Monday, July 14, 2008

1st half in review, because I'm BORED already

Ugh, I really hate the All-Star Break. A lot. I hate it even knowing that the guys not involved in stuff in New York have the chance to go home (wherever that may be) for a few days. I suppose that much is cool, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the least interesting three days in the entire sports year. I don't buy into the hype that ESPN has been building around the Derby, or the ASG itself. The Futures Game is a useful tool to see who's who around baseball, but it's over, and the rest of the break has begun.

Yesterday's Royals game put me in a deep funk, and I am having trouble remembering that there have been some great things so far this Royals season. All I can see is John Buck having a weak, inaccurate arm, Mike Aviles making the wrong throw, and Joakim Soria helplessly waving his arms at home, completely undeserving of the 'L' that was assigned to his record.

But I only have to look at the previous night's game to know that good things can happen to Royals fans. I've watched that DeJesus home run and listened to Denny's radio call of it over and over and over and over, and it doesn't get any less awesome. Couldn't have happened to a better guy, y'know?

DeJesus is having such a great season, and I'm not sure if it will serve to cement himself as a cornerstone for the beginning of contention, or if it will just bolster his trade value. Either way, I'm enjoying his '08 production so far. It's only halftime and he's already set a new career high for homers in a season; he's only 7 shy of his career high for RBI, and he's on pace to set new career highs in hits and steals. He's slugging better than he ever has (.474) and is getting on base as well as he usually does. And his OPS+ of 121 leads the team, and is head-and-shoulders above the All-Star That Wasn't, Jose Guillen (who is at 98).

With all that in mind, I invite you to take a moment and treat yourself to that walkoff home run again. Really. Here it is.

For one night, the Royals got to be the heartbreakers instead of having their hearts broken. And it happened in the same night that Mark Grudzielanek collected his 2000th hit. An honorable career milestone and a sweet walkoff victory in the same night? Awesome! Plus, Horacio Ramirez (or Ho-Ram, if you prefer, and I certainly do) picked up a win against the team that cut him. So many stories...this was the kind of game that left me so high on baseball I didn't think I'd ever come down.

And then Sunday happened. What a stupid game. If you didn't see how Seattle scored the winning run, you're lucky. I do not believe I've ever been this blindly pissed off about the Royals finding creative ways to blow a game, certainly not this season. It didn't help that Joakim Soria was on the mound and had to pay for the mistakes of his teammates by taking a loss.

So now I need to breathe, to stop being angry and to enjoy some of the cool things that have happened this season. I need to do something to keep me warm through this long, cold break from meaningful baseball.

Opening Series:
Remember how cool it was to sweep Detroit? At that time, Detroit was the team that was supposed to score 1000. OK, I know nobody intelligent was actually predicting it. ESPN just kept building and building on the hype around the Tigers, and eventually the number just sort of ballooned into 1000. Anyway, it was exciting, to the point where I was an illiterate, blubbering mess. But once I collected my wits about me, I came up with some sweet math to commemorate the sweep.

Two aces:
Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister both got off to those incredible starts, where their ERAs were both under 1.00 and each was 3-0. Greinke has kept it up to some extent, which is exactly what I expected of him. I had hoped that this was his 20-win season, but at this point it would take a near-miracle to get there form his current mark of 7-5. I suppose that's a symptom of playing for a team like Kansas City - lots of no-decisions. But I've got my fingers crossed as tight as they can be crossed that the Royals lock down Greinke to a long-term deal, and soon.

Anyway, the hot start for those two pitchers also included the home opener, in which Bannister struck A-Rod out three times. And I was there. Oh, and there were the back-to-back CG shutouts. Awesome!

Fast forward a little ways, and there was the night Jon Lester no-hit the Royals. I should look at that game as a low for the Royals, but I'm too enamored with no-hitters to have been that upset at the time. The rest of the games in that losing streak. hurt a lot worse.

Yeah, those days were dark. But this roster move was made, and the spark that Michael Anthony Aviles provided to the Royals lineup was undeniable. His hot streak made us all very, very excited, and paved the way for a winning June.

Lots of other cool things have happened to the Royals. Jose Guillen was the world's greatest hitter for about 6 weeks. Joakim Soria's legend has grown and grown, and justifiably so. Did you guys see this video wherein Soria was given a "Mexicutioner" t-shirt? Hat tip to Brad for the video, and there's just so much to love: 1) Jack is so adorably humble about being one of the best closers in the game. 2) I love the way the name "Mexicutioner" has caught on. Dutton uses it regularly in stories in the Star, and it has now been used in FNSKC broadcasts as well.

Do you have a favorite KC moment from the season so far? Which are the moments you can watch and relive and discuss, without loss of their awesomeness?


ravi said...

not to be mean or anything but jon lesters no hitter is my favorite royals moment :o) but also i love greinke, he's the man.

Anonymous said...

So we were at the mall yesterday afternoon & I was standing outside one of the sports stores watching the game while I waited for my sister-in-law. At the point when Davies gave up the single in the 7th & Mahay was warming up, I was like okay, time for the change. No change, home run, and Michelle caused a scene in the mall ranting about Hillman! What a dumb ass - can he not change pitchers ever? He puts way too much faith in mediocre pitchers when he has some of the best relievers out there! I left after that, knowing the game was over as usual. Sad.

D.W. said...

I think my favorite moment so far was getting a sweep in St. Louis. Always nice to quiet the "Best Fans in Baseball." And being 21-22 in mid-May was a nice change from the past few years. We'll just ignore the next couple of weeks after that point.

Mike in Omaha said...

So Soria is pitching right now in the All Star Game and doing his usual great job. Unfortunately, the Fox Announcers (I refuse to refer to them by name) are more concerned talking about hypotheticals if the game goes further than talking about the amazing season that the Royals All Star is having. Ugh.

Minda said...

D.W., I always enjoy success against the Cards. And it has nothing to do with some outdated/nonexistent rivalry. I just straight-up don't like them, and La Russa annoys me more than almost anyone in the world.

Mike, I noticed that. Until the 9th inning, the only time they had even mentioned Soria was to point out that he was sitting next to Rivera. It would be nice if they'd talk about the game happening on the field once in a while, for once the Royals have a worthy All-Star and they don't say one word about him, even when he notches a strikeout.

Mike in Omaha said...

At least the world got to see him strike out Uggla on a knee buckling curveball. Its great to have a REAL all star on our team this year...and be able to argue that there are a couple of other guys that could have been there!