Kansas City Royals: 1985 World Series Collector’s Edition (DVD Review)26 Jul, 2010 By: Mike Clark
$69.95 seven-DVD set
Chronicling what was called the “I-70 Series” due to the atypically close proximity of the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals in Missouri, here’s a set that transcends specific fandom of one team or another due to the drama that took place on the field. The capper for all seasons is a melee in game 7 that threatened to resemble one of the saloon brawls in John Ford’s Donovan’s Reef.
For starters, the Royals — after having come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the American League Championship Series over the Toronto Blue Jays — got off on dreadful footing by not just dropping the first two games of the main event but dropping them at home. Then there was a crucially blown umpire’s call in the final inning of game six that went against the Cards when Series victory was at hand — one so famous that it was frequently alluded to early last month when almost instantly remorseful ump Jim Joyce cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game by calling the Indians’ Jason Donald safe at first when he clearly wasn’t. This famed antecedent led, via a slow fuse burning, to the pyrotechnics in game 7.
From 1976-84, the Royals had been in the postseason six times but had always come up short — including three consecutive ALCS thrillers against the Yankees (1976-78) that were as exciting and enduringly memorable as a lot of World Series. And while it’s hard to get too nostalgic or sentimental about dreaded Astroturf, the Royals did know how to play on it with gusto. You always knew that some kind of unnatural bounce might affect the outcome of the game: Abner Doubleday, meet Flubber.
The Royals’ batting star was third-baseman George Brett (.335 in the season with 30 home runs and 112 RBI’s), though he was also a brilliant fielder; in one clip shown in the DVD bonus section (included on disc 4 of this 7-disc set), he runs and slides into the dugout on a pop fly, swallowed up a lot faster than Robert Shaw in Jaws. The team’s pitching star was Bret Saberhagen, who at just 21 capped a Cy Young Award season (21-6; 2.87 ERA) by winning Series MVP for, in part, pitching a 7th game shutout the Royals didn’t fully need.
According to a couple interviews in the supplements, the Royals got riled when they went into St. Louis two games down and saw a banner prematurely congratulating their opponents as “World Series Champions.” KC won game 3 (beating the Cards’ starter Joaquin Andujar) but then got shut out in game 4, putting them down 3-1 just as they’d been opposite Toronto in the ALCS. By the way, is it just me, or does it seem really, really strange seeing then Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox in that team uniform given his subsequent eternity with the Atlanta Braves?
A game 5 rebound for the Royals set up a classic sixth game, in which the Cards took a 1-0 lead and, with any luck, a Series win into the ninth inning. It was at this point where first base umpire Don Denkinger called the Royals’ Jorge Orta safe on a slow roller between first and second when he was out. The initial shot or angle, preserved on the DVD, isn’t totally conclusive. But a follow-up shot from the first-base side is enough to make any viewer go, “Oh, Lordy,” though you can believe that the Cardinals’ language (from manager Whitey Herzog on down) was stronger. And then, in quick succession: a Cardinals blown catch of foul pop-up allowed KC batter Steve (“Bye Bye”) Balboni to single — followed by a passed ball from Cards catcher Darrell Porter, which set up a two-run pinch single by Dane Iorg. On a dime, the game was over despite a close play at the plate on the second run.
It figured, then, that Denkinger would be the home plate ump in game 7, pouring some gasoline on the Cards’ fire. The game is much more interesting than most 11-0 blowouts usually are, thanks to a sixth inning in which the Royals (already up 5-0) scored six more runs in a debacle that runs more than 30 minutes even with the commercials edited out for this presentation. The highlight, for fans of train wrecks, came when Herzog brought in Andujar to relieve (17-4 at one point in the season, he ended up at only 21-12 before a bad postseason). His performance in game 7 ranged from erratic to worse, and twice Denkinger riled him by calling balls on pitches that clearly were inside. The second time, Andujar charged home plate and had to be restrained by so many Card teammates that I was looking for Rogers Hornsby and Dizzy Dean to show up. It’s one of the greatest baseball meltdowns ever — and, of course, you get bonus points for charging the ump in the final game of the World Series. Kudos, too, go to Herzog for getting tossed just before Andujar, joining Earl Weaver and Billy Martin in august Fall Classic managerial company.
The extras include the Royals’ post-game locker-room celebration, and it’s good to see Brett not just spraying teammates with champagne — but also swigging the stuff, then spitting it out, on national television. In a cruelly poignant note, winning KC manager Dick Howser would be diagnosed with a brain tumor halfway into the next season and would die at 51 a year after that. And at age 45 in1998, brain cancer claimed the life of Royals top reliever Dan Quisenberry, who had a nifty submarine delivery that is still fun to watch.