Saturday, June 30, 2007

I didn't do it!

- I know I'm not the reason the Royals lost. I considered posting about how tonight's game against the White Sox was huge because if KC won, they'd be out of the AL Central basement. Then I realized that saying we had a glimmer of hope was the biggest way to kill that hope.

Like the other soon as I realized Scott Elarton was throwing a no-hitter in a rehab start in Omaha, someone got a hit to break it up. I didn't even say the phrase "no-hitter" aloud, nor the words "no" or "hitter" separately, but somehow just thinking about the good thing he had going was enough to jinx him. (Sorry, Mr. Elarton! You still did really well though!)

Anyway, back to my original point. The Royals had a shot of moving out of the cellar for the first time since Week One of this season. All they had to do was beat Chicago tonight, and viola! Their status as perennial cellar-dwellers would be cleared up faster than a pimply face on Proactiv.

Odalis Perez
started the game in typical O. Perez fashion: That is, he walked the first batter on four pitches, threw a wild pitch during the 2nd at-bat, walked that batter anyway, then gave up an RBI single.

But after that, the Sox had nothing on him. After that point, he gave up no more runs, only two more hits and two more walks. However, the White Sox weren't the only ones whose offense had been stymied, as KC could only muster a few hits, and only one (Emil Brown's 7th-inning solo shot) that yielded any runs. Even though I don't always have a lot of love for Odalis Perez, I think 7 innings of 1-run baseball should be enough to earn a 'W.'

Now KC can tie Chicago for 4th, but can not overtake them in this series. Maybe next week, the Royals will pick up a few wins against Seattle, and the Sox will lose a game or two against Baltimore. Tuesday is my birthday, and I would love few things more than to see my Royals climb out of last in their division!

- The cats in my house continue to annoy the crap out of each other and out of me. Part of me wants to punt at least one of them off my balcony. My dad says that since I've got three cats, and cats have 9 lives, I've got 27 chances to pull off a good kick. I like those odds.

- I had to leave work early tonight, as my ankle decided to take a giant step backwards, leaving me unable to walk, much less run around, dance on the dugout tops, and all the other antics required for me to do my job well. The good thing about leaving early was that Oklahoma's Mike Wood did not have enough time to hit me with a water balloon, though I gave him at least three innings and two separate balloons! He may never be able to get me!

Speaking of former Kansas City pitchers who are now with Texas' AAA team, the Redhawks' pitcher for tonight was none other than Mark Redman. I'm not sure for whom this looks worse; Redman as a member of last year's All-Star team, or Kansas City as the team who could apparently not produce a better team representative. Either way, he mowed through Omaha's lineup without any struggle, so whiny teenage bloggers can't make fun of him. (My job would be so much easier if he had not done well! Then I could decide that the 2006 Royals were really sad, and look at how much we've improved, and so forth.)

- I have a massive cat-induced headache, so I'm going to become acquainted with a ton of Benadryl and call it a night already. If anyone knows any foolproof techniques for cat punting, let me know STAT. Thanks in advance!

Friday, June 29, 2007

A bunch of stuffs

A winning month, praise the Lord!
In July 2003, things were pretty good for Royals fans. We had a manager who had ignited a fire under the players and fans alike. Sportswriters had, at least for the moment, quit making fun of our team at every opportunity. There were plenty of reasons to hold hope. July 2003 was a winning month.

Then, Kansas City put up a depressingly impressive 22 months in which they were under .500.

22 months of baseball is a long time. In that time, the Detroit Tigers went from a basement-dwelling laughingstock to a World Series contender who still shows potential to win the toughest division in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals went from a respectable powerhouse to a team that's double-digit games out of 1st in a much weaker NL Central. 22 months of baseball is a long damn time to keep losing. That's enough time for fans to get disgusted and leave, to pathetically offer up their team loyalty as a commodity on eBay, enough time to grow painfully accustomed to losing and losing and losing.

But lo! With a sweep over the Los Angeles and/or Anaheim Depending on Who is the Bigger and Wealthier Whiner This Season Angels, something KC hadn't done at Anaheim since 1992, the Royals have finally assembled another winning month. And we still have a few games to go before June is over!

It must be some kind of miracle.

AM radio is the best thing ever
The final game of the Royals' series with Anaheim was played at 2:35 here, was not televised, and was not aired on any AM stations (that I could find) in the Omaha area. That was not a problem for most of the game, as I am a subscriber to streaming audio at But then I faced a dilemma: It was time to leave for my first day back at work with the O-Royals in over a month, but the game was not over.

Should I be late to work, even though I had been anticipating my return to the job ever since my dugout-induced brush with disaster? Or should I miss out on the sweet symphony of victory, the kind of moment that keeps me coming back to my Royals? This was a tough one.

