Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals leaves the game in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Five of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Ezra Shaw—Getty Images
By Sean Gregory
October 28, 2014

Sure, the San Francisco Giants are an excellent baseball team and possible dynasty and all that. But come on, how can you not root for the Kansas City Royals? The team that had the longest postseason drought in all of major North American pro sports—this was their first playoff appearance since 1985—is trailing 3-2 in the World Series, with Game 6 back in Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening. The kind folks from western Missouri and Kansas and other plains states deserve a Royals triumph—remember, this team lost 100 games in four different seasons from 2002-2006.

Here’s why KC can still win two straight games and pull out the Series:

Bumgarner in the bullpen… naybe

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has a 2-0 record this World Series, with a 0.56 ERA. How good a World Series pitcher is Bumgarner? The best of all-time, by one measure: Among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings in World Series play, Bumgarner has the lowest ERA at 0.29. (Jack Billingham of the Cincinnati Reds has the second lowest, 0.36, from 1972-1976). The good news for Kansas City: Bumgarner, who threw nine innings of shutout ball Sunday night, is not scheduled to start in Tuesday’s Game 6 or Wednesday’s Game 7, if it’s necessary. Bumgarner has said he’s available to pitch in relief. So the Royals better smack around the starters: Jake Peavy Tuesday, and Tim Hudson Wednesday if it gets to that. Or if they see Bumgarner, they need to pray that he’s tired.

Ghosts of ’85

Since Kansas City won its last title in 1985, on nine different occasions a team returned home for a World Series Game 6 trailing 3-2, and needing to win two straight to close things out. Seven out of those nine teams accomplished that tough task. The Roylas can rely on their history for inspiration. In 1985, the team was three outs away from being eliminated in Game 6. But with the help of umpire Don Denkinger, the Royals rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat St. Louis 2-1. Riding that momentum, the Royals smacked St. Louis 11-0 in the deciding Game 7. If Kansas City can win tonight, history is on its side for Game 7: Since 1985, no home team has won a Game 6 in a World Series to force a deciding Game 7, and then lost Game 7.

Listen to the chicken

So all the Royals have to do is get to Game 7, right? Well, Kansas City fans, take comfort: In lampooning the trend of animals predicting sporting events, late night talk show host Conan O’Brien has introduced Chikpea, the World Series Predicting Chicken. The low-budget chicken puppet uses sabermetrics to make her selections, and last week Chikpea correctly picked Kansas City to win Games 2 and 3. On Monday night, Chikpea returned to Conan, and said that the Roylas would win Game 6, too.

So the Royals are sitting pretty.

Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

You May Like

EDIT POST