Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And Then, Depression Set In...

Could it get any worse than this?

Just a week ago, we were excited that the Royals were within 1 game of .500, and just 2 games out of first place in their division.

Since then, they've been no-hit, and have had 3 (THREE!) grand slams hit against them. They've rattled off 8 straight losses, and it suddenly feels like another 100 loss season.

JoPo speaks about losing streaks, and wonders if Royals fans need to boo more.

I don't know if his theory is correct, but I wouldn't mind seeing a little more passion and a little less apathy from Royals fans. The only problem is that after 15 years of getting your head bashed in, you're inclined to simply walk away from the person swinging the hammer.

If Dayton thinks there's still a season to salvage here, I certainly hope he figures out a way to bring some power to this lineup.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Checking Out...

It's become painfully obvious that I just can't keep this blog updated every day.

So, I've decided to quit posting the daily updates. They don't really provide much value, and I don't have the time or energy to write the interesting and poignant commentary as I had intended.

Folks like JoPo, Rany, and Sam are writing incredible Royals content that I can't compete with.

I may continue to update the stats over on the right side of the page. It is kinda interesting to see how the Pythag moves throughout the season. But, don't count on very frequent updates.

I will continue to blog at my personal blog, but even there, the posts are few and far between.

I guess, as I'm getting older, I'm finding more valuable things in my life than writing random crap for blogs that nobody reads.

If you've been reading over the past few years, thanks.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Game 40 - 5/15/2008

Tigers 4, Royals 8

I'm glad I'm not a Tigers fan right now. I mean, as a Royals fan, I know what it's like to be supremely disappointed in a baseball team. But to go into a season with such high hopes as the Tigers had this year, and then to see them struggle so badly must be hell.

And to be honest, I don't see the Tigers improving much. They've invested too much in older players, and the pitching just isn't there.

The Royals are hanging in this race. I'm so used to being out of it by mid-May, that this season is a breath of fresh air.

The Royals now have an inter-league series against the Marlins. I'd love to see the streak continue, but I'm getting tired of inter-league play. I wouldn't mind a bit if it suddenly went away.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 19-21
Expected Record 17-23
Runs Scored 146
Runs Allowed 169
Projected Record 77-85
Pythagorean Record 70-92
Pythagorean Winning% 0.427

Let's go get 'em

Game 39 - 5/14/2008

Tigers 0, Royals 2

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 18-21
Expected Record 16-23
Runs Scored 138
Runs Allowed 165
Projected Record 75-87
Pythagorean Record 67-95
Pythagorean Winning% 0.411

Let's go get 'em

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Game 38 - 5/13/2008

Tigers 2, Royals 3

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 17-21
Expected Record 15-23
Runs Scored 136
Runs Allowed 165
Projected Record 73-89
Pythagorean Record 66-96
Pythagorean Winning% 0.404

Let's go get 'em

Game 37 - 5/11/2008

Orioles 0, Royals 4

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 16-21
Expected Record 15-22
Runs Scored 133
Runs Allowed 163
Projected Record 71-91
Pythagorean Record 65-97
Pythagorean Winning% 0.399

Let's go get 'em

Game 36 - 5/10/2008

Orioles 6, Royals 5

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 15-21
Expected Record 14-22
Runs Scored 129
Runs Allowed 163
Projected Record 68-94
Pythagorean Record 63-99
Pythagorean Winning% 0.385

Let's go get 'em

Game 35 - 5/9/2008

Orioles 7, Royals 4

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 15-20
Expected Record 13-22
Runs Scored 124
Runs Allowed 157
Projected Record 70-92
Pythagorean Record 63-99
Pythagorean Winning% 0.384

Let's go get 'em

Game 34 - 5/8/2008

Orioles 4, Royals 1

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 15-19
Expected Record 13-21
Runs Scored 120
Runs Allowed 150
Projected Record 72-90
Pythagorean Record 64-98
Pythagorean Winning% 0.39

Let's go get 'em

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Game 33 - 5/7/2008

Angels 4, Royals 9

I'm beginning to think that this Royals team is actually blessed. Consider how terrible the offense has been, and yet they are still within 3 games of .500 and only 2.5 games out of first place. This is a tight division and if it remains that way, this could be a very exciting year.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 15-18
Expected Record 13-20

Runs Scored 119
Runs Allowed 146
Projected Record 74-88
Pythagorean Record 65-97
Pythagorean Winning% 0.399

Let's go get 'em

Game 32 - 5/6/2008

Angels 5, Royals 3

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 14-18
Expected Record 12-20
Runs Scored 110
Runs Allowed 142
Projected Record 71-91
Pythagorean Record 61-101
Pythagorean Winning% 0.375

Let's go get 'em

Game 31 - 5/5/2008

Angels 4, Royals 0

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 14-17
Expected Record 12-19
Runs Scored 107
Runs Allowed 137
Projected Record 74-88
Pythagorean Record 62-100
Pythagorean Winning% 0.378

Let's go get 'em

Game 30 - 5/4/2008

Royals 2, Indians 0

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 14-16
Expected Record 12-18
Runs Scored 107
Runs Allowed 133
Projected Record 76-86
Pythagorean Record 64-98
Pythagorean Winning% 0.392

Let's go get 'em

Game 29 - 5/3/2008

Royals 4, Indians 2

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 13-16
Expected Record 11-18
Runs Scored 105
Runs Allowed 133
Projected Record 73-89
Pythagorean Record 63-99
Pythagorean Winning% 0.383

Let's go get 'em

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Game 28 - 5/1/2008

Question: Where the hell did all that offense go???