WHB to the rescue! The reception brought me more static than voices, but I was able to listen to the bottom of the 9th on my way to Rosenblatt. At one point, there was a dramatic pause in the static, enough of a pause for me to hear that Octavio Dotel had forced a groundout to cap off a perfect inning and seal a sweet 1-0 victory.

As much as I love XM Radio (we have it at my parents' house), I hope AM radio never dies. There is just something comforting about the crackle and hum that provide the backdrop for baseball broadcasts. The sound of a broadcast on AM brings back years of memories of sitting in my bedroom, windows open, radio cranked up. Denny and Fred were as much a part of my household as any of our close friends, as we listened to them call games every day of every summer.

Congratulations to "Craig the Crusher"

In a move that surprises nobody, Craig Brazell of the Omaha Royals was named a representative to the PCL team in the AAA All-Star Game. Brazell leads the minors with 29 homers total, 22 of which have come at the AAA level.

I hate cats

I have always had a distaste for cats, and now there are three in my household. My eyeballs itch.

This morning at about 5:45, one of the cats decided to stand on my stomach, which woke me up. I eventually got back to sleep, but it took a while. When I finally decided to roll out of futon (I don't have a bed) a few hours later, I found that the back door had come open and the other two cats had gotten out, so I had to go get them.

That is all for now, as I have to go brave the bats (not the wooden kind) in my basement and finish some laundry...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

RSTN, part II

About a month ago, I posted some findings regarding whether Kansas City played better when they were on TV than they did when they were not televised. I found that they did indeed have a higher winning percentage in televised games. This was as of May 30:
When Royals games are televised on RSTN (including games that are aired only on Channel 38 in KC), their winning percentage is .400, compared to a .214 winning percentage when they're not on TV and an overall .352 wpc. It took them until May 17 to win a game that was not televised. Tomorrow night's game will be televised, so I have some hope that the losing streak will end.

Today I'm bored and not working, so I repeated the research, then took it a little further. Here's what I found:

The Royals are still winning more when they're on television. Their win percentage when they're on either RSTN or Channel 38 in KC is .452, compared to just a .200 wpc when they're not televised. Since I last looked at these stats, the Royals have not won a non-televised game (though they've played only one). Their overall win percentage right now is .403.

Furthermore, the Royals avergae more hits and more runs per game when they're in front of the cameras.

Average hits/game

Not on TV: 7.8
On TV: 9.1
Overall: 8.9

Average runs/game

Not on TV: 3.3
On TV: 4.6
Overall: 4.4

The number of runs they allowed was the only one which has been worse on TV, as opponents score 5.2 runs on KC during televised games, and only 5.1 per game without TV.

You now have learned a few things:
RSTN still helps the Royals win.*
RSTN still makes the Royals get more hits.*
I have way too much free time on my hands.** If only I took homework this seriously.

*I know that correlation is not the same as causation. But when you're a Royals fan, you have to clutch on to anything that seems to help boost that winning percentage.
**Not to worry; I'm returning to work for the O-Royals tomorrow. Is my ankle ready? Probably not. Am I pumped anyway? You betcha!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sunday lineup

In the leadoff spot: 2-time CWS champions Oregon State

One of the ESPN commentators called the Beavers the "least likely" team to ever be repeat champions in the College World Series. They lost most of their lineup from last year's scrappy, determined, inspiring team. So much of the hitting, the pitching, and the gloves that led them to the title last year watched from the stands or from their homes.

"The team that almost did not make the field of 64 has now won it back to back."

I so called it.

Batting second: Kansas City can win in extra innings
Too bad I missed most of the game. Today I helped throw a wedding shower (yay!) for my brother and his bride-to-be, so I missed the afternoon shenanigans at Miller Park. Thank the Lord for internet access on phones; that's how we "watched" the game from the 9th inning on. It was cute the way my family members and a few friends gathered around, hunched over the tiny screen of my brother's phone.

The way KC loaded the bases in the 11th was refreshing to see. Nobody was trying too hard to bring in the winning run in one swing; the batters were patient and scrapped their way to a run. Having the winning run walked in may not be glamorous, but it shows a lot of patience and maturity from a team that's been struggling in every way the last few games. It's frustrating to have so many injuries and a field half-full of players who are not 100% healthy, but the players who are left out there need to show that they can battle. Maybe they could take a cue from Oregon State. Which brings us to our number three batter:

Best highlight reels ever

For the most part, I think it's sad how obsessed this generation is with highlight reels, and I wish more people had the patience to actually watch sporting events. Omaha is where I make an exception. The highlight reels shown at the very end of the College World Series are perfect showcases of why I love sports. The facial expressions of the ballplayers they show -- from the mixture of fear and sadness from players who are on the brink of elimination to the OSU pitcher's sheer exhilaration as he forced the last out -- are golden. They're perfect and pure and everything right about baseball. Even as a naysayer of the "Highlights only, please" mindset, I happily admit that I could watch those CWS montages over and over.

