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Royals Clubhouse A Key Ahead

Jul 09, 2014 -- 1:04pm

By Danny Clinkscale

  The intricate dynamics of a major league baseball clubhouse are on display right now with the Kansas City Royals, and how some of the moves that have caused changes, and perhaps some angst among the ranks pan out, could be a key to this important season.

 
     Fans, and perhaps people like me in the media who follow the team closely, should feel pretty good about the fact that many times things that are being cried out for, are eventually embraced by the front office and the manager. The most recent example would seem to be the fact that many observers, including this one, feel that things have been too cozy in the clubhouse. The first late-to-the-party move that was a bit 
of a shakeup was the long demanded demotion of Mike Moustakas. It was long demanded, albeit short-lived, and frankly seems to have worked a bit.
 
     This past week, the Royals decided to sign Raul Ibanez, and brought up Christian Colon. The Colon move has little ripple effect, but bringing in Ibanez, and handing him significant playing time, certainly does. First, it immediately torpedoed the increased recent playing time of Jarrod Dyson, who had thrived since getting more regular dutydue to the injury to Nori Aoki. Dyson is very good buddies with Eric Hosmer, who is also a player in this recent clubhouse soap opera.
 
     While Dyson is likely grumbling, Hosmer has zero reason for complaint. He has spent all but four at bats this season hitting first or second despite his season which has resulted in the second worst OPS among regular first basemen in the American League. Five A.L first basemen have an OPS over .841, Hosmer is at .661. A few games ago, Billy Butler was sent packing to sixth in the order, and then seventh. That's Billy Butler, with a better track record by a mile, and even in this by far his worst season, with an OPS better than Hosmer's, and coming off a June in which he hit .313.
 
     Billy is clearly cheesed. He tried to sort of take the high road by saying that Ned picked him out because "I can handle it". In my mind, a clear shot at the kid gloves treatment of Hosmer. If you actually don't watch the games you might fire back that Hosmer is proving a point with an eight game hitting streak, but if you have watched you wouldn't want to embrace the bloopers and bleeders that have made it up. The 6'4" 220 pounder first basemen hasn't hit a homer since Father's Day,and recently completed a 74 at bat stretch without an extra base hit. Of course his four homers are twice as many as Butler, whose own homerless streak is actually two days longer than Hosmer's.
 
     Of course this really isn't about revisiting the offensive challenges of the Royals....it's about whether the response to it will  ause some issue within the squad. It seems clear to me that not only was the deperation for offense to the extreme of hiring on a 42-year-old .154 hitter at play, but that management thought that the clubhouse could use a touch of class that Inbanez brings. Well, until he might get sent packing after the All-Star break when Aoki comes back if he doesn't pick it up from the 3-for-22 he has produced so far.
 
     Last year the Royals never were really in the race. This season they clearly are, and how they handle all these things may give us an indication of whether the franchise can be a regular contender. So far, the signs aren't great, but hardly fatal. There does seem to be overt sensitivity, a dollop of panic, and a concern for character. How this plays out will be a very interesting sidebar to what goes on between the lines.

For Cub And Country This Sunday

Jun 20, 2014 -- 7:45pm

     “For Cub and Country” is what the scarves and the signs say around town when the United States plays in the World Cup, an indication of enthusiasm for the club that people support here, obviously Sporting KC, and for the U.S. national team.

 

     That slogan will be on prominent display again Sunday at the Power and Light district and elsewhere as they United States takes on Portugal in their second match of the Cup. Enthusiasm should be even on a higher pitch than it was on Monday, when in reasonably miraculous fashion, the U.S. beat Ghana 2-1. Basically from the time that Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute until John Brooks scored the winner from Graham Zusi in the 86th minute, Ghana completely had the run of play. No problem, just a reason for greater celebration when the U.S. got the winner.

 

     Even though Portugal got trashed by Germany, the U.S. will have to play much better against Ronaldo and his mates Sunday, and they will probably have to take a different tack as well with Josey Altidore out with a bad hamstring.

 

     Many of you are at this point not reading this, or starting to say why do I care. You are a dwindling number. Here in Kansas City on Monday, the red hot Royals were starting a series for first place with the Tigers, and more people watched the soccer match than the baseball game. Of course, this isn’t just about a soccer match, it certainly is in part because it is the U.S. I’m sure there are more than a few folks who watched who never watch any other soccer. But that number no doubt is shrinking as well.

