Oct 6, 2013


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Aug 4, 2013

RR - All in for 2013 - Feeling Lucky?

Over the last 10 games, the Kansas City Royals have gone 9-1, which would be awesome, except the two teams in front of them in the American League Central, Detroit and Cleveland, have also gone 9-1.

If you are unfamiliar with the term Pythagorean Record, then I suggest you click here before admiring my awesome chart-making skills below.

This beauty represents the games over or under the expected number of wins for each of the three teams vying for supremacy in the AL Central.

Now, after you are done marveling at the fact Detroit has gone on a 9-1 tear and is STILL five games BELOW their expected number of wins, let's focus on the Indians from Ohio, since they are also in possession of the coveted Second Wild Card Spot. (Am I capitalizing that correctly?)

The Indians have played 3 more games than the Royals and are currently one game over their heads according to the math gods that actually run baseball.

At the same time, the Royals are 4.5 games behind Cleveland in the standings.

So, (big finish), if the Indians fall back to earth that one game, and KC can keep on the gas to make up the other three, then we're talking about a fighting chance for the possibility of playing in a one-game playoff to get into a one-game playoff to play some actual post-season baseball.

If you've been a Royals fan for the last 20 years or so, you gotta like those odds.

Cross posted over at Cool, Dense Air.

Jul 26, 2013

Friday Headlines - 7/26/13

Here's hoping these headlines don't become even more infrequent. I say this because a squirrel was found near Los Angeles with the bubonic plague. The real tragedy, of course, is who will make the movie about the bubonic plague if everyone in Hollywood is killed off by it?

In happier news, the royal parents decided to name the new royal baby after Kansas City hall-of-famer, George Brett (or, his great-grandfather). The name "George" is sure to rocket up the popularity charts in coming years, but tattoo artists have yet to reach consensus on which body part will need to be pierced in order to get a "Prince George".

From the botany beat, a school in Santa Barbara is preparing to celebrate the rare blooming of a so-called "corpse flower" this week. The Indonesian species is known for its foul odor, though school officials haven't ruled out that the source may be a maintenance worker who had too much chili for dinner last night.

In Detroit, a man was arrested after swimming across the river separating the motor city from the Canadian border. In order to boost city revenues, cops are now planning to stake out an upcoming triathlon.

Finally, in politics, Anthony Weiner broke the internet when it was discovered he has continued to have sexual texting exchanges with several women, even as he was begging a run for Mayor of New York City. While Weiner would be considered nothing more than a sad pervert in most cities, the fact he is connected to the Big Apple has lead to rampant commentary about his indiscretions and taxed comedy writers everywhere who can't keep up with the flood of jokes on Twitter. 

That's a long way of saying it's Friday and I'm not even going to try.

Have a great weekend!

Jun 13, 2013

Friday Headlines - 6/14/13

Who doesn't love some news updates on Flag Day?

An AP report delved into Al Quaida documents and discovered that they have a lot of the same mundane office tasks us non-terrorists deal with, including filing expense reports. Only, instead of making strip clubs sound like steakhouses, they make pork loins sound like plastic explosives.

The American Psychiatric Association has determined that caffeine withdrawal is a legitimate mental disorder. So, the next time you see a postal worker asleep at his desk. Leave him be.

In tech news, Facebook announced that it will begin including linkable hashtags in posts. In order to differentiate from Twitter, Facebook will call it the pound sign. This will also make my euro-hating grandma happy.

Finally, in personal news, I was reminded to sign up for my fantasy football league last week. I just realized the hockey playoffs were happening, and they're almost over. I have no ability to focus on a sport that won't even break training camp for another two months. I'll stick with baseball now.

Have a great weekend!

May 29, 2013

RR - All in for 2013 - How Few Homers, Homies?

Another brutal loss by the Royals tonight. Even after the pitching staff took things into their own hands (Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza hit an RBI single after the two batters before him failed to get a man on third home with no outs), the bullpen blew it in the eighth.