It surely does not get any better than Omaha in June...

Batting cleanup: Random tragedy in baseball
Rod Beck has died. Yes, the Rod Beck who was only 38 years old. Yes, the one with the flowing hair, the huge moustache. For a few seasons, he was a favorite of my brothers and me; we simultaneously loved him and were terrified of him. We were pretty sure he could chop down a tree with his bare hands, wrestle a bear, then come in and notch a save by simply scaring the batters he faced into calling themselves out.

Once, while Beck was sitting in the bullpen, a home run was hit right above his head. Many relievers tend to scatter or cower from the ball in that situation, but not Rod Beck. He didn't even move his head to track the ball's location. He calmly reached up and snagged the ball out of the air, bare-handed.

That kind of thing leads my brother and me to think the cause of this death was an overdose of aweseomeness.

Though he was no longer an active player, he was still one of baseball's truly memorable characters. The examples in the news story to which I linked show a man who knew how lucky he was to play baseball as his career. He clearly didn't take that for granted, and wanted to share his joy with as many fans and friends as he could. Please pray for his daughters as they wait to hear how their father could have died so suddenly at such a young age.

Watch Omaha on TV!

Two O-Royals games will be televised on RSTN this year. Watch!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I have a curse, but I got great CWS seats

College World Series: Beavers/Eaters
Do you want to know something crazy? In all my years as a lover of college baseball, I had never made it to a College World Series game. Only once have I even been in the city of Omaha during the series, and I didn't go to a game then because my dad had just had major surgery and was in the hospital, so we watched all the CWS action from his room.

I finally did get to go to tonight's game. I originally thought I wouldn't be able to make it to any, but Dad provided funding for tickets for my brothers and me. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do all the walking, but with the help of a crutch I think I made it all right (I'll know for sure tomorrow how bad all the walking was for my stubbornly still-swollen ankle).

Aaaanyway, I said in the beginning that Oregon State was "my" team for this year's CWS. I wanted a team that came out from the woodwork last year to do it again. How cool would that be? But Irvine has really grown on me, with all their extra-inning heroics and fantastic team chemistry. So by the time I actually got to Rosenblatt, I had no idea who I wanted to win that game. (As an aside, I'd like to thank the people who didn't sit in their reserved seats so that we could. Right behind the OSU bullpen, maybe 10 rows back, excellent seats for the GA price!) After all the fighting that UCI has done so far, I was not entirely surprised that this was a lopsided game (in Oregon State's favor, in case you hadn't heard). There comes a time when even the hottest team has to run out of gas.

I guess that means I will go back to my original plan of rooting for Oregon State. Go Beavers!

The Supernatural in baseball

I'm a huge fan of superstitions in baseball. I have lucky shirts, lucky pants, even lucky unmentionables. (Oops, I mentioned them.) I do rally caps, I don't talk about no-hitters while they're in progress, I don't leave games early. I believe a game's first pitch shows a lot about how the game will turn out, I don't like to miss the starts of my teams' games. A win isn't complete until the last out is made; you will never hear me say "Our boys have got this one in the bag." I respect almost all players' decisions regarding hair and beards, as long as it helps uphold a good streak or banish a bad one. (I say almost all players because I still can not force myself to look at Scott Spiezio. Yuck!)

So I should know better than to talk about how the O-Royals could have moved into 2nd or even 1st in the PCL American North or how Fernando Cortez had hits in 8 consecutive plate appearances.

I think I may have cursed Cortez and the whole O-Royals team when I said those things. A few minutes after the post about Cortez, he was up to bat and didn't get a hit. And once the O-Royals started that series that I said would be so pivotal in moving up the ranks...they didn't do so well. Since that time, Nashville has been winning, and has edged Iowa for first place. Meanwhile, Omaha has slipped to 8 games out of first (still in third place, and still better off than they were in past years at this time).

If I had kept my mouth shut, or my keyboard untouched, or whatever, could Omaha be doing better? Maybe my words have the opposite effect of the Midas Touch. Everything I touch with my words turns to poo. However, the opposite is not true. If I bemoan Kansas City's struggles, they don't turn around and start doing better. But if I proclaim the wonders of a good week, they immediately get on the field and lose.

