Friday, August 26, 2005

Good Luck Update

The Royals are now 4-1 since I started wearing my KC Royals rubber wrist band.

Dream Job

My friend Dan has a dream job. Two years ago, he landed a job as a Stringer for He gets paid to watch baseball games and enter game information into a computer system for's GameDay system. He scored around 30 games at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City during the 2004 season.

Last winter, Dan and his family moved to Colorado where he was lucky enough to become a Stringer for the Rockies. His departure left a vacancy in Kansas City, and I promptly applied for the job.

It should be noted that when Dan got the job, it was not a well publicized position. He saw the opening posted on the SABR list server. After the 2004 season, publicized their openings in a joint campaign with I'm sure the number of candidates increased dramatically for the 2005 season.

I sent my application in via Monster, and in late February, I received an email asking me to fill out and return a baseball quiz. I was so excited about even being considered that I completed the quiz and returned it quickly.

After several weeks, I still had not heard back from them. I took a closer look at the quiz and realized that I may have rushed through it too quickly and I may have answered a few questions incorrectly. I was very disappointed to have not gotten the job.

This winter, I'm sure will again post their openings, and I again will apply for the position. Hopefully, I will again be asked to complete a quiz, but this time I will carefully and deliberately complete the quiz and hope for the best.

Dan recently posted an excellent article describing a day in the life of a Stringer. Check it out.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My good luck charm...

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Kansas City Royals. When I last blogged the Royals, they had just blown the 11th game in their 19 game losing streak. I was at that game, and it really made me depressed to see them self destruct.

They were finally able to win the last two games of their long road trip in Oakland and came home to face the world champion Boston Red Sox. I’ve been to both of the first two games of the Red Sox series.

The Royals were able to squeeze out an extra innings victory last night, but the key in both games was the squandered opportunities. In the first game of the series, the Royals had a runner at third in each of the first three innings and were never able to score. They eventually lost 5-2.

In last night’s extra innings game, they again had several opportunities but just couldn’t come through. John Buck, in particular, seems to be the goat in these situations. With the game tied 3-3 and the bases loaded and one out in the 6th inning last night, Buck grounded into an inning ending double play. Then, with the bases loaded in the 8th and two outs, Buck looked at a pitch that was right down the middle for strike three, again killing the threat.

Buck again struck out looking in the 10th, but mercifully there was nobody on base this time. I’d like to see Buck go down to the minors for a while to get himself straightened out. The Royals got Buck in the Beltran trade expecting a strong hitting catcher with some power. So far, Buck has been a disappointment.

It was interesting that in last night’s game the exact situation came up twice. With the game tied 3-3 in the ninth, Denny Hocking led off and flied out to center field on the first pitch. David DeJesus then walked, and Terrence Long singled. Mike Sweeney then walked loading the bases with one out. Chip Ambres struck out and Emil Brown popped out ending the inning.

In the 11th, the same thing happened again. Hocking flied out, DeJesus walked, Long singled and Sweeney walked. This time, however, Chip Ambres was able to get his bat on the ball and lifted a short fly ball to left field. DeJesus tagged up at third and scored when the throw was just up the line.

Just a side note: since I started wearing my KC Royals rubber wrist band, the Royals are 3-1.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Explain this

Dan's recent post reminded me of a Royals story. While driving home after the Royals' debacle last week, I was listening to the post game show expecting to hear many callers complaining about the team.

A caller piqued my interest when he called in and described his trip to the ballpark. He brought his friend from Norway to the game, and enjoyed the game while trying to explain what was happening to his friend. Even though it was by far the worst display of MLB baseball I've ever seen, I'm sure it was fun for his friend.

I've always wondered what it would be like to try to explain the game to someone who had never seen it. I'm sure it's much more difficult that you would think.

Things are Tough All Over

I vaguely remember a Cheech & Chong movie from years ago. I believe it was called “Things are Tough All Over.”

I remember a friend I had in high school who would always say “Tough to be a man, baby.”

It is tough to be a man these days. Or a woman. This morning, I put $30 worth of gasoline in my car, and it barely moved the needle. My office is exactly 32 miles from my house, so the rising gas prices are hurting me more and more each day. And I don’t drive for a living. Imagine the effect of these gas prices on the trucking industry and how that will affect prices of everyday items that you and I buy. Groceries, clothing, everything is tied to the price of gas. Not to mention the travel industry where rising oil prices will surely be reflected in air fares very soon.

So, while I was pondering the effect of the price of oil, I found myself stuck in traffic. I live in a city that is divided by a river. I live north of that river and I work south of the river. With the river, there are a limited number of routes to get from my house to my office, and the geniuses who run such things have decided to close two of those routes for construction. So everyday I have to fight much more traffic than I normally would. I guess I understand it. I mean, why would we want to only close one bridge at a time when we could close two. I’m sure they’re working on plans to shut another down before this is all over. My wife has it even worse. She works down town. They have a bunch of streets closed down there for construction and to make way for all the vast new development that is going on. New buildings, new apartments, new arena. That’s all great, but it sure is a pain for now.

