Friday, August 31, 2007

On LaRue and PGs.

- I was supposed to be in Des Moines tonight to see what turned out to be an O-Royals loss, but due to nightmarish traffic I did not make it to Rosenblatt in time to meet my bus. Sigh. You know when there's a wreck on the interstate, and traffic slows to 0-5 mph? That's how bad I-80 was today, but there was no accident. Just one guy moving a few cones. Yeah, that was totally worth the slowdown.

- I would have been OK with it if Scott Baker had finished his game in a perfect manner tonight. My reasoning behind this is that I've never watched a perfect game before, and I kind of wanted to see one. Besides, if you're going to break up a PG or a no-no, you had damn well better go on and win the game. Still kinda wondering why Bell would put in a PH in that situation, but at the same time I was pleased to see my Best Friend make a splash like that in his first AB back.

TANGENT: Here are a few things I want to see in person before I die:
1) No-hitter (asking to see a PG in person is kind of lofty, no? I'd happily settle for a no-no.)
2) Bench-clearing brawl (any sport. I aaaalmost saw the O-Royals get into one, but it was broken up)
3) A parade for the World Series Champions Royals

- I found an amusing comment regarding my favorite* Royal, Jason LaRue, on this post at the MVN Royals blog:
Remember in Little League or playing softball when you’re a kid and a girl or some other bad hitter comes up and people start yelling “automatic out?” Does that happen in the major leagues? If it does, they do it for sure when Jason LaRue bats. You almost think that Pena is going to be set to lead off an inning and the Twins would walk him and Gathright just to see if they could coax a triple play out of LaRue.

Heh. So true.

*Well, he's my favorite behind everyone else in the organization except for maybe Emil Brown.

- Tomorrow begins Husker football season. Expect a subtle shift into college football as the autumn goes on, but fear not; I will not abandon baseball!

Monday, August 27, 2007


This might be a little on the long side, but I'd prefer it if you'd think of it as as "epic" post. That sounds better. Due up: my weekend with an All-Star, the end of the best job ever, some O-Royals home highlights, and a return to normalcy.

Mike Sweeney is my new best friend
The first time I "met" Mike Sweeney, I was a wide-eyed young teenager and Sweeney was pretty high up on the list of people that I -- and most KC fans -- adored and admired when game time rolled around each night. I was waiting to get on an elevator, and he stepped off of it when the door opened. He looked me in the eye and said, "How ya doin'?" I said, "buh-whaa? heeeeeee." Or something like that. It wasn't English.

This weekend, I made a personal goal to actually introduce myself, and maybe speak some English words this time. On Friday, he was in the lineup for game 1 of the doubleheader, and was swamped with fans before the game. I couldn't get near, although at one point he did pause at my end of the dugout to offer another "Hey, how are you?" sort of thing. I did manage a "Good, thanks. How are you?" but it took some effort.

By the way, I rarely get starstruck. Paul Splittorff, David Eckstein, and Sweeney are the only three people I've encountered that have left me unable to remember how speak, or blink. For the most part, I'm fully aware that these guys, no matter how illustrious of careers they may have, are people too. But I admire Sweeney for more than the baseball stuff. Next to the Pope, Michael John Sweeney is my favorite Catholic in the world. A lot of people ridicule him for the way he shares his faith, but I think it's awesome, and something more Catholics should do. I've known for a while that meeting someone like Sweeney would be a Big Deal in my spiritual life, so yes I was nervous about it.

Anyway, Saturday I was supposed to arrive at Rosenblatt well before the start of our 2nd consecutive double-header. I hurried through my pregame preparations, hoping that when I took my big Bucket O' Stuff to the third base dugout, #29 himself would be in it. Sure enough, Sweeney was down there, giving a radio interview. I have to admit, I hovered around the area until he was done, but I think that given the circumstances it was almost socially acceptable. After the interview ended and Mike stood from the bench to head to the clubhouse, I approached him. "Hi," he said. "I'm Mike."

...are you kidding me? Of course I knew who he was! But he's so unassuming; he was just "Mike." He asked me my name, and told me it was nice to meet me. (wow!) We talked about Catholic stuff for a good 10 minutes, which he could have been using to prepare to play, but chose to give to me instead. I didn't want to be a ridiculous/needy fan, so all I asked was for him to maybe sign a ball for Catholic Campus Ministry in Omaha, with whom my brother is heavily involved. That wasn't enough for my best friend Mike Sweeney. After pausing to sign autographs for every fan at the end of the dugout, and then a new wave of fans who was a little late to arrive, Sweeney disappeared into the clubhouse for a few minutes. He emerged with a signed ball for my brother, and the one we requested for CCM, and...a bat. For me. It wasn't broken or anything; Mike Sweeney just straight-up gave me one of his bats, and it's signed with an awesome message for me as well: "Continue to shine for Jesus!" I hope I can.

