Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I Have Visitors

It seems strange to me to realize that, after a couple of years of inactivity, there's actually been an increase in the number of people that both link to and visit your humble editor here at Royal Blues. I'm not sure what to make of that.

If everything rolls the right way, I may even present a live blog of opening day today. I'm sure you have to be thrilled..

Monday, April 06, 2009

Something Unexpected

I am updating this blog.

No, it's true!

I've actually tried really hard the last couple of hours to get rid of the retina-scorching bright blue background, and have learned that it takes me longer than that to figure out how to change the crappy html I coded a few years ago in my (one) grand upgrade to this thing.

Anyway, let's start again (I'll fix the blue later). I'm Joe, and I like the Royals. That seems to be a much more popular sentiment than it was 5-6 years ago, when I started this blog. Royal fandom has taken me through a lot the last few years. Mostly, I've learned that there is a solid core of Royals fans that will always be there (as there is for any team). Some of them are very old school, and well versed on the basics. They like to stick to that. Some of them are completely new school, and very adamant about the newer metrics. They, also, like to stick to that. I am entirely in the middle, which is a position I, honestly, can't seem to find much of anywhere.

I was forefront in celebrating the new sabermetric way of thinking. I loved the idea that there would be more thought, more detailed thinking about what happens on a baseball field. It seemed to be a new, very much open-minded way of looking at the game. Supposedly. Of course, ideas like getting on base and slugging for a high percentage being good were pretty obvious to most intelligent baseball fans (and had been for quite some time). Still, the fact that those types of ideas seemed to be finally bubbling to the surface for most fans to grasp on to definitely felt like a step forward for baseball..

That was before everybody (and their grandma) became SABR experts, and started telling you how wrong you were about every pitcher that didn't strike out enough batters, or hitters that didn't have a high enough OBP. Since defensive metrics are pretty rough at this point, defense (amazingly!) takes a backseat in every armchair baseball expert's opinion. Strange how that works. It's amazingly hard for someone who knows all about the finer points of sabermetric analysis, yet still appreciates the science behind scouting, to find a place of agreement with anyone in cyberspace. The idea of being on the outside of conventional thinking is to, you know, not simply accept the conventional thinking of the day. I don't see that really happening on the current baseball message boards these days. You're either a SABR fiend, or a neanderthal..

Anyway, if I haven't alienated 2 of my remaining 3 readers already, here's a few things about the newly revived blog:

1) It will never be updated daily
2) It will never reflect someone else's way of thinking.

How many message board posters can you think of that can even promise that?

That's all I can promise, anyway. Otherwise, it's basically my thoughts on the Royals. And baseball. And my other baseball team. And shit in general.

As far as the old posts: They'll stay. Embarassing as some of them may be.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

I need some brain damage, and I need it now..

I've been waiting 2 ½ years to finally be able to draft people for my baseball team.

Of course, it's 1:45 A.M. the night before, and I'm just now creating my evaluation sheets..

(I believe this also signals that I'm back now. Three of you rejoice!)

Good Night,
Joe Blow

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Thursday, December 08, 2005

When we last left our hero..

I deserted you with an abrupt lack of posting about the Royals season that I, you know, wasn't really even talking about anymore. That much was ok (did anybody even notice?). But leaving you without a conclusion to my adult baseball league team's season...now, that just wasn't right.

We'll fix that in a bit. In the meantime, a little reason behind my extended disappearance: I, uh, didn't wanna write about the Royals anymore? Nah, that couldn't really be it. Hard as I try, there's actually a limit to how little I can care about this team, and it bottoms out right around "must find out what happened to them at least a few times daily". I'm afraid that unless they move or go away (or something equally catastrophic), I'm stuck actually clamoring to know what they do.

Truth is (as you've noticed before) this site gets shoved to the back burner to simmer quietly now and then, when I run out of time, or get lazy, or the Royals lose another set of 100+. It shouldn't, but if I promised you otherwise – well, I wouldn't do that. Because I know what'll happen when I get frustrated and then never get around to posting for a while and...well, you've seen that happen.

Oh yeah, I also moved to Chicago. Remember last season's debacle in anaheim? That will be my new place at every Royals game: hostile invader, rooting for the enemy (a.k.a. "glutton for punishment"). A new experience for me, certainly, but...how it has to be if I want to see the Royals in person in 2006. And, despite the fact that most of the games at U.S. Cellular next year involving the Royals just had to be on weeknights, I will definitely be there a few times (at least there's a game on my birthday in August). I will miss the $7 tickets and 60% empty stadium in KC, but I will get to see the world champions in action (*gasp* *puke* ugh..). I'm afraid I also won't be able to bring my grand Anti-Jermaine Dye sign I've had planned for a while to the stadium as I always wanted to do in KC, but, uhh...dammit! I just remembered that..

Anyway, I'll get to the Royals in another post. I mean, with the breaking news lately – Mark Redman! Elmer Dessens! Esteban German! – there will certainly be time to cry about every transaction the Royals agonized over. (For the record, I actually think all 3 are pretty decent moves, but what would a Royals discussion be without 99% of everybody slamming them for idiocy?)

Anyway, next post will bring the long-sought conclusion to Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League for 2005. Thrilling, to say the least..

Joe Blow

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League (JBABL) Update #7

I owe you an update.

yes: all three of you. you are getting the sad remnants of my grand idea of keeping track of my adult baseball league team. honestly, between you and me, the 'lil lady kind of kills my online time once I get home and -- wait, you laughing at me? -- anyway, honestly, I kind of forget what I've done from game to game (it's all pretty similar, for the most part). and, seeing as how just about every game seems very similar, stats aren't my strong point at this point. yeah, it's sad to say – I mean, if I was single and lonely, I'd probably update this shit and sort it like there's no tomorrow...and have all kinds of stupid numbers for your consumption – but that ain't the shit you're getting here, so...

here are the latest updates (from what I've written down / remember):

game 10: Them 10, Us 4 (6-4)
game 11: Us 12, Them 5 (7-4)
game 12: Them 16, Us 6 (7-5)
game 13: Us 11, Them 1 (8-5)
game 14: Them 11, Us 1 (8-6)
game 15: Us 5, Them 2 (9-6)
game 16: Us 7, Them 6 (10-6)
game 17: Them 12, Us 2 (10-7)
game 18: Them 11, Us 9 (10-8)
game 19: Them 6, Us 2 (10-9)
game 20: Us 1, Them 0 (11-9)
game 21: Them 12, Us 2 (11-10)
game 22: Them 16, Us 3 (11-11)
game 23: Us 8, Them 6 (12-11)

we've made the playoffs, as either a #3, 4, 5, or 6 team. strangely, it's all still up for grabs. honestly, by some dumb fuckin' twist of fate, we could still end up #2 as well (which we were all season until we decided to play all of our rain-out games against -- instead of the worst team in the league (which our rainouts were against) -- the TOP FUCKIN' TEAMS in the upper division instead (managers' fuckin mistake there)). when i am manager, there is not a chance we will play teams on a hot streak and WAY ABOVE OUR FUCKIN' HEADS. tards.

somewhere in there we beat an elite division team (two divisions up from us – the top division in the KC area), schooled another upper division team, and got run-ruled (losing by 10 or more after 5 innings) against some scrubby teams from our own lowly division.

this team frustrates me: we can, apparently, hit well enough to make the other teams make errors and give us runs, but, when we don't, it's shitsville city on the bench. as in: the guys that strike out the most make a concerted effort to go up and down the bench and rip into our shit about how we need to get the bats going and score some runs off of the "shitty" pitcher that we're inevitably facing whenever we can't hit or score runs. never fails.

on the plus side, I've moved up to leadoff batter for pretty much every game. that part rules.

honestly: every game I start, (which is now 8-9 out of every 10) I bat first. again, this is awesome. too bad I'll be moving to a completely different city in about 6 weeks. that, plus the fact that I wouldn't possibly play for this team again, dooms me to having to prove myself all over again. except I'm totally going to run my own team next year, so, there. take that.

I'm sure glad I don't have to put myself back in the draft pool next year...though, after last weekend at the Show-Me-State Games, I'd think about it. more on that in a later entry..

in this particular league (or, on this particular team, anyway), hitting the ball is considered the ultimate accomplishment. I think. long gone are the days I would possibly take a walk (billy beane, sabr guys, turn away – I want at-bats, goddammit..) the only time I purposely take a strike is on 3-0 (some habits you just can't break). otherwise, I just don't swing at balls. which means I swing at the first pitch on probably about 40% of my at-bats, barring the lead-off at-bats I get pretty much every game these days. honestly (and I am not exaggerating a bit), I can't remember the last lead-off at-bat I've had that didn't result in a full count (I tend to foul off a lot of pitches after strike 1) and, of all the times I've led off a game, I've only struck out once on a bullshit generous strike-zone call. again, *once*. I mean, the "lead-off" batting position (beginning of game, anyway) is always defined as taking pitches and letting the rest of your team see what the pitcher has to throw (which I excel at...I can foul off pitches and put balls in play better than anyone else on this team, I must say..) and I love every minute of the fact that I'm not relegated to #10 in the batting order anymore. I've been #1 for the last 3-4 weeks. I don't plan on going back. I mean, I'm not possibly going to hit bad enough to be moved back down..there's no way I would let that happen. I'm too smart of a hitter to not put the ball in play in this league. and putting the ball in play is all the players and room mothers in this league know about being "good" in baseball. I can do that!

so, in short...Show-Me-State Games entry next time. this entry was boring.

Next time: I grow to hate my team even more. and that's what we're here for, really...right?

Sunday, July 17, 2005


mlb.com approved video (click on 56 or 350k link)

that was awesome. runelvys might just be my new favorite royals player..

Friday, July 15, 2005

Royal Blues (quietly) returns..

heya kids.

no quicker way to kill your recondite little site than to not post for a month.

um…I've been busy.

no, really. work has taken on epic proportions of new crap to do, and I've been a witness (and unwilling participant) in playing a lot of an uncoordinated, derelict style of baseball, and I'm usually just too damn exhausted to post anything worth anything when I finally get home.

plus, the royals suck. or, here, let me make a new post for google to point to for the most common search engine term people reach me by:


there. though you don't really need me to tell you why, so I'm not sure what, exactly, people are looking for with that kind of search. but they do suck.

my baseball team has scraped out a few more wins, and sustained some of the most embarrassing spectacles I have ever been a part of. it's a little shaming to even wear the uniform around the complex when other teams are playing sometimes.

well, let me give you an example…the "all-stars" for this team:

1. pregnant man
2. he who cannot play outfield
3. the guy who doesn't play unless he pitches, and he can't pitch
4. random guy who gets injured every other game

I think we picked our "all-stars" based on whoever the lady who runs the team could reach with a phone call, but it was still all the old-time players who have been with the team for a while…and who, coincidentally, are the exact reason this team will never, ever win against a team who knows better than to field their positions with oven mitts. honestly: if we play a team that knows enough to face the right direction in the field, we lose. our pitchers throw sequences like this pretty much every time:

1. ball (over the batter's head)
2. ball (wild pitch in the dirt)
3. ball (wild pitch in the dirt)
4. borderline strike
5. ball (wild pitch over the batter's head)

every other batter walks, and every walk turns into a run before the next batter even swings the bat. it's ridiculous. denny matthews always talks about the fact that you can't expect your defense to be on its toes at all times when your pitcher can't throw strikes, and it's completely true. I mean, I really pride myself in the fact that I'm able to concentrate and focus pretty well on every pitch, but if 90% of the pitches aren't even hittable, and 95% of the batters aren't good enough to drive the ball to left field, it's hard to maintain focus. yet, when you draw left field duty, with either the sun or the short 20-foot high lights beaming in your face, no one seems to realize that fielding one ball every 2-3 games (without any practice whatsoever) doesn't lead to highly effective outfield defense.

oh yeah, tonight – instead of making up our two rain-out games against the absolute worst team in our division (and we're in the bottom of the 3 divisions) – we have instead rescheduled with a team in the elite division. fuckin brilliant. I hope we liked being in distant 2nd place for one day, because we're gonna be ran out of our two games tonight in probably about an hour. for both games. other teams schedule rainouts against teams that are winless. we take on elite division teams that will smoke us twice before it even gets dark outside.

I would not play for this team next year…even if I wasn't moving in like a month. in fact, I'm totally coaching my own team next year. "Moneyballs", here we come!

Two games tonight, and one game tomorrow morning at 9:30. In honor of 1/3 of my teammates showing up pre-drunk to our last game, I'm returning the favor tonight. I've learned my lesson about playing when I'm hung over; might as well play before that shit happens. hope they have the dugouts stocked with air sickness bags, because I already feel a little coming on..

So, here's to a night full of first-ball swinging (and missing)! Hope nobody can actually throw a curveball..

Joe Blow

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Royal Rethink (6/16)

June 16, 2005
Royal Rethink (6/16)

A look back at the Royals -- through their own words

note: this post originally appeared on BrownBullfrog.com..

And, that brings me to a little site note before we get to the post...I don't actually know much about the Brown Bullfrog site, though it seems promising. All I know is I've been invited to participate, and that ain't bad. One part of me feels like there should be some kind of exclusive content either here or there...though, at this point, I'm not exactly sure where it would show up. Rest assured that there will be plenty of links between the two – and, uh, why not visit the BrownBullfrog site while you're at it? Go!

In the meantime, here's my first post over there (in case you were wondering why the last post was a little generic...well, that *was* going to be my first post over there, but I decided it wasn't very good, and, uhhh...well, I spent so much time writing it that I felt like it should be posted somewhere, heh..)

on to the Royals quotes:

"I'm throwing strikes, but I'm also not throwing strikes."

Zack Greinke, on his recent pitching struggles.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about the Royals this year – aside from a horrific, season-piercing start, an oft-injured superstar, and a painfully low place among baseball's "have-nots" (among other things) – has been the rapid deterioration of the sparkling gloss Zack Greinke came packaged in. Oh, sure, things like an inordinate amount of home runs given up last year, a sub-par spring, and a few shaky outings here and there had caused a couple of rough patches to appear on the exterior, but nothing seemed to prepare Royals fans for the past five starts, in which Greinke has given up 31 runs over 22 2/3 innings, including a Royal Record 11 runs allowed vs. Arizona in his last outing. I gave Zack a lot of credit when he refused to meekly accept Guy Hansen's attempts to seemingly tinker with every single pitchers' every single motion in spring training, but fans are just now being let in on the fact that Greinke has, apparently, been shunning just about all attempts by others to help him correct any potential or perceived errors. While the best judge of what will work for you is always yourself, and change won't happen without a complete commitment from within, it doesn't mean others can't help you in some ways. You just have to digest what they say and then decide whether they're full of shit. Young Zack apparently has a little more maturing to go before that fact truly sets in..

“It’s not that easy to throw it away at the knees and up and in at the corner. Those pitches he’s talking about — 75 percent of the time they’re called balls anyway. Low and away part of the zone — and especially up and in part of the zone. No one swings at any of them.”

Zack Greinke, on the "low and away, high and tight" pitching philosophy

Now, on the other hand, I like hearing things like this out of him. While it's true that "up and in" makes for a tough pitch to hit, it's just not a feasible goal with the current state of MLB umpiring. There is no strike-zone above the belt – in fact, a pitch *at* the belt still runs a high-percentage chance of being called a ball. A breaking curveball is usually judged by its height when caught, instead of the elevation when it's a couple of feet in front of the catcher's mitt where the plate actually sits. It's very tough for pitchers that don't possess consistently overpowering or tricky stuff to succeed for very long, and a lot of it has to do more with the difficultly in getting a called strike on pitches not in the batter's wheelhouse than in their inability to "throw strikes", as is often attributed to their struggles. It seems obvious to me that this is one of the reasons certain batters' (and teams') philosophies consist of fouling off a high number of pitches in order to run up a pitcher's pitch count – because there's an exceedingly small window in which a pitcher is required to throw a strike. Anything else can be ignored. Pitcher's pitches are called balls, and moderate strikes can be wasted until a pitch that can be driven is delivered. But, you know, it does make for great offense..

"He's a strong human being right there."

Luis Silverio, Royals Coach, after Emil Brown launched a home run over the Dodge truck, stationed approximately 470 feet from home plate at Kauffman Stadium, during batting practice

On the opposite end from Greinke this season has been the pleasantly surprising play of Emil "Doc" Brown. Once he was finally handed an opportunity to, you know, play, he's been nothing short of a consistent power and RBI threat. I love watching him in the field – he's not the smoothest outfielder at physically fielding the ball, but he is solid and has a rocket arm, which is my favorite part of seeing him play. And, even though I enjoy a great pitching duel as much as anyone, his ability to hit for power makes him probably the most exciting Royal to watch bat right now. Hey, offense is fun, too..

"It could be a day, it could be four weeks. We don't know."

Mike Sweeney, after injuring his arm fielding a throw against the Dodgers, 6/15/05

Speaking of consistency, Sweeney is hurt again…and the countdown clock for his return is once again showing a large question mark. This time, at least it was obvious. I don't doubt his injuries have been serious in the past, but for Royals fans to see what is far and away the biggest and highest-priced talent on the team watching games from the dugout after mysterious bat-swinging injuries is very frustrating. It's unfortunate to see him go down on a play that didn't need to (and shouldn't) have happened, though I do think there is a slight benefit for fans to have seen the play on which the injury occurred. At least they believe he's hurt. I don't believe Jayson Werth intentionally ran into him, though I do question why, exactly, he consistently chooses (and is allowed) to run on the grass to 1st base. There's an obvious difference between the grass and dirt, so he would be able to tell immediately what he was running on. As I watched the play on replay last night – as well as Werth's next at-bat, in which he was even further onto the grass – I really feel like it's a conscious decision on his part to run on the grass just in case a close play, such as the one on which Sweeney was injured, occurs. As shown on the replays, the home plate umpire was looking directly down the baseline as the play unfolded, but made no call, even though Werth had both feet inside of the baseline. If he happens to run into the fielder on a close play, it's very likely he will be given the benefit of the doubt, which is exactly what happened last night. Pretty cheap way to play if it's true, though for a marginal MLB player, it's somewhat understandable. Not saying anything, just saying..

“I’ve been with this team longer than anybody except (Mike) Sweeney, and I’ll go to battle with any of these guys. So it’s unfair to them if I’m pouting because I’m not in a role that I want to be in. I’m not going to do that to them.”

* * * * *

“When they call down there, it’s not like they ask, ‘Do you want to pitch?’ I can’t say, ‘No, not unless it’s the ninth.’"

* * * * *

"If another team wants me for the same role or another role, and they feel they have to trade me, then they’ve got to trade me."