This makes eight losses in a row by the once-promising Royals. Thoughts of contention are far off and most fans would be happy if we could get back to the .500 mark by the end of the year, which was probably the realistic expectation at the beginning.

I for one am going to hold out hope for the Plexiglas Principle to take effect mid-season, because it's only now the end of May and I have nothing else to hang onto.

What follows is a tandem post with Cool, Dense Air.

I'm going to use some dubious math skills and a couple of really fancy charts* to point out what is so blatantly obvious about the Kansas City Royals struggles the past few weeks: they have no power.

*not fancy

"No power" isn't some hyperbolic term here, either. Since May 15, the team has hit exactly two home runs. Before we get to that, though, how about a look at their runs scored and runs allowed over a rolling ten games for the season so far.

I like to use numbers from a rolling ten games so you can even out some of the outliers. In this case, a very bad trend presents itself over the last ten games. The Royals pitching, while not as good as in the beginning of the year, is not nearly as bad as the offense has been recently.

A closer look at the offensive numbers gives a little insight into where the problem lies.

As you can see, walks and hits have ebbed and flowed so far, but the power has taken a massive dump since the middle of may, causing the overall drop in run production.

So, who's to blame? Well, pretty much everybody. Here is a look at the most common hitters for the Royals and their Home Run percentage this year compared to their career averages and the league as a whole.

The lineup is ordered by career Home Run Percentage, so we can see who should be expected to provide the most pop this season. I have highlighted a few areas.

Green goes to the overachievers. Unfortunately, the two guys who are hitting more homers than they normally do are the two guys you care least about hitting for power.

Yellow goes to Mr. Consistency, Billy Butler. He's off his pace a bit this year, but not terribly so, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him near his career averages soon enough. The same can be said for Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas, though Moose has many other failings this season, while A1 is sadly wasting his prime for another Royals team that appears to be headed nowhere.

Finally, we come to the problem children: Frenchy, Hosmer and Sal.


The thing with Jeff Francoeur is that everybody knows he can't hit anymore. But, still, you'd expect him to get a hold of one every now and then. He hasn't even been able to manage that this season.

Salvador Perez is hitting for a nice average so far and plays stellar defense behind the plate, so you cut him a little slack when the power numbers are down. But, even he needs to step it up and get back on track.

Finally, there's Eric Hosmer. He is looking like another can't miss prospect that the Royals whiffed on just by having the audacity to bring him up to the major leagues.

I don't know what the answer is for Kansas City. At this point, praying for regression to the mean is about the only hope left. 

Please, science. Help some sluggers out. 

May 23, 2013

Friday Headlines - 5/23/13

Now that SNL has gone on summer hiatus, I guess you'll have to rely on me for your weekend update-type news hits.

There are several scandal-type things happening in Washington, but the one most Republicans seem to be trying extra hard to make stick is the IRS profiling of Tea Party groups looking for tax-exempt status. It's been hashed over fairly well by now, but I would like to make one point: do you really want the leader of the free world to be keenly aware of what some low-level IRS employees are doing to cut corners in Cincinnati?

Meanwhile, the big tech news was Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr for $1.1 Billion. There are a few thoughts that come to mind, the first of which is... wait? Yahoo has a billion dollars? Why the hell can't everybody work from home, then?

Does Marissa Mayer know what kind of slacker she's just started working with? David Karp dropped out of high school, then created Tumblr, which he just sold for a billion dollars more than I'm sure his guidance counselor though he'd make. 

It really just proves that staying in school is for losers. Merging with Yahoo plus playing the Lottery proves that there are two more viable options for success if you suck at basketball. 

Elsewhere, in New York, a detective said that surveillance of Muslims was narrowly targeted on a few individuals, but of course a little bit of digging by the AP showed that it was actually a wide ranging effort. For their part, Muslims say they're glad that at least it wasn't IRS. 

Finally, in sports, the PGA tour has made a controversial decision to outlaw the practice known as "belly putting." While only a small percentage of players actually use the technique, four of the last six major championships were won by players using an anchored stroke. As for other rules, the PGA will still allow only one black person on the tour at a time.

Have a great weekend!

