Sunday, September 30, 2007

There's only one...

Well, my heart is a little heavy after the Royals' season ended in a loss to Cleveland, so I'd like to lighten the mood with a joke:

The New York Mets walk into a bar. They are free to go out and do as they please now, because they are not in the post season.


But seriously folks. The Mets concluded their late-season chokeshow with a big, big loss to Florida. Two and a half weeks ago, New York held a commanding lead in the NL East, and now they're heading home for the winter before October even starts. I would feel a little bit bad for them, except that they are one of my least favorite teams.

Meanwhile, in the still-undecided NL Wild Card race, Milwaukee is helping make my dreams come true, as they beat the barely-1st-place Padres 11-6. Colorado just hung on to beat Arizona 4-3, forcing a tie-breaking game with the Padres tomorrow. If they win that, I will look like a genius.

But if I look like a genius, I will be a very sad genius. Not sad that the Rockies are in the postseason, but sad because it will be 6 months before I get to see my Royals again (except for those in winter ball, plus spring training, and fan/player events). I still haven't heard exactly what Alex Gordon's injury was, but I hope the bouncing ball that hit his face stayed away from his eye and eye socket. I don't know a whole lot about Cleveland's Josh Barfield, but after Ryan and Denny reported that Barfield was the first to come to Gordon's aid after he was hit, I think I'm a fan.

Before today's game, I had a lot of wishes. Obviously I wanted a KC win. I hoped that Mike Sweeney would have a good day, and that if Mark "RS" Teahen got any at-bats, he'd do something splashy and memorable so that we (and he) could forget about some of the less attractive numbers he had at the plate this year: He struck out 127 times, and grounded into a team-high 23 double plays. His average was down about 5 points from last year. However, Teahen did a lot of good in his first season as an outfielder, and I hope fans can remember that when looking back on this season. In his 137 games this year, Teahen made only 6 errors, which really isn't bad for a guy playing an entirely new position. He had 17 outfield assists, which was 2nd only to Michael Cuddyer in the AL (he had 19).

Sweeney, regrettably, was 0-3 today. But the ovations he received from the crowd were really touching, and very loud -- I could hear them very well over the radio. I really wish I had gone through with potential plans to attend that game; how I would love to have been a part of the standing ovations that accompanied Sweeney's first AB and his curtain call after being replaced in the 7th. How adorable it must have been to see Sweeney running the bases with his two kids after the game!

I guess Sweeney's potential departure has distracted me from the fact that today was Buddy Bell's last game as the Royals manager. I'm completely OK with that. My negative feelings about his managerial skills aside, I do wish him the best. I hoped we could pull out one more win for Buddy, who managed the team through a lot of tumult in the front office and on the field.

I'd like to thank you all for your readership this season, and I hope you don't forget me over the offseason! I'll be complaining about trades again this year, and hopefully this winter's crop of acquisitions make me eat my words exactly the way Gil Meche did.

Off to do homework!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dreading a possible farewell

I touched on this idea in my earlier post, but Michael John Sweeney deserves his own post right now. I'm honestly a bit teary-eyed at the prospect of one of my all-time Royals heroes reaching the end of his Kansas City baseball career. I do not want to see him in any other uniform, and I do not want him to be done with baseball forever -- he loves the game too much for that.

Here's something from

Finale for captain? Mike Sweeney is scheduled to play first base on Sunday for the Royals.

"It's a wild feeling because I don't know if Sunday is going to be my last game as a Royal," Sweeney said. "There's a chance of it but there's a chance I could come back next year."

His five-year contract is up and he can become a free agent. He's played just 73 games this season because of injuries.

"My back, thank God, has held up since the middle of last year, so I think my new workout has helped that," Sweeney said. "This year's injury, the knee surgery, was just kind of a weird thing. So, if I'm healthy next year, I'd love to play first base and maybe DH or however the team could need me. I've always been willing to strap on the gear as a third catcher. But it all depends on what team and what role they want me in."

