Thursday, December 30, 2004

The small but mighty MyFi Posted by Hello

Gadgets - to the power of X

I finally got my Christmas present yesterday - a Delphi MyFi XM radio receiver. I've considered satellite radio in the past, but I didn't want a receiver that tied me to the car or the house. I kept thinking that a Walkman-style receiver would one day be avaible.

That day came in December with the release of the MyFi. Once I heard that Major League Baseball had signed on with XM, I figured the time was right. The MyFi was in high demand, but my wife was able to grab one off of eBay.

My early reviews are positive. The price is steep - $350 - but that price includes lots of accessories that typically aren't included with satallite radios. The MyFi includes the radio itself, ear buds, a home cradle with antenna, an auto cradle with antenna, a cassette adapter, several connecting cables, a carry case, a belt clip, and a clip on personal antenna. Everything you need to use the radio wherever you are.

I powered on my MyFi in our kitchen and found that I could not get a signal. This is probably the one disadvantage of satellite radio - you have to have a clear view of the southern sky. The radio has a built in antenna, so when I held it by the window, it pulled in a signal and started playing the XM Preview channel.

I set up the home cradle and with the larger antenna in a southern window and access XM's web site to activate my radio. A couple of web pages later, my radio sprung to life with over 130 channels of music, news, sports, talk, and traffic and weather.

I also took the time to set up the auto cradle in my Mercury Mountaineer. The included auto antenna is magnetically attached to the roof of the vehicle. I ran the cable under the weather strips to the inside of the truck where I attached the cradle using the vent clip. The package includes several mounting options for the auto cradle. I'll use the vent clip until I decide where to permanently mount it.

I spent last night perusing the various channels. I found that I can listen to MSNBC and FOX news, over 60 music channels, several sports channels like ESPN Radio as well as access to Big 10, PAC 10, and ACC football and basketball games. There is a conservative talk channel (called America Right) and a liberal channel (called America Left). Lots of stuff to listen to!

So, the obvious question comes up. It's portable, designed to be carried along with you so you can listen at any time, any where. But you can't really listen to satellite radio anywhere, again since it requires a clear view of the southern sky. Since I work in the bowels of an office building, I couldn't listen to XM at work. That's where the MyFi's XM2Go feature comes in.

Last night, I set up my MyFi to record 2 1/2 hours of America Right as well as 2 1/2 hours of the MIX music channel. The MyFi can record up to 5 hours of programming in its internal flash memory. So today, here at work, I can listen to that recorded programming without needing a signal. This plan works great as long as what I want to hear is on at night. The downside here is if I wanted to listen to something that is on during the day, when I'd be at work listening to my recorded content without a signal.

I've had my MyFi less than 24 hours, so it's early to really judge, but so far I am impressed. The radio is easy to use, the firmware seems stable (no lock ups or other problems that I've experienced with some MP3 players). There is plenty of XM content ensuring that there is always something to listen to. My only wish is for more of the national talk shows to sign on to XM. I'd love to have access to Jim Rome, Tony Kornheiser, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly's the Radio Factor, Sean Hannity, etc.

I can see their reluctance to sign on, since many of them already offer on-line subscriptions to their shows and being available on XM may cut into that revenue. But I can definitely see a massive change for local radio stations. They will have to reinvent themselves to compete with satellite radio. Perhaps, satellite radio will go the way of satellite TV, where local stations become available via satellite.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Jose Lima rejoins the Royals in 2005 Posted by Hello

Believe It!

I had to check my calendar. I thought maybe it was April 1 instead of December 26. On the third page of the Kansas City Star's Sports Daily page was a small story entitled "Believe It: It's Lima Time Again." The Royals signed Jose Lima to a one year contract. I thought it was a joke, but it's true.

Lima resurrected his career in 2003 when Royals GM Allard Baird plucked him out of the Independent League where he was playing on the Newark Bears with Rickey Henderson. He pitched well in 2003 (8-3, 4.91), especially before a groin injury hampered him.

The Royals offered Lima an incentive-laden contract for 2004, but instead he chose to sign a minor league contract with the Dodgers. He went on to pitch well for the Dodgers, including a memorable complete game shutout against the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Lima's a very animated pitcher who is fun to watch, but the word is that if things start to go bad, he can be a problem in the clubhouse. I certainly enjoyed watching him with the Royals in '03.

I'm not sure how effective he will be in 2005. Dan Fox commented about Lima's stats away from pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium last season. If he can be the innings-eater that Baird is looking for, he can help the Royals. With his history of injuries and questionable effectiveness, I wouldn't expect more that 10 wins from him this year. Perhaps a tag team of Lima and the aging Appier could equate to one effective starter.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Royals Moves

The Royals finally made a few quiet moves last week. Rob & Rany discuss them in their latest post.

I'm not sure how Eli Marrero will turn out, but I think it's obvious that the Royals hare having a more difficult time finding a corner outfielder that they expected. Marrero had his best season last year, his first without spending any time as a catcher. If he continues that performance, he could be a decent platoon with Stairs or Long.

The Royals also were able to dump Benito Santiago. This trade, like the Darrell May trade, amazed me in that Allard Baird was able to find someone willing to take the player. I have no idea why the Pirates would want any part of Santiago - a 40 year old catcher caught up in the middle of the BALCO scandal. But, kudos for Baird for getting something for him.

What he got was B level prospect Leo Nunez. Nunez is another skinny pitcher (like Denny Bautista) who has electric stuff.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Branding SharePoint Portal Server

I spent a good part of 2004 branding a SharePoint Portal site for a client. Much of the work involved in branding Portal is undocumented, so I spent a lot of time using the old trial and error method.

Now, Daniel McPherson has created some documents on Branding Portal. Check them out:
Office Developer Center: Branding a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Site: Part 1, Understanding the Use of a Corporate Brand

Office Developer Center: Branding a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Site: Part 2, How to Apply Your Own Corporate Brand

Very good information. I just wish I had these articles in hand 9 months ago! :-)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sosa to the Royals?

The rumors are flying. Some are saying that the Royals are in talks with the Cubs to work out a deal that would fill KC's need for a power hitting corner outfielder. Sammy Sosa is guaranteed $17 million in 2005 and $18 million in 2006 if he is traded. Those are outrageous numbers for the small-market Royals.

So, why has this rumor persisted? Because the Cubs are supposedly willing to eat a good portion of Sosa's contract just to get rid of him.

The numbers look good. Sosa batted .253 with 35 HRs and 80 RBI in 478 AB in 2004. Good numbers indeed.

The Royals say they are interested in Sosa, but not if it means giving up any of their "core, young players." Is Mike Sweeney considered "core" or "young?" The Royals have a surplus of 1B/DH players, and Sweeney has a history of injuries. So, it might make sense to trade him for a player like Sosa.

Sweeney hit .287 in 2004. He had 22 HRs and 79 RBI in 411 AB. Good numbers. In fact, very similar numbers to Sosa.

Sosa is 36, Sweeney is 31. Considering the research that's been done recently on career trajectories (like that by my friend Dan Fox), Sosa's numbers are likely to decline fairly rapidly. Sweeney has long been the heart of the Royals team, and is a huge fan favorite.

Would it be wise to give up Sweeney for a player whose current team seems desperate to part ways with? I don't think so. I don't see the benefit of a Sweeney/Sosa swap.

I think the Royals should continue their original plan of finding a younger middle of the road outfielder who can drive in runs. (Austin Kearns, anyone?)

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Steroid Mess

Baseball is facing a scandal that some have compared to 1918 World Series scandal. While I don't think this situation is quite as severe as throwing a World Series for gamblers, I do think the face of baseball will change.

Dan Fox has done some interesting research career trajectories of ball players, and especially Bonds' career trajectory.

I believe it is pretty obvious that Bonds has been using some kind of performance enhancing supplement. His abnormal post-age-35 performance and his obvious body changes point to it. And if he really thinks we will believe him when he says he didn't know what the substance was, then I agree with Joe Posnanski - he must think we are "Fatty Heads."

Baseball blew its chance in 1993 to propel the game into the greatest American sport. Then, attendance as well as interest in the game was still strong. But instead, the owners and players chose the path that led to the strike, hurting the game so much that it has not fully recovered 10 years later.

This year, baseball has an opportunity right another long standing wrong. If baseball can come to an agreement on strong drug testing, it can help to heal one of those wounds inflicted in 1994. This is Bud Selig's chance to define his legacy.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Can the Chiefs get away with insulting its own fans???

I first became a Chiefs season ticket holder in 1989. I had just graduated from college and gotten my first full time job. I had money to burn and had been a suffering Chiefs fan for years. That season, the Chiefs had just hired GM Carl Peterson who then hired head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Season tickets were at an all time low because of the miserable decade the team had just gone through. My tickets are located mid-field, about halfway up the upper level. Great seats for football.

I don’t remember exactly what the tickets cost then, but I believe the seats were around the $28-30 range. The Chiefs then began their resurgence. Marty’s teams consistently won and made the playoffs. The 90’s were a great decade for Chiefs fans. Season ticket sales went through the roof, and there was a long waiting list for tickets. In Peterson’s 15 years of running the team, they have consistently won just enough games to hold the interest of the fans, but have failed to have success in the post season. They reached the AFC title game with Joe Montana, but that’s as far as they have made it. Building on the success of the team, and the fact that Arrowhead Stadium had become THE place to be on Sundays, the Chiefs have raised their ticket prices each season. This year, my seats cost $59 each, and parking is now $20 per car.

