On a cursory glance at the 2015 World Series matchup of the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals, little separates the teams. Both have been in a long drought since their last Major League Baseball championships – the Mets won their last World Series in 1986, while the Royals last won in 1985.
Both are teams fueled by freshman-heavy squads, and both lost in their last chance to win the World Series in crushing style. The Mets’ 2006 run was stopped when the St. Louis Cardinals beat them in the National League Championship Series 4-3, while the Royals lost the 2014 World Series to the San Francisco Giants with a Game 7 score of 3-2 – with the tying run on third base when Royals catcher Salvador Perez fouled out and ended the game. The Royals’ 2014 World Series run ended a 28-season streak of failure to make the postseason one of the longest in post wild card–game MLB history.
The sad, almost unbearable truth is that despite the teams’ similarities, no rivalry exists between the Mets and the Royals – either imagined or historical. While the Royals and New York’s other team – the Yankees – have a storied and heated rivalry that is likely to cause bar fights and intense arguments whenever the two play (in part due to the back and forth between the two perennial American League Championship Series participants between 1976 and 1980), Kansas City and New York – for the most part – genuinely like each other.
Besides the Yankees and the Royals, no New York or Kansas City team in any sport has a serious grudge against each other. A historical example of the cities’ “frenemies” status is that the A’s – while they were still in Kansas City – regularly and willingly farmed its players to the Yankees during the mid to late ’50s, including one notably lopsided trade for future home run record holder Roger Maris.
Despite the lack of gunpowder preloaded in this contest, this World Series is likely to be one for the history books. In the majority of predictions about the World Series, experts suspect the matchup to see Game 7 but are evenly divided on who will win. CBS Sports, for example, has the Royals winning the series three experts to two. Bovada has the series on even money, while Sportsbook.ag has the Mets as slight favorites.
While most analyst media outlets – including International Business Times and SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio – are currently predicting the Mets to squeak out a win, this fight will be one for the ages and likely the cause of a new sports rivalry. With the Royals’ fastball-hitting specialists going against the best fastball artists in the league with the Mets’ starters, the arguments about this series have already began; Bleacher Report has taken the controversial position of calling the series in six games for the Royals while Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez has predicted that the Mets are the team of the future, with Rodriguez predicting the team to win three or four out of the next five World Series.
Charting the Start of a Rivalry
In the modern information era, social media is the chronicle of what’s happening and what the populace thinks of what’s happening. In a cursory glance of hashtag #RoyalsMets on Twitter, you get tweets like these:
#RoyalsMets write it down
Baseball season is back. #royalsmets
Hashtag #worldseries added tweets such as:
Overwhelmingly, there is a lack of animosity or venom in the conversations over social media. For the most part, everyone is excited for a remarkable matchup to begin.
This feeling is reflected in the sentiment analysis of Mets mentions in Missouri and Royals mentions in New York. In some of the highest scores reported during this Fall Classic, the two host cities have little to say bad about the opposition team. Missouri’s mentions about the Mets illustrate St. Louis’s generally good feelings about New York; at 0.45, Missouri reported the best sentiment score of any team at any point of this year’s World Series race.
New York, which generally is regarded as more cynical than other states, scored a 0.36 toward Missouri, which is in line with the sentiment scores New York registered for other series teams.
A Sentimental Game
Scoring an almost perfect sentiment score is Kansas City’s left fielder Alex Gordon, a one-time Platinum Glove, four-time Gold Glove, and three-time Fielding Bible award winner who is among the most popular baseball players currently playing. It is rumored that this season will be Gordon’s last with the Royals. Gordon is one of the Royals’ heavy hitters, playing a significant role in the team’s ALCS victory this year.
“KC” as a term also came in high with a 0.73 sentiment score – “KC” refers to Kansas City – with Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain, Mets infielder Wilmer Flores, former Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman/right fielder Bobby Bonilla – who received the first of his annual deferment checks of about $1.2 million from the Mets this year – and the term “Escobar” also top the sentiment list. The term “escobar” is likely a reference to Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar.
An interesting term on the sentiment list is “Hugwatch”: a reference to players hugging each other in the dugout. This usually happens when a player plays his last game – either due to a trade or retirement; in a show of emotion, the player leaves the dugout by hugging each of his teammates. With several players on both teams likely to retire or be traded after the World Series, the “Hug Watch” alert level is currently high.
Likely, many players – following the end of this series – will have reasons to hug one another. Rarely is there a World Series with this immense amount of talent and noticeably low level of bad blood.
For fans of the Mets and the Royals and for baseball fans worldwide, this World Series will be one to remember – one of two very deserving teams will be rewarded for a postseason many already believe is among the best in recent memory.
We pulled every tweet from the 2015 MLB Season with #Mets in the state of Missouri and #Royals in the state of New York, and using the Alchemy API, we looked at the targeted sentiment score of the most commonly used terms throughout. The targeted sentiment looks at the words around a particular term and determines on a scale of -1 to 1 how negative or positive these words are, with 0 being neutral.