Sunday, August 31, 2008

Silver linings galore...?

Brett Bigler's Mustache* just his first-ever professional home run to give Omaha a lead, right after I thought, "He has no power, hopefully he can just get on base here."

*the team is still using his old Wilmington picture on the website, but he is currently sporting a ratty 'stache that looks like two caterpillars died on his face. My brother enjoys rooting for him by the name "Brett Bigler's Mustache." So there's that.


Anyway, I am celebrating a mustache's hitting because Kansas City gave us another frustrating day. Lifeless hitting, poor bullpen management (Kip Wells was probably left in there for a batter too long - it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't going to start finding the strike zone at all), another possible injury... the usual crap.

HOWEVER, three of the Royals' farm teams are in the playoffs: Northwest Arkansas, Burlington (IA), and Wilmington. It's nice to have a little bit of hope for the future, and to have some postseason games to follow.

Currently, KOTK's Mark Nassar is laughing his ass off about Brayan Pena making a circus-like, floppy catch out in left field. Good times. If Omaha holds their lead today, they will guarantee a non-last place finish. Nashville is a game behind the ORoyals, and their last games in New Orleans were canceled on account of Gustav. The worst Omaha can do is lose today and tomorrow to finish in a tie for last (or 3rd, if you're a glass-half-full type) with the Sounds.

More later...just wanted to check in so y'all know I'm not dead.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The coolest thing happened to me tonight

Boy it's been a long time since I've posted, hasn't it? Long story short, I did not have Internet in my dorm room (horror of horrors!), and then both of my computers conspired against me and gave me hard drive failure scares.

Tonight was the last Omaha Royals home game until April 17, 2009. I'm not counting down or anything, but that's 232 days away. I have a lot of thoughts from the last homestand, but I'll have to get to those tomorrow when I have no classes to attend and a whole day to spend with my Baseball Prospectus and my laptop (now featuring an Internet connection).

For now, just one quick story:
I ran dangerously low on fuel on my way to the stadium this afternoon, but decided to wait until after work to get more. So I pull into the gas station closest to Rosenblatt, put in my debit card and pin number, and untwist my Taurus' gas cap. Before I could get any further, a white pickup pulls up behind me, and the driver, a 40-something man, says "Hey! You're from Western Nebraska?"

Turns out this man and his wife were from a town near my hometown. And also that they had $35 left on a gas card to that station that they couldn't use, so they gave it to me, based only on my familiar license plate prefix.

After the bummer of a game that Omaha played, on top of the fact that it was the last home game of the season, I was feeling pretty blue. I can't think of anything else a stranger could have randomly done for me that would have been better, or more timely. So now I'm in a good mood, reflecting on the positives of my day, rather than being completely bummed out that my season is over, and I no longer get to see the Shealy and the Colon and the Wright and the many, many other smiling faces that made my summer days so much fun. Man I'm getting all mushy and cheesy here, so I'll stop and go do something manly, like chop down a tree or watch last night's Project Runway. Back with actual baseball stuff tomorrow!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A new low, in NSFW-rant form.

From Sam Mellinger's blog today:
Maybe my memory's just short, and the 12-game losing streak is fading, but to me, because of the way they've lost these games, the stranglehold they now have on last place (again), the injury to Hochevar, the anemia of the offense, the struggles of Banny, this is about as bad as it's been all season.

It was admirable of Sam to try to see the other side of the shitty way it feels to be a Royals fan right now. But he does go on to concede that the last two weeks have felt a lot more miserable than that 12-gamer back in May, and he's correct. Sometimes I joke that "I hate being a Royals fan." Tonight when I expressed this feeling to a friend... I meant it.


<---Yeah, David, I feel the exact same way.


It sucks to lose on all days that end in 'Y'. It sucks to be described everywhere as 'hapless.' It sucks to have people suggest that the Royals be relegated to a less-than-major league, EPL style. It sucks to have to deal with a disabled list a mile long.