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 12-16
Expected Record 10-18
Runs Scored 101
Runs Allowed 131
Projected Record 70-92
Pythagorean Record 61-101
Pythagorean Winning% 0.372

Let's go get 'em

Game 27 - 4/30/2008

Royals 9, Rangers 11

The Royals' offense is finally starting to produce runs after struggling for much of this young season. They've scored a season-high 9 runs in two straight games.

While scoring 9 should be good enough for a win, it wasn't last night. Brian Bannister, who had looked dominant in earlier starts, struggled mightily. He gave up 7 runs while throwing 90 pitches in 3 innings.

I've always worried about Banny. He's a very intelligent pitcher who gets by on location and trickery. He doesn't not have overpowering stuff. We can only hope that he has more tricks in his bag.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 12-15
Expected Record 10-17
Runs Scored 100
Runs Allowed 129
Projected Record 72-90
Pythagorean Record 61-101
Pythagorean Winning% 0.375

Let's go get 'em

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Game 26 - 4/29/2008

Royals 9, Rangers 5

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 12-14
Expected Record 10-16
Runs Scored 91
Runs Allowed 118
Projected Record 75-87
Pythagorean Record 61-101
Pythagorean Winning% 0.372

Let's go get 'em

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Game 25 - 4/27/2008

Blue Jays 5, Royals 2

Even with the loss today, the Blue Jay series was much better for the Royals. They finally broke their losing streak, and played better all-around baseball. The Central Division is still a tight race from top to bottom, and almost one month into the season, the Royals still find themselves right in the middle of the race. Any Royals fan should be happy with that.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 11-14
Expected Record 9-16
Runs Scored 82
Runs Allowed 113
Projected Record 72-90
Pythagorean Record 56-106
Pythagorean Winning% 0.344

Let's go get 'em

Game 24 - 4/26/2008

Blue Jays 1, Royals 2

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 11-13
Expected Record 8-16
Runs Scored 80
Runs Allowed 108
Projected Record 75-87
Pythagorean Record 58-104
Pythagorean Winning% 0.354

Let's go get 'em

Game 23 - 4/25/2008

Blue Jays 4, Royals 8

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 10-13
Expected Record 8-15
Runs Scored 78
Runs Allowed 107
Projected Record 71-91
Pythagorean Record 57-105
Pythagorean Winning% 0.347

Let's go get 'em

Game 22 - 4/24/2008

Indians 2, Royals 0

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-13
Expected Record 7-15
Runs Scored 70
Runs Allowed 103
Projected Record 67-95
Pythagorean Record 52-110
Pythagorean Winning% 0.315

Let's go get 'em

Thursday, April 24, 2008

610 vs. 810 in 1,098 words

I’m in a bad mood, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Royals have been outscored 22-3 in just 12 innings against the Indians.

My sour disposition has more to do with how I enjoy (or tolerate) Royals games.

Let’s start with some history. In 2003, the Royals had a red hot start and were in contention throughout most of the season. There was much hope and optimism for the 2004 season, but alas the Royals relapsed into another 100 loss season. 2004 was the final year of their radio broadcast contract with media conglomerate Entercom.

Meanwhile, local media company Union Broadcasting was building its empire. Starting with a small signal sports talk station, Union “grew up” in 1999 by acquiring monster signal 810 AM and moving its sports talk station to that frequency, becoming Sports Radio 810 WHB.

By 2003, WHB was the most listened to station in Kansas City. Entercom tried to grab a piece of that listenership by converting its beloved 61 Country to 610 Sports. Try as they might, 610 still couldn’t compete with 810. As country music lovers left 610, its ratings plummeted and Entercom found that competing with WHB is much harder than they anticipated.

To deliver the radio wars knockout blow, and in anticipation of an improved Royals team, Union made a huge bid for the Royals radio rights. The Royals listened. WHB’s signal is one of the most powerful in the country, but the FCC requires the signal to be reduced at sunset. Union wanted to carry the Royals on WHB, but the Royals were concerned with the reduced nighttime signal. Union agreed to simulcast night games on its struggling all music FM station, 97.3.

With the agreement in place, the Royals had a new radio home on WHB.

On the TV side, the Royals decided to create their own television network called RSTN. The goal was to increase the number of televised games and to create a new revenue stream for the Royals. It was obvious that the television broadcasts were run on a shoestring budget. Poor camera angles, sloppy graphics, and no chance to see any high definition games made for a frustrating viewing experience.

To make matters worse, the Royals forced its fans to endure the wrath of Bob Davis on the television broadcasts. I’ve said it before, and I will continue to ride this horse. Bob Davis is by far the worst baseball broadcaster on the planet. Davis has been a broadcaster for the Kansas Jayhawks for years, and he’s great for those basketball and football games. But for baseball, not so much. Davis is loud, gruff, and simply does not know how to call a baseball game. His voice inflection causes high blood pressure. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve heard Davis describe a “blast to right field!!!!!!” that is then caught by the second baseman. Also, if you listen to Davis, try to count how many times he says “out there.”

