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.