October 28th, 2014

World Series: “It’s All About The Ring”

Travel day from San Francisco was rather uneventful. It consisted of San Francisco to Chicago to Kansas City. There was one minor hiccup. Our plane was late getting to Chicago. I had very little time for the connection and had to go from a terminal on one end of the airport to the very last terminal and the very last gate at the other end. Lets just say I’m not fast on my feet. But I gave it everything I had (which was very little) and arrived in my seat just in time for wheels up. I was concerned about my luggage making the transfer in time, but my luggage was among the first to arrive. It was all very smooth. As it turns out, there were several people from San Francisco making the same connection and the plane was held 15 minutes. Kudos and thanks to the airline.

I believe baseball fans must be among the most passionate people in the world. They are loyal to their team beyond the imagination. For example, I met a couple on the Chicago to Kansas City plane that were on their way back home to K.C. They were at Games 1 and 2, left for Myrtle Beach, Florida, left their belongings in Myrtle Beach, drove to Charleston, caught a plane to Chicago, and transferred there for the plane to Kansas City. They’ll be going to games 6 and 7 (if there is one.) All dressed in their Royals garb, they indicated their son remembers sitting in the same seats at Kauffman Stadium when he was 11. He’s now 40. They’ve had season tickets for over 50 years.

We often forget the “behind the scenes” people at the stadium when we go to a game. I get to the park early and see the faces of America. They work so hard making sure the food gets out on time, the stands are clean, fans are escorted to their seats properly and the health and safety of everyone is cared for. These are wonderful, wonderful people who are proud to wear the black and orange or the royal blue and white. Or the home colors of any other stadium. They work hard and they don’t get the praise and recognition of the names we know. I tip my cap to each of them. They have made my experience at the ball park richer and more rewarding with their smiles and their kindness. I suggest we all take a moment to say thanks to a few the next time we’re at the park.

A couple voices we hear but faces we never see belong to the public address announcers in each park. San Francisco and Kansas City have two of the best.
Renel Brooks-Moon has one of the most mellow, pleasant and confident voices I have heard. She is passionate, yet professional. She loves her San Francisco Giants. As a matter of fact, her Game 3 program from the 2002 World Series is in the Hall of Fame. Why? She’s the first woman World Series public address announcer. She says she loves to introduce Buster Posey because the fans go crazy. Does she use passion when introducing the opposition? She says they get her respect, but not her enthusiasm. Love it. Just the right touch.

Mike McCartney has one of those voices to dream for. He bellows in a mellow way. He is as clear as a bell and introduces players his Kansas City Royals players with gusto and charm. He’s also respectful of the opposition, but there can be no doubt who signs his checks. That’s as it should be. The public address announcer sets the tone of the game. for the fans. And the tone set by Mike McCartney is professional, exciting and enthusiastic.

Aaron Lewis sang the National Anthem at Game 5. As so many have done before, he was flustered a bit and mixed up a couple words. Now, he is “asking for the Nation’s forgiveness.” He said his nerves got the best of him. There is nothing to forgive. He did a wonderful job. He has a great voice and I would guess 99.5% of us would likely forget a word or mix up a phrase under those same bright lights. Is there any among us that have not made a mistake? I know I flub up all the time. We’re human. So is Mr Lewis.
I only write this to share how badly he feels. Join me in remembering what a great voice he has. And please don’t get all over me when I mess up a tweet or miss a word here and there. I know the feeling of not getting it right all the time. Mr. Lewis did a fine job.

For the Royals to win tonight, I think they need to put Jake Peavy pitching from the stretch often. He pitches better from the windup. Putting pressure on him and making him think of base runners changes his game a bit. If he hangs a curve ball or two, the Royals could take the game and even the series. But they have to get to him early. And when he hangs one, they have to clobber it.

The Royals have to see some pitches and not go to the plate hacking. They’ve had a tendency to swing from their heels the minute they get in the batter’s box. They need to put some pitches on the pitcher’s arm. That goes for every pitcher they see-not just the starter. Make the pitcher work a little unless you see a cookie you can drive.

The Royals Yordano Ventura has to keep his fastball in the high 90’s range and not look to light up the radar game over 100 mph. Sure, fans like to see it . I like to see it. Television announcers like to see it. But when he hits 100, he often gets the ball up in the zone and gets hit. His pitches straighten the higher up the velocity ladder he climbs.
He is best when he uses his fastball to miss some bats and then his sharp secondary pitches to put the hitter away. If he can keep the game close for 6 innings, his team has a chance for a W.

I like the Royals tonight. When I was on the radio in San Francisco I said I thought the Giants would win in 6. If I’m on the radio in Kansas City, I’ll say the Royals will win in 7. So much for my integrity. I know how to play to the home crowd. I’m only kidding. I think the Giants will take this series—now in 7 games. Not 6.

Pitching-as it usually is-will be the key. I like Ventura over Peavy. And then? Who pitches Game 7? I really don’t know. I think the managers know. But I wouldn’t bet on anything just yet. Things have a tendency to change in a hurry as the pressures mount. Being the World Champions is what it’s all about. The public quickly forgets who came in second. Last year it was Boston that won the crown. They beat…I remember now. St. Louis. But it took a moment. Players will tell you that “it’s all about the ring.” They all have nice contracts and security. They don’t all have the ring. “It’s all about the ring.”

I’ll have another blog following tonight’s game. Hope you’ll find it then. And I hope you will follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. My World Series player columns remain available on the team sites of MLB.com. As always, thanks for reading.

That’s it. I’m done.