Sweeney has spent half of his 34 years in the Royals' organization and is interested in staying. General manager Dayton Moore has said only that the Royals will evaluate their options.

"The Royals don't owe me a thing. They've been more than fair with me," Sweeney said. "I'm going to see how Dayton and the Glass family weigh out the next month or two with the new manager and see how Billy [Butler] is doing at first base in winter ball, and I'll respect their decision whether they invite me back or not."

This came after Friday's game, for which Sweeney provided tickets for the first 500 military families to show up at The K. I suppose that if that was a goodbye gesture, it is perfectly fitting for a man who has done nothing but give, give, and give some more.

I will be checking more obsessively than usual this winter to make sure my team does not deal away my hero. I have no way of knowing how I'd react to that, and I don't want to figure that out right now, or ever.

I know that not all of you reading this feel the same way I do about Sweeney. There were times that I wasn't to sure what to think of him either. But I know now, and nothing could change my mind, that he is a professional athlete -- one of only a few -- who is worthy of admiration. His actions merit imitation in every regard. The amount of love that that man shows to his teammates, his God, his fans, and everyone else he encounters, has been an inspiration to me in ways to which I couldn't do justice. I can honestly say I'm a better person because of Sweeney's influence, and I know a few other Royals fans who can say the same. I hope he will be with us in '08 to touch the lives of the rest of the Royals Nation.

Football, football everywhere

For the first time in a while, I missed a Nebraska football home game. Instead, I spent some time in Omaha, spreading the joy of Maverick Mojo towels and hanging out with various pals. Nebraska beat Iowa State, and thank God for that, because if they had a repeat of last week's game I would find actual heads on actual pikes around campus, not just figurative ones.

The day was a ton of fun, but it made me miss some of the craziest college football games I have ever heard of. USC and Washington is still going on, but I'm pulling really hard for Washington. When you get right down to it, almost every game today was probably displayed as an "Upset Watch" at's scoreboard page. Check this out:

Colorado over #3 Oklahoma.
K-State over #7 Texas (again).
Maryland over #10 Rutgers.
Georgia Tech over #13 Clemson.
Florida State over #22 Alabama.

The day isn't even over, but already five different Top 25 teams have lost to unranked teams, the most outrageous of which was the Colorado win.

Hm. As I typed that list, USC scored again, making it 24-14. Hang in there, Huskies!

Quick gearshift:
How is tomorrow already the last game of the season? Wow, 2007 has gone by quickly! I know September has kind of sucked, but I'd like to remind each of you that the season has had its share of highlights (some of which I'll bring to you this coming week, as a way of easing myself in the offseason). In an unusual turn of events, Buddy Bell is actually going to let a September callup play by giving Luke Hochevar the start tomorrow after Jorge De La Rosa was scratched.

After tonight's 2-4 performance, Mike Sweeney's career batting average is 0.2996142306043720531504500642949. (Thanks to Brad for the heads-up on that!) Where exactly does MLB round for this kind of thing? I'd like for my Best Friend to hold a .300 career average going in to this offseason, just in case. Tomorrow might be his last game in a KC uniform, and as far as I know he'll get to play 1B instead of his usual DHing duties. I'd like to wish Mike the best of luck in tomorrow's game....just in case.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Royals come back despite Emil's best non-effort

In the dismal first inning of tonight’s KC win against the White Sox, Emil Brown showed me again why it is that I despise him. It was that ugly little “bloop double” (typing those two words together hurts my stomach) by A.J. Pierzynski. The ball dropped squarely in the middle of Brown, Alex Gordon, and Tony Pena Jr. That isn’t what angered me, because it was one of those kooky bloopers that is exactly where nobody can reach it. But Brown was the one who grabbed the ball after it hit the ground, and he lazily lobbed it to 2nd base, where Pierzynski was only safe by a narrow margin. Ryan LeFebvre and Paul Splittorff agreed with my mental assessment that an ounce of effort on Brown’s part would have made it an out at 2nd rather than a “bloop double.” That would have meant two fewer runs charged to Brian Bannister, 16 fewer pitches, and the opportunity to settle down and give some good innings.