This season, the Chiefs have suffered through their worst season in years. As of today, the team is 4-8 and the defense is woefully bad. The defensive problems were apparent last season, but the Chiefs rode some spectacular kick returns to a 13-3 record and a home playoff game. The Colts came to town, the defense never forced a punt. It was another first round loss for the Chiefs and fans’ frustrations were beginning to mount.

Even though the Chiefs’ defense ranked last in the league in 2003, Peterson chose to retain all the defensive players. Instead, he fired defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and re-hired Gunther Cunningham. The mantra at the time was that the players were good, but the scheme was bad.

In 2004, again the defense is near the bottom of the league. Except this year, those fortunate bounces have not occurred. The offense is still the best in the league, but the defense can’t stop anybody. The fans are up in arms about a team that stood pat in the off season when it was so obvious that defensive personnel changes were needed.

Kansas City’s talk radio hosts began criticizing Peterson, and the callers have been doing the same. They believe that the team has been unfairly raising ticket prices and not improving the team on the field.

Which leads me to Rufus Dawes.

Rufus Dawes is a pseudonym for a columnist who writes for the Chiefs’ web site, The Dawes column typically appears after a media person has criticized the team, and the column attempts to explain the issue from the Chiefs’ side of the story. Nobody knows for sure who exactly the writer is. Some think it’s a PR person writing what Carl Peterson has asked him to write.

I have always had a problem with Rufus Dawes. First, when you run a professional football team, you are going to be criticized by the media and the fans. I think that one requirement would be to continue to do what you feel is right without letting those criticisms bother you. The existence of the Dawes columns shows that the media is getting under somebody’s skin at the Chiefs. My other issue is that even if you do want to respond to the media, don’t hide behind a pseudonym. If you feel you are right, come out and say it. Defend your position.

But this time, Rufus has gone too far. The latest Dawes column appeared on the front page of on Tuesday (12/7/04). The title is “Sports Talk Caller.” In it, Dawes bashes sports talk radio hosts and the listeners who call into those sports talk radio shows. Here are some quotes:

“A normal human being, wrote the British novelist and essayist George Orwell, is a mix of the noble and the ignoble, “of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.” Sports Bar Man, or Sports Talk Caller, is what Orwell referred to as the Sancho Panza type, who, he writes, covets “soft beds, no work, pots of beer, and women with ‘voluptuous’ figures.” If Mr. Orwell were with us today he would no doubt see the similarities.”

“Sports Talk Caller is ruled by his appetites and inclinations, among them ball – any kind of ball – and the notoriety he believes comes from being heard on the radio. Sports Talk Caller has such a flimsy sense of self that he derives his identity from listening to or being heard on a radio station.”

The column concludes by bashing two of the most popular sports talk show hosts in Kansas City, and then closes with this paragraph:

“Sport was once thought to bring out the best in people. Sports talk radio does just the opposite. It delights in negativity; it tears down sports institutions and sports people. And it does one more thing: it requires its primary listener, Sports Talk Caller, to pay attention to individuals whose lives are no more interesting than his own.”

So, here is a column on the official Kansas City Chiefs web site, that accuses sports talk radio listeners and callers of having a “flimsy sense of self” and who are lazy beer drinkers who love to look at women with “voluptuous figures.” (Fortunately for us, the Chiefs employ a squad of cheerleaders for us to view).

Okay, I’m confused. If I’m a person who listens to or calls sports talk radio, then I must be a fan of the local sports teams. If I’m a fan of the local sports teams, then I am likely to have spent some money to see the team, or to wear a team’s jersey. And yet, that very team is insulting me? This is ridiculous.

I’ve never called into a radio show, but I do listen to those shows every day. I love hearing about the teams that I enjoy watching. And now the Chiefs are insulting me. This year, I spent over $1,000 on tickets alone. That total does not include the parking money, or the money we’ve spent on hot dogs, beers, caps, and jerseys.

Of course, this has caused uproar amongst those radio talk shows and its listeners. The Chiefs claimed yesterday that they removed the column, but it is still there this morning. (see it here)

In what industry could a company insult the very customers who sustain it and get away with it? I would hope no industry could. I don’t think this company should get away with it either. That is why I am writing this letter to Carl Peterson:

Dear Mr. Peterson,

I am writing you to notify you that I am a season ticket holder who has just become a former season ticket holder.

I had been considering relinquishing my tickets for the last couple of years, but today I have made my decision.

What put me over the top? Rufus Dawes. Rufus says that I have a “flimsy sense of self” and that I covet “soft beds, no work, pots of beer.” Really? My household also makes over $150,000 a year and has spent a good amount of that money at Arrowhead Stadium. No more.

I will never again pay $20 to park my car. I will never again pay $7.00 for a beer. I will never again pay $60 to sit in the cold watching a football team that chooses to insult its fans.

Rufus thinks he was talking about Sports Talk Callers. But aren’t Sport Talk Callers also sports fans? And don’t fans pay the salaries of the Chiefs players, coaches and executives?

I don’t know who Rufus Dawes is, but since he only appears at, I must assume he represents the Chiefs’ point of view. And if the Chiefs think that I am a “complete idiot,” then this idiot doesn’t need to spend any more of his money on the Chiefs.

Respectfully yours,
Ron Hostetter

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Follow the Herd

First things first: I’m not a misanthropist.

I know that what I’m about to write is going to sound harsh and uncaring. I’m not harsh and uncaring. But I am rather tired of bracelets and ribbons.

There, I said it. I’m sick of seeing those magnetic ribbons on every car, truck and van on the road. I also support our troops. I believe in the war in Iraq. I have family who served in Iraq. I want them all to come home safely, and I deeply appreciate the work they do for our country. But I’m not going to put a magnet on my car. Why are so many people putting these things on their car? Oh sure, it’s a nice gesture. Plop down a dollar (I don’t know, but I assume the money is going to some worthy cause), and slap a magnet on the car to show your support. But somewhere it got out of hand.

I’ve been counting. At any given time on my drive to and from my office, I can see at several of these ribbon magnets on cars around me. Do this many people feel so strongly about the war and troops that they feel the need to display a magnet? Or, were they feeling left out by not having one? I somehow get the feeling that the urge to buy a magnet has more to do with fitting in than supporting the troops.

And now the magnets aren’t even about troops. Is the money for Kansas City Chiefs ribbons going to a worthy cause?

I thought it was a nice idea when Lance Armstrong started selling yellow bracelets to raise money in support of cancer survivors. But then the bracelets also got out of hand. Suddenly, they were sold out and only the very hippest of folks were wearing them. But I don’t understand why I’d have to wear a bracelet to prove that I support cancer survivors. I’ve been giving money to various charities for years and have never thought to myself “Gee, I wish I could wear a bracelet to prove how giving I am.”

Why? Why did Tom Brokaw have to wear a yellow bracelet on the air? Why did John Kerry have to wear a yellow bracelet while campaigning? The good feeling they get from simply supporting cancer survivors isn’t enough? They also need the good feeling they get from wearing a yellow piece of plastic. What kind of self esteem issues do these people have?

And, of course now there are pink bracelets, blue bracelets, green bracelets… A bracelet for every charity you can think of, and bracelets for the not so charitable. The blue one is to show support for the Kansas University Basketball team.

Me? I’ll just continue giving to my local charities. I’ll continue donating gifts for our church’s Giving Tree program. I’ll continue praying for our troops. And I’ll continue to feel good about it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Top Prospects

I was reading the latest issue of Baseball America last night. This issue features the top 10 prospects for teams in the AL Central. I was reading about the Royals' top 10 prospects, and noticed a trend:

1. Billy Butler 3b, "At best, the Royals hope Butler can become an average defender who makes the routine plays. He eventually may have to move to first base."

4. Chris Lubanski of, "He has a below-average arm and several scouts project him as a left-fielder."

5. Justin Huber c, "...his defense lags behind Buck's and may push Huber to first base or left field."

7. Shane Costa of, "Costa's below-average arm relegates him to left field, where he'll need to produce for more power."

8. Mitch Maier 3b, "His likely destination is an outfield corner."

This means that it's more of the same for the Royals. Their 2004 roster features a bevy of first basemen and left fielders (Harvey, Sweeney, Stairs, et. al.).

According to this, the future Royals will still have lots of first basemen/DH-type players.

This is where the small market really shows its ugly face. True, the Royals can't keep players they sign once they hit free agency, but they also can't sign the top tier players. They draft players based on what kind of signing bonus they can afford. These players are usually very skilled in one area, but are not all-around players. This batch of players all have promising bats, but they all lack defesive skills. You can hide one or two of these types of players at first or left field, but not 5 or 6 of them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Quiet Winter

The Hot Stove has been cool so far this offseason. The Royals have made a couple of insignificant signings, but that's been about it.

So, to bide my time, I'm watching baseball movies. Last night, I watched that classic baseball flick starring none other than Kevin Costner.

No, not "Bull Durham." Not even "Field of Dreams."

I watched "For Love of the Game."