Jeremy Affeldt, pouting to a KC Star reporter about losing the closer's role to (previous All-Star closer) Mike MacDougal after Affeldt's return from the DL

I seriously can't believe that, in the midst of what has been 2-3 of the most exciting weeks in recent Royals history, Jeremy Affeldt has chosen now to openly complain to the local newspaper about not having a coveted position awaiting his return from his most recent trip to the disabled list. While, in the business of baseball, each man has to look out for his own interests first, it doesn't reflect well to me that Affeldt would choose to passively hint that he should be able to automatically reclaim a job he has never had consistent success in, before he's actually shown a new-found ability to pitch well and stay healthy. It's pretty much supposed to be his simply because he is once again ready to pitch. Remember, Jeremy: the job was MacDougal's before it was yours, and I don't remember him actually bitching that he should have the job, just that he'd like it back. While I have no sympathy for the Royals themselves, they have invested a lot of time and money into Affeldt, a promising talent who has not succeeded in any role aside from "DL member". His trade value was high a while ago – the Royals likely could have landed more for him before they kept allowing him to pitch and fail to impress. Kind of like when Jimmy Gobble first came up, and everyone realized that (once again) our highly touted pitching prospect was a soft-tossing batting cage. If we can get something useful in return for Affeldt, let him go. Who knows, maybe he can room with Darrell May..

Joe Blow

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Royals Win 4 of 6 Away From Home, Post First Winning Road Trip Since 2003

Some Fans Naturally Blame Manager for Both Losses

"The Royals should have swept this series."

So echoed the inevitable segment of fan board posters after the Royals took two out of three games at Arizona. The one defeat? A 12-11 loss in 10 innings, after the Royals had come back from an 11-3 deficit by scoring 8 runs between the 8th and 9th innings. The same chorus had sung after the previous series, where the Royals had again won two of three, this time against San Francisco. In the third game of the series – after scoring 4 in the top of the 6th to tie the game – a rookie pitcher one month-removed from single-A gave up 5 runs in the bottom of the inning to give the lead back to the Giants. The game eventually ended with the Royals batting, bases loaded, down by 2. The Giants held on 9-7.

Not bad, huh? You at least have to like the (new-found) ability to score runs and come back again and again. Basically, great efforts combined with awful runs of pitching. Then again, this is the Royals, right? Regardless, there's always a contingent that, far be it from crediting the manager for much of, well, anything, will openly blast every decision made that doesn't turn out well. If something turns out to work or be correct, it's usually lightly noted, ascribed to good fortune or random occurrence, then followed by a doom and gloom prediction while wallowing in the failures of the past (I call this the Neyer Syndrome). Well, unless it's another team winning or performing well, then they'll highlight it as a measure of success (which the Royals will, obviously, never achieve).

Well, the Royals of late are not really the same as they've been, even earlier this season. They actually seem to be able to pull out wins in what looks like a real baseball game. They're still not great, but they weren't supposed to be. This was to be yet another year of the "youth movement", another season of inconsistent rookies and a puzzling collection of veteran placeholders. And Mike Sweeney.

It was known from the beginning that the pitching's not always going to be there, but that's why most teams spend a lot to buy it. The rookies aren't going to consistently tear the cover off the ball, but that's why veteran sluggers cost so much. This team is not a superstar bunch – it's just a low-dollar mix of journeyman veterans and rookies that are supposed to be handled carefully. It's pretty much a given that there are going to be poor performances from some guys every few games, all in the name of "learning."

And this is somehow Buddy Bell's fault?

I mean, thank (insert invisible deity) at least Tony Pena's gone, right? Nope, apparently it's like he's still here to some fans! After the Royals pulled out a roller-coaster of a 12-inning game on Sunday in which Bell used the only pitcher in his bullpen that wasn't fresh off of consecutive game appearances and/or shaky outings (and/or pitching in single-A, though the two pitchers used in the 7th-9th innings both started the season there as well), there were still the fans that feel like every loss is the manager's fault (and close wins are just lucky). Here's a post as the Royals pulled the game out in 12:

"Well, we're seeing Buddy Bell's true colors here. Against even rudimentary wisdom, Bell throws Jensen out there, who promptly blows two consecutive one-run leads. Earlier in the 11th inning, Silverio cost us the win by sending Graffanino for no apparent reason. Feels like the Pena days again!"

Good god, no! It does not feel like the Pena days at all. From all appearances, Tony Pena was a smiling, dopey, anti-intellectual manager who loved to play favorites with marginal players (i.e. Desi Relaford, Jason Grimsley, etc.) and try to cheerlead them to victory. Not to mention (ok, I am) that Silverio is still a holdover from the Tony Pena regime.

Pena would be the first to run a young arm out of the bullpen for the 3rd or 4th consecutive game, even if the previous appearances had been disasters. He would have never been able to pull Carrasco after pitching 6 innings of 1-run ball; he was very adept at the smiling jog to the mound after his starting pitcher had just exploded in a late inning after a successful run through most of the game. By the time extra innings crept around on Sunday, we probably would have ran through so many guys that we would have needed Desi Relaford to come back to pitch the rest of the game.

Buddy Bell has been different. It feels nice to actually have a manager that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, there's an actual thought process going on before a decision is made. Bob Schaeffer was a definite step up from Pena, and Bell has seemingly waltzed in, picked right up, and carried it further. The line-up construction has been successful – people underestimate the effect batting first can have on a guy, so they write off the increased performance of Berroa since being moved to the top. The consistent playing time (a huge factor in my book) given to guys like Emil Brown and (prior to injury) Matt Diaz were large factors in their recent resurgence. There's also a scare factor in that guys aren't sure how Bell will respond to mistakes, though I don't see a uniform-clad shower in his future. He might actually do something that has to do with, you know, improving performance on the field…say, bench a guy, or not continue to run non-performers out on the field.

It doesn't matter, though. When Greinke gives up 11 runs, it's Bell's fault for leaving him in too long. When Leo Nunez gives up 5 runs on 16 pitches, Bell, of course, also screwed up by sticking with him too long. Of course, if he would have taken either of these guys out any sooner, there would be the same people complaining that our young players are *never* going to learn if he won't let them work through trouble. Or, if he would have went with someone other than Nunez and still lost, there would be cries of, "Why'd you put ______ in? Why not Nunez! Bell totally screwed this game up." It doesn't really matter what happens, if something goes wrong, the manager always obviously made the wrong call. It's always a lot of "what the fuck was he thinking?!" and very little, "Hey, look, every decision he made tonight didn't backfire."

Well, for example (once again from the same message board):

"Buddy Bell has already cost us three games by either leaving in a pitcher (Greinke) too (Nunez) long, or letting the wrong person (Jensen) close the game. I will bet anyone that he will continue making these blatantly horrible decisions as long as he is here. Pena did it, and any manager would do it. For Allard Baird, there was no room for error. Buddy has already cost us three games in two weeks."

You know, we didn't even lose one of those games he cost us! A team that started 8-25 is now 9-4 under Bell, yet to some people you'd think he's just the other half of Tony Pena's Siamese twin. Yes, the manager can have a hand in the outcome of the game, but in the games I've watched, I've yet to see Bell make a decision that really defies explanation or is inconsistent with managing what this team is: a collection of young talent that is looking to get better, not make up the 20 games in the division standings they're behind. With Pena, those bizarre decisions were a daily ritual. Bell has to see what these players are and are made of, and I have no problem with him testing young guys, especially when it's clear they haven't brought their A-game that night. I also have no problem bringing in an unconventional guy like Ryan Jensen to close an extra-inning game with a bullpen that had been used heavily in the previous few games (and relatively unsuccessfully, really..). As long as he's a member of the team, Jensen has to pitch sometime, right? I think everyone on the team is supposed to represent some form of a major leaguer in one way or another..

Basically, instead of complaining about the manager every time a player on this team doesn't perform, just be glad we now have someone that seems to realize there's a baseball game actually happening on the field.

Joe Blow

Friday, June 10, 2005

Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League (JBABL) Update #6

Is it really Friday already?

You'd think that playing basically one game in the past 3 weeks would lend itself to posting frequently. not so!

I wish they'd schedule these things a little better – after playing Monday night (for the first time in almost two weeks), we play two on Saturday, then don't play again until next Sunday. It's hard to actually get into a rhythm, or even work on parts of your game, when the games themselves are so infrequent.

Ah well, on to this week's daring tale, in which we play a team from the Upper Division…and win!

Game #9: Us 10, Them 7
Team Record: 6-3


Blow, Joe: 1-3 (single, K, 1 RBI)

Season-to-Date Totals (through game 9 – on a side note, I seem to have misplaced the official season totals, and I think the last update was missing a game…these look better, too, so let's keep 'em):

Avg: .250 (5 for 20)
OBP: .464
Slg: .250
OPS: .714
RBI: 6

Back to the ghetto park this time, which had surprisingly been dragged and had about 3-4 inches of dirt removed. Somebody from the league had been there! It's too bad the "dirt" is still more like running track rocks. And, unfortunately, with all of the rain that fell a couple days before, the outfield had turned to mush.

My assignment: right field.
Batting Position: 6th.

Before the game started, I was presented with the official (though slightly used) team hat! Well, one version of it, anyway – no more than 3-4 guys actually wear the same style of "team hat" to any given game. And, you know, I was more than ok with playing right field – despite the fact that He Who Cannot Play Outfield started over me in left – because the twilight games at this field are absolutely brutal in left until the sun goes down (I wrote about that in the last entry). The sad part is this guy starting in left forgot to bring his cleats. Yeah, that's right – he's coming to a baseball game, and can't even remember to bring his shoes! Jesus Christ.