Maybe someone should pay me to keep my mouth shut about these things. :-(

Monday, June 18, 2007

A little look back

Last year:
On May 20, I wrote about how the Royals had lost Game 3 of every single series in which they had lost the first two. That post was on my MySpace blog, and I didn't transfer it to this one.
The Royals have a really bad attitude. Well, at least, that's how it looks from the way they've played in Game 3 of their various series' this year. Whenever they lose the first two games of the series, it's almost like they just give up. In every three-game series this year, if they lose the first two games, they also lose the third. Come on guys; I haven't given up yet, so can you hang in there too?

In that same post, I was horrified that Nebraska's baseball team wasn't going to be a Top 8 national seed.

This year:

The Royals have won three consecutive series, and have not yet lost a series to a National League team. In each of the last three series, they've lost Game 2, but then have come back to win each Game 3. That is something I can handle, unlike the "lie down and die" approach the team was taking at the time I wrote the bit above.

Meanwhile, Nebraska was not anywhere near the top 8 nationally, they lost hope of that idea long before May 20.

Maybe this makes me a bad Husker fan, but I'm actually okay with the 2007 version of things. I feel better when the Royals do well than I do when the Huskers do well while the Royals lose.

- I still can't get over how my outlook on Rosenblatt Stadium has changed this year. All my life, when I'd see the Blatt on TV during CWS games, I upheld it as a sacred place (as any good college baseball fan should do). But now, I see it on TV, and I see the place I work. In one respect, I can not wait until it's done with its annual stint of Holy Grail-hood so I can get back to work. Then again, I do enjoy this part of Omaha being proudly upheld as "the Cathedral of college baseball" to the rest of the country.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Cortez watch

In Fernando Cortez' last game with Omaha, he went 5 for 5. Tonight, in his first two KC plate appearances, he's 2 for 2. That would give him 7 hits in his last 7 plate appearances.

But wait, there's more:

In his 2nd-to-last Omaha game, he only had one hit, but it was in his final AB of that game.

Eight for his last eight. Pretty decent, Fernando. Let's see if he can keep it going throuhgout the rest of this game; the Royals will need it, as Florida has taken a 6-3 lead in the 5th.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I'm not at Rosenblatt right now. I should be.

But even watching on TV is fun...hearing replays of sportscasters proudly proclaiming their team is Omaha-bound makes me proud to be here. When ESPN2 shows shots of Rosenblatt Stadium, they call it the holy grail of college baseball. I call it my workplace. Life is good.

Oregon State, last year's CWS champion, is my team this year. What a story, and what a testament to the pure heart of college baseball, it would be to see them come out of nowhere to win two in a row.

Check out the Big O Sports I thought yesterday, Ravi already has a ton of great CWS stuff. He tells an incredible story about how the CWS plays in him falling in love with baseball. Great stuff, definitely worth a read.

Now is the time. This is Omaha at its best. Welcome to the College World Series.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Grud's knee woes and more

-Mark Grudzielanek's meniscus is torn. Did I not call this? (towards end of post) What was the merit in his being in the Opening Day lineup? Wouldn't it be better for the team to have him 100% healthy now instead? Grud's a stubborn guy; we all know that. That's what makes him as good as he is. But every athlete (and for that matter, every MiLB promotions chick) who gets injured has to go through the entire rehab process, regardless of how soon they want to return.

Grud is a textbook example. He didn't give his knee enough time to heal the first time around, and here he is, only three months later, with another major injury to it. Could this one have been prevented with a little more patience at the season's start? It's entirely possible. KC's July schedule is meaty; they could surely use Grud's dependable defense and his recently hot bat, no?

- I feel awful. I know I jinxed Omaha last night by mentioning that they were ahead. Tyler Lumsden had his best outing of the year, allowing zero runs in eight innings against the first-place Iowa Cubbies, but Iowa ended up winning 4-3 in 11 innings. On a scale of 1-10, how frustrating is that for a starting pitcher? I'm guessing '50' is an appropriate estimate, and I'm guessing Gil Meche has a few thoughts on that matter.

Tonight in AAA action, Billy Buckner pitched 7 innings and gave up just one run. I don't want to say anything else about the game, because...well it's baseball, and I have my supersititions. But Omaha only has to make one more out to seal a victory...Just saying.

- Tonight was the opening ceremonies for the College World Series. My house is in very close proximity to a number of bars, all of which have to make special accommodations for the Series every year. This is the time when Omahans avoid going anywhere (unless they're going to games) and everyone else in the world takes over the city. But it's a happy time! I'd be having a much happier time if I got to actually go to games, but I do not currently have the means to do so. I fail at living in Omaha.

- Speaking of sports in Omaha, check out the Big O Sports Blog. It's a brand new blog written by a guy my age with lots of sports knowledge and passion, and I'm guessing he'll have some good stuff for us throughout the CWS.

