Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's all my fault

More about my unmentionables than you ever wanted to know
Brian Bannister tonight...did anything go right? 30 pitches every inning for three excruciating innings. Three home runs, including a grand slam. It was painful to watch, especially since Bannister is my favorite Royal. If I had to watch a KC pitcher throw that kind of game, I'd give a great deal for it to be anyone besides him.

But it was Bannister, and this outing was entirely my fault.

Last summer during the middle of the season, I noticed that, by coincidence of laundry, I ended up wearing the same pair of drawers every time Banny started. It was an accident for a while, but I starting doing it on purpose after that because it seemed to be working well for all involved (except Royal opponents). I held over that routine into this season...until today.

I realized partway through the day that I had made the underwear mistake, and considered changing. I thought about it, but figured Banny would not need the help of my lucky drawers since it's "just the Rangers." (Sorry, Micah.)

I haven't finished watching the game yet -- Joel Peralta just gave up a 2-bagger, making it 9-1 Texas -- and I almost don't want to finish. I know how it ends (remind me again why Pena is allowed to bat in such a situation, ever?). I just want this night to be over so the Royals can start starting over again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still here, thawing out

Last night was yet another cold, rainy night for the Omaha Royals and their faithful fans. Five Royals players homered, but...Omaha still lost. It sucked.

Overheard in the Omaha dugout: "Why are there still people here? Don't they know it's cold and raining out here?"

Before that game, I tagged along to help with this event. We got to feed some fish, using handfuls of other, smaller fishes. (Note to self: If I am ever famous, I should be as nice to my fans as Matt Wright is.)

And today, the sun came out, and Jorge de la Rosa was awesome, and Omaha pulled out a sweet 3-2 victory.

But I haven't been around here to write about any of these things for two reasons:
1) I have not been near a reliable Internet connection, and more recently
2) This came out.

I haven't died, abandoned this blog, or given up hope that the Royals can win again. And once I get through this week (dead week), things will be back to a more normal pace here. Thanks for your patience!

Monday, April 21, 2008

O-Royals tidbits

We are already sixteen games into the season, and the Omaha Royals have a sweet 10-6 record that puts them atop the PCL North. Three of the losses have been at home, and three have been on the road, so it's too early to tell if the team will repeat its drastic home/road split from last year. (In 2007, they were 45-27 at home, and just 28-44 on the road.)

A long, long time ago, I heard that Jorge de la Rosa would be the Player to be Named Later in exchange for Ramon Ramirez. Instead, he has stayed with Omaha, and has done his usual April routine of command and poise in his last couple of starts. He looked great against New Orleans yesterday, going 6 innings, and giving up just three hits and zero runs. He also struck out six and walked only two.

DLR's BB/9: 2.94
DLR's K/9: 8.82

Now, if he is to be the PTBNL, I hope that happens before Colorado sees him hit the Wall of Doom in mid-May.

This wouldn't be a true O-Royals post here without some mention of Matt Wright. I'm getting a little worried that his slow start is something worse than just a slow start. Wright pitched on Saturday to start the new homestand, and was less than sharp. He has also been less than sharp in his previous outiings -- here are his stats for the year. I still believe he can right the ship (or...Wright the ship? Thank you, I'll be here all week), so I will still refer to him as my favorite O-Royal starter. But he has looked like a completely different pitcher than the dominant one I saw last year in Omaha and in November in the World Cup. In his good and even just decent starts, Wright controlled the game by locating well and giving away a smallish number of free bases on balls.

Right now, his fastball has very little bite, and even less late movement than usual. He doesn't seem to be locating well, and has already walked six in just 14 innings. That's good for a BB/9 of 3.86, compared his 2007 BB/9 of 2.63. I realize I'm working with a small sample size, but those numbers accurately tell the story of how he looks when one watches his starts in person.

One question that I've heard floating around at Rosenblatt Stadium...could Wright be joining John Bale in the Dead arm Club?

