The American League Championship Series kicks off tonight in Baltimore between the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.
When people were making their predictions at the start of the season I am sure there were very few, if any who saw that particular match up in the cards for the American League Pennant.
While the last few decades have not been kind to the fan base of either franchise, in the mid eighties they were among the teams to beat in the American League led by a pair of Hall of Famers in Cal Ripken, Jr. and George Brett for the Orioles and Royals respectively.
The Orioles last went to The World Series in 1983 where they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies.
I saw my first ever in person baseball game in 1983 at Memorial Stadium when the Orioles hosted the Milwaukee Brewers.
Memorial Stadium is gone now and the Brewers moved to the National League, but I can forever say that my first baseball game occurred during a World Series winning season.
While I was fortunate to witness a World Series title come to Baltimore, Orioles fans who were not alive during 1983 have had very little to cheer about.
While the 1997 season showed promise and included a trip to the American League Championship Series, it was the Cleveland Indians who made the trip to the World Series instead of the Orioles.
Starting tonight the fans clad in orange and black filling Oriole Park at Camden Yards will know that the O’s are once again four victories away from the World Series.
Standing in the way of that trip to the World Series are the Kansas City Royals. The Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series and had not made the playoffs since until this season.
I last saw the Orioles and Royals play against each other on March 23, 1991 during a Spring Training game in Baseball City, Florida.
The Royals won the game but 1991 was not a good season for either team as most of the mid eighties mojo was already starting to fade.
The Orioles and Royals each finished in sixth place in their divisions in 1991 and both teams fired their managers during the season.
The Orioles have had a couple of more playoff appearances than the Royals over the past 30 years, but both teams are hungry for another World Series title which makes this year’s American League Championship Series much watch television.
Over in the National League Championship Series the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are battling for yet another World Series appearance.
Since that 1985 World Series loss to the Royals, the Cardinals have made five additional trips to the October Classic with a pair of championships to show for it.
Over in San Francisco, the Giants have made four trips to the World Series since 1985 claiming two World Series Championships.
In fact, since 2010 the National League representative in the World Series has been either the Cardinals or the Giants with each team making a pair of trips. This year’s NLCS winner will take a 3-2 advantage in that ranking.
So with the National League turning into a tale of the same two teams year after year, the American League Championship series offers a chance for fresh blood to hoist the Pennant.
Only six members of the Baltimore Orioles active roster were alive the last time the team made a World Series appearance.
Of those players only Nelson Cruz, born in 1980, is likely old enough to remember it as the other five players were under a year old.
The Royals offer a slightly older roster and have 11 players who were born before the Royals last went to the World Series.
And if that does not makes one feel old enough consider this, when the Orioles were last in the World Series the top movie at the box was “Return of the Jedi.”
In 1985 when the Royals won it all fans were flocking to see “Back to the Future.”
Of course this time around one does not need the power of the Jedi or a time traveling DeLorean to see the Orioles and the Royals face off in the ALCS. They just need access to the TBS broadcast.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to get ready for.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson