Monday, April 22, 2013
Editor's Note: The following begins a series of cross-posts with a new blog my friend Michael Clifford started, Cool, Dense Air. I will be posting other, non-Royals thoughts over there in addition to the sporadic KC content the few of you who stop by have come to love. Please be sure to check it out.
In the last week, the Kansas City Royals have spent almost as many days not playing baseball as they have actually going to a ballpark and getting some dirt in their cleats.
One day was lost because of the Boston lock down on Friday, but before that, there was an odd juxtaposition of off-days surrounding a two-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
Monday was another off-day for travel from Boston to Detroit, giving the Royals four days off and four days on since they beat the Blue Jays on April 12.
Momentum is a difficult thing to gauge in baseball, and the adage is probably true that it has more to due with who is taking the mound the next day than anything else, but I think rhythm is something to be considered.
The Royals have lost every game after an off-day so far this year. That's four of their seven defeats. Several young players (I'm looking at you, Moose and Hos) are having a hard time finding their groove after raking in Spring Training, and Ned Yost may want to put them on the bench for a game or two to clear their heads, but how can he when they've had plenty of time to think between ballgames as it is.
In fact, that may be the problem. A lot of off-days in April helps stretch out the pitching staff, but it also breaks the routine of the everyday guys.
Coming off of two great wins against the Red Sox, I don't think anybody wants to spend a day relaxing in Detroit. (Though, I'm sure the urban decay is splendid in the spring.)
Kansas City starts a stretch of 13 games without an open date today against the Tigers. If the offense can get on track and the pitching stays strong, it will go a long way towards keeping this team in contention throughout the summer.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Whether the Royals are in the midst of an epic losing streak or have just finished sweeping a division opponent, I feel an emptiness on the days during the season when there isn't baseball. For the next six months, I will mark my days by the baseball clock.
There has been a lot of local baseball flavor today due to the premier in Kansas City of the new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42. I'm happy for the Negro Leagues Museum to get such a big event, and I'm glad to see a lot of the team coming out in support.
42 is one of the movies I am most-excited to see this year, along with the new Gatsby flick (don't judge me... I re-read the book to my newborn daughter last year, so it's found a special place in my heart).
But, I'm excited for baseball to resume tomorrow. The Blue Jays made some big moves in the off-season and will be a much stronger test of where the Royals stand than the Twins were.
Let's play some ball.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Over the last ten years, I have made a lot of people go watch the Royals play some meaningless baseball in March. When my wife did it, I knew she was special. When she agreed to drag her friends along one year, I knew she was the one.
This year, I flew to Las Vegas and picked up my Dad to take him on his first Spring Training trip.
We saw the Royals play a split-squad Giants team on Saturday, March 2. The game was great, with both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer hitting home runs.
Some additional highlights are below with photos. (Please take these pics for what they are: badly-framed snaps from an older model iPhone in glaring desert light)
Pre-game we got to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. They are huge. Sadly, there was no free beer.
Alex Gordon had the day off, and appeared to be taking some extra reps in the batting cage. Can't really see it here, but I found it interesting he had headphones in.
I wonder if every player has a few songs that run through their head at the plate to help them stay calm or remember timing.
Frenchy also had the day off, but was chatty with the fans.
Nothing beats a sunny day at the ballpark.
Eric Hosmer took some reps in shorts before the game.
Then, he signed autographs afterwards.
That's Mike Moustakas taking some right-handed swings in the cage. He hit a few holding the barrel of the bat, as well. Might have been showing off to the fans a bit, but he took some serious swings before moving back to the left-handed stance.
Moose would end the day as one of my favorite players. Several times, he told the fans he would sign autographs when he was done with his practice, and he followed through (same with Hosmer).
Danny Duffy signing autographs before the game. Somebody asked him about his arm, and he said it felt good. He also said he was going to start throwing curve balls this week.
Louis Mendoza signed some autographs on his way out of the stadium after pitching a few innings. He brought his flowing locks along with his A-game.
Hosmer pointed to some fans he had signed autographs for earlier. He had a good report with the crowd and seems ready to be a superstar.
I didn't get a photo, but Lorenzo Cain stopped to sign autographs on his way in and his way out. There was a couple who had a Cain jersey because he had signed an autograph in Spring Training last year. He told a few people they had to wait until he signed their stuff first. He was very friendly and had fun with the crowd.
Tim Collins took his beard to Team USA after this game.
I have a bunch of Moose photos, but this is my favorite. He signed a ton of autographs and is obviously one of the fan favorites. Here, a dad has just asked him if he had any game balls for his son. Moose said he would see what he had and ended up giving this 8-year-old kid a pair of game-used batting gloves.
It was pretty awesome. That kid and I are both life long Moustakas fans now.