 

     Having a vantage point from the stage and watching the party at the P and L was fabulous fun, and I wouldn’t miss it Sunday for the world. As you gathered from my last blog, my enthusiasm for the beautiful game has increased about ten fold in the last four years, and watching the great quality of play in this World Cup is only accelerating it.

 

     I am familiar with many of the players now from all countries from watching the top leagues around the world, and the national pride and enthusiasm is infectious. Just like in the Olympics, there are many things off the field of competition that can be criticized very rightly. But I really get the luxury of just watching the games.

 

     One of the very best things about the Cup is that none of the games overlap. They are all stand alone. It creates a special feeling for each one.

 

     I was very much looking forward to the World Cup going in, and it is far exceeding even my own high expectations. I’m can’t  say how glad I am that it lasts so long.

World Cup Excitement in KC Has Changed

Jun 04, 2014 -- 5:43pm

By Danny Clinkscale

 

The World Cup is just about upon us, and the excitement level of this sports fan and the soccer fans of Kansas City tells us so much about how the sports landscape in our town has changed.

 
     In 2010, there was a fairly healthy dose of attention to the Cup, and true excitement  when Landon Donovan's dramatic goal got the United States out of group play. I remember  eing at the 810 zone as everyone went crazy. Robb Heinemann yesterday on "Between the Lines" noted that big crowds at the P and L had convinced him that soccer was going to start to take hold.
 
     But at that same time Sporting was still playing at Community American Ballpark,and they were still the Wizards, and they were playing to far smaller crowds than the consecutive sellouts they play in front of now. In the time since, I have traveled twice to England, first later that very year, when I decided just for kicks since I was reading about "football" so much over there, that I would pick a favorite Premier League team. In large part I picked Arsenal since golfer Ian Poulter tweeted about them.
 
     I never heard much talk then from many people about having a favorite team internationally, but with each passing year it happens more and more, even in listening to strangers perhaps make a mentiion of Man U, or Chelsea, or whatever.
 
     Much of this has been fueled of course by the change to the Sporting brand, here in Kansas City. And of course the incredible experience at Sporting Park, fueled by winning, but also by it being the new cool place to be. It would have to be said as well, that all that winning, in a success vacuum over the past few years for the Royals and the Chiefs, was vital.
 
     My interest level and enjoyment of the beautiful game was already increasing, but my job really helped, when I did two late season Sporting playoff games last year. I had never broadcast a soccer game, and I knew well in advance that I would do the games, so I listened to and watched dozens of games in a short period of time as preparation, and my level of enjoyment went up exponentially.
 
     My Saturday and Sunday morning workout sessions have been made tremendously more easy, lengthy, and enjoyable with the start of Premier League broadcasts that began this season on NBC. Yes, you could find the games before if you tried, but this was easy and accessible, even on the
mildest of cable tiers. I think that has also raised the soccer ante more and more.
 
     So here in 2014, the change can be shown in yet another way. On Monday a whole bunch of us'from the radio station, some listeners, and Sporting employees and supporters will gather Monday night for a  World Cup player pool draft. If you asked me five years ago if I would be not only involved in, but seriously fired up about something like that, I would have looked at you like you had three heads.
 
     I can't wait. The games are only two times zones east, so the game times will be better, and knowing so much more about the players and the teams will make it a blast. I'm seriously no expert, really still a novice, but perhaps like many of you, I have found and exciting new place to be a fan.

Moose Can Learn Media Lessons

May 15, 2014 -- 3:24pm

By Danny Clinkscale

WHAT WE SAW AND HEARD YESTERDAY AFTER THE GAME AT KAUFFMAN STADIUM BROUGHT
UP A VERY OLD STORY.....THAT PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES MANY TIMES JUST DON'T GET IT
WHEN IT COMES TO THE MEDIA. SURE THE MEDIA HAS CHANGED, THERE ARE MANY MORE
DIRECT FORUMS, AND WHAT MANY PLAYERS CAN READ ABOUT THEMSELVES ISN'T ACTUALLY
MEDIA, IT'S FANS ON FORUMS LIKE TWITTER COMMENTING ON THEM.
    
