Game three was yet another nail-biter, as the Royals squeaked by on their 3-2 victory.
Game four was yet another blowout for the Giants, as Kansas City gave up an early lead in the later innings, with the Giants commandingly winning 11-4. Game five, yet again, was won by the Giants, this time 5-0, as Madison Bumgarner spun a gem. But just to make it interesting, Kansas City yet again rebounded and put up a shutout of their own, pummeling the Giants soundly 10-0 in game 6.
Just because it was necessary in a postseason as interesting as this, a game 7 was forced, within which the Giants and Royals were tied 2-2 heading into the fourth inning. The Giants scored one more run in the top of the inning and held onto the one-run lead to win the World Series title, with Bumgarner closing it out in typical, dominant MadBum fashion, but earning an atypical save.
Bumgarner was named the World Series MVP for his complete and utter destruction of the Royals’ offense: a 0.25 World Series ERA, and a 1.03 total postseason ERA. And the San Francisco Giants won their third title in five years – the Giants have solidified themselves as baseball’s current dynasty, even if their regular season records are not always the best. At the end of the day – or season, rather – they are the ones usually hoisting up the trophy nowadays.