- It's the Sonic Slam inning, and Mark Teahen just came oh so close to hitting a homer and giving one lucky fan a lot of money. Instead, he ended up with his second triple of the game. My apologies to the fan who didn't win the money, but I'd rather see two triples any day. The fans bowing down to Teahen have it exactly right. Anyone who triples multiple times in a game deserves that. A triple is the most exciting hit possible, and I wish more people (inluding -- or especially -- my beloveds at Baseball Tonight) would pay respects to triplers.

But what's truly ridiculous is that it's almost 10:00, and the Sonic Slam inning just took place. I can't decide if the fans in attendance are getting more than their money's worth, or if some of them are ready for bed already.

UPDATE: Whew, didn't jinx anything tonight! Omaha just won 3-1 to avoid a sweep at Des Moines.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Psychic infielders

Earlier tonight, I referred to freshly-promoted infielder Fernando Cortez as "reliable." What I forgot to mention was that in his last game for Omaha, he was 5-5.

Apparently, he is also a soothsayer.
This I like:

"Maybe we should get him to say we'll be in a World Series," Gathright said.

Aside from Perez, tonight's KC game wasn't horrible. I knew what kind of history Albert Pujols has against Perez, so I braced myself for a loss. Gordo's home run was massive, but I never did hear exactly how far it was hit. Anyone know?


-This is the series that always does it for me. Oh, how I love it when the Royals play St. Louis! Shame on me for not writing about last night's game sooner. Last, what a game. That is how a Royals fan should get to feel about a game. I love Brian Bannister; I'm glad his last three big-league starts have been as good as some of his AAA starts that made me so high on him.

-Tonight so far is a different story. Odalis Perez (a pitcher who I have yet to fully like; in the words of American Idol judge Randy Jackson, "He's just aight to me.") was pulled after yielding at least 6 runs in 4 innings (plus 2 batters). Brandon Duckworth was going to come along and save the day, but left with some pain after throwing only two pitches.

-What an unfortunate time for Mark Grudzielanek to be hurt. He's been hitting really well lately, with a glut of extra base hits and even homers, and has said he was really looking forward to playing a series against his old STL teammates. Now he doesn't get to continue either. Grud's injury has produced an interesting, back-and-forth string of moves between KC and Omaha. Reliable infielder Fernando Cortez, a guy who plays hard and doesn't take crap from anyone, has been called up to KC, while Shane Costa has been recalled to Omaha (much to the delight of female fans here). I thought this might happen, with Reggie Sanders getting closer to coming back to the game.

And as I wrap this up, the KC lineup is still seeking its first hit. This makes me wonder: Have no-hitters ever been thrown on back-to-back days?

- After two high-scoring (at least on Iowa's part) games to start the current series in Des Moines, Omaha has held the Cubs scoreless through 6 full innings and leads 2-0 thanks to homers from Billy Butler and Richard Lewis.

UPDATE: Oh crap, Mike Sweeney looks hurt. He fell down while running to first on a groundout, and came up hobbling. Injuries come in threes? Sixes? Dozens? Grand.

Monday, June 11, 2007

In case you missed it

Awesome profile of Joakim Soria.


VERY briefly

- How about that Justin Huber? Pretty fantastic game all around (box), but I forgot my sunscreen so I'm hurting.

- Sadly, seeing the O-Royals meant missing the KC Royals beating the poo out of Jamie Moyer and company. It's not often that I laugh out loud when reading a wrap from a game, but Tony Pena Jr. cracks me up:
Tony Pena Jr. also rocked Moyer for a home run, a solo shot that was his first for the Royals.

"I got lucky, pretty much," Pena said.

Asked what sort of pitch the wily Moyer lobbed his way, Pena just grinned.

"I have no idea," he said. "I just swung hard, just in case."
Heh. Now it's time to gear up for the Cardinals. I don't know about you all, but I am pumped.

- I briefly considered making the trip to Des Moines today to see Matt Wright pitch against the division-leading Iowa Cubs, but then I realized that I despise that city. Guess I'll just listen on the radio.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Gil Meche has received only two runs of support in his last six starts.

What the heck, guys? Some bats please? Didn't I already scold you guys for this once before?

Of the three hits KC scraped up tonight, I'm glad one belonged to David DeJesus. I'm a huge DeJesus fan, and it hurts to see him slumping. His three-hit game last night was excellent progress out of the depths of the slump, although I missed two of the hits because there was a birthday party at my house, and I didn't want to be "That Guy" who sits and watches an entire baseball game rather than socializing at a gathering in her own house. (The term "that guy" is gender neutral. I can use it to refer to myself, or an actual dude. But it should be noted that I live in fear of being "That Guy" in every social situation.)