     BUT AFTER A GAME, IN THE FORUM OF THE CLUBHOUSE AND THE LOCKER ROOM, ONLY
CREDENTIALED MEDIA CAN BE THERE. WE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO ASK THE
QUESTIONS THAT THE FANS CAN'T. WE ARE THE CONDUIT TO THE FANS, WHO BUY THE
TICKETS, AND THE BEER, AND THE JERSEYS.

     SO WHEN MIKE MOUSTAKUS COMES OUT AFTER THE GAME AND FLAT REFUSES TO ANSWER
QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS GREAT DAY AT THE PLATE, INSTEAD JUST REPEATING THE SAME
ANSWER ABOUT JASON VARGAS, AND DOING IT IN A MANNER THAT WAS CLEARLY PURPOSEFUL
MANNER, IT BRINGS UP THE TOPIC AGAIN.

     FOR THE PLAYERS TO BECOME IRRITATED TO THE POINT THAT THEY FEEL LIKE THEY SHOULD
BE UNPROFESSIONAL IN THEIR DEALINGS WITH THE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO THE
PAYING FANS IS ABSOLUTE BLINDNESS. THE QUESTION HAS BEEN ASKED FOR DECADES NOW, SINCE
ATHLETES BEGAN MAKING MONEY SO OUT OF LINE WITH AVERAGE PEOPLE. DO YOU NOT REALIZE
THAT WITHOUT THE RADIO, TV, PRINT COVERAGE AND RIGHTS FEES AND EXPOSURE, YOU WOULD
NOT BE RICH.

     AND IT'S ONLY GOTTEN BETTER AND BETTER AS THE MEDIA HAS GROWN BIGGER AND BIGGER. WHILE
BASEBALL IS NOT AMERICA'S TOP SPORT ANYMORE, MILLIONS MORE FANS POUR THROUGH THE
TURNSTILES THAN WHEN IT WAS. TWO MILLION FANS IS THE BENCHMARK NOW, NOT A MILLION.
AND THEY ARE PAYING A HIGH FREIGHT, TOO. JUST FOR REFERENCE FOR KC FANS, OUR TODD LEABO
RECENTLY WENT TO A BALLGAME IN ST. LOUIS. HE HAD GOOD SEATS, FIFTEEN ROWS BACK OR
SO, BUT BEYOND THE DUGOUT. FACE VALUE....$132.00.

     THAT'S WHY MIKE MOUSTAKUS CAN GET FIVE MILLION PLUS MERELY FOR BEING DRAFTED, AND A
HALF A MILLION JUST FOR BEING ON A TEAM, UNTIL HE REALLY HITS THE MOTHER LODE. WELL, IF
HE CAN PLAY AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT. SO WITH SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS ALREADY BANKED IN A
CAREER IN WHICH HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED LITTLE, SOMEHOW HE FEELS THE RIGHT TO STAGE AN,
IMMATURE, SELFISH, AND FOOLISH CARTOON ACT IN FRONT OF HIS LOCKER, SOMETHING IS WRONG.

     LOOK HOW A TRUE PRO LIKE JAMES SHIELDS HANDLES THINGS. I'M SURE THERE ARE TIMES
WHEN HE WOUILD RATHER NOT SPEAK TO US, THAT HE THINKS A FOOLISH QUESTION HAS BEEN ASKED,
BUT HE KNOWS IT'S PART OF THE DEAL. HE KNOWS THAT HIS SEVEN FIGURE CONTRACT IS OF COURSE
PART DUE TO HIS ABILITY, BUT ALSO LARGELY DUE TO ALL OF THE ATTENTION THAT ALL OF THE
MEDIA BRINGS TO ALL OF THE FANS.

     HOPEFULLY SHIELDS CAN PROVIDE SOME GUIDANCE TO MOUSTAKUS. HE NEEDS IT.

Spring Football Overview - MU, KSU, KU

Apr 25, 2014 -- 11:27am

By Danny Clinkscale

 

   THE FINAL OF OUR THREE AREA BCS SCHOOLS SPRING FOOTBALL GAMES COMES TOMORROW AS KANSAS STATE PLAYS THEIRS IN MANHATTAN. IT PROVIDES A CONTEXT TO GIVE AND OVERVIEW OF WHERE WE ARE AT IN THAT REGARD.

