KANSAS CITY -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sat down at the podium on Friday night, fumbled with the microphone and began speaking before anyone could send a question his way. Gibbons wanted to make sure to show some respect before discussing his own team's fate.
"First we just want to, on behalf of the Blue Jays, congratulate the Kansas City Royals on one heck of a year," Gibbons said after Toronto's 4-3 loss in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. "It's a great organization. I have many friends and they do it right."
Reaching the World Series would have been a great story for the Blue Jays, who have not been to the Fall Classic since 1993, when they won their second straight championship. For Gibbons, it would have meant leading a Blue Jays team to a World Series after two stints as the team's manager, and a chance to do so against the Mets, the team that drafted him in 1980.
Instead, Gibbons watched another of his former teams punch its ticket to baseball's biggest stage. The Royals, who have claimed consecutive American League pennants, employed Gibbons as their bench coach from 2008-11.
"They'll represent the American League with the best of them," Gibbons said. "We wish them well."
The Blue Jays climbed back from an 0-2 hole in the ALCS, forcing the series back to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City for a sixth game. In Game 6, a pair of home runs by slugger Jose Bautista helped Toronto pull the game into a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning, but Kansas City prevailed in the end.
Given the way Toronto battled from behind in the game and in the series as a whole, catcher Russell Martin said the team should be proud.
"We're definitely going to hold our heads high," Martin said. "I'm proud of the group that we have. I'm proud of how we fought. But, you've got to give credit to Kansas City. They have a tremendous ballclub, and they deserve it."
Blue Jays ace David Price, who allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings on Friday night, also paid Kansas City a compliment after the loss.
"Whenever your season is over, it's always a tough pill to swallow," Price said. "But, the Royals, that's a very good baseball team. We'll move forward and get ready for next year."