What sucks the most for me right now is knowing that Omaha has no one to offer the hurting parent club. Normally I'd offer a Carlos Rosa or even a Dusty Hughes, but they're both nursing injuries and far from normal form. I'd love to propose a Shane Costa to ease the burden of David DeJesus and Mitch Maier being DL'ed, but he's done for the season and has been for quite a while. We've been limping through the last week or so with Single-A mediocrity Brett Bigler in the outfield, so we have nothing to spare. And I'd be beyond thrilled if I could give KC a middle infielder to fill the Mark Grudzielanek-shaped void and a 3rd baseman to take Alex Gordon's place, but we've got this guy playing most days, so no help there either. (An Omaha season-ticket holder who is brutally honest about everything described Labandeira as someone who should be playing in Little League right now. Ouch. But true. Ouchtrue. Trouch?)

The kind of losing in which the Royals have entrenched themselves is impossible to escape: Injured starters and no rested relievers to take over their innings, along with the losses of bats like DeJesus and Gordon, and the epic depletion of the AAA team... it's the recipe for the most miserable August and September on record. I'll still watch, but I have zero expectations. Having those for this year has only hurt, and I've given this shitty team enough of my heart. I think that, for my own emotional health, I should check out for the season. I can't keep up this level of investment, because I don't want my roommate to come home from classes and find me curled in the fetal position on the floor, draped in a rumpled powder blue jersey and frantically muttering something about new blue tradition. If I'm going to lead a normal life, I have to try to detach myself somehow from this team. But I'll probably fail at that, because failing is what the Royals do.

/rant

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kip Wells....yep. Back to baseball!

I do love the Kansas City Star, and I am eternally grateful that it is available online for free. But two things bother me about it:
1) The comment section

There's not much the Star can do about the comment sections, but they are often filled with unrivaled idiocy and misguided vitrol by people who are sure they are geniuses. I am always amazed at some of the things people say, opinions and "solutions" for the Royals which are obviously not researched in the slightest nor given any practical thought before the words are committed to the comment box.

The smart thing to do would be to stop reading, but I can't. Anyway, I found this comment in the Kip Wells story to be particularly...something:
"He should be a "free" agent, because he's not worth a nickel!"


Um. Yeah. Thanks for that, YAWN, if that is your real name. I'll get to Wells' value in a second, but first the other thing that bugs me about the online edition of the Star.

2) Awkwardly large and often pixelly pictures.

I'm pretty sure that player mugs are meant to be displayed in a small size, like the ones on everyone's player page. (Take David DeJesus, for example, because that's what my whims dictate.)

So when I open a story on kansascity.com, it's alarming to find things like this staring back at me:

The face of Kip Wells, enlarged to show texture
-or-
Kip Wells just ate a bad burrito
-or-
Kip Wells believes that the cameras are stealing his soul
-or-
Someone just told Kip Wells that his dog died
-or-
Kip Wells was just informed that the Rockies had DFA'd him


...oh wait. That last one really did happen. Anyway, there's not a whole lot to criticize or praise about this pickup for the Royals. Some of our starters aren't pitching deep into games, we just traded away one reliever, our stud veteran setup guy isn't healthy, and Trey Hillman made a vow to only use his best pitcher once a week, and even then only for the 9th. They had to get somebody, and Wells was suddenly available. Dutton writes that Wells will be used to bolster the bullpen, but it's not unrealistic to think he could be used as a spot starter if anything happens to the rotation.

Meanwhile, Kansas City had yet another off day, and Omaha was rained out in Oklahoma, so it feels like it's been forever since I've seen the Royals play. (Yeah, there was a Kansas City game yesterday, but that doesn't mean any of them actually played any baseball. Yikes.) Alberto Callaspo and Joey Gathright were both 0fer in their respective rehab appearances Sunday night in Oklahoma. Then again, the majority of the lineup went 0fer in that game, so whatever.

