Friday, December 15, 2006

Shouldn’t the Record Companies love iPods???

Why are record company executives such morons? I mean, seriously.

They sit in their corner offices and espouse all this hatred toward music lovers; specifically, music lovers to take their music with them on portable music players.

Universal CEO David Morris is quoted as saying: "These devices are repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it's time to get paid for it." These executives are suggesting that a surcharge be added to every iPod, Zune, Sansa and every other portable music player sold. Microsoft has already caved, sending $1.00 for every Zune sold to the record companies. Are you kidding me???

The problem with the music industry isn't stolen music. Check most iPods. They aren't filled with stolen tracks. They are filled with music ripped from the user's personal CD collection (perfectly legal). They are filled with songs purchased from iTunes for 99 cents. iTunes has sold over a billion songs. And the record companies got their cut.

No, the problem isn't this so-called stolen music.

The record companies still can't get over their early rage about Napster and it's free music file sharing. They still assume every music lover is a thief and are trying to make them pay for their indiscretions.

Maybe the record companies should be thankful that music lovers care enough about their music to go through the hassle of ripping their CD's. The record companies should embrace these new technologies and make it easier for music lovers to get a hold of the music they love. iTunes (and other online music stores) are a great start, but there are still problems with Digital Rights Management and competing file formats. Most music lovers would like to think that once they purchase a song, they can do anything they want with it. Purchased a song on iTunes and want to load it onto your new Zune? Too bad.

Microsoft is trying to make it easier for music lovers to find new music. Their Zune digital media player has a cool new feature that allows users to send songs to one another wirelessly. It's a great idea, and the record companies should be thrilled in this innovative new way to spread their product around. If a friend was to send me a song and I liked it, my next logical step is to purchase more of their songs or their CD. But the record companies are so paranoid about this music sharing that they forced Microsoft to put restrictions on this sharing technology – so much so that the feature is essentially useless. I had a band a few (okay many) years ago. We never signed a recording contract, but if I wanted to send my music to my friends, I would be met with the same restrictions as a Jay-Z song. How can that be?

Instead of investing all of their time, money and energy in fighting these so-called music thieves, the record companies should invest in finding quality artists who can produce quality music. With the "music" they are producing these days, even 99 cents for a song feels like a rip-off.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Free Agent Signings

The Royals have been making a splash over the last two days. They signed pitcher Gil Meche to a 5 year, $55 Million contract, and reportedly have also signed close Octavio Dotel. The Royals are still pursuing Miguel Bautista as well.

A lot of folks are a bit up in arms over the amount of money the Royals are giving to Meche. Meche has been an average pitcher of the last few years, but is only 28 years old and still shows promise. But is he worth $55 million? Probably not.

But Royals GM Dayton Moore not only needs to rebuild the team’s on the field success, but also the perception of the organization. Signing Meche will not put the Royals in the World Series this season. But what it does is it tells the rest of baseball that the Royals are not the same anymore.

The Royals are telling the rest of baseball that they no longer will accept being the door mat. They are aggressively spending money to improve themselves. By signing players like Meche and Dotel, it improves the impression to the rest of the players, and next year or the year after it suddenly becomes much easier to attract players.

It’s the same tact the Tigers used after losing 119 games in 2003. They spent way too much money on players, but they were able to attract players and three years later it paid off with a World Series.

If Moore can stabilize the pitching, and the young players all come along over the next two years, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Royals will be contending in a year or two.

That’s the hope, anyway.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Buck O'Neil

We met Buck O’Neil in March of 2004. My son Joey and I were in Arizona to see some Spring Training. We saw Buck at one of the stadiums where the Royals were visiting. I don’t recall which stadium or which team the Royals were playing that day, but I do recall it being a warm, beautiful day. Of course, all days in Arizona are beautiful in March.

We were walking through the stadium looking for our seats when we spotted Buck near the field greeting folks, shaking hands, hugging ladies and signing baseballs for kids. I sent Joey down to get his autograph.

Any kid who asked Buck for an autograph will have this same story, but it is special nonetheless. Buck told Joey that he didn’t want to sign his ball unless Joey could prove that he could catch it. He sent Joey up the steps and then he tossed the ball to Joey. Joey brought it back and Buck told him to scoot back a little more. Another toss and another catch.

Buck then signed Joey’s ball and ruffled his cap. Joey’s 13 now, so he won’t admit how special it was. But I believe Joey does recognize the impact that Buck had on baseball and Kansas City.

I’ve seen and met Buck several times both in Arizona and in Kansas City, and I’ve always been amazed at how gracious he was. He was a special man.

Our family felt a short, sad moment when we heard Buck had passed. But, Buck himself said “don’t shed a tear for me.”

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In The Game Sports Cards

If you are involved in youth sports and are looking for a fun, exciting fundraising opportunity, check out In The Game Sports Cards.

Monday, July 24, 2006

World Series 2006

Two weeks ago, my son’s baseball team, the Northland Storm, participated in the USSSA 12U AA World Series. This is the final tournament for his age group and ability level. (USSSA defines ability levels as major, AAA, and AA). It included 62 teams from about 10 different states. We were fortunate that the tournament was held in Lenexa, very close to our home.

The tournament coincided with the terribly heat wave that hit our area and most of the country. The first day of the tournament, we played two games; one at noon and one at 9:30PM, and we won them both. The next day, we played at 5:00PM. Since we were playing just one game at a time, the heat wasn’t really an issue.

We played well enough in those first three games to earn a 7 seed in the bracket portion of the tournament. The first day of bracket play required two wins; a loss and you go home. We won the first game in the morning, and won by forfeit that evening. Those wins put the team into the final 8. The final 8 portion of the bracket was double elimination.

It’s a good thing it was, because we lost our first game of the final 8. We came back and won our next two games, earning us a spot in the final four.

It all came down to Championship Sunday. The final four teams played for the World Series Championship. Since we were coming from having lost a game, we had to win four games in a row Sunday. The weather was forecasted to be over 100 degrees and very humid.

We began with an 8:00AM game and won, setting up a rematch with the team that had beaten us earlier in the tournament. We played much better this time, beating them 6-0.

That left two teams. The other team hadn’t lost, so we would have to beat them twice to win the entire tournament. By this time, it was 12:30 and the heat was building. We didn’t have much time between games to let the boys cool down, but they were excited to have done this well and were anxious to win another two games.

We started our third game of the day against the undefeated team. The game was tight, but well played through the first couple of innings. By the fourth inning, our bats started going and we had jumped out to a 6-4 lead. Unfortunately, the heat began to take its toll.

We had two boys who came out of the game for dehydration. They were pulled aside, and eventually loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. We had two or three more boys who were showing signs of trouble. The coaches and parents had a tough decision to make.

