Monday, March 31, 2008


Royals win! Royals win! Wooooooooo!

I didn't get to watch all of the game, around one regular class and one test*, but I saw enough to completely disagree with the TV crew's assessment that Pena is the player of the game. I give that honor to Leo Nunez, definitely. He was indescribably impressive with his two scoreless innings.

*one other class existed in theory, but my attendance was...well, nonexistent in reality.

Now I am glad I DVR'ed the game, in part so I can watch what I missed for school, and so I have something to watch tomorrow, which I will dub the "Worst Day of the Year." I hate the day after O-Day; it's so empty and eternal compared to the completely full joy that today brings.

But this post is about that full joy; it's about a no-doubt Alex Gordon home run and Mark Grudzielanek reaching base five times and Ryan LeFebvre in a suit and my brothers taking the day off and gorging themselves on pizza and Jose Guillen showing off his arm and Leo Nunez pitching like a seasoned vet and Joakim Soria and Alex Gordon's glove finishing it all off. It's about overcoming a mobile strike zone and being on pace for 162-0 and breathlessly voicing our hopes that this year is the "next year" we've been waiting for forever. It's about all baseball fans bolting out of bed, piling on their team's gear and joining in celebration with their fellow baseball fans, regardless of team allegiance. This is Opening Day, and I propose that it is about damn time.


The coolest thing in the world is definitely Opening Day. It's unlike any other widely anticipated day, because it never disappoints. I can spend months looking forward to a particular movie, only to be let down when it isn't as good as the hype. Or really look forward to wearing some cute shoes I saved up forever to buy, only to have them not look as good as they did in the store*. Most things tend to be letdowns in the face of hype.

*Yes, I'm a shoe person. I have many, many shoes.

But not this day. Every year, this is the day. I love being a baseball fan today, because anyone else wearing baseball stuff is my friend, and is in the unmistakable uplifted mood that only winter's end and season's beginning can bring.

Whether you got the day off of work or you're taping your team's game for later consumption, I wish you the best Opening Day possible. Unless, of course, you are a Detroit fan, in which case...GO ROYALS!

I made you all a card, in the form of a whiteboard drawing:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Final thoughts before the real O-Day

I can’t tell any of you to do anything; I’m just a kid with a computer. But if I could call something “required reading,” the 2008 baseball edition from the KC Star might be it. It’s pretty much a full evening’s worth of reading to finish getting us all primed for the Best Day of the Year. I am seriously in love with the Star; I really think we as Royals fans have some fantastic, insightful, thoughtful, daring writers (which Rany* covered pretty masterfully here).

I grew up with a typical small-town paper (not always very good journalism) with a painfully bad sports section. I mean…really bad. I was misquoted and misattributed quite a few times, and I was only a minor player on one team (golf); I can’t imagine how many times this happened to big shot, four-sport kids. A lot of times, reading the wrap-ups made me wonder if the sports guy had watched the same game as I had. I worked for this paper as a carrier for five years, and I never came to appreciate their style of “journalism.” But what that paper’s sports section gave me was a greater appreciation for anyone who is better. So I thank heavens that the Star is available online for my daily Royals fix.

*By the way, I noticed that Rany’s header mentioned that he fully endorses David Cook on American Idol because he’s a Royals fan. I made that exact proclamation last week when my roommate and I watched Idol. “Oh my gosh, is that a Royals hat?!? I liked this guy somewhat before, but I LOVE him now!” And yes; I watch Idol every week, and I love it. Don’t judge me.

I’m having a hard time believing the real baseball season is finally here. No more Spring Training games, no more wondering if the stats our boys put up are reflections of who they really are as players, or if they’re doing well (or poorly) because “it’s only spring.” This is great. The Royals website has replaced the countdown to O-Day with a posting of Monday’s probables (which I always mentally pronounce as pro-bah-blays, like the Spanish pronunciation), and we can now finish counting in terms of hours and minutes, not months and days. Major League’s finest pitchers (and Odalis Perez) are gearing up to throw the beginning of a new era, or the continuation of past success, or the end to mockery from failures long gone.