In this movie, Costner plays Billy Chapel, an aging pitcher who pitched his entire Hall of Fame career with the Tigers. He's pitching his last game of the season in Yankee Stadium, and faces a miriad of issues in his personal life as he pitches. His long-time on and off girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) is leaving for London, and the team has been sold to new owners who want to trade him.

As he pitches, we flash back to his relationship with Jane - how it started, how they grew closer, then fell apart, then back together. These thoughts and memories are presented as things that Billy is thinking of between innings. So, in the top of the innings, we get flashbacks and in the bottom of the innings we see Billy pitching, and pitching well.

Eventually, we reach the ninth. Billy suddenly decides his fate (spoiler: he decides to retire), and determines that he wants to reconcile with Jane. Then, (another spoiler) he completes a perfect game.

Here's my review in a word - bluh. The movie was awful. It dragged on and on (nearly 2 and half hours long). The flashing back and forth never let me really become connected to the characters. The baseball sequences were well done and looked authentic, but it was obvious Costner wasn't a real pitcher (couldn't they afford a pitching coach to help him at least look like he was really pitching?). Vin Sculley and Steve Lyons were the TV commentators, and their performance felt real. However, this by far, is Costner's worst ever baseball movie. Stay away from this one...

Friday, November 19, 2004

You're Missin' a Great Game

I just finished reading Whitey Herzog's "You're Missin' a Great Game." A good book full of anecdotes and rants. Whitey describes some of his most memorable moments as a player, manager and GM and puts those experiences in the context of how to make baseball better.

Whitey lost a couple of heartbreaking World Series as manager of the Cardinals, and his bitterness from those losses still resonates in his writing.

After seeing the Royals come back to win the '85 Series after umpire Don Denkinger's bad call, Whitey now advocates limited instant replay in baseball.

But the White Rat's most off-the-wall idea is the product of his loss to the Minnesota Twins in the '87 World Series. Whitey believes that making teams go into ballparks like the Metrodome and Fenway is unfair. He doesn't think something as important as the World Series should be affected by varying ballparks. He felt it was extremely unfair to have to go play at the Metrodome in '87, and is bitter that his team lost every game in that ballpark. So his solution? Build a nuetral site park in Nashville. This ballpark will be used for the World Series. All seven games will be played there. Since there would be no travel days, teams would be forced to use their entire pitching staff, as opposed to using their top 2 or 3 pitchers over and over.

It's an interesting idea, but it will never fly. Besides, would Whitey have hatched this idea if he had been the manager of the Twins in '87?

Overall, a quick ready and a fun book. Whitey does have some good ideas for baseball (the nuetral site World Series isn't one of them). He advocates fixing the DH rule. Either have it or don't - don't have different rules for the two leagues. The book is a little dated, as some of his suggestions have already been implemented (like banishing NL and AL umpires and having them work both leagues). But I found the easy going, conversational tone of the book very enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hot Stove Heating Up

Today, the Tigers signed Troy Percival to a 2 year contract. This, after the Tigers had already picked up the option on Ugueth Urbina. So the Tigers now have two closers.

I'd love to see the Royals go after Urbina. I felt they should have tried to sign him last year. The Royals seem determined to make Affeldt the closer, but I still think he could be an effective starter, or even set up man. (Just let him strike batters out!).

In my dream world, Mike MacDougal returns to his early 2003 form where he made hitters like Bonds, Pujols, and Frank Thomas look silly. MacDougal is the prototypical closer in my mind. He's lanky and goofy, he throws upwards of 100 MPH, and his hat falls off when he pitches. A perfect character for the closing job.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Winning Percentage

The Royals had their worst season ever in 2004. They finished the season 58-104, a .358 winning percentage. Everybody agrees it was a truly awful season.

But what if we compare that to the Chiefs, who were chosen by many to be a Super Bowl team this season. After their loss to the Saints yesterday, the Chiefs stand at 3-6, a .333 winning percentage.

After suffering through the Royals' season, nobody would have ever guessed they would have a higher winning percentage than the Chiefs. There must be something bad in the water here in KC.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Royals Moves

The Royals began their off-season moves today. They traded the human batting tee, Darrell May and Ryan Bukvich to acquire Terrence Long and Dennis Tankersly.

This is one of those situations where Royals fans would say "They traded May? Great! Who'd they get?" May pitched well enough to earn Royals Pitcher of the Year honors last season, but along with the rest of the team, struggled in 2004.

May didn't endear himself to the fans when he pointed fingers to his teammates when asked about his struggles. May finished the season 9-19 with a 5.61 ERA. The 38 HR's he gave up were a team record. May's struggles and perceived bad attitude left him the primary scapegoat in this season's disaster.

In return, the Royals picked up Terrence Long, a one-time promising outfielder, and Dennis Tankersly, a right handed pitcher who will probably work long relief, but could compete for a starting job.

Long was once a highly regarded player when he was with the A's. His complaints about A's manager Ken Macha led to his trade to San Diego. For the Padres in 2004, he hit .295 with 3 homeruns and 28 RBI's. He's not a patient hitter, striking out 51 times while walking only 19.

Long will probably compete with Abraham Nunez for the right fielder's position, and the Royals will continue to look for a left fielder with power.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Pitcher and Player of the Year

The Royals today announced the winners of the Les Milgram (Player of the Year) award and the Bruce Rice (Pitcher of the Year) award. The awards are voted on by the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers of America.

For the first time ever, both awards were given to rookies. Not surprisingly, the Pitcher of the Year went to Zack Greinke. Grienke was called up in May to help the Royals' decimated staff. He went on to impress all with his control and uncanny ability to change speeds. He threw everything from a 92 MPH fast ball to a 50 MPH eephus pitch. He also annoyed a few batters by quick pitching them.

Greinke ended the season 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA, the best among the starters. He was hurt early with a lack of run support, but finished the season 6-3 in his last 12 starts.

In a surprise vote (for me at least), the Player of the Year award went to David DeJesus. DeJesus was called up early in the season when Aaron Guiel was suffering from vision problems. Playing alongside Carlos Beltran in left field, DeJesus had a terrible stint in KC, going 1-23 (.043).

He returned to Omaha to get back on track, and returned to KC for good on June 24, after the Royals dealt Beltran to the Astros. Since returning, DeJesus batted .303 and ended the season with a 15 game hitting streak. Following Beltran in center isn’t easy, but DeJesus held his own defensively.

It is telling that neither winner was on the roster on Opening Day. If you had to guess who the Player of the Year would be when the season started, I’m sure Juan Gonzalez or Mike Sweeney or even Carlos Beltran would have come to mind. As for pitchers, I think everybody was expecting big things from Jeremy Affeldt or Brian Anderson.

The good news is that both Greinke and DeJesus will be back in 2005 and neither will be a far-too-expensive free agent for several years. We fans in KC will get to enjoy them for a while at least.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Oh George, not the livestock"

I happened to catch one of my favorite movies on TBS the other night. O Brother, Where Art Thou?, released in 2000, was written and directed by the Coen brothers (Ethan and Joel).

O Brother is loosely based on Homer's Odyssey. The movie takes place in depression era Mississippi and recounts the travels of three escapted convicts and they seek treasure.

Extremely well written, the movie is a treasure-trove of memorable quotes. Another treat is the bluegrass music contained in the soundtrack, which won 5 Grammy's.

I'll watch the DVD tonight as a nice diversion from the election news.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Can it ever get better?

I’ve seen a couple of quotes recently that have disturbed me. First, this one from Red Sox (and former Royals) reliever Curtis Leskanic:

“Ending up on this team is a dream,” said Curtis Leskanic, the reliever released by the Royals midseason who soon will be fitted for a World Series ring. “It's like falling out of a dump truck and ending up on a cloud.” (Kansas City Star, 10/28/04)

And this from Free Agent du jour Carlos Beltran:

“I experienced being on a team where they don’t do anything to help the ballclub,” Beltran said. “One of my priorities if I stay with this ballclub (the Astros) will be keeping the young guys ... our young players have potential to be real good.” (, 10/29/04)

What are these guys saying? It’s obvious that players who have played in Kansas City leave the club with a bad taste in their mouth. Over and over again, players in Kansas City have said the same thing while they were here – they want to see a commitment by the team to try and put a winner on the field.

And while the Royals have put up a good front, there are no indications that the team is about to turn the corner. Here is their record since 1995:

2003Kansas City Royals8379.5127.0
2002Kansas City Royals62100.38332.5
2001Kansas City Royals6597.40126.0
2000Kansas City Royals7785.47518.0
1999Kansas City Royals6497.39832.5
1998Kansas City Royals7289.44716.5
1997Kansas City Royals6794.41619.0
1996Kansas City Royals7586.46624.0
1995Kansas City Royals7074.48630.0

The Royals have finished at least 15 games behind every year but 2003. In 2004, they had their worst season ever, finishing 34 games behind and losing 104 games.

That’s a pretty consistent record of futility. The only aberration is 2003, when the Royals jumped out to a 9-0 record to start the season. The Royals were hot to start the season, went ice cold in May, got hot again in June and led the AL Central by 7 ½ games at the All Star Break. They played just well enough to finish in third place in the AL Central.

Building on the “success” of their first winning season in 9 years, the Royals decided to focus on 2004 as the year they win their division. They scrapped their weak hitting catcher Brent Mayne and signed former MVP slugger Juan Gonzalez. The Royals also pushed the Kauffman Stadium fences back 10 feet. At the time, and based on the how the Royals played in 2003, these all felt like great moves. They weren’t.