We still had nine players and only two innings left in the game. If we could somehow make it through the game and hopefully get some time to rest and cool off, we could maybe play one more. But at what risk?

Everybody decided that the health of the boys was more important. Leading 6-4 in the fourth inning, we forfeited.

We were so proud just to be playing for the championship. To take second place was a fantastic achievement.

All of the boys recovered quickly once they cooled off and got some fluids in them. We accepted our “Runner Up” trophies with dignity and went home to rest.

It was a great tournament and one that we will not soon forget.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


A lot has been made recently of the Royals’ decision to revoke the press credentials of two radio reporters.

This all started last Thursday when the Royals held a press conference to introduce their new general manager, Dayton Moore. Royals owner David Glass opened the press conference by saying a few words about a renewed dedication to making the Royals better, and stating that he felt they had found the best man available to lead the organization.

610 KCSP reporter Rhonda Moss opened the questioning by asking David Glass why he left Allard Baird “twisting in the wind” when he could have gone the interim GM route. Mr. Glass responding by stating that he didn’t know from the beginning that he would be hiring a new GM. Mr. Glass explained that they explored many avenues, including trades and acquisitions to improve the players on the field. It wasn’t until later that Mr. Glass decided that Allard Baird’s results weren’t up to his expectations.

Ms. Moss and 810 reporter Bob Fescoe continue asked Glass about the firing of Baird and also probed Royals President Dan Glass about meddling in baseball decisions.

What should have been a positive event for the Royals became a tense, uncomfortable way to begin the Dayton Moore era.

The next day, the Royals informed Moss and Fescoe that their credentials had been revoked. While the Royals gave no explanation, it is apparent that it is because of the press conference.

There are many different opinions on this topic. If you listen to the morning show on 610, you would think the Royals have committed the ultimate sin. Meanwhile, the afternoon host on 810 completely agrees with the decision and defends the Royals.

The national press is now getting involved. Steven A. Smith (“Screamin’ A. Smith”) has called out the Royals, as well as ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Steven A. Smith was not in the room during the press conference. Neither was Mike or Mike. These “experts” are on the national stage taking advantage of the opportunity to trash the Royals organization. We all know they Royals are losing. But to expound so much vitriol seems a bit over the top.

I watched the press conference. The questions were fair, so I defend Moss and Fescoe for that. However, when Mr. Glass began defending himself, the tone of the questions became very mean and almost hateful. Yes, Mr. Glass should have deferred the questions until after the press conference to allow Moore to get his moment in the sun. But, MLB clubs have complete autonomy over who gets credentials (Baseball Writers of America excluded), and I believe they were justified in revoking the credentials of Moss and Fescoe.

Fescoe himself has often criticized the Royals for not benching Angel Berroa after a poor game to teach him and others a lesson. Perhaps the Royals are benching Moss and Fescoe to teach them, and others a lesson of their own.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Orb vs. Sling

A few months ago, SlingBox began advertising on 810 WHB, the radio station I tend to listen to the most. The ads said that using their device, I would be able to watch my living room TV from anywhere in the world with my laptop or Windows cell phone. The drawback to me was the $250 price tag.

I started doing some research on this device to see if it might be worth trying. I could see situations where it would be nice to be able to watch TV when I’m not home. I spend a lot of time at the ball park watching my kids’ baseball and softball games. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to watch my child’s game while also watching the Royals game?

I discovered another option for “place shifting,” a free download call Orb. Orb isn’t a device like the SlingBox. Rather, it is software that runs on a computer that has a TV tuner card installed. I have an older PC at home with a tuner card, so I decided to try it. The download and installation are very simple and I had Orb up and running within minutes.

The Orb software scans your computer for music, photos, and videos and also accesses your TV tuner card. To access your media remotely, you log into the Orb web site, and it presents web pages that allow you to select what you want to access. For example, if I have the MP3’s for Van Halen’s 5150 CD on my home computer, I will be able to select that album from the Orb web site and the site will send a signal to my home computer to begin streaming the audio file back up through Orb’s server and down to my remote computer.

This works pretty well for audio and for viewing pictures. For Live TV, Orb interfaces with a TV listings service. You tell it where you live, and what kind of TV system you have (for example, basic Time Warner Cable in Kansas City). Then, when you log into your Orb site, you can see what’s currently on, click on a show and Orb will send a signal to your TV tuner card to change the channel and begin streaming it to your remote computer or cell phone to be played with Windows Media Player.

I didn’t have much luck with Live TV through Orb. Perhaps it is because my home computer isn’t very powerful by today’s standards. The picture was always very pixilated and typically very choppy until it just quit all together. I also found that after selecting a channel, for some reason Orb would then mysteriously go up one channel.

I tinkered with Orb off and on over a couple of weeks, then decided to try the SlingBox. The SlingBox is a small device that looks a little like a chocolate bar. Simply put, you connect your television input (cable TV, satellite receiver, etc) to the SlingBox then plug it into your home network and viola; it becomes a TV streaming machine.

I’ve been extremely impressed with the SlingBox. I have the most basic configuration. I connected my cable TV coaxial line directly to the SlingBox. I then configured the SlingBox for remote viewing (you don’t have to enable it to be viewed over the internet, you could use just over your home network to allow you to use your computer to watch TV anywhere in the house). One advantage of the SlingBox over a service like Orb is that Sling Media is investing a great deal in developing their own streaming technologies. To watch SlingBox, you must install their SlingPlayer on the computer you’d like to use to watch TV. When you install the SlingPlayer, it steps you through a wizard to determine how to provide the best picture for you.

I watch a lot of sports, and a frustrating thing about typical video streaming is that the small score box at the top of the screen is very pixilated and unreadable. Sling’s streaming technology seems to detect where text is on the screen and enhances it so that it is readable. As an example, I was watching Fox News Channel earlier tonight, and the news crawl at the bottom of the screen was crystal clear even though I could see some pixilation in the rest of the picture. The streaming technology also constantly monitors data transfer rates and adjusts the stream to provide the best possible picture.

The SlingBox is itself a tuner, so nothing else is needed to watch cable TV. When you use SlingBox as the tuner like this, channel changes are almost instantaneous.

If you have a cable set-top box or satellite, then you would want the SlingBox to be able to control your receiver. The SlingBox can handle this. In this situation, you can connect your cable or satellite receiver to the SlingBox, and then attach an included IR blaster to your receiver. When you configure the SlingPlayer, you can specify what brand of receiver you have, and it will provide a virtual remote that looks just like your remote control. Click a button on the virtual remote, and the SlingBox will send the correct IR code through the IR blaster to activate your receiver. This allows you view your guide, change channels and otherwise control your receiver. This also works with TIVO boxes.

We have Time Warner Cable’s DVR service at our house. If I chose to, I could connect my SlingBox to the DVR and could then view recorded shows remotely, or better yet, program the DVR to record a show if I forgot to do it when I was at home.