But I digress.

Suffice it to say that the television broadcasts on RSTN left much to be desired. Fortunately, the vast majority of games (at least for me) are taken in via radio, not television.

Radio is always there. Whether I’m sitting on the deck, mowing the lawn, painting a bedroom, I can always hear the Royals. My entire life has been accompanied by the Royals on radio.

It’s with that life-long devotion that I write about Royals broadcasting today.

Between 2005 and 2007, WHB created a first class broadcast for the Royals. They produced their own pre- and post-games shows that featured some great former Royals players. Freddie Patek, Brian MacRae, Jeff Montgomery, Mike Boddiker and others joined baseball fanatic Soren Petro for these pre- and post-games shows. They featured great commentary and analysis.

The game broadcasts themselves were a joy to listen to. WHB’s strong signal ensured that the Royals games would come in loud and clear in most areas. In spots where WHB’s night-time signal was difficult to receive, the FM signal produced a clear broadcast for all areas.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews did what he’s done since the Royals inception. His smooth delivery matched well with his partner Ryan Lefebvre who came into his own as a fine broadcaster. Together, their wry humor was a joy to listen to.

After the 2007 season, the radio broadcast rights were back up for bid. Over the previous three seasons, WHB found that the broadcasts did not produce the kind of revenue they had hoped for when they acquired the radio rights. Their proposal reflected that.

Entercom, desperate to boost 610’s fledgling ratings, also bid for the radio rights. After many negotiations, the Royals selected Entercom.

The decision is most definitely based solely on money. According to some sources, the Entercom proposal was only a couple hundred thousand dollars more than WHB’s. WHB hoped that their powerful signal combined with outstanding production would be enough to put them over the top. It wasn’t.

The Royals also dismantled it television network, and turned the television broadcasts over the Fox Sports Net. In turn, FSN created FSN Kansas City, hired Joel Goldberg and Ryan Lefebvre (luring him away from radio), agreed to broadcast select games in HD, and created an enjoyable, high quality broadcast.

With Ryan Lefebvre leaving the radio booth, Entercom hired Steve Stewart presumably to replace Lefebvre. Royals fans rejoice! It seemed Bob Davis’ days as a Royals broadcaster were over.

Then, the bombshell. Davis moved from television to the radio booth to serve as Matthews’ partner. Can somebody please explain why Stewart was hired?

All of this leads to my bad mood today.

So far this season, I’ve tried to listen to the Royals in my car, in my garage, on my deck, and as I mowed my lawn. In all cases, the static on 610 has been unbearable.

I subscribe to the Game Day Audio package on mlb.com, so I have been able to listen to the games as a webcast, but even then, Bob Davis’ scowl has caused me much heartache. (Play this game: while listening to Davis, imagine him saying “goddamn it!” after every sentence. He just sounds so angry when he talks.)

So after enjoying such high quality radio broadcasts for the past three years, I now have to deal with poor broadcast signals and terrible broadcasters. All of this for what? Less than the minimum salary of one player?

And so tonight, the Royals are losing 9-6 and I cannot listen to it.

Perhaps it’s best.

Game 21 - 4/23/2008

Indians 9, Royals 6

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-12
Expected Record 7-14
Runs Scored 70
Runs Allowed 101
Projected Record 70-92
Pythagorean Record 53-109
Pythagorean Winning% 0.324

Let's go get 'em

Game 20 - 4/22/2008

Indians 15, Royals 1

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-11
Expected Record 7-13
Runs Scored 64
Runs Allowed 92
Projected Record 73-89
Pythagorean Record 53-109
Pythagorean Winning% 0.326

Let's go get 'em

Game 19 - 4/20/2008

Royals 1, A's 7

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-10
Expected Record 8-11
Runs Scored 63
Runs Allowed 77
Projected Record 77-85
Pythagorean Record 65-97
Pythagorean Winning% 0.4

Let's go get 'em

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Game 18 - 4/19/2008

Royals 5, A's 6

So much for that Bannister/Greinke magic.

Nomo is gone. It was nice to see him get another chance, but he was shelled and the Royals aren't going to put up with such a poor performance (unless your name is Pena or Guillen).

I'm anxious to see Hochevar's start today, but I will be on a plane to Pheonix for a conference. I'll miss today's game, and updates to the site may be slow this week.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-9
Expected Record 8-10
Runs Scored 62
Runs Allowed 70
Projected Record 81-81
Pythagorean Record 72-90
Pythagorean Winning% 0.439

Let's go get 'em

Game 17 - 4/18/2008

Royals 2, A's 13


The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-8
Expected Record 8-9
Runs Scored 57
Runs Allowed 64
Projected Record 86-76
Pythagorean Record 72-90
Pythagorean Winning% 0.442

Let's go get 'em

Friday, April 18, 2008

Game 16 - 4/17/2008

Royals 3, Angels 5

I'm happy that the Royals are off to a good start. Even if they don't contend, as long as they continue to hover around .500 for most of the year, I will be extremely happy as this would mark a huge improvement over the past few years.

That said, there are some things that are starting to irk me about the 2008 Royals. First, and most obviously, is the offense. Most of the lineup is doing fine, but Jose Guillen is really awful so far. I'm getting so tired of seeing him come up with runners in scoring position only to pop out or hit into a double play. I'm making no judgements here, but all I've seen from him is warning track power. What's missing now that he can't seem to get the ball out of the park anymore???