A little later, he asked me when and where he could get to Sunday Mass. I suggested one, the parish in which my brother got married two weeks ago, but Mike admitted he'd like to sleep a little later than the 9:00 start time allowed, so he chose a 10:30 Mass instead. He invited me to join him, and bring anyone I wanted to.

The Mass with him was incredible. I am sure I can not adequately describe this to any non-Catholics, but to share in the Eucharist with my HERO in faith was one of the most meaningful 60 minutes of my life. After it ended, he left the pew before we did, and we thought he had ninja-vanished on us. Turns out, he had just wanted to say hi to Chris Lubanski, who was a few pews away and is apparently also a devout Catholic. After that, Mike actually waited for all of us outside of the church so he could chit-chat with my brothers and sister-in-law.

After we parted ways, we all agreed it felt like we had known him our whole lives. Mike Sweeney is indeed my new best friend.

The end of all things?

It had to end like this. It had to be perfect, after the season the O-Royals have given their home crowd. The team gave us an absurd about of baseball in the closing weekend: 14 innings in two games Friday, 17 innings in two games Saturday, and then Sunday's 13-inning affair.

Brandon Duckworth was unbelievable, going 7 full innings, walking zero, giving up zero runs and only four hits, and striking out six in Omaha's last home game of the year. Mitch Maier ignited the crowd by leading things off with a home run, but bats were quiet for quite a bit after that. Round Rock did not score at all until the top of the 9th, when Greg Atencio surrendered a solo shot that tied the score at one. With the bottom of each inning, I was left to wonder which of the guys was going to be the big hero, the batter everyone remembers this offseason for heroically ending the last home game. Would it be Craig Brazell? Mike Aviles? Justin Huber? None of those names would be surprising to me, given all of their performances when it has counted all season. When each of those guys, along with my personal favorite, Ryan Shealy, dug in, I wondered which pitch would be the last one. Which one of these guys would smack one into the covered bleachers beyond the wall?

I guess I just figured it would end on a home run, because that's what Omaha does. It's weird, but it's the way things are. At home this year, the O-Royals went into extra innings 10 times, which seems like a lot to me, but maybe it's just because I attended each of those. They only lost two games in extras, and won five by way of a walk-off home run. Is it just me, or is that a lot, especially in an organization where power has never been the valued element of the game?

As it turned out, the magic walk-off wasn't hit by any of the Usual Suspects. Instead it was Richard Lewis, but by inning #13 I was willing to bestow the title of "Hero" on anyone who could bring a run home. (Disclaimer: I actually really like Mr. Lewis; he's very kind, but I guess I never figured he'd be the Big Hero.)

After a few minutes of jumping up and down, screaming, high-fiving, running in tight happy circles on top of the Omaha dugout, and screaming some more, the fact that this was The End really hit home. I'm not going to lie to you good folks; I cried like a baby more than once yesterday afternoon. A very loud, wailing baby who realizes she is finished with the Best Job Ever and must now return to lame stuff like school. Before I move forward with school, I must look back on some...

2007 Omaha Royals Highlights
Well, when I got to this point in the post, I got about a 4-hour interruption in the form of dinner, getting a DVR box (yay!!), and catching up with old friends. This post was long enough anyway; highlights will be here tomorrowish.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New best friend!

My new best friend is Mike Sweeney.

More tomorrow, but Mr. Sweeney is the nicest man I've ever met. He invited my brothers and me to join him for Sunday Mass this morning.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Omaha loves Mike Sweeney

Michael John Sweeney may only have played one of the games of tonight's double-header in Omaha, but Sweeney Fever left the whole crowd feeling happy and energized through the last out of a fantastic second game. Other than a couple of hits, Omaha couldn't get a whole lot going in the first game. Maybe they were feeling rusty afer not playing a night game since last Saturday. Anyhoodle, the first game was mostly forgettable, as the Round Rock pitching and defense had their way with Omaha.