The Royals went from their best season in 9 years to their all time worst season. What happened? Poor decisions. One area that the Royals did not improve in the off season was pitching. They opened the 2004 season with a rotation of 4 left handed “finesse” pitchers. They got hammered.

They opened the season with two slow corner outfielders to patrol the greatly expanded outfield. They entered the season with 3 first basemen/designated hitters. Instead of continuing to play the sort of scrappy, aggressive baseball that served them so well in 2003, instead they waited for the long ball. In a stadium with deeper fences. The Royals lost a lot of games.

2005 doesn’t look much brighter, and this is why. We’ve seen all of the farm talent. By the end of this disastrous season, the Royals had called up every prospect in their system. None were very impressive except for David DeJesus who took over in center field after Carlos Beltran’s departure.

And now we can see where those former players are coming from. I can remember guys like Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye saying the same things. “If I can feel confident that they are trying to be competitive, I want to stay.” They’ve all left and the team is still not competitive. Mike Sweeney said the same thing when he signed his recent contract. In the contract it stated that if the Royals failed to reach .500 in either 2003 or 2004, he could seek free agency. Thanks to a freak .512 season in 2003, he’s stuck here. I don’t think the spirit of his contract was to keep him here to endure yet another 100+ loss season.

When Sweeney leaves (either via trade or after his contract runs out), I’m confident we will hear the same types of quotes. He wanted to be here, but didn’t feel like the organization worked hard enough to produce a winner.

Small market excuses be damned, this organization needs a clean sweep – top to bottom.

Play as a team

On yesterday’s “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN, Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser discussed the affect of A-Rod and Nomar.

Regarding A-Rod, after he left the Mariners, they got better. After he left the Rangers, they got better. After arriving in New York, the Yankees pulled off the largest collapse in history. Because of A-Rod? I doubt it.

But the in the case of the Rangers, being relieved of A-Rod’s stifling salary opened up opportunities for that team to make smaller changes that caused an overall improvement.

Meanwhile the Red Sox, after trading away Nomar, went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Even though Nomar was at one time an icon in Boston, apparently his attitude had soured this season after being dangled as trade bait over the off season. After the trade, the Sox really seemed to come together as a team and played outstanding ball for the last half of the season.

After the sweep, I noticed that the Red Sox players all said pretty much the same thing in their post game interviews. All of them acknowledged the team as a team, and each player did his part for the team. There was very little individuality in their play and their comments.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Sad Realization

Last night the Red Sox wrapped up the World Series by beating the Cardinals 3-0 in a 4 game sweep.

And this morning, I just realized there will be no baseball for 5 months. Ah well, in only 3 months Spring Training will begin, and shortly thereafter I will be trekking out to Arizona to feed my addiction. Alas, the Hot Stove League will have to suffice.

And to make things worse, I have lost my "Fenway Project" book. This book, created by SABR, includes several accounts of a game attended at Fenway by many SABR members. I took the book with me when I was getting the oil changed in my truck, and I haven't seen it since.

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Taxing Question

Other than the presidential choice, Kansas Citians will have another decision to make this Election Day.

On the ballot is a sales tax called “Bi-State II.” For those not familiar with the area, Kansas City is a large metropolitan area that spans 2 states, Missouri and Kansas. While downtown Kansas City is located in Missouri, a large suburban area is located across the state line in Kansas. The Chiefs and Royals play at stadiums in Missouri.

A few years ago, a tax was passed (called the “Bi-State tax”) that called for a sales tax in counties on both sides of the state line. The money was used to renovate the decrepit Union Station building and to create what is now the Science City museum, located in the Union Station. What resulted is a beautifully restored historic building with a financially struggling museum. That tax was the first to include both sides of the state line.

The two sports stadiums, Kauffman Stadium for the Royals and Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs were built in 1971 right next to each other, creating what is called the Harry Truman Sports Complex. The Complex is made up of the two stadiums and acres and acres of parking lots. The Complex is located east of downtown, near the intersection of two major interstate highways, I-70 and I-435. The stadiums were well designed and have aged well over the years. Both are still considered two of the best stadiums in baseball and football. Getting to and leaving the stadiums is extremely easy. There are several gates providing easy access to the stadiums, and parking is easy. From my house, I can get to my seats at Kauffman in about 30 minutes.

The stadiums are owned by Jackson County, and the teams lease the stadiums. In the most recent lease, the teams agreed to stay in the stadiums until 2015, provided certain improvements were made to the stadium. This put the county in a bind. On the one hand, the teams are guaranteed to remain in Kansas City for another 10 years, but it soon became apparent that the county could not afford to make the required improvements without help. If the improvements are not made, then the teams are allowed to break their lease.

Bi-State II is a quarter-cent sales tax to raise money for renovations at the Sports Complex. The tax also includes funding for arts programs in the Kansas City area. Part of the money will be used to help construct a new performing arts center in downtown Kansas City, with other money going to the passing counties to fund arts programs.

The tax will expire when $360 million has been raised for the stadiums. Each stadium will receive $180 million for renovations. The Royals will contribute $15 million to the project and the Chiefs will contribute $50 million. The money will be used to improve the stadiums, including widening the concourses, constructing new luxury suites, and improving the infrastructure (plumbing, etc) of the stadiums.

The tax must pass in three counties (Jackson and Clay in Missouri, Johnson in Kansas), but is also on the ballot in two other counties (Platte in Missouri and Wyandotte in Kansas).

So, why should tax payers pass this tax? I’m struggling with that question as I try to decide how I will vote (I live in Platte County, Missouri). As a sports fan, I would love to see the stadiums renovated to make them more state of the art. I’ve visited newer stadiums in other cities and have been quite impressed. But the bigger question for me is this: Is this the BEST solution for Kansas City?

Let’s look at some history. In 1997, Kansas City decided to invest $23 million in improvements to Kemper Arena. The Arena is about as old as the stadiums (built in 1974), and the improvements included adding seats and enhancing the concourse areas. Just 7 years later, it became clear that the building was no longer adequate, and in August of this year voters approved a hotel and rental car tax to fund the construction of a new, state of the art arena in downtown. Did we waste that $23 million?

Downtown is now becoming a thriving area. Many old buildings have been renovated by private investors and converted to stylish loft apartments and condos. And with the addition of this arena and H&R Block’s plan to locate its world headquarters nearby, downtown is on a strong comeback trail. More people are moving into the area, and development is at an all time high. What would adding a baseball stadium to the area do?

The tax would provide $180 million to Kauffman Stadium, and the Royals would also include $15 million. That’s nearly $200 million. How much is a new stadium? One of KC’s many sports architecture firms has revealed a plan to build a baseball stadium downtown for around $250 million. I’m not sure which is the best way to go, but it certainly should be considered. If the tax had language that allowed the money to go toward a new stadium OR renovations to Kauffman, I might be more likely to vote for it. By voting for it the way it is, I’m giving up the idea of building a new stadium downtown. Given the choice of spending about the same money either way, I might choose to build a new stadium to help in the revitalization of downtown. Downtown stadiums have worked wonders in cities like Denver and Pittsburgh. They also have failed in cities like Detroit. If done correctly, a baseball stadium can do wonders for a blighted downtown. What if, given that the taxpayers are willing to pay $180 million, a private party comes forward (like Sprint did with the Sprint Center Arena) and is willing to pay a substantial amount to fund a new stadium?

The Chiefs are consistently profitable, thanks in part to the NFL’s generous television agreement. Chiefs’ games are always sold out. The owner of the Chiefs is Lamar Hunt, one of the wealthiest men in America. He is willing to pay just 27% of the cost of renovating the stadium. The renovations will only enhance his profit. Why can’t he help more? Why must the vast majority of this project rest on the shoulders of the taxpayers? (by the same account, Royals owner David Glass is paying only 9% of Kauffman’s renovations). The Arrowhead renovations include a new, larger Arrowhead club and luxury suites, areas that most fans never see. Should fans pay $180 million for shorter lines to buy a hot dog?

The campaign for the tax has asserted that this tax will assure that the teams will not leave Kansas City. However, in a recent interview, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt said that even if the tax fails, the Chiefs will not leave Kansas City. His dedication to keeping the Chiefs in Kansas City was apparent. I would think that Hunt would be saying anything to get the tax passed, given that it will enhance his profits, and yet he said it plain as day – the Chiefs are not going anywhere.

So, after taking all of this into consideration, I believe my vote will be No. I would be more willing to vote Yes if the team owners paying a larger portion of the renovation costs and if the tax included language that allows the tax to pay for EITHER renovations or a new stadium.

I am all for the arts portion of the tax, and would approve that, if it were on the ballot on its own. In contrast, taxpayers would fund $50 million of the new Performing Arts Center, while $254 million will be paid by private contributions.

A sports talk host recently indicated that downtown business leaders are quietly lying back, and if Bi-State II fails, will reveal a plan to bring baseball downtown. It’s a tough choice. Recent polls show that the tax is failing. It will be difficult for Jackson County who will be put in a bind to meet its obligations in the stadium lease. But if the tax passes, are we throwing away an opportunity to do something better?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

NLCS Second Guessing

We'll see what happens tonight, but I agree with the Phil Garner's decision to go with Munro in game 6, saving Clemens for game 7.