Sling Media is also hard at work creating versions of their SlingPlayer for all platforms. I am currently using the SlingPlayer Mobile application to view watch TV on my T-Mobile MDA PocketPC phone. Sling has just released the beta version of their player to run on a Windows SmartPhone. They are also working on Apple versions.

Using T-Mobile’s EDGE network, I’ve found that I’ve been able to view full screen video with a pretty decent picture. Of course, EDGE isn’t as fast as an Ethernet network, so there is more pixilation in the picture, but text on the screen is very clear.

The best part is Sling recently reduced the price of the SlingBox to $199. I wish I had invented this little box.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kansas City, Misery

They did it again. The Royals blew another game. They were leading the Indians 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth and were able to lose it 6-4.

It's not so frustrating anymore. I mean, we all know this team won't win. But what is frustrating is that this organization is in complete turmoil. There is no reason to feel hopeful.

Smart baseball fans understand that sometimes you have to exchange a losing season or two in order to develop into a winning team. We've seen it happen several times. Minnesota did it. Cleveland did it.

But here we are in the what? third? fourth? season of a rebuilding plan. A youth movement. And what progress do we have in this youth movement? Let's look at the lineup that manager Buddy Bell has been running out there:
Kerry Robinson32
Mark Grudzielanek36
Doug Mientkiewicz32
Reggie Sanders38
Matt Stairs38
Emil Brown31
Tony Graffanino34
Angel Berroa28
John Buck25

Can you tell me how that youth movement is doing? Berroa can be considered part of that rebuilding plan. The Royals rewarded him with a long term contract after his fine rookie season. The problem is that he's hasn't play anywhere near his rookie level since. John Buck is probably one of the cornerstones of this particular youth movement (sad, a catcher?). Buck's struggled though, and just recently has been able to raise is average to .241.

What about the Pitchers? Let's look at the rotation:
Scott Elarton30
Mark Redman32
Jeremy Affeldt27
Denny Bautista25
Runevlys Hernandez28

Do you see any hot young arms in that list? Anybody who you feel still has a great deal of upside? Maybe Bautista, but skinny pitchers who throw hard notoriously are injury prone, and Bautista has held true to form. Jeremy Affeldt occasionally pitches well, but is so inconsistent, you never know what you're going to get from him. Same with Hernandez who can't keep away from the Twinkies.

So where are we in this youth movement plan? The major league team doesn't have any young talent to speak of. There are some talented players in AA Wichita including last year's first round draft pick Alex Gordon. But what makes us think the Royals know how to properly develop those players? They haven't successfully developed a player since Carlos Beltran. Their idea of player development is to call up a promising hitter like Justin Huber and sit him on the bench, denying him valuable at-bats and time to develop as a first baseman in AAA Omaha.

Maybe they can pull off some trades? Don't count on it. Whether it's Allard Baird or Dan Glass making the decisions, the Royals have a track record of gloriously bad trades. Niefi Perez for Jermaine Dye? Buck, Mike Wood and Mark Teahen for Carlos Beltran? Remember that trade? Baird insisted that Teahen was the cornerstone of that trade. He had to have Teahen. Where is Teahen today? In AAA Omaha where he's 2-23 since his demotion.

So what we have now is a collection of aging veterans who were brought in to win an election. There was no other reason to bring those guys here. They aren't here to develop younger players. They aren't here to push the team over the hump. They were brought here to make Kansas Citians think that they are trying to win; to give Jackson County voters a reason to feel good about the Royals. Why? To pass the stadium renovation vote. The $20 million David Glass spent on Grudz, Minky and Reggie doubled the value of his team.

But now what? There's no plan. There's no reason to think that the Royals will be competitive next year or the year after. They will have a fantastic stadium in two years, but there's no reason to believe the team on the field will be any better than this year's. They may be playing in an empty palace.

Is Glass posturing to sell the team? Perhaps he doesn't care about baseball at all. He just wanted to pass the stadium vote so the taxpayers would pay for the renovations that boosted the value of his club. He paid $95 million for the team and could sell it today for nearly $250 million.

Glass has told the Kansas City Star (several times now) that he's frustrated with the losing and that changes are coming. But what can he change? The GM? What can a new GM do when David Glass's son, Dan Glass, apparently has the last word on all decisions? Word is that Dan Glass has vetoed trades through the years that in hindsight would have made this a much better team today.

If David Glass is serious about making changes to improve this team, he needs to remove his son. Allard Baird may be a great GM. We don't know. If he wants to fire Baird, fine. But give the new GM full control. Give him a budget and let him do what he wishes with that budget. Do not veto trades. Give him the resources to rebuild the scouting and the player development in the organization. Let the baseball man do his job and stay out of the way.

If Glass fires Baird and simply hires a new puppet GM, we will just have more of the same and Glass will, at last, succeed in killing a wonderful baseball city.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Royals Broadcasters...

I love the Royals radio broadcasters. Denny Matthews of course has been the voice of the Royals since their inception. And for the last seven seasons, Ryan Lefebvre has been slowly gaining the approval of Royals fans including myself. I am very fond of the chemistry between Matthews and Lefebvre, and their dry humor always seems to make the awful baseball bearable.

It's a different story on the television side, however. Paul Splittorf is tolerable, but I'm not fond of his delievery. He is knowledgeable having been one of the best Royals pitchers which makes him great as a color man, but his play by play is annoying. Bob Davis, though, is awful. I know he's considered a broadcasting legend in the Kansas City area, and his KU Jayhawk basketball work is well regarded. But I just can't listen to him. It sounds like he's screaming all the time, everything happens "out there," and he stumbles and bumbles way too much.

Which makes me especially irritated season. Not only are the Royals the laughingstock of all of baseball, but the Royals have decided to mix up the broadcasting crew. So now Bob Davis is occassionally working radio with Denny Matthews, and Ryan Lefebvre is working with Split on television.

At least when they are working their normal jobs, I can turn off the television and listen to the radio to hear Matthews and Lefebvre instead of Davis and Split. But since they've started splitting their time, there is no escape.

Please, Royals... Don't make this miserable season worse. Keep the good broadcasters together. And if you decide to fire Allard Baird, go ahead and clean out the television booth while you're at it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Future

I was in Wichita this week for a business trip, so my co-worker and I decided to take in a Wranglers game to get a peek at the Royals prospects there.

It was a nice evening, but rain clouds were hovering over the stadium. When we arrived, we were surprised that the gates to the stadium didn't open until 6:15, 45 minutes before game time. Once we got in, we found our seats just a few rows up from the third base dugout. I was a little shocked to see the artificial turf infield. I suppose it easier/cheaper to maintain the artificial turf than dirt, but not only does it produce an ugly field, I would think it hurts the development of the infielders' defensive skills.