Which all means I should probably get around to sharing some predictions for individual Royals, which I will try to do in a readable manner while I’m watching Davidson and Kansas. (I always multi-task to some extent, even if one of the “tasks” is listening to music*. I really hate the few activities that don’t allow multi-tasking, because I have all kinds of things to accomplish and enjoy, and not a terribly large number of hours in which to do everything.) In one of my NCAA pools (for which there was a five- umm, matchstick, not dollar, entry fee, my Final Four is intact, but in the other one with the same matchstick entry fee my Big XII homerism cost me a slot in the Top 3 with Texas’ loss to Memphis today. I’m not a big time gambler, or obsessive better or anything, but I like to come away from this tournament with some number of dolla—matchsticks.

*Current musical obsession: RENT, in preparation for seeing it live for the first time. As much as I love the movie, I’m sure the stage version will be a million times better. But the songs are all soooooo catchy, so I can listen to them pretty much any time.

Thoughts on some of our pitchers:

Gil Mehce – This guy can’t escape big off-season questions and doubts. Last year it was “$55 million – for him? Are you kidding me?” and this year it’s “Is Meche a one-hit wonder or is he worthy of all five years of his contract?”
I think he can be. Eric J Seidman, using his SP Effectiveness System, ranks Gil Meche as a true ace in his Sabermetric Year in Review of the Royals.
“In my system, to be a #1 SP in the AL one needs to score a +47 or higher, and Meche scored a +47 on the nose. At least the first year of that 5/55 paid off.”

At some point a few weeks ago, I realized how much I missed watching Meche’s curveball. I loved the nights when that pitch was on; those pitches are why the DVR remote has the Replay button. It’s why we use words like “nasty” in the pitching vocabulary. And it’s why I think Meche will keep earning the big paychecks this year.

Zack Greinke
– Another dearth of questions. Does he have it together? Can he give us a complete season as a starter? Can we trust him?

Yes, yes, yes.

I really don’t like putting down specific numbers before a baseball season. I’m not an expert; I’m just a passionate fan. I don’t have Bill James’ brains, I don’t have fancy ways of projecting anything for the entire season ahead. The season is long, the variables are abundant, the unknowns are countless. But I’m willing to put the number twenty on the table for Greinke this season. There’s no reason this year isn’t his year, and I’m perfectly comfortable discussing the possibility of “Zack Greinke, 20-game winner.”

My favorite, Brian Bannister – I have loved every word that has been written about Brian the Brain this winter (including a piece in the Star’s baseball edition today!). It makes for such great drama, the way the numbers he studies so heavily are the very things that could deter him from more success like he had in 2007. As much as I love him, I'd rather see him at #3 than #2 in the rotation. But I still think he can put up 14-15 wins.

Luke Hochevar – I’d be shocked (like, jaw on the floor) if he spent more than 8-10 weeks in Omaha this year. He seems to be making that last bit of progress into big-league ready, and based on what I’ve read about his mental makeup, he might dominate in AAA by sheer force of will, and make the front office call him up. I will enjoy watching him while we have him in Omaha (Don’t forget to come to the season opener this Thursday!), but I’m not anticipating seeing him there for long.

Joakim Soria – He’ll continue to do his thing, and people will continue to suggest moving him into the rotation. I’m really hoping and praying that some other reliever (Ramirez maybe?) shows the ability to be a closer, so Soria could be eased into a starter’s role. I’d love to see his 4-pitch arsenal unleashed for more than 1-2 innings at a time.

Random Matt Wright mention, just because I can. He had better make the Majors.

Now, about that offense:
Alex Gordon – (WAIT! Side note: Kansas JUST held on to beat Davidson to advance to the Final Four. Why was it this close? Goodness, I was scared that my Final Four would be reduced to three there in my bracket whose Four was still whole.) I guess the question about Gordon isn’t whether he’ll perform, but whether he can be the “face of the Royals.” To me, that’s a silly thing to question. He was the face of the Huskers; he was the face of the Royals in last year’s season previews. No matter what his personality, he’ll still be that face as long as his bat does what we all figure it will do and his defense is the way we have always expected it to be.

