By Joe Rini
Looking back at the Kansas City Royals’ 4 games to 1 triumph over the Mets in the 2015 World Series, they were decisively the better team. Yet, unlike some other World Series where one team dominated the other, this series was particularly painful to the Mets because there were three close games where the Mets squandered late leads because the Royals fielded better, played more opportunistically, executed the fundamentals, and came through in the late innings while the Mets did not.
The poor play in the field by the Mets started in the first inning of the first game when Cespedes misplayed Escobar’s flyball into a trip around the bases and continued through Lucas Duda’s wild throw in the ninth inning of the last game (which appeared to be closer to the on deck circle than to Travis d’Arnaud’s glove) scored the tying run for the Royals. Surprisingly to me, neither misplay was scored an error. Also, when Jeurys Familia induced the ground balls he needed in Games 4 and 5, somehow the Mets still managed to misplay them to the Royals advantage.
Daniel Murphy played out of this world in the NLDS and NLCS but he came back down to earth in the World Series and unfortunately for the Mets, most of his teammates were similarly grounded.
I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for manager Terry Collins who blamed himself for following his “heart” and not his “gut” in sticking with Matt Harvey in the ninth inning of Game 5. To me, it brought to mind the story of the seventh game of the 1964 World Series when Bob Gibson was allowed to finish the game even after surrendering two solo homeruns in the ninth inning. When asked after the game why he stuck with Gibson, his manager Johnny Keane famously said that he “had a committment” to Gibson’s heart. Of course, Gibson had a four run lead entering the ninth inning and was a much more seasoned pitcher than Harvey, who pitched great but also had a smaller margin for error.
For the Mets, this should be a learning experience for them. For instance, perhaps they could learn something from the Royals’ more opportunistic approach on offense, in contrast to the Mets, who seemingly were waiting for someone to hit home runs that wouldn’t happen. Also, was it me, or did it seem like every time the Royals had a man on second with no outs, they moved him to third base on an out and then he came around to score?