Tag Archives: Kansas City Royals

Congratulations to the Cubs

In reviewing what the Chicago Cubs have done this off-season, there has to be a lot of hope for fans of those ‘lovable’ Losers. They added John Lackey on a low-risk, short-term deal12 years/$32 million.. Ben Zobrist came aboard with a club-friendly 4 year, $56 million contract, and everyone’s2Except mine, apparently favorite defensive outfielder, Jason Heyward3I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.. These additions, along with what they already had leftover from their NLCS run in 2015 puts them in prime position to end 108 years of suffering. Continue reading Congratulations to the Cubs

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1. 2 years/$32 million.
2. Except mine, apparently
3. I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.

I’m Sorry Chiefs

After being married to my gorgeous wife for going on four years now I’ve learned two valuable lessons; when to know you’re wrong and then apologize for it. Thanks to this lesson, I have no problem admitting that I was dead wrong about the Kansas City Chiefs after their week six loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

At 1-5 on the season the Chiefs playoff hopes where down to less than 5% and showed no signs of a potential turn around in the future. In the Super Bowl Era only one NFL team has made the playoffs after starting 1-5 or worse and that was the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals. Before the season I had predicted the Chiefs to go 11-5 and get their first playoff win since 1993. After the Vikings loss the record prediction looked impossible and the chance of even making the playoffs had dropped to less than 5%.

It was out of frustration and anger for the Chiefs playing so far below my expectations that I was ready to blow up the 2015 season. I saw no reason to hope they could recover this season to do anything but hurt their draft position. With that in mind I was ready to phone it in the rest of the year. I called for Aaron Murray to be the Chiefs starting quarterback for the rest of the season. I wanted any veteran not likely to return next year to get benched for young players who needed a long look to see if they could be building blocks for 2016.

I had decided that I wanted Andy Reid fired at the end of the season. After week six it was clear to me that the league had passed him by with his offense averaging less than fifteen points a game. Even if Reid was allowed to keep his job I was sure he at least needed to hand the play calling duties over to offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. The other glaring hole on the coaching staff had come on the defensive side as most of Kansas City was calling for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to get fired after his defense had been torched all year. I don’t want to say it was as bad as the 2012 season where banners were being flown over the stadium before games calling for major changes. That team went 4-12 and saw the general manager and coaching staff being fired. Even at 1-5 this season wasn’t as bad as that year, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if banner flying companies hadn’t been at least contacted about prices.

Something happened after that week six loss to the Vikings, as since that defeat the Chiefs have won six games in a row. During their six game winning streak the Chiefs offense is averaging over thirty points per game while the defense is only giving up an average of less than fourteen points a game. The Chiefs offense has not only been putting up points but it has been fun to watch for the first time in years. Despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season to a torn ACL, backups Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have combined for over a 100 yards a game since he went down. Alex Smith has not only stopped turning the ball over (305 pass attempts in a row without an INT) but he’s done it while throwing the ball down field more than he has in the previous three seasons combined.

The defense has become the shutdown defense most fans expected before the season started. Derrick Johnson has gotten in his groove and is back to blowing up running backs in the backfield. The Chiefs pass rush has been found and is applying pressure to quarterbacks on almost every play. Eric Berry seems to have fully recovered from cancer and currently ranked as the number one safety in the league according to the Pro Football Focus ranking system. First round draft choice Marcus Peters is making a strong case to be the defensive rookie of the year while playing opposite the Chiefs other shutdown corner Sean Smith.

As week fourteen kicks off, the Chiefs have to be considered one of the best teams in football. This is a far cry from their 1-5 start in which I was calling for a house cleaning at the end of the season. As I’ve had to say many times to my wife, I would like to tell the Chiefs that I was wrong and I apologize for my lack of faith. As a Kansas City fan I should have known better. I just watched the Kansas City Royals win the World Series for the first time in 30 years. The Royals won the title by having many come from behind wins in the playoffs as well as being overlooked for most of the season as a fluke team. The Chiefs are now doing the same thing and I should have never doubted them. So I am sorry Andy, Alex and the rest of the Chiefs. This season has been a roller coaster and with the playoffs in sight it should only get better. So I’m strapping myself in and ready to go on this ride no matter where it takes me.

Royals Offseason Update

Major League Baseball’s off season has heated up this week during the winter meetings in Nashville. There have been multiple signings and a couple big trades with money changing hands like it’s a game of Monopoly. Despite all the moves and noise being made, it’s been nothing but crickets coming from the Kansas City Royals.

For the first time in a generation the Royals enter the off season as the World Champions. There is no discussion of how to build a winner or what one or two players do they need to get over the hump. The Royals won the World Series, and this off season seems to be all about celebrating the win and just hanging on to that moment as long as we can.