That's it for now; I need to get ready for two more games in Omaha before an off day Wednesday. Mike Maroth will start for Omaha tonight against New Orleans Zephyr Joselo Diaz.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BIG news for B&OT

After the departure of a few of their fine blogstresses, the Ladies... were looking for new contributors. After a rigorous screening process that included a background check, urinalysis, submission to random drug testing, an IQ test, and a strange ritual involving paddles, two kittens, and KY Jelly, I am one of them.

Why would I want to write for such a website? Fame, glory, and the big bucks. Duh. Also because I've always loved the balance the Ladies... provide for me as a sports fan. The Ladies... all legitimate sports fans with intelligent* thoughts, ideas, statistical knowledge, etc. about our favorite teams and sports. And we all have our regular blogs and other websites for those ideas. But from time to time, I find myself wanting to extol the virtues of high socks and eyeblack, or criticize MLB's dumbest goatees, but this blog isn't really the place; that wouldn't be fair to people who are here for actual baseball (...and, uh, Other Things?). I can do those posts there, comfortably assured that Ladies... readers understand that it is a balance, not merely a girly obsession with athlete asses in tight pants.

*Them, not me.

This is by no means the end of Baseball and Other Things. It's more like B&OT now has a baby sister. And that I'm this much closer to being Internet-famous.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fantasy conundrum

I resisted the urge to try fantasy baseball for years. I know myself well enough to know that once I started a fantasy team, I'd get hooked and spend way too much time on it. I was pretty much right.

And tonight, I am faced with a heck of a quandary with my fantasy team: I forgot to move Jared Weaver off my roster before he faced the Royals tonight! Now, the Royals are knocking him around a bit, which is great for me as a fan, but is doing horrible things for my staff's ERA and WHIP (which had been at an astounding 0.00 and 0.40, respectively, for the last day and a half).

I have been thinking all season that I don't always like the way my fantasy involvement makes me look at games. It works beautifully when Brian Bannister throws a complete game so I get a whole bunch of points, but what when a Royal opponent is a member of my team, like tonight? It's just kind of disconcerting to be watching any game for a reason other than enjoying watching baseball.

On the plus side, I have paid closer attention to some teams because their players are on my team. It's making it easier for me to work on paying better attention to the NL. But it still weird. What if I'm watching the Yankees and Red Sox? I always root for Boston over New York, but I have Mariano Rivera, so it helps my (fantastic) staff if he dominates. But I also have two Boston outfielders, so maybe it would help me if those guys got their offense going, at Rivera's expense. I don't like the relativity of it all; I'd rather just enjoy watching and root for whomever I wish.

I could just convert to an all-Royals team via some heavy trading, or go with a silly theme (bad facial hair?), to cut down on how much I am actually bothered by this discontinuity.

Meanwhile, in real baseball, Gil Meche has thrown first-pitch strikes to 13 of his first 16 batters faced. That's a good sign. He has also gotten rid of that silly triangular beard. Do you think those factoids are related? I tend to think so...

Also, I have some fairly large news that I will share in more detail later this week. It's pretty exciting for me though. Feel free to speculate, but I'll eliminate some possibilities: I'm not getting married, I'm not pregnant. The rest is fair game.

Go Royals!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Double your awesome, double your fun

Learning is an incredible thing. Here's what I have been learning from the Royals lately:
- One complete game is really fun to see as a fan
Predictably, I was thrilled yesterday as Bannister neared the end of his smart, efficient, mostly flawless complete game. I didn't get to behold the entire triumph but Bannister's late inning pitches all looked deliberate, graceful, and most importantly, baffling to all the hitters he faced. After the start he's had this season, he darn well deserves his AL Player of the Week honor. (Well, co-honor.)

- Two is a whole lot better.

I wondered how Greinke would follow up his brilliant 8-inning performance from the other night. I hoped for a good start, but had no idea it would be that good.