Instead, Banny had to be taken out after giving up 5 runs in two thirds of an inning. It was by far his shortest big league outing, and probably completely snuffed out whatever hope was left in his Rookie of the Year race with Boston’s 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia. It was a pretty garbagey way to start tonight’s game, and a garbagey way for Bannister to finish off his season. And it all could have been prevented if Emil had bothered to put forth any glimmer of effort.

Brown should learn some things from Mark Teahen, who notched his 17th outfield assist of the year when he threw out Pierzynski at 2nd later in the game. Teahen hustled after the ball, and when he got to it, his back was to the infield so it seemed like A.J. had a safe double. But Teahen was the anti-Emil and made the out, which ties current Sox OF Jermaine Dye for most assists by a Royal in a season.

Speaking of Teahen, his baserunning in the 9th was phenomenal. It’s exactly what I want to see in a team. Same goes for scoring Pena from 2nd in the previous inning. Risk and effort on the basepaths is something that’s been lacking for the Royals for too long. When the leading thief on your team only has 14 steals, that strongly suggests the need for a little something extra from either your baserunners or your coaching style.

That first inning was the only bad thing about tonight. Once the KC offense got going, they never stopped, and I love that. The host of relief pitchers did a really admirable job as well, holding the Sox to zero runs and four hits after Bannister’s exit. Ryan Braun was particularly good, tossing 3.1 innings of shutout ball. That was his longest outing in a good long time, and he looked very confident and in control.

My Royals player of the game: This one is tough. I suppose Pena should get it, because at the time of his AB in the 8th, he was a triple shy of the cycle. He didn’t triple, but rather got another double to make it a 4-hit game with 9 total bases. But I would also like to consider Braun, who stifled the White Sox and kept the Royals in a game that could have easily turned into a hideous Chicago slugfest like we saw last week. I call it a tie.

This is something of which we’ve been pretty sure for a while, but now it seems official: Reggie Sanders will not be a Royal next year.

Over and out: Outfielder Reggie Sanders, who is traveling with the Royals on this last road trip, has spent most of the year on the disabled list and his season ended on Sept. 4 when he went on the 60-day DL.
Sanders, 39, has not decided to call it quits, though. He'll be a free agent and would like to play next season.
"It has to be correct -- a winning ballclub and closer to home," Sanders said.
Sanders lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., which would make the Arizona Diamondbacks seem like a possible spot. Sanders was with the D-backs in their World Series championship season of 2001.
He won't return to the Royals, his home for two seasons.
"I won't come back here," he said. "It's time."
Sanders said his left hamstring tear has healed and is in good shape. He played just 24 games this season, but batted .315.


...I've done it again.

Today, my "fun Royals fact" I shared with all who passed by my door was this:
"Brian MANnister is undefeated in Tuesday starts this season."

My bad.

Here are some more fun Royals facts that I did not find. By the way, this is my new favorite Royals blog.

This factoid was my favorite, as it sheds an ugly light on one of my least favorite Royals:

17 - Strikouts by Jason Smith this month….in 36 at-bats.

More to come later; the Royals are only in the 7th, and I don't want to say anything about a game in progress.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The difference between a close game and a good game

Nebraska – 41
Ball State – 40

My Husker player of the game: Sean Hill

Right after I complained to my neighbor about how Nebraska has not made many big plays this year, Hill came through with a pretty big catch for a ton of yards and a TD. I suppose I figured that Maurice Purify or Marlon Lucky would have the big game, but I would give the game ball to Hill.

And while I’m giving things away, I’ll also give some new jerseys to the Blackshirts. After the 1st quarter this morning, they demoted themselves from Black to deep green to various reds, oranges, and then pink. Ball State scoring 40 points was a laughable idea – until it actually happened. Therefore, my final assessment of what color jerseys the NU defense earned is…floral print. Really horrible grandmotherly, you-might-see-this-on-a-muumuu floral.

