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

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