    

     NUMBER ONE OUT OF THE BOX WAS KANSAS,  AND IT WAS NOT THE MOST POSITIVE LOOK FOR THE JAYHAWKS. NOT EXACTLY HEADLINE NEWS FOR A PROGRAM THAT RIGHT NOW IS CERTAINLY IN THE CONVERSATION FOR WORST BCS PROGRAM. FIRST OFF, CHARLIE WEIS HAD PLANNED IN HIS STARTERS VERSUS BACKUPS FORMAT TO FLIP THE SCORE AT HALFTIME SO THE STARTERS WOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO RALLY FROM BEHIND. UNFORTUNATELY THE STARTERS TOOK CARE OF THAT THEMSELVES BY TRAILING 7-0 AT THE BREAK. SO, NO FLIPPING OF THE SCORE. THE STARTERS WOULD COME FROM BEHIND AND WIN 21-10.

     

     SUBSEQUENTLY, COACH WEIS NAMED MONTELL COZART AS HIS QUARTERBACK. NOT A GOOD SIGN TO ME. YOU HOPE THAT THE YOUNG LOCAL GUY CAN GET THE JOB DONE, BUT I SAW LITTLE LAST YEAR OR IN THE SPRING GAME TO CONVINCE ME THAT HE CAN. AND CERTAINLY NOT THAT HE SHOULD HAVE IT IN SLAM DUNK SPRING FASHION. IN MY MIND KANSAS HAS TO WIN FIVE GAMES MINIMUM FOR CHARLIE WEIS TO BE RETAINED, AND I DON’T THINK THAT THEY CAN GET THERE.

   

      FIVE GAMES IS WHAT MISSOURI WON TWO YEARS AGO, AND THERE WAS PLENTY OF DOUBT ABOUT WHAT THE ENTRE INTO THE S.E.C. MEANT FOR MISSOURI FOOTBALL ENTERING LAST SEASON. RESULT, DIVISION TITLE AND FINE BOWL WIN, EXCITEMENT LEVELS JUSTIFIABLY HIGH.

    

     AN EASY TO SEE CONTRAST WITH KANSAS SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT MISSOURI FOOTBALL UNDER A COACH IN GARY PINKEL WHO STATED HE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE A QUARTERBACK. THEIR LOCAL KID QB BRENT HOSICK WAS SITTING FOURTH STRING AND SO HE LEFT THE PROGRAM. WHILE MISSOURI IS LIKELY TO TAKE A STEP BACK DEFENSIVELY, AND LOSING DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM IS A BLOW, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE EAST IS STILL WITHIN REACH FOR MIZZOU.

   

      KANSAS STATE IS SEEMINGLY A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. THE CATS DID A GREAT JOB OF SHRUGGING OF THREE STRAIGHT EARLY LEAGUE LOSSES TO REGISTER A SOLID BACKUP SEASON TO THEIR LEAGUE TITLE IN 2012. THEY RETURN A QUARTERBACK IN JAKE WATERS WHO HAS THE COMPLETE REINS NOW, AND THAT’S ALWAYS A GOOD START, ALONG WITH THE OBVIOUS STRENGTH ON THE SIDELINES.

   

      BUT THERE WERE MANY SIGNIFICANT LOSSES ON EACH SIDE OF THE LINE. ORDINARILY I WOULD VIEW A TEAM IN K-STATES SITUATION, AND THINK THERE MIGHT BE FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT SLIPPAGE. BUT THE AFOREMENTIONED VAGUE REFERENCE TO BILL SNYDER IS WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT. KANSAS STATE VIRTUALLY NEVER LOOKS LIKE THE HOT TEAM HEADING INTO A SEASON, BUT NOW IT HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT YOU JUST SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN IN MANHATTAN. SO THAT’S WHAT I EXPECT TO DO.

 

     I SOMEWHAT SEE A BIT OF SAMENESS FOR THE THREE SCHOOLS, MAYBE A TITCH OF FALLBACK IN COLUMBIA AND MANHATTAN, MAYBE A SHRED OF IMPROVEMENT AT KANSAS. IN TWO OF THE CASES THAT IS GOOD NEWS, IN THE OTHER NOT GOOD AT ALL. BUT IT’S STILL MONTHS BEFORE WE FIND OUT.

   THE FINAL OF OUR THREE AREA BCS SCHOOLS SPRING FOOTBALL GAMES COMES TOMORROW AS KANSAS STATE PLAYS THEIRS IN MANHATTAN. IT PROVIDES A CONTEXT TO GIVE AND OVERVIEW OF WHERE WE ARE AT IN THAT REGARD.