The second game was the opposite. From the first pitch, Tyler Lumsden and his teammates showed that they owned Round Rock. Lumsden's very first pitch was hit weakly right back to him, and that set the pace for an awesome game. Lummy did not allow a hit for the first three innings, and only walked one in that time. That led me to wonder: If a Minor League pitcher threw a no-hitter in a 7-inning game, would it still go down in the books as a no-no? In every other sense, these rain-shortened games count as regular games, but would a pitching accomplishment like that still get recognized despite not having the opportunity to play nine full? It didn't matter tonight, because shortly after I started thinking about that, Round Rock came through with a single. Bummer. However, Lumsden never did allow a runner to reach scoring position. Lumsden then gave way to another show of Musser Being Musser. Before the 2nd game, I educated a couple of kids on how awesome Neal Musser is, so I hope they hang on to his autograph. After his work tonight, he's pitched 50.1 innings and lowered his ERA from 0.38 to 0.35.

(Side note about Neal Musser: One night during an I-Cubs game, the Rosenblatt Stadium radar gun clocked one of Musser's fastballs at 100. I later asked him about it, because I hadn't heard that he could throw in triple digits. Sure enough, the gun was being a little kind to him. He did say that he asked whoever was charting pitches that night to use the 100 mph readout on his charts, but they went with a meager 98 or so instead. Hard life...a 98 mph fastball and a 0.35 ERA. Man I love Neal Musser.)

Anyhoodle, in the bottom of the third, Omaha started nickel-and-diming the RR defense to death. By the time Ryan Shealy came up to bat, the O-Royals had already scored a run on a walk and a couple of singles. Shealy took the first pitc h for a strike as the two runners waited on base. From my spot on top of the dugout, I heard a little kid say something about "It's OK, he'll get a hit next time." The next pitch met Shealy's bat and made the most perfect sound I've ever heard. I knew as soon as I heard that crack that the ball would be way out of the park, and yet I did not allow myself to breathe or move until it cleared the wall. I could listen to that bat sound all day...especially if it's Shealy's bat, as he's one of my favorites.

All told, each team was shut out once tonight in Part I of a double-double-header. It turns out that two consecutive rainouts means two consecutive double-headers. After tonight's games, I got to hand out free copies of Baseball America while my coworkers handed out free loaves of Sara Lee bread as part of their Great Whole Grain Giveaway. In honor of Sweeney's time with Omaha, I'm going to get biblical here:
"Man does not live by free Sara Lee bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the latest issue of Baseball America."

...isn't that how it goes?

After all the fans left, I went to clock out, only to discover a ton of Chinese food in the offices. Turns out that two people each thought they were in charge of getting food for the Express players, so one had gotten Chinese food and one had ordered Outback Steakhouse food. Of course the guys went with the Outback, so the O-Royals employees got to feast on free Chinese food. Hooray!

Quick notes:
- I'm writing this on my boyfriend's computer, as I made the mistake of moving my computer to Lincoln a few days early. Thanks J!
- I wish Baseball America was always free.
- I never thought I'd be excited to go to Des Moines -- it is one of my least favorite cities -- but I'm pretty pumped to go on a bus trip to see Omaha play the I-Cubs next Friday. For just $30, you can join this trip too!
- Joe Posnanski is not going to be blogging for a while, because he'll be working on a new book. The good news is that I will have several "extra" free hours a day while I'm not reading his blog, but the bad news is there are few activities worthy of filling that void. Sigh.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Monsoon season?

Last night's O-Royals game was rained out, which created a double-header tomorrow. Tonight's game was also rained out, which created...we don't know. A double-header Saturday as well? I asked a few players, but no one seemed to know if it's possible to just cancel a game and never make it up. Mike Aviles gave the best answer, saying neither Omaha nor Round Rock needed this game, so why make it up?

The rain delay and eventual cancellation provided some interesting opportunities for me, my coworkers, and my brothers who were at the stadium. My brother Brad and I were desperately hoping that Mike Sweeney would be hanging around the clubhouse in preparation for his game with Omaha tomorrow, but he apparently was not there. Or if he was, he is very good at hiding. But I did get to have him (my brother, not Sweeney) come out by the dugout with me so he could meet Angel Berroa and just be around the team, because every good fan should get to be around their team at some point, right?

The owner of the Omaha Royals was here for tonight's game but obviously did not get to see his team in action. Sadly, he was only planning to be around for today's game, so bummer. The promotions staff was planning on putting on our best performance EVER for him, too, but instead we all just huddled up in the hallway next to the Royals clubhouse in a feeble attempt to stay dry. (The attempt was not feeble because rain came in, but rather because Aviles and Fernando Cortez found our bucket of water balloons we were going to use for a promotion, so we bore the brunt of a few of those watery explosions.)