Billy Butler – I’m pumped for him. He’ll rake; more than 25 homers wouldn’t surprise me. The defense will still suck, but I don’t even care at this point. That is all.

David DeJesus – This will be the hardest DDJ will have to work for approval since the aftermath of Beltran’s departure. He ought to deliver; I’m hoping to see his OBP in the .360s and his batting average much closer to .300. Steals will be another thing I’ll be watching for from DeJesus, and I really want him to far exceed his career best of 10 (from last year). I’d love to see him swipe 20, actually.

Side note: I love all the attention Joey Gathright has been getting this spring. Doesn’t he look like a completely different player this year than he did when he first came over from the Halo Rays? I love how Hillman and Kuntz are making it so that he is not a guy who is fast but has nothing else to offer.

(Again, I'm preemptively labeling this with the "Eating my words" tag, in case this all goes wrong.)

I would love to do more, but my status as a successful (Dean’s list, baby!) full-time student rests in my ability to occasionally leave the computer and study. As per local custom, I’ll leave you with some links. former Royal catcher Benito Santiago was allegedly part of a cocaine ring!

JoePo Q&A with Rob Neyer.

HAPPY (real) OPENING DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

An interview and a dilemma

Interview: Due to some crazy homework happenings, I have not been able to get to my Royals projections Part II. That should come this weekend, but I can't make any promises. In the meantime, Ray at Royals on Radio, Etc. was kind enough to interview me.

Dilemma: This could also be labeled a "travesty," and "abomination," and even "a tragedy." As you well know, the real Opening Day (I refuse to acknowledge those games in Japan as Opening Day) is coming up, and...I exam. From 2:30-3:45 on Monday. I also have classes from 11:30-1:20, but I was planning on, um, taking a break from those to watch the game.

But with this test nonsense, would I be better served to watch none of the game until later? Or should I still watch up until it's time to leave for the Stupid Class of Insensitive Scheduling (also known as Criminal Justice), then catch the later innings afterwards? It's quite the dilemma, one which could easily be solved if my teacher had ANY clue about anything. Instead, she's dirtying the Best Day Ever with her filthy exam. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

And some other stuff to get you through the LAST WEEKEND of the offseason. (Sorry for yelling, I'm just really excited that this is the LAST WEEKEND.)
-- Junior at FJM discovers why we should cancel every sporting event scheduled for the rest of eternity.
-- In a series that sounds like a Rage Against some sort of Machine, Royals Authority encourages us to know or enemies:
Know Your Enemy: The Detroit Tigers
Know Your Enemy: The Cleveland Indians
Know Your Enemy: The Chicago White Sox
Know Your Enemy: The Minnesota Twins
There's also a kind of recap of all the craziness happening with the KC roster.
-- Undying Royalty delicately handles the too-hot-to-touch Justin Huber trade.
-- The Ladies... remind us why reading is a winning activity, and present a few hotties who will be taking the mound on Monday.
-- For any fans of Big XII baseball, the #15 Huskers play at #13 Texas this weekend. Color me pumped for this; these series are always exciting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Briefly: Technology isn't my friend

My computer inexplicably crashed in the middle of a paper I've been avoiding writing (but cannot avoid much longer), and lost some of my work. (Thank you, MS Word, for not recovering that last hour's worth of work.) Then, even more bizarrely, all of my hundred or so Firefox bookmarks had disappeared.

For a while, it felt like a little part of me had died. I know it sounds stupid, but there's a lot of me in all those pages: funny comics, brilliant photography, inspiring things, cool Royals stuff I'd buy if I could, great sportswriting from all over, resources for all my greatest computer (read: pirating) needs, a crazy number of sports blogs, a bunch of research for one of my part-time jobs....all gone.

Luckily, Firefox backs up bookmarks every day, and my brother gets the most golden gold star in the world for helping me discover that nice little feature, and find and restore that part of my life.