Being ranked was fun while it lasted. If the voters only assessed Nebraska’s offense, the team might stay in the top 25. But since the defense was so overpoweringly horrible, it’s likely that the Huskers will be as far from the top 25 as Ball State was coming in to today.

It’s odd that I feel this bad about a win, but the thing about growing up a Husker fan in the 1990s was that perfection was never too much to expect. Seeing less than perfection is becoming sadly normal for this generation of Huskers, but I won’t stand for it. I haven’t listened to any fans’ reactions on the radio yet this evening, but I’m guessing a lot of people will call for the immediate decapitation (or at least firing) of Kevin Cosgrove, our current defensive coordinator. This is Nebraska, where we can get pissed off and fire someone after their performance in a win.

Also...Go Big Red? (NSFW)

Oh dear...
Back to baseball for a moment, as it appears the Royals have acquired another 1B/DH. Why?!? This makes me feel unsure about Mike Sweeney's future here, and I don't like it at all.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Sorry for my lack of posting lately! Being a student is LAME.

Anyway, I return with a prediction for the NL Wild Card. My pick is...

Colorado. Seriously, they could do it. If you're the night-owl type, or actually on the west coast, check out the Rockies vs. Padres tonight. The Pads currently lead the NL WC race by 2.5 games over the Phillies and 4.5 games over Colorado. If the Rockies can come through in a big way in this series against San Diego, they can lock up the NL Wild Card race.

So there ya go. I'll either look like an idiot or a genius in 10 days when the regular season is said and done. If it's the former, I'm completely used to it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Winners or wieners?

The Royals have NOT been giving me much about which to smile lately. However, this article really made me giggle. David DeJesus, Mark Teahen, and Tony Pena Jr. suited up in wiener costumes for a KC commercial for Spring '08.

I loved this bit:
All three players volunteered their services for the big production.

"You don't get any overtime," DeJesus said. "We do it just for love of the game."

For the record, I've always called myself a mustard fan, simply because one of my brothers roots for relish and another for ketchup, so I chose mustard to avoid conflict. But if DeJesus was ketchup, I'm all about it. Move over, mustard!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Score first; it works

After tonight's delightful win over the suddenly-last-place-again White Sox, the "Voice of the Burlington Bees," Randy Wehofer, mentioned that scoring first is a tried-and-true method for winning baseball games. Fortunately, he didn't word it that way, because if he had, I might have smacked him with a Big Dictionary O' Cliches.

Anyhoodle, I understood that the team who scores first generally walks off the field with a win, but I wanted to know how often, because I'm a silly-face with lots of studying to procrastinate. So I checked this bit of conventional baseball wisdom against the Royals' 2007 season so far (including tonight, where KC scored first and did indeed win).

In games where Kansas City scores first, they are 44-18, or a .710 WPC. Not too shabby. Royals opponents are 66-21 (give or take 1, because apparently I missed one somewhere) or a .759 WPC when they (the opponents) score first.

I'm going to try to extrapolate something from this, because I did the schedule-searching, so I should do something with it, no? Here's what I see:

1) The obvious conclusion: scoring first wins ballgames.
2) These number show that starting pitching had better be Dayton Moore's super-priority again this offseason. The bullpen has held up pretty respectably all season, so as long as starters don't yield runs to open ballgames, things should improve, right?
3) The Royals might not be the best team to explore when looking for numbers like this, because lets face it, they lose a lot. I think that's why I included number of wins and losses by opponents when they strike first.
4) The Royals came from behind to win more often than they blew early leads. (21 and 18, respectively.) It's a narrow margin, but it might be something, as Royals teams of the past few years are pretty famous for lying down and accepting loss once they fall behind.
5) If I'm dumb enough to do this at the end of next season, I hope to not have to make so many tally marks under the "KC loss..." headers on my scratch paper (yeah, scratch paper; I'm old school like that).

