'85 champs Jackson, Brett help open Series in KC
KANSAS CITY -- Danny Jackson played on a Royals team that won three straight games to capture a World Series title 30 years ago, so there's really nothing that surprises him when it comes to a postseason.
After the Royals captured a second consecutive American League pennant, Jackson said what a lot of baseball observers have said when comparing the psyche of the organization from one year to the next. In a nutshell, expectations have changed.
"I think this year, they pretty much expected to win it this time," Jackson said. "Last year, they weren't expecting to win anything."
That's not to say the Royals of a year ago weren't a confident bunch, or that their front office and management didn't believe in them. It was just that Kansas City hadn't won anything in almost three decades, and while the organization had spent years building a strong farm system and preparing for a return to prominence, no one was quite sure if things were going to fall perfectly into place just yet.
Turns out the Royals were ready last year, and they're primed again to win a World Series championship.
"We knew they were going to have a good team," Jackson said of last year's Royals. "The expectations were there. But it's really not a surprise. Last year was a big surprise and everyone was going on the coattails of, 'Let's see how long it lasts.' This year, I think they're expecting a little more, and to win the World Series."
Jackson -- a member of the 1985 World Series champion Royals, as well as a Reds team that also captured the title five years later -- was a part of the pregame ceremony prior to Game 1 of the 2015 Fall Classic at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night. He accompanied 18-year-old Whitney Stewart of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County to the mound to deliver the ceremonial first ball.
Jackson has been a presence during both Royals postseasons. Last year, he participated in a panel discussion at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, along with '85 stars Willie Wilson and Frank White.
Jackson is confident in the Royals' chances to win the World Series this year, but he also acknowledged the Mets will be a tough opponent.
"They've got a good pitching staff," Jackson said. "Their starters are very, very good. It's always that way; most of the time, good pitching beats good hitting."
The pregame ceremony began in traditional fashion, with both teams lining up for introductions while military members from Whiteman Air Force Base unfurled an American flag in the outfield.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Royals Hall of Famer George Brett, who also threw out the first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series last year.
The anthem was performed by singer-songwriter Andy Grammer, the pop star who topped charts with his No. 1 song "Honey, I'm Good," and is currently competing on the primetime television show "Dancing with the Stars."
The music video for his new single "Good To Be Alive [Hallelujah]" will premiere during the first week in November. S-Curve Records will release a deluxe version of Grammer's "Magazines or Novels" album on Nov. 20, with four new tracks, including "Good to be Alive [Hallelujah]."
Sitting in the dugout after a sound check hours before Game 1, Grammer could barely contain his excitement to be performing on baseball's biggest stage.
"Being here in general is incredible," he said. "I'm really excited to see the players, but I was able to bring my brother. We both grew up playing baseball together. The fact that he's here with me and experiencing all of these incredible athletes, at the top of their game, we're both super-psyched."
United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keisha Gwin, a vocalist with the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.