During his postgame interview with Joel Goldberg (who I think I dislike, but I'm not sure yet), I IMed my brother that Greinke sounds a whole lot more comfortable with being interviewed than he used to. I know he used to have a terrible fear of being on camera because he thought people would think he was dumb. He has done so much lately that make me want to send a fruit basket of thanksgiving to his doctors; obviously his pitching mentality has improved exponentially from his 2005 season, he looks much more comfortable with the media, and he was even out among a throng of fans handing out Butler powder blues on Saturday.

To me, it's that last one that is most telling about his psychological progress. Even to people who don't suffer from social anxieties, being inside a cluster of freebie-seeking fans can induce a bit of an internal panic. It happened to me, and I'm deeply impressed that he put himself in that situation (and was apparently fine).

- Good defense is sexy.

Mark Teahen's leaping catch on the track, Grudzielanek's 10 assists, all the double plays. Pena's feed to Grud in the 2nd double play was really, really pretty. Please, sir, I want some more.

-Quote of the night:

"I'm gonna struggle off a guy one of these days." -Billy Butler, on the Royals Live postgame. I call BS; there's no way he will ever struggle.
(Did anyone else notice the careless lcoker room camera work that led to a shower being televised? WTF, Fox Sports Net??? How do you not forsee that one happening??)

- Meanwhile, down on the farm(ish)
It appears that Jorge de la Rosa is acting like his April 2007 self. In his start tonight at Memphis, DLR threw 53 of his 72 pitches for strikes on his way to 4 Ks, no walks, and 4 hits over 5 innings. If Jorge is indeed the PTBNL for Ramon Ramirez, I still like that deal a lot, because I can be fairly certain that DLR will return to his later-in-2007 form of wildness all over the walls.

Joel Peralta held the Redbirds off in two solid innings, and Neal Musser worked the 8th and 9th for his 3rd save of the year.

For those keeping score at home, Angel Berroa had three hits in that game, a 4-1 Omaha win.

Harlan Chamberlain collapses in his home

Many of you may have already seen this linked from Ball Star or elsewhere, but it is pretty sad:

Harlan Chamberlain in critical condition

According to sources, Harlan Chamberlain collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb. He was listed in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, a nursing supervisor there told the Daily News on Sunday night. Chamberlain learned the news after the Yankees' loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Chamberlain's sister called a Yankees official during the eighth inning in an attempt to reach Chamberlain, who was in the bullpen at the time.

After the game, a source said, Chamberlain returned the call, only to learn of his father's collapse.

Sources said Chamberlain broke down in tears inside the clubhouse, as manager Joe Girardi consoled him.

I am a Yankee-hater; that is my job. But I love Joba Chamberlain and how close -- inextricably linked, really -- he and his father. And I cheer hard for all Huskers, no matter where they go on to play. I fear what would happen to Joba's trademark celebrations, not to mention his astounding pitching, if he was without that important piece of his life.

Prayers for Harlan, if you are the praying sort.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The baseball gods HATE GI Johnny

Non-Husker fans, you may leave this post alone if you wish. But I really feel the need to vent (The kind with words, not the Coors kind).

Nine innings. One run. That's a damn good pitching outing, right?

...not good enough for Johnny Dorn tonight, as the Huskers scored no runs against Oklahoma State.


Guillen can play

Not only can Jose Guillen play baseball, he's being allowed to as well.. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

I, like others before me, am pleased that he isn't required to serve his suspension. Had he been accused of purchasing HGH by any means that could be held up in court, I would have no problem if Selig made Guillen and others serve suspensions. But since courts aren't too fond of he said/she said "evidence" of malfeasance, it would set a dangerous precedence if those suspensions were upheld.

It is safe to say that Bud Selig has made some unwise decisions as commissioner, but to commute suspensions related to the Mitchell Report is the right call, all the way. If something more substantial appears later that implicates Guillen or anyone else in the use/purchase of illegal PEDs, suspend them at that time. In the meantime we have bigger things to worry about, like whether Guillen will start to hit $36 million worth of baseballs.