    

     NUMBER ONE OUT OF THE BOX WAS KANSAS,  AND IT WAS NOT THE MOST POSITIVE LOOK FOR THE JAYHAWKS. NOT EXACTLY HEADLINE NEWS FOR A PROGRAM THAT RIGHT NOW IS CERTAINLY IN THE CONVERSATION FOR WORST BCS PROGRAM. FIRST OFF, CHARLIE WEIS HAD PLANNED IN HIS STARTERS VERSUS BACKUPS FORMAT TO FLIP THE SCORE AT HALFTIME SO THE STARTERS WOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO RALLY FROM BEHIND. UNFORTUNATELY THE STARTERS TOOK CARE OF THAT THEMSELVES BY TRAILING 7-0 AT THE BREAK. SO, NO FLIPPING OF THE SCORE. THE STARTERS WOULD COME FROM BEHIND AND WIN 21-10.

     

     SUBSEQUENTLY, COACH WEIS NAMED MONTELL COZART AS HIS QUARTERBACK. NOT A GOOD SIGN TO ME. YOU HOPE THAT THE YOUNG LOCAL GUY CAN GET THE JOB DONE, BUT I SAW LITTLE LAST YEAR OR IN THE SPRING GAME TO CONVINCE ME THAT HE CAN. AND CERTAINLY NOT THAT HE SHOULD HAVE IT IN SLAM DUNK SPRING FASHION. IN MY MIND KANSAS HAS TO WIN FIVE GAMES MINIMUM FOR CHARLIE WEIS TO BE RETAINED, AND I DON’T THINK THAT THEY CAN GET THERE.

   

      FIVE GAMES IS WHAT MISSOURI WON TWO YEARS AGO, AND THERE WAS PLENTY OF DOUBT ABOUT WHAT THE ENTRE INTO THE S.E.C. MEANT FOR MISSOURI FOOTBALL ENTERING LAST SEASON. RESULT, DIVISION TITLE AND FINE BOWL WIN, EXCITEMENT LEVELS JUSTIFIABLY HIGH.

    

     AN EASY TO SEE CONTRAST WITH KANSAS SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT MISSOURI FOOTBALL UNDER A COACH IN GARY PINKEL WHO STATED HE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE A QUARTERBACK. THEIR LOCAL KID QB BRENT HOSICK WAS SITTING FOURTH STRING AND SO HE LEFT THE PROGRAM. WHILE MISSOURI IS LIKELY TO TAKE A STEP BACK DEFENSIVELY, AND LOSING DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM IS A BLOW, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE EAST IS STILL WITHIN REACH FOR MIZZOU.

   

      KANSAS STATE IS SEEMINGLY A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. THE CATS DID A GREAT JOB OF SHRUGGING OF THREE STRAIGHT EARLY LEAGUE LOSSES TO REGISTER A SOLID BACKUP SEASON TO THEIR LEAGUE TITLE IN 2012. THEY RETURN A QUARTERBACK IN JAKE WATERS WHO HAS THE COMPLETE REINS NOW, AND THAT’S ALWAYS A GOOD START, ALONG WITH THE OBVIOUS STRENGTH ON THE SIDELINES.

   

      BUT THERE WERE MANY SIGNIFICANT LOSSES ON EACH SIDE OF THE LINE. ORDINARILY I WOULD VIEW A TEAM IN K-STATES SITUATION, AND THINK THERE MIGHT BE FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT SLIPPAGE. BUT THE AFOREMENTIONED VAGUE REFERENCE TO BILL SNYDER IS WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT. KANSAS STATE VIRTUALLY NEVER LOOKS LIKE THE HOT TEAM HEADING INTO A SEASON, BUT NOW IT HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT YOU JUST SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN IN MANHATTAN. SO THAT’S WHAT I EXPECT TO DO.

 

     I SOMEWHAT SEE A BIT OF SAMENESS FOR THE THREE SCHOOLS, MAYBE A TITCH OF FALLBACK IN COLUMBIA AND MANHATTAN, MAYBE A SHRED OF IMPROVEMENT AT KANSAS. IN TWO OF THE CASES THAT IS GOOD NEWS, IN THE OTHER NOT GOOD AT ALL. BUT IT’S STILL MONTHS BEFORE WE FIND OUT.