I'll be moving back to Lincoln (while still working in Omaha) later this week, so posts might be sparse for the next week or so. Again, I extend my traditional invitation to anyone in the Omaha area to come catch an ORoyals game before the season ends! Here's what's on tap for the last homestand, from oroyals.com. See you at Rosenblatt?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The most non-baseball post I can muster


Yep, another one of those "Other Things." I'll come back with some baseball stuff later.

This weekend at my neighborhood theatre is one of my favorite events to experience, and something I think everyone should do at some point or another: the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I went last night amidst a huge crowd, and as usual the showgoers ranged from regular jeans-and-tees folks to hardcore RHPS devotees in elaborate costume and makeup. (Admittedly, I do not have the confidence or the right type of wardrobe to be the latter, so I show up as the former.)

But something was very different about last night's showing...they had rules! It seems so contrary to enforce strict rules for RHPS, but sure enough the Dundee did not allow the usual props like rice, squirt guns, toast, toilet paper, etc. I understand that it's the biggest pain in the ass of the year (or a lifetime) to clean up after a raucous Rocky crowd, but anyone who went last night for the first time totally missed the full RHPS experience, and we all know it's not just something to watch, but rather an event in which every spectator is also a part. What fun is it to raise a toast if nobody has actual pieces of toast to throw around, and how are we supposed to feel the rain of that fateful night without squirt guns (and newspapers just like Janet's under which to cower)? If I'm not picking rice out of my hair the day after the show, something is very wrong.

Still, I'm glad I went. It was a good time, and there was some quality yelling from all corners of the theatre. My friends and I had feared that the line was too long and we wouldn't get in. But I made it all the way to the ticket counter, handed over my cash, and when the guy had given me my ticket he slammed his hands authoritatively on the counter: "That's it! We're sold out!"

I felt like the biggest douchebag in the world, and with everyone behind me staring daggers through me, I slipped into the dark theater about 10 minutes after the show started. Because we were the last in, there were no seats together, and we each had to sit by random strangers. Partway through, I got the triumphant news that the Royals had signed Eric Hosmer. It was sad to not have anyone around with whom to share the happy news, but at a showing of Rocky Horror, one is never too likely to find many diehard baseball fans. There were three baseball fans there of whom I know, and they were all in my group, and one of them was me.

If you've never been, and if the picture at the top of the post doesn't scare you, I highly recommend going to experience RHPS. Every city has some cool, quirky theatre that shows it at least one weekend per year. The cool thing about my particular theatre is that my mother used to go see new movies there when she was in high school (which was approximately when Rocky Horror was a new release). So every time I go to a movie there, I feel like I'm sharing an experience with Mom, because not a whole lot has changed in the building.

And I might even go again tonight, because the Royals already have done their best to suck the very lifeblood out of me today. But I won't post about it again, because this post is as long as I can possibly stray from baseball.


Let's do the Time Warp again!


ETA: If you're not familiar, check out some of the stuff from the RHPS Cult Following wikipedia page. It explains what I mean about toast, rice, etc.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A tale from the dugout

The Omaha Royals are mired in kind of a rough patch these days. That'll happen when two of your hot pitching prospects (Carlos Rosa and Dusty Hughes) are hurting and held to pitch counts, your outfield is depleted by injuries and callups, and Josh Labandeira plays every day. Yeah, losses will happen when the bullpen has to work that much and the lineup doesn't have replacement bats for the likes of Mitch Maier, Shane Costa (who is likely done for the season), and even Mike Stodolka (whose hand is apparently still bothering him). I think we just have to grit our teeth and bear this rough patch until Rosa and Hughes are healthy enough to pitch more than an inning or two at a time. At least we have Kila Kaaihue to cheer us up.

Since there's not much more I can say about the ORoyals' current struggles, I'll just share a story from the dugout yesterday, featuring that day's birthday boy, Roman Colon:

One of our daily between-innings promotions is the water-balloon toss, where one child tosses water balloons and another tries, often with limited success, to catch them in a batting helmet with a pasta strainer on top. After yesterday's contest, we had two unpopped balloons, which I mindlessly tossed to one of our mascots.