So, my spot was taken by a chucklehead wearing someone else's shoes, who took the first couple of innings to loudly talk to everybody on the field about playing Bases Loaded and Excitebike on Nintendo. You think I'm kidding, but I am not. He stood in left field and shouted to everyone his favorite parts of the games, and how a glitch in Bases Loaded was almost exactly like this play that happened in the first, when the SS caught a line-drive just above the ground, but threw it to first base just in case (yeah, that surprised me, too – the SS making a play, that is.) Apparently in Bases Loaded, sometimes the computer would call the throw to first an additional out! And now everybody that was at the park knows.

I liked right field even more when I got to make the first two putouts of the inning: one on a long running catch in foul territory, and another on a drive hit to deep right-center. I tracked it back and started calling for it, when I heard a soft "Ok!" from a little ways away in centerfield. He obviously had no interest in going for it. The footing was terrible – I stationed myself a little to the left of the puddles that had formed in some tire marks in straight-away right – and it seemed like it took forever to get to any fly balls. But, hey, apparently I had forever and a couple seconds to get to each of the first two.

Anyway, always good to get the first couple of nice plays out of the way, just in case of any screw-ups later. Which, there was one…sort of.

First, my at-bat in the 2nd inning…with nobody out, one run in, and a runner on third, I proceeded to take 5 pitches: 4 balls and a borderline strike. One of the balls – clearly outside and low – was called a strike. If there's one thing I've learned repeatedly in the first 8 games, it's that the umpires are very, very generous. I really have to start going up to the plate just looking to swing at something.

And that something is *anything close*. I try to, sometimes, but I can't get away from taking borderline pitches when I'm ahead in the count. What fun is it if you can't drive a couple pitches, though? I've definitely let a few pitches go that could have been driven. This Saturday, they're not getting through..

Anyway, so, count at 3-2, I grounded an outside pitch between 1st and 2nd for an RBI single, took 2nd on a fielder's choice (in which I was prepared to take out the 2nd baseman, but didn't have to, as apparently my blazing speed was too much for the shortstop to think about trying to turn a double-play…heh, uh, yeah..), and eventually scored (this time!) on a wild pitch. And, if you're keeping track at home, I (of course) managed to rough up the thing on my knee that will now never go away.

Anyway, my play the first couple of innings set me up to deflect criticism (or so I thought) when, a couple innings later, a high, short pop-up was hit just behind the outfield grass in short right field. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought that:

1) the right fielder has precedence over calling for the ball, but..
2) the infielder is supposed to call for it if they're going to be able to catch the ball – but peels off if the right fielder *also* calls for it

I was charging hard, watching the ball, and could see that the 2nd baseman was still running towards me, meaning he hadn't set to catch it. I never heard anybody else call for it…so I assumed I was going to be the only one who could catch it. Shouldn't the infielder call for it if they're going to be able to make the play? Because what ended up happening is that I called for it (very late), then couldn't make the catch because the 2nd baseman was still moving directly into the spot I would be right after I made the catch while running forward. Not being interested in an Adult Baseball Season Ending Injury, I avoided a collision, which eventually cost us two runs.

Well, I'll tell you what cost us two runs: Pregnant Man, stationed at 3rd base (!) this game (I could have sworn I told her I could play 3rd when I first joined the team..), took a ground ball with the guy that had hit the pop-up now on first. And when I say "took" a ground ball…the way he fields it is to basically let it bounce off his chest, then pick it up and try to throw the guy out. Except this time when it hit him, it stuck. Because, see, his belly requires portions of his jersey to remain unbuttoned; when the ball struck his chest, it stayed in his shirt.


So, in the few seconds it's taken him to realize the ball's in his shirt, the runner is safe at 2nd and the batter's safe at 1st. You'd assume he just holds the ball and everyone has a (pathetic) chuckle at him, right? Nope. He grabs the ball (keep in mind the runner's already standing on 1st base) and heaves a throw all the way over the 1st baseman's head, sending the runners to 2nd and 3rd, and with the way the inning played out, eventually costing us both of those runs.

I about chucked my new team hat over the right field fence.

Maybe the guys on the team just know Pregnant Man is a lost cause that really, really can't play. Because, once we returned to the dugout, the criticism from a few guys came in the form of *my* poor communication on the pop-up! Holy shit! I mean, I could have called him off earlier, but I really didn't know if I was going to be able to get to the ball. When no one else called for it, I assumed I was the only one that had a chance. And, you know…fuck it.

My next two at-bats consisted of a 10-pitch at bat that ultimately led to a ground out to short, and a sad looking strikeout on an actual curveball. haven't seen one of those in a while! I realized that taking batting practice with this team in the hopes of learning to hit a curve would be pretty worthless, since none of our pitchers actually know how to throw one.

The game was 10-5 heading into the bottom of the last inning, so naturally our (new) pitcher starts giving up hits left and right. I had a sinking line drive hit down the line in right that I thought I could get to, but after giving chase, it was *just* out of reach. I had to do sort of a half-dive, since I had reached as far as I could and the ground was too soft and slick to actually attempt to stop. The grass was long enough that the ball barely rolled any further, and I popped to my feet and still held the guy to a single. Another dunker landed fair behind 2nd base, which I had no chance at…and wouldn't you know it, after a couple more hits and a walk or two sprinkled in, the game suddenly sat at 10-7, bases loaded, 2 outs. If I was a praying man, I would have sent some sort of message to the deity of my choice floating out in the sky for a strikeout, because I knew none of those fuckers would be able to field the ball in that situation if it was hit to them.

And, just like that, my invisible buddy came through! Strikeout to end the game! Now we get to do it all twice on Saturday, in the middle of a hot June day..

I'm crankin' the ball one of these at-bats.

Joe Blow

Friday, June 03, 2005

So, Buddy Bell is your new manager. Where do you go from here?

Straight up, apparently.

It's been a few days since none other than Buddy Bell was named the new manager of the Kansas City Royals. Kind of a surprising choice, really...at least to anybody that followed post after post of conversation on any of the Royals-related message boards. And, prior to the SWEEP OF THE YANKEES (always gotta repeat that when it's actually true), you were hard-pressed to find much of anyone saying anything positive about Allard Baird's choice in manager.

With that in mind, I'll run through a few thoughts on Buddy Bell (so far), both good and bad. And, seeing as how he's not a popular choice, we'll start with the bad!

The Bad:

The Royals have one glaring problem that doesn't seem to crop up in discussion much, but is always present: they are very, very poor at presenting themselves to the public. The Buddy Bell hire is a prime example. The team on the field, whether it's a budding version of a future force to reckon with, or another year of an unsuccessful, perpetually almost-rebuilding squad, is generating close to zero excitement from fans. The owner, whether you agree with his strategy or not, is unwilling to spend more on the team than it brings in (that is the topic for a very long, bitter post, though it won't be this one). The general manager, though he has registered a few minor successes as of late, has also triggered on a few disastrous deals that have, in one way or another - whether through poor choices or plain bad luck - rendered this team unable to consistently compete day after day. I think it's wrong to hold up two outlying examples in the Twins and A's as proof that low-payroll teams can also compete in this day and age, though that goes along with my much longer post alluded to above (not to mention, what about the A's this year? 21-32?)

Anyway, the shorter point is, the Royals needed to do their best to generate some level of actual fan interest with their hire. I thought it would be bringing in a big name as a manager, though I've lately come to realize that

1) None of the candidates out there are actually known names to most casual Royals fans and
2) All that really matters is winning.

So, at first, the Buddy Bell hiring seemed like a mistake to me. What are the Royals doing? Why are they bringing in a guy with a terrible career managing record, with no local ties, with barely any name recognition, without much of anything visible to support their decision that this is the best guy for the job? Just another bizarre mistake, it seemed.

But winning cures all, really. Is Buddy Bell the right guy? Who really knows? You can twist and turn, look at record here and sac bunts there, manager's effectiveness percentage or failure to show enthusiasm at his press conference – whatever stat you want to create to try to quantify what makes a good manager. And, what you're left with is...no idea. Because there's not a way to measure what makes a good manager in any guaranteed way. There is no guideline, and there is no measurement that tells you. a manager can choose the "correct" answer to any question he faces in a game (regardless of who's deciding what is "correct", just pretend like it's you..), and still fail 10 out of 10 times.

A manager is as good as you think he is, and what you think isn't what other people think. Some managers are better than others (subjectively, at least). Some have had more success, and by "success", most people mean they've won more games. Sure, that's a good thing, but it's not necessarily up to the manager to go out and pick up the save or hit a base-clearing double.

Is Buddy Bell who I would have picked as a manager? I don't know, I didn't interview any of the guys, and neither did you. Allard Baird did, and I think the fact that he made the decision serves Buddy Bell up for criticism as much as anything else. Do you trust that Allard's going to make the right decision? Yeah, neither do most other intelligent baseball fans that continue to follow this team. Though we're all on his side and eager for him to prove our doubts wrong..

The Good:

Buddy Bell is 3-0 as a manager.

You can't pin those wins on him, but I haven't seen one move he's made that I actually opposed. Wondered about? Yeah. I would have liked to see Leo Nunez pitch to more than one batter in yesterday's 5-2 win over the Yankees, but I love the fact that he's not afraid of using a pitcher for only one batter. Ambiorix Burgos is shaky, but he's never seen him pitch. Can't quibble with wanting to bring him in (I also wonder if he received word from upstairs that Burgos is the closer if MacDougal isn't available). He's only even attempted sacrifice bunts in situations where the Royals are up in the late innings and could use more runs, and with young guys (Buck, Berroa) that don't exactly make great contact and tear the cover off the ball. In other potential sacrifice situations, he's let a guy like Graffanino, even though he's not a good hitter, swing away. Graffanino is a veteran and a pro, and there's a much better chance he'll put the ball in play effectively than some of the younger guys.

He has a bullpen, and he's not afraid to use it: pulling Greinke and Jensen after 5 innings, Carrasco after 6. Will his bullpen blow up on him? Undoubtedly. Happens to every team (a lot with this one). But I'm glad to see him use it. I don't understand why teams keep so many guys in the bullpen, then save them for the next game in which they're not going to be used. I could have sworn those guys are major leaguers, too..

There's been a lot of small decisions just in the 3 games so far that lead me to (wishfully) think that Buddy Bell just might know what he's doing. Will he be able to turn these guys into winners? This is the Royals we're still talking about, right?

Joe Blow

The worst game EVER (that I've been too)

(note: this was written before the Royals decided to do something like go out and sweep the yankees. great timing -- a post about what is likely the worst game I've ever been to the day after one of the best series I've seen in a long time..)

* * * * *

Well, Anaheim was nice.

Of course, after spending a couple days sitting on the freeway in L.A., anywhere with a nice row of palms and moving lanes of traffic seems almost, uh, "magical" -- even if it's a pre-fabricated, commercially created little spot. It was still a breath of fresh air (in many ways).

That's the only kind thing I really want to say about it. After witnessing last Friday night's debacle – in person – I think you might feel the same way.

The day started nicely. After spending the morning walking around Hollywood, then dropping $150 at Amoeba Records (I would have spent more, but we were on a time and luggage space limit), we slowly crawled our way to Anaheim. The drive there was not particularly smooth, but, then again, apparently everywhere in Los Angeles is the most horrible place to drive to ever. I don't remember it being quite as bad last time I was there, but it seemed no matter what time it was or where we were going, there was a whole lot of idling and a small amount of slow coasting.

I think the mood upon our eventual arrival in Anaheim (mine, at least) was helped by the fact that the night consisted of enjoying a few fine microbrews I had picked up the day before (the Smoked Porter and Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing Co., and the Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic Brewing). The Hop Rod Rye was my favorite (Bear Republic also makes a great IPA), though the Arrogant Bastard was very good as well. The Smoked Porter was decent, though, uh, where's the "smoked" part? I guess I just got used to my introduction to the genre, the smoked porter from the O'Fallon Brewery in O'Fallon, Missouri, which is extra thick on smoke flavor. Strangely, not a flavor I actually enjoy that much, which makes my taste for it odd..

Hey, wait, we were getting ready to talk baseball here, right?

Anyway, after a small microbrew session, there was to be the Royals game and a night out at the ESPN Sports Zone in (ugh) Downtown Disney to follow. So, I was pretty excited. I had the local news on, and during a segue from a story about Rickey Henderson's return, the sportscaster said, "And, turning to a team that Rickey's new team probably wouldn't have a hard time beating, Major League Baseball's worst team, the Kansas City Royals, are in town to begin a 3-game series." Fuckin smartass little dude..

Can we start winning and put an end to this shit?

Edison International Field in Anaheim is, well…it's just not that impressive. With the recent refurbishments, it's taken on some of the characteristics of a few of the newer stadiums I've been to (Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Comerica Park in Detroit) in that most of the decorations seem plastic and aimed towards entertaining 3 year-olds. The giant helmets on both sides of the entrance are large and gaudy, and the large "baseball bat" support beams scream, "We're trying to pretend like this ballpark is new!" The best part was the large "A" with a halo in the opposite parking lot. Naturally, it's not a part of the stadium itself.

And I haven't even mentioned the "rock spectacular (with water)". Not only has Anaheim (along with Detroit) ripped off the fountain(ish) idea from Kauffman Stadium, they've done it in less than impressive ways. Detroit's fountains are on top of an ugly concourse tunnel behind right-center field, and Anaheim's are on those awful, ridiculous rocks. At least they've taken those hideous ghost-player pictures off of the outfield walls.

Other than that, it was…a ballpark.

I had been in full Royals-fan spotting mode as soon as we got out of the car. There were a couple of close calls, but it turned out to be Angels fans that apparently paid no attention to the opponent and managed to wear their colors. We were the only fans in Royals gear in a sea of thousands. My girlfriend, who likes to buy the shirts of the other teams whose ballparks we go to (I know, it's a habit that needs to be broken – see later in the entry for more on this), asked to go through the gift shop. She decided to get a shirt after the game.

We proceeded towards the field, where we had an usher take our picture. She seemed a little hesitant to actually help us, but eventually figured out how to push the camera button. An older guy standing nearby, dressed in his Angels Employee top hat and vest, said, "Well, you two are the first Royals fans I've seen tonight!"

"Yeah, there's still a couple of us left," I replied.
"Well, you guys took two out of three from us last time," he said. I guess the embarrassment of losing two out of three to the Royals causes you to remember things like that.
"Yep, let's see if we can do it again!" I said. He laughed.
"Good luck, then!"

We traversed the sea of red (it's amazing what a recent World Series championship does for merchandising) and found our seats in the upper deck. Surrounded by Angels fans. I spotted a father and son in Royals gear in the lower deck to the left, and a guy wearing a KC hat sitting with his two friends (both Angels fans) in the bleachers underneath us to the right. And, aside from a little kid with a Royals jersey that was standing at the outfield wall during warm-ups, that was it for Royals fans in our little part of the stadium.

The game itself was great for a while. Paul Byrd started for the Angels, and I was eager to see the Royals tee off on him. They didn't in the top of the first, and Chone Figgins, the first Angels batter, tripled and scored, and it was quickly 1-0. But the Royals fought back, scoring two runs in the next two innings, and took a 2-1 lead into the 7th. There were a couple of sparkling defensive plays turned in by Sweeney, a couple by Gotay, and some great defense by Dejesus (including an outstanding catch late in the game to preserve the lead). When Berroa scored in the top of the 7th on a wild pitch to make the game 4-1, you wouldn't believe the boos that reigned down from the fans. This is a team that won the World Series two years ago, and was tied for first place this year! They certainly have some high expectations..

I assumed the Angels fans wouldn't have much animosity towards us, as there's kind of a quiet sympathy from other teams' fans for anyone that's still willing to wear the Royal Blue. I'm sure by the end of the 7th inning, though – as the Royals had jumped out to a 4-1 lead – it was quickly expiring. When Buck hit his home run in the top of the 9th, I think they were slowly resigning themselves to a loss. When Sweeney hit his bases clearing single-plus-error, well…we were ecstatic! The Angels fans, well…amid the (very) loud chorus of boos, someone behind us told us to "SHOVE IT UP YOUR BUTT." Ok then..

Having been a Royals fan for quite some time, I knew better than to get ahead of myself and start thinking about something like a win. The Angels fans around us, on the other hand, conceded the game right then and there.

"Well, that's it. You guys got this one. There's no WAY they can blow this one," the guy in front of me said.
"Ohhhh, they can," I said, "they definitely can. Trust me, I've seen it before."
"Nah, there's no way," he replied.

Can I stop and say something right now? The Rally Monkey? That is the most embarrassing thing I think I've ever seen at a sporting event. I mean, I almost felt my face turning red as all of these Angels fans went crazy every time his little monkey head appeared on something. It's too bad that an Angels fan can never really make fun of your team, since that monkey is sadder than pretty much everything else. Sucks for them.

So, anyway, while the monkey's head was jumping around to every video board in the stadium, Mike Wood came into the game with a fresh 8-3 lead. Walk, error, RBI single, single…in about 3 minutes, it's 8-4, bases loaded, and nobody out.

You've gotta be shittin' me, right?

Angels fans are going nuts. I looked at my girlfriend with my mouth hanging open. I don't think I even had time to say anything – it happened that quickly. All I could think was, "double-play ball, double-play ball, double-play ball, come on.."

Double-play ball was delivered.

And……..thrown into right field. It was out there forever, as the Royals had to run through a field made of jello to get to it, and an endless cycle of Angels continuously rounded the bases. I almost ate my hat. The tying run was suddenly there on 3rd base, with no outs.

That dull, gnawing pain of being a Royals fan forced me back into my seat.

The next batter drove in the tying run.
The Royals went down meekly in the 10th.

The game-ending blast by Dallas McPherson was pretty much an afterthought. Before he even got to home plate, before any fireworks reached the sky, I said a quick, "Let's go,", gathered our stuff, and we forced our way through a frenzied stadium. Fortunately, there was a fireworks display after the game, so there weren't as many fans pouring through the concourses as there normally would have been. They were so whipped up in their own excitement that nobody said anything to me as I trailed out of the stadium in a daze.

My girlfriend still wanted to go to the gift shop as we were leaving.

"Are we going to go get a t-shirt?" she asked.
"Sure, if you want to be another fake fan," I growled.

I mean, I actually don't like her wearing another team's shirt at all, but I was especially stunned after this game. I couldn't stomach buying an Angels shirt at that moment. After I said that, she refused to go into the gift shop, which is all the better as far as I'm concerned. You know, as much garbage as you have to put up with to be a fan of this team, I sure as hell don't want to be a part of supporting another one.

It was even hard to enjoy the way overpriced drinks at the ESPN SportsZone, with about 30 large TVs showing the botched double-play every couple of minutes. That, and the fact we were in Disney. That sure didn't help.

I was still mad about this game when I got up the next morning. No matter what happens, I think this one's going to sting for a long, long time..

Joe Blow

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Royal Blues on the road

Well, I'm off to L.A. and Arizona for a couple days, where I will be visiting Edison International Field to watch our boys take on the Angels. Hopefully they can take 2 out of 3 in Anaheim again, though I'll settle on at least Friday night (when I'm there). I'll be fortunate enough to catch the D.J. Carrasco show as the opening act.