The Astros were up 3 games to 2 and needed to win one of the final two in St. Louis. History shows that pitchers have a lot of trouble pitching on 3 days rest. Houston made the right choice by pitching Munro and hoping that he could do well enough to keep the Astros in the game. He did. The Cardinals scored only 4 runs, certainly within reach and indeed, the Astros were able to get it tied, only to lose it in the 12th. Had the Astros been able to push a run across while Lidge was still on the mound, the series would be over. Instead, they'll play game 7 tonight.

I like to think that the Astros have the advantage tonight. Clemens is rested, Oswalt is available. Having seen Suppan in KC for 4 years, I have no confidence that he can get it done tonight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Playoff Structure

Interesting piece in the KC Star this morning. Here, Royals play by play man Denny Matthews discusses the current playoff system. He's against the wild card team.

“Seriously, what was the point of the 162-game, six-month season?” Matthews said by phone. “Here they are, in the same division, and for six months the Cardinals proved to everyone they were the better team. They won the division by how many games?”

“If I'm a Cardinals fan, I feel cheated,” Matthews said. “For six months, the Cardinals grinded out this huge division lead. What good did it do them?”

Good points. Baseball is the game of "the Long Season" (as George Will puts it), and that long season is perfectly adequate of determining who the best teams are. In this case, the Cardinals absolutely dominated their division during the long season, only to face the second place team in their division to reach the World Series.

Of course, purists have always complained about the wild card. Bud Selig is happy with it because it has added an additional level of drama the last few years. For two straight years, the wild card team has won the World Series, and this year it's possible that both teams in the World Series will be wild card teams. So, Matthews' question is valid - what good was it to dominate the 6 months of the season?

Game 6

Dan stole some of my thunder in his blog about the umpiring in last night's Yankees/Red Sox game. It is refreshing to see umpires now willing to confer to get the call correct. This is in contrast to years past when one umpire made the call and was not willing to listen to any other views on thie call.

I do believe the umpires got the call right. I didn't see the play live but was listening to it on the radio on my way home from my son's baseball game (the Tigers lost 8-7 in their playoff game). The way Joe Morgan described it, it sounded like ARod did nothing to knock the ball out of the pitcher's glove and that it was just a collision. But when I got home and saw the replay, I think it's pretty obvious that ARod was slapping at the glove in an attempt to knock the ball loose, which is clearly illegal.

The Red Sox do appear poised to pull off the miracle. Never in Major League Baseball's 100+ year history has a team come back from 0-3 to win a seven game series. This is turning into one of the best post-seasons ever.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Marathon Baseball

I ended up watching every pitch of that 5 hour 49 minute game last night. The Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Yankees got one back in the top of the second off Bernie Williams' solo home run. Things remained tight until Jeter came through with a big 3-run double in the 6th, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. It was getting bleak in Boston until the bottom of the 8th when they got 2 to tie it at 4-4.

And it remained 4-4 forEVER! I'm beginning to wonder if Johnny Damon is on the Yankee's payroll. He has been AWFUL this series (2-24, .083BA). I can't remember which inning it was (the eighth?) when the Sox had 2 runners on and Damon tried to bunt them over. He bunted straight in the air and Posada caught it for the out. Later, Damon was caught stealing. Maybe he should shave his head to try to change his luck.

Finally, in the 14th, David Ortiz again won it with a bloop single that scored Damon from second.

That game was over just in time to switch over for the last 2 innings of the Houston/St. Louis game. (as if almost 6 hours of baseball wasn't enough). Fortunately, they avoided extra innings when Jeff Kent hit a monstrous homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Astros.

The Astros won all 3 games in Houston, and that series moves back to St. Louis. Houston needs to win 1 of the final two to advance, while the Cardinals are looking for two straight wins.

The Red Sox and Yankees head back to New York for game 6 tonight, with the Yanks leading 3-2. The Red Sox are still hoping to make history being the first team to ever win a 7 game series after being down 0-3. Since there was a rain-out in Boston on Friday, the will be no rest day and they will play for the fourth straight day tonight. That's usually not too bad, but all three games in Boston have taxed both pitching staffs. Saturday's game was a blowout that had both teams using their bullpens in the third inning. Then Sunday's game went 12 innings and last night's game went 14. All the pitchers have pitched back-to-back-to-back and all must be very tired. It will be interesting to see how the game tonight plays out. Curt Schilling will try to go for the Red Sox after his injured ankle caused him to leave the game early in game 1. If he experiences problems with that ankle again tonight, and Terry Francona has to go to his bullpen early, it could mean trouble for the Sox.

The forecast is calling for rain in New York today, so I'm sure both teams are hoping for a rain-out to allow for an extra day of rest.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Post-Season Ball

Being from Kansas City, my two natural enemies are the Yankees (represent all that's bad about baseball) and the Cardinals (rivals who can't stop whining about losing the '85 Series).

Some thoughts about the post-season:

  • Carlos Beltran is amazing. He was good when he played in KC, but he's out of this world in this post-season. When George Brett was inducted he was asked who he thought might be the next great player. Without hesitation, he said Carlos Beltran. Beltran has homered in every game of this LCS and is single-handedly keeping the Astros in the series.

  • The Red Sox are dangling by a thread. It would be nice to see them win some games to make this series more interesting, but indications are pointing to an easy Yankee win. A rare Mariano Rivera blown save kept the Sox in the game last night and they won in 12 innings. I'd like to see them get an easy win today to get some momentum to (miraculously) make a run at making history.

  • Johnny Damon has looked absolutely awful this series. He's 1-whatever and I don't think I've seen him hit the ball out of the infield. He kept the ninth inning alive last night with his speed on a bobbled ball by Yankee second-baseman Miguel Cairo, but he's really struggling in this series.

  • Just like when he was with the Royals, Curtis Leskanic is either hot or cold. In that ridiculous blow-out on Saturday night, Leskanic gave up a home run, but last night got Bernie Williams to fly out with the bases loaded.

  • The Cardinals reminded me of when they melted down in the '85 series yesterday. Cardinals pitcher Julian Tavarez absolutely lost it after giving up a home run to Beltran. He couldn't find the strike zone, walking one and hitting another. He finally got out of the inning and went nuts in the dugout. The Cardinals better hope they can maintain control as they try to get a win at Minute Maid tonight

  • I am now very well aware of all the new shows coming on FOX. How many times during one baseball game can we see the promos for Richard Branson's new reality show and the Big Fat Obnoxious Boss show? Baseball fans are probably so sick of these promos that they will never watch the shows once they air.

  • Hideki Matsui is amazing. When will the Red Sox start walking him? Letting him take first has to be better than his doubles and triples that he hits every time up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Walk This Way

Interesting article at by Alan Schwarz(free registration required) about the value of a walk. I'm not sure how the calculations should happen, but the point is that walks should be weighted differently based on the batter.

For example, if your pitcher walks Barry Bonds, you wouldn't feel so bad about that. But, if your pitcher walks the 9 batter (pitcher), you're ready to cut your pitcher.

So, when calculating OBP or OPS, shouldn't walks count differently based on the type of hitter? Good question, and some interesting fodder for discussion among SABR-ites.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Royals in the Post-Season!

Okay, ex-Royals. So far this post-season, we've seen some very good performances by some ex-Royals. The other night, I watched Jose Lima throw a masterful complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals. You might remember that Lima's career was resurrected by Royals GM Allard Baird last season when he plucked him out of the Independent League to help as the Royals pursued the AL Central title while fighting through injuries. Lima went 7-0 before himself suffering an injury. In the off-season, the Royals offered Lima a guaranteed contract, and instead, he took a chance by signing a Minor League contract with the Dodgers.

Lima's battery-mate in that game was Brent Mayne. Mayne came up with the Royals, left for a while, and returned in a trade in 2002. The Royals cut him loose after the 2003 season and he signed on with the Diamondbacks. The Dodger acquired him in the trade that sent Paul LoDuca to the Marlins.

Last night, Jeff Suppan got the win as the Cardinals finished off the Dodgers to head to the NLCS.

The Cardinals may face the Astros, whose center fielder is none other than Carlos Beltran who was drafted by the Royals and went to Houston in a mid-season trade this year.

The Astros are facing the Braves, who signed ex-Royal Paul Byrd after the 2002 season. Byrd hasn't had much luck in Atlanta, struggling with injuries and general ineffectiveness.

In the AL, the Red Sox' center fielder is Johnny Damon who was drafted by the Royals. The Royals traded him to Oakland, and he eventually signed with the BoSox and has had a great career there.

Of course, it would have been nice to see these players stay with the Royals. The reasons for their departure are many, but in several cases, it was the simple fact that the player had developed into a fine player and reached free agency. With the current state of baseball, the Royals simply could not have afforded to keep the player (see Carlos Beltran). Others simply didn't perform that well in KC (Suppan) and became expendable. Either way, it is kinda fun watching guys that you saw grow up see some success, even if with other teams.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cubs fall

It was sad to see the rapid decline of the Cubs this season. They were in it right up to the last week, then lost something like 6 of their last 7 to fall out of the race. I was holding out last year's hope that we would see the Red Sox and Cubs in the World Series this season. Not to be, however.

