Kansas City Royals Comeback Sparked By Mike Moustakas


Usually in baseball, people talk about a player being the spark plug or the igniter. That means that this player starts the “rally”–a really big half-inning. The Baseball Dictionary says that a rally is a “run scoring surge during a half inning for the offensive team that causes it to tie or take the league.” Or, as Kansas City Royals announcer/witticist Rex Hudler would say, they drive the bus.

It takes a special kind of talent and personality  to rally a team when you are facing almost certain elimination when down 6-2 in the top of  the eighth.  Casey Stengel once said, “Now there’s three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain.”

Sometimes people say bravely: “Losing is not an option,”  which is laughable.  It is the main option when you are down 6 to 2.  But while some players must have thought this way, others must have remembered their playoff run of last year. Losing may be the main option, the likely option.  But there is the Kansas City Masterpiece option.  They think to themselves,You only get to use the same magic only so often.

So does the magician has another trick up his sleeve?

Surely, not this year again.  That defies all logic. Could this end still be averted?

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The wonderful thing about baseball is that in any half inning, there are not any limits to the number of runs you can score in an inning.  It isn’t a timed game. And so, some players don’t use the likely scenario of losing , they just get mad.  Mad as sin.  But not an uncontrollable mad.  They channel their special type of madness  to themselves and to their teammates.

But not any ball player can do be the spark plug. A player like Paulo Orlando is not likely to do it. Ned likely thought to himself, I will try but one of the players has to step up. And then Ned thinks of that player.  The one who can rally the troops. He is a veteran and an expert at motivation.

Who? Raul Ibanez, who at mid-season last years helped to turn the team around. This is what he said after joining the team three weeks earlier.

"“I just gave my honest observations and told them about the potential and talent they had. The talent here is so incredible. They just need to believe that.  So I told them that looking in from the outside, every team hated to play them. Everyone saw the talent they had. This was their opportunity. They were on the cusp of greatness.  I just thought they needed a belief.”"

After that speech in 2014, the Royals were 31 and 13 and back big time. So, Ibanez is the igniter, the spark plug. Yes, but there is one small problem; Ibanez isn’t on the team now.  Ned possibly thinks, we should have made him a bench coach, but it is too late now. However, maybe there is one last possibility before going down in flames. Maybe, just maybe, there is another Ibanez on the team. Who would that rally monkey be?

But not all teams have that type of player.  Maybe the Royals have that player still, maybe.

Maybe, just maybe, that player has to wear that Ibanez suit to save the season. And what makes it more likely: many of the players remember Ibanez.  A few may even think that they can do an Ibanez impersonation.

One way to take control of the game is with your bat. Remember when Mike Moustakas got 9 RBIs? That wouldn’t be too bad here. But how unlikely is that?

The key to getting back when you are down 4 runs is not to lead off with a home run.  A home run by itself is a motivator, but it can be a rally killer in that you need four homers in the same inning. But there is something that each player can do–a single. Ned puts on his train gear and up stepped Moose.

According to USA Today, Moose did what was needed.  Down 4 runs, baseball write Jorge L. Ortiz wrote yesterday: When the Royals returned to the dugout after their deficit grew to four runs, third baseman Mike Moustakas – one of several players still around from last year’s epic comeback against the A’s – rallied the troops.

"“Moustakas came in after the seventh and fired up everybody,’’ said pitcher Edinson Volquez. “Moose said ‘Hey, listen, we’re not done yet! It’s not over yet! Let’s do something!’’’"

So when asked after the game exactly what he said, Moose declined to give the exact words.  After all there may be kids listening, “I can’t say that on the air,” Moustakas said. “It was just that we’re not losing this game. We’ve worked too hard and we’ve come too far, and we were just able to battle and score some runs that inning.”

So who did start the rally?  Moose wasn’t up. That was the rain inside Minute Made started.  It was a downpour. It rained singles. The train kept moving. More singles. More. More. Alex Rios led off with a single.  Esky singled, and Ben Zobrist singled to load them up. The excitement in the Royals’ dugout must have been palpable.  The look of horror pervaded the rest of the stadium.

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Lorenzo Cain singled.  Is there more rain for Houston?  Eric Hosmer singled.  And then Ned’s black magic came to be, as Kendrys Morales‘ hit a crazy hop bouncer that seemed to be a jack rabbit for the shotstop, leading to an error instead of the likely double play. Tied at 6. Let’s not forget Butera’s .198 walk. The walk heard around the world. Finally, Alex Gordon’s perfectly placed grounder that would be an out but also a run producer, but led to the go ahead run.

Ironically Moose didn’t get a hit that inning.  He struck out.  But he inspired ahead of him line up to shatter their field of dreams.  He really was the Rally Moose for the Kansas City Royals.