I'm not sure how brutal the fans in Anaheim are, though any group of fans that root for a team owned by Disney and get fired up by a monkey can't be too awfully tough. In case a wandering TV camera starts panning for Royals fans, I'll be in the 2nd row of the very last section in the right field upper deck. Watch for a sharp-lookin' guy in a solid blue long sleeve Royals shirt and the black KC hat with the blue bill crashing the party in Anaheim. Can't miss me.

Joe Blow

Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League (JBABL) Update #5

In which I go from batting 11th and getting yanked after 3 innings to batting 1st and becoming a game savior. Who knew?

First, we take care of the necessary clean-up:

Game #6: Them 5, Us 2
Team Record: 3-3


Blow, Joe: Did Not Play (trip to St. Louis)

My on-base skills were sorely missed.

Game #7: Us 12, Them 4
Team Record: 4-3


Blow, Joe: 1-2 (walk, ground out to 3rd)

Season-to-Date Totals (through game 7):

Avg: .214 (3 for 14)
OBP: .450
Slg: .214
OPS: .664
RBI: 5

I was a late scratch from my original starting spot in left field, being replaced by He Who Cannot Play Outfield. I was fortunate, though, that the powers that be threw a few crumbs my way and allowed me to drag my lowly self to right. I caught the only ball hit to me, walked to load the bases my first time up, then broke up a double play, which allowed a run to score.

Naturally, it was time to take me out.

Continuing the streak of insane batting lineups and inane player substitutions, I started, played well, and took a seat on the bench after three innings. Needless to say, I was furious. In the last four games, I had been the Extra Hitter twice, switched positions during the game (without warning or need), batted in the last spot 3 times, and was taken out after 3 innings. Wouldn't want the room mothers' (managers) kids to have to sit out a whole game or anything like some of the other guys. No sir.

So, I handled it in my normal way – I sat on the bench and wouldn't talk to anyone. Honestly, I started wondering what I was doing, why I was there, and why it never seems to fail that no matter what sports venture I set out on, it always ends in bitterness and an acute sense of foolishness. As in, why do I delude myself into thinking I'll actually find a team that knows what the fuck they're doing and doesn't play favorites with all of their buddies that I have no interest in being? I didn't really give a shit what happened on the field, and I sure didn't want to talk to the ladies that run the team at that moment; they would have done well to stay clear of the dugout. I didn't want to be there at all.

While I was on the bench, I packed up all my stuff, put my keys in my back pocket, and prepared to make a mad dash out of there as soon as the game was over. And, after the obligatory handshake, I did just that. The main manager was handing something over the dugout to some of the guys. She started to offer whatever it was to me and remind me that the next game was the following night until she caught the look of disgust on my face and heard my abbreviated reply.

"Are you all right?" she asked.
"I'm fine," I said, as I continued walking towards the gate.
"You sure? What's wrong, is something wrong?"
"I'm fine."
"See you at the game tomorrow?"

I nodded and continued on. It was obvious to her that I was very pissed off. I'm not one to make a scene most of the time, so that small (non) event above is usually about the extent of it. I thought on the way home of what I would say the next day if she brought anything up. Basically, it would have been along the lines of, "I come here to play, not to watch every other game from the bench. I've been through that bullshit enough, and I'm really not interested in going through it again. If there's no spot for me, then why did you pick me up?"

I was still mad the next day when I got up. Since I didn't get home until after midnight the night before and had to work all day, my uniform was still covered in dust and dried blood. I remembered having to peel my sock from my knee when I got home after the game, as it had dried to the large abrasion that, apparently, will never heal. Especially if I keep sliding on it (note to self: stop doing that.) I chugged home from work, scarfed down a sandwich, threw on the uniform, and prepared for the best.

Game #8: Us 14, Them 13
Team Record: 5-3


Blow, Joe: 0-2 (walk, intentional walk, reached on error, fly out (into double play))

Season-to-Date Totals (through game 8):

Avg: .188 (3 for 16)
OBP: .458
Slg: .188
OPS: .646
RBI: 5

What a terrible field. I think my favorite parts would have to include:

1) the permanently sealed restrooms (complete with "CLOSED" stencil)
2) the moat and drainage pipe behind 1st base
3) the tire tracks in front of 2nd base
4) Left-field Foul Territory Hill

Not to mention the precautions you had to take when sliding to make sure you didn't end up inside your own burial plot. The dirt was seriously about 4-5 inches thick, and not really dirt anyway. I found out the dangers early, after I walked to open the game and later tried to score from 3rd on a wild pitch. The footing? Not so good. Now, I told you a couple games ago that someone was going to get thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. You knew it would be me. The poor footing, combined with the short distance to the backstop, was bad enough. The fact that the ball popped straight in the air and was basically waiting for the catcher when he got back there meant I was a dead duck. After a quick slide into home, I was left to once again stop the bleeding on my knee with my sock.

The sun, of course, was shining directly towards left field all game. The good news? I got to play the whole game. The bad news? Of course I was in left field! It was pretty rough, though all I did throughout the game was field grounders and line drive base-hits.

A suprising thing, though? After my elegant performance the night before, I moved from 11th in the batting order...to first. You wouldn't believe what a difference that makes. It's a completely different feeling. I imagined the other team to have an idea about me, and it wasn't, "Last batter! Easy out!" It was more like, "Dangerous batter. Lead-off guy. Be careful." And it worked. I never felt uncomfortable on any pitch, like I was ready for anything they could throw to me. I walked the first time up, hit a smash to 2nd (though it was right at the guy, which he misplayed), was intentionally walked the 3rd time (to load the bases, but still...give me something), and hit a fly ball right at the right fielder the 4th time.

The best part, though, was still to come.

It was an inordinately sloppy game on both sides. What was especially frustrating was that while the fielders on the left side were battling the sun on every pitch, the rest of the infielders played with their concentration obviously focused somewhere else. There were a sad number of easy, ground ball outs that went over, under, off of, and past the gloves of various infielders. The game should never have been that close.

My 2nd favorite part of the game happened when I was coaching third base one inning. Pregnant man, who is easily the fattest and slowest guy on the team, has an odd affection for bunting. He'll do it with two strikes, with a runner on 2nd with 2 outs – basically anytime when it's the stupidest. So, he tries to bunt once again in this game with two strikes, fouls it off, and gives away a ridiculous out. Two guys from the other team were sitting on the bench behind me, and this was their exchange:

Guy 1: Who bunts with two strikes? Why'd he do that?
Guy 2: Because he's a short, fat fuck that has nothing to look forward to in life.

I didn't want to start cracking up right on the field, so I just kind of turned around and smiled.

Flash forward to the bottom of the last inning. We were the visiting team, and took the field clinging to a 3-run lead. After a few extraordinarily ridiculous errors allowed runners to reach, everyone got to witness what will probably be my lone attempt at throwing someone out at the plate. It was a good one, too. I mean, I'm pretty sure the throw (from short left field) was going to reach the catcher on the fly. The base runner was still a couple steps away, and I stood there waiting to see it actually happen.

What I saw was the pitcher, who was standing on the infield grass on the side of the pitcher's mound, leap high into the air and tip the ball with his glove. So, not only was everybody safe, but I just stood there kind of dazed. How could he?

With 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, we clung desperately to a 1-run lead. The sun had thankfully set an inning ago, and I was remarkably calm. Which worked out well when the batter laced a line drive towards the left center-field gap. I'm not really sure why nerves didn't get to me, but it was a thing of beauty as I waltzed confidently and stood at the exact spot the ball was travelling, snagged it, and just like that the game was over. It was great – there was absolutely nothing in my mind while the ball was in the air. Almost zen-like.

I think it helped that I didn't realize it was the last inning.

Still, everyone was thrilled, high-fiving me left and right. "I was SURE that ball was in the gap when he hit it," was the concensus from everyone. "I was just thinking, don't hit it to me, don't hit it to me" was what another guy told me. And, just like that, I was the game's savior. Just by sheer force of being able to catch the ball. Isn't it funny how quickly things change?

For a day, anyway.

Joe Blow

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I fully intended to update once I reached my hotel on Thursday night. Yep, a lone man in a new town with some fine hand-crafted beer and nothing better to do – sounds like my idea of posting time. Instead, I spent my eagerly anticipated wandering-around-a-strange-city time (ok, so st. louis isn't strange, just crappy) and my sitting-around-a-free-hotel time…well, sitting on I-70. Seems a cement truck driver found the one-lane construction-reduced highway outside of Columbia to be a perfect place to lose his mixer and set his truck on fire. That was fun. At least the Royals won, so the sports talk radio wasn't too unbearable while we sat. And, once I finally arrived in town, I lucked into finding some Schlafly Coffee Stout at a Schnucks down the street from the hotel. I really didn't think there would be any left of the coffee stout (it's a seasonal) – plus, it wasn't too bad. I've never had a great Schlafly brew, but some of their stuff is pretty decent. And, really, you can probably consider yourself lucky I didn't try to post towards the end of my coffee stout experience. but I sure was tempted.

Anyway, how about those Royals? They've actually been playing pretty decently. I don't buy into any part of the "well, teams always play better for an interim manager when the old manager is fired/quits" (how often do they quit, anyway?) idea that seems to be the agreed-upon explanation on the local message boards. That, basically, is ridiculous. Not much more than that.