The Frisco RoughRiders jumped on Wrangers pitcher Junior Herndon in the first. Luke Grayson singled and took second on Billy Butler's terrible error in right field. It was a lazy fly ball that Butler misread. The ball hit his glove and simply bounced out. I can see why people say Butler projects as a DH only. Frisco took a 2-0 lead with Jim Fasano's two run homer.

All of the Royals' prospects in AA are hitting prospects, so we were anxious to see the Wranglers bats. I started to think we had picked the wrong game to see when Frisco pitcher Thomas Diamond had a perfect game into the bottom of the fourth.

Alex Gordon broke up the no-no with a single in the fourth, but was stranded on Dee Brown's (yes, that Dee Brown) ground out. Dee Brown was a Royals prospect years ago, made it to Kansas City for a short time, then was out of baseball last year. He resigned this season to try to make a comeback, but it isn't going well. Brown is batting .136/.208/.227.

The Wranglers' offensive drought continued throughout the game, and the Wranglers never could push a run across. For Frisco, Jim Fasano had a great game with two home runs and an RBI double.

Gordon was 1-2 with two walks, and raised his average to .327.

The Wranglers lost 7-0.

Despite the loss, it was a fun night of baseball. Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is a very small ball park and we felt like we were very close to the action. On this night, very few people were in attendance (announced attendance was 1,124, but we're positive there were only about 500 people there).

For our next trip to Wichita, I think we'll try taking in a Wichita State Shockers game.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Our Day with Mike Sweeney

Friday, April 21, 2006 was a very special day for our family. Last fall, my wife and I attended a charity auction for a church that my best friend attends. As it turns out, it is the same church that Mike Sweeney attends.

Up for auction that evening was something called “A Day at the K with Mike Sweeney.” The description indicated something about spending some time with Sweeney and watching batting practice from the dugout. When this item was up for bid, I kept raising my hand. My wife was getting more and more upset as the price went higher and higher. We finally won the item and wrote a nice big check that night.

I got in touch with Sweeney’s attorney this spring as we made the arrangements. We were instructed to be at the stadium at 3:00 Friday afternoon. I have a boy who is 12 and a daughter who is nine. We told them they could each invite one friend.

We arrived at the stadium and was escorted down by the clubhouse where we saw Mike taking some BP in the cages. We went out to the field to wait for him finish with his batting.

Within a few minutes, Sweeney emerged and greeted the four kids. He introduced himself and shook hands with each child. He explained that he would be giving them a private baseball lesson.

To kick it off, he took the kids for a jog down the right field line and back to the dugout. He then led them in stretching exercises to get loosened up. Once the stretching was done, they grabbed some balls and their gloves and headed out to right field. Sweeney threw grounders, fly balls and pop ups to the kids to give them some good fielding practice. After several minutes of fielding tips, he gathered the kids in for some hitting instruction.

Sweeney gave the kids batting instruction, showing them how to line up their knuckles and produce good level swings. After taking some practice swings, he then threw batting practice to them.

Starting with the two younger girls, Sweeney set them up around 75 feet from the wall and had the boys go out near the wall to shag. He threw a few pitches to my daughter’s friend first, and it wasn't long before she started hitting them over the wall. My daughter got her turn and she hit some balls hard but wasn’t quite able to get one over the fence. Sweeney spent a good 15 minutes throwing to the girls.

Then it was the boys’ turn. Sweeney had them back up to about 150 feet from the fence. My son’s friend hit first and almost immediately began hitting them over the wall and into the fountains. Sweeney kept having him back up more and more, but he still was able to get them out. My son then hit and had as much success. He also was able to hit several over the fence and into the water. The boys also hit for about 15 minutes.

After the boys hit, Sweeney told my daughter, “We’re not leaving here until you hit one out!” He threw her a few pitches and after about 3 or 4, she finally got one over. Everybody got high fives. In all, Sweeney spent a good hour or more with the kids out in right field. And he enjoyed himself as much as the kids enjoyed being there.

He told the boys to run out behind the fence and grab all of their homeruns, and then told all of us to sit in the dugout. He was heading in to stretch with the team and to have batting practice. He told us to hang out in the dugout until after batting practice, and then he’d come over to take some pictures and sign autographs.

The kids were very wide-eyed when all of the Royals players started coming out onto the field to stretch and warm up. They players all said “hi” to the kids as they walked by. I watched and tried to eavesdrop while manager Buddy Bell had his chat with the media in the dugout down the bench from where we sat.

The kids all yelled out “ooohs” and “aaaahs” when the Royals hit their BP homeruns. Sweeney especially seemed to be hitting the ball hard and far.

After BP, Sweeney came over to the dugout and posed for some pictures and then signed everything we put in front of him.

When it was over, he shook everybody’s hand, complimented the good behavior of the kids and thanked us all for coming out. We then exited the stadium, and waited for the gates to open.

I walked up to the ticket window to receive the six tickets that Sweeney had left at the window for us. Section 101, right behind home plate.

We watched an exciting game as the Royals put up a rally in the bottom of the ninth, but fell just short of the win. Sweeney busted out of his slump, going 4-5 with two doubles that were “this close” to being out of the park. We concluded the evening with the awesome fireworks show put on by the Royals after every Friday home game.

After spending more than seven hours at the ballpark, we were all exhausted. But I walked away with a renewed respect for Mike Sweeney. I know that there are fans who believe he is overpaid for being a DH who has been injured frequently over the last few years. But I still believe Sweeney is one of the best hitters in the American League, and the Royals are a much better team with his bat in the lineup. I don’t care if he’s a DH, I think his salary is fair for the production he provides, especially when you compare him to other players around the majors.

But most of all, Mike Sweeney truly is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He really enjoyed his time with my kids and their friends. It was so amazing to see a major league baseball player take that much time and effort. We paid for this service, and the money went to a good cause, but it was well worth it. My kids and their friends will never forget the day they spent playing baseball with Mike Sweeney and hitting balls out of the park at a major league stadium.

I hope Sweeney plays in Kansas City forever. We love you Mike.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Is the home field advantage real?

I was just doing some quick queries against the RetroSheet Game Log data.

In the 184,280 games that RetroSheet has data for, home teams have won 99,066. That's a .542 winning percentage. There are also 1,235 ties in the data.

Given this very large sample size, it's pretty obvious that it certainly does help to play on your home turf.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Baseball Prospectus - Schrodinger's Bat

If you haven't subscribed to Baseball Prospectus yet, you should do so today. I've always been a big fan of the Baseball Prospectus Annual books, but have always resisted buying the subscription to the web site.

When my friend Dan became a BP author and started writing a weekly column, I decided to take the plunge and subscribe.

Not only am I able to read all of Dan's columns, I'm also finding a wealth of other information that I didn't realize was there. It's a great resource if you are at all interested in baseball and analysis.