A classmate saw me unfurl a couple pages of complicated-looking tables of stats from Baseball Prospectus today, and asked what kind of crazy class required all those scary numbers. He didn't understand why I would own and study something like that for fun. Some people, let me tell you...

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Seriously, Buddy Bell? You pinch-hit Jason Smith for...anyone?!? I wouldn't PH Jason Smith for my next-door-neighbor's grandmother! The flyout he earned KC was actually a gift; I thought for sure he would ground into a double play.

Also, I would have left Bannister in for the 7th. The more time goes on, the more I'm glad we're getting a new manager next season.

On a happier (or maybe not; we'll see tonight) note, the day of Nebraska vs. USC has come. For those of you who will be watching College GameDay, please take note of the fact that Nebraska students will be very purposefully ignoring Kirk Herbstriet.

Sunday will probably be a college football day, unless I die in a riot after Nebraska upsets USC. (You heard it here first!)

Friday, September 14, 2007

This post brought to you by the letter B

Brian Bannister is the Best Bargain in Baseball.

The last time I was this excited to watch Brian Bannister pitch, it was Independence Day and I was actually going to be at the game - a sad rarity for me. I was pumped to see Banny pitch in person again, as I had thoroughly enjoyed watching him play at the triple-A level. On that day, he got rocked for four runs in the first inning, and KC was never able to come back. Sad story, I know, but the worst that came of it was a grumpy Minda.

This time around, the implications for Bannister and all of Royals Nation are much greater. If Banny has an "off night" or even one "off inning" against C.C. Sabathia and the rest of the Tribe tonight, he could be dropped out of contention for AL Rookie of the Year honors. On the other hand, if he pitches in his best form, many more people will take notice of him as a legitimate contender. With Cleveland looking to hang on to their lead in the AL Central, people will be paying attention to their every game. So it stands to reason that if Bannister holds his own against Sabathia, then people -- even those at ESPN who HATE to acknowledge the Royals in any positive way, ever -- will pay attention to Bannister too.

Bannister, by the way, could be the Royals' best bargain in at least the last decade. Compare his season at his $380,000 salary to Daisuke Matsuzaka's similar season at his ludicrous $52 million for 6 years (approx $8.6 million per year).

12-8 on a losing team
3.46 ERA
32 games
191.1 innings pitched

14-12 even with the loaded Red Sox lineup behind him
4.44 ERA
29 games
184.1 IP

Wouldn't it be fun if salary were a predictor of a player's performance? If it were, and if Bannister was paid as much as Dice-K, then my pseudo-scientific calculations tell me that Bannister would have zero losses, and would not have given up a run (earned or otherwise) all season. But I'd rather believe that Bannister is as amazing as he is because he's smart, talented and hard-working; not because of what he gets paid. All I know for sure is, I'm really excited to watch tonight's game...having a day off yesterday felt like an ETERNITY.

P.S. All this talk about Bannister is fueled by my desire to see him named AL RoY. He's my favorite Royals pitcher and I'd love to see him get some national recognition for his awesomeness.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gil Meche wins, and Husker nation waits

I could have taken a test online while I listened to the Royals beat the Twins, but I decided three things:
1) The game would divide my attention too far away from the test*,
2) The test would take my attention too far away from the game, and
3) I'd rather fiddle with Gil Meche-related numbers.

It's not a secret that the Royals haven't scored many runs behind Meche this season. I noticed it back in April, and then there was a stretch in late May/early June where the team gave Gil a total of two runs in three starts. It's also not a secret that Meche hasn't won in a while, with his last win (prior to this afternoon's delicious victory) coming on July 20. That's an astonishing amount of time for a team's number one guy to go without a win, but the offensive numbers Kansas City put up behind Meche in that time span are quite telling: they only scored 2.3 runs per game in those nine straight losses. On the other hand, in all games this season that KC has won and Gil has started (not necessarily all Meche wins, but rather Meche starts), that average is 6.2.