I do like a lot of the things Bob Schaefer has done lately, as far as the new lineup and some of the day-to-day pitching moves. It doesn't always work, but you've seen the team the Royals put together this year, right? Exactly. I think there's a lot to be said for the amazing coincidence that the Royals started hitting a lot better once there was someone actually putting the team together in a sensible order. And no more of this Dee Brown / Calvin Pickering / etc. nonsense, where the guys that are up from the minors to be given the opportunity to prove themselves end up playing in 2 out of every 7 games, with a few random pinch-hit at-bats sprinkled in at the end of lost games. A guy will never succeed like that, yet that's been Standard Royal Procedure for-goddamn-ever. Batting averages based on less than 50 at-bats are notoriously brutal – I'm going to point to my JBABL stats so far to lend credence to that.

Speaking of which, both of those concepts – lack of regular playing time, ridiculously small sample size of at-bats – are currently working together to make my adult baseball league experiment extremely frustrating at the moment. After last night's game, I'm just about fed up. Just like a lot of marginal Royals prospects have experience upon reaching the big leagues, knowing that each and every step you make is going to be micro-analyzed and result in the next 4 days off if it's not wildly successful makes it a little hard to even play, let alone succeed. And, sometimes, just the fact that you're not a prospect dooms you to never getting a real opportunity. It's amazing what's happened to Emil Brown, Matt Diaz, David DeJesus (last season), and even Raul Ibanez a few seasons ago when they were actually allowed to play almost every day without having to look over their shoulders constantly. When you're always doing that, it makes it hard to pay attention to what's in front of you. And, yes, I realize that Diaz and Brown have only stepped up in a very limited number of games so far, but I've definitely noticed a difference in both now that they've been allowed to play regularly. Hopefully they'll succeed – of course, that's pretty much the Official Royal Motto.

In my case, during the last 4 games, I've been the extra-hitter twice, shuffled around the outfield during game #3, and only allowed to play 3 innings of game #4. I've also occupied the last spot in the lineup in 3 of the 4 games. Basically, I know I'm never going to get regular playing time no matter what, which is even worse than trying to win a spot. Right now, it doesn't seem like I'm even going to be allowed to compete. I don't know – I'll post more on this tomorrow. I have another game tonight, so at the least, I'll gain a little more perspective on the situation. Or quit.

Joe Blow

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League (JBABL) Update #4

This will be the last other-baseball-league update before we get back to the regular Royals noise around here - mostly because I'll be leaving for a short trip to st. louis and have to skip my own game tomorrow night. So, while I'm (hopefully) enjoying a nice Schlafly beer and (hopefully) watching the Apprentice season 3 finale in my hotel room tomorrow night...i'm hopefully wishing for rain! Sure wouldn't want my team to have to play without me..

And, since I won't have any of my own baseball to concern myself with until next week, maybe I'll take advantage of the hotel's free high-speed internet and actually say a word or two about the Royals..

Anyway, a double-header last weekend - of which we won both! Down to the nitty-gritty:

Game #4: Us 11, Them 5
Team Record: 2-2


Blow, Joe: 2-3 (2 singles, K, 2 RBI)

Season-to-Date Totals (through game 4):

Avg: .273 (3 for 11)
OBP: .467
Slg: .273
OPS: .739
RBI: 5

This game, I finally started getting back into the habit of actually remembering to try to hit the ball out in *front* of me while I was still at-bat, rather than on the long, slow walk to the dugout after triggering a hair too late and letting the pitch eat me up, as has been the case so far. I also made a conscientious effort to make sure I'm watching the ball all the way from the pitcher's hand, instead of picking it up after it's already been released. coincidentally, two two-out RBI base-hits! although, after hitting a solid single up the middle on the first at-bat, I hesitated coming around first, saw the centerfielder misplay the ball when it hit the lip on the infield grass, and made a lame duck attempt at trying to take 2nd. of course, you only realize you've really bit it about ¾ of the way there, and I was out by a good 3 steps. hey, at least the run scored!

I also promised myself this game that all sliding would be done head-first, since I got a nice strawberry on my knee last game trying to steal a base, and it hadn't healed yet. so, then I slid feet-first trying to take 2nd, and returned to the dugout to find a nice, uh, "full" band-aid on my knee. luckily I had plenty of time to nurture myself back to health...

...because I was the goddamn Extra Hitter again. it's not as bad right now because I know I'm the new kid on the team, but it burns me up when the same guys get an automatic spot no matter how they play. the worst part about being the EH is that, aside from watching kids screw up your position, this lady automatically bats you last. I was pretty steamed during the game, and I sat on the very end of the bench to make sure the managers wouldn't talk to me. I mean, I do that anyway, but I think it was a little more noticeable when I was the only person on it.

A pretty good game, though. What could top it? Why, Game 5, of course..

Game 5: Us 9, Them 7
Team Record: 3-2


Blow, Joe: 0-2 (BB, K, ground out, 1 run scored)

Season-to-Date Totals (through game 5):

Avg: .231 (3 for 13)
OBP: .444
Slg: .231
OPS: .675
RBI: 5

The good: I led off the top of the last inning and drew a walk when our team was down 7-4.

The bad: I'll be remembered for two things in this game -

1. Dropping a fly ball in the bottom of the 6th after losing it in the sun (allowing 2 runs to score)

2. Not attempting to score on a wild pitch in the top of the 7th (last) inning with the bases loaded, nobody out, down by 3

Pretty rough. I actually got to start in left field, where I began the game by slightly misplaying an odd bounce on a line drive (nobody took an extra base, though), and pulling up short of a couple potential shoe-string-catch line drives that, obviously, everyone else on the team would have tried to catch and had the ball roll for a triple when they missed it - I thought holding guys to singles was good? I watched that play *way* too many times in softball last year, and I'm not about to make it.

in my defense on the misplay, I will say that, honestly, I could barely feel my fingers. and, no, it wasn't cold. it's just that, well, I started the day feeling a little rough after a night of slightly heavy drinking the previous evening, then ingested a lot of caffeine. in fact, I had some extra no-doz type caffeine pills in my bat-bag, and while I wasted away the innings on the bench during game 1 of the afternoon, I think I took a couple too many. and that's saying something for me, because I regularly drink large quantities of coffee all day long. anyway, by that point I was feeling a little shaky and a lot...odd.

I actually moved up to 7th in the order this game (based on my dynamite performance in game 1, coupled with the fact I wasn't the EH), and proceeded to strike out by taking a couple questionable strikes and missing a curve ball. badly.

then the "talk" started.

while we were batting in the top of the 3rd, I heard the manager lady say to the guy who couldn't play centerfield worth anything in game one, "yeah, you're going in to left next inning". I wasn't even going to say anything. I just decided maybe she meant "left side of the infield", or...fuck it, I knew what she meant. I was getting taken out after two innings. I was livid.

after we were retired in the top of the 3rd, sure enough, he trotted out to left. I stood there, grabbing the fence, waiting for someone to say something to me as i watched this unfold. they sat on the bleachers, snacking away. I looked at anyone, waiting for a response. finally, eyes clenched, an indignant scowl on my face, I pointed and said, "You put him in?" very eloquent, I must say.

"oh, yeah, you're going to right field. I meant to tell you. sorry about that!"

what the fuck? jesus christ.

anyway, I slowly staked my place in right field, and watched each inning as the sun gently crept down the sky until, by about the 6th inning, it was perched happily just over the tall trees that looked over the field from behind the right-handed batters. in other words, the sun was directly in front of the right fielder (me), and about ¾ of the way down the sky. combined with the glare off of the concession stand roof, which rests about 5 feet above the batter's head (and also directly in front of the right fielder), I seriously hoped that I could be nothing more than a place-holder the rest of the game.

cue forward to the bottom of the 6th: down by 1, our pitcher allowed the first 2 runners on - one, I must mention, because the guy that took my place in left field actually charged a fly ball that landed just in front of the warning track. I mean, seriously, the guy can't play outfield! goddamn.

anyway, naturally the next ball hit is a high fly ball to me, and I saw it all the way until it was maybe 10-15 above me. then, nothing. I couldn't see a thing. it was lost to the sunlight completely. I stuck my glove in the air, half-defensively, and felt it glance off the very tip. afterward, nobody really said anything to me. they just, kind of, didn't talk to me.

I was vindicated the next inning when the right fielder on the other team did the exact same thing. of course, to guys on my team, it was because he "sucked, really bad", but he had obviously put his arms in front of his face as the ball came down so that he wouldn't get smashed.

anyway, like I said earlier, I led off the top of our last inning by drawing a walk. the guy after me had apparently (to most of us anyway) drawn a walk as well, with the home-plate umpire even pointing him down to first base. except that his pointing was really him calling a late, silent strike call. I realized this when I was about halfway to 2nd base and had to make a mad dash back to first, seeing as how I was a live runner and all. I probably could have made it to 2nd, but everybody was a little confused, so they didn't think to throw it back to 1st soon enough. at least i was still safe, that's all i have to say.

eventually, I made it to 3rd, and we had the bases loaded, 0 outs, down by 3. that's when the pitcher threw a wild pitch to the backstop. now, I must mention, this is not the backstop at royals stadium. in fact, it's not very deep at all, and I honestly can't believe that no one ever gets thrown out trying to take home plate on these plays. no matter what, though, I wasn't interested in trying to score on a wild pitch with the tying run on first base and no one out. so, I stayed put on 3rd when he threw one. naturally, my teammates (on the 1st base bench) were jumping all over themselves. I just stuck my hands out and shrugged my shoulders, like, "what?!"