Now, back to that paper...if I survive tomorrow and Thursday, I will bring Part II of my 2008 Royals forecast, and perhaps some other cool stuff. Until then, you can keep watching Joey Gathright put his car-jumping skills to practical use.

Friday, March 21, 2008

By popular demand: 2008 predictions Part I

Warning: tons of unbridled optimism and possibly irrational enthusiasm follows.

By "popular demand," I mean one person -- reader Matt asked to see some predictions, and he also called me the Royals' number one female blogger, so here I am. At times, I feel like I just want to be a regular fan and watch the games to figure out how 2008 will go, but this is much more fun.

Team predictions - individual player predictions will come in Part II:

Team W-L
I think that, when a ballclub is in a rebuilding phase, it's only realistic to expect a 4-5 game improvement over the previous season's W-L record, so the safe prediction to make would be 74-88. But I don't want to be safe. This is my blog, so I can make wild predictions if I want to.

With the addition of Trey Hillman, and all the other things you've already read 100 times this off-season, I don't see why the Royals can't have a bit of a runaway season. I'm not saying they'll contend, but I'm saying I'd be disgusted with another last-place finish, and not entirely surprised with a 3rd place finish.

(Side note: Wooo! The Huskers just beat Oklahoma thanks to a walk-off home run by Craig Corriston. Incidentally, I just learned in this post of Rany's that the phrase "walk-off" was popularized because of the Royals.)

So if I want a 3rd-place finish, I suppose the Royals would have to win about 80 games, so I'll go with 80-82 as my official prediction.

----****A lot of time elapsed here, when the rest of my family arrived, and we had supper, basketball, church, and Wii time. I'm back.****-----

Team OBP
Well, I have officially drunk the Trey Hillman Kool-Aid. (That happened the day he was hired. It was delicious.) Well, that, and I am a fan of OBP anyway, and not at all a member of the "Home runs or bust!" mentality shared by a lot of other young fans. I dig long at-bats, and can sit patiently while Tony Pena, Jr. draws a walk. Okay, make that...I could sit patiently if that happened. I'm going to look for a team OBP of around .340.

Team ERA

Yuck, I don't want to do this in the slightest. I can't imagine it changing too much from last year, given all the questions surrounding our 4-5 spots and what will happen to the bullpen vacancies created by Riske's departure and Greinke's return to the rotation. As a staff, KC put up a 4.48 ERA last year, and while I hope it doesn't go up, I can't see it going too far down. Let's go with a 4.40.

Random tidbits:
Complete games thrown by KC pitchers: Four.
Different pitchers used in the 4-5 slots: Eleven
Number of lineups used: 123
Representative in the All-Star Game: Billy Butler and/or Zack Greinke. Why not two?
Better at home or away: Home, but not by much
Better before or after the Break: After
Number of former Royals pitchers to earn wins or saves against KC: Five? (Ed. note to self: What the heck kind of question was that?)

I'm preemptively labeling this post "eating my words," because I pulled a lot of it out of thin air, and everything I've ever guessed is wrong (see: Madness, March. More awful predictions coming...soon. Expect some starry-eyed projections for B&OT favorite Brian MANnister, and at what dates I think certain Omahans will be called up. Also probably something about Matt Wright, just because I can.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tables about the Royals, inspired by Bill James

My big problem with Bill James books is that I can't read more than half a page without stopping and scribbling some random ideas, inspired by what I see in the book. Here are some Royals-related numbers, inspired by stuff I found in the Bill James Gold Mine.

Here's the Royals' 2007 record based on number of homers in each game:

A few random observations from this: In April, the team did better with no homers (2-8) than when they hit one (3-10). Also, John Buck seemed to homer a lot in losses. I believe all of his multi-home run games were ultimately losses (but I could be wrong; please correct me if I am!).

