The Kings league had its own version of the white-hot-when-it-counted Rockies, as my team barely made the playoffs thanks to an undefeated final week of the season. Being the wildcard, we faced the best team in the league, a formidable squad put together by Jeff Passan. We were able to take the first two games in large part due to Dustin Pedroia, who had two RBI singles in the first game, backing a strong outing by Jake Peavy, and a 2 RBI double and RBI single in the second game. After going up with a two game lead, Passan’s team fought back in game 3, as Adam Wainwright beat Felix Hernandez thanks to doubles by Carlos Beltran and Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning. Game 4 was a 13-inning marathon that saw our squad prevail on a Matt Kemp home run. Passan’s team fought hard, winning game 5 behind Chris Young and the bats of Carlos Beltran and Todd Helton, touching up our bullpen for three runs while Rafael Soriano pitched three scoreless innings. Game 6 was the clincher for our squad, as six pitchers combined for a shutout, and a Johnny Damon two run home run proved to be sufficient.
In the other National League Division Series, Josh Levin and Steven Ehrenberg’s squad faced off with Mike Ferrin and Dave Kaplan’s team. While the scores were all close–the five games were decided by a total of six runs–Levin and Ehrenberg’s team took the series behind strong performances by Brandon Webb, who bested Carlos Zambrano twice, and a deep offense led by Lance Berkman.
The Kings National League Championship Series went six games. Featuring two games started by aces Peavy and Webb and offenses that were hot in September and into the playoffs, the series was hotly contested–decided in six games by a total of eight runs. Levin and Ehrenberg’s team was able to win twice behind another strong series by Lance Berkman, and also got quality starts from Ian Snell, Ted Lilly, and his ace, Webb. With aces Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb splitting their two matches, our team prevailed in this series thanks to the bullpen. With two short starts from Cole Hamels (7 IP total), the bullpen delivered with 11 shutout innings in the four victories, sending us on to the Kings World Series.
In the American League, one division series saw Nate Silver’s squad, who had coasted into the playoffs with a league-leading 103 victories, face off against Rob Neyer’s team, who also snuck into the playoffs thanks to a strong last week. With the two teams splitting the first four games behind plenty of fireworks, the series turned on the game 5 pitcher’s duel. The game pitted Silver’s ace, C.C. Sabathia, against Neyer’s ace, Dan Haren. Although both teams had multiple base runners in at least four innings, only Neyer’s team was able to string them together, scoring once in the fourth; they added a second run on a solo shot from David Ortiz in the sixth. Silver’s squad got help from a B.J. Upton home run in the seventh inning and had four base runners after him in the last three innings, but were unable to score again as Neyer’s team prevailed. In game six, Ortiz was again the hero, this time with a go-ahead single in the fifth that scored two runs, putting Neyer’s team on top for good.
In the other division series, Steven Goldman’s team dueled King Kaufman’s squad. That series was also decided in six games, and a total of nine runs separated the winners from the losers over the course of the series. The two teams scored 51 runs in those six games, and Goldman’s team put up a valiant fight behind strong performances by Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Jack Cust, and of course, Alex Rodriguez. In the end, Kaufman’s team prevailed thanks to a pitching staff that struck out 21 more batters than its opposition. Kaufman’s well-rounded offensive attack featured over a dozen hitters driving in runs and strong performances from Ben Broussard and the two-headed catching monster of Jorge Posada and Joe Mauer.
The American League Championship Series was dominated by Team Neyer, who won in five games. Four of the games were nail-biting one-run affairs, and the difference proved to be Neyer’s pitching, which allowed about 1.5 runs fewer per game than Kaufman’s arms. The bullpen allowed only four runs in 18 IP, including four shutout innings in the clinching game. The offense was carried by several stars, and included a spectacular series by Ryan Braun.
The Kings World Series pitted the two teams that were the primary focus of last edition’s recap and barely made the playoffs. The American League side was led by a strong offensive attack that featured bombers like Alfonso Soriano, David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Ryan Braun. The National League was represented by our team, which featured a few bats, and a rotation stocked with Jake Peavy, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels.
We alternated the first four games, as Neyer’s squad won behind strong starts from Haren and unsung hero James Shields, and our team won behind offensive outbursts and contributions from up and down the lineup. The fifth game had six lead changes or ties, and after our bullpen had faltered in Peavy’s first start in game one, they managed to throw three shutout innings as the offense worked to score against Neyer’s tough pen. The hero from our last week of the regular season, Adam Jones, hit a home run off of Carlos Silva in the tenth inning to give our team the victory. Game six was more of the same as Silva gave up three runs and a short start from Cole Hamels was supplemented by six innings from the bullpen, allowing only five hits and one run. When Francisco Cordero tired in the top of the ninth, Clay Buchholz delivered with two strikeouts to finish the game and the Kings league crowned “It’s Good To Be King” champions of the 2007 season.
The most rewarding thing about winning the Kings league was being able to tell Keith and Kathy Woolner that our victory meant a $1,000 donation to fight Multiple Sclerosis on behalf of Kathy’s group, Dessert First.