The Kansas City Royals are from Missouri and tonight in the seventh game of the World Series they showed everybody. They're baseball's Royal family now.
In particular, the Royals showed the St. Louis Cardinals, to whom they administered an 11-0 humiliation.
What the proud Toronto Blue Jays suffered at the Royals' hands 11 days ago, the arrogant Cardinals felt this crisp evening. Once again the Royals trailed a seven-game series three games to one, then won. Such a thing has happened only six times. The Royals have pulled the stunt twice within 14 days.
Place this Miracle by the Banks of I-70 alongside championships won by other lovable underdog teams such as the 1969 Miracle Mets, the 1951 Giants of Coogan's Bluff and the Miracle Braves of 1914.
Kansas City became the first team to win the World Series after losing the first two games at home.
"I don't think there's ever been a team that came back and came back like this one . . . especially a team that wasn't a (powerful) machine," said Kansas City Manager Dick Howser. He might be right.
On Saturday, Bret Saberhagen's wife Janeane presented her husband with a 9-pound 3-ounce baby boy. This evening, the 21-year-old Saberhagen presented the Royals with their first world title on a five-hit shutout.
No one so young ever started a seventh Series game. And only Jim Palmer (in 1966) was younger when he pitched a Series shutout. For those who saw Saberhagen win the Series most valuable player award with two overpowering complete-game victories, the comparison seems appropriate.
'Twas fitting that Darryl Motley got the game-winning RBI on a two-run homer in the second inning off stunned John Tudor, who didn't last three innings. Motley thus joined two equally modest and obscure Royals -- Buddy Biancalana and Dane Iorg -- as possessor of a game-winning Series hit.
George Brett had four of the Royals' 14 hits, but still finished with only one Series RBI. Kansas City cleanup man Hal McRae, who only hit one ball fair in this sloppy, frequently comic Series, drove home no one.
As Howser said of the whole Royals experience, "I can't explain it."
Perhaps no world champion ever will have a harder time explaining itself. Kansas City only outscored its American League opponents by 48 runs this season and won a mere 91 games -- the sixth-best total in the major leagues. Until tonight, the Royals had not won a game all year by more than nine runs.
That's right. The seventh game of the World Series was their biggest laugher of the season. What would you expect in such a bizarre Series? On Saturday night, the Cardinals, who had been 88-0 this year at protecting ninth-inning leads, blew a lead in the ninth.
This night salved the pain of a Royals team that has been bitterly denied in many postseason series. They lost in the playoffs in 1976, '77, '78 and '84. They lost a division series in '81. And they lost the World Series in '80.
All that defeat helped teach them grace under pressure.
It's a lesson St. Louis needs to learn.
Manager Whitey Herzog has made many enemies with his mouth during an October in which he's cursed individuals, organizations (the Dodgers) and entire institutions (American League umpires).
This evening, he was ejected after a screaming match with Don Denkinger, the same umpire whose incorrect call in Game 6 drew Herzog's wrath Saturday night. The last manager to be kicked out of a Series game was Billy Martin in 1976.
"I'm not taking anything away from them," Herzog said afterward, "but I don't think they could win our division . . . The umpires were no factor tonight . . . (but) we should have been home yesterday . . .
"Their pitching is good, but it's not that good, or they'd have won 135 games. I tip my hat to them."
To make a childish and surly scene worse, Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar was ejected after cursing Denkinger during that fifth inning. As several Cardinals tried to drag the wildly uncontrollable Andujar off the field, the pitcher accidentally punched his third baseman, Terry Pendleton, in the face.
"I'm not sorry, I'm mad," said Andujar. "I would like to congratulate the National League umpires. They were honest to both sides."
As if the Cardinals had not done enough for one night, starter Tudor punched a metal fan with his pitching hand after being knocked out in 2 1/3 innings. He was taken to a local hospital for stitches in his index finger.
"I made a dumb move," said Tudor, who had won 23 of 25 decisions since June 1 before this game. This was the earliest Tudor, who allowed five runs, had been knocked out all season.
"The season boiled down to one ballgame, and it was a mess. It's going to take a while to forget that . . . It wasn't there when we needed it the most," he said.
The Cardinals finished this series with only 40 hits and 13 runs scored. Their team batting average was .185 -- the lowest in seven-game Series history.
By complete contrast, many of the most long-suffering Royals fared best. Brett hit .370. Willie Wilson, who had 12 strikeouts in the '80 Series, had 11 hits in this one -- the most of anybody. Frank White, who was two for 25 in '80, was forced to bat cleanup this time; he led both teams with six RBI.
Awkward, quiet slugger Steve Balboni, mocked by some for his mark of 58 career postseason at bats without an extra-base hit, had a vital two-run single in the third inning off Bill Campbell to push the Royals' lead to 5-0; Balboni batted .320 for the Series.
Little shortstop Buddy Biancalana, a running joke on the "Late Night With David Letterman" show for his .197 career batting average, got on base 10 times -- more than any Cardinal.
His famous opposite number, Ozzie Smith, went two for 23. Other Cardinals hitters who'll have a restless winter: Tommy Herr (0 RBI, .154), Cesar Cedeno (two for 15), Andy Van Slyke (one for 11), Darrell Porter (two for 15 and bad defense).
This game was a terrible anticlimax. Only five times before had a pair of 20-game winners met in a seventh game. That dream pitchers' duel evaporated faster than you could say Motley. After Balboni walked, Motley blasted a 400-foot foul. Jack Clark visited Tudor at the mound.
Whatever he said didn't work. On the next full-count pitch, Motley hit the ball so far that he threw his arms above his head in joy before he took two steps out of the batter's box. That was one whale of an omen.
The roof fell on Tudor in the third, largely because of his own sins.
First, he walked a leadoff man (Lonnie Smith) -- something he hadn't done in his last 127 consecutive innings. With one out, Brett beat out a dribbler that Tudor muffed.
The Royals then pulled a double steal -- Kansas City stole seven bases to the Cardinals' two. Tudor then walked both White and Jim Sundberg to force home a run and force himself out of the game.
Tudor looked at the sky in disbelief and frustration as Herzog came to the mound to relieve him. For so long, it had been so easy. In less than five months, 11 shutouts.
When Tudor reached the bench, he hit that fan and got a free visit to the hospital. At least he didn't have to watch the rest. Campbell immediately allowed Balboni's two-run hit. The fifth inning was a joke. Eleven Royals batters, five Cardinals pitchers, seven hits (including a two-run Lonnie Smith double), two ejections, two near fights, one run-scoring wild pitch and lots of razzing from the delirious Royals Stadium crowd.
"I wish we had the 10-run rule like they do in the Wichita tournament," said Herzog. "Then we could have gone home after the fifth inning . . . I didn't mind leaving because I saw enough."
Herzog wasn't the only Cardinal who seemed to lose interest in this World Series before it was actually over. The ninth inning of Game 6 took all the heart from St. Louis.
McRae, the old pro who barely got to play, might have accidentally summed up the difference between these teams best. "We came to play," he said, "not to feel sorry for ourselves."