In case you missed it, the KC Star wrote about my cousin Chris* this week, and the large, shiny, high-definition toy he now operates. I thought it was cool of Mellinger to give people an idea of what it takes to make something as ambitious as Crown Vision work (here's the video that accompanied the story).

*Chris, by the way, gives Mike Sweeney a run for his money in the quest for the "Nicest Man in the World" title. True story.

The team's start, which has been described as "red-hot" by the Baseball Tonight folks (yes, them. Let me mention some East Coast baseball to make up for their mentioning someone further inland: Yankees! Red Sox! Tonight!), combined with the splendor of Crown Vision, are exactly what needed to happen in the first part of this season. It's unfortunate that the opening home series was shat upon by Mother Nature, but I imagine that this weekend's series against Minnesota -- particularly with the giveaway of those incredible Butler powder blues -- will bring a lot of first-time or long-absent Kansas Citians into the stadium, and the team's continued rise from despair to mediocrity to success will bring them back.

By the way, in case you wondered, Crown Vision apparently isn't too much of a distraction to the players. And is anyone else unsurprised that Joey Gathright enjoys watching replays of himself on it?


Play has started for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, and despite their terrifying mascot, people in the area seem to be excited about the team. That's good.

...but I'm still scared of that mascot.


David DeJesus is still out with that ankle injury, which is great news for Joey Gathright, but might be better news for whoever has to figure out where to put Gathright after DDJ gets back. I'm not sure if that's tonight* against the Twins or later still, but I don't blame DeJesus for being cautious.

I can not believe all the attention Joey's base stealing has gotten on ESPN since the season started. It's especially startling considering how poor of a thief he has been until this spring.

*On that note, tonight's game time can not come soon enough. I woke up from a nap at 4:00, and the overcast skies outside made my internal clock certain that it was later than that. Therefore, game time is taking even more excruciatingly long to get here than usual.


Something to ponder -- Craig Brown makes a case for Tony Pena, Jr. being taken out of the lineup in favor of Alberto Callaspo, comparing Pena's current situation to the one KC faced with Angel Berroa last spring.

Think about the Pena trade last spring. Berroa had to go. He was a disaster offensively and defensively. Enter Pena. At the time, I said it wasn’t a big upgrade because with the bat, Pena and Berroa are essentially the same player. But Pena is better defensively. So the move is a net benefit for the team.

But now the Royals are continuing to improve and it’s time for GMDM to find a solution. Is it Callaspo? While all signs point to him at second base, from what I’ve seen of him he’s good enough defensively at short. I’m thinking the offensive edge that Callaspo would bring to the lineup is greater than the defensive edge the Royals would have from Pena. In other words, Callaspo’s bat is more valuable than Pena’s glove.

But Sam Mellinger disagrees somewhat:

Pena can't continue to hit .037, obviously. And he won't. He was actually better than expected at the plate last year, and I can't believe he just forgot how to hit over an offseason.

He's in a bad slump, it just looks worse because it's at the beginning of the season. It's also easier to deal with when the Royals are winning.

That being said, he does need to produce offensively, and I think that's obvious. You can look at it as another sign of the Royals' progress. Pena was terrific last year in part because he wasn't Angel Berroa. That's no longer good enough.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Shiny metallic hats, wins for Bannister, piles of meat

Rain and cold aren't the most ideal conditions for a baseball road trip, but my brothers, friends, and I are either really good fans or really stupid so we forged southward anyway for the Royals' Home Opener. We also forgot how exactly to get to Gates BBQ ("HIMAYIHELPYOU"), but luckily we found it right before having the discussion about where to eat instead. (Wendy's is OK on its own, but is not a suitable substitute for piles of meat at Gates.) I almost finished off a mixed plate on my own, which is a whole lot of food, and I am simultaneously proud and ashamed. Now you know. Last time my brothers (etc.) and I ate there, it was Opening Day last year and we got to watch Alex Rodriguez strike out on TV as we prepared to watch the Royals take on Boston that afternoon. Today we made some comment about hopefully getting to see him do that in person this time around.

