Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Royals have won the World Series

This will likely be the last post that appears on this blog, which I created in 2007 just before the start of the Royals' first full season with Dayton Moore as GM. I had to stop regular postings after moving to China, but I've always followed the team from afar, from arguing the Myers-Shields trade (can we call it the Davis-Odorizzi trade now?) to whispering in the spring of 2013 about how good that team could be.

But this good? No. Not ever had I imagined that, because the 2015 Royals are literally unimaginable. If I were blogging regularly, I'm not sure I could conjure enough words to describe this team game after game, after every new inventive way of winning. Maybe I'll just keep it simple then (something I wish this current version of me could go back in time to tell former me): the Kansas City Royals are World Series champions. The city is about to shut down for a championship parade, and I wish I were there.

I want to leave you with a question. But first, I need to set up that question with a bit of context. You already know all that follows, but let's call this for posterity's sake --

The Royals won the World Series for the first time in 30 years. They did it by winning against a team with the presumptive American League Cy Young winner, against a team with the highest run differential in baseball, and against a team with four starters with sub-3 ERAs and a closer who had not blown a save since July 30.

That Cy Young winner? Knocked around for 3 earned runs in one inning in a series-clinching game. That invincible team? Beat them so bad in Game 4 that they called on a position player to pitch, the first time that's happened since Babe Ruth. That closer who hadn't blown a save since July 30? He blew THREE saves in one week against the Royals.

The Royals won games after being shut out for eight innings, won in which their win probability dipped as low as 25%, 18%, 16%, 10%, 8%, and 1%, and won by holding a one-run lead in the 9th with a runner on third and no outs.

They won that do-or-die Game 4 in Houston after trailing by four runs with six outs to go. (However many years later, that victory will not seem less miraculous.) They won in 14 innings, tied for longest game in World Series history by innings. They won in 12 innings after scoring five runs in the top of the 12th, the most ever in an extra-inning World Series game.

They won while scoring 40 runs -- FORTY -- in the 8th inning or later this postseason, while no other team had more than 5. This feat will not be duplicated. They won seven times after trailing by multiple runs. Seven! This will not be duplicated. They won three times in the World Series after trailing in the 8th inning or later. That's never happened before, and is unlikely to happen again.

They won when a tie-breaking run was scored from FIRST BASE on a SINGLE. One year after the tying run was stranded 90 feet away in Game 7 of the World Series, they won after a 90-feet mad dash that was equal parts daring and outlandish. They won when a player who had not recorded an at-bat all playoffs -- whose last RBI came 41 days prior -- drove in the game-winner.

Little League coaches will tell their players to have fun like the Royals. Baseball executives will emulate Dayton Moore's team-building philosophy. Baseball analysts will conduct exhaustive studies on the flaws of their projection systems. National baseball writers will run out of words. And a generation of fans in Kansas City will never forget the names Gordon, Davis, Hosmer, Cain, Escobar, Perez, Volquez, Zobrist, Hochevar, Jirschele, Kuntz, Yost...

So, my question:

Is it possible that for the rest of our baseball-rooting lives, however hard we root, it will never get better than this past month when we rooted for THIS team?

(And how are we supposed to feel about that?)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In Dayton We Trust: Vindicated

This blog was created nine years ago. Here's what happened tonight:

-- Johnny Cueto pitched eight innings of two-run ball, retiring the final 19 straight batters. He was acquired in a midseason trade.

-- Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales, signed in the offseason, were supposedly downgrades from the free agents the Royals lost. Alex Rios hit a two-run double in the 5th to bring the Royals back from a 2-1 deficit. Morales hit a three-run home run in the 8th.

-- Ben Zobrist, who is an all-around fantastic baseball player and made a great grab to begin the 7th, was obtained after Cueto in a trade.

-- Wade Davis, as we know, came to KC with James Shields in The Trade.

All of these players factored into tonight's Game 5 win. How do we like Dayton Moore now?

Let's go Royals. Onward.

p.s. Also see this story by Rany Jazayerli:

Having finally embraced analytics these last few years, Moore’s strengths in other departments that are far harder to teach are now shining through. In a world where every team has a general understanding of analytics, themarginal benefit of being a trailblazer has shrunk, increasing the importance of traditional skills like scouting and player development. That plays into Moore’s strengths perfectly.
All of this has made the 2015 season a delightful, delicious, dizzying experience. It’s been difficult coming to terms with the reality that Dayton Moore is an excellent general manager, but no more difficult than coming to terms with the reality that the Royals won the pennant last season, or that this season they really are the best team in the American League.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Royals vs. Athletics: Wild Card Game live-blog

7:18 pm CT, 8:18 am Beijing time: Oh shit.

Comeback time.

7:34 pm: Butler! Let's go Royals!

8:12 pm: Did I just see a "Cain is Able" sign in the crowd? That's inspired.

8:13 pm: Cain is able. And here I thought I'd have to sweat through seven innings to see the game reset. This is much preferable. Deficit gone...