In the next half-inning, I heard a "Hey Minda!" from the dugout, so I turned to see a frightening sight: a grinning Roman Colon holding one of the balloons. Oh no, how did he get that? I made a mental note to slap whichever mascot had put a water balloon in such dangerous hands.

Luckily I had an errand to run in the other part of the stadium, so I quickly spirited myself out of Colon's launching range, and the crisis was averted until the next inning. I was sitting on the stairs next to the dugout preparing for the next promotion. In front of me and a few feet to my left was Bob, the guy who films the Omaha players for Kansas City. He has a camera and a laptop set up in the camera well, and normally we're able to stay out of each other's way. So when a little yellow water balloon came sailing out of the dugout towards me, I had to weigh the possibility of ruining Bob's equipment against the possibility of getting soaked. I didn't have much time to decide, but I was able to swat the balloon away and it popped harmlessly in an empty corner of the camera well.

But then....Colon had another balloon. I made another mental note re: punishing the appropriate mascot, because Colon is a mischievous fellow, and for him to have anything to throw at me is always a terrifying prospect. He tossed the second balloon much higher than the first, and this time I was standing, and much closer to that laptop and camera. OK here comes the balloon ah crap I don't want to get soaked oh but Bob would kill me if I wrecked his stuff and holy crap this is bad bad BAD.

Then I caught the balloon in my bare hand. It did not pop.
ME: 1
Colon: 0


BAM! With hands that soft, I should play middle infield. Sign me up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A lot of a lot. Mostly bad news.

Good news: Dusty Hughes is back(ish)
The lefty pitcher made his first appearance since July 29 (an ugly game, for sure) after some shoulder soreness has kept him on the bench. His pitch count for tonight was 40-45, which lasted him two innings. I suppose it's not surprising for a guy who hasn't thrown in a while to be uneconomical with his pitches, but he fared pretty well anyway, racking up 5 Sonic Strikeouts (sorry, I had to) and allowing zero hits. He did walk two batters, but again I think that was just him shaking off a little rust from his time on the bench.

Bad news: The Omaha bullpen


When Hughes left the game, the ORoyals enjoyed a 3-0 lead. Then Tyler Lumsden came in, and got through 1.2 innings perfectly. But with two out and nobody on in the 4th, things got really stupid. Two 'Topes singled to bring up Michael Ryan, who also singled. Paul Lo Duca was coming around to score, but right fielder Brett Bigler* almost got the out at home, as Matt Tupman did everything he could to swipe Lo Duca but apparently missed the tag.

After Lo Duca reached home safely, Tupman tried to cut down Ryan advancing to 2nd, but nobody was there to cover, the ball sailed in to center field, another run scored, and Ryan ended up at third. Lumsden struck out the next batter, and the stupid inning was over.

*If you've ever wondered what happens when a team is desperately in need of some outfield help when all of their OFs are injured, look no further than Bigler. He was batting just .197 at SINGLE-A, but was added to Omaha's roster to help get through these dark, Costa-less days. In addition to Costa's injury, we're also playing without Mike Stodolka, whose hurt hand has kept him out of the lineup for a week now. And we're really feeling Mitch Maier's absence here; since his callup on July 24, the ORoyals are just 5-15.

But if the 4th was a stupid inning, the 5th could only be described as excruciating. Or maybe as child abuse. Lumsden and Brad Salmon tag-teamed to give up 8 runs that inning, and I was ready to tear out my eyeballs. I'm glad that inning eventually ended, but I'm concerned about the Omaha bullpen.

With Hughes and Carlos Rosa hurting, the bullpen has had to act as a starting rotation lately, and it's pretty apparent that they are stretched too thin.