- I have a burning desire for a Gil Meche t-shirt, but it would be fiscally irresponsible to make the trip to KC for one on Tuesday. If anyone is going to that game and is feeling generous, I wear a medium. Hook a poor blogger up?

- Omaha lost 8-5 tonight. The offense was completely frustrated until the 8th, when they scored all five of their runs. Prior to the game, the president of the Pacific Coast League presented Craig Brazell with the Topps PCL Player of the Month award for May, and the video guys unveiled a new graphic they display during each of his at-bats -- some mildly cheesy animated baseball bat graphic that alludes to his hitting ability -- but then he went 0-4. Oh, the pressures that come with success.

- Despite the loss, I found a few more in-Gibs. (Defined here)

Andres Blanco was not in the lineup tonight, so he was at the end of the dugout, just kinda hanging out. A kid approached the dugout area desperately wanting Jorge Padilla to sign a ball for him, but Padilla was unable to sign because it was the middle of the game. Blanco took the ball and pen from the kid, signed the ball, then went all the way to the other end of the dugout to track Padilla down and have him sign it as well. Against the rules? A little bit (although I'm pretty sure the rule against signing during games is for the players' benefit anyway). But it was also probably the highlight of this little kid's month, and something he will remember for a long time.

At some point before witnessing Blanco's kindness, I was sitting in the third row, directly behind the dugout and behind two rows of Little Leaguers who were on a team outing. After Padilla caught a fly ball to end an inning, the kids in front of me were screaming wildly, begging him to toss them the ball as he entered the dugout. I jokingly raised my hands too, but wasn't entirely serious in my request for the ball. He threw it to me anyway. Shame on him, though; the throw was a little short! But I still caught it*. Somehow, that was only the second time all season I've ended up possessing a ball (the other was when a fan threw one on the field during a promotion, and I snagged it and had Joey sign it for my dad). Not sure how I can be right be the dugout so much and still not catch any baseballs.

*For the record: I'm a grownup, for goodness' sake -- I did give the ball to a kid, but the child in me wanted to tuck it in my purse and keep it. Jorge specifically gave that to me, dangit! But the kid asked politely, so how could I not? I do have a piece of writing brewing about how too many little kids (and even adults) expect freebies all the time at games. It's a huge pet peeve of mine, and I don't know how to deal with it because I really want to lay down the law with those who feel so undeservedly entitled, but my version of laying down the law might not go over too well with my job security.

Justin Huber and Blanco asked how my ankle was doing. I actually haven't talked to either very much before today, but I had the sense that they were definitely not jerks, and it was awfully sweet of them to inquire...Huber stopped and asked on his way to the clubhouse, which amazed me because players are usually in an understandable hurry to get off the field after a loss. But Huber was very sympathetic with my 30-day DL stint, as he's been there all too recently. I meant it with all I had in me when I told him I'm glad he's back in the lineup!

- I'm sure you all already noticed this, but I have a new label for posts: Omaha Royals. So whenever you need your fix of Billy Butler, Justin Huber, Matt Wright, and the whole gang, check out posts under that label! I'm also considering a "Nice Guys" label... yea or nay?

- Lastly: I now own an O-Royals hat. It's really spiffy. Maybe my next profile pic will in some way feature this fine piece of apparel.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The O-Royals fared a little better than KC

Tonight brought perfect weather for taking in a baseball game, and the great weather, combined with the facts that school is out and it was dollar beer night, brought an unusually large crowd to Rosenblatt Stadium. The O-Royals were returning home from an 8-game road trip in which they were 4-4.

This home series, a 4-gamer against Nashville, is going to be huge. Nashville is in 2nd place in the PCL American North, and I see no reason why Omaha can't overtake them.

Tonight was a good start: In the very first inning, two Royals drew walks to join Richard Lewis, who had singled, on base. That brought up Justin Huber. Now I ask you... What do you secretly hope for whenever your team has the bases loaded?

Yep, that's exactly what happened. Huber absolutely crushed the first pitch he saw from Nashville's Yovani Gallardo. It had to have gone at least 420 feet -- it cleared the hitter's eye, which is marked 408. He hit another in the fifth inning to bring his season HR total to 7. This made him a natural choice for player of the game, but I don't want anyone to overlook pitcher Ben Hendrickson's performance. He threw 6.2 innings, allowing just 4 hits and one earned run. He walked only two and struck out four. Omaha won, 7-1.