I guess I've always wondered what it would be like to hang around the clubhouse with a bunch of pro ballplayers, and I gotta say it's a lot like hanging around the playground with my Little League teammates. The guys are a bunch of little kids trapped in grown men's bodies -- I'm not saying that's a bad thing; it's perfect for their jobs! But it's just funny how much my coworkers and I have to watch our backs around them, lest we get pinched, tickled, de-ponytailed, or nailed with a water balloon.

Tonight was the season's final Thirsty Thursday, so fans who were "Here for Beer" got to sit and have as many dollar Hi-Lifes as they wanted (in quantities of only two per customer per visit, of course) while they waited for the rain to let up. And then again after the rain let up and then came down again. And again. And again. I wonder how concession stands do during a long rain delay when all the fans gather on the concourse to stay out of the rain.

- Last winter I decided to emulate one of my favorite MLB players, Mark Teahen, by suffering a torn labrum in the shoulder of my throwing arm. OK, that may not have been the reason it happened, but the subsequent surgery and long immobilization of my arm made school ridiculously difficult. I still managed to scrape together a 3.4 or so for the semester, but I'd rather not EVER go through a semester without my writing hand ever again. I bring this up because I think I may have re-torn it. Whoops.

- I moved my first car load of stuff to my new dorm today (the moving might be related to the shoulder thingie). It didn't rain much during my drive from Omaha to Lincoln, but the minute I eased my car into its parking spot, the heavens opened and I began my moving process in a downpour. Of course that's how it would happen with me. I am only half-heartedly committed to moving, which is evident in the fact that my computer is still here in Omaha. I suppose I'll finish moving eventually, but I have a MiLB season to finish!

- Here's how much baseball has permeated the lives of my brothers and me. My brother Ryan, who got married last weekend, is also in the process of moving out of the current house (which he so graciously shared with me this summer) and into his wife's condo. He told me that he had some items that I could claim off of waivers, but if I did not claim them before the season was over, they'd lapse into free agency and some other organization might nab them. I claimed a GameCube and a bunch of games that way. Hooray for waivers!

- Lastly, please say a prayer or two for someone very close to me who is making a career change. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A tornado and some storm clouds on the field

Where to begin? Two games, one very hot day. The O-Royals played a double header today after last night's game was tornadoed out. (For the record, having to huddle in the basement together is a great way to get to know your neighbors.)

Brandon Duckworth made the start for Omaha, his second AAA appearance of his rehab assignment. After a not-so-spectacular showing last Wednesday that put his ERA at 22.50, Duckworth dominated the Albuquerque lineup. He struck out six over six full innings, walked only one, and gave up one run -- a solo homer in the 2nd. Sadly, the Omaha lineup wasn't able to pony up much help, and was down 1-0 when Duckworth left the game.

Omaha loaded the bases with one out in the 7th -- which was the last inning because it was a double-header, which means we have a 4th inning stretch and it's all on the line in the 7th. The Royals scored on a 2-out, bases-loaded fielding error on the Isotopes' 3rd baseman, but failed to bring in any more offense, so the game went into extras. Thad Markray surrendered 4 runs in the top half of the frame, and that was pretty much the end of things for game one.

The good thing, if there is any such thing, about a 10:35 a.m. game is that not much is expected of the promotions team, so I got to listen in on a lot of great pitcher-to-catcher chat between innings. In spite of all my dugout time, that kind of thing is something I rarely get to hear, so it was fascinating to hear how Paul Phillps thought Duckworth was handling things. (For the record, he thought Duckworth was being too timid on first pitches, and if he'd just have faith in himself and pitch the ball, it would move the way it needed to and Duckworth would get ahead of batters. Turns out he was very right.)

Minor League Baseball doesn't count attendance for each game separately, so they only posted that information for game 2. But I would guess that the attendance for this morning's first game was somewhere around...150. Sigh. Allegedly there were about 3100 in attendance for the second one, or maybe that was a combined total. But it was a pretty darn small crowd for a while. A small, warm crowd, and not warm like a teddy bear. Warm was easily 95 degrees out, and all those great clouds from yesterday were NOT there today. I might be a little burned.

Game 2...Man, what a weird one. John Thomson got the start as part of his rehab process. It wasn't pretty, as he gave up eight runs over 3.1 innings, including a grand slam in the 1st. He also hit two batters. Poor Justin Huber got hit by a pitch in each game, and when he was hit to lead off the 4th inning, home plate umpire Delfin Colon warned both dugouts. Mike Jerschele, who for the record is a great fighter, questioned why on earth the Colon thought Thomson had hit those batters on purpose. Colon responded by ejecting Jersch, which prompted Craig Brazell to come out from the on-deck circle and fight the good fight for his manager. Well good golly, that just about sparked a bench-clearing brawl. That's one of the few things left on my list of basebally things I dream of seeing, but it did not happen today.