I realize that this statistic does not factor in at all the pitcher himself. I know he has had a few rough outings this year, like his last start where his own two errors pretty much cost the Royals, and Meche himself, the win. And it also seems pretty obvious; the team scores more runs, the pitcher has better odds of winning. But I find it interesting how wide a gap there has been all season between KC run production in Meche's starts where KC wins, and run production in Meche starts that end in a loss.

As I mentioned, in games in which Meche starts and the Royals end up winning, KC is averaging 6.2 runs. But in Meche starts that end in losses, the average is drastically lower, at 2.5.

Today's Royals win felt fantastic. I realized this morning that I had forgotten what habitually losing felt like -- it's painful, and I get pretty mopey. My attitude, like that of many other good KC fans, has shifted noticeably. I expect wins now. Losing no longer feels so 'normal;'it sucks. I find it encouraging that the 7-game losing streak that just ended for the Royals was tied for the 2nd-longest of the season, because I still have streaks of 17 and even 19 games pretty fresh in my mind from the last few seasons. And most of you know this already, but today's win absolutely guarantees that KC will not lose 100 this year; that shameful reign is over.

One surprise that came out of the sweep by the Yankees was Neal Musser breaking his hand. When I read the headline, I thought for sure they were talking about the wrong guy. The Neal Musser I know is a very gentle human being, and wouldn't lash out like that. Then again, the Neal Musser I know dominated every batter he faced in AAA, and never gave up any runs about which to be angry.

And now, the previously promised shift into Husker football.
It has been said that Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller has only two speeds: walk and kill. This morning, he was irritatingly stuck on "walk" right in front of me while I was trying to hurry to class. Had it been anyone else on the UNL campus, I may have tried to worm my way around him and hustle on past, or maybe offered a verbal chastisement for walking so slowly (perhaps a "Boo! Boring! Walk faster!"). But Keller could probably crush my head with his bare hands, so I resigned myself to walking at his pace for a while. Besides, he may have been mentally preparing for this Saturday's big game against USC, and I do not want to risk doing anything to mess that up.

The anticipation around campus for the Nebraska/USC game has been intense. I don't think I've been this excited about a football game since Nebraska played Oklahoma in 2001. But it's crazy: all I have to say to any of my friends is, "Saturday!" and they will squeal with some sort of delight I don't think I can safely categorize. I'll be there, so look for me on ESPN!

* Hi Mom, don't worry! I'll get the test done!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I had some thoughts about Kansas City's struggles over the last few days, some forecasts for the 2008 Omaha Royals, the Patriots allegedly cheating by spying on Jets' sideline. But today, no matter what happens with the Royals/Twins game, and no matter what other thoughts I've had to write, this space is to serve one very important purpose:


It's 9/11. Please remember all the ones who are no longer with us, whether they were office workers just getting through a regular Tuesday in the WTC, firefighters responding to the horrific scene, those on United flight 93, those in the Pentagon, or U.S. soldiers who have perished in the war against terrorist bastards since then.

Too often, people refer to 9/11 as a yardstick by which to measure how long the wait time at major airports are. This day, the worst tragedy in U.S. history, has been trivialized to the point where people roll their eyes when they talk about what a pain in the ass their lives have become since then. More security at airports? What a hardship! Blame 9/11. More rules at the football stadium? How annoying; blame 9/11. This needs to stop; let's all try and remember what that day felt like, and the fact that for once, people could put their petty differences aside and help each other, love each other.


the victims (source)

Monday, September 10, 2007

A bit

My goodness, but it has been a while since I've written here!

I try to be a ray of optimistic sunshine, but when my Royals lose five straight they leave me with little to say. I have to take some advice from the greatest character from Bambi (Thumper!)..."If ya can't say nothin' nice, don't say anything at all!"

Well, that and I've been pretending to do homework. But I'm back now, and I'm trying to think of good things to think and say about my Royals.