Of course, measuring anything home run-related with the Royals is pretty useless, since the team was last in the Majors in homers. Sorry for bringing that up again; I know we're all painfully aware of our team's shortcomings. So here are some things, as listed in the Gold Mine, in which the Royals were not last in '07: (Holy crap, blogger is NOT letting me make this as big as I want, so click on the table for the full-sized version)
And what good is knowing the worst at various things in the Majors without knowing who was best? (Again, click on the table for full-sized version. Sorry 'bout that!)
I'm astounded at the difference between first and last place in stolen bases. That's an area where I'm not only hoping; but expecting, an enormous improvement for the Royals this season. The team has stolen 21 so far this spring (led by Joey Gathright's 8), and has been caught 7 times.

Now on to some links:
- Rany's series on why now is a great time to be a Royals fan keeps getting better and better: #9 is Joakim Soria, or "the Mexican Zack Greinke", and #8 is the Voice, Denny Matthews.
- Barry Bonds is not planning on retiring. ...ummm, yep. Good luck with that, bud.
- JoePo gives a (free!) snippet from The Soul of Baseball, in case you haven't bought it yet. (Buy it!)
- Eric Seidman at Statistically Speaking has gone completely insane, and will liveblog Moneyball tomorrow. Yes, he's going to read a book, and blog about it chapter-by-chapter. But I heart Seidman, so I will read it.
- Speaking of StatSpeak, Mike Fast is leaving the blog.
- In Husker baseball news, Dan Jennings kicked the crap out of Arkansas. I know a lot of you aren't Nebraska fans, but you should know that former Husker coach Dave van Horn is now Arkansas' coach, so beating them feels particularly good. Not that I wish ill will on Coach van Horn; he's a great guy and all, but I like being reassured that we have moved on and can survive without him.
- Here are two stories about the Yankees visiting Virginia Tech for an exhibition game. I'm not a Yankees fan by any stretch, but I like this. Baseball does heal; even if those VT students will never feel normal or safe at school again, maybe they can scoot an inch closer to some kind of comfort, knowing the superstar Yankees feel for them and were moved enough by their tragedy to visit the way they did.

If you're here from RoyalBoard, Royals Nation, Royally Speaking, Royals On Radio, Etc., or anyone else who has graciously linked to me in the last two days...welcome! I hope you stick around. Check out the featured posts, or just hang out and help yourself to the Dr Pepper in the fridge.

Suddenly it is 2:30, so I should be off to bed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Breaking news: water is wet...

...and Gil Meche will start for the Royals on Opening Day.

In a word, DUH.

No worries, it's just Spring Training...right?

I know that I can't put a whole lot of stock in Spring Training performances, either good or bad. If you take ST stats too seriously, the Royals are all better batters than Ichiro. But how many sub-standard performances am I supposed to shrug off here? My handy countdown tells me the real actual season is coming very soon, and right now a lot of KC pitchers have some scarily big numbers in statistical categories where smaller is better.

I should point out that I haven't been able to actually listen to many games, so maybe I'm missing something. My audio has been playing a funny game for the last two weeks, wherein I go to sign in to listen to a game, and they say "Nope! You aren't actually a subscriber," and I say "But I signed in just fine yesterday, what's the problem now" and the site says "Nope! You aren't actually a subscriber, I'm not listening to you lalalalalala!" so all I've had for reference so far are box scores. Maybe the broadcasts would be more informative than the box scores. Are Brett Tomko, Hideo Nomo, and a few others in whom I'm supposed to have faith just hiding their true skill until Opening Day?

I understand small sample sizes -- Tomko is the only Royals pitcher to have reached double-digits in innings so far -- and I understand that ERA is a flawed statistic and I understand that I'm not supposed to be too upset about ERAs in the tens and teens because the calendar tells me it's only mid-March.'s mid-March. That's close to April, when for-real games start. Are pitchers supposed to be closer to their regular-season form yet? I honestly don't know, because I haven't always been a religious Spring Training follower as I am at the moment. Is it getting to the point where I should be worried about various parts of the KC pitching staff?