A few innings later, Thomson was still running his mouth the umpiring crew. The threat of ejection didn't bother him, as he had already come out of the game. It was kind of awkward to be around grown men bickering like that, and a little bit scary too. Thomson is a mean-looking fellow. However, I was totally on his side, as there's no reason in frozen hell that he would have hit those guys on purpose -- he's trying to rehabilitate himself, for Pete's sake! Doesn't it stand to reason that he would want to locate all of his pitches accurately?

Gads. Whatever. It's all over, the 'Topes are leaving town, and the Royals can move on with the rest of their season.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


FIRST: Not in last place! I'd like to wish the last-place Chicago White Sox for losing seven straight to get to where they are now...which is last. Which the Royals are not. See?

SECOND: I forgot to write down that I'm supposed to work today. Whoopsie! That means that, by the time the season is over, I will have worked thirteen straight games. Not sure how that fits in with the concept of resting my still-VERY-sore ankle...But I'm fine with it. I hate not working a game, because when I come back I always feel out of the loop. The season is about to end, and that makes me horrifically sad.

THIRD: Matt Wright gave up a bunch of home runs last night (a la Scott Elarton) in Omaha's 11-4 loss to Albuquerque. Wright is still the best starting pitcher on the Omaha staff, though, which is crazy because when you stop to think about it, Omaha's starting rotation is awfully good.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is an undeserved win still a win?

Extra innings, a walk-off home run. The fat lady sings, it's really over; the home crowd goes home happy. That's how it should work, right?

But after Chris Lubanski lofted a homer against Iowa reliever Neal Cotts in the 11th last night, I did not feel the high that a fan should feel after such a win. Check out the 10th inning log from last night's game. The bases were loaded at the time, and there was one out. Iowa had a 1-run lead.
* Mike Aviles grounds into a force out, second baseman Carlos Rojas to shortstop Joseph Simokaitis. Fernando Cortez scores. Shane Costa to 3rd. Angel Berroa out at 2nd. Mike Aviles to 1st.
* On-field Delay.

That "on-field delay" was when the Iowa coaches and players argued -- correctly -- that Aviles was out at first, so that play should have been a DP to end the inning and the game.

As a Royals fan, I suppose I should be OK with iffy calls of "safe at 1st." But I felt really, really weird about dressing as a fat lady and singing about a Royals victory -- and not just because I was singing in front of thousands dressed as a portly Viking lady. Even in that moment, right after that Cotts pitch landed on the bleachers side of the outfield fence, when I should have felt as high on baseball as a fan could possibly feel....I didn't. Instead, I felt bad for the Iowa pitching staff who labored to hold Omaha to an admittedly small number of runs but still got pegged with a loss. And for the Cubbies fans, who saw a great game with a questionable ending brought by a mistake made by a very much human umpire. And for that umpire, who probably knew as soon as he bellowed "Safe!" that that was probably not the right call.

(Side note: I also felt terrified that I would be impaled by a chair, as a very angry Neal Cotts was venting his frustration about 13 feet from where I stood. The chair ended up halfway down the tunnel behind the dugout.)

What is the ethical way for a good fan to deal with an ill-gotten win? The Royals did provide a lot to celebrate: Luke Hochevar was fantastic (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 6 SO); Craig Brazell has found his home run stroke again; Lubanski finally hit that homer that he tries so hard for every swing; Neal Musser, though he did allow an earned run (only his 2nd allowed on the season, his ERA is now a lofty .36), pitched a terrific 2 innings and hit 100 on the stadium radar. Plus it was dollar beer night. But I still don't feel like we won it.

I understand that umpires are human; they make mistakes and the teams on the field are to play the game as though those mistakes were actually the right calls. That is a part of the game, and that humanity is a huge part of what makes baseball so appealing. The lack of instant replay in umpiring makes baseball umps more human than officials in any other sport. A bad call can be -- and often is -- the deciding factor in a deadlocked game. I know all this, and yet I feel almost squeamish about accepting Omaha's win yesterday.