Salvador Perez is a big dude. My dad told a woman behind us that he would be an all-star soon. (more about her in another post). She suddenly went nuts and was begging Salvy for an autograph. He obliged.
This final photo is of Dayton Moore. We left after the seventh inning to go peruse the minor league fields and see what was going on. There were a couple of practices and a few guys in the same light blue shirt as Moore.
Now, of course I have a few choice things I have always wanted to say to the General Manager of the Royals (Why did you sign Yuni? Can't Giavotella get a real shot at second?), but when he walked by us and said "How's it going?" I blanked.
My dad said "Great."
And that was it. It was a powerful conversation and I'm sure that Mr. Moore understands what he needs to do now to make sure the Royals are a competitive team this year.
And, my dad was right: it was a pretty great day.
Since we're all in for 2013, a few of our favorite Royals may be household names soon. Endorsements are sure to follow. Here's a preview of the first carbonated beverage to take the plunge.
Coke Commercial - Vending Machine
Various shots of Mike Moustakas fielding ground balls and firing poor throws towards Eric Hosmer.
Hosmer lunges left, right and jumps high in the air, but the throws are all way off the mark.
They jog off the field.
It's okay, Moose. You're just working out the kinks.
Thanks, Hos. I just need a Coke to cheer me up.
They walk up to a vending machine in the clubhouse.
Take your pick. I'm buying.
Moose eyes the rows of ice-cold soda.
Let's go with E-3.
CLOSE UP of keypad with "E" and "3" being pressed.
CLOSE UP of The vending machine taking a Coke from the E-3 slot and dispensing it.
Hosmer looks at Moose dejectedly.
Not cool, man. Not cool.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The headline on this post will likely be false by the time five o'clock rolls around tomorrow, but it's been fun to see the Royals put some runs on the board early this Spring.
Billy Butler was the run-producer today, and the Royals finally started a pitcher who should see regular action in the regular season.
I'm heading to Spring Training this weekend to take in a game with my dad. I'm looking forward to soaking up some Arizona sun and trying to find a good hat to wear this year while I root on the team.
The Royals have won the Cactus league three times since moving to Surprise, AZ in 2003. That first winning season in '03 was followed by an improbable 9-0 start to the regular season, which gave them enough juice to finish over .500 for the first time since XX.
Winning in 2006 lead to a 62-100 regular season. Winning in 2011 led to a 71-91 regular season.
So, yeah, that doesn't matter much. No matter to me. Eric Hosmer is hitting triples and Billy Butler is going yard. I'm still all in.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Alex Gordon led off every road game for the Royals last year, and in those 81 at bats, he hit 315/383/548, including four home runs, which is awesome.
Ned Yost moved Gordon into the three hole for a few stretches, and around a couple of other spots in the line up to prove he was managing, but going into this season, he has been vocal about putting Gordon in the lead-off spot and keeping him there.
This is a good thing. After Billy Butler, nobody on the Royals gets on base anywhere close to as often as Gordon does. (Irving Falu did manage to get himself on base at a better clip than Gordon in limited playing time, but the presence of a guy who won an MVP award just eleven years ago pretty much guarantees he will spend most of this season in the minors)
Getting on base is great, because, well... that's the point of each at-bat. Enough guys get on base, and somebody is going to score. Enough guys score, and you've got yourself some wins. It's such a simple concept, that it's amazing more baseball teams don't try it.
Alex was an enigma for some time in Kansas City. Unable to live up to enormous hype when he got to the big leagues, and then battling some injuries before it all came together in 2011. More than any other player on the team, he feels like "Mr. Royal" to me right now. I love watching him play and think he's going to put together at least one great season and a couple of very good ones as he rides out his peak years in left field.
Here's looking forward to a few bombs to start off some games, and a lot of time getting chased around the base paths by Billy, Moose and Hos.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
I think it's safe to say that when most Royals fans think about Jeff Francoeur right now, they tend to focus on the fact that he is not Wil Myers.
This is a factual statement, but it does not do us much good when we are trying to pump ourselves up for 2013, so I will instead focus on who else Jeff Francoeur will not be in 2013: Jeff Francoeur from 2012.
It may be faint praise to say that a player is not going to be the worst every day major leaguer (or close to it) in 2013, but there is something to be said for showing up everyday and being something other than terrible at your job.
While it seems like Frenchy has been around forever, he will still technically be in the prime of his career this season, having turned 29 in January. A quick look at his stats and graphs indicates that he is poised to have somewhat of a bounce back year, and even if it just gets him to average, he won't be the same suck on the offense he was last season.
His defense will probably continue to deteriorate, but 19 kills from right field is still pretty cool, and one would hope that a Lorenzo Cain/Jarrod Dyson centerfield combo would provide enough cover with the golden boy Alex Gordon patrolling left.