8:15 pm: ...and now the lead! which means we're three innings away from Herrera-Davis-Holland. I've always relished, from an observer's point of view, the emotional ebb and flow of a baseball game. One minute you're clutching the physical manifestation of your heart in the form of a pillow, deathly hopeful, and the next you're pumping your arms as adrenaline surges and your body is like, "Dude, you're not even in a fight." And then -- is it too early to say? -- the game ends.

Note from the TBS broadcast: "Salvador Perez is the Yadier Molina of the American League."

8:56 pm: Yordano Ventura pounds his glove as he emerges from the bullpen. Go git em, young flamethrower.

9:42 pm: As easy and tempting as it might be, you can't really put this on Ned Yost. James Shields might have pulled himself out of the jam, but who's to say? He didn't look sharp in the first two innings, and those baserunners in the 6th were solely his responsibility. Kelvin Herrara could have done better out of the pen, but he wasn't exactly mowing down Derek Norris and Coco Crisp. One has to believe Yordano Ventura was told beforehand to be ready to come in out of relief, and that he relished the opportunity. Sometimes athletes simply don't perform as well as we -- or they -- hope. It happens.

Two innings left. Whatever happens...

11:19 pm: I'm reminded of one of the best baseball game I've ever seen, the 13-inning Game 163 in 2007 between the Rockies and Padres, which I wrote about here.

Lucky to be watching this one. Whatever happens...

Well, that happened. Been dropping thoughts on Twitter. I'll end the post with these, and then go celebrate. As should you. We all deserve it.

I'll be watching the Royals tomorrow from...

...Beijing. Where will you be watching?

Wherever it is, swing by for a live-blog if you'd like. Advance warning: it may be very onomatopoetic and recitative. Let's go Royals!

New profile:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Last night's game...

Reactions from Viva El Birdos and Lone Star Ball:

9th inning:


10th inning:


11th inning:


So, Rangers fans ... feeling good about today?

Dallas Morning News

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A simple thought that has been running through my mind again and again

You know, even at a far remove -- geographically at least -- from my hometown baseball team, it's not very hard to feel the positive vibes coming out of camp. I feel very, very good things about this season, and if I'm proven wrong, well, that doesn't change the reality of these feelings at this present moment, when all teams are 0-0 and anything seems possible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fake Dayton Moore

http://twitter.com/fakedaytonmoore makes me want to come back. Ah, Twitter. Alas, I think this blog has hit its logical end point. I just g-chatted to a friend these series of messages:

you konw
i'm kind of thinking to myself this lineup isn't bad
dejesus, pod, butler, jacobs, gordon ankiel
guillen, buck, shortstop
throw callaspo in there!
not guillen, sorry
jacobs would be dh obviously
that's NOT a bad lineup

I know, I know...

I'm living in the past, and not even some distant past where the Royals were good or challenging for the playoffs. No, I was living in a past where I was expected to expect the Royals to be good, or, more accurately, expecting others to expect the Royals to not be bad. And I just don't have time for that anymore.

But, nonetheless, go Royals, and since blogs never die, so this one won't, but, but, but...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Viva El Birdos, indeed

If you're in need of a chuckle today, go check out SB Nation's Cardinals blog, like these comments. But don't linger too long, you might start feeling an odd combination of sadness, bemusement and sympathy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An amazing statistic via Joe Posnanski

In the book Jitterbug Perfume, which is the sort of book that so poignantly asks all the universe's most important questions (e.g., life, death) that even if you hate Tom Robbins, you'll appreciate and respect this work, the caprine god Pan slowly dematerializes as fewer and fewer people believe in him. It's how gods "die," as he puts it.

Our coverage of these Royals is kind of like that: slowly disappearing, soon incomplete sentences and broken links.

But this is too good to not share: Joe Poz, near the end of a really hilarious column for SI:

I'm going to give you an amazing statistic about Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke. He is, unquestionably, the best pitcher in the American League. He leads the league in ERA, complete games, WHIP and home runs per nine innings. He is second in strikeouts, and fifth in walks per game.

No, I haven't given you the amazing statistic yet.

He leads the league in shutouts. He has made 20 starts where he allowed two runs or less, most in the American League. He has made 24 starts where he allowed three runs or less, most in the American League. He has only had two starts all year where he has given up five runs in a game.

No, haven't given you the stat. Not yet.

Greinke's first 10 starts, he had an 0.84 ERA. His last five starts, he has a 1.38 ERA. Greinke himself has a higher slugging percentage (.333) than the right-handed batters who have faced him this year (.318).

And no, that's not the stat either. Here's the stat that will blow your mind.

The Kansas City Royals have a losing record in games that Zack Greinke has started this season.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Catching up, kind of

In the context of recent Royals events, my last two posts could not have been more off the mark. I understand this, trust me. They were deliberately -- and I'm just throwing out a few words here -- mild-tempered, light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, non-Royals-related. On the other hand, as far as I can tell, the prevailing attitude among bloggers and commentators falls somewhere between exasperation and resignation, or, on a slightly different axis, rage and despair. The fallout to the Yuniesky Betancourt trade has been damn near nuclear, and let's just say someone ought to check if Rany's still alive after his upcoming visit to the K. (His blog's tagline: "July 10th, 2009. The day the music died.")

