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The Week In World Series: Kansas City Royals To Face New York Mets


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: The Kansas City Royals are headed back to the big show. They defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4 to 3 last night and will face whatever team beat the Chicago Cubs when the World Series opens on Tuesday. Howard Bryant of and ESPN The Magazine joins us. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. I'm glad to hear that you're still with us...

SIMON: Yeah...

BRYANT: ...After this week.

SIMON: ...There's a lot of doubt, a lot of concern was expressed over Twitter and other places.

BRYANT: No, it was a great year for the Cubs.

SIMON: That 41-minute rain delay didn't dampen K.C.'s lineup. They let, you know, Jose Bautista hit his home runs, but they won anyway.

BRYANT: They came through. It was an amazing run for them. And let's face it, this is the beauty of baseball. This is the thing that I love about this sport. It is the best game. I'm sorry that the NFL is so important. But when you watch the game when it's played at its best, as it was last night, there's really no substitute. Lorenzo Cain scoring from first after the big delay...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...After being up, and then Bautista hits the homerun and we're tied, and it looks like, OK, well, maybe there's going to be a game 7. And this Royals team, when you think about everything else that they did, let's just not forget they were down 6 to 2 against the Houston Astros. They were finished.


BRYANT: And they came back. And now they're going back to the World Series. I think it's a wonderful story for Kansas City and for baseball in a lot of ways because when they won it last year, there was so much discussion that oh, well, it was one-hit wonder. And the players themselves said no, no, no, this is - we're a really good team and we'll be back next year. And every team that has lost the World Series in a deciding Game 7 and made it back the next year won the World Series, so history is on the Royals' side.

SIMON: New York Mets won the National League championship earlier in the week, I hear, with Daniel Murphy imitating Roberto Clemente at the plate. K.C.'s got a great bullpen. The Mets have great starters. What do you look for in the World Series?

BRYANT: A lot of pitching. A lot of pitching, a lot of defense, and this has been the template. The reason why the Toronto Blue Jays had such a difficult time and the reason why history is always so much against teams that hit the ball and hit the ball and hit the ball is because in these close games, this time of year when you've got the best pitchers and a lot of pressure, you've got to play defense and you've got to pitch. And both of these teams do it. The Mets do it, huge power arms. You've got Syndergaard throwing 100 miles an hour. You've got deGrom. You've got Matt Harvey. All those guys throw upper 90s. And then with Kansas City, you've got their bullpen in Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis throwing 99, 100 miles an hour. And that's been the template in baseball the last several years - big power arms, and...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...And teams that don't make mistakes defensively. These teams aren't out there - unlike your Cubs that are falling apart in the outfield in really important games, these guys play really good baseball

SIMON: OK, Major League Baseball was openly salivating over the prospects of the Cubs getting to the World Series for the first time since the Paleozoic Era...

BRYANT: Well, you know, Scott, they've been salivating since 1945 and it hasn't happened.

SIMON: I had a ticket to Game 5...

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...But was this a Cub team that lost in a different way that gives us something to look forward to?

BRYANT: No, this is a Cubs team for all the jokes - I like to make fun of you just 'cause we're having fun and we're friends, but this was a great season for the Cubs. They're a year ahead of schedule. This is a team that you would expect to be very, very good for a long time. They've got something that the Oakland A's and the Tampa Bay Rays don't have. They've got money.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And so they are going to be able - if they want to and if they are managed properly - to keep that team together, to be good, to be competitive for a long time. If I'm a Cubs fan, I feel pretty good about the future

SIMON: Oh, God bless you. Let's hope they - right, but that's why they go head and play the games.

BRYANT: That's why they play.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of and ESPN The Magazine. Thanks so much, Howard.

BRYANT: My pleasure, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.