Good news: Hawaiian Punch
Sam Mellinger wrote about him a few days ago, and Rany has more thoughts tonight. I'm a wee bit concerned about Kila's 13 strikeouts in 14 games, because the book on him was that he walked way more than he struck out. I'll be looking for him to cut down on his K/9 rate as the rest of the season plays out. It's weird to say anything about him having trouble adjusting to a higher level of pitching, because he is still hitting incredibly well. But I do think it is a weakness, and something he'll have to fix soon in order to justify a promotion to the Majors later this season.

Two sightings tonight:
Joey Gathright showed up in plainclothes partway through the game, and was properly chastised by the Village (the fans who sit by the 3rd base and who are AWESOME) for his tardiness. Obviously everyone who was around last year was glad to see him, and he took the time to talk to everyone who wanted him, and signed a crap-ton of autographs after the game. He has been a fan's man for as long as I've known him, and that hasn't changed in the slightest. He'll be in tomorrow night's lineup.

Alberto Callaspo showed up in the Omaha dugout (in that same gray hoodie he's always wearing). He's not on the roster at the moment, but he's around.

One last note:
I was in the middle of an epic solo in Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" on Guitar Hero this morning. Then I felt something tickling the top of my bare foot. It was a spider. This is not a good way to get five stars on any song.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Off-day thoughts

I'm still numb from the notion that Tony Pena Jr.'s batting average as a designated hitter is 1.000.

**********
Mark Nassar just reported on 1420 KOTK that the Omaha Royals are no longer last in the PCL in drawing walks; that honor now belongs to Round Rock. Sounds revolutionary.

Meanwhile, Omaha is ahead of Nashville 2-1. Do you want to guess where Omaha's runs came from? Go on, guess. You're probably right.

Yep. Another Kaaihue home run. I really hope he's for real.

**********
Speaking of the ORoyals game experience (watching Kaaihue hit is an experience, but don't take my word for it - if you have the chance, come out to a game!), the team has put a fan survey on their website. Those who take it can get some free tickets or $5 to the Royal Treasures Gift Shop. You can take the survey here, but be warned that it doesn't seem to work in Firefox. Maybe try it in Internet Explorer?

**********
My honest-to-God first reaction when I read this headline is that this is good news for the "Aviles for Rookie of the Year" dream. It seems that Evan Longoria is headed to the DL with a broken wrist.

A few thoughts:
1) I am clearly a bad person for reacting that way.
2) It really doesn't matter whether Aviles wins the RoY award. It would be really cool, but the fact that he's even in the discussion is a good enough story. He's one of the good guys, and seeing him mentioned on SportsCenter and figuring out the league's pitchers (who thought they had already figured him out) makes me very happy.
3) Obviously, bad news for Tampa Bay. A lot of folks have predicted that the Rays would collapse because that's what young teams do. That may have been the case, but right now they're missing the chance to prove those people wrong. If they are indeed going to falter, I'd like it to happen with everyone in the lineup. That would seem to be more conclusive than all the what-ifs that crop up when a team suffers key injuries late in the season.

********
Joey Gathright has yet to collect a hit in his rehab assignment with Omaha, nor get on base any other way. (Through 6 innings tonight)
I don't think that means much of anything, but it's hard to see how healthy a guy looks in a game situations if he doesn't give himself any opportunities to run any bases.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

OK this is getting ridiculous...

...but I LOVE it.
Kila Kaaihue hit a homer last night, and has yet another one tonight. (But Omaha still trails the Sounds, 5-3, at this writing.)

KILA NOW!

I have nothing to say about the Kansas City game, because I was outdoors and came inside just in time to hear things get really ugly in the 6th. Yes, I missed part of a Royals game, but I could not justify sitting at my computer listening to baseball when it's 80 degrees and slightly breezy outside. So I went outside with a picnic blanket and wrote in a journal for two hours. Yay for fresh air! And not getting stung by wasps!

