By Sam McPherson

Back in 2010 the baseball world was backing the “Fear the Beard” Giants in their improbable run to the World Series. Two world titles later, don’t expect a repeat of the national good will.

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There are two primary reasons the nation’s baseball fans will be rooting for the Kansas City Royals, en masse, next week. First, the Royals are a feel-good story the game hasn’t seen since at least 2007, if not longer. Second, fan bases outside of San Francisco are getting a little tired of the Giants’ recent success. The same goes for the St. Louis Cardinals, though it’s a moot point now.

Remember a couple of weeks to when the Royals needed late inning heroics to get past the A’s? Back then they were 16-1 to win it all. Now they’ve won 8 straight postseason games and have home field advantage in the series. They’ve also

That kind of Cinderella story ranks up there with the great plot lines of postseasons past. Think about the surprise teams in the World Series over the past decade-plus since the New York Yankees failed to finish off a four-peat in 2001. When the Yankees lost to the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks in that seven-game Fall Classic, we all started believing the “little guys” could come through in the end and win big:

* In 2003, it was the then-Florida Marlins upsetting the Yankees.

* In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won their first title since 1918.

* In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won their first championship since 1917.

* In 2006, the Cardinals won their first title since 1982 in a season where they won only 82 regular-season games.

* In 2007, the Colorado Rockies had a magical run to their first World Series appearance.

* In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays conquered all in the American League to prove a small-payroll team could compete.

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* In 2010, the Giants won their first championship since 1954.

The Royals fit into many of these categories, actually.

Kansas City is a small-payroll team that hasn’t been in the postseason for 29 seasons. They’re going to be facing a bigger-payroll team in the World Series. The Royals’ run to the Fall Classic has been magical. That sort of thing captures America’s ear.

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The Giants are no longer the ‘little guys’…

The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. And they’ll be playing the Royals in the World Series this year. Outside of San Francisco, few fans want to see another big-payroll team dominate the postseason the way the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have done at times in the last 15 seasons.

If the Giants didn’t have their recent success on their resume, they’d be just as likable as the Royals on a national level: a team that hasn’t won in a long time always inspires the fans. But in a strange twist, the 2014 Royals are a lot like those 2010 Giants. A matchup between those two teams — both playing in a World Series for the first time in decades — would have been intriguing (though obviously impossible). As it stands, only the Royals fit the profile.

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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A’s. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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