If someone said 7 or 8 years ago that the Cubs, Mets, Royals, Blue Jays, and Astros were all going to be competing for the World Series in the same year, sports fans would have said that was absurd. However, that is exactly what is happening in the 2015 MLB playoff year. The stars have aligned and God himself has rewarded many of the league’s more unfortunate teams a chance at hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy at the end of the season.
The Houston Astros shocked the world by winning a spot in the AL Wild Card this season, just 2 seasons after losing over 100 games. They went 10 games over .500 with the 29th lowest payroll of the 2015 season, being bested by only the Miami Marlines. The Astros were paying future prospects poor salaries and hoping they could still produce with the highest paid veterans. After being the laughing stock of the league, barely winning 50 games, and selling tickets for $1.00 in 2013, the gamble paid off for Houston’s front office by producing a playoff contender just two years later. Although they lost in a 5 game series to the Royals in the ALDS, it was quite a year for Astro fans.
The Chicago Cubs were relying on fate to help them out, as Back to the Future predicted the Cubs to end their curse and the 107 year World Series drought by bringing home the trophy in 2015. The Cubs had an unbelievable season and a breakout year from Pitcher Jake Arrieta. Unfortunately, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles version of Arrieta came out in the playoffs, and the team that won 97 games this season lost to the Mets in the ALCS and could not see it through to the World Series. Although a valiant effort, Chicago is now left saying once again, “Maybe next year, Cubbies.”
The Blue Jays have been in the basement of the AL East since the early 90s. The team from the North had not shown any signs of promise since the last time they won the World Series in 1993. However, this year they came out swinging. They made big acquisitions in the offseason, acquiring players such as Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, and in the middle of the season they acquired Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies. This helped them crush opponents and obtain a +221 run differential, almost twice as many as the Cardinals who came in 2ndwith +122. They wore their hearts on their sleeves every game, which helped them to become one of the most exciting teams in baseball this year. They came up slightly short, however, losing to the Royals 4 games to 1 in the ALCS.
Now, the two teams that have defied all odds and gotten to the World Series this year are the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. The New York Mets, more commonly known as “that other team from New York,” have not had much success during their tenure in the MLB. To be fair, fans cannot expect much from the organization the boasts the reputation of “most losses in a season during the modern era.” Both times that the Mets won the World Series was from sheer strokes of luck. The 1969 team was not called “The Miracle Mets” for being the most dominate team that season. The Baltimore Orioles were heavily favored to win that year, yet somehow the Mets still pulled it off.
The other time the Mets hoisted the trophy was because of the infamous “Billy Buckner error,” which gifted them a game 6 win and forced a game 7, resulting in their overall victory. The Mets have not been the worst team throughout the years, but they have been largely in the shadows of the New York Yankees, whose stadium is built on cornerstones of 100 dollar bills. Now, they have a chance to show they can win not by making it rain with money, but by building a dominating pitching staff that has held the Cubs to a .164 batting average during the NLCS.
The Mets will be facing the Kansas City Royals, who were a basement AL Central team and had not seen a winning season in almost a decade until 2012. However, this year they beat out the Detroit Tigers, who over the past decade have been the powerhouse in the AL Central. The Royals hope to win the division and advance to the playoffs for their 2nd straight season. They defied all odds to make it to the World Series last year, and this year will be their 2ndstraight appearance. After losing to the San Francisco Giants last year, they are hoping that this will be their time to shine and that they will be able to hoist the Cup for their first time since 1985.
All of these teams have made the 2015 MLB season quite an exciting one. Either the Mets or the Royals will be crowned World Champions for the first time since the mid-80s. Many fans’ drought for a title will be over after this year is finished. Hope-fully, this year’s World Series will be just as surprising as it was for all of these teams to make the playoffs in the same season.
-Blake Saathoff ’17, Junior Sports Editor