I know Hillman likes to run, and aggressiveness is his calling card, but let's not get stupid here. Last night, the Royals were down 3-2 with runners at first and third and Buck batting. All the sudden, Alex Gordon tries to steal second and is thrown out by a country mile for the third out of the inning. It totally killed their chance of tying the game and destroyed any momemtum they had at the time. Why, why, why??? In past games, I've seen guys get thrown out trying to steal third. Why??? I believe the out is MUCH more detrimental than the advantage of having that extra base. Chill it out a little bit Trey. Let the hitters do their job.

(In Trey's defense, the hitters aren't doing their job very well.)

Bale was put on the DL. After getting knocked around a couple of games, I guess he finally decided he's hurt. I love the top 3 of the rotation, but I hope the bottom two get replaced soon, and perhaps this trip to the DL is the first manuver in that direction.

The Royals travel to Oakland tonight. Should be fun to see Emil Brown get caught in a rundown.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-7
Expected Record 9-7
Runs Scored 55
Runs Allowed 51
Projected Record 92-70
Pythagorean Record 87-75
Pythagorean Winning% 0.537

Let's go get 'em

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Game 15 - 4/16/2008

Royals 3, Angels 2

I don't know about you, but I couldn't shake the feeling that Gil Meche was pitching
just on the edge of giving up a ton of runs. It seemed like every inning, he gave up a hard hit ball, but was able to get out of the jam.

Things looked good offensively in the first inning, but Weaver buckled down and actually pitched pretty well after the second. Fortunately, the Royals got all they needed before that.

And big time kudos to the bullpen for holding onto the lead and letting Gil notch his first win. All in all, a decent night for the Royals.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 9-6
Expected Record 8-7
Runs Scored 52
Runs Allowed 46
Projected Record 98-64
Pythagorean Record 91-71
Pythagorean Winning% 0.56

Let's go get 'em

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Run Spreads... What do they mean?

I was checking out the standings today, and I noticed that the Royals have scored only 5 more runs than they've allowed (49 to 44).

Contrast that to the first place Chicago White Sox who have scored a whopping 75 runs and have give up 52. That's a nice 23 run difference.

Here's a surprise: The Boston Red Sox have scored 66 runs, but they've also allowed 66 runs. Yet, they are 9-6 and are in first place.

Talk about an ugly start. The Tigers have scored 50 runs, but have given up (get this) 92 runs. That is by far the most allow so far this year (The Pirates are next at 80 runs allowed).

The Diamondbacks lead all of baseball in runs scored with 89.

I'm not sure what all this means this early in the season, but it is kinda interesting to look at.

Game 14 - 4/15/2008

Royals 6, Mariners 11

This one was ugly. You always know that there will be games where your pitching staff just gets rocked, and this was one of those games.

Hopefully, Gil will get on track tonight in Anaheim.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 8-6
Expected Record 8-6
Runs Scored 49
Runs Allowed 44
Projected Record 93-69
Pythagorean Record 90-72
Pythagorean Winning% 0.553

Let's go get 'em

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Game 13 - 4/14/2008

Royals 5, Mariners 1

This is odd. In back-to-back games, the Royals had a 107-pitch, complete game performance by their starting pitcher, and the Royals won both games 5-1.

UPDATE:I was wrong. Banny threw 111 pitches on Sunday. My bad.

Something special is happening this April.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 8-5
Expected Record 8-5
Runs Scored 43
Runs Allowed 33
Projected Record 100-62
Pythagorean Record 102-60
Pythagorean Winning% 0.629

Let's go get 'em

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Game 12 - 4/13/2008

Twins 1, Royals 5


Brian Bannister continues to amaze. He pitched a complete game today, throwing 110 pitches. He only gave up one unearned run in the first inning, after Jose Guillen's error in right field.

Bannister kept the Twins batters off balance, and put the ball in play keeping his defense in the game on another cold, windy day.

Billy Butler also continued his hot streak, hitting in his 12th straight game. Alex Gordon looks much better to start 2008 than he did in 2007. He hit a home run late in the game to add an insurance run. Not that Bannister needed it.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 7-5
Expected Record 7-5
Runs Scored 38
Runs Allowed 32
Projected Record 95-67
Pythagorean Record 95-67
Pythagorean Winning% 0.585

Let's go get 'em

Game 11 - 4/12/2008

Twins 2, Royals 0

26 consecutive scoreless innings for the Royals. Tomko pictched well, but the bats just couldn't get going in the freezing cold. We even saw a little snow late in the game.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 6-5
Expected Record 6-5
Runs Scored 33
Runs Allowed 31
Projected Record 89-73
Pythagorean Record 87-75
Pythagorean Winning% 0.531

Let's go get 'em

Saturday, April 12, 2008


It's noon, and in 6 hours we will be at the ballpark for tonight's Royals/Twins game. The main reason for going tonight, of course, is to see the Royals debut the new powder blue jerseys. More importantly, the Royals are giving away Billy Butler powder blue jerseys to the first 20,000 fans tonight.

As I sit in my kitchen looking out the window, I see large snowflakes falling down. In April.

