Monday, June 30, 2008

I wrote this song about Emil Brown...

Once upon a time (2007), I had this passionate, burning hatred for Emil Brown. I don't know how it started, or why it ran so deep. I know that a skilled wordsmith could point out how irrational it was for me to hate Brown, but I hated him all the same. One of my most joyous moments of the offseason was the Day of the Non-Tender. I was thrilled that KC was moving beyond Brown and his 62 RBI. (Seriously, I hated the argument that the team needed to retain Emil because he led them in RBI. That's just pathetic. No team should be led by a guy who only knocks in 62. Besides, RBI is flawed; go find a new argumentative stat.)

I don't think I was exactly jumping for joy (or, in the infamous words of my dad, "doing handsprings down the hallway") when the Royals signed Jose Guillen, but the more the season goes on, the more I'm finding myself liking Guillen. I bring this up now because Guillen's game-winning RBI was his 61st of the season, so he's pretty much done what Brown did in a whole season, but he got it done before the All-Boring Break. Oh, and since RBI is a stupid basis for an argument, have a host of other stats:


Guillen has the upper hand in pretty much everything, except walks. (Although Brown only has 14 of those; it's not like he's a BB machine. Well, not that kind of BB. Someone at Royals Review asked tonight if Guillen should receive Brown's pellet gun as a "passing the torch" symbol. I voted YES.)

I don't care that Guillen has been running his mouth. Not at all. I was pretty peeved about his casual jog up the first base line on Wednesday night. I thought someone who is so quick to call out his teammates for not playing The Right Way should be busting his ass so his words have some meaning. I also think he made too many excuses for his horrid April.

But I still like him. I like that the Royals have someone who gets fired up about something. (I love Miguel Olivo for the same reason.)Like Craig said at Royals Authority, if the offensive production is there, I will take the tirades, the name-calling, even the occasional jog on a ground ball. That last part goes against everything I've always held dear and tried to teach the little ones about baseball; I've always been a "run hard on everything" kind of person. But if Guillen was being truthful about having groin and hip problems...well shoot, I'm willing to forgive. I like the kind of intensity that makes a man play through injuries, and I'm willing to cut him slack for that.

And for the record, I don't care what he says about the fans. Not all ballplayers love fans. I get that. I appreciate the players who are great with fans, but I no longer expect it because I know that Guillen isn't the only one who doesn't give a rat's ass about fans. Guillen might be one of the only ones to come out and say it, but he's not the only one who feels that way.

The All-Boring Break next week should provide a nice rest for those injuries (since it lasts approximately 8 years), and Jose can spend the 2nd half of the season talking all he wants, as long as his bat talks as loudly as his mouth, and as long as both of those are louder than Emil.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I have now seen a no-hitter...

...and it wasn't nearly as cool as I hoped it would be. I suppose that will happen when it is thrown against my team.

Well, also, I didn't feel like the ORoyals lineup failed to get a hit. The game was 7 innings, like all minor league games that are part of twin bills. I don't want to take anything away from Dustin Nippert; obviously it's something significant to retire that many batters of any team, at any level. I'm just saying that I would have scored Ryan Shealy's ground ball through the left side in the 7th as a hit, that's all.

When that ball got through the infield to lead off the inning, I celebrated as if Shealy had broken up the no-no. Yes, finally! ...and then it was called an error on third baseman Travis Metcalf, and I had a really hard time repressing my vocal displeasure. In the linked story, Nippert says that Metcalf would have made that play "9 out of 10 times," but I thought it would have been an awfully tough play, and was a pretty rough error to have called.

I should clarify that I'm not bashing on the official scorers. I know that keeping score is a delicate job in a normal game, and in a situation like today's that delicacy is heightened and a lot of balls in play could be scored either way. Maybe I'd change my mind if I saw a video of the play; maybe it was an easier play than I thought. I suppose I should be glad I've seen a no-no in person, because it was on my List. And at least it was a likable team - I always enjoy the RedHawk visits to Omaha. (Bobby Jones, their manager, absolutely cracks me up. I spent a fair amount of time talking to him between games yesterday, and his biggest concerns had nothing to do with his team. He always has to make sure he can find a place to smoke discreetly, and he was also extremely bummed out that the storm-canceled fireworks from Friday night were not going to be made up on Saturday.)