On an unrelated note (aren't they all that way with me?), I am spending my Spring Break in my hometown with my parents, little brother, and dogs. I guess most people go somewhere crazy during this week. I think the most exotic thing I have going on is a trip to the eye doctor, to get my glasses updated for the first time since 8th grade or so. My older dog (we call him The Perfect One) is napping at my feet, which I think is better than some overpriced trip to a place overcrowded with drunken frat boys and scantily clad sorostitutes. I may have mentioned this before, but my dorm building is nestled among about 60487 Greek houses, so I am surrounded by these types of "people" during every week of the year. This is my break from them.

Some links, for your reading pleasure:
-JoePo interviews Bill James. I like this: two of my favorite baseball minds talk about a bunch of random stuff.
-Clark Fosler takes a look at Royals pitching prospects. I think more are coming.
-The Minnesota/Illinois game (the Big 10 quarterfinals) ended in a CRAZY fashion. Definitely worth watching if you, like me, missed SportsCenter last night.
-A little late, but here's something "completely useless" but somewhat entertaining from Pizza Cutter at StatSpeak. It includes a Royal being first in the Majors in something. I'll let you read to find out who it is, and in what he led the league.

In Big XII tournament presented by Phillps 66 action,Nebraska lost to Kansas last night, which isn't much of a surprise. However, the first half was awesome. I wish I could have watched on TV, because I think I missed one of the only opportunities I'll ever have to see my Huskers frustrate and ultimately outplay the Jayhawks.

Friday, March 14, 2008


So, remember when I said that Colorado would for sure lose to Baylor in round one of the Big XII Tournament Presented by Phillips 66?

...wrong. So, so wrong. What the heck, Baylor? 12-seeds are NOT supposed to win these things, ever. EVER.

Other than that, I guessed correctly about the outcome of the round one games: Nebraska, OSU, and Texas A&M all did the right thing. That makes for Round 2 matchups of Texas vs. OSU (on right now), Oklahoma vs. Colorado at 2:00, my Huskers vs. Kansas at 6:00, and K State vs. Texas A&M at 8:20.

Spring break starts for me today, and I have long since checked out mentally. Unfortunately, I have one more class that will get in my way of watching today's Big XII action. Worse yet, that particular professor does not allow laptops, so I can't even check the score. Boo!

In Royals news, KC has a 4-game winning streak, their second such streak of Spring. I don't want to be a negative Nellie, but the winning may stop at 4, as Brett Tomko is the starter today. It's not that I don't have any faith in Tomko, but...I don't have the slightest bit of faith in him. I keep hearing from Giants and Dodgers fans that he has good stuff, but somehow never makes that translate into success. Some also say that his fastball doesn't move at all, so how is he in the majors?

I hope I have to eat all of the above words (after "Nellie"). An unnamed scout told JoePo that Tomko could win 15 this year. That's 15 MLB games, not like...15 innings, or 15 Lucky Lotto drawings, or 15 March Madness pools. That would be lots of flavors of lovely for the Royals and their fans. (that's me!)

And in one last quick note: This Onion article is one of the funniest things I have read, ever. baseball columnist Rob Neyer has announced the formula for a new statistic which compares and contrasts his own disillusionment with the sport of baseball against that felt by his fellow sabermetricians. "It's called Baseball Fatigue Average, or 'BFA,' and it's the most comprehensive anti-baseball stat out there," said Neyer in a chat session in which he also argued the meaninglessness of the run batted in.

Wow. With that, I'll leave y'all alone.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big XII and other awesomeness

Today was really really awesome. I mean, the kind of awesome that leaves you grinning for hours, for no particular reason. Firstly, I only have one class on Tuesdays, so I didn't have to waste much time being indoors. It was the first warm day we've had a long while (I think we finally passed 70 degrees). And there was a Husker baseball game (another win, which gives us a 10-game winning streak that stretches all the way back to the season's first series). And I got to play catch. And playing said game of catch did not hurt my shoulder nearly as much as I thought it would. And my dining hall had papaya at supper time. And the Soul of Baseball is now out in paperback. (Hi, Joe.)