Go Mariners!

I may have to find a new team to cheer on. Being a Royals fan is turning me into a grumpy, depressed person. (but I’ll still track their march to 100 losses at

I watched the Mariners / Texas Rangers game last night. When I turned it on, the Rangers were leading 6-2 in the top of the eighth. Now, I’ve watched enough Royals games to know that when you’re down 4 runs in the eighth, the game is over. Your pitchers start walking batters and giving up base hits galore, and your batters quietly make outs.

But, this game was different. Even though Kevin Millwood had kept the Mariners in check, when he came out to pitch the eighth, I could see that the Mariners were taking a different approach. They were very patient, knowing that Millwood was probably beginning to tire. They got a couple of hits, forcing Buck Showalter to bring in Antonio Alfonseca (if you think Runelvys Hernandez looks portly, check out Alfonseca).

When Alfonseca entered the game, the Mariners again changed their approach at the plate. They became very aggressive, swinging early in the count and hitting the ball hard. They strung together some hits and closed the score to 6-4, again forcing Showalter to change pitchers. Akinori Otsuka entered the game and got the third out of the eighth.

The Mariners held the Rangers in the top of the ninth, then faced Rangers closer Francisco Cordero in the ninth. Again, it seemed as if the Mariners had a plan at the plate. All batters had the same approach. It’s not like the Royals where it seems every batter is trying to do something different – some are hacking wildly while others are not.

Ichiro led off by getting hit by a pitch. Lopez followed with a double and then Ibanez hit a monster shot to left field for a sacrifice fly that scored Ichiro. Richie Sexson fought hard and pushed a single into left center scoring Lopez and tying the game. Johjima singled and chased Cordero out of the game. Carl Everett then faced C.J. Wilson and on a 1-1 count, Everett blasted a homer to left field, scoring 3 and ending the game.

It was so impressive how the Mariners never looked like they were giving up on the game even though they were having so much trouble scoring runs throughout the game. Every at bat was well executed and they were able to fight back and pull a win out of a certain loss. These are all traits that we Royals fans haven’t seen in years.

I had forgotten how enjoyable it is to watch a baseball game. I may have to adopt Seattle as my home team.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Here's something to ponder...

Last night against the White Sox, Royals pitcher Joe Mays gave up 8 runs, 6 of them earned in 5.1 innings, and lowered his ERA from 12.86 to 11.68.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Mow This!

Anybody else hate the "sunburst" mow pattern at Kauffman this year? I can't stand it. It looks like the outfields have to run uphill to take their positions.

Give me the the standard, old-timey checkerboard pattern.

R&R on the R's

Interesteing new Rob & Rany column at I have to say I agree with them. They didn't like the choice of Shane Costa over Aaron Guiel (or even Chip Ambres). They didn't like the choice of Steve Stemle over Steven Andrade (or even Luke Hudson).

They conclude the column with a hint that they expect the Royals to begin their GM search this summer. I like Allard Baird alot, but some of the moves he's made are just plain dumb - Royal-dumb.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Breaking 100

Check out Breaking 100. It's a new blog that I've started that will track the Royals as they try to avoid 100 losses. I'll be writing about the push for 63 wins, and contributions are welcome. Let me know if you'd like to submit content for the site.

Long Live Super Joe

Earlier today, I was emailing with my brother Harry about the Royals’ infield utility position. The Royals acquired Esteban German from the Rangers in the off-season, and he battled 33 year old Joe McEwing (along with Chris Clapinski) this spring for the utility infielder spot.

German had a decent spring, but he is out of options meaning it’s more difficult for the Royals to send him to AAA Omaha (he’d have to clear waivers). Meanwhile, McEwing was in camp on a minor league contract, meaning he’d have to earn his way onto the roster.

Joe McEwing joined the Royals last spring when the Mets let him go. He filled a utility role last season, and hit .239/.263/.294.

It was beginning to look like McEwing was doing enough to make the team. The Royals have indicated that they would break camp with just 11 pitchers, leaving a spot open to bring along two utility infielders, and McEwing’s spring stats certainly warranted making the team. He was 17 for 39 (.436) in 15 games.

Harry and I both enjoy watching McEwing play. “Super Joe” is a small guy (5’ 11”, 170 lbs) who can play all infield positions. He’s a very active player who is always in motion while on the field. I always point to him when watching games with my son Joey to show him how fielders should be moving with the pitch, every pitch.

But it looks like McEwing’s days in KC are over. The Red Sox put Tony Graffanino on waivers yesterday and the Royals snatched him up. Graf played with the Royals in 2004 and part of 2005 until he was traded to the Red Sox for outfielder Chip Ambres (who was cut last week). Baird apparently really likes Graf, since he decided to take on his $2 million salary over the $500,000 or so that McEwing would make.

The Royals of course are willing to let McEwing play in Omaha, but he has decided to test the major league waters instead. Certainly, there is a team out there that is looking for a utility infielder, and they will surely snatch up Super Joe.

As Harry said in his email, “Long live Super Joe!!!”

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Elvis Redux

The other shoe finally dropped on Runelvys Hernandez. After seeing Elvis report to camp some 30 pounds overweight and struggle to put together a decent outing, the Royals have put him on the DL.

Buddy Bell says that it’s simply a matter of getting Hernandez some extra time to get ready. Hernandez will apparently report to Omaha to make a couple of starts before the fifth starter is needed.

It’s obvious that Hernandez is not ready. He is terribly overweight and out of shape, and his control is terrible. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hernandez still isn’t in Kansas City on April 14th, when they will need their fifth starter.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Elvis Has Left the Building

So much for those great pitching performances. On Saturday, Runelvys Hernandez gave us another stinker against the Cubs. He walked the first batter he faced, and couldn't find the strike zone all day.

Hernandez has not had a decent outing against major league batters this spring. He came into came at least 50 lbs over wieght, and yet he has secured the number 2 spot in the rotation.

The Cubs game was televise, but I couldn't bear to watch more than a couple of innings. Hernandez looked terrible. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up 6 hits, 6 runs, five walks (FIVE!) and had just 3 strike outs. He also gave up 2 home runs.

Yesterday, the Royals announced their rotation for this season:

  • Scott Elarton
  • Runelvys Hernandez
  • Joe Mays
  • Jeremy Affeldt
  • Denny Bautista

Once Mark Redmond recovers from his knee injury, I would suspect that the first starter bumped from his spot will be Hernandez. Perhaps a stint in AAA will encourage him to get in shape and learn to pitch effectively again.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Congrats to Dan

Just a quick tip of the ballcap to my good friend Dan Fox, who just learned that he will begin writing for the excellent Baseball Prospectus web site. Good job, Dan. Count me among those will be reading your articles weekly.