So then, we tried to park in our usual area, by entering Gate 2, but were waved around to approximately the middle of Utah instead and had to miss a bunch of pregame festivities and CrownVision ogling before the game.

Brian Bannister, not a strikeout guy, got Alex Rodriguez, also not a strikeout guy, to go down looking three different times. And Ramon Ramirez got him a fourth time, giving him the distinct honor of what I think is his second Golden Sombrero at Kauffman Stadium (Update: No, it isn't his 2nd. My brothers and I misremembered a 3-strikeout performance as a Sombrero de Oro. My bad.) . That alone was worth the trip, the shivering, sniffles, parking (NIGHTMARE), the 6-mile hike to the stadium, and putting up with not-so-baseball-savvy fans everywhere. (They were non-savvy in many different ways. Some were just generally clueless of the MLB: "Johnny Damon is with the Yankees now? How long has that been happening? I wonder if his hair is still all long." Some were clueless of specific Royals: "Come on Bannister, just rock and fire! Rock and fire!" Yep, guy, that's all that goes into Bannister's pitching...just rock and fire. He said this every 2.4 pitches; I counted. Still other fans were simply confused as to what sport they were watching: "Rock chalk Jayhawk!") (Some Bannister goodness for you -- thanks Seidman!)

We also got to see a Royal finally take another base on balls, and it was the improbably Tony Pena, Jr. My Call of the Day goes to my brother Ryan, who texted me this after the Pena walk: "I don't get it. He just ran to first without swinging?" But four other Royals ended up walking, which is the most the team has drawn in a game so far. Hopefully that's something the team can continue to do better.

Now I must go retire, but first some linkage:
- Bill James Daily Matchups are free throughout all of April. They show past data for every pitcher/batter matchup in every MLB game every day. Get this while it's free, because it's always good to know these things. You could use them to help you become an analyst for watching games with your friends (and mute Morgan).

- The O-Royals won without me there, and it looks like Mike Aviles was the hero.

- The KC Star's Royals page has a new look, same great taste.

- I love Joakim Soria. (That's not news, but a general excuse to behold his greatness.)

- Rany is Randomly on the Royals today.

- The Tigers lost again; they are 0-7.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

First O-Royals musings of 2008

The people above me are playing Rock Band again, so what follows is likely to be less than sane. It's hard to keep it together with that hollow, constant, inescapable a-rhythmic thudding going on. Also, I got a new keyboard ($1 from woot!) that is very tiny, which I guess means I'm obligated as a woman to think is cute, despite the lack of functionality its small size brings (see: poodle).

Thursday would have been Opening Day for the Omaha Royals, were it not for rain showers that day. So the team had O-Day on Friday, and a double-header yesterday. Those of you who have been around here a while probably remember that the O-Royals played what seemed like an ungodly number of rainout-caused doubleheaders last year, especially at the end of the season. It's good to be right back into that habit as we start the 40th Anniversary season.

I am trying to see if Trey Hillman's style will seep down into AAA at all. Thus far, we really haven't had the opportunity to even try any of the aggressive baserunning Trey has employed at the big league level, because everything Omaha has done is pretty non-strategic, as far as baserunning goes: doubles, triples, a couple of homers. I've noticed a bit of impatience at the plate -- in the first game, O-Royals swung at 7 1st pitches and 14 2nd pitches. Maybe it doesn't mean anything, but I'd love to see my boys take more pitches and drive every starter to higher pitch counts than they've forced so far (89, 89, 65 and 83 in four games).

While the offseason was happening, it felt like time was dragging, but once the season finally got here it feels like we haven't left. My favorite season ticket holders are back in their usual spots, the cotton candy guy still has his massive sideburns (yay!), the steps by the 3rd base dugout are still the best seats in the house, everyone cracks inappropriate jokes, and Angel Berroa still screams in our ears when we least expect it. It feels great to be back in action, and as soon as things settle down in terms of my actual work*, I hope to be able to give all of you non-Omahans some sort of feel of how the Royals' AAA prospects (and lifers) are doing.