Luke Hochevar might have been the one and only good thing about the series with the Yankees that has thankfully ended. If I never had to see another KC game against New York, that would be fantastic.

A lot of people like to ask me why I hate the Yankees. I'm not great at listing concrete reasons, because as most of you know, I'm an idiot. But the KC Star has been very helpful recently in outlining the historic reasons why every self-respecting Royals fan, or any fan of real baseball, should feel a deep hatred for the Evil Empire. Here's one from Sam Mellinger, and one from the great Joe Posnanski.

- David DeJesus has just claimed sole possession of the Royals record for most Hit By Pitch in one season with 19.

- I love Baseball Almanac, but I'm bitter at them for being so interesting and eating large chunks of my time. I wasted away a few hours this afternoon on pages like this list of baseball lists. It started when I was looking for cool quotes to share with my Bible study.

- Blogger is having a planned outage in 3 minutes, so I must go.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

O-Royals wrapup, and Bannister for RoY

- Is it just me, or were the Omaha Royals really, really good this year? I talked to a lot of different types of people in Omaha this summer, and it seems like most people had no idea what the O-Royals were doing. People still see them -- and the Royals organization in general -- as some kind of joke. It felt like those of us who were at Rosenblatt every night were the only ones who realized what was going on.

The team finished at over .500 with a record of 73-71. Though they had major issues on the road (especially in June when their House was occupied by the College World Series), they posted a fantastic record of 45-27 at home.

And what a shame; those who weren't in on this fun year at the 'Blatt may never know this team that made me fall in love with AAA baseball. My e-friend Micah touched on this idea in her blog, and I've thought about it quite a bit myself. It's hard to think about right now, but I know that a lot of the guys I saw every day in Omaha are not going to be around anymore when I go back for another season as a promotions chick there. Some should be in the Majors, and some will have been traded. I don't know if I necessarily want a whole new crop of players; I rather liked the ones we had!

Take, for example, Mike Aviles. He should be in the Majors right now. And he's under the impression that the club doesn't like him. He should be with an organization that will give him a shot, and as far as I know he'll be a free agent this winter so he likely won't be around. How sad. Mikey batted around .300 for the whole season at Omaha, including 17 homers, and knocked in 77 RBI. I know I'm not the only person who thinks he's too good for the Minors; I've heard people who know baseball far better than I do say that Aviles should be in a KC uniform, not an Omaha one.

Speaking of people who were snubbed in this round of September callups, why won't KC give Matt Wright the chance to appear in the bigs for a while? Actually...never mind. Now that I really look at his numbers, I see how much he struggled in the 2nd half, although I still think he was an underrated part of an excellent Omaha rotation. He's the guy who can rack up strikeouts the way most Royals pitchers haven't been able to do the last few years.

I guess now is as good a time as any to finally share some highlights from the O-Royals 2007 home season, since Aviles and Wright each figured prominently in several of them. In no particular order:

April 29: Gathright's flight
No one has ever questioned the idea that Joey Gathright is fast. The sky is blue, Shaq is tall, Joey Gathright is fast. But on April 29, a hot Sunday afternoon, Gath showed that he's beyond fast; he's inhuman. Omaha had won three in a row against the Nashville Sounds, and was looking for a 4-game sweep. Omaha was down by one in the bottom of the 9th, and Gathright had made his way to second base with one out. Shane Costa hit a fly ball to medium-depth right-center that would have moved most runners to third, and...Joey scored. From 2nd. Center fielder Callix Crabbe (one of my favorite MiLB names of the year) made a pretty decent throw, but no outfielder's arm could stand up to a runner whose speed rivals that of light. Omaha went on to win that game in extras on a walk-off home run by Justin Huber. (OK, so that one was like 2 highlights in one. It was a good game to cap off a great series.)