I ended up scoring on the play where their right fielder lost the ball in the sun, we eventually scored 5 runs in the inning and held on for a 9-7 win, and everybody was really excited. I even had a couple of guys come up to me and say, "I liked your decision not to try to score with the bases loaded." and that, my friends, is what I'll take for vindication these days..

Joe Blow

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Joe Blow's Adult Baseball League Update #3

Three scheduled games since the last update; 1.4 actually played! We will begin with the ok one, followed by the good one that didn't count..

Game 3:
Final Score: Us 14, Them 6

Team Record: 1-2

Joe Blow's Offensive Stats:

Game 3: 0-1 (K, 2 BB)

Season Totals:
Avg.: .000
OBP: .400
Slg.: .000
OPS: .400
RBI: 1

You know, I just carry the bat to the plate to give off the illusion I might hit the ball. No hitting actually occurred in the playing of this game. I managed to stake my claim this time to the demeaning role of "extra hitter", as we had 10 guys show up for the game. never mind the fact that some of these guys show up to about 1 of every 3 games, or that a few of them can't possibly play the field at any position. yes, the new guy gets to sit the bench until it's his time to hit. add to that the insult of not just being the extra hitter, but batting 10th out of 10, and you can extrapolate my mindset once this game started.

I don't know why I even try to keep statistics. it's really just for my own amusement. one of the manager ladies for this team keeps a scorebook, but she constantly has to ask about actual rules of the game, so I can pretty much guarantee you she has no idea how to accurately score the game. not to mention the guys on the team; during game #3, one guy on the bench actually said this:

"Yeah, I have an on-base percentage of 1.000. I've either got a hit, or walked, or got hit by a pitch every time up so far."

let me just take a second here: hahahahahaha.

ok. give me a break. dude, nobody on this team can hit, and you guys RARELY reach base. not every time: more like, barely *any* time. he also said, "well, I've only been up 5 times anyway." um, I batted 7 times in the first two games alone, and he hits ahead of me in the order. do outs not count as at-bats? that would probably explain it. but, then came this gem from another guy:

"Yeah, I have a .533 batting average, and a .667 on-base percentage. of course, I don't count errors or anything in my calculations."

ha. .533 batting average – um, I don't remember *any* of your hits, let alone the idea that you've been on base more than, like, once in the games so far. and, you know, errors count for something, i think. these are the eggheads I have to deal with. trust me: despite the fact that I had been on base as much as anyone in the lineup at that point, the idea that I reached on walks means i never reached base at all, and (for the other guys) the other teams' errors/fielder's choices/dropped 3rd strike at bats were "hits". because the guys on my team swung the bat. I'm surprised those guys even knew the term "on-base percentage". of course, I wouldn't actually expect them to know how to calculate it.

anyway, you know, there I was on the bench, getting steamed about being the "extra hitter" at the bottom of the lineup. sure, put the pregnant looking guy at shortstop, put the guy that always wants a "courtesy" runner to run the bases for him in left field. god forbid you put a solid defender in the game at key positions. luckily, my clumsy slow replacement got bored of standing in left field after two innings, so I got to play the remaining 5 innings standing around, doing a whole lot of nothing. apparently, guys in this league haven't caught up to the 55 mph fastball yet, so nobody ever pulls the ball. I fielded a grounder that got by the pregnant man at shortstop, and a line drive on two hops. that was it.

when I fielded that line drive, the batter took a big turn around first just as I grabbed the ball. I was going to softly toss it in to the cut-off (pregnant) man – just an easy throw, seeing as how it's never a good idea to show the other team what kind of arm you have until absolutely necessary, so they'll be off-guard as far as your prospective chances of throwing them out – but, when the guy took an aggressive turn around 1st, I double-clutched the ball and got ready to throw it to 2nd base instead. keep in mind, I'm in pretty shallow left-field at this point; the throw to 2nd was about 20 feet further than the throw to pregnant man. the runner halted his advance.

pregnant man: GET THE BALL IN HERE, NOW!!
me: Why, he isn't going!?

and then I returned to my spot. and I mostly stood there, getting pissed off that Dumpy – despite the fact that I've now watched him completely drop a fly ball after it bounced off of his glove, botch a number of ground balls (or just plain not attempt to get to them, including one earlier that night), and repeatedly try to pretend like he's a switch-hitter when he bats, even though he can't hit from either side – yell at me in front of the team for not throwing the ball to his stupid ass. that shit doesn't help me, because the people running the team don't know that much about baseball, so if Stubby yells, he must be right. goddammit.

anyway, we actually won that game. no thanks to the rest of the team while I was on the bases: if we didn't score on passed balls and wild pitches, we'd NEVER score. I was on base 2 out of 3 times, and nobody *ever* moved me up a base through either hitting the ball or drawing a walk. it's all strikeouts and wild pitches.

walks are like death here. walks, seemingly, rank lower on the scale than embarrassingly bad strikeouts and lazy pop-ups to the catcher. but, you know, the catcher has that complicated glove and all, so he has to make a good play to catch it..

of course, god forbid our catchers actually block pitches or make any kind of defensive play at all.

I used to play catcher back in the day – WAY back, I'm talking from t-ball to coaches pitch to bantams – and, even though I haven't played it for years, I still know that it's not that hard to keep pitches in front of you at this level. it just takes: 1) concentration 2) effort 3) disregard for personal comfort. I mean, you can't block everything, but it's not that hard in the local rec circuit.

you wouldn't know it from this league. aside from the fact that I can pretty much steal bases at will (when I'm not hitting behind the biggest, slowest guy on the team – hey, this 10th spot could work out well after all..), none of the catchers really make that much attempt to stop every other pitch from going to the screen. it's ridiculous, and kind of insulting. especially when these pitcher and catcher guys try to talk to each other as if they're "calling" the game and "setting people up" with pitches and all that. hell, maybe they think they are. I think they would be better served by actually, you know, throwing strikes. cause that shit's a rarity around these parts.

we were supposed to play a double-header last Sunday. we made it through 3 innings of the 1st game before the rain came down and stopped play. here are the stats through 3 innings:

Game 4:
Us 14, Them 2 (3 innings)

Team Record: 1-2 (not an official game)

Joe Blow's Offensive Stats:

Game 4: 1-2 (fielder's choice, single, 2 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 1 run scored)

Season Totals:
Avg.: .125
OBP: .417
Slg.: .125
OPS: .542
RBI: 3
SB: 2

I came up in the 2nd inning with a runner on 3rd and 1 out, and grounded into a fielder's choice that scored a run. my question is: if a hitter hits a fly ball that scores a run, or bunts a runner to another base, they're credited with a sacrifice and not an official at-bat. what about a ground ball that scores a run? you don't think *that* could be on purpose, too? I knew if I put the ball in play, it would score a run, and after fighting off a few pitches, that's what I did. yet, it counts against my average and as an official at-bat. kind of a dumb rule in that regard.

anyway, the brain trust at the head of our organization put pregnant man in left field this time, while I lucked into staking out right field. it was extremely windy, which meant no one (our team or the other one) could catch anything hit to left. pretty sad, really, to watch from right. i guarantee i won't be with this team next year, so i won't miss the whole "watch this team screw up really, really bad on just about every play" thing.

anyway, after blooping a single in the 3rd, I stole some bases, and scored the final run in the bottom of the 3rd on a passed ball. we were, apparently, up 14-2 by that point, but as we ran to take the field in the top of the 4th, the rain started. and, within a minute, poured. I looked to the umpires. no signal. great. one batter up, two pitches later, they called it. I huddled in an odd spot just in front of our bench, as the rain was blowing in from the back of the dugout as well as pouring over from the roof. there was very limited space that provided any kind of protection.

eventually they cancelled the game altogether, and it was ruled "unofficial", since it didn't go the required amount of innings (whatever that is). but, honestly, I'd like to keep the stats. it's not like I'm angling for a contract or anything anyway..so, it counts. now, to fix the fact that all my hits are bloops..

Joe Blow

Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's certainly been an extremely busy week for all things outside of Royal Blues -- which means it's been pretty vacant here. Has it been over a week since I posted? That's not really the plan, but, you know, "free entertainment" and all that. Thankfully, in the meantime, someone was nice enough to list my humble little site on Baseball Blogs, which has like doubled my page views while I haven't been posting (whatever that's supposed to say..). yep, one day I even made it to double-digits! I've truly reached the pinnacle.

Anyway, due to my prolonged "royals road trip"-style absence, you can use this post as a clearinghouse for archival royal links to past catastrophes. Reminisce uncomfortably while slowly watching the season die through the Royal Record countdown.

Also, an inside source has provided me with information that something big may have happened after the May 10 loss to Toronto. I am checking into this, and will report back with any late-breaking developments as they occur. (note: if the report comes in after lunch tomorrow, it'll probably be a little more, uh, "festive". just sayin..)

So, via the links below, feel free to enjoy the past 9 games all over again. From walking in the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the 8th, to blowing an 8-1 lead, to *gasp* one lone victory, to losing our Head Cheerleader…it's all here! Is it any wonder I don't try to write about all these games?

Chicago 5, Kansas City 4
Royal Record: 7-19

Chicago 4, Kansas City 2
Royal Record: 7-20

Chicago 2, Kansas City 1
Royal Record: 7-21

Baltimore 3, Kansas City 1
Royal Record: 7-22

Baltimore 5, Kansas City 3
Royal Record: 7-23

Kansas City 10, Baltimore 8
Royal Record: 8-23

Toronto 6, Kansas City 1
Royal Record: 8-24

Toronto 3, Kansas City 1
Royal Record: 8-25

Toronto 12, Kansas City 9
Royal Record: 8-26

Hopefully back tomorrow!

Joe Blow