Baseball is won with pitching

I jumped onto tonight to see what the Royals did this afternoon in their game against the Angels. The headline was bold:

Elarton pitches Royals past Angels

Sounds great! The Royals had won 7 of their last 8 games with some very impressive pitching sprinkled in. The headline made me think that the Royals enjoyed yet another fantastic outing by a pitcher, after Affeldt and Bautista both had great games this week.
Then I read the sub heading:

Starter allows just one run in six innings

Wow! Sounds great!

I skipped down to the box score to try to get an idea of how Elarton crafted his masterpiece. I found this:

Kansas City









Elarton (W, 3-0)



























Ouch!!! Nine hits?!? Sure, allowing just one run over six innings is great. But allowing 9 hits over six innings? Sounds to me like a very lucky pitcher. Elarton only struck out one and walked one.

I checked the Angels batting stats and found that all of the hits were singles except for one double by Cabrera. So, apparently the Angels were hitting, they just weren’t hitting hard and were not able to string the hits together at the right times to push runs across.

I’m not too sure what to think about this performance. Of course, I’m glad the Royals won. It’s a great feeling to look at some standings and find the Royals at the top (The Royals lead the Cactus League). And I’m glad that the Royals held the Angels to only one run. I’m not very familiar with Elarton, so perhaps his strategy is to allow hits but not runs. Bend, don’t break.

Either way, I’ll take the win and look forward to seeing Elarton on April 3 when the game will count for real.

On a side note: Wood had another outstanding outing, pitching 2 innings without giving up a run. He lowered his ERA to 1.29. Outstanding. Wood is staking his claim to the starting rotation. I’ll stand by my earlier stance that Wood should be a long reliever giving the starts to Affeldt and Bautista. But, I’ll take all of these fantastic pitching performances any day of the week!

Bautista's "Great Stuff"

When I was in Surprise, I was very impressed with Denny Bautista’s performance against the Brewers. (5 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 SO, 1 BB)

Bautista continued his ways last night against the Padres. Bautista pitched 5 shutout innings giving up just one hit. He walked 3 but struck out 5.

The Royals continue to mention Mike Wood as a potential starter, but it’s obvious to me that the two open rotation spots should go to Affeldt and Bautista.

Wood has always been more of a long reliever or spot starter and I feel like that’s his best role.

The good news here is that Royals pitchers are performing very well. I’m anxious to get the season started to see if this pre season success can carry over.

Affeldt's Push

Jeremy Affeldt made another case for a spot in the rotation Wednesday evening with a very strong outing against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise.

Affeldt pitched 6.0 innings and threw 81 pitches, well on his way to building up the endurance needed to be a starter. He gave up one hit and one run while striking out three. He walked just one batter.

Affeldt had struggled in the past, and I’ve stated before that I believe that the Royals can be blamed for his struggles.

When Affeldt first arrived in Kansas City as a starter, he was impressive but had trouble with blisters developing on the middle finger of his pitching hand. The Royals moved him to the bullpen to reduce the number of pitches he threw in hopes of reducing the blister problem. Eventually, Affeldt had the fingernail removed from his finger, and the blister problems seemed to be solved.

The Royals continued to switch Affeldt between relief and starting roles, including a stint as a closer, finally relegating him to mop up duty in 2005.

Also during the time, the Royals changed pitching coaches several times, and at one point, asked Affeldt pitch to contact instead of trying to strike out batters. All of this instability can only hurt a pitcher.

This off season Affeldt asked for a chance to start. After some thought, the Royals agreed to give him a shot at the rotation, and after a rocky start, he has performed well in Spring Training. With the injuries to Mark Redmond and Zack Greinke, there potentially is a spot open for Affeldt. If they don’t allow him to start, then I think the Royals should trade Affeldt before switching his role around yet again, and while there is still some perceived value in him.

Here’s what my Opening Day Rotation would look like:

Runelvyz Hernandez
Denny Bautista
Scott Elarton
Joe Mays
Jeremy Affeldt

When Redmond comes back from his injury, trade Mays. When and if Greinke comes back, trade Elarton.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

4 Days in the Valley

I just returned last night from my annual trip to Arizona for Spring Training Cactus League baseball. This tradition started in 2003 when, on a whim, I flew out to Surprise to see the Royals play the Brewers and flew home the same evening. The combination of the baseball and sunshine hooked me on Arizona in March.

This year’s trip included me, my son Joey, my brother Harry and my good friend Dan. In the past, we’ve visited Mesa (home of the Cubs), Scottsdale (home of the Giants), and Surprise (where the Rangers and Royals train). This year, we added a new destination – Tucson – to see the Cubs play at the White Sox.

The story of the trip for me was my left ear and the weather. I’ll get to the weather later, but two days before I flew to Arizona, an infection took up residence in my left ear, finally bursting through my ear drum. I took antibiotics the entire trip which helped, but my ear remained plugged up the entire time, meaning I was only able to hear about half of the conversations.

Friday the weather was beautiful. We had breakfast in Surprise then headed to the Surprise Recreation Campus. The Royals’ practice fields open to the public at 10:00, but we didn’t get there until around 11:00. We watched as the major leaguers took BP. On the minor league fields, we watched as Frank White and other coaches worked the youngsters on various drills including pick-off and run-down drills (which seem to be the most popular drills in these camps).

We headed over to Surprise Stadium for the 1:10 first pitch of the Royals/Brewers game. Just like years past, the gift shop took a bunch of my money before the first pitch was thrown.

We sat in our seats right behind home plate and saw Denny Bautista dominate the Brewers’ hitters. The only hiccup was a 5th inning homerun to Core Koskie. We also saw Luke Hudson, Joel Peralta, Joe Nelson, and Leo Nunez pitch as the Royals won 8-4. Offensively, both John Buck and Reggie Sanders were 3-3.

After the game, we headed to the pizza place where we ate last year and had some wings and pizza. Of course, we forgot to show out ticket stubs to receive the advertised 20% off our bill. Oh well. The day ended with some relaxing at the hotel getting caught up in all the upsets in the NCAA tournament.

On Saturday we headed to Tucson to see the Cubs at the White Sox. It was about an hour and a half drive and we arrived around 10:00. We wandered into the White Sox practice facility to see the minor leaguers play in 2 games on adjacent fields. Some major leaguers were there to get some at-bats in, so we saw Jermaine Dye, AJ Pierzynski, and Paul Konerko. After sawing off several bats, Pierzynski brought the broken bats out and handed them to some kids. A nice gesture. Paul Konerko came over and briefly signed some autographs before heading back to the clubhouse.