But anyways, back to Omaha. The roster is already all kinds of messed up, with Shane Costa and Dave Matranga each rehabbing injuries in Arizona. Mike Stodolka had an injury scare the other night, but should be good to go. But still, it says something when Brayan Pena has been playing the outfield for a few games and Brian Buchanan has taken over the backup catcher's duties (not in games yet, but I have seen Buch catching out in the bullpen). Things seem to have gotten even hairier, as Angel Sanchez came out of tonight's game after his groundout ended the top of the 3rd. I can only assume this was because of an injury, but Sanchez's removal from the game necessitated a bunch of defensive moves. Gookie Dawkins switched from 3B to SS, Pena moved from RF to 3B (?), and Buchanan came off the bench to play RF and bat in Sanchez's spot in the lineup.

As I typed all of that, the 5-3 Nashville score became final (in 7 innings - tonight is a DH to make up for a rainout in April). More significant than the potential loss of Sanchez (and the inevitable increase in playing time for Josh Labendeira, ugh) was the fact that tonight was Carlos Rosa's first outing since July 13. He's had some tightness and pain in his pitching arm. When I asked him a few days ago how the arm was feeling, he did say it was feeling good, but I hadn't heard that he'd be pitching tonight.

In 1 inning (plus 3 batters) Rosa allowed 4 hits, 3 earned runs, and a walk. He did strike out two batters in the 1st, which is the kind of thing I have come to expect from him. I imagine he was on a tight pitch-count; the organization is being understandably careful with this potentially golden prospect, so I'm not too discouraged by tonight even though it didn't produce a pretty line. If his arm really was feeling "good" (that's a word he uses a lot), he'll be back to his regular studly self soon, and a bit of order might be restored to Omaha's chaotic pitching rotation.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Other stuff I've done this weekend:
- Thoughts about the murder in Beijing, over at Getting to First Base
- My predictions for last-place finishers at Ladies...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Brief update

Yesterday, I wrote:
- It seems like Shealy has been walking a lot more lately. I don't know if he has changed his approach or if pitchers are being more careful in the wake of his torrid late-June and July, but I will ask him when I get the chance.


I did get the chance to ask Ryan why he's been walking more. He said increased patience has been something he's been working on overall, not just in recent games. Also, he sometimes feels like he's being too patient but, as he says, "that's baseball."

So now you know.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

1B/DH drama continues in Omaha!

Kila Kaaihue hit yet another home run in Omaha tonight, but so did Ryan Shealy. What to do? I say they do an American Gladiator-style duel to decide who is the First Baseman of The Future, because I can't keep rooting for them both to dominate here and get (back) to the Majors, can I?

Shealy was back in the game at first after DHing every game since Kila's promotion (except last night, when Shealy had the night off). I wonder if it's a coincidence that Shealy had been in a minislump in those games, or if he hits better when he plays at first. I will look that up in a bit, but I really need some supper first.

But first, some quick thingies:
- Mike Stodolka left tonight's game with some sort of hand injury. Later reports from someone who accompanied him to the hospital said nothing was broken. More updates as they come, but hopefully it's nothing major because the roster is already pretty depleted these days.
- Tonight's winning pitcher for Colorado Springs was none other than Mark Redman. Yeah, that one.
- ORoyals president Alan Stein has been in town the last two days. The team has lost both games. I'm not saying these two items are related, but if this continues I will become a little bit frightened. (In all seriousness, Stein always amazes me with how much time he gives to fans of the team. In the wake of all the news that the ORoyals probably won't call the NoDo stadium home, Stein could have spent tonight's game up in a suite and avoided any potential for negative backlash about what has been a very touchy subject around town. Instead, he spent the entire game in the stands, conversing with fans and hearing their ideas about the team's future. He's a cool president, and I'm not just saying that because he might be reading this; I mean it!)
- I can't overstate how much I enjoy watching Kila Kaaihue bat; he took another walk tonight in addition to the homer. I observed to my friend Becky last night that he's the antithesis of Jason Smith's swing-happy approach, to which she replied, "You mean, he's the antitheSmith?" Yeah, exactly.
- It seems like Shealy has been walking a lot more lately. I don't know if he has changed his approach or if pitchers are being more careful in the wake of his torrid late-June and July, but I will ask him when I get the chance.
- Yes, I realize I've been focusing a lot on Kaaihue/Shealy. It's a dramatic battle to see whose career trajectory can be stifled the most by Ross Gload, a tragicomic dance, with all the grit, determination, dirty uniforms, veteran presence, and other excuses for Gload's playing every day.
- A random cool blog I found tonight: PhotoshopDisasters.

Suspended!

Before I begin, I need to share that I love Dragonforce, and I don't care who knows it. Their forthcoming album, Ultra Beatdown, is just ridiculous; my Guilty Pleasure #1.

All right, with that out of the way, let's take a peek at some of the suspensions handed down after the fracas the other day.

Miguel Olivo, who had three pitches thrown at his head: 5 games
DJ Carrasco, who threw at Olivo's head three straight times AND bitchslapped Olivo in the skull: Zero games
Zack Greinke: 5 games
Trey Hillman: 1 game
Ozzie Guillen, who promised after the game that his pitchers will be throwing at the Royals in future matchups: 2 games
AJ Pierzynski: zero games (OK, he shouldn't have been suspended for his involvement Sunday, but I just can't stand him and his stupid bleached head. If anything, he should already have been suspended for THAT.)

I get suspending a guy who charges the mound. Five games is normal for that, as we've seen with Olivo already this season. But what about the guy who threw at Olivo three times in a row? I know Carrasco isn't the world's greatest pitcher, but I don't believe that all of them happened to accidentally slip into the exact same area near Miguel Olivo's head. All in a row.

But I guess Carrasco doesn't matter; it was pretty obvious that it was Pierzynski that Olivo wanted to beat. And who among us hasn't wanted to punch AJ Pierzynski in the head at least once...every day? Olivo's grandmother could have thrown those pitches, and he still would have charged the mound, because he didn't appear to have any intention of actually landing a hit on the pitcher.

Hillman's one-gamer is fair enough; that's just what happens. But five games for Greinke? Shoot, that's harsh. Depriving the Royals - who, by the way, have a realistic shot at 3rd place right now - of one Greinke start is pretty harsh.

What I'm wondering about is whether Ozzie Guillen deserves more than two games, based on his postgame comments. I suppose it would set a dangerous precedent to suspend a manager for something he hasn't done yet, but if MLB is cracking down as hard on beanball wars as they say they are, shouldn't Ozzie get like 5 games? If I make a comment anywhere that I'm planning on causing someone bodily harm next time I see them, I'm gonna be in a heap of trouble, and lose my job. But Ozzie promises he's going to have his pitchers intentionally hit Royals batters throughout the rest of his 5-year contract as Chicago's manager, and he doesn't get in any significant trouble? Weird.

I'm glad all of this happened against the White Sox, because they are my least favorite team in the AL. Yes, I even hate them more than the Yankees. So if this is the start of a heated rivalry...I can't wait.

Here are some thoughts about the suspensions at Royals Review. They, as usual, raise some good points: Why would Greinke wait until two innings later to retaliate? And why do it with a runner on and a 1-1 count? And why Swisher; why not someone who actually had some kind of involvement and who is a douchebag?

Jeff Passan weighs in at Yahoo!
, addressing the questions about Carrasco's intent, Ozzie's promise to retaliate, and the idea that the Sox should have plunked Mark Teahen when he bunted earlier in that inning. I'm sure they'll get him next time.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elsewhere (by which I mean Omaha), there is a rumor afoot that Mark Grudzielanek is in town for some rehab, but only one team employee has seen him, and he certainly wasn't in the dugout (I looked), so until I get confirmation or denial, I will keep up this ghost-hunt. I've never met him, but I'd love to hear him say "y'know" 19 times per minute, in person.