Anyway, so...yeah. I've seen a no-hitter.

EDIT: This was only part of a very eventful weekend, including a game played in a stadium with no electricity, which I blogged about at WOW Women's World.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In anticipation of this I-70 Series

Alberto Callaspo does his very best Tony La Russa impression.

Royals utility player arrested for DUI

A Kansas City Royals infielder spent more than seven hours in jail today after he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Campus police for the University of Missouri-Kansas City stopped Alberto J. Callaspo, 25, about 3 a.m. after he allegedly ran a red light near E. 48th and Oak streets, just north of the campus. The officer booked Callaspo into the jail at Kansas City police headquarters downtown about 4:30 a.m.

Callaspo appeared before a municipal judge via video camera about 10:10 a.m., and the judge granted him a signature bond. He was released just before noon.

Additional details about the arrest were not available because the UMKC police report was not completed.

The Royals obtained Callaspo last winter from the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitcher Billy Buckner. The Royals website said he has filled in at second base and shortstop and has a batting average of .290.

Meanwhile, there are 90-mph winds outside. Better shut down the computer and hide for a bit! Wish me luck!

Being away from my computer: Not recommended

So, I went to Kansas City for a couple days, and was not near a computer.

While I was there, Ramon Ramirez did not start a brawl with the Rockies, but I have fighting on the brain anyway.

The Royals have won five straight and 10 of their last 11, and the Omaha Royals are back home so I get to go back to work. Life is officially good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's about sports, but really not

For some reason I paused from loading my new Sansa with music to catch up on Deadspin from the last day and a half. I'm glad I did, for the latest installment of Balls Deep.

It's about Tiger Woods, but it's not about Tiger Woods at all (and it's some damn fine writing. For all his vulgarity - and for all Buzz Bissinger's resentment towards his work - Drew is a talented, thought-provoking writer). That's something I love abundantly about sports: the U.S. Open doesn't really matter at all, but we can make it matter, we can make it a moment to share with our neighbors or our grandkids or a reading audience or Facebook friends. It doesn't matter how good or bad the Royals are, but by sharing in the misery (and the occasional triumph), we make it matter, if for no other reason than to have something to share.

Is it healthy to obsess over sports? Maybe not. I probably devote too much time to baseball and not enough time to other things (exercise, drawing, reading the news), but I think it's better to be passionate about sports than to be passionate about nothing. And maybe in a way, bonding with neighbors and strangers about ballgames helps to prepare us to bond over tragedy.

People often complain, legitimately, that this world is way too impersonal, that people are too obsessed with their own activities to greet a passing neighbor on the sidewalk. (Heck, I am guilty of this sometimes - I started this post acknowledging that I have yet another headphoned gadget to buffer myself from the world around me.) How much worse would that be if we didn't have sports? Whenever I see a stranger wearing Royals stuff on, I feel like I can relate. Even though that person and I have never spoken, I can see that we have shared in a lot of the same things: frustration, false hope, just enough victory to keep us both hanging on and proclaiming our fandom.

With what else can you do that? I can't look at a stranger in the grocery store and say, "Oh, that girl is Catholic. We have so many things in common, such a connection." I can't look at someone and see things like that, but I can see what their sports affiliation is - I do have a way to relate to my neighbor and appreciate his frustrations and victories. That is, in the words of Sara Evans, a real fine place to start.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Minda on Aviles (not like that) on Yahoo!

Witness the beginning of my extreme Internet fame here.

Ahh, the power of superstition

If it weren't for baseball, I wouldn't be superstitious in the slightest. In real life, I don't really believe in coincidences, everything happens for a reason, all that good stuff. But in baseball (clearly more important than real life), I believe that what I wear will have an impact on my team playing hundreds of miles away; my smallest actions could be the difference-maker for the Royals.