We headed to Tucson Electric Park around noon to claim our spot on the outfield berm. Unfortunately, we weren’t enjoying the nice Arizona weather that we expected. It was a little chilly with a brisk 20-30 MPH wind blowing right in our faces. I didn’t watch much of the game. I had my XM MyFi with me, so I tuned into the World Baseball Classic game between Dominican and Cuba that was going on at the same time and took a little nap in the sunshine. I awoke with a sunburn and with the Cubs losing to the White Sox. After an exhausting day, we headed back to the hotel in Tempe. I felt sorry for my brother Harry since he was driving while the rest of us snoozed.

The weather really took a turn for the worse on Sunday. We got an early start in hopes of seeing the Cubs practice at Fitch Park in Mesa. We had a delicious breakfast at Denny’s and as we walked to the car, the rain started to fall. We arrived at the park to find several empty fields. We waited around for a while, but gave up and headed to Ho Ho Kam Park where the Cubs play their games. With the temperature around 45 degrees, our best strategy seemed to be hanging out in the gift shop. They didn’t get quite as much of my money as the folks in Surprise, but Joey did get an old-school Cubs cap.

In the concourse, the Cubs wives were having a silent auction to raise money for charity. Several items piqued my interest, including autographed balls of Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek. Also of interest was a Jeff Bagwell autographed bat. We didn’t think the $200 bid price was too bad considering Bagwell is a certain Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, the Cubs wives don’t know much about running a silent auction. We were told the auction would end “around 1:00.” Anybody who’s bid in a silent auction knows that the end time must be precise and well known. At any rate, since nobody had bid on the Reggie Sanders ball by 12:50, I walked over and put down the minimum bid of $20. I waited the 10 minutes until 1:00 and expected to pay for my ball. But, for some reason, they decided to changed the end time to 1:30. At about 1:10, somebody else had bid $30 for the Sanders ball, pushing it out of my price range. They were also selling game used batting helmets for $25 each. I was amazed at how many people were willing to pay for those dirty old things.

The game started right on time at 1:10 in the rain. Joey and I tried to join Dan and Harry, but after a half inning, we were just too cold and wet. Joey hadn’t packed a winter coat, and I’ve been fighting an ear infection and other ailments, so we decided to wait in the car. I used the MyFi to tune into the game and Joey and I got in a nice afternoon’s nap.

By the time the game ended, the clouds were clearing off and the temperature seemed to rise a bit. We found a nearby golf course and were going to try to hit some balls at the driving range. We picked the wrong course, since an employee there caught us in the parking lot to inform us that we weren’t properly dressed. He directed us to a course down the road that would accept bums like us (my words, not his). The driving range there was closed, so we played a quick 9 holes. I was impressed with how well Joey hit the ball in his first every foray onto a golf course. By the time we finished, the sun was sinking and it was getting chilly again. We headed to a Mexican restaurant near ASU and had dinner before getting back to the hotel for bed.

By the fourth day, we were getting tired of the bad weather and were hoping for a good day. Luckily, the sun was shining and the temperature hovered in the upper 60’s. Not quite the Arizona weather we like, but good enough.

We got to Surprise just as they opened the gates to the practice facilities and were able to see the minor leaguers hard at work. Joey and I watched as some very young players (single A?) botched pickoff/run-down drills. The coaches were getting pretty frustrated, so we wandered over to the AA field. We watched as Frank White coached infielders on different situations. In one case, a slow grounder was barehanded by the second baseman who fired to first base. It was an impressive play, but White walked out to the mound to reprimand him. With a runner on second base, White says it is more important to field the ball cleanly than to make a spectacular play at first. If he hadn’t have barehanded the ball cleanly, the runner at second would have scored.

The major leaguers finally made their way to their fields at about 11:00 for BP. We staked out a spot down the right field line in hopes of snagging a foul ball. None came our way, but Chip Ambres finally saw us and tossed a ball our way. Joey ran up to try to grab Alex Gordon’s autograph on the ball, but had to settle for Leo Nunez.

At about 12:00, we decided to head into the stadium, but not before we were able to grab Denny Bautista to add his signature to our ball. Once we were in the stadium, we killed some time down the third base line to soak in some sunshine. Joey was able to get Alex Gordon’s autographed when he walked into the ballpark. Later, he snagged Mark Grudzielanek’s autograph as well.

When the game started, we watched as a pitcher who we thought was Luke Hudson get knocked around in the 2nd inning. The PA announcer told us that Hudson was starting, but the Royals made a last minute change in order to see how Hudson would do in short relief. That gave Danny Tamayo the start and he struggled badly, giving up 5 runs in the 2nd inning. We were also able to see Hideo Nomo and his annoying wind up as he was fairly effective with his slow junk against the Royals’ aggressive batters.

Doug Mientkiewicz had a good game, going 3-3 with a 3-run homerun and 4 RBI’s. The Royals were able to tie it up, but Ambiorix Burgos gave up the lead in the 7th. He opened the inning by giving up a triple to Brian Anderson, who then scored on a wild pitch. Burgos recovered though and was impressive retiring the side.

After the game, we had to hustle to the airport to catch our flight back to snowy KC. Our flight was delayed slightly by the weather, but we made up the time and arrived in KC right on time.

I got home just in time to catch the final two innings of Japan’s win over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic championship game.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I’ve enjoyed watching the World Baseball Classic so far. The enthusiasm these players have for playing for their country is fun to watch, and it’s interesting to see how baseball fans from other countries watch their games. Americans tend to quietly sit and visit with their friends, and will cheer when something exciting happens.

Fans from other countries, especially the Latin countries, are into the game start to finish. The stand making noise constantly, dancing, banging on drums, playing trumpets. It’s not the stoic, thinking man’s game that we think about in America. It is really fun to watch.

Team USA, however, is not so fun to watch. Dontrell Willis has looked awful in the 2 US losses. I can understand losing to Japan or Dominican Republic, but to Canada and Korea? Brutal!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal - or does it?

As Opening Day creeps closer, I can’t help but feel a little bit of dread for the upcoming Royals season.

For one, I’m not convinced the Royals spent their $22 million surplus wisely this past off season. Dan pointed out these two articles (Part I, Part II) by Marc Normandin that go into great detail, but suffice it to say that they could probably have gotten similar performance from their much less expensive younger players.

And now the Royals’ pitchers seem to be dropping like flies. First, Zack Greinke went home to address emotional issues, and now potential opening day starter Mark Redmond goes down with a knee injury. He will miss 4-6 weeks after having surgery.

So the only sure bet to make the rotation is Scott Elarton, who has been named the opening day starter. Everybody else (Runelvys Hernamdez, Joe Mays, Denny Bautista, Mike Wood, JP Howell, Jeremy Affeldt) are either inconsistent or injury prone.

Still, I’m looking forward to my annual trek to Arizona catch some Cubs and Royals spring training action next week. Even if I don’t feel too confident about the upcoming season, spring is still the season of optimism.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Greinke Redux

There seems to be more evidence that Zack Greinke’s disappearance from Spring Training is related to emotional issues. The team is still very mum about the reason for Greinke’s departure.