So really, I could scarcely ask for more awesomeness in a day. But now the time has come to sit down and write something, so...well, here. The Big XII men's basketball (presented by Phillips 66) tournament starts in like 35 hours, and here's what I think will happen on Day 1. I am probably going to be totally wrong.

Thursday 11:30 a.m. - Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech
I'm actually going to call a Cowboy win here. I know Tech is the 8 seed and OSU is #9, but in the first matchup between these two teams this year, OSU won by a handy margin. Later in the year, Tech took the win in a second contest, so I think Okie State might be looking for a little revenge.

Thursday 2:00 - Colorado vs. Baylor

Baylor wins, no question. Colorado is not a team. They are a Roby and a bunch of bodies. (Then again, my refusal to respect them as a team possibly stems from a deeper hatred of all things CU. But still, Baylor will win this game.)

Thursday 6:00 - Missouri vs. Nebraska

My apologies to Tigers fans, but...well, Nebraska ought to win this game. Last time these two teams met, it was a heartbreaking overtime loss for the Huskers. I mean, it hurt. Doc Sadler has proven to be an excellent button-pusher, and I'm guessing he'll use that last meeting as quite a motivator for the 7th-seeded Huskers.

Another reason Nebraska has to be refreshed is the return of playmaker Cookie Miller, who was out for what seemed like ages (but what was really 3 games) with a separated shoulder. He came back against Colorado, but wasn't quite back in form. His hand was all taped up, which affected his ball movement pretty ferociously. If that is all cleared up by Thursday, Tiger fans can expect to see Miller come up with a few sneaky steals, and slide a lot of passes to his teammates where it might look like there aren't any passes open.

Thursday 8:30 - Iowa State vs. Texas A&M

Texas A&M. Again, I don't see any upset brewing here; the seedings are the way they are for a reason.

It worries me a little bit (OK, a lot) that Nebraska is stuck playing Kansas on Friday (assuming they do, indeed, beat Mizzou). By the way, here is the schedule of the Big XII Tournament Presented By Phillips 66.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Sixth inning. A runner on first, one on second, one on third. Hoo boy, the sacks are juiced. Number 21 steps out of the on-deck circle, and music blares.

"Don't stop
Hold on to that fee-eeee-liiinn
Street lights, people o-oh-whoooooaaaaa!"

God bless Nebraska's Nick Sullivan for his choice of walk-up song. If I were a ballplayer, that would be my song forever. Instead, as a promotions gal, I get the YMCA, the chicken dance, and Cotton Eyed Joe.

For the record, Sullivan popped up in the at-bat I described, and the inning ended, leaving the Huskers with three more stranded runners and an 8-4 lead over Northern Colorado after six. Not all things that have awesome beginnings can have awesome endings, but it's fun to try. That's why we, as fans, stick around, isn't it?

Today was Senior Day for Nebraska's basketball team, which meant it was Aleks Maric Day. Prior to standing by the court, I had thought I was ready to see the big Aussie go. I'd been mentally looking forward to next season, thinking about what the rest of the Huskers would be able to do without the guy who has been the star attraction for that last four seasons of Nebrasketball. But during the pregame ceremony in Maric's honor, when the PA announcer was reading a letter from Maric's sisters and nephews, I saw tears work their way down Aleks'cheeks, and I realized I wasn't OK with his departure yet.

I have spent a lot of this season nitpicking Maric, like the no-look hook shot thing, or sometimes for his apparent lack of passion for the game, but the fact is that those nitpicky things are all the bad things I have to say about his game. He has been a huge part of a shift in offensive strategy this season. Last year, as head coach Doc Sadler was figuring out what he had to work with in his first season here, the team relied a lot on the three-ball and on Maric forcing a lot of tough shots right under the basket. This year, as Sadler has had more time to implement better things, the team has leaned on Maric again to open himself up down low every possession, take a pass, and either make a quick 2-footer (and often draw a foul or two) or kick the ball back out to an open shooter elsewhere. That kickout is something that finally seemed comfortable and rhythmic for the Huskers, but they'll have to find another vertex for the offense next year.

