It's hard to believe that it's been 25 years since two Missouri teams, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals appeared in a World Series. Dubbed the "I-70 world Series," the teams fought valiantly, with Kansas City eventually winning out. However, the missed call by umpire Don Denkinger in Game 6 of that series sadly overshadows what was a well-played set of games.
From the start of the 1985 season, the Royals were no slouch. In fact, the team was a downright postseason regular, winning five American League West titles in nine years beginning in 1976, including their most recent title the year before. They always had the back luck of running into better teams, whether it was the New York Yankees of the late '70s, or in 1984's case, the white-hot Detroit Tigers, whom nobody could surpass. It wasn't for a lack of talent; the Royals' pitching staff boasted 20-game winners and AL Cy Young (Best Pitcher) recipient Bret Saberhagen, along with the ace Dan Quisenberry, whose unique style of pitching led to a Major League-leading 37 saves. The team wasn't a pushover on offense either; Willie Wilson possessed speed and the ability to get on base; Steve Balboni served as the offensive muscle; and George Brett was arguably the best hitter of the decade, hitting for both power (30 home runs, 112 runs batted in) and average (.335).
However, as formidable as they may have been, crowning them the West Champions wasn't an afterthought; they were in a neck-and-neck battle with California to the final weekend of the season before eventually prevailing with a 91-71 record. The nail-biting nature of the team's play continued to the American League Championship Series, where the Royals had to rally from a 3-1 games deficit in the Best of Seven series to win the pennant in seven games.
Then it was on to play the St. Louis Cardinals, which had its own mix of speed (Willie McGee), power (Jack Clark) and timely pitching (John Tudor, Todd Worrell). Tudor and Worrell combined to limit the Royals to eight hits and one run in Game 1 before being buoyed by Terry Pendleton's three RBI to a 4-2 win in Game 2 and a return to St. Louis. Saberhagen's Game 3 start was a success as Kansas City won 6-1 (behind Frank White's 3 RBI), and Game 4 saw the Cardinals shut out the Royals 3-0 behind a five-hitter from Tudor. In a must-win at St. Louis, the Royals got to starting pitcher Bob Forsch early, chasing him for four runs in 1 2/3 innings and getting a 6-1 win.
Then it was back to Kansas City, and in a game that had the Cardinals' Series victory at hand, Denkinger mistakenly ruled Jorge Orta safe on a ground ball play at first. Orta helped the Cardinals play a little more cautiously, and as a result, the bases were loaded, and Dane Iorg singling in the tying and winning runs with one out to win the game. The Series and the Cardinals weren't the same after that, as Saberhagen used the momentum to throw a five-hitter of his own the next night as the Royals shellacked the Cardinals 11-0.
Much has been said of Denkinger's call, particularly as it relates to umpire James Joyce and his botching of a similar call this year that would have resulted in a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. And in actuality, Orta was later forced out at third base on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Jim Sundberg. So you could argue that some bad pitch calling/location was responsible for that game, and goodness knows what happened in Game 7. You could even say that over time, baseball karma has ruled out, with the Cardinals winning the National League pennant in 2004 and the World Series in 2006, while the Royals have slowly fizzled into a small-market pipeline for metropolitan teams to poach when the time is right. One thing's for sure, the 1985 World Series remains as exciting now as when I remember watching it as a kid.
Major League Baseball brings the 1985 World Series to DVD in full-frame video that results in perfectly acceptable viewing. As is the case with these old sports sets, almost all of the defects (if there are any) are inherent in the source material, and the discs are replicated accurately. Now, it's clear as day whether Denkinger was right or wrong!
The two-channel Dolby stereo mix is fine; the hiss is at a minimum and there are no additional noises that detract from the experience.
More than an hour of extra footage, including the team's celebrations of the ALCS and World Series wins in the clubhouse. An additional note of interest; MLB has now included pre- and/or post-game coverage of each of the games as covered by ABC. It's novel to see Al Michaels in the blue ABC blazer broadcasting the games, and is an encouraging sign of progress by MLB video n its pursuit to provide a more complete a perspective on the games.
It's sad to say, but current Kansas City Royals fans may very well never see another World Series in their lifetimes. But the 1985 World Series is a worthwhile trip down nostalgia lane, and a worthwhile purchase for those fans. Younger fans who may be interested in some well-played baseball might want to give it a spin as well.