*I still can't believe they actually pay us for this stuff. My job is the coolest! I get to sit right by the dugout, be as vocal of a fan as I can, be friendly to all the fans, and lead fans on to the field for various embarras--promotions. Seriously. How is that a job? I love every minute of it.

In the meantime, I have only a few things to offer:
-Former Royal Bobby Keppel has apparently shortened it to just "Bob." I don't like it.

- The O-Royals are averaging 3.31 pitches per plate appearance. I'd like to see a little bit more patience, so I'll be keeping an eye on that as time goes on. My unofficial count has Jason Smith with the most 1- and 2-pitch at-bats, but it's kind of working for him, as he's already collected 6 hits including a homer and a triple.

- Also, is it just me or does outfielder Brian Buchanan bear a striking resemblance to Dave Coulier, aka Uncle Joey from the show Full House? Oh crap I hope he doesn't read this...but surely he's been told that, right?

- Neal Musser has already given up more earned runs this young season than he did through part of July last year, because he surrendered a 2-run home run this afternoon (only one of the runs was earned).

- Roberto Giron is a heck of a reliever. I'm glad he survived Saturday's bitter cold (well, he thought it was cold and marveled at my choice in shorts and a tank top; apparently growing up in Nebraska gives one a far different idea of temperature tolerance than growing up in the Dominican Republic...) so I can continue to enjoy his work.

- I saw Shane Costa fall up some stairs on Friday night, and I wanted to share that, because I wasn't aware he had flaws.

Elsewhere in the world:
- The Ladies... want YOU to also be a Lady. If you happen to meet their standards.

- I don't mean to revel in someone else's misfortunes, but the Tigers are 0-6. However, I must take this time to blast Joe Morgan for yet another boneheaded thing he said on national television. As Detroit gave up the 8th and 9th runs to Chicago today, the boos from the Tiger home crowd were becoming very loud, and Morgan said "They should be booing."

You know, I don't care what the situation is; you DO NOT BOO the home team. What the hell, Joe Morgan? Every time I hear him call a game, I wish he had never gotten that TV work, because then people would remember him for his awesome playing career and not the fact that he is a mean, stubborn, awful announcer.

- I'm terribly disappointed in North Carolina for not being their usual UNC-ish selves, because I had picked them in multiple versions of my bracket in several pools that are for more than just the heck of it. But...go Big XII! Represent!

- Trey Hillman must love me, because the KC pitching rotation works out so I get to see Brian Bannister pitch in Kansas City on Tuesday! Of course, the forecast calls for a high of Garbage with a chance of Cancellation.

If you find yourself in Omaha today (Monday), be sure to come to Rosenblatt and enjoy some O-Royals action and some $1 hot dogs! (First pitch at 6:35)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Just so you know

I won't be posting much this month. It's unfortunate because April is so awesome -- it's the month I spend all offseason pining for. Now that it's here, I have zero free time. None. Tonight is the first Omaha Royals home game, one of 16 this month. I'm working all but one of those (taking off for the KC home opener!) and I have a one-hour commute each way. Meanwhile, I am a full-time student, and apparently that is supposed to take some time. So I apologize profusely, because a lot of times I'm certain that blogging is more useful than classes ( because it has allowed me to "meet" so many of you fine people!) but I don't really have a choice.

If you're in Omaha this month (or at all this summer), I'd love to see you at a game! The schedule is here, and the promotions are listed here. See you at Rosenblatt?

EDITED TO ADD: We have sole possession of first place! Whee! (Click image for beautiful evidence) And I'm not terribly good at math (which is unfortunate because I really love baseball math), I've come up with an amazing statistical breakthrough comparing the Royals to the Tigers this week. Are you ready for this? Click here to see this mathematical revolution in the making.