Every time Brian Bannister makes a start, I wear my beautiful powder blue Banny jersey. That's just how it is, and I'm afraid to deviate. But today, I was not at home during the game, and opted not to wear the jersey out to the ballpark to watch Stanford send Miami home.

So I created a surrogate Minda to wear the jersey for me. Behold:
A Dr Pepper pillow serves as the head, on which is perched a powder blue Royals hat. The body is...another Dr Pepper pillow actually, and the fake-Minda's "lap" (some other pillows) is covered by a Royals stadium blanket.

And good golly, it worked. Go Royals.
(PS, I wrote a thing about Mike Aviles for Yahoo! that should be online later. I'll put up a link then. Also, I'm doing a brief CWS overview for Ladies... after I get some sleep, and I suppose I'll post a link to that here too. For now...Good night.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New stuff

I like to think about the mental struggles that inevitably accompany life in the minor leagues. Some of my thoughts about that are here, at Getting to First Base.

Meanwhile, Mike Aviles, Rookie of the Millennium, just hit a home run against the Cards. Woo!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Potential can of worms

Sexism in sports blogging has been kind of a touchy subject recently. We've approached the subject a few times over at Ladies..., like here with the Rick Sutcliffe/Erin Andrews' dress comments, and today because Fanhouse decided to trim an interview with Lady Andrea which seemed to change her argument pretty significantly.

The full interview in which Andie actually gets to make her point: Here.
The truncated interview which changes the tone of her argument: Here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Boys will be boys

Hat tip to Baseball Time in Arlington, where I saw a video of some Rangers players doing one thing I have always wanted to do: Slip 'n' Sliding on the tarp during a rain delay. I've never been so jealous of anything, ever:

That is all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If only I had better words for this...Dad.

Many times,I find myself relating to someone else's experiences "as the daughter of a ________." Someone's facing a drug screening? "My dad was a probation officer, so I've heard so many stories about those." Someone's talking about incarceration? "My dad was a warden, so I can discuss these theories about corrections." Someone's telling about when they needed an ambulance at 4 in the morning? "Oh, my dad's a paramedic; that pager going off in the night was a big part of our household routine."

He was and is more things, too: a teacher, a firefighter, a coach in almost every sport I played. Most of all, he's a hell of a daddy. I have four brothers, so I'm kind of the princess, I guess. Dad likes to say I've got him wrapped around my little finger, that he'd do anything for me if I just bat my eyes at him. But I hope he knows the reverse is true - I'd give anything, do anything, go anywhere for him.

And how could I not? I can't think of any man between Jesus' time and today that I admire more than my father. Daddy is selfless - those 4 a.m. ambulance calls weren't fun for him, but he wanted to help people, and he never ever complained about being tired when it was time to go to work a couple hours later. He never complains about anything, except maybe the Royals, and he has more things he could complain about than many people.

Like I said before, my Daddy is a million things. He has always found time to cheerfully and skillfully be everything for everyone, whether it was coaching my Little League teams, volunteer firefighting, teaching EMS classes at the local college, serving on our parish council, working full-time, sharing in the cooking and cleaning with Mom...or all of the above.

When I screw up, he never yells, and if he ever completely loses patience with my idiocy he never shows it. I never have to question whether he loves me, my brothers, and my mom, and I thank God every day for that. If more daddies everywhere could be at all like my daddy, my hero, the world would be a totally different place.

As usual, the Fathers' Day contributions at PostSecret have broken my heart, but made me weep a little (OK, a lot) with appreciation for the dad I have. So...hi Daddy, sorry I can't be at home to bake you a Royals cake this year, but I hope this will do. Happy Father's Day.


Piling it on

"It hasn't been a breeze for Hochevar, but the Royals have given him great run support." -Ryan LeFebvre, after Luke Hochevar finished his start tonight

By the time Luke Hochevar exited the field tonight, the Royals had already scored as many runs in tonight's game as they had in Hochevar's last seven starts combined. How is it even possible to score fewer than 11 runs in any selection of 7 games? Gads.