Today we hoped our very hardest for about five more of those kickout passes to result in baskets by other Huskers, which would have given Maric enough assists for his first career triple-double to go with his 37 career double-doubles. Sadly, it didn't happen, but Aleks still had a game worthy of cheers, including a jaw-dropping three three-point attempts, one of which fell in gracefully amidst a mighty roar from the crowd.

Now that Texas has beaten Okie State this afternoon, Nebraska will be the #7 seed in the Big XII tournament later this week. Apparently, we will be stuck playing Kansas in the second round with a Husker win in the first. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

On language, Bannister, and links

1) Sometimes, when my phone is singing an annoying tune and the sharp sunlight is scraping my tired eyelids open, I want to go back to bed instead of to my Spanish class. Then I try to remind myself that speaking both English and Spanish (if not also Japanese) is a pretty crucial skill for people in baseball, and I want to be a person in baseball. Sure, my Spanish class this semester is not required (I've already gotten all the required credits), and it's not exactly as intensive as I had hoped from a class called "Intensive Conversation," but I have to be there so I don't have any awkward language-barrier moments around Spanish-speaking players. (Actually, who am I kidding? My awkwardness, combined with my chronic whiteness, are surefire signs that no matter how many years I study Spanish -- I have 5 so far, I will spit out something horribly awkward 'en mi idioma segundo'*, proving nothing about the benefits of being bilingual, but proving plenty about how painful it can be to be me.)

What I need is a baseball-themed Spanish class, but as far as I know, the University of Nebraska does not offer that.

*in my second language

2) Ahhh, more excuses to write about Brian Bannister! I swear, if he wasn't already married, I'd go and try to marry him right now. He took part in the Royals Relay Chat series today, and as expected gave thoughtful answers to even the most basic questions. And hungry Royals fans can expect more from the blue glove-clad righty:
I wanted to let everyone here know that I will be doing a brand new mailbag-style chat twice a month here on If your question didn't get answered, or you think of a question you want to ask me as the season progresses, go ahead and e-mail it to I will be looking at all the questions you send me, and twice a month I will answer them for you.

Bannister also exposes teammate Luke Hochevar's questionable methods of Wii-ing:
The best Wii bowler is Luke Hochevar, who has several 300 games under his belt. However, he uses a controversial method (he sits down while he plays), and I don't know if that counts.

One last bit of Bannister-related goodies for you, in case you haven't seen it: He's Rany's #14 reason it's a great time to be a Royals fan.

UPDATE: Never mind, there's still another "last bit" of Bannister-related goodness from Bob Dutton. Silly oversight on my part.

3) Speaking of Rany, he did a fantastic interview with Sam Mellinger over at Ball Star. I highly recommend it.

4) Women rejoice! The Ladies... are back to blogging!

5) Being a student is lame. I wish I could write more here, but instead those crazy professors have me spending my evenings writing little useless computer programs or putting together nauseating Powerpoints about Quinceaneras, and other such silliness. I am terribly sorry, but thank you for sticking around anyway.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A football moment, brought to you by Favre's retirement

Before Brett Favre captured my little heart, football was just a thing my parents and brothers watched while I kept myself entertained elsewhere in the house. I'd wander in to the TV room sometimes, but mostly I was in one place, and football was in another. Then in grade school, one of my classmates was all pumped up for a Green Bay Monday Night Football game. Something about her excitement over this Favre guy had my young mind intrigued; for one of the first times it sounded kind of fun to be a fan of somebody in football. Basically, I came of age as a football fan because of Brett Favre.

...and now he's retiring.

I suppose the rest of the writing world has already covered every aspect of Favre's retirement. All I can really add is that I know I'll never love a quarterback the way I love Brett Favre. The man has, at different times in his storied career, been the drugged-up guy you want your daughter to avoid and the guy you kind of want your son to grow up to be.

But he has always been exciting. He has always been easy to root for. It will be easy to miss him next year, to wish he could have donned that familiar green and gold one more time, that he'd give us one last Last Season.

Farewell, Brett. I'll miss you dearly.