World Series stage beckons next legend
Who will lead Mets or Royals to Fall Classic glory?
KANSAS CITY -- Legends are born at the World Series. That's one of the reasons we love it. That's also one of the really compelling things about this one.
Is this the week an entire nation finds out how good Wade Davis is? Or is this when Matt Harvey is elevated to superstar status?
Will Alex Gordon dazzle?
Perhaps David Wright?
Sometimes, a World Series features household names -- Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones or Mike Piazza.
This one is different in that the Royals and Mets have some of baseball's dazzling young talent. This World Series, which begins Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. ET game time) at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, will be a platform for a new generation on its way to establishing itself in the hearts and minds of fans.
One spectacular Fall Classic can change everything. Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has already done just that.
His breathtaking offseason has made him arguably the most recognizable player in this World Series. If he continues to dominate games, he'll be famous in a way he probably never would have dreamed. That's the power of the World Series.
It's where a pedestrian pitcher named Don Larsen became a baseball icon by throwing the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956. It's where Reggie Jackson and Willie Stargell had their finest hours by carrying the Yankees and Pirates to championships in 1977 and 1979, respectively. It's where, just a year ago, Madison Bumgarner introduced himself to an entire nation as the Giants won their third World Series in five seasons.
Let's consider some possibilities:
1. Harvey, Mets pitcher
He's very, very famous in New York. He has a way of making headlines, too, all kinds of them. He's also a generational talent, combining a blazing fastball and knee-buckling slider with the swagger of a No. 1 starter. He's penciled in to start Game 1 (and probably Game 5, if there is one) and is capable of owning the World Series.
2. Gordon, Royals outfielder
He's an amazing defensive outfielder. He's an offensive producer, too, but the thing he does better than almost anyone is win games with his glove. He's capable of delivering a string of highlight-reel plays that could be the enduring images of this World Series.
3. Yoenis Cespedes, Mets outfielder
His arrival in July transformed the Mets from baseball's worst offense to its best. He doesn't just hit home runs. He hits jaw-dropping moonshots that are perfect for baseball's biggest stage. He's about to be a free agent, which adds a twist to the plot. In every city, fans can ponder the possibility of having him in their favorite team's lineup.
4. Lorenzo Cain, Royals outfielder
His dash around the bases in Game 6 resulted in the winning run in the American League Championship Series. He's like Gordon in that he impacts winning in all sorts of ways: 34 doubles, six triples, 16 home runs, 28 stolen bases. He, too, is capable of dominating a World Series.
5. Jacob deGrom, Mets pitcher
He introduced himself to the nation with an electric performance in the 2015 All-Star Game. In one inning, he needed 10 pitches to strike out three American League hitters. Eight of those pitches were clocked at 96 mph or better. With flowing locks and a whip-like delivery, he could deliver an unforgettable moment or two.
6. Davis, Royals reliever
He has had two of the best seasons any relief pitcher has ever had (140 appearances, 0.97 ERA). He's so good that it's news when he allows a baserunner, much less a run. Write this one down, Mets fans: Don't fall behind these Royals in the late innings. They do not lose leads. At least they don't do it very often.
7. Wright, Mets third baseman
He has been the face of the Mets for most of his 12 seasons, and his decision to sign a long-term contract after the 2012 season was a signal that he believed the franchise was headed in the right direction. Now an entire nation is finding out that he's both a good player and a consummate pro, as well as one of baseball's great citizens. It would be well deserved if he made this World Series his personal showcase.
8-9. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, Royals infielders
They arrived as first-round Draft choices in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Their big league debuts in late 2011 signaled the franchise was about to turn a corner. Success didn't happen overnight, but both have emerged as cornerstone-type players on the field and off. Starring in a World Series would be an appropriate next step.
10. Murphy, Mets second baseman
He's 10th on this list because he's already a household name to millions of baseball fans thanks to an amazing performance in the first two rounds of this postseason. If he has another good week, it would be validation of his emergence as a superstar. The World Series has done that for hundreds of players through the years. It's one of the things that makes it so enjoyable.