Apr 22, 2013

RR - Do Off Days Lead to "Off" Days?

Editor's Note: The following begins a series of cross-posts with a new blog my friend Michael Clifford started, Cool, Dense Air. I will be posting other, non-Royals thoughts over there in addition to the sporadic KC content the few of you who stop by have come to love. Please be sure to check it out.

In the last week, the Kansas City Royals have spent almost as many days not playing baseball as they have actually going to a ballpark and getting some dirt in their cleats.

One day was lost because of the Boston lock down on Friday, but before that, there was an odd juxtaposition of off-days surrounding a two-game series with the Atlanta Braves.

Monday was another off-day for travel from Boston to Detroit, giving the Royals four days off and four days on since they beat the Blue Jays on April 12.

Momentum is a difficult thing to gauge in baseball, and the adage is probably true that it has more to due with who is taking the mound the next day than anything else, but I think rhythm is something to be considered.

The Royals have lost every game after an off-day so far this year. That's four of their seven defeats. Several young players (I'm looking at you, Moose and Hos) are having a hard time finding their groove after raking in Spring Training, and Ned Yost may want to put them on the bench for a game or two to clear their heads, but how can he when they've had plenty of time to think between ballgames as it is.

In fact, that may be the problem. A lot of off-days in April helps stretch out the pitching staff, but it also breaks the routine of the everyday guys.

Coming off of two great wins against the Red Sox, I don't think anybody wants to spend a day relaxing in Detroit. (Though, I'm sure the urban decay is splendid in the spring.)

Kansas City starts a stretch of 13 games without an open date today against the Tigers. If the offense can get on track and the pitching stays strong, it will go a long way towards keeping this team in contention throughout the summer.

Apr 18, 2013

In Times of Duress... Photoshop

The news in the last week or so has been more or less horrible. Bombs planted on purpose. Plants blowing up on accident or neglect or worse. Congress too weak to pass gun control legislation that is one ounce better than useless to begin with.

People are finding ways to make fun of the Elvis impersonator who sent poison to the President and a few other officials, but it's only funny because we live in a world so paranoid no single piece of mail directed at Washington actually goes to Washington. And thank God for that this week.

Weeks like this make me want to curl up into a little ball and forget about the human race for a little bit.

Luckily for me, there are wondrous things in my life, starting with my little girl turning one two weeks ago. She's walking now, and babbling up a storm. The joy on her face from something as simple as our cat walking by is enough to make me forget that there are such evil people in the world to begin with, and a reminder that we as a species are more good than bad.

My wife is amazing. The Royals have a winning record. Some incredible individual made a poster for the Star Wars movie that Patton Oswalt imagined while filling time during a Parks and Recreation shoot.

I am sad and angry about what has happened in the last week. I am happy to live in a world filled with distractions to remind me most of us are going to be all right, if we just keep an eye out for lunatics and an open mind about cross-promoting comic book universes with Jedis.

Have a great weekend.

Apr 11, 2013

RR - Off Day Diary

The first real day without baseball was quite depressing. (I don't count the off day after opening day, as the transition from Spring Training to real baseball is jarring enough)

Whether the Royals are in the midst of an epic losing streak or have just finished sweeping a division opponent, I feel an emptiness on the days during the season when there isn't baseball. For the next six months, I will mark my days by the baseball clock.

There has been a lot of local baseball flavor today due to the premier in Kansas City of the new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42. I'm happy for the Negro Leagues Museum to get such a big event, and I'm glad to see a lot of the team coming out in support.

42 is one of the movies I am most-excited to see this year, along with the new Gatsby flick (don't judge me... I re-read the book to my newborn daughter last year, so it's found a special place in my heart).

But, I'm excited for baseball to resume tomorrow. The Blue Jays made some big moves in the off-season and will be a much stronger test of where the Royals stand than the Twins were.

Let's play some ball.

Mar 28, 2013

Friday Headlines - 3/29/13

A few quick hit headlines while I wait for the baby to wake up and discuss obscure Eastern philosophies.

That's all I got this week. Have a good weekend!