I had no idea, however, the extent of the animosity towards the Royals' front office until I spent a couple hours today trolling the blogosphere (with a VPN, of course, as Blogger's blocked in China). Just click on any random link in my blogroll and you'll see (Royals Review has been leading the charge, e.g., here, here and here). The line of disgust and antipathy and -- could it really be? -- hatred has been sunk so deep that even some blog readers have begun to cringe and ask something to the effect of, "Eek... really?"

A sampling of the comments to Rany's 4,254-word renunciation of his fanhood:

Travis: Bull shit. I don't buy you're quiting on the Royals. As much as I like your blog, I'm not begging you to keep writing it. We don't need diehards giving up whenever they get pissed. It's one thing to bitch about the Royals moves, it's another to quit on your team for good. Calm down, have a shot of whiskey, and lets hope for some more moves at the deadline.

jason y: its a sad day to be a royals fan....but how is that different from any other day? when you're at the bottom the only place to go is up. dont lose faith.

(This one is kind of awesome) Keith: Rany, I kept checking your blog Friday night. I thought perhaps you pulled the plug on the whole thing. As an almost casual fan I was bothered by the trade immediately. If I've heard of Cortes then he must be valuable. This is clearly a lost season and I thought it was time to unload contracts and pick up players for the future. I've quit the Chiefs but the Royals are still meaningful. I think it helps not to care too much. Family and friends are whats really important.

Scott: And I also agree with Travis. You can't just give up. It doesn't work that way. I'm 27 years old (Betancourt's age! And I'm not nearly near my peak, thank you very much) and have never known the Royals to be good. Ever. But, here I sit, just waiting for what will definitely be one of the greatest moments of my life when the Royals finally "find a nut."

stpat: ...All I can say is stick with them, if for no other reason than to give us (the Fans) a legit voice.

Ryan: I don't really see the big deal. It's not like they traded Hosmer or Aaron Crow or someone like that. Also, unlike the Jacobs deal, it's not like they are blocking someone better on the farm with this deal either. I really don't see it having that much of a negative impact. Maybe it costs Glass some money if he continues to tank but I don't really care about that. Someone other that TPJ has got to play short and I don't see any other options out there.

And another thing, I'm sick of hearing people talk about I'm not going to anymore games, I'm done with this team, I'm not wearing anymore Royals gear.......good. I'm with Travis and Scott. We don't need you around making ridiculous claims about your loyalty. If you leave, stay gone. I don't want to see you back when the tide turns. And it will turn.....

Matt Berger: Rany im 20 years old, ive never really seen a winning Royals season 2003 doesn't really count. I want to give up, I want to stop caring but I can't and I haven't so you can't either. Might I suggest you keep being critical and hope you're comments reach ears who belong to someone in position to make decisions. You have a bully pulpit keep using it. I look forward to meeting you Saturday.

So on and so forth.

I admit I did not read all 134 comments (I will never understand what would ever motivate someone, like ejfunk, to write a near-500-word response to a blog post; I mean that in the best way possible). I will also admit that despite the many affirmations of loyalty to the Kansas City Royals, I was still dismayed, or unconvinced of one thing or another. What that thing is exactly I can't or don't want to articulate. I feel as if the world's blown up and I was on the moon.

Here's the thing: when you live somewhere that's removed from baseball, you lose touch with the rhythm of the season. You forget if those 1-0 losses were pitched by Brian Bannister or Zack Greinke, or if Luke Hochevar's still in the rotation, or why the name "Bruce Chen" is in the box score. I check the scores every morning and feel a distinct pang of disappointment when I see the Royals have lost, an unmistakable pick-me-up, like the first sip of fresh-brewed coffee (in terrifically short supply here), when they've won, but still -- you lose perspective. You find yourself clicking on "standings" every other week, something you shouldn't need to if you're watching Baseball Tonight every other day.

And it is here that I admit that until today, when I had the good fortune to read the blogosphere's reactions, the Betancourt trade didn't bother me all that much. I didn't think much of it. I read Bob Dutton's article and felt it disingenuous to some degree, but I really didn't think it worth my time to fuss over yet another trade of a couple minor leaguers for a middling position player.

Now I wonder...

Those who run counter to the zeitgeist risk inducing something much worse than irrelevance, a pit where this blog has been fast descending (damn you, Great Firewall of China) -- disdain. I don't want that. Those who sigh and curse, pound their fists and wring their hands while following this maddening yet beautiful, wonderfully intricate and fascinating game deserve better than yet another loathsome Royals commentator.

In other words, I'm not entirely sure whether In Dayton We Trust has a place in this current landscape. We're taking a vacation until the steam evaporates off Royals Land.

I won't go so far as to quote Keith -- "Family and friends are what's really important" -- but right now I am going to slip on my flip-flops, walk to the convenience store and buy an ice cream cone.