The New York Times sports department asked some writers around the newsroom for World Series predictions. Here they are, both serious and whimsical.
The Sublime and the Ridiculous
Despite 11 home runs from Daniel Murphy, the Mets lose the opener when Terrance Gore scores the winning run from first on a wild pitch that never leaves the batter’s box. Seven shutout innings from Jacob deGrom — and seven more homers from Murphy — help the Mets leave Kansas City with a split.
Early in Game 3, Sandy Alderson negotiates a trade to send Wilmer Flores to Seattle. The deal is scuttled when the crowd at Citi Field begins a Kickstarter campaign to keep Flores, who, after asking the home-plate umpire for a tissue, drills the game-winning homer in the ninth.
Kansas City roars back to win Games 4 and 5, and afterward, Ned Yost praises his pitching staff for holding Murphy to only five homers. Champagne is wheeled into the Royals’ clubhouse after they score twice in the eighth in Game 6 to go ahead, 5-3. The Mets, down to their final out and with no one on base, go on to score three times, including the winning run on a muffed grounder by first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Buoyed by that victory, the Mets edge the Royals, 8-5, in Game 7. Even though Murphy finishes the series with 32 homers, Matt Harvey is selected as the most valuable player because voters, 29 years after the Mets’ last title, feel like honoring another Knight. Harvey almost misses the ceremony because he has to make deadline for The Players’ Tribune. BEN SHPIGEL
Getting a Handle on a Tossup
October means that fans are subjected to much silly talk about what parts of baseball “matter more” now. In truth, there are only a few important differences between the playoffs and regular season.
■ Top pitchers: A team’s best three starters and two relievers can combine for almost 90 percent of innings in a World Series. That’s an advantage for the Mets, who by some measures have three of baseball’s top 25 starters. The Royals have none.
■ Temporary players: Both teams will rely on players who spent much of the season hurt or elsewhere: Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d’Arnaud, Steven Matz, Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. This factor roughly cancels out.
■ Tactics: Managers are more creative in the playoffs, which means they’re more important. Ned Yost of the Royals seems to be a master motivator, but game strategy is not his strong suit.
How does it all add up? The postseason factors favor the Mets but mostly serve to close the gap with the Royals, who were better over the course of 2015. This series is a tossup, and the betting markets agree. I’ll go with the Royals in seven games. DAVID LEONHARDT
Earning a Ring, and Maybe a Gavel
The Mets in four. Daniel Murphy hits a grand slam every time he bats, catches every ball within a 100-yard radius and becomes speaker of the House of Representatives, thus averting a government shutdown. All the pizza-eating rats immigrate to Kansas City. SARAH LYALL
Step Right Up, but Take Out a Loan
Whatever the outcome, I can confidently predict that ticket prices at this World Series will be extremely high.
According to data from SeatGeek.com, average resale prices for tickets to Games 3, 4 and 5, to be played at Citi Field, are $1,128, $1,089 and $1,150. Those are averages of completed transactions, not of list prices, which can be inflated by optimistic sellers.
These games are set to be the most expensive World Series contests since SeatGeek started tracking ticket prices in 2010, except one: Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, when the Red Sox won the title over the Cardinals. Tickets for that game averaged $1,175.
But there’s still time for the Mets to set a price record, driven by fans who may fear this will be the last chance of their lives to see the team win a World Series. JOSH BARRO
Should Have Tried a Ponytail
The Royals are one out from winning the World Series in Game 6 when a wild pitch scores the tying run. Then a slow roller slides through the legs of first baseman Eric Hosmer and scores the winner for the Miracle Mets. So predictable. Alas, in a karmic and tonsorial twist, the Mets blow a late lead in Game 7 when a batted ball gets tangled in pitcher Jacob deGrom’s hair, clearing the bases for the Royals. JOHN BRANCH
A Manager Rewrites the Book
Could it be that in a World Series with many rich story lines and intriguing subplots, the most fascinating character is a manager? Consider Ned Yost, who used to spend his winters working as a taxidermist.
Yost entered professional baseball with the Mets. A first-round draft pick, he was dispatched on his first assignment to Batavia, N.Y., for low Class A ball.
“There were like 16 of us living in a two-bedroom house, and they had a pay phone on the front porch,” Yost said. “That’s how you called home once a week.”
Yost got around town on a bike that he bought for $10. “I was driving to the ballpark one day, and I popped a wheelie, and the front tire shot off,” he said. “I took a header.”
This may explain some of his managing decisions.
Yost doggedly sticks with Alcides Escobar as his leadoff hitter because of a peculiarly complex metric: The team wins. Yost loads his bench with pinch-runners, not pinch-hitters. And when he brought in closer Wade Davis too late — and then too early — in Game 6 against Toronto, it worked out, because it always does.
So even if Daniel Murphy is in an ungodly groove, and Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom seem untouchable, they will meet their match in the machinations of an original Mr. Met.