   THE FINAL OF OUR THREE AREA BCS SCHOOLS SPRING FOOTBALL GAMES COMES TOMORROW AS KANSAS STATE PLAYS THEIRS IN MANHATTAN. IT PROVIDES A CONTEXT TO GIVE AND OVERVIEW OF WHERE WE ARE AT IN THAT REGARD.

    

     NUMBER ONE OUT OF THE BOX WAS KANSAS,  AND IT WAS NOT THE MOST POSITIVE LOOK FOR THE JAYHAWKS. NOT EXACTLY HEADLINE NEWS FOR A PROGRAM THAT RIGHT NOW IS CERTAINLY IN THE CONVERSATION FOR WORST BCS PROGRAM. FIRST OFF, CHARLIE WEIS HAD PLANNED IN HIS STARTERS VERSUS BACKUPS FORMAT TO FLIP THE SCORE AT HALFTIME SO THE STARTERS WOULD HAVE A CHANCE TO RALLY FROM BEHIND. UNFORTUNATELY THE STARTERS TOOK CARE OF THAT THEMSELVES BY TRAILING 7-0 AT THE BREAK. SO, NO FLIPPING OF THE SCORE. THE STARTERS WOULD COME FROM BEHIND AND WIN 21-10.

     

     SUBSEQUENTLY, COACH WEIS NAMED MONTELL COZART AS HIS QUARTERBACK. NOT A GOOD SIGN TO ME. YOU HOPE THAT THE YOUNG LOCAL GUY CAN GET THE JOB DONE, BUT I SAW LITTLE LAST YEAR OR IN THE SPRING GAME TO CONVINCE ME THAT HE CAN. AND CERTAINLY NOT THAT HE SHOULD HAVE IT IN SLAM DUNK SPRING FASHION. IN MY MIND KANSAS HAS TO WIN FIVE GAMES MINIMUM FOR CHARLIE WEIS TO BE RETAINED, AND I DON’T THINK THAT THEY CAN GET THERE.

   

      FIVE GAMES IS WHAT MISSOURI WON TWO YEARS AGO, AND THERE WAS PLENTY OF DOUBT ABOUT WHAT THE ENTRE INTO THE S.E.C. MEANT FOR MISSOURI FOOTBALL ENTERING LAST SEASON. RESULT, DIVISION TITLE AND FINE BOWL WIN, EXCITEMENT LEVELS JUSTIFIABLY HIGH.

    

     AN EASY TO SEE CONTRAST WITH KANSAS SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT MISSOURI FOOTBALL UNDER A COACH IN GARY PINKEL WHO STATED HE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE A QUARTERBACK. THEIR LOCAL KID QB BRENT HOSICK WAS SITTING FOURTH STRING AND SO HE LEFT THE PROGRAM. WHILE MISSOURI IS LIKELY TO TAKE A STEP BACK DEFENSIVELY, AND LOSING DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM IS A BLOW, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE EAST IS STILL WITHIN REACH FOR MIZZOU.

   

      KANSAS STATE IS SEEMINGLY A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. THE CATS DID A GREAT JOB OF SHRUGGING OF THREE STRAIGHT EARLY LEAGUE LOSSES TO REGISTER A SOLID BACKUP SEASON TO THEIR LEAGUE TITLE IN 2012. THEY RETURN A QUARTERBACK IN JAKE WATERS WHO HAS THE COMPLETE REINS NOW, AND THAT’S ALWAYS A GOOD START, ALONG WITH THE OBVIOUS STRENGTH ON THE SIDELINES.

   

      BUT THERE WERE MANY SIGNIFICANT LOSSES ON EACH SIDE OF THE LINE. ORDINARILY I WOULD VIEW A TEAM IN K-STATES SITUATION, AND THINK THERE MIGHT BE FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT SLIPPAGE. BUT THE AFOREMENTIONED VAGUE REFERENCE TO BILL SNYDER IS WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT. KANSAS STATE VIRTUALLY NEVER LOOKS LIKE THE HOT TEAM HEADING INTO A SEASON, BUT NOW IT HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT YOU JUST SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR GOOD THINGS TO HAPPEN IN MANHATTAN. SO THAT’S WHAT I EXPECT TO DO.