Next week, the weather is supposed to break and we should see some sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. For now though... this stinks!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Game 10 - 4/11/2008

Twins 5, Royals 0

Damn. Just when I was bragging about how the Royals haven't been shut out, this happens. I didn't see how the Twins score their runs, but I guess it doesn't matter. Let's just chalk this one up to a slow start by Meche, and that he'll improve as the weather does.

I watched the last two innings on TV. Holy moly, it looked cold out there.

Oh, and it's nice to hear that Guillen's suspension will not happen. Although, I'm starting to think the break could have done him some good. He's looked downright awful to start the season.

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 6-4
Expected Record 6-4
Runs Scored 33
Runs Allowed 29
Projected Record 98-64
Pythagorean Record 92-70
Pythagorean Winning% 0.564

Let's go get 'em

Game 9 - 4/10/2008

Yankees 6, Royals 1

The Yankees avoided the sweep on another miserable night at the "K." John Bale still hasn't impressed me much, but I guess somebody needs to be the number 5 starter. If Bale can just eat up some innings until mid-season, then hopefully Hovechar will be ready to come up and fill that slot.

I've heard a lot of people complaining about Pena's bat. When the Royals got him from the Braves last year, they knew they were not getting an offensive player. They needed a good glove man after years of suffering through Angel.

Pena will be fine as long as he continues to make the plays in the field. Let him be. There will come a day when the Royals will have a more offensive short stop ready, but that time has not come yet.

The weather is going to suck again tonight for the series opener with the Twins, and they are even talking about snow tomorrow for game two. I'll be going tomorrow to get my powder blue Butler jersey, but we may not stay for much of the game.

But, just hold on for a few more days. Next week's forecast calls for sunny and 70-80 degrees all week long. The end is near, Mr. Winter!

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 6-3
Expected Record 6-3
Runs Scored 33
Runs Allowed 24
Projected Record 108-54
Pythagorean Record 106-56
Pythagorean Winning% 0.654

Let's go get 'em

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Game 8 - 4/9/2008

Yankees 0, Royals 4

Was at the game with my son last night. It was my first peek at the new "K," and let me just say this - that scoreboard is awesome!

It's so big, it almost takes away from the game, but the wealth of information it provides is incredible. And the picture is so clear - I saw more than I wanted of the girl singing the National Anthem (don't tongue piercings hurt???)

Grienke was awesome, even in the crappy weather. It rained steadily from the second inning on, and the infield was pretty muddy. And it was cold with a pretty stiff wind coming in from right field.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a strange decision to scratch starter Ian Kennedy just before game time. I guess he was expecting a rain delay, so he started his bullpen, and planned to go with Kennedy after the delay.

The delay never came, so the Royals faced an assortment of Yankees pitchers. Kennedy finally entered the game in the sixth and finished it out. He came in trailing 2-0 and gave up 2 more runs in the sixth. I'm sure Girardi knows what he's doing, but that seemed like a dumb thing to do. Just sayin'.

There was no offense until John Buck took Farnsworth deep in the 5th. He crushed that ball just left of the scoreboard, into the water. I think it was measured at 429 feet. It was a shot.

That homer seemed to loosen everybody up, and the Royals finally started getting some action after that, eventually putting up 4 runs between the 5th and 6th.

Grienke pitched 8 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks with 2 strike outs. His ERA is now a *sick* 0.60.

I know, it's still early, but how can you not feel good about this team? It's all working right now. Great pitching, timely hitting, effective base running, and stellar defense (except, I think Hillman needs to let his outfielders take a few steps back.)

Here's a nice nugget: the Royals have shut out both the Tigers and the Yankees, but haven't been shut out yet. The Royals have faced two of the top three payroll lineups in baseball and have shut both of them out. The Tigers have been shut out twice.

How 'bout little sweep action tonight, eh?

The Hill Climb
Actual Record 6-2
Expected Record 6-2
Runs Scored 32
Runs Allowed 18
Projected Record 122-40
Pythagorean Record 123-39
Pythagorean Winning% 0.759

Let's go get 'em

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thoughts on 2008, So Far

It's still early in the season, but there are a couple of interesting story lines developing.

The Tigers Suck! Okay, maybe suck isn't the right word, but can you believe the start they are off to? What is the over/under for losses before their first win? Could they be the first team in history to make the post season after starting 0-7? That would be a story. As a Royals fan, I hope they continue just they way they are.

Eric Gagne Sucks! Seriously. Gagne's days of being the most dominant closer in baseball are long gone. It looks like injuries and age have taken their toll on Gagne. I've always like Gagne, so I hope he can pull it together, but so far I'm not liking what I've seen.

The Cardinals don't suck! I have a couple of friends who are Cards fans, and all of them predicted doom and gloom this season. So far, the Cards are 6-2 and don't look like the laughing stock that everybody predicted.

Banny is smart! It's been well documented that Royals' pitcher Brian Bannister is a brainy dude. Check out Joe Posnanski's blog for some analysis on how he struggled against the Yankees, but got the win.

That scoreboard is huge! Kauffman Stadium now features an unreal, almost grotesque scoreboard as part of the ongoing stadium renovations. I've only seen pictures, but I will be at the "K" tonight to take it all in. I hope I will be able to take my eyes off the scoreboard long enough to watch Zack Grienke beat the Yanks.

Thanks Eric... Hill Climb it is

Since Buddy Bell so graciously left the organization (thanks Buddy!), we needed a new name for the "Bell Curve Update."