Mets get Yosted. Royals in six. BILLY WITZ
At Fight, a Ballgame Breaks Out
Game 1: A hard slide to break up a double play leads to a bench-clearing brawl. Game 2: A retaliatory beanball leads to a bench-clearing brawl. Game 3: A provocative bat flip leads to a bench-clearing brawl. Game 4: A violation of an unwritten rule of baseball that no one is quite clear on leads to a bench-clearing brawl. Game 5: A bench-clearing brawl erupts while an earlier, totally unrelated bench-clearing brawl is still going on. Game 6: A knock-down, drag-out, hot-dog-tossing bench-clearing brawl causes Commissioner Rob Manfred to proclaim the day the darkest in baseball history since the Black Sox.
You’d watch Game 7, right? VICTOR MATHER
Can’t Beat Kansas City, or Its Food
I’m an easy mark, being a Kansas City native living in New York. My doormen, bartenders, colleagues — even the dads at my kid’s school — want to bet me that the Mets are going to beat my Royals in the World Series. I like action as much as the next guy, and I knowthe Royals will take them in six games.
But folks, you’ve got to come up with better stakes. I’m putting up K.C. barbecue, a hard-to-get, melt-in-your-mouth higher art form. You’re countering with bagels, pizza or cheesecake? Really?
Beer — your Brooklyn Lager versus my Boulevard? Ugh-ugh, no deal. Steaks, same thing. K.C. strips trump New York ones. Wine? If you were the Bordeaux Mets, maybe.
Last call: Bryant’s, Gates and Oklahoma Joe’s are all on the table. Make me an offer. Please. JOE DRAPE
Stars Are Aligning for the Mets
I should pick against the Mets. I’m not superstitious, except when I am, which is to say always around my sports teams. Sometimes, when I watch a game on my DVR, I remind myself I can shift position on the couch because this game was actually played hours earlier and my movement can’t affect the cosmic currents.
Backing way up, like peering through the Hubble telescope at a distant galaxy, I see closely matched teams. The Royals are fast and fun, and I dig that they are apostates, violating the Laws of Sabermetrics. They do not deify the base on balls, and they believe in making contact. (There, I’ve davened toward the Royals — have I covered myself?)
I’m a lifelong Mets fan, traversing many dark valleys and seeing a few brilliant peaks. As the writer Joe Flaherty said, loving the Mets is not a rational thing. This team has brilliant young arms, which call to mind the Holy Trinity of Seaver, Koosman and Ryan. They have a likable shortstop by accident and a second baseman transmogrified into Rogers Hornsby.
My pick? I am going to assume that the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars and pick Mets in seven, as Jeurys Familia strikes out someone with the bases loaded. MICHAEL POWELL
Kansas City, There They Go
My home office sits just a modest zip line away from John’s Big Deck, a popular Kansas City watering hole. Even when I don’t have my TV turned to a Royals playoff game, I can always tell how they’re doing by the silence (bad) or exhilaration (good) emanating from John’s.
Last year, I made the unfortunate mistake of choosing Game 7 of the World Series to make my first trip to John’s. The reaction when the Royals lost? Let’s just say that I was glad I took off right as the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval got ready to catch the pop-up that ended the game.
So my prediction — like any good journalist’s — will be based on what’s best for me. Another year of so-close-yet-so-far sullenness from the Royals’ faithful? Or a year of braggadocio from a people who are, otherwise, modest and down home? Well, I am a fan of the rival Detroit Tigers, and like most journalists, I prefer covering reactions of despair and disbelief.
So it’s got to be Mets in six, right? JOHN ELIGON
A Team Built From the Ground Up
Kansas City is a smaller-market team with a marginally higher payroll than that of the budget-conscious Mets, and the more heart-rending story. After years of spendthrift futility, the Royals have been painstakingly built by General Manager Dayton Moore, who grew up a fan of the team in Wichita, Kan., and watched it win the World Series in 1985 from the I-70 ramp overlooking the stadium now named for Ewing Kauffman, the team’s founding owner.
The spirit of the beloved Mr. K will carry the Royals over the Mets. In six. HARVEY ARATON
The Mets’ Moment
Those poor Kansas City Royals — they’re about to lose their second World Series in two years. I can’t imagine they’ll go quietly — their lineup is too good for that — but they will go. Good pitching beats good hitting, the way paper covers rock. Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard — any one of them would be ace of the Royals’ staff. Also, Daniel Murphy is Lou Gehrig, only with a little more pop. And even if he suddenly becomes Daniel Murphy again, he has plenty of teammates (David Wright, Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes) who are due to return to form.
Grim, cavernous Shea Stadium has been destroyed; Bernard L. Madoff is in jail; Bobby Bonilla is finally off the payroll (or not). It is time for the Mets to exorcise the demons of 2006, and 2007 and 2008. … JONATHAN MAHLER