The first day of the offseason

KANSAS CITY - This should be my last dateline for a while. Maybe until the Winter Meetings in San Diego. But there’s plenty of time for me to whine and complain about that putrid assignment.

I’m still plotting ways to avoid it despite the wonderful location. Faking my own death never works. The folks at MASN and MASNsports.com are too wise.

So who are you rooting for in the World Series? Does it matter which team represents the National League?

I had every intention of pulling for the Royals, but it’s going to take some serious effort. Talk about a team that went from likeable to unlikeable in the blink of an eye. Or a gesture toward a dugout or a fist against a chest or a rude comment or a dubious choice of T-shirts.

Jeremy Guthrie’s wardrobe actually was the Royals’ least offensive act, in my opinion. And this has nothing to do with the outcome of the American League Championship Series. They earned the sweep. You won’t convince me that they’re a better team than the Orioles, but they played better for four games and are on a special kind of roll. They deserve to advance.

It’s just a shame that they came across so poorly.

The Royals were doing some serious yapping at the Orioles from their dugout. Maybe that’s the fuel that drives them through the postseason. And it may have worked against the Orioles, who could be accused of having too much “want-to” in this series. They really, really wanted to bury this team and couldn’t manage to win one game.

I heard some folks in the press box wondering why a veteran didn’t reel in a youngster like Jarrod Dyson and set him straight. It wasn’t going to be manager Ned Yost, who appears to be along for the ride. Just stay out of the way and don’t deviate from the bullpen blueprint - Kelvin Herrera in the seventh inning, Wade Davis in the eighth and Greg Holland in the ninth.

I talked to a former Orioles and Royals player who said he would have fired Yost after the wild card game. Didn’t matter that Kansas City came back to win it. But hey, Yost is in the World Series. Buck Showalter and Mike Scioscia will be watching at home.

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks Yost is a better manager, but his team is still playing. Kudos to him.

It all sounds like sour grapes, but not from this guy. I don’t shake pom-pons in the press box and I don’t attempt to type with a foam No. 1 finger on my right hand. My fan days are behind me. But what I observed about the Royals was shared by plenty of people who were neutral observers.

You can imagine the feeling inside the Orioles’ clubhouse.

Buck-Showalter-dugout-railing.jpgAgain, Kansas City earned the AL pennant. Any team that brings that kind of defense and speed and late-inning relief to the table every night is special. It would just be nice if they could tone down the act a little bit. You’d think that George Brett, of all people, would agree.

Now if anyone out there thinks the Orioles choked or rolled over or went through the motions or lacked heart, you immediately should lose all social media privileges and be locked in your room.

What a dumb set of accusations.

The Orioles were outplayed for four games and lost by a total of six runs. Six measly runs. Good pitching can make a team look flat.

Showalter will be named AL Manager of the Year, and I’m hearing some fans point to this series as the reason he’s been fired in the past. I shouldn’t dignify it with a comment. It’s just ridiculous and overly emotional.

I’ve got a 5:55 a.m. flight home. I should be the one who’s emotional.

The 2014 season was special and it shouldn’t be tarnished by the ALCS. You shouldn’t forget the euphoria of the division-clinching game at Camden Yards and the players celebrating with fans. You shouldn’t forget the sweep of the Tigers in the American League Division Series, especially how Delmon Young’s bases-clearing double in Game 2 produced perhaps the loudest crowd reaction in the ballpark’s history.

My ears still hurt.

I won’t forget losing Monica Barlow to cancer on the day of the Orioles’ first spring training game in Port Charlotte. It was tough last night to remove the orange band from my left wrist with her name on it. I wore it at every game.

Showalter hung that band, which he turned into a key chain, on the screen in front of the dugout. He talked to Monica about Guthrie’s T-shirt and plenty of other absurd moments over the course of the season. She was never far away. He never felt completely alone.

Manny Machado and Matt Wieters were lost to season-ending surgeries. Chris Davis was lost to a lapse in judgement. But the Orioles kept on winning. Ninty-nine times to be exact.

It’s OK to be frustrated and disappointed that the Orioles lost the ALCS. Just try not to lose your love of what transpired before it.

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