While I was sitting in the traffic jam, I was listening to my favorite talk show host. He was discussing the “housing bubble.” Apparently, when I refinanced my house and took some extra money out to finish my basement, I was making a mistake. The equity that I thought I had was just an illusion and very soon I will owe much more on my house than it is worth.

Of course, this is why we in America love our sports teams. No matter how bad things get, we can always pull for our favorite baseball, football, basketball or hockey team. Through the Depression, world wars, hostage crises, and terrorist attacks, Americas could always turn their attention to sports for an escape. Speaking of which, my baseball team lost their 17th straight game last night and are on their way to cementing their place in history as the worst professional baseball team ever. I’m very proud. My football team played a preseason game last week, and their “revamped” defense looked as anemic as last year’s league worst defense.

Now, please don’t be too worried about me. I’m not considering jumping off a shut down bridge or anything. I have plenty to be thankful for. For example, my kids started their school year yesterday. Both got off to a great start with great teachers in great schools. My son’s baseball team won their first ever tournament last weekend. My lovely wife is the cornerstone of my being and is a wonderful mother to our kids. We live in a great (over-valued) house and we really do have a great life. All four of my kids’ grandparents are still around and actively involved in their lives. We don’t want for anything.

No matter how difficult, tough, or depressing things seem to get, I can always look at my family and be very proud and thankful. Yes, it can be “tough to be a man, baby,” but only if you fail to appreciate the good things in your life.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Am I finished as a Royals fan?

This is the saddest day of my life as a baseball fan.

I’ve lived my entire life in Kansas City, and I have been fortunate enough to live in a city with a major league baseball team. I grew up a Royals fan. I remember when it was a given that our team would be in the playoffs every year. I remember when we didn’t really care about the regular season – we were just waiting for the playoffs to start.

The joy of a World Series championship is now a distant memory as the team celebrates the 20 year anniversary of that wonderful fall. But it seems since game seven of that series, this team has been snake-bitten.

Tragedy struck. Manager Dick Howser was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Owner Ewing Kauffman’s health declined. The Royals went ownerless for several years as a committee ran the team until a buyer could be secured under the terms that Kauffman defined before his death. With no real owner and no real direction, the Royals floundered.

David Glass finally bought the team and fans were encouraged that finally something good could happen. It hasn’t.

Questionable trades, signings, hirings and firings have peppered this team. This season, manager Tony Pena quit. They hired Buddy Bell. They’ve tried veterans. They’ve tried rookies. They’ve changed medical staff. They’ve moved the fences in, then out. Nothing matters. The one constant has been the losing. (the only bright spot was 2003 when they played above their Pythagorean record and was in contention in late August).

I went to Tuesday night’s Royals game. The Royals had a 7-2 lead going into the ninth inning. They gave up 11 runs and lost 13-7. It was demoralizing. It was sickening. It was rotten. It extended their losing streak to 11 games, and last night they made it 12, tying the team’s longest losing streak in their history. They’ll attempt to break that record tonight. (see Dan's blog for a play-by-play of that ugly ninth inning.)

I’ve always been an optimistic fan. I’ve always defended the Royals and bought into their “plan.” But now I can only shake my head. What does this team need? New owner? New general manager? New manager? New players? New stadium? New city? All of the above? I don’t know, but I don’t think I can afford to invest any more of my time following this team with no reward in sight. Not even a little reward – how about playing .500 ball? Ten years is enough wasted time.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I was driving home from a weekend at the lake yesterday when I heard Paul Phillips' name on the Royals radio broadcast. My skin crawled. I could not believe the Royals called up Phillips, who is number one on my public enemy list. (see my post)

Look, I know Lima's been terrible for the Royals this season, but that doesn't make Phillips' autograph crime right. And now Phillips is enjoying big league life. No justice, no peace.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Going Digital

For my birthday yesterday, my wife surprised me with a new Canon Digital Rebel XT camera. Last winter, I took a community education class on photography. At the time, I bought a fairly inexpensive film camera (Minolta Maxxum 50). It's a nice camera for the beginner or novice as it has good automatic features, plus the ability to adjust most settings manually.

But as I've been slowing getting more into photography, it's been frustrating for me to have to keep track of my shutter and aperture settings for each shot I took, and then remember to match up those settings when I finally got the photos back from the processor. It's difficult to learn about the effect of various settings when you can't see the results immediately.

So, I've been casually looking at digital cameras for a while. A good friend of mine had a Canon at one of my son's baseball tournaments, and he praised the camera. I was impressed with the quality of the shots he's taken.

I wasn't ready to spend the money on one just yet, but my wife made a visit to our local photography shop (Photographx Unlimited) and brought home the Canon.

I haven't had a chance to take many shots with it yet, but I am impressed with its capabilities. Plus, I love that data about each shot is captured with the shot. I never again will have to write down my shutter speed or aperture settings as that data is captured with the shot. The quality of the shots is unbelievable - better than any digital photos I've ever seen.

I'm really excited about getting to know this camera and capturing some great shots with it.