I'm not sure who I'm pulling for in this post-season. I think I'll be rooting for Houston in the NL. That's a team who isn't perennially in the post season, and I'd like to see ex-Royal Carlos Beltran do well. In the AL, I'll just go with ABY (Anyone But the Yankees).

Sunday, October 03, 2004

It's Over

Today the Royals finally ended their horrific season. It was quite simply a season where absolutely nothing went well. Every single player played below expectation. The Royals ended the season near the bottom of every category.

But what really tells the story of the season, and what finally came to a head this year, is the injuries. For the last several years, the Royals have been plagued with a litany of bizarre injuries. For example, I can think of at least 3 players who lost several weeks to oblique injuries over the last 2 years. Now, it looks like the Royals finally have taken notice and will try to do something about it. Buried at the bottom of the wrap-up article on is this little item:
"Jason Estep, the Royals' minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, will take over the same job with the Major League club. He replaces Chris Mihlfeld, who resigned."

While listening to the post-game news coference, I heard GM Allard Baird say that they are revamping their strength and conditioning from top to bottom. Good news, as far as I'm concerned.

Also, after the game today the Royals made the following moves:

  • Buyout of Joe Randa's option for 2005

  • Buyout of Juan Gonzalez's option for 2005

  • Outrighted Aaron Guiel

  • Outrighted Dee Brown

  • Outrighted Alberto Castillo

  • Outrighted Wilton Guerrero

  • Outrighted Matt Kinney

  • Outrighted Justin Huisman

  • Fired John Mizerock

  • Sent interim pitching coach Mike Mason back to his roving pitching instructor position

  • Hired Guy Hansen as pitching coach

  • Hired Joe Jones as first base coach

Not too many surprises there. Randa and Baird both agreed that the possibility exists that Randa could be back next season, but it is not likely as the Royals will be ready for Teahan and Randa wants to continue playing every day. Aaron Guiel fought vision problems all season. As a free agent, he isn't likely to see much interest, so he could return as a non-roster player next season. Dee Brown is anxious to get out of KC. In fact, he is quoted:

"No more Omaha for me," he said. "I'm through with it." So he'll hit the road. "Basically, the Yellow Brick Road, where it pays well," he said.

Pretty bold statement for a player who never demonstrated an ability to play on the big league level. Castillo may be back as a minor league catcher next season. Huisman will be sent to Omaha. The others' time in KC is likely over, including Juan Gonzalez who played all of 33 games for the Royals this season.

Baird also said that Benito Santiago may be interested in staying in KC to play for Pena as a backup catcher to John Buck. Considering the options he has, he probably has no choice.

The Royals seem infatuated with Hansen. He's been KC's pitching coach two other times, and has been fired twice before. But, the Royals like the job he did working with their pitchers in Puerto Rico. Hansen was responsible for grooming Zack Greinke and Mike MacDougal, and the Royals hope he can bring some consistancy and better performances to their pitching staff.

I'm curious what GM wannabe Mike Sweeney will think about Mizerock. Sweeney came out pleading for Mizerock to take over as manager after the Royals fired Tony Muser. Of course, he didn't and Pena was hired. I'm sure Sweeney wasn't complaining as they rode to a 16-3 record to start 2003. I'm always annoyed when players try to tell the press how management should be doing things. This was one of Johnny Damon's worst habits when he was in KC.

So, the moves have already begun. For me, I think the changes that will have the biggest effect will be the revamping of strength and conditioning, and a new, stricter attitude in spring training. Like they say in Chicago - there's always next year.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Tonight Ichiro Suzuki finally broke George Sissler's hits record. There's been a lot of discussion about this record on the SABR lists:

  • It's not a very important record, as evidenced by the awful season the Mariners are having

  • Ichiro can only hit singles, and isn't helping his team as much as he could

  • Ichiro is so awesome, he can aim the ball where ever he wants

  • Ichiro is terrible because even though he can hit for power, he chooses to hit singles

  • This is a great accomplishment

As you can see, opinions are quite varied. Personally, I think it's quite an accomplishment. I've always been awed by Ichiro's ability to make contact and get on base, especially since he's half way to first when he makes contact. You obviously can't accumulate 258 hits unless you are consistent and healthy, which is exactly what Ichiro's been this year. Think about it. There are 162 games in a season. Most hitters hit around .250 (even number for calculations). So assuming they bat 4 times a game, they'd get one hit per game - 162 hits for the season. But only if they played every game. Ichiro has 258 hits with 2 games left to play. And I know he hasn't played every game because he missed at least one when a Royals pitcher (don't remember which) beaned him in the head with a pitch, thus demonstrating how much control our pitchers have.

Ichiro's record is astonishing and he will hopefully be remembered a little better than Sissler has been.


I can't believe what happened at Kauffman Stadium tonight. It's outrageous!! A travesty, I tell you!!

Four rows in front of me was an 8-ish year old girl. Cute as can be. Long dark hair and a face that will mean trouble in years to come. She had a sign ("We (heart) SLUGGERRR!"), and during every single break in the action, she stood on her chair with that sign held high and danced her heart out.

Not once did she make it on the JumboTron. Appalling. Think about it. The Royals are playing one of their last games of the worst season in their history. It's a cold night. The Royals are losing (shocker, huh?). There were maybe 13 people in the stands total. And they couldn't put her on the screen? Unbelievable. I'm writing my congressman.

103 is my favorite number!

Tonight, I took my son and his buddy to our last Royals game of this miserable season as they took on the White Sox. In the chilly night, I sat and watched as the Royals trodded their way closer to their winter break, losing 4-2. This team obviously is anxious to get this season over with. Tonight was their 7th straight loss, and I'm not sure when the last time was that they scored more than 2 runs.

Against any other team, John Garland would have given up 3 or more runs in the first two innings. He struggled with his control and the Royals capitalized in the first with a run on Calvin Pickering's fielder's choice with the bases loaded. Garland loaded them again in the second, but the Royals couldn't push anybody across. The Royals got one more run in the 6th after Pickering walked and was moved around on a couple of sacrifices. Alberto Castillo drove him in on a single.

On the positive side, rookie pitcher Denny Bautista pitched surprisingly well. Bautista came to the Royals in a trade with Baltimore sending veteran reliever Jason Grimsley to the O's. Bautista dominated in AA, and was called up in September. He struggled in his first few starts, but showed some promise tonight. He began by striking out the side in the top of the first. His fastball was crisp and he was hitting around 94 on the stadium radar pretty regularly. He had a nasty slider working tonight, something we haven't seen from him before. He froze several batters with it, reminding me of the Mike MacDougal of early 2002. He ended with 6 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk and 6 K's. Not bad - I'll take that over a typical Maynderson start any day. Then the suddenly awful bullpen took over and gave up a couple more for the loss. I think the Royals then were anxious to see the fireworks, as they went very quietly in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. 103 losses and counting. Bluh.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Countdown to 100

With seven games left, the Royals are only 2 losses away from 100. Chances are good that 2004 will end up being the worst year in franchise history. Lots of chances are coming in 2005, as the team tries to learn from this dismal season.

Looking ahead to 2005...

Harvey/Sweeney - 1B (is there no way to keep Pickering on this team?)
??? - 2B
Berroa - SS
Teahan - 3B
??? - LF
DeJesus - CF
Nunez - RF
Buck - C

I'd like to see the Royals move Berroa over to 2B and let Andres Blanco take over at short. Blanco's defense can save more runs than Berroa's offense can create. It looks like Randa's option will not be picked up, so Teahan hopefully Teahan will be ready.

Relaford will likely be gone, so I think Graffanino will return as utility infielder. GM Allard Baird has said that he's going to sign a power hitting corner outfielder to take over LF. Somebody like Juan Gonzalez would be nice - of course, only if he shows up to the ballpark.

The rotation is really up in the air. The Royals are in a strange predicament where they have lots of options, but none really stand out:

Grienke (the ace)
Hernandez (back from Tommy John)
Snyder (back from surgery)
Appier (back from the dead)
Mike Wood (not bad since coming in the Beltran trade)
Miguel Asencio
Denny Bautista (came in the Grimsley trade, looks good but needs seasoning)
Dennys Reyes (probably betting in the pen)
Darrell May
Brian Anderson (can we please lose at least one of these guys????)
Jimmy Gobble
Chris George
Jimmy Serrano

Whew! That's a long list. The sad part is, it's hard to pick 5 out that I would want in my rotation.

I'll catch 2 more games this season before they pack it up for the winter. It'll be interesting to see what moves they make this off-season.

DVD Reviews

The release of the "STAR WARS" trilogy on DVD, led me to Best Buy to pick up that and a few other DVD's.

I've always been annoyed by George Lucas's reluctance to release the original films on DVD. I'm not sure what his issues were. He's always been very particular that his films are presented exactly how he wants, and DVD is the perfect medium for this. Lucas released the trilogy on VHS years ago, but as we know now, VHS is no comparison to DVD.

The STAR WARS trilogy did not disappoint. All three movies have been enhanced and the audio especially is impressive. It's important to note that the movies are not the original movies, rather the "Special Edition" movies that were released to theaters a few years ago.

The movies definitely have survived the test of time, as the films are all as enjoyable, if not more, than when I saw them some 25 years ago. My son, who just turned 11, finds them mesmerizing, which speaks volumes for their appeal.