I was thrilled to be back at Rosenblatt, even if I wasn't working. A lot of season ticket holders, all of my coworkers, and even a few players asked how I was, said they had missed me, and so on. Two little girls, who are part of a large family of season ticket holders, came over from about 4 sections over to see me. This amazed me because I wasn't wearing my work uniform, so they must have eagle eyes to be able to pick me out in a crowd. They chided me for getting hurt, and said I needed to get back to work soon so I could high-five them again. I guess they really value the level of fan interaction I display!

- Today at physical therapy, someone asked me if anyone saw me fall when I sprained my ankle. I had guessed that that night's crowd was between 5500 and 6000. It didn't occur to me until tonight, almost two weeks after the fact, to actually look up that night's attendance. I fell down the stairs in front of ... ahem ... 6,259 people. Smooooth move.

Bad 8th inning, but good free Dr Pepper

So my hurt ankle -- sprained two weeks ago tomorrow -- is not healing quite as quickly as I had hoped. I went to a doctor yesterday, and he wasn't the nicest person ever and I will not share those stories here, but he did recommend physical therapy. He also recommended that I start said PT as soon as I possibly could, so I called the PT clinic right away and scheduled an appointment for today, right after lunch.

What I totally forgot at that point was that the Royals played at 11:05 this morning in their series finale at Jacobs Field.

Silly me...why would I schedule an appointment for myself during a game?!? However, I am a woman of my word, so in the middle of the 6th, I hobbled out to my car. Sadly, AM stations around here don't carry day games, but I can kind of pick up WHB out of Kansas City. I could hear more static than voices, but I stuck with it through the whole drive as the Royals struggled to mount up some offense. Once I got to my appointment, I missed the top of the 7th through the middle of the 8th. But my therapist had a TV on hand, so I got to watch the game while they iced my ankle.

That, unfortunately, meant that I had to see the bottom of the 8th, in which Cleveland scored five runs against an unusually sloppy Kansas City defense. I honestly thought we had a shot at ending the inning when Mark Teahen caught a fly ball and ten threw to home (in pursuit of his 10th outfield assist of the season), but John Buck dropped the ball, and Cleveland went on to score and score and score again. Joey Gathright also misplayed a ball after that, allowing another run, but by that point I had given up most of my hope. (Yes, even I have a finite quantity of hope.)

I was surprised at Zack Greinke's lack of poise throughout that inning. After Tony Pena, Jr. misplayed a potential double play grounder, Greinke did not show his usual stone-faced command that would normally allow him to bounce back from something like that. Does that come from the difference in day-to-day preparation that came with his move to the bullpen?

It was frustrating to watch, given that KC went on to score two runs in the 9th. But I did see some positives in the game, namely Gathright and Alex Gordon. Gordon had not ever had more than two hits in a big-league game, but had four hits and was a homer short of the cycle today. Gathright continued to prove that his callup was a good idea, contributing three hits and stealing a base.

I greeted the news of Gathright's callup with mixed emotions. Firstly, I am happy for him. He worked incredibly hard in Omaha on all facets of his game, and has shown improvement in every area so far in this stint in the majors: he's five-for-seven so far at the plate and has two steals. His defense isn't legendary, but he certainly gets the job done. I really am glad to see him succeed, but I will miss seeing him upon my return to work! The man has a smile that could cheer up four impoverished African villages, and as I've mentioned before is a great hit with fans.

But if he continues to do this well, then Kansas City is once again faced with the conundrum of having up to 7 available outfielders (Teahen, David DeJesus, Emil Brown, Gathright, Shane Costa, or even Esteban German, plus Reggie Sanders when he returns from the DL) but only three positions out there. Brown can serve as the DH when Mike Sweeney has the day off, but what when Sweeney is in the lineup? Brown's defense is sub-par, but his bat is much more noisy when he does get regular playing time. So to bench him too often means silencing his bat, but to play him too often in left field could be detrimental to our defense. Costa is once again in a position where he might be better off back in AAA, where he'd get regular playing time again, unless he likes big-leauge bench time. (He doesn't.)

- On a completely unrelated note (because I love those so much):
Today after PT, I decided that I really wanted a cold 12-pack of Dr Pepper from Quik Trip. But when I got there, I could not find any 12-packs in the refrigerated section, and I was momentarily sad. Then I saw a sign that advertised 24-packs on sale for $5.99. Seemed like a pretty good deal to me, so I grabbed the last case and hobbled with it to the counter. The angel at the counter* informed me that he had a coupon I could use to save an additional dollar. So I basically got 24 cans for a bit over the price of 12. My day is complete!

*People don't work at QT. Only angels do.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Random round-up

- I'm not sure whether it's worth my time to write about Alex Rodriguez right now. I can't stand the man, and according to a Sports Illustrated Poll of MLB players, neither can many big leaguers. Anyway, I was thinking about his little yelling fiasco...things like this make it easy for me to dislike him so much. I'm not a pro player or anything, but even I know that you just don't do that.