 

     I SOMEWHAT SEE A BIT OF SAMENESS FOR THE THREE SCHOOLS, MAYBE A TITCH OF FALLBACK IN COLUMBIA AND MANHATTAN, MAYBE A SHRED OF IMPROVEMENT AT KANSAS. IN TWO OF THE CASES THAT IS GOOD NEWS, IN THE OTHER NOT GOOD AT ALL. BUT IT’S STILL MONTHS BEFORE WE FIND OUT.

Baseball, Numbers Are Here!

Apr 01, 2014 -- 12:39pm

By Danny Clinkscale

 

    Baseball season is here and it puts me in a mood that you may not share....

 
     Numbers in tiny print make me happy.
 
     As baseball dawned the last couple of days, those days concluded with me doing something that I very much love to do. Send myself off to sleep by burying my head in the Baseball Encyclopedia. In fact, most times I have to jolt myself and say "get to bed buddy" because I am having so much fun tripping through the years of baseball history.
 
     It also remined me of two things that I think are absolute truisms, that I guess people can argue but I think are undeniable.
 
     Babe Ruth is the greatest hitter of all time.
 
     Lefty Grove is the greatest pitcher of all time.
 
     Have a stab at anyone else if you want, but just chew into some things that you might know about these greats from the same era, and maybe some things that you don't know.
 
     I think I probabably will get a lot of nodding heads, or "Well...Duh's" on the Babe, but just to cement things.... Using the most basic modern stat, Babe Ruth is the all time leader in OPS, one of only eight players over 1.000....leading in both slugging percentage and on base percentage. In a fourteen year span he led the league in OPS, every year but one, 1925, the year of his "Big Belly Ache", which was the PR version of the
day. He actually supposedly had syphilis. That'll drag you don't a titch.
 
     He led in homers 12 times, runs eight times, and RBI five times even though he hit third in the lineup (Lou Gehrig hit cleanup). But just raw totals don't tell the story at all, He changed the game, and he dwarfed what the competition was doing. He became the greatest game changer in the history of sports in 1920, when he hit 54 home runs, more than any other TEAM in the league. Nobody else in baseball hit more than 19, and only 13 players in the majors even had double figures. Baseball saw how the fans loved the long ball and they jacked up the ball, but it was still four year before anyone hit thirty, and that was Rogers Hornsby, the greatest right handed hitter in the history of the game. In other words, Babe Ruth could hit the equivalent of a wet sock over the fence, and baseball would never be the same.
 
     Probably a more spirited argument could ensue over what I also think is an easy call, that of Lefty Grove. And context is a big part of the picture. Lefty won 300 games on the nose, even though he played at a time when minor league teams were seperate entities not farm teams. They sold their top commodities to the major leagues. Grove pitched for the preeminent minor league team of the day in Baltimore, and they turned down offer after offer until Grove was 25, and the Philadelphia Athletics offered up an easy baseball record of $100,600.
 
     So despite that delay, he led the league in ERA a record nine times, wins four times, strikeouts his first seven years in the league, completed half of the games in his career. and also in a season where he won 28 games as a starter, he also LED THE LEAGUE IN SAVES! When Connie Mack broke up the Athletics, Grove went at age 34 to the Red Sox and despite pitching in Fenway Park led the league in ERA four times there, his last ERA title at age 39. But just like Ruth, the context of some of his acomplishments cinches the argument in my mind.
 
     His greatest year came in 1931 when he went 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA. Sounds great, and it is. But it also came in the second year after baseball juiced the ball for the second time, producing one of the greatest offensive years in history. Only one team in baseball had an ERA below 4.00. Lefty Gomez was the only other pitcher with an ERA below 3.00...a HALF A RUN BEHIND...and nobody else had an ERA below 3.00. That offensive year was actually a comedown from 1930, when they amped the ball. Nine TEAMS hit over .300. Hack Wilson drove in 190 runs in the NL, Lou Gehrig
184 in the A.L. Grove's season that year was 28-5 with a 2.54 ERA in a league where the ERA was 4.65 and the ERA runner-up was 3.31......and that was the season where he also led the league in saves.
 
     Case closed. I'm sure some of the numbers left you numb, but that is never the case for me. Sometimes in the winter I dig out a book filled with beautiful numbers in small type, but when the weather warms and the season begins it signals a right of spring and summer for me....dozing off with vision of OPS and ERA and adjusted runs and names like Phenomenal Smith and Izzy Goldstein and Danny Napolean.......
 
     Good night.
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