The team that has had the easiest road to a division championship claimed it last night on their home field. While the Kansas City Royals made the World Series a year ago, they did not win the division in doing so. They made the playoffs with an astonishing win, 9-8 in 12 innings over Oakland. When they claimed the American League Central last night, with a 10-4 win over Seattle, it marked the first division championship for the Royals since 1985. Their last division championship came when every tot wanted a cabbage pach doll, and could sort of sing “transformers, more than meets the eye.” Ronald Reagan was President and the very first .com domain name was registered, the first shot in what would become a revolution.
The 1985 Royals had one Hall of Famer, George Brett. Some memorable names on their pitching staff were Bud Black, Mark Gubicza, Larry Gura, Charlie Leibrandt (who would reappear in the 1991 World Series,) Dan Quisenberry and their 21-year-old Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen. Among their infielders were once and future Yankee Steve Balboni, and Buddy Biancalana who would be my manager in Charleston the last two years I broadcast there. I’ll mention a few names of the present Royals for people like me, whose knowledge of Kansas City starts and stops with Kansas City Steaks. Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez can hit the occasional home run, though the Royals don’t match the Bluejays when it comes to launching one out of the yard. Hosmer hit one to tie last night’s game in the home fifth. An inning later Lorenzo Cain, another of their better hitters drove a 2-run single to put the Royals ahead for keeps. Mike Moustakas also had a home run while going 3 for 3 on the night. One of their catchers, Drew Butera is the son of Sal Butera, a one-time major league catcher who managed the New Britain Rock Cats in 1995 when I was one of their broadcasters. Sal would bring his son and their dog Slider on road trips, which was a surprise to my Seeing Eye dog Gizmo when Slider would come out of Sal’s room. Drew has caught a no-hitter in each league-thrown by Francisco Liriano of the Twins in 2011 and Josh Beckett last season for the Dodgers. Johnny Cueto is the Royals’ hired gun, brought in from Cincinnati to do just what he did last night, win a crucial game. The win was the 89th for the Royals, who won 91 in 1985. They can prepare and get their pitching in order for whoever their playoff opponent may be.
Other Possible Playoff Teams
The Yankees beat the White Sox 3-2 while the Bluejays were off, allowing the Bronx Bombers to gain half a game and be 3 games behind. The Rangers are 3 and a half games ahead of Houston in the AL West after burying Oakland 8-1. Texas has won 9 of 11 and hardly look like the team the Yankees wiped out in a series in Arlington earlier this season. At this moment the Twins and Angels are tied for the last wild card slot in the American League. One of them will face the Yankees in the Bronx if nothing drastic happens in the next 10 days.
In the senior circuit, the Pirates not only inched closer to this year’s playoffs but celebrated a historic milestone, at least as they see it. They won game number 10 thousand in their history, dating back to 1887 when they joined the National League as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Their Pirate name comes from them signing second baseman Lou Bierbauer off the Philadelphia Athletics. Pittsburgh ownership had done this before to other teams. Showing a lack of brotherly love, Philadelphia ownership said the Pittsburgh team’s actions were piratical. Local ownership made a joke out of that and started calling the team the Pirates. It took until 1912 for the name to be put on the team’s uniforms. The Pirates, who were the first team to broadcast on radio (August 5, 1921,) were the seventh team to win 10 thousand. Above them are the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves and Reds. Interestingly enough, the Pirates figure yesterday’s win as number 10,000 beginning with their start in the National League in 1887. Other listings also consider victories Pittsburgh gained in the American Association between 1882 and 1886, but those numbers don’t fly in the Steel City. Right behind them are the Yankees, with 9,997 wins. They should hit 10 thousand on this homestand as they play the White Sox and the last place Red Sox.: But that’s just baseball as I see it.0