Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Melky leading off and the "Magic Eight Ball" bullpen

After last night's atrocious offensive showing by the Royals, despite Alex Gordon nearly hitting for the first cycle by a Royals' player in over 20 years, Ned Yost hinted that lineup changes would come. Needless to say, I was relieved. I had grown awfully tired of seeing Jeff Francouer (who I have developed a man crush on after his fantastic first couple of months) struggle at the plate and turn into the Jeff Francouer of old.

Alex Gordon continued his actual dominance in the leadoff spot, becoming the best left fielder in the Major Leagues (it's true, look it up). He's been the only enjoyable part of this team in the months of May and June. This is awesome. Gordon had been unfairly dumped on by most Royals fans and media for a majority of his career and to see him pull off a season like this has made me incredibly happy and relieved as a fan. Hats off to Alex Gordon. If he isn't our All Star, then they should just let him punch Nick Swisher in the face.

So with a lineup switcheroo, you would think that Gordon would maintain his perch at the top of the Royals' lineup. He IS after all one of the hottest hitters in baseball this year.

Instead, it's Melky Cabrera. Melky has stayed consistent...but he isn't a leadoff hitter. When Gordon was inserted in the leadoff role, I was shocked and actually proud of the Royals for doing something so progressive. Gordon, in my mind, is the next generation of leadoff hitters in baseball. Good on base skills, decent enough speed, power to the gaps, doesn't strikeout...wait, isn't that what managers always say, despite when they put Chris Getz in the leadoff spot?

Frenchy was removed from the cleanup spot and busted all the way down to...fifth. I get it. I like Ned Yost. He's a guy who commands the respect of his team and gets it back in return. He put up with Frenchy in the cleanup spot about a month longer than I would have. I'm just hoping Frenchy didn't have a sit down with Yost and ask him to be removed from the cleanup role like Joakim Soria did when he asked to be removed from the closer's role.

But Yost's bullpen management has been the most frustrating part of the whole equation. With the Royals down by three in the eighth inning and threatening to come back, Yost seemingly drew a name out of a hat and out came Everett Teaford, a LOOGY. Teaford gives up a two-run bomb and the Royals lose. Of course, who knows what may have come if Teaford had gotten out of the inning, but in a three run game, the manager has to treat it like a three-run lead.

So Nick Wright of 610 Sports Radio came up with the "Magic Eight Ball Bullpen" meme the other day on his show and I'm not sure if I've ever heard a more outrageous, yet so dead-on metaphor for Ned's bullpen management.

Ned: Should I put Greg Holland in to face three lefties?
Magic 8 Ball: As I see it, yes.

Ned: Tim Collins can get lefties out, right?
Magic 8 Ball: Outlook good.
Ned: Screw you, I'll put him in anyways.

Ned: Should I have a reliever put one in Yadier Molina's kidney?
Magic 8 Ball: Very doubtful.

I hope you still have the receipt to Spencer's Gifts...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Annual Royals Kingdom 'Ode to the St. Louis Cardinals (and their fans)'

Another heart stopping series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals concluded Sunday afternoon in America's Most Dangerous city and the Royals dropped the season series against their pre-fabricated, "Son of Denkinger", pointless rival across I-70. After the final game of the series that saw a few sparks of frustration from the red-clad Best Fans in Baseball's team, Alex Gordon called the Cards a "bunch of babies" for plunking him late in the game as retaliation for what seemed to be two innocent, yet unfortunate plays earlier in the game.

So this of course sparked my disdain for the St. Louis Cardinals. I don't know where it came from, but for the love of bearded Jesus, I really can't stand much of anything about this franchise.

It could stem from the fact that the fans have pretty much branded themselves as the "Best Fans in Baseball". Best at what, exactly? I don't understand what the whole self-appreciation hubbub is about. Hey, guess what? EVERY FREAKING TEAM IN BASEBALL SAYS THAT THEY HAVE THE BEST FANS IN BASEBALL. Here's a quote from John Q. baseball player from an on-field interview after literally every game ever: "I'm just thankful that we get to go out in front of the best fans in the game and I'm glad we won."

So throw a freaking parade for yourselves and dust off that Aaron Miles jersey, man! You've achieved something so very rare that it's only mentioned at every opportune time for any player ever to earn goodie points with the home town folks so your front office will throw a few extra bucks at him once he hits free agency. It's a pretty common practice. I'm sure you believe that Jesus Christ was a bearded white man who spoke English, too.

I've heard people refer to St. Louis as the "Capital of Baseball". Of course, those were people from St. Louis. But THEN I heard from this guy at Charlie Gitto's who says that Abner Doubleday made a trip to the Casino Queen back in 1881, so this is all verified that St. Louis is indeed the Capitol of Baseball and all fans should make pilgrimage to St. Louis and pay homage to the home of baseball...and the Bowling Hall of Fame.

Here's an idea. Instead of referring to yourselves as the "Best fans in baseball", refer to yourself as the "best franchise in baseball". You can certainly get away with that and it would be less absurd than making the notion that your fan base is superior to 29 others. You've won 10 World Series! You have had some of the greatest players to EVER strap on the cleats and play between the lines. Yet the most important thing about the Cardinals is the fans. Hey that's just great. Guess you've earned it after all. You've never gone longer than 25 years without a World Series victory. Hell, you go to the playoffs every year. You have the most prolific slugger of our generation wearing Cardinal red (for now).

My point is that it is EASY to be a Cardinals fan. It's EASY to root for your team. It's EASY to spit on teams like the Royals and Cubs because we've been so terrible and you've been so great. I mean, your worst team in the last 15 years won a World Series for Christ's sake!

Hey, guess what? I've won 20 Super Bowls on Madden. I'm the best player in Madden. Oh, what skill level was I playing on? EASY.

You're on EASY mode, St. Louis. Where you kill the boss on one shot while running around just firing random bullets into the air, hoping one hits.

Over here in KCMO, we're on extreme-devil mode. Where fucking zombies jump out of walls and eat your brains out after you save the princess. Where no matter what, you can't ever kill the boss, despite pumping round after round into his face. Where possibly your greatest pitcher ever demands a trade because he "doesn't like it here". SHIT AIN'T EXACTLY EASY OVER HERE.

Well guess what happens after you play enough times on extreme-devil mode? You get better...and better...and better...and better. You get draft picks. You make changes to your philosophy. You appreciate what you earn and enjoy watching how far you've come.

Guess what? We're getting better. Our owner actually seems to have figured out how to run some semblance of a professional sports franchise. We preserved one of the games iconic ballparks, while you grabbed the cookie cutter after Pittsburgh, Colorado, Texas and Philly were done using it. We've got the up and coming hottie that was just named hottest chick in the history of whatever and showing massive amounts of potential. You've got the 50-year-old divorcee with the bad boob job. Sure, it'll be fun for awhile, but man I can't wait to see that bitch go batshit crazy on your ass.

The next 25 years should be fun.