July 14: 15 innings
I should have known better than to make plans around the O-Royals. I take full responsibility for this game going as long as it did. For whatever reason, this game against the Iowa Cubs went into extras in a 4-all tie. In the top of the 10th, Iowa had a bit of offense going, but Mike Aviles flashed some fantastic leather to start a double play to end that. The pitchers on both sides were impressive until the 14th, when Iowa got a runner on again with one out. Again it was Aviles with the heroic double play to keep it tied for the Royals. In a game that long, the crowd's energy waxes and wanes. In the 9th, everyone is excited, hoping their team can walk off with the win. In the 10th through 14th or so, people start getting tired. But when Omaha got some baserunners going in the fifteenth inning, the Rosenblatt crowd got excited again. Omaha loaded the bases for -- guess who! -- Mike Aviles. He pushed another single to center field to bring home the winning run.

July 2: The Wright Stuff
Matt Wright came in to relieve a rehabbing John Bale after a few innings against the Oklahoma RedHawks. During the 6th and 7th innings, some vocal regular fans started calling for Wright to come out of the game. Matty's response? He struck out the side in the 15 pitches.

August 3-4: The innings-eaters
Omaha picked up two wins in a 4-game series against the Las Vegas 51s before Billy Buckner took the mound for Game 3. The Vegas number 9 hitter had three hits, but none of the other 51s could seem to figure Buckner out. In 8.1 innings, Billy shut them out before coming out in favor of Jason Shiell. Shiell didn't give up any runs either, and I went home excited that I had almost seen one of our guys throw a complete game shutout. The next night, Ben Hendrickson gave me even more to be excited about, as he made it all the way for a CG shutout. In Buckner's almost-all-the-way game, he gave up six hits and walked just one. Hendrickson didn't walk anyone in his game, and only gave up 4 hits. It was a beautiful two days of baseball.

All season: Neal Musser
Neal Musser is a highlight. He's The Guy; the one we could always count on to get anyone and everyone OUT. In 55.1 innings, Musser gave up three earned runs.

Yes. That was three earned runs all season.

There were probably more highlights from this O-Royals season. Aviles and Craig Brazell each had their crazy hot streaks where they each hit multiple homers per game. We had all those extra-inning games, most of which were wins. Royals batters up and down the lineup came up with big hits all the time. Shane Costa had a 19-game hitting streak, and a stretch where he reached base in 30+ games at home. Gathright had all his steals. Mike Jerschele fought umpires and got ejected a bunch. There was that closing weekend with all the crazy extra innings and home run heroics. All told, the O-Royals gave us a hell of a season, and I'm sad it's over.

This might be a good time to point out that the 2008 O-Royals schedule is now available; Opening Day is April 3. KC Royals news
It's Banny Time!
People have been talking pretty seriously about my favorite, Brian Bannister, as AL Rookie of the Year.
In this Royals Notes, Connor Nicholl shares some great numbers about Bannister as compared with Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Brian Bannister continues to make a strong case for American League Rookie of the Year honors. After he tossed eight innings of one-run ball Sunday afternoon, Bannister ranks first in rookie ERA (3.16) and trails Daisuke Matsuzaka by one in wins (12).

By one measure, at least, Bannister is currently the best rookie in the American League. According to Baseball Prospectus' Value of Replacement Player (VORP statistic), Bannister stands at 41.9, slightly ahead of Matsuzaka's 41.2.

The numbers alone are pretty telling, especially considering that Banny has that many wins without having worked a full MLB season like Dice-K has. Bannister also doesn't have the luxury of the Boston lineup batting behind him. Furthermore, Dice-K is boring. For all the hype he received in the offseason, watching Dice-K pitch is sure a letdown. He averages about 14 years between pitches, whereas MANnister (as my brothers and I like to call him) works quickly and is easily the most exciting pitcher I've ever watched. Let's keep an eyeball out for this most worthy candidate for the RoY honor. (Not to be confused with the "ROY" in this commercial!)

Every night before I go to bed, I update two stats on the whiteboard in my dorm room: the number of teams who have worse records than KC, and the number of games KC is ahead of the White Sox. Last night's numbers are 9 and 4. Yay?