Thanks to commenter Eric for his suggestion of "Hill Climb."

That says it all. Hillman's the manager, and these young Royals are climbing to the top of baseball world.

Thanks Eric!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Game 7 - 4/8/2008

Yankees 2, Royals 5

The Royals won their home opener on a cold, crappy day. Unfortunately, winter in KC is refusing to leave, even as we reach mid-April.

I thought Bannister pitched pretty well today, after really struggling in the second inning. He settled down and pitched well the rest of the way. It wasn't the dominating performance he had last week in Detroit, but it was a gritty performance against one of the best lineups in baseball on a miserable day.

I love the offense. The Royals are making things happen on the base paths, and are getting timely hitting. I love the slap hits combined with the gappers, especially at the "K."

Interesting trend to watch: The Royals are 5-0 in day games, 0-2 in night games.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 5-2
Expected Record 5-2
Runs Scored 28
Runs Allowed 18
Projected Record 116-46
Pythagorean Record 115-47
Pythagorean Winning% 0.707

Let's go get 'em

Game 6 - 4/6/2008

Royals 3, Twins 1

Starting the season 4-2 on the road is not a bad thing. I really like the way this team is playing. They are getting good pitching and defense, and are able to get timely hits. It's nothing spectacular, but if they keep it up, they will win more than they lose.

Pray for the rain to hold off Tuesday.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 4-2
Expected Record 4-2
Runs Scored 23
Runs Allowed 16
Projected Record 108-54
Pythagorean Record 110-52
Pythagorean Winning% 0.673

Let's go get 'em

Game 5 - 4/5/2008

Royals 4, Twins 6

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 3-2
Expected Record 3-2
Runs Scored 20
Runs Allowed 15
Projected Record 98-64
Pythagorean Record 104-58
Pythagorean Winning% 0.64

Let's go get 'em

Game 4 - 4/4/2008

Royals 3, Twins 4

There goes the perfect season. Hey, we all knew they'd lose one eventually. The nice thing about this is that it doesn't have that flukey feel that the crazy start of 2003 had.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 3-1
Expected Record 3-1
Runs Scored 16
Runs Allowed 9
Projected Record 122-40
Pythagorean Record 123-39
Pythagorean Winning% 0.759

Let's go get 'em

Friday, April 04, 2008

Game 3 - 4/3/2008

Royals 4, Tigers 1

Take a look at the standings, folks. Your Royals are all alone atop the American League Central and, are the only undefeated team in the bigs.

Of couse, we have what the stat guys like to call a small sample. But, what the hell. I'll take it. I love the pitching so far. Let's hope that Bale can keep that streak alive.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 3-0
Expected Record 3-0
Runs Scored 13
Runs Allowed 5
Projected Record 162-0
Pythagorean Record 142-20
Pythagorean Winning% 0.871

Let's go get 'em

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Game 2 - 4/2/2008

Royals 4, Tigers 0

Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously. We all knew Bannister had talent, and we heard all winter about how smart the guy is and how he loves to analyze baseball statistics as much as the geekiest of geeks.

But then to go out and hold the mighty Tigers to 2 hits, no runs, and no walks over 7 innings? Getting four strikeouts along the way???

This is better than any Royals fan could have dreamed of.

I was flying into Philly then driving to Reading, PA today, so I didn't get a chance to watch or hear the game, but reading the box score now is very impressive. It's only 2 games, but something feels special here...

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 2-0
Expected Record 2-0
Runs Scored 9
Runs Allowed 4
Projected Record 162-0
Pythagorean Record 136-26
Pythagorean Winning% 0.835

Let's go get 'em

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A New Day for the Royals

There is hope.

For so long, we Royals fans had optimism, but deep down, we knew there was no hope. Every off-season would come, and some big name free agents would dominate the news stories, but we Royals fans knew that we weren’t even close to competing for those players.

But, as Bob Dutton writes in the Star’s Baseball Preview* section, things are different now.

*I know, I’m stealing the Pozterisk from Joe Posnanski, but I did want to take a moment here to point out how outstanding the Kansas City Star’s sport section is. Not only do we get to enjoy the best columnist in the country (Poz), but we also have the pleasure of reading another prominent columnist (Jason Whitlock), and a great up and coming sports writing (Sam Mellinger). Remember some of the other names that came through Kansas City on their way to bigger and better things? Jeff Passan, Wright Thompson, Jason King. The Star’s sports editor, Mike Fannin, is the best in the business. Read more about KC’s fabulous sports journalists here.

This past off-season, the Royals made a play for big time free agent Torii Hunter. Now, I can remember sitting at the “K” last summer with my brother discussing how wonderful it would be to see Hunter in center field for the Royals. At the time, we both believed that there was no chance the Royals would be able to compete for Hunter’s services. That’s just how it is with the Royals. No chance.

Over the winter, we heard Dayton Moore say that the Royals were trying to sign Hunter as well as Andrew Jones, and they did manage to land Jose Guillen. But the scars run deep in Royals fans. We knew that this was just lip service.

But, as Dutton writes, the Royals were in on Hunter. And, according to Dutton, were very, very close to signing the deal. The Angels weren’t even in the picture until the very last minute when the swooped in and grabbed Hunter. But, the Royals were very close to handing Hunter $80 million.