I loved everything about this game, with the minor exception of Hoch giving up double-digit hits, but since he struck out 6 and walked none, that's quite a nitpick. Especially when Mike Aviles heaps on four hits, scores four, and the whole offense explodes for a game like this. The D'Back "defense" helped a little bit with it, but the Royals finally did a good job of capitalizing on the opportunities created by both their own bats and opponents' defensive ineptitude.

Really, this night was a fabulous showing for all types who were at Omaha to start the season: Hochevar with the win, Aviles with a near-cycle, Jeff Fulchino with a good 1-2-3 inning, and of course the debut of Carlos Rosa.

Rosa looked really good - I wish Ryan, Splitt, and Joel had not been chit-chatting (entertaining as that was) instead of calling the action. I know it wasn't a leveragey situation at all, but Rosa's performance was encouraging. He looked as comfortable against big leaguers as he did against AAA hitters. I think his mental readiness was the biggest question surrounding his callup; Dayton Moore has been saying since he watched Rosa in Omaha weeks ago that his stuff was ready for the Bigs and they were just concerned about whether he was ready mentally. Glad to see him steamroll his opponents and, for at least tonight, justify the roster move.

Back home in Omaha...the CWS is here!

I did not have the opportunity to watch any Florida State baseball this season until I saw them in their super regional against Wichita State. I only had a little time to watch one of those games one day before work, but I caught the part where FSU shortstop Tony Delmonico had a runner slide into him really hard. Delmonico went to the ground, writhing in pain. He was helped off the field and I assumed he was done at least for the day, but he emerged 11 minutes later with a hurt ankle and a bunch of stitches in his leg - and played the rest of the game.

Of course, the Seminoles went on to advance to the CWS and are trying to hang in there against Stanford in the very first game of this year's series. Delmonico is playing, despite swelling in the ankle he hurt in the super regional game.

I don't want to say that this kind of determination to play baseball wouldn't happen anywhere else, but it's unsurprising that it happens as part of the College World Series storyline. During this tournament we have the privilege of finding the players whose hearts are most full of fire for baseball, who will ignore great amounts of pain to stay on the field and help their teams, and who do all of that while managing lives as students and trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (because, as the NCAA commercials keep reminding me, most of them will go pro in something other than sports).

Last year at this time, I also had a baseball-related ankle sprain, so maybe that's why I've taken such an interest in the resilient Delmonico's story. Whatever the reason, I've decided Delmonico is my pet favorite, so I kind of hope Florida State can pull out a win tonight against The Cardinal and stay in my town for a little while. For reasons I don't want to get into*, I'm watching today's action (and, likely, most of the rest of the games) from my futon instead of from inside Rosenblatt Stadium. But I'll do my best to give you some kind of bloggy coverage from the hallowed home of the Greatest Show on Dirt.

*OK, I kind of do want to share the reasons, but now isn't the time. Maybe if I get reeeeeeally grumpy while the CWS is still going on, I'll spill. But otherwise, no.

I absolutely love just being in Omaha right now. It's a great place to live in general, but I get this sense of pride and a little giddiness every time people on ESPN talk about how cool it is to make it to Omaha. I'm pleased the city was able to lock up the Series for another 25 years, because I can't think of another city where this tournament would work the way it does here. Once we move things into the new stadium, there will be some new logistical challenges but overall the city knows how to coordinate traffic and the temporary swell in population. Local businesses already know how to accommodate everyone and make visitors feel welcome and at home. (Side note: I grew up in a teeeeeeny-tiny town, so I always thought of Omaha as a scary big city. Now I think it is as friendly as a town of any size could be, and I giggle a little at the perception I once had of this "giant small town.") The bars all make extra room for beer garden crowds, where fans of rival teams can drink together and be friends for a while, enjoying the common destination each one's team worked so hard to reach. The city is centrally located and...well, it's just a darn great place to be a baseball fan.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just wow

WOW Women's World is a women's website that has blogs, podcasts, videos and all kinds of other content for women, by women. They also have this cute little sports blogger named Minda, who wrote her first post (of many) for the site today. It's here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Quick and random musings

I'm hitting the wide open road tomorrow so I can go see some friends and then go see my parents/little brother/dogs for a couple of days before the College World Series takes over my every minute. But here are a few things, in my beloved numbered list form:

1. So, how about that Mike Aviles? Well, except for today*. I loved the other night as he was standing on second after his first big-league hit. You could tell he was trying SO hard not to smile, as if it was just another hit, business as usual. After a few seconds of that charade, the glorious face-splitting grin couldn't stay inside much longer, and it was just...cute. I love those grown-men-being-reduced-to-little-boy moments that baseball gives us so abundantly.

