The 2014 postseason, at least up to the World Series, had been marked by extremely close games but one-sided series.
The World Series, on the other hand, has been the opposite. Only one of the first six games have been close (Game Three, won by the Royals 3-2). Yet the series is going to a Game Seven.
Close games, even in a series that ends quickly, are more entertaining than a string of non-competitive ones with alternating victors. But today's winner-take-all finale has a chance to be memorable enough to carry the Series.
So what should we expect tonight?
Kansas City will start veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. He's 35 and averages more than 200 innings a year (or has over the past six seasons). That's his strong suit -- he's a durable back-of-the-rotation guy who makes 30-plus starts a year. He's also the least talented of the five Royals starters. (Danny Duffy might be the best starter on the team, but the 25-year-old lefty had a late injury and struggled in September after coming off the DL, and he has been left out of the postseason rotation.)
San Francisco will start veteran right-hander Tim Hudson. He's 39 and has at least a borderline Hall of Fame case. He also hasn't gotten a win since August.
I will be surprised if either starter lasts past the fourth inning. The key, should Hudson in particular falter, is how much the Giants can get out of ace starter Madison Bumgarner in relief on two days rest. The Royals can splutter against lefties, but San Francisco's lefty relievers are not multi-inning guys.
Looking at Guthrie's career: He has led the league in losses twice, hits allowed once, home runs allowed once and HBP once. He has never led the league in a good category.
Hudson has also once led the league in HBP. He has also led in wins once, winning percentage once, games started once, shutouts twice and lowest HR per nine innings once. All those positives, however, came at least 10 years ago.
Hudson is a four-time All-Star and has four times gotten Cy Young votes. Guthrie has never gotten any such recognition.
I think they're pretty similar pitchers right now, however. And they'll be on short leashes tonight.