This tells me a couple of things. First, Dayton Moore is serious about improving this team. Second, the Glass family has given Dayton their full approval. They are staying out of the way, and writing the checks when necessary.

This is a huge change in philosophy for the Royals, and one that bodes very well for Royals fans over the next few years.

This is going to get fun.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Game 1 - 3/31/2008

Royals 5, Tigers 4

Nice start for the Royals. Gil worked his butt off, and didn't have the start he was hoping for, but toughed it out to keep them in it.

The Bell Curve
Actual Record 1-0
Expected Record 1-0
Runs Scored 5
Runs Allowed 4
Projected Record 162-0
Pythagorean Record 99-63
Pythagorean Winning% 0.609

Let's go get 'em

Breaking 100: Watching Opening Day

3:46pm: Wow! Howz'bout that Gordon at third!?! What a nice diving stop to get the win. Great win for the boys in blue!

3:38pm: The Royals are up 5-4 in the bottom of the 11th. Hillman will test closer Joakim Soria. Let's get save number one!

3:29pm: YES! TJ gets it done with a shallow looper into left center to score the go ahead run. Now Bautista looks distracted with Pena on first and Gathright at the plate.

3:25pm: After the sac to get Teahen (the Royals best baserunner) to second, a nice hit by Gload, but it got out to Inge in a hurry. Luis Silverio challenged Inge and the play at the plate wasn't that close; even after a hesitation by Inge before he fired the ball home. One more chance with a runner in scoring position for Tony Pena, Jr.

3:19pm: I keep thinking that Leo Nunez can't be that good. Look at how skinny that kid is! But, he keeps getting it done. He pitched a perfect 11th with 2 strike outs. Time for some bats!!!

3:13pm: What a turnaround for Bautista. With German on first, Gordon was ahead 3-0. German stole second, but Gordon struck out looking. Guillen struck out and Butler lined to left, stranding the runner at second. Let's hope it gets to the 11th...

3:06pm: A familiar face. Former Royal Denny Bautista takes the mound and gives up a single to Grudz. Hillman asks Esteban German to run for Grudz with Gordon coming up. This could be an interesting inning, as we'll see if Hillman's Japanese style comes into play here.

3:01pm: Well, why not? Leo Nunez gets through the 9th giving up just a walk to Sheffield, and we will go to extras. If only Tomko hadn't hung that pitch to Guillen...

2:43pm: Damn. I had a bad feeling when I saw Tomko come back out for the 8th. Carlos Guillen just pounded a fastball to tie the game. Tomko came back to get out of the inning, but the Royals offense has more work to do.

2:26pm: I've been uncertain about the Royals bullpen this spring, and it looks like Hillman is uncertain as well, bringing in starter Brett Tomko to pitch the 7th. Tomko was shaky to start, walking Shefflied, but he gets Ordonez to ground into a double play. Whew!

2:18pm: Check out Sam Mellinger's Royals Blog. He's also doing a live blog while watching the Royals. I can't agree more with his comments about the scheduling this year. What was MLB thinking???

2:15pm: Love to see the "other" guys come through. After Teahen's walk, Gload gets the base hit, and then Buck delivers to tie the game. After a couple of outs, Grudz gets the big hit to take the lead. It's nice that somebody other than Gordan (other than his HR), Guillen and Butler can chip in and do their part. Let's go bullpen! Hold this thing down for a 1-0 start!

2:01pm: 1st and 3rd, nobody out, and Verlander's leaving the game. I'm liking how this thing is starting to shape up.

1:55pm: Meche finally gets a 1-2-3 inning, but is up to around 99 pitches after six innings. He's working hard, but keeping the Royals in this game. We'll see if he comes out for the seventh, or if Trey will look for help from the bullpen. 99 seems like a lot for the first game of the season, but Meche showed last year that he can be a work horse pitcher.

1:50pm: Nice inning by the Royals. Grudz gets the base hit, and Gordon shows that maybe he can be that stud we all were hoping for with a blast to right field. The boys are showing some signs of life, down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the 6th.

1:38pm: Wow, what a shot by Miguel Cabrera. A blast against the wind into the bullpen, and the Tigers are up 3-0. The Royals better hope Verlander gets an early hook, or this one might be overa already.

1:30pm: I thought Gil looked good in the early innings but he is really struggling now. He walked in run on a close pitch to Gary Sheffield. He got out of the inning by coaxing a fly ball out of Magglio Ordonez.

Meanwhile, Verlander seems to be cruising through the Royals lineup. The Royals haven't hit anything hard and Butler is the only Royal to get a hit. The Royals are getting frustrated with home plate umpire Tim Welke.

Verlander and Meche both have 5 strike outs (Verlander just got his 6th), but the difference is that Meche has 4 walks.

Opening Day Today

What a day.

2 hours from now (barring any weather delays), David DeJesus will step into the batter’s box at Comerica Park, kicking off the 2008 Royals baseball season.

The Royals will be sporting a fresh new lineup, (DeJesus, Grudz, Gordon, Guillen, Butler, Teahen, Gload, Buck, Pena) and will rely on staff ace Gil Meche.

Could this be the year? Realistically speaking, no. Probably not. But, can we dream a little? Rany’s post lets us dream a dream of watching Alex Gordon hoisting the World Series trophy this fall. That probably won’t happen, but this still promises to be a very exciting year.