I wanted to know what other bloggers thought about this childish move, and there were plenty who agree with me that it was a boneheaded thing to do. Then there was this one, which offered the suggestion that A-Rod was making a desperate move to move his struggling, (nearly) cellar-dwelling team toward victory.

Just as I started to think this may have been an almost acceptable theory, I stumbled upon Detroit closer Todd Jones' thoughts on the matter. He reinforced my idea that "you just don't do that," and refuted the idea that yelling at the infielders was a winning strategy. Thanks, Todd!

- My car is at the mechanic's garage, and I'm scared. Not scared that they'll screw me, because my brothers have had great experiences and friendly, fair service from these guys, but scared that my car might die. I like my Taurus; I don't want a new car at all. It gets me from A to B (unless I'm stuck in my house with an injury...), and that's all I want in a vehicle.

- Meanwhile, the Royals are behind on the D-Rays 3-0. A series win would be wonderful, as it would help us immensely in putting ourselves ahead of Tampa Bay (along with Texas and Cincinnati) for the MLB basement. However, I can take comfort in the fact that by this date in 2006, KC had only won 14 (as opposed to 21 wins going into today), and in 2005 had only won 17.

Hm. I can also take comfort in John Buck. He just homered, making the score 3-1.

- The O-Royals have played well lately, losing only three in their last 11 games. That span includes a 4-game sweep over Oklahoma, a series win (3-1) over New Orleans, a series split with Tacoma, and 2 wins so far over Portland. They're only 3.5 games out of first in their division. I don't want to jinx anything here, but if they continue to play well, they have a shot at overtaking first place (and definitely coasting into 2nd) within the next week and a half. They've done well at Portland, and will play 2nd-place Nashville in a 4-game series later this week. After that, they will head back to the road (but not too far) for a series with the 1st-place Iowa Cubs.

- Bake these. They're simple, and delicious. 8 minutes makes them perfect.

- I'll have more thoughts later, once the KC game is finished. After 5 innings, it's still 3-1.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Behold, indeed.

The subject of an e-mail my mom sent me this morning was "Behold!"

The body of the e-mail read simply "...the power of RSTN!"

On Wednesday I posted some research regarding the Royals' performance when their games are televised. My cousin, who works for the Royals, sent that information to the VP of RSTN. His response was, "That's good for us, then! We have 25 of the next 28 on RSTN."

So expect more of last night's play. Who would have thought that such good things happen when your starter doesn't walk anybody in eight innings?

I've mentioned how much I like watching Brian Bannister pitch before. I thoroughly enjoyed games that he started in Omaha; he always looked calm and professional, worked quickly, and mowed over pretty much everyone he faced. He was one of the offseason acquisitions about whom I was most excited. His previous big-league starts weren't horrible by any means, but I knew he could do tons better, so I was pumped to see him in his finest form last night against a team that (for some reason only God knows) we haven't been able to beat in quite a while.

For me, the best moment in this game -- aside from the more-rare-than-a-blue-moon Mike Sweeney triple in the 2nd inning -- was when Delmon Young popped out to Mark Grudzielanek in the 8th. On Bannister's previous pitch, Young had popped up in foul territory. It looked like Ryan Shealy was going to be able to make the play, as the ball stayed in play, but at the last minute he lost it in the ceiling. At that point it would have been easy for a young pitcher to lose it a little bit, to fall apart and then point fingers at his defense. Instead he forced another popup, got the out, and finished the inning by forcing a ground ball from Akinori Iwamura. That, in the words of the General Motor Company, is professional grade.

The 2nd inning was just excellent baseball on Kansas City's part. Scott Kazmir is an awfully good pitcher, and as Bob and Splitt pointed out, KC's offensive outburst in that inning wasn't entirely Kazmir's fault -- he did strike out two and force a groundout in the inning. But the Royals ran the bases aggressively and took advantage of every possible mistake, yielding three runs and a heap of confidence. That's what the 17 Royals fans left in the country need to see, after a week of watching their team lying down feebly and yielding run after run after run without answering with any offense. (And yes, there are precisely 17 good, loyal fans. I counted.)

UPDATE: My favorite person on the O-Royals' roster, Matt Wright, was named the Royals player of the day. His last two starts have been fantastic, but the offense wasn't there for him last Saturday. But they came through with four runs against Tacoma. From the article to which I linked:
His strong outing Thursday raised his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.10 in 49 1/3 innings. Wright, a 21st round pick of the Braves in 2000, is pitching his first season in the Royals' organization.

I, for one, am glad he's on board with us.