During last night's loss, Kila Kaaihue didn't homer (for a change), but showed a pretty decent indication of who he is as a hitter. His one hit was a single he reached waaaay over the plate to slap through the right side. He was down 0-2 and obviously didn't want to get caught looking at another strike 3, which he had done earlier in the game. I know there's a chance that his success so far in AAA is not for real; I know he took a long time to develop in AA, but I'm willing to stay excited about Kila. He appears to have an understanding of the strike zone, as exhibited by pretty much all of his numbers at two levels this year - lots of walks, not a lot of strikeouts, and of course the home runs.

Speaking of Omaha first basemen, Ryan Shealy sat out last night. He's in a bit of a slump these days, going 3 for his last 22 before last night. He also got ejected on Sunday for arguing a called third strike at the end of the 6th inning. Shealy only has three hits (in five games played) since Kaaihue's arrival. I hope that is a coincidence. He should be back in the lineup tonight, likely as a DH again while Kaaihue mans first base. Sigh.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Fracas fracas fracas fracas

Word of the day: Fracas. It was used in two headlines on the Royals.com front page...FRACAS!
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Sad thing is, I missed the KC game entirely, but heard score updates (and news of the...fracas) via some fans* at the Omaha game. Today was a damn good day to be a hater of the White Sox. Minnesota beat Cleveland, and Kansas City beat Chicago, which gave took the Sox out of first place and restored a caboodle of the pieces of my soul which had been destroyed while the Sox held their place atop the division.

*some of my favorite people in the entire world, I should add. This one particular family is as much a part of my ORoyals gameday experience as the team itself. I feel lost whenever they have to miss a game! Today, one of my coworkers brought a bucket of ice/water, and this family brought a bunch of microfiber towels to dunk in the ice water to combat the triple-digit temperatures. It was beyond amazing.

I'm going to go watch the game now...ahh, the magic of DVR. Go Royals!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hacking.

So, Kila Kaaihue hit another home run last night. That makes two of those in his long-awaited first two games at AAA.

But for some reason, I was more pleased to see that at-bat in which Kaaihue walked. I've heard all about how he hits for power, but this season he also had about twice as many walks (80) as he did strikeouts (41) with Northwest Arkansas. I like that kind of discipline, because I've watched Kila's extreme statistical opposite play infield for Omaha for too long.

Jason Smith is battling with Albuquerque's Dallas McPherson for most strikeouts in the PCL. At this writing, both have 127. The important differences: McPherson has 19 more homers than Smith, and has walked 44 more times, for a difference of .341 between the two players' OPS. My friend Becky and I have long since decided that death and taxes are not the only sure things in life; Jason Smith swinging at the first and/or second pitch is just as certain.

I'm not picking on Smith just to be mean. He's just a textbook example of my least favorite kind of hitter. Hacking is annoying, unless you hit a record-breaking number of home runs (and even then, I'll roll my eyes at all the first pitches you chase). He's not the only ORoyal who can't walk. No one on the team is withing screaming distance of the league lead in walks, and Ryan Shealy's 38 leads the team.

A similar thing can be said about Kansas City - nobody there knows how to walk either, except of course Alex Gordon (who has 51 - good for 15th in the AL). The inability to get on base is generally the same as an inability to win a lot of games; it's no surprise that it's the Royals and hapless* Mariners who are tied for last in OBP.

*Ha! Did you see what I did there? I, a Royals fan/writer, got to call someone else's team "hapless!" And it felt GREAT. Most sites, Deadspin for example, continue to be unable to type "Royals" without preceding it with "hapless," even though the Royals are not in last place. Should we just officially change the team name? "Now taking the field are your 2008 Kansas City Hapless Royals!"

I hope the Royals' apparently official commitment to hacking doesn't rub off on Kila. I hope he continues to walk twice as much as he strikes out, and that his OBP can stay somewhere near the sexily high .463 he put up in NWArk. So far, so good...ahh, small sample sizes:

Kila Kaaihue in AAA:
.444/.500/1.111/1.611


Yes, please!