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New York, Kansas City don't have much of a sports rivalry aside from Yankees-Royals

George Brett of the Kansas City Royals is

George Brett of the Kansas City Royals is restrained by teammates and American League umpire Joe Brinkman from getting to home plate umpire Tim McClelland against the Yankees after McClelland nullified Brett's game-winning two-run homer because the pine-tar on Brent's bat was too far up the bat. Brett was called out and the Yankees won the game, 4-3. (July 25, 1983) Photo Credit: AP

First the Mets took out the world capital of power, then the world capital of entertainment and finally the world capital of overly doughy pizza.

Or to put it another way:

Their road to the World Series ran through three natural rivals in sports and other matters, starting with Washington's Nationals, then the nation's second- and third-most populous areas in Los Angeles and Chicago.

And they nearly got a shot at Canada's biggest city, too, until the Royals defeated the Blue Jays in the ALCS.

Instead, it's . . . Kansas City. Kansas City? Really? Kansas City, whose population would roughly match that of Queens County, home of the Mets -- if you merely quintupled it?

Kansas City, known for its barbecue, the lovely fountains at its well-preserved old stadium and a celebrity fan, actor Paul Rudd, who is best known for his politeness?

This is no way to get riled up for a World Series.

Compare it with the Mets' previous Fall Classics: in 2000 they met the Yankees ('nuff said), in 1986 the Red Sox ('nuff said), in '73 the defending champion A's and in '69 the Orioles, nine months after the Jets stunned Baltimore's Colts in Super Bowl III. (The Knicks and Bullets weren't too fond of one another, either.)

The two-time American League pennant-winning Royals are a stunning success story for a franchise that seemed permanently unable to compete in a big-bucks era, and they are difficult to dislike.

Moreover, there is precious little history between the Mets and Royals, who have not met since 2013 and have not met at Kauffman Stadium since 2004.

Come to think of it, there is precious little sports animus between these cities, period.

One of the most memorable contests involving the two came in 2001, when the Giants visited the Chiefs in their first game after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Kansas City fans treated them like a home team, cheering heartily in support.

The Jets and Chiefs never have met in an AFL or AFC Championship Game, and only twice in any playoff round.

The Kansas City Scouts were 2-14-5 against the Rangers and Islanders in 1974-75 and '75-76, then moved to Colorado and eventually New Jersey. (Kansas City was mentioned as a possible city for the Isles to relocate to before they moved to Brooklyn.)

Hall of Famer Nate "Tiny" Archibald, who starred for the Kings during their Kansas City (and Omaha) days, is from the Bronx.

The old Kansas City A's were so nice, they became a virtual farm team for the Yankees of the mid-to-late 1950s, sending a series of good players east in lopsided trades, most notably future two-time MVP Roger Maris.

But enough about all that. There is one obvious, genuine sports rivalry between the cities that must be mentioned here, even if it involves the other New York nine.

The Yankees and Royals staged a series of memorable American League Championship Series from 1976-80, with the Yankees winning in '76 (on Chris Chambliss' walk-off home run), '77 and '78 and the Royals doing so in '80.

The capper in 1980 was George Brett's three-run home run off Rich Gossage in the seventh inning of the third and final game, a 4-2 Royals victory.

Three years later, Brett again found himself in the middle of drama in a July game at Yankee Stadium, when it initially was deemed that the pine tar on his bat extended too far up its handle. His go-ahead home run off Gossage became an out until the American League heard the Royals' protest and reversed the call.

Brett, 62, still is around as the Royals' vice president for baseball operations.

After the Royals clinched a berth opposite the Mets in the World Series, he lamented how the old Royals "could never get past the freakin' Yankees." But those days surely were memorable.

Said Brett: "It's going to be a lot of fun going back to New York City in a playoff atmosphere."

Considering the Mets-Royals rivalry that isn't, that will have to do for now.

New York Sports