(Side note, on which I'm actually going to end this blog: Some Iowa player -- I don't know who he was because he had a t-shirt on over his jersey -- was running his mouth to the first base umpire after the Aviles call. This player said, "There's a reason you're in Triple-A!" Yeah, guy. You clearly have room to talk there, as you're way too good for the Minor Lea--oh wait, you're in AAA too. Good job, guy.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Joe Posnanski is my favorite

One of the hardest things about being away from my house, and consequently my computer, for a couple of days is trying to catch up on all my favorite blogs and forums (forii? forctopodes? Hi Mom!). The hardest one up on which to catch is Joe Posnanski, as he is prolific and eloquent. He also goes off on delightful tangents, such as this one against Jason LaRue in the middle of a post about Pedro Feliz. This is fantastic stuff, as I also don't understand why LaRue plays, ever. (Well, okay, he calls a good game, but we'd be much better off DHing for him and having our pitchers hit!)

Bill James has often said that if we didn’t keep trustworthy offensive numbers, we would likely not be able to tell much difference between a .300 hitter and a .275 hitter, a 25 homer guy and a 20 homer guy, a 100 RBI guy and an 80 RBI guy and so on. I think this is true, though I would say there are exceptions here – I do think that, in a very short period of time, we would realize that Jason LaRue can’t hit.

Tangent: This year, in 127 at-bats, LaRue is hitting .157. That would be a 1 followed by a 5 followed by a 7. Now, many people have wondered why LaRue keeps playing on a fairly regular basis, and I don’t have a particularly intelligent answer for this; I do have a theory. I think it may have something to do with the regret the Royals feel for not going into the National League a few years ago when they had a chance. Since they cannot have their pitchers hit, they are doing the next best thing.

Two other points about LaRue:

1. He hit .194 in 191 at-bats last year. So that means that in his last 318 at-bats, LaRue is hitting .179. The last guy to get 300 at-bats in ONE season and hit that badly … the great Rob Deer in 1991. He hit .179 in 448 at-bats. Deer did bang 25 homers (13 more than LaRue) and walk 89 times (50 more than Larue). Before that, you have to go back to 1974.

2. Tony La Russa made big news by hitting his pitcher eighth. So where was the national media when Buddy Bell hit LaRue seventh?

Everyone needs to bookmark The Soul Of Baseball (the blog) and buy The Soul of Baseball (the book). Also, keep tabs on what JoePo writes in the KC Star, like this lovely, hope-filled piece from yesterday, which was good to keep in mind last night as KC left the bases loaded in the 8th inning.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

O-Royals cruise past I-Cubbies

Tonight was one of those nights where it felt good to be a baseball fan. Actually it was more than good; it felt like the most correct thing I could possibly do with my life. I suppose it was hot outside in Omaha, but if it was I didn't notice. A strong breeze kept everyone cool, and that relief -- the first such relief after a sweltering weekend -- put everyone in a relaxed, happy mood.

It was in that laid-back atmosphere that Omaha welcomed its fans into the year's final homestand with a spectacular game. Billy Buckner started the night by pitching 2.1 perfect innings until Nebraska alum Joe Simokaitis broke it up with a single.

The rest of the game -- a 2-0 Omaha win -- was pretty fast paced, although each team loaded the bases a time or two. Omaha's runs came in on a couple of singles, a sacrifice, and an error on the Iowa infield. It's good to see them score runs that way; I have never become comfortable with their reliance on the long ball to bring home the runs. Maybe it's because no team I've ever liked has had a power lineup.

Buckner ended up pitching seven full scoreless innings, striking out 4 and walking just one. Because I was working (if you can call what I do "work") I didn't get to pay perfectly close attention to the action but I definitely got the impression that Buckner was owning the Iowa offense. I guess he did own them, because he got through those 7 innings with only 95 pitches. Kenny Ray took over to start the 8th inning, but only faced 3 batters before giving way to the dominant Neal Musser. I have no idea why Ray came out of the game, but I very much hope it was a matchup thing and not an injury thing. Musser closed out the game in fine form, striking out three and walking none. He did give up one hit, a single to start the 9th, but that runner was erased in a double play a moment later.

Tonight's game took just 2:08, the pitching was awfully good on both sides, and the weather was beautiful. I'd be the world's most selfish woman if I dared ask for more.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weddings make fans miss baseball

Only a few special things could ever, EVER take the place of baseball in my life for any amount of time. As you can tell by the lack of posts lately, one of those things has come up. My brother Ryan got married on Saturday (YAY!!!!) so I was occupied for much of the week with bridesmaidly duties and with spending time with my parents and little brother, whom I don't get to see nearly enough.

Because of the wedding, and the visiting family members, I have missed a lot of Royals baseball. I was also blessed to miss Barry Bonds' record-tying and -breaking homers, so in that respect I'd like to thank Ryan and Haley for having their wedding this weekend.