The other DVD I picked up was "RUSH In Rio." I've always been a Rush fan, but no necessarily fanatic. Throughout my high school and college years, a buddy and I would make a point to catch Rush in concert whenever they passed through Kansas City. The DVD was an impulse purchase after seeing it playing one of my favorite songs, "YYZ" on a TV in the store.

The DVD includes 2 discs, a concert disc of the band's final concert of the recent tour in Rio. The second disc, which I haven't seen yet, includes a documentary and enhanced versions of a couple of the songs.

I was excited to pop this one into the DVD player in my home theater to hear it in its 5.1 glory. Boy, was I disappointed.

The audio on the concert DVD is awful. Imagine taking a poor quality recording of a noisey concert, then adding excessive doses of reverberation to it. After 2 or 3 songs, I found myself being annoyed by the sound - so much so, it was quite a relief to turn it off. Typically, a concert recording is made up of direct feeds from the microphones and sounds systems, and crowd noise is added in for ambiance. This DVD sounds like it was made with Radio Shack microphones sitting in the middle of the crowd. The crowd noise is way too loud, and the music is terribly muddy and difficult to hear.

I find it hard to believe that musicians like Rush (and they are the most talented musicians I've ever seen) would allow this travesty to be released.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Royals and Yanks

I was at the stadium last night for the Royals impressive win over the Yankees. The Royals were able to capitalize on poor pitching and put up 10 runs in the 5th inning (and 5 more in the 7th).

I was at the game with a buddy who knows a Royal Lancer. The Lancers are responsible for selling season tickets. He let us watch the last few innings from the Stadium Club. It was nice. The Club is a restaurant that overlooks the field. Some folks think this is the best way to take in a game. I disagree.

I found that while in the Stadium Club, I really didn't feel like I was at the game. The Club is behind glass windows, so you can't hear the crowd. Or the music. Or the announcer. They do pipe in the radio broadcast, so you can get some idea of what's going on. The view of the field is pretty good. The Club is on the 3rd base side, down the line a little bit.

But I feel like baseball is best experienced up close. I'm very fortunate to have been able to join with a group who purchases season tickets down close. The seats are about 5 rows up from the club seats, right behind the visitor's on deck circle. From there, you can really hear the crack of the bat and the ball hitting the catcher's mitt. I'm very lucky to be able to catch about 10 games a year from these seats.

Football, on the other hand, is best experienced up high. Good thing, since my Chiefs seats are in the upper deck... way up there...

Digital Signatures

It's been a while since I've blogged. I'm working on an InfoPath project and that has consumed my working hours and several of my free time hours as well.

One pretty cool thing we will be using in the project is the Digital Signature capability in InfoPath SP1.

Our form will include several views that are used to populate one large schema with data. The form will not be completely filled out at one sitting. As users fill out the various views, we will allow them to digitally sign the data thus certifying its validity. InfoPath SP1 allows us to sign just certain pieces of the data as we move through the process. Once the data is signed, it will become read-only to prevent tampering, either accidental or intentional.

The above MSDN article give a good background on signing data in InfoPath.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

My Worst Nightmare

The 2004 Royals.

Okay, now my other worst nightmare. You're making good progress on a project, writing all kinds of kick-butt code. There's one piece you're not quite sure about, so you GOOGLE it. You find a perfect example, but you unexpectedly get pulled away. By the time you return, you're late for your son's baseball practice, so you shut down the laptop and hit the road.

Now, you can't find that piece of code to save your life....

If anybody knows where that InfoPath JScript code is that opens an XML file from the file system and reads elements out of it, please let me know.

In the meantime, check out these valuable InfoPath resources:
InfoPath Team Blog
Greg Collins and Patrick Halstead's InfoPath Site

AH HA! I found it! It was at the InfoPath Team Blog, and it was an item describing how to dynamically update the xsf file. You can find it here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Greinke's Night

Well, we finally got a glimpse of what the future may hold last night. Zack Greinke pitched a perfect game into the 6th, and only gave up 2 hits before leaving after the 7th. (BTW, can somebody please tell me why Pena took him out? Under 100 pitches and obviously dominating the Tigers. He gave up two cheap singles but got out of it by inducing a double-play ball).

Greinke's either dumb like a bag of hammers, or a mad genious. When he speaks, it sounds like a tree talking. But on the mound, he playfully toys with hitters. Last night, he decided to drop in a 50 mph curve for a strike. His quote in the paper this morning:

“I told myself,” Greinke said, “don't start laughing out here because you'll make everyone mad at you. You can't go out there and be a clown on the mound.”

Don't start laughing??? I can just see him out there chuckling at his own brilliance. Soren Petro reported on WHB this morning that Greinke was in the tunnels working on a knuckleball. He's 20 and he already knows more pitches than a Kirby vacuum salesman.

If only the rest of the Royals organization wasn't in tatters. It would be fun to see Greinke grow to be the most dominating pitcher in baseball AND to have some guys around him who can score runs for him (lucky he was so good last night, as the Royals could muster just 1 run).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

InfoPath Fun

Just finished a proof of concept with InfoPath. What we wanted was an automated way to convert a completed InfoPath form to TIFF in order to archive it in a document imaging system. Turns out it's possible, but a bit painful.

The first step is to write code in the form to capture it. That can be done by "signing" the form. When designing it, you can specify which pieces of data should be signed. For signing to work, the form must be Fully Trusted. See the InfoPath SDK for more info on fully trusted forms. Once that's done, I can capture the form in the OnSign event like so:
// The OnSign handler can be customized only in fully trusted form templates.
var Signature = eventObj.SignedDataBlock.Signatures.Create();
var PngNode = Signature.SignatureBlockXmlNode.selectSingleNode(".//sp:ScreenDumpPNG");

var fso = new ActiveXObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject");
var a = fso.CreateTextFile("c:\\TestFormPNG.txt", true);

eventObj.ReturnStatus = true;

As you can see, the form is being captured and saved as a Base64-encoded PNG file. In my test, I fire this event by using a button that when clicked runs this line of code:

Once the Base64-encoded PNG file is saved, we can use System.Drawing.Imaging to grab that PNG and convert it to TIFF. Of course, it needs to be decoded to binary first. I wrote a little VB.NET Windows app that does this. Here's what it looks like:
Dim inFile As System.IO.StreamReader
Dim base64String As String

Dim base64CharArray() As Char
inFile = New System.IO.StreamReader("C:\TestFormPNG.png", _
base64CharArray = New Char(inFile.BaseStream.Length) {}
inFile.Read(base64CharArray, 0, inFile.BaseStream.Length)
base64String = New String(base64CharArray, _
0, _
base64CharArray.Length - 1)
Catch exp As System.Exception
' Error creating stream or reading from it.
System.Console.WriteLine("{0}", exp.Message)
End Try

' Convert the Base64 UUEncoded input into binary output.
Dim binaryData() As Byte
binaryData = System.Convert.FromBase64String(base64String)
Catch exp As System.ArgumentNullException
System.Console.WriteLine("Base 64 string is null.")
Catch exp As System.FormatException
System.Console.WriteLine("Base 64 length is not 4 or is " + _
"not an even multiple of 4.")
End Try

'Write out the decoded data.
Dim outStream As New MemoryStream(binaryData)

Dim outImage As New Bitmap(outStream)

Dim TIFImage As Image = outImage
TIFImage.Save("c:\TestFormTIF.tiff", System.Drawing.Imaging.ImageFormat.Tiff)

MessageBox.Show("Image has been converted")

Now that my little test is working, I at least know it can be done. Now the real test will be to use this concept in real-world forms. I'll get that chance starting tomorrow when I begin a new project.

The Races

I was checking the box scores this morning and noticed some interesting races as we head into the final month of the season:

AL Central: The Royals, led by Juan Gonzalez's MVP-like season, are making good on predictions they'd win the Central, leading the Twins by a comfortable 10 games. Oh wait... Sorry, I slipped into Bizarro-World for a second. The reality is that the Royals are the biggest disappointment in baseball this year. They entered 2004 bolstered by their surprising over-.500 season last year, but everthing has gone wrong. Not a single player has played to his ability. When the entire team slumps, that's not good. The Royals are heading for their second 100-loss season in 3 years.

Meanwhile, the Twins are poised to win yet another division title, leading Cleveland by 7 games. But the Indians have not given up, and went over the .500 mark with an impressive 22-0 win over the Yankees last night. If the Indians can hang in there, this could be an interesting race.

AL West: This one is close. The A's lead the Angels by just 3 games. The A's have been on fire, winning 8 straight and going 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Angels are just as hot, however, having won 8 of their last 10 games. A couple of off-nights by either team can cost the pennant.

AL East: On August 16, the Yankees' lead was 10.5 games. Today it's 3.5. The Yankees were embarrassed by the Indians last night and have struggled of late. In their last 10 games, the Yankees are 5-5 while the Red Sox are 9-1. The Sox are getting hot just at the right time while the Yankees are looking vulnerable. The Sox were hoping to get a Wild Card berth, but now are in position to overtake the Yankees for the East crown. This one will be fun to watch.

NL Central: WOW! What are they drinking in St. Louis? The Cards are by far the best team in baseball and have a commanding 15.5 game lead over the Cubs. The opposite of the Royals, all of the Cards' players are having outstanding seasons. This race is over.