Seeing Aviles get intentionally walked to set up the Guillen grand slam yesterday was one of the most delightful things I think I've ever seen. Not only is it more fuel to the flame of people who are annoyed by IBBs, but the mere thought of Andy Pettite, a likely HoFer, pitching around Mikey in his 7th big-league at-bat is hilarious. Then Guillen did the most un-babylike thing possible with the situation.

*not that I could see how he did today, because Cox doesn't care about Royals fans enough to televise all the games they're supposed to. It's a problem for them to institute a tiny surcharge to accommodate those extra broadcasts that a lot of people would like to watch, but it is not a problem for them to institute HUGE rate increases so two people can watch HGTV in HD while seeing caller ID on their TV screens. We love paying for useless garbage that no one will use, instead of getting something useful and entertaining.

2. I came halfway to having a lifelong dream fulfilled yesterday. Carlos Rosa pitched four perfect innings and was not really showing any signs of letting down, but then a bunch of stupid rain came, and there was an hour and seven minute-long delay, and of course by that time they didn't send Rosa back out, so the dream of seeing a PG were shattered. Not only that, but Omaha went on to lose the game anyway. On that note...

3. I couldn't be happier to be done with the Iowa Cubs for a while. The O-Royals are just 2-6 against the Cubbies so far, and many of the losses were of the heartbreaking variety. (However, I will miss the crowds that the Cubs series always bring. Those crowds have some great energy!)

4. I will have my first actual professional baseball writing gig for this year's College World Series. During that time, I probably won't write here much (if at all) but I will post links to whatever I write for Baseball Prospectus. (Yes, them. Woo!)

5. Glad to see Jeff Fulchino called up to the bigs (the first-ever ex-Natural to make it there), and to see that he was effective in today's game. I wonder how Joel Peralta will react to being demoted; he really didn't like it the first time this year but responded by not allowing a run in his time with Omaha. I hope he does the same thing; some more scoreless relief would be dandy.

6. I would love to have written more, but I need sleep. Earlier when I sat down on my living room floor to fire up my laptop, I noticed that the carpet was soaking wet. After some severe weather last night and a bunch on other recent nights, it seems that maybe my house's foundation has a leak, because the water was definitely coming up from under the carpet, rather than having been spilled on to it. This is disturbing because I have a specific fear of water-related accidents that stems from the time a toilet* in my childhood home literally split apart and flooded a big chunk of the house.

*No, a pipe didn't burst; the toilet tank itself just inexplicably split open, so as the tank kept trying and trying to re-fill itself, hundreds of gallons of water spilled down into the TV room below that bathroom, and then the room below that. I still freak out at the possibility of more flooding in the 4 places I've lived since then.

7. From the Heartwarming Stories Department: Lady Andrea at Ladies... writes about how the NFL has pitched in to help a tornado-ravaged town in her area.

8. Two of my brothers and I have recently started joining in the in-game open threads at Royals Review. For me, it feels like a support group. I can never have enough bitter-yet-optimistic, snarky, clever Royals fans around. I don't know why we didn't start doing those things much sooner.

Thanks for sticking around while I haven't been writing much. I love you all dearly. On that note, if you find yourself at an O-Royals game, feel free to come say hello! A while back, reader 'mike in omaha' introduced himself, and it was delightful to meet someone outside of my family who reads this here site.