Just a few quick notes, because I still have some wedding business to attend to (all the tuxedos have magically appeared at my place, so I suppose I should do something with them other than let them sit on the dining room tables).

- Someone at finally came out and mentioned Matt Wright as someone who should/will see time in the Majors this season (Toward the end of the article). He has quietly been the best starting pitcher on Omaha's staff all season, and it's about damn time he gets some recognition.

- Neal Musser is SO the real deal. Look at his ERA. Now look at his IP. Yes, he has pitched 46.2 innings, and yes, his ERA is 0.19. He finally gave up one earned run yesterday. I never mentioned his 0.00 ERA before, because I knew that as soon as I mentioned it, he'd give up like 15 earned runs in one inning, and it would be my fault.

- I'm very much looking forward to watching KC tonight. It will be the first time in longer than I can remember that I'll have had the opportunity to watch a game. I've missed some great ones in the last week or so, and I feel SO out of the loop. Don't call me tonight if it's not about Royals baseball. I need this game.

- Lastly, and most importantly, congratulations to my brother Ryan and his new wife, Haley. If I had hours to sit here and type, I could fill every minute with gushing about how wonderful they are, and what an inspiration they are as a couple and as individuals to their friends and family. I do not have hours to do this, I only have seconds, so I will just say congratulations and God bless!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A-rod's 500th

The bottom of the 1st inning finally ended in Kyle Davies' first start for Kansas City. He has already given up a single, a double, a triple, and a home run that was kind of a big deal for the Yankees. It's 4-0 New York, and Davies has thrown 34 pitches. I guess what I'm bitterly trying to say is...

Welcome to the team, Kyle?

I'm glad that A-Rod got #500 at home. I find it sad when an athlete or a whole team accomplishes something great in someone else's ballpark. If a player is going to reach a lofty and impressive goal, he should have the luxury of his home crowd right there to support him. I don't like A-Rod and you should know I hate the Yankees, but I'm not stupid -- I know he's talented. And I know that statement was a gross understatement. He's not some aging DH who is celebrating his 40th birthday along with his 500th home run. The man just turned 32; he has a ton of good baseball left in him and will eventually become the all-time home run king. I'm okay with that.

At first I was a bit miffed when Rodriguez stood still in the batter's box after making contact with what turned out to be his home run ball. Then I realized he has hit a few of those in his career and was probably sure that the ball had the distance, and was just waiting to see if it would stay fair. For once in my life, I will forgive a lack of hustle, because baseball has the tendency to reduce grown men into young boys who want to stand and watch the highlight-reel long balls just like everybody else. I suppose Rodriguez deserved to watch this particular ball leave the park from the best seat in the house.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Craig Brazell is like a little kid

I've got to run off to watch some Prison Break with the Gentleman Friend, but tomorrow I'll tell a tale of how O-Royals DH-and-sometimes-unfortunately-1B Craig Brazell is like a 10-year-old kid.

P.S. If you've EVER worked in a prison, or if you know ANYTHING about prisons, don't watch Prison Break. I nitpick it constantly for all its erroneous procedures regarding prison operations. And I'm just a kid!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

So many things

So many things to cover today! We have Buddy bell stepping down as Royals manager, the bridge collapse in Minneapolis (and the subsequent game and groundbreaking postponement), Reggie Sanders' future, Gathright and Braun getting called up, Shealy being optioned to triple-A, and KC tying the White Sox again.

I must apologize for not doing this all last night, but a migraine hit me out of nowhere and the thought of spending any time staring at a computer screen was enough to make me ill. So here we go:

Buddy Bell resigning as KC skipper

Royals manager Buddy Bell announced yesterday afternoon that he's stepping down at the end of this season. He said that after his scare with throat cancer last year, his priorities have shifted, and the choice between staying with the team or being with his family more was a "no-brainer."

I'm glad he's staying the rest of the season. It might give the players some extra motivation to work hard for him, knowing their games with him are limited so they should make each game a great one. Also, Dayton Moore and company will have oodles of time to figure out who will succeed Bell. My money is on Billy Doran or Frank White. White did a fabulous job with Wichita last season, which shows that he's great with younger players. Given that most members of the KC roster could be considered "younger players," White seems like a good choice. However, I would also be perfectly okay with it if Doran was chosen for the job.

Also, in the article, Bell jokingly wondered if the journalists present would not report this story until today so that his daughter Traci, who has Down's Syndrome, could be prepared to hear the news. I like to think that my waiting to blog about this was just honoring Bell's wishes.

Minneapolis bridge collapses

The Associated Press has reported that the death toll, which was at 7 last night, has been lowered to 4 this morning.

Last night's O-Royals game was delayed a bit because of rain, so the video guys put the RSTN telecast on the video board. That was how the Omaha players, staff, and fans learned about both the bridge collapse and Bell's announcement. I guess I'm not used to seeing news of a tragedy (the bridge, not Bell) on such a large screen, but I'd like to not do it again.

I didn't realize until this morning that the reason KC and Minnesota still played last night's game was actually traffic-related. It makes perfect sense, though, to not send over 20,000 vehicles back on to the roadway and potentially hinder rescue efforts. That was good thinking.

Normally if a Royals game was postponed for any reason at all, I'd be rather upset. I mean, what am I to do in a given day if I don't have my Royals? But today's postponement, I understand, and I will continue to pray for the rescue workers, the families who don't know where their loved ones are, those awaiting rescue, and those who have died. An event like this is horrifying, especially when it's so random and so sudden.

Reggie Sanders questions his future

Another thing the O-Royals crowd saw in the RSTN telecast was the list of transactions made yesterday. Leading this list in significance (I think) was Reggie Sanders' being placed on the disabled list again for his left hamstring. The poor man now has to figure out if this is the end for him.

I thought for sure Sanders would have been traded and Joey Gathright would have been called up to take his place, but now that this hamstring injury has come to light, it's clear he wouldn't have passed the required pre-trade physical. Either way, Gathright is now back in the majors, and probably will be for the rest of the season.

Too bad for Sanders, though. I hope he can still find some way to play more. He deserves the opportunity to decide for himself when his career should end so he can prepare himself for that. To have a stupid hamstring take away that decision is awfully sad.

Shealy optioned to Omaha

Ryan Shealy's bat has been heating up in his last 10 or so games in his rehab stint with the Omaha Royals, but it was announced yesterday that he's been optioned to Omaha. Though this move is kind of unfortunate for Shealy, it makes perfect sense to me. It's been pretty clear lately that having Ross Gload in the lineup every day is a Good Idea. But if Shealy were called back up to the big-league club, then Gload might have to DH some days, which would either take Billy Butler out of the lineup or force Bell to put him in on defense somewhere. (left field perhaps? But then where would Gahtright play?) As long as Gload's bat is as ridiculously effective as it has been lately, I see no reason to keep him out of the KC everyday lineup. His defense is more than adequate, and he's exciting to watch. Why take that away?

Tied for non-last once again!
I'd like to personally thank the Yankees at this time for hitting ludicrous number of home runs in the last few days to keep the White Sox from winning. The two teams are wrapping up their series right now, and this pains me greatly to say, but...

...go Yankees. Gross, now I have to go wash my mouth out with soap for saying such a dirty thing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Stats Rundown

I'm a little high on David DeJesus after his lovely catch last night against Torii Hunter, so here is a list of some categories in which DeJesus leads the Royals:
Games (105)
At bats (421)
Runs (75)
Hits (118)
Doubles (24)
Tied - Triples (6, along with Tony Pena Jr. and Mark Teahen)
Total bases (169)
Walks (44)
Hit by pitch (14 - leads the AL)

However, his inability to steal bases takes away that high a little bit, so here are some categories in which he does NOT lead the team:
Home runs (5)
RBI (2nd to Teahen, but DDJ
is a leadoff man)
Stolen bases (5)
Stolen base percentage: (55.6%)
OBP (.365)
Slugging percentage (.401)
Batting average (.280)

ROYALS TRIVIA QUESTION: Ryan Shealy, the KC first baseman who is currently rehabbing with the O-Royals, has struck out every ____ ABs in his time with the big-league club this season? (Answer at end of post, and bear in mind that I love Ryan Shealy and am not trying to bash him. It's just a random stats thing.)

Other important Royals stats:

Games behind the White Sox: 1
Games ahead of the Devil Rays (in case of a bizarre league restructuring which would put KC and TB in the same division): 3.5
Number of consecutive winning months KC has had: 2 (for the first time since June-July of 2003!)
MLB teams whose records are equal to or worse than KC: 7
Mustard wins: 20
Relish wins: 19
Ketchup wins: 16

TRIVIA ANSWER: 3.25, but Shealy's bat has warmed up some as he nears the end of his rehab assignment. In his last 10 games with Omaha, Shealy has 11 hits, including 3 doubles and 3 home runs for a .282 average. One of his homers was a grand slam over Colorado Springs on Monday.