NL West: The Giants' reign looks to be over. The Dodgers have a 5.5 game lead over the Giants and 6.0 games over the Padres. The Dodgers offense is still sputtering. They've scored 82 fewer runs than the Giants, but they have gotten it done with their pitching. Gagne has faltered a bit of late, but he is still the most dominating closer in the game. I expect the Dodgers to win the division, but then regress to the Pythagorean mean and fall early in the playoffs.

NL East: It didn't look like it early in the season, but the Braves have pulled it together and are poised to win yet another title. Their lead over Florida is 8.5 games.

AL Wild Card: Boston was hoping for a Wild Card berth, and still lead the WC standings with a 2.5 game lead over the Angels. But it looks entirely possible that the Sox could win the East, and the Yankees would be the Wild Card team. Maybe the Yankees should embrace entering the post-season as a Wild Card, given how the WC teams have done the last two years (The last two World Series winners, Anaheim and Florida, have been WC teams).

NL Wild Card: With St. Louis's magical season, the Cubs' only hope is to get in as a Wild Card. They are currently tied with the Giants in the WC race, with the Padres just a half game back. And Florida and the Astros are in it as well, just 3 games back. This looks to be the most exciting race of the season. After last year's tease, baseball lovers should be rooting for the Cubs to make possible that dream World Series with the Cubs vs. the Red Sox.

Now that the races are heating up, I'm sure I will finally start getting my money's worth out of my MLB Extra Innings package. With the package, I can watch any one of these teams on any night. It should be fun!


It looks like I'll be starting a new project soon that involves the creation of about 30 InfoPath Forms.

If you're not familiar with InfoPath, it is a new product that is part of the Microsoft Office Family. InfoPath's main purpose in life is to collect data. It provides an interface to allow developers (or non-developers) to easily create data entry forms. The forms are made up of controls (text boxes, check boxes, etc) and can have all kinds of validation built in to them. What gets created is a template file, that is actually an XML document that defines the form and its data structure.

Users can simply double click the template file to open InfoPath and fill out the form, then the data can be saved as XML, or sumbitted to a database or web service.

While doing a presentation on InfoPath recently, I was asked if, as a developer, I would honestly choose InfoPath over simply writing a quick and dirty Windows Form Application in VB.NET or C#.

That's a good question, since most developers are going to stick with what they are comfortable with. However, I have found that for simple data entry forms, I can build the form in InfoPath much quicker than developing an application. It would have to depend on the situation, of course, but I think InfoPath will find its place as part of larger solutions.

For example, the Office Solution Accelerator for Recruiting combines many technologies. It uses SharePoint and WebParts, web services, and InfoPath together to create a solution for tracking candidates through the interviewing process. InfoPath is actually a small part of the solution, but ties the solution together. Developers need to be able to know when to use which technologies to make a solution work.

For more information on InfoPath, see the excellent InfoPath SDK and check out the InfoPath Team Blog

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Swift Boats

I'm not really following the presidential campaigns very closely yet this year. But the stories I've seen on the news recently led me to wonder about something.

Why is it so awful for this group of veterans to question the record of John Kerry, but it's okay for Michael Moore or to question the record of George W Bush?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More on ghosting SharePoint Pages

I found a pretty informative article on ghosting and using FrontPage to modify SharePoint pages.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Should the Royals have hired Buck Showalter

Texas Rangers: 69-54
KC Royals: 44-78

The Rangers today find themselves 15 games over .500 while the Royals are 34 games below .500. In May of 2002, Royals GM Allard Baird finally and mercifully fired Tony Muser. The choice for the new manager of the Royals was between Buck Showalter and Tony Pena. Showalter, then an analyst on ESPN, openly lobbied for the KC job. Baird chose Pena.

Showalter's resume looked great. 7 years of managerial experience, having built the Diamondbacks from expansion team to the division championship. Yet Baird, citing chemistry and Pena's ability to motivate young players, chose the unproven, rookie manager (following other unproven rookie managers Bob Boone and Tony Muser). The Royals went on to their first 100 loss season.

In 2003, the Royals jumped out to a great start, winning more games than they should have. After those first few weeks of the season, things evened out and though the Royals finished over .500, they didn't play .500 ball the rest of the season. And of course, we all know what's happened in 2004.

So as we look back, the obvious question is this: Should the Royals have hired Showalter instead of Pena? Obviously, there is no way to definitively answer that question. However, I think it is important to compare how the two have done with similar talent.

Showalter has a reputation for being a tough manager, perhaps one who isn't afraid to openly criticize a player or an organization. In Pena's "We Believe" tenure, nary a negative word has come from his mouth. Did Baird choose a "yes man?" Was Baird afraid of what might happen if he had a strong presence in the manager's job?

Of course, the Royals have been decimated by injuries this year (Sweeney, the last standing non-pitcher from the Opening Day roster, is going on the DL today), so it's hard to say what might have been this year. But it is clear that Pena's managing abilities are not up to par. He loves to bunt away precious outs in early innings. He often yanks pitchers who are doing well, while leaving pitchers who are getting killed out there way too long. The relievers never know what role they have. And too often, utility infielders are playing outfield positions.

So Pena's strength is to motivate young players and stress fundamentals. How do you explain Berroa's lapse that led him from his 2003 Rookie of the Year season to his demotion to AA a couple of weeks ago? How do you explain that the Royals have the most errors in the AL? What exactly has Pena done this year that makes one think that he is definitively the person to lead this team?

Meanwhile, Showalter's Rangers are just a game out of the AL Wild Card spot.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The effect of injuries

Ask anybody about the 2004 Royals, and they will surely point to injuries as a major factor in their disappointing season. And, most folks will say that injuries are the result of bad fortune.

But in looking at the Royals' history with injuries, you have to wonder if there's something more to the story.

Pitchers: Royals pitchers have been plagued with arm problems over the years. It seems like every young promising pitcher ends up with arm trouble before they are able to make a contribution to the club. Going from memory, I can think of a few - Jose Rosado, Kyle Snyder, Runelvys Hernandez, Mike Stodolka. Fortunately, the best pitcher of them all, Zack Greinke, has shown no signs of arm trouble... yet.

Rib Problems: What amazes me is the number of rib or oblique muscle injuries. Last year, Carlos Beltran missed the first couple of weeks with an oblique injury. This year, Ken Harvey, Jeremy Affeldt, Nate Field, and Matt Stairs have all had oblique problems.

Back Injuries This one, I think, has more to do with the player and not the trainers. Some players are just more prone to have back problems. This year, Mike Sweeney has missed games off and on (though has avoided the DL) with back problems. And of course, Juan Gonzalez had the mother of all back spasms which knocked him out for the season.

Injuries like Benito Santiago's broken hand (suffered when hit by a pitch) are understandably unavoidable. But the Royals' continued pattern of similar injuries makes one wonder if the medical and training staff needs a serious evaluation.


A lot of folks (including Dan) have been asking why Calvin Pickering has not been called up to the Royals. Pickering is a first baseman/designated hitter type of player who's had a great season at AAA Omaha (1157 OPS, 34HR's).

Unfortanately, the Royals' roster is stuffed with first baseman/designated hitter type players (Sweeney, Harvey, Stairs). When Harvey went on the DL, Pickering finally got his chance in yesterday's game. He responded well to his Royals debut.

Pickering went 2 for 3 with 2 HR's and 6 RBI's and 1 walk (one HR was a grand slam). In one game, Pickering provided the kind of offensive fire power the Royals were expecting from guys like Juan Gonzalez this year.

If Pickering continues to hit, it may make sense to trade Harvey when he returns from the DL. He's an "all star" that another team may find valuable.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I rebuilt this wiring harness to fix the vertical hum problem. Of course, now the game keeps resetting every 20 minutes or so... Posted by Hello

Clyde the Bud Bottle is ready for football season! Posted by Hello

Pac Man always seems to have its back off... Posted by Hello

The Theatre of Magic is working great! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

All Star Baseball

I've read about various table top baseball simulation games like Strat-O-Matic, but I have never played one. I got home from work yesterday and found Cadaco's All Star Baseball, Hall of Fame Edition in my living room. The babysitter who watched my kids this summer bought it for Joey for his birthday. I'm sure she didn't realize that she was buying a true American classic.

Joey and I played it last night, and what a joy it is. The Hall of Fame edition includes player discs for several Hall of Famers (Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Enos Slaughter, Jim Palmer, and many more). We scored the game using an old baseball scorebook we had laying around.

First, each player selects his team and batting order. You play the game by slipping the player's disc into the spinner and spinning it. The numbers around the edge of the disc represent the outcome of the at-bat. The spacing of the numbers is determined by the player's lifetime statistics. For example, a pitcher might have a large space for strike out while Reggie Jackson would have a wider than average space for home run. If the spin results in a ground ball, fly ball, or single, the defesive player can spin to determine the outcome of the play (runners advance, double play, safe on error, etc). An additional strategy disc is included for hit and run, stealing, etc.

Even with Whitey Ford and Jim Palmer pitching, our game ended with a score of 11-10, with my home team getting one run in the bottom of the 9th to eek out the victory.

We both enjoyed the game, and we look forward to finding (or making) additional player discs for it.