Yesterday, 810 WHB aired an interview with George Brett that took place during the team’s intra-squad game. I can’t recall the exact quotes in the interview, but Brett said several times that he hoped Zack was working out “his” issues, and at one point said that he hoped he was “getting an emotion shot” while in Florida.

Today’s Kansas City Star reports, “Zack Greinke left the Royals’ camp last weekend to deal with ongoing emotional issues.”

If he is dealing with emotional issues, let’s hope he can get it taken care of quickly so he can proceed to have the great career that he’s capable of having.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Curious Case of Zack Greinke

The curious case of Zack Greinke continues. Greinke was drafted out of Apopka (FL) High School in the first round in 2002. Even though the common school of thought was already turning against drafting high school pitchers, Greinke seemed to be a special case that was worth the risk.

Greinke was quickly identified as a pitching phenom. He moved quickly through the minors, pitching very well at each level.

In 2004, Greinke was pitching in AAA Omaha to start the season. When the Royals got off to a slow start, many people were pushing the Royals to call up Greinke to give the team a boost. At the time, the Royals stated that they were not interested in rushing Greinke to the major leagues; not based on ability, but rather, based on his maturity.

Finally, Zack Greinke made his major league debut on May 22, 2004 at the age of 20. He pitched fairly well considering his age, ending the season 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 145.0 innings pitched.

In the offseason following 2004, the Royals hired pitching coach Guy Hansen. In their 2005 Spring Training, it became apparent that Greinke and Hansen were not going to get along. It became public that Hansen wanted Greinke to move over on the rubber, and Greinke was refusing. Greinke went on to have a miserable season, leading the majors in losses with a 5-17 record.

When Greinke arrived at Spring Training this year, he made the comment that the 2005 season was the most fun he’s ever had playing baseball. He finally learned to not let baseball consume his time, and he took time away from baseball to enjoy other things. It seemed curious that Greinke would say that he had fun while having such a terrible season.

Just a week after reporting to Spring Training, Greinke left camp to return home. The Royals are saying that he returned to Florida to take care of personal matters. No other explanation has been given.

Now the speculation has begun. Greinke has always seemed a bit eccentric. He’s stated in the past that he loves to hit, and would like to play short stop. He’s always seemed somewhat bored with baseball. Not that it’s true, but that has always been the impression he’s given.

I wonder if perhaps Greinke is starting to think that he isn’t interested in baseball anymore. I also wonder if his difficulties with Hansen last season somehow contributed to this. Perhaps his frustrations with Hansen caused him to lose focus on baseball and now he’s realizing that he may not want to do it anymore.

At any rate, the Royals have stated that they are preparing for the 2006 season without Zack Greinke. The phenom doesn’t seem phenomenal anymore.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Been a While...

I haven't blogged in a while, so here are a few random thoughts while we wait for Opening Day...

  • Every "national expert" I've read or heard has ripped the Royals' moves this offseason. I can't say I disagree. Yes, they will probably avoid 100 losses, but they won't win the division and the free agents they signed are short-term guys. They aren't necessarily holding any young players back, since it's obvious from last season that those young guys need the extra time in the minors. But I'm wondering if it would have been a smarter move to sink that money into player development.
  • Anybody else disappointed with this season's episodes of "Scrubs?" Maybe it's because I've been watching seasons 1 & 2 on DVD, but this most current crop of episodes seems forced and contrived. Still a great show though...
  • It's just over a month until my brother, my son and I head to Arizona to catch some Cactus League baseball. Can't wait!
  • Yes, the referees blew several calls in the Super Bowl. But, the Steelers still played a better game and the blown calls didn't change the outcome.
  • Thanks to XM Satellite's XM Cafe channel for turning me onto The Muckrakers. Great band. Check them out...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Roster Moves

Apparently, the Kyle Snyder experiment is over. To make room for Reggie Sanders and Joe Mays, the Royals DFA’d Snyder and Devon Lowry.

Snyder was a first round draft pick in 1999. He’s shown promise his entire career but has had injury trouble. His frail arm has eventually caused the downfall of his career. The Royals have given him plenty of chances, but each time he ended up hurt.

Royals GM Allard Baird says they will send Snyder to Omaha if he clears waivers and he doesn’t intend to release him. But it’s clear to me that Synder’s run near its end.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Royals fans always feel a slight tug at the heart when they hear the name Albert Pujols.

It’s well known by now: Pujols and his family moved to Kansas City where he played high school baseball and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals when he was playing at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City (about 3 miles down the road from my house). Now, he’s one of the best hitters ever. He compares favorably with the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.

He was right here under the Royals’ nose the whole time. Many Royals fans wonder, “How did he get away from us?”

Pujols was in Kansas City yesterday to receive the Oscar Charleston Award, given by the Negro Leagues Museum for the most valuable player. He toured the museum and provided a short question and answer session with reporters.

In today’s Kansas City Star, Joe Posnaski relates Pujols’ visit to the museum, and gives us this nugget to ponder:

“You should be playing for the Royals,” someone said to him at the museum.
“They had their chance,” Pujols replied.
Indeed they did.

I wish I was one of Dick's old buddies...

Yesterday, Dick Vermeil had his final press conference since retiring as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

My opinion of Vermeil has been pretty neutral since his arrival. He obviously had the credentials, having reached two Super Bowls and winning one.

I knew that Vermeil had amassed a very large coaching staff with the Chiefs, but it was during his farewell that I realized what was really going on in Kansas City the last five years.

I was listening to a live broadcast of the press conference when Vermeil started thanking his coaches. As he mentioned each coach, he talked about how he had met this person back in the 1960’s and how that person has been a close friend for 30 or 40 years.

It became apparent that what Vermeil had here was a reunion tour. His old buddy Carl Peterson (President, GM and CEO of the Chiefs) agreed to pay Vermeil $17 million over five years, and allowed Vermeil to hire all of his old buddies to work with him. The Kansas City Chiefs paid millions for these old buddies to have one last fling together.

Vermeil said in his press conference that while he wasn’t able to win a Super Bowl, that wasn’t the most important thing to him. The most important thing is relationships.

That tells me that these guys weren’t here to win. Vermeil gathered his old buddies from his UCLA, Philadelphia and St. Louis days here to have one last go ‘round. This was cronyism as its worst.

While Vermeil and his buddies made millions reminiscing about the past, Chiefs fans patiently waited for success on the field. Vermeil’s tenure produced one playoff appearance and no playoff wins. Vermeil says he’s proud of what he accomplished during his time in KC, but I’m afraid Chiefs fans probably disagree.

Let’s hope Carl Peterson hires his next head coach based on a desire to win instead of a desire to hang out with old friends.