Monday, June 02, 2008

When relievers are no relief

How not to preserve a win for your team and your starting pitcher:
* Pitcher Change: John Foster replaces Matt Wright.
* Ryan Roberts singles on a ground ball to center fielder Mitch Maier.
* Nelson Cruz walks. Ryan Roberts to 2nd.
* Coaching visit to mound.
* Jason Botts walks. Ryan Roberts to 3rd. Nelson Cruz to 2nd.
* Chris Davis hits a grand slam (2) to left field. Ryan Roberts scores. Nelson Cruz scores. Jason Botts scores.
* John Mayberry doubles (8) on a line drive to left fielder Chris Lubanski.
* German Duran strikes out swinging.
* Taylor Teagarden flies out to left fielder Chris Lubanski.
* Drew Meyer called out on strikes.

Notice that all those things in bold text happened with no outs. Also take note that this is not some scary work of fiction; it actually happened this afternoon as the Omaha Royals visited the Oklahoma RedHawks. Matt Wright had pitched seven pretty good innings, including a dominating showing in the bottom of the 7th, where he threw 7 pitches to get his first three batters out. At that point, Omaha led 5-3, and Mike Jerschele called for John Foster to take care of the Hawks in the 8th.

It didn't work. Foster never found the strike zone, throwing something like four strikes in four at-bats leading up to the Chris Davis grand slam. Mark Nassar sounded like he needed a hug as he made the call. I sounded like I needed anger management classes. But now that I look at the workload the bullpen has taken on lately, I guess Foster had to get through that inning come hell or high water (or a grand slam that erases a W for Wright).

Neal Musser worked three innings last night (and got the odd combination of a blown save and the win), and Roberto Giron worked three innings the day before that, which pretty much leaves Brad Salmon and Devon Lowery. Roman Colon is making the spot start for Omaha tomorrow, which probably means the bullpen had to be used sparingly today so they're ready for a couple extra innings of work in relief of Colon. Colon, by the way, looked really good in long relief in the game that was suspended by the acid spill last week. That 3.2 inning stint was his last outing, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go 4+ innings tomorrow. The Omaha bullpen will need to be prepared for a few more innings than usual tomorrow, which meant a frustrating day for John Foster today, and a loss that may have been (sadly) necessary.
Meanwhile, in the Big Leagues, Kansas City is on a winning streak. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A good day?, and a proposal for ASG voting

The three teams that matter most to me will all be playing this afternoon. The KC Royals will try to mount a winning streak of two games at 1:05, which is the same time the Huskers will try to stay alive in their Regional after yesterday's loss to UC-Irvine. Then at 2:00, Carlos Rosa pitches for the O-Royals, which is obviously kind of a big deal. This could be a very good baseball day for me, or an exceptionally bad one.

Anyway, that's not the point at all. The point is, I got an e-mail from Nicole, a fellow bloggerette who has this proposal about voting for this year's All-Stars:

Hi, I'm a blogger in Wisconsin who covers the Brewers ( and here) and I had a thought on All Star voting that I think might be mutually beneficial and I thought I'd run it by you.

I'm not sure about your ballclub, but the Brewers go all out trying to push the All-Star voting by their fans. I've literally seen kids walk out of the stadium carrying boxes of unpunched ballots (3000 or so to a box). They offer incentives for every 10 ballots turned in with raffles of autographed merchandise.

I realized that I punch in all my Brewers and then arbitrarily vote for members of the AL. If I feel like reading over it, I try not to punch any Yankees or Red Sox, but for the most part, I just go right down the line. I don't care who's on the AL team.

If my theory is correct, AL voters feel the same way and I do about voting for the NL team, especially if they're voting in mass quantity.

So I propose we two fan bases tie together and agree to vote together. All your NL votes go to Brewers, all our AL votes go to Royals.

We're both small market teams with limited coastal media exposure and a long shot at getting more than one guy on the All-Star roster. As all our "opposite league" votes are just throw aways, why don't we start a campaign of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

We involve other team blogs, spread the word, and make a difference.

I've thought about possible detractors, and I don't see any. I can only speak from this side, but since they're handing out ballots 3000 at a time, I don't think the Brewers have any problem with stuffing the ballot boxes. If we're doing it anyway for our guys, why don't we help each other out.

What do you think? I know it's a bit late for the idea, but we do have 6 weeks til the game and I really think that it we can get this going, we could make it a yearly tie-together and get some midwestern love for our little teams that could.