2008 looks to be the on-ramp year. The Royals are building themselves into contenders. They are perhaps halfway up the on-ramp. The development of a couple of more prospects (Hochevar, Moustakas), and the maturity a of a few young stars (Gordon, Butler, Grienke, Soria) provide us the hope of a bright future. By the end of 2008, the Royals will be ready to merge onto the highway of contending baseball. Next spring, they will be up to speed, and the summer of 2009 should be a fun ride down that highway.

Let’s get it started.

Just 2 hours after the Royals beat the Tigers today, I will join my friends for our annual season ticket draft. I will be purchasing 15 games this year, and I can’t wait to find out what games I get. My strategy this year will be to go for promotions first, opponents next. Bobbleheads, t-shirts, and the Monarchs cap – I’m shooting for you.

Let’s go get ‘em!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coming Soon: Opening Day

I really like this team.

Yeah, I know. They are playing in “baseball’s toughest division,” and they are made up of a bunch of kids who may or may not hit their sophomore slump. Things could go very badly this year. I would hope that all that talk about 100 losses is well behind us, but it could be another typical Royals season where everything seems to fall the wrong way.

But as we gear up for opening day, I can honestly say that I’m quite optimistic about this team. I’m guessing the lineup will look something like this:

DeJesus – CF
Grudz – 2B
Gordon – 3B
Guillen – RF
Butler – DH
Teahen – LF
Gload – 1B
Buck – C
Pena – SS

That’s not a bad lineup. When Grudz gets hurt, Alberto Callaspo has shown he can fill that role just fine, thank you. (Did you know he only struck out twice in 60 AB this spring?) German’s still around, and as long as he’s not playing every day, he seems to do fine. And then there’s Joey Gathright (The leaping one), so the reserves on the team are adequate. I think the 3-7 slots in this lineup look really good.

I’m not as comfortable with the pitching. The rotation looks okay with Meche, Bannister, Grienke, and now apparently Bale and Tomko. Tomko just didn’t impress me this spring. I have a hunch Tomko will be replaced by Hochevar by June 1.

But the bullpen really worries me. The Royals are trying to shore things up there, acquiring Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies. I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be okay, but they just don’t wow me.

In my mind, Soria is the big story here. What a gem. It’s almost just a case of blind luck that the Royals were able to grab him from the Padres in the Rule 5 draft last winter. He’s got the stuff to be an excellent closer, and perhaps even a starter. But, I’m a jilted Royals fan. He’s too good to be true. I just have a gut feeling that he’s going to get hurt. I hope I’m wrong. But these wonderful stories just don’t happen to our Royals. At least, they haven’t in the past.

As I travel around the country, I like to wear my Royals cap or sweatshirt. I always seem to get comments from the rental car guys or the flight attendants about those hapless Royals. Since Dayton Moore arrived on the scene, I’ve been pretty comfortable with rebutting those comments. I simply say, “It’s a new day. Thinks are looking up.”

I sure hope so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Breaking 100: Back for More

I've always enjoyed doing this blog. I started it in 2006 because I really thought the Royals wouldn't lose 100 games that year. I envisioned a big celebratory blog moment when the Royals won their 63rd game. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I tracked them again in 2007. I wasn't as excited about it last year because I was really tired of Buddy Bell. That guy... naw, I don’t want to go down that path.

Anyway, they avoided 100 losses last year. There wasn't much of a celebration here. I'm not sure if anybody even reads this damn thing. But it's still interesting to plug the game results into my spreadsheet everyday and see how the Royals are trending. It was nice to see the green up arrow, instead of the red down arrow.

After they won their 63rd game last year, I quit posting. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one, they broke 100. That was the whole point of the blog, right? But, I also started a new job at around that same time.

Not to get off onto a Posnanski-like tangent, but my old job was very boring. We just weren't very busy there. We had a shake-up in our sales personnel, and our new sales guys just hadn't sold any of our services. So, I found myself sitting around alot. That gave me lots of time to figure out new ways to make Excel calculate Phythagorean records.

The good news is that I landed my dream job. The bad news is, that new job requires me to actually work all day. I also travel quite a bit now. This, of course, means I don't have as much free time to do blog posts. My evenings are also pretty full with a 14 year old son playing baseball, and an 11 year old daughter playing volleyball and softball. After I started my new job, I just became too busy and distracted to update the blog.

So, the last part of last season was never posted. I may eventually get those games posted, but don't count on it.

The 2008 season is less than a week away. I've decided that I will track the Royals again this year.

After all, this is the season to really start getting excited about the Royals. I’m hoping we hit that magic 63rd win sometime sooner than September 12.

Sam points out (and I agree wholeheartedly) that this year’s Royals are a vast improvement compared to when Dayton Moore took over. The icing on that cake is that Buddy Bell is gone, and from what I’ve seen so far, I like Trey Hillman (but, let’s hold out judgment. If he starts bunting in the first inning… Ugh…)

Plus, there’s a lot of interesting blog activity regarding the Royals this year. Hopefully, what I do here can somehow enhance the brilliance that Rany, Joe, and Sam bring to the scene.

So, I’m prepping my spreadsheet and getting ready to plug those first 2008 results in. Hopefully that first arrow will be green. We’ll see Monday night.

I hope you will join me.