That time of celebrating appears to be coming to an end however as the harsh reality of a new season has begun to creep in thanks to off season moves. The first big loss came last night when Ben Zobrist signed a 4 year $56 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. In his short time with the Royals, Zobrist had become a fan favorite. He was a great player that was a major reason the Royals were able to win the WS and he seemed to genuinely enjoy Kansas City. Even his wife became a fan favorite for not having their baby until after the WS and then giving the baby girl the middle name of Royal. So there was hope that a love of the city would outweigh the pull of a big contract.

That hope was shattered when the Cubs were willing to give the 34 year old Zobrist a four year deal. I believe the Royals would have been happy to pay the $14 million price tag per year, but I think they only wanted to be locked into that for two years. They can’t risk paying an old declining player $14 million after two years when they are trying to resign young stars like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

Unfortunately for Royals fans, the heartbreak will not stop with Zobrist departure. Royals fans cover your eyes for this part, but Gordon is not resigning with Kansas City. Alex Gordon will be 32 years old in February and is expected to sign a five or six year deal for around $100 million or more. Not only can the Royals not afford a deal like that, I don’t believe they should do it even if they could. While I am a Gordon fan as much as the next guy, he’s really not worth that much to a team like the Royals. Gordon is the one of the best defensive left fielders in baseball and is good (not great) at the plate. The problem for the Royals is that he is good enough to carry the team. Gordon is a great complimentary player, when you have a top to bottom lineup the way the Royals had this year, he’s a beast at the backend. But if you pay Gordon that much money than more than likely you will be losing two or three of those young stars and it would then be up to Gordon to lead the team in the middle of the lineup. A career .270 hitter who averages 19 homeruns a season just isn’t going to be able to put up the kind of numbers on his own that it would take to sustain the loss of that young talent. This would be especially true for the last two or three years of his deal when his age will cause his production to drop.

If the Royals would like to increase their payroll to $200 million a year, then by all means let’s throw money at Gordon like crazy and then get to work signing Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas to long term deals. I don’t see the payroll going that way thought, which means while it will hurt and not be fun to see our favorites leave, we as fans need to understand that it is what is best for the team. So far in the 2016 MLB offseason the Royals have stuck to their plan that got them into back-to-back World Series. They have let the high priced older free agents walk. It was Billy Butler in 2015 and this year it was Zobrist and will be Gordon. But they have resigned veteran pitcher Chris Young who was a key to the rotation and bullpen last season. They have brought back former closer Joakim Soria to build up a bullpen after Ryan Madson signed with the Dodgers and Greg Holland will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery.

The rumor mill is still swirling around with news that the Royals are interested in acquiring a corner outfielder as well as a starting pitcher. Will these be big time names like Johnny Cueto or BJ Upton? No, they probably won’t be. As Royals fans that’ve seen what the Royals have done over the last couple years should that matter to us, no it shouldn’t! The Royals will likely never win the off season the way the White Sox did in 2015 or the Dodgers did in 2014. While that looks flashy and always seems like a great way to go and excites fans, it’s not the Royal way. The Royal way took a long time to work and many of us (myself included) were ready for a new way in 2014. I was wrong. The Royal way clearly works and we as Royals fans need to embrace that fact and think accordingly. They don’t give rings, have parades or raise banners for winning the off season. So while a team like the Cubs or Dodgers will get all the praise going into the 2016 season and fans will be talking smack about the Royals minor moves, I’ll just simply point to the new banner flying and simply say……scoreboard!

More Than A Friday: The Hot Dog-Sandwich Conundrum and Other Things That Aren’t

It was only a matter of time.  I like discussing the trending topics, and I like food.

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been drawn into the conversation, just about every time that it’s come up.  Is a hot dog a sandwich?

The short answer from my point of view is that it’s not.  I feel you can take that tubesteak meat, slice it long-ways and place the pieces diagonally across a slice of white bread, put your mustard, relish, cucumber, and sauerkraut or whatever, put another slice of white on top and call it a sandwich.  However, the traditional hot dog, regardless of toppings, the one that comes in a bun, that’s just a hot dog.

The non-sandwich designation isn’t exclusive to the frank.  Frankly, it’s more about the bread and whether it’s one unit that holds it together or two.  Really, it doesn’t matter what you put in that bun; it’s not going to be sandwich, whether it’s a brat, a Polish, or an Oscar Meyer weiner.  The more compelling question starts with the hamburger, because if you replace the hamburger patty with fish or fowl, it’s quite blatantly a sandwich.  And, if you take that burger patty, and put it between two slices of rye or sourdough with melted cheese, you have yourself a patty melt, which is absolutely a sandwich.

We’re scratching the surface here; what about wraps, pitas, tacos, and certain deserts?  Let’s get your weekend started with the legitimacy of things around the world of sports.

Connor McDavid, the Ham & Cheese

For selfish reasons, I was devastated by the news of the #1 overall pick in last summer’s draft sustaining a significant injury.  McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers visit my hometown Arizona Coyotes next Thursday, and yours truly acquired tickets for the affair.  Now, I’m just watching an early-season tilt between two sub-par teams in the Western Conference.  There’s no question about the sandwich status of chopped ham and American Cheