If you think this postseason run has been magical for the Kansas City Royals and their fans, well, it’s been just as magical for Rex Hudler, the team’s color analyst.
It’s also been just as big of a blur.
“Guys, I can tell you that it goes fast,” Hudler said on The MoJo Show. “I went through it once before as a broadcaster with the Angels in ’02 when they had their magical run where they got hot and they won it. Yes, it goes awfully fast. Sometimes it takes (players) a month – maybe two months – into the offseason to kind of get their bearings and really recall what happened.”
In fact, it didn’t truly hit Hudler that the Royals won the Wild Card playoff until he woke up in his hotel the next day in Anaheim.
“That’s when I opened my drapes and I went, ‘Did that really happen? Did we actually win a Wild Card and now we’re in Anaheim?’” Hudler said. “It just was surreal.”
Kansas City is 8-0 in the playoffs, with four wins coming by one run and four coming in extra innings.
“It’s just an out-of-control train that’s just not stopping,” Hudler said.
Lorenzo Cain was named ALCS MVP, this after going 8-for-15 (.533) with two doubles, a stolen base and some breathtaking defensive plays in centerfield and right. Hudler believes that Cain, 28, has an incredibly high ceiling and is only scratching the surface of his potential.
“You better believe it,” Hudler said. “How about those strides? Those are gazelle-like strides. Really smooth.”
Cain hit .301 with five home runs, 53 RBIs, 29 doubles and 28 steals this season.
“From an offensive standpoint, I don’t believe he has reached his potential,” Hudler said. “His power potential, I think once he starts to recognize which pitches he can handle and hit out of the park and which ones he can’t – which usually happens for a player after three or four years – he can hit (20 home runs). He’s a future superstar, there’s no question about it – and he’s becoming one right before our eyes this postseason.”
The Royals will play the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series next Tuesday. For San Francisco, which won world championships in 2010 and 2012, playing in the Fall Classic is nothing new. For Kansas City, which hadn’t even made the playoffs since 1985, this is like a dream.
“It’s not just October, either,” Hudler said. “Fox Sports Kansas City has had the highest ratings ever in their history this season. It’s because the team is so exciting. They play a brilliant brand of baseball as everybody now recognizes. With that speed and defense – I mean, you’re seeing a Gold Glove play every single night. The fans here kind of get used to that, but the rest of the world is seeing why the ratings are so good.”
Hudler has watched the last few games from the stands – national commentators usually take over for the postseason – and he’s been amazed by the fans’ passion.
“These people are rooting from the back of their heels because they haven’t had wining baseball,” Hudler said. “They’re not used to it. So it’s all genuine. It’s really fun to be there.”