KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An old baseball warhorse, and a Hall of Famer at that, stood in the middle of the Royals' champagne-soaked clubhouse in the early-morning hours Saturday.
"The fans in New York obviously are going to be very excited, the fans in Kansas City are going to be very excited," said former Royals great George Brett, now the club's vice president of baseball operations. "The Mets don't come here to play very often; we don't play in Citi Field very often."
Indeed, the 111th World Series -- which begins here Tuesday night -- is a throwback matchup of sorts, one that recalls those of pre-interleague play when the competing clubs had virtually no familiarity with each other.
Looking for history between the teams?
There isn't much.
The Mets and Royals -- who, oddly enough, will open the 2016 season against each other on April 4 in Kansas City -- have played only nine games against each other, with the Royals leading 5-4. The last time they met was 2013 at Citi Field. The last time they met at Kauffman Stadium was 2004.
But that's not to say the Royals aren't familiar with the Mets' reputation, primarily the core four of power arms the Mets haul into the series.
"You watch them and it's hard not to really respect and admire the power in their rotation," general manager Dayton Moore said. "It's very special. They've done an incredible job, what Sandy Alderson and his group have been able to accomplish in getting that organization back to where it is right now. It's going to be a really tough series. We're really honored to be able to play them."
Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain -- who was named the MVP of the 2014 ALCS against the Orioles and accounted for the ALCS-deciding run Friday night by scoring from first base on an eighth-inning single to right in Game 6, said it's impossible not to take notice of the Mets' starting pitching.
"The only thing I know is what I see on TV. They're really good pitchers," Cain said. "They all throw in the mid-90s."
This year's ALCS MVP, shortstop Alcides Escobar, who posted a .478/.481/.652 slash line in the six games, agreed.
"It's a really good team," he said. "Really good pitching over there."
One of the many early story lines of the series is the Royals' steady lineup -- "It's just relentless," one AL talent evaluator said. "No weak spots'' -- against the blow-'em-away pitching of the Mets' rotation. "It's going to be a tremendous challenge," Moore said.
Additionally, the Royals struck out only 973 times, fewer than any other major-league team this season. They were the only club under 1,000. Said manager Ned Yost, "There's no dead spots in that lineup."
For Brett, the series brings back memories, and not all of them good, of past Royals postseason battles against another New York team.
"We could never get past the freakin' Yankees," said Brett, whose teams lost to them in the ALCS in 1976-1978 before finally toppling them in 1980.
He smiled. "From what I understand about New York, I've been there many times, 20 years playing against the Yankees, is Mets fans hate the Yankees and Yankees fans hate the Mets," he continued. "So it's going to be a different crowd [at Citi Field]. I'm sure they're going to be into the game, I'm sure they're going to be loud and I'm sure they're going to have a lot of fun at the Royals' expense. But it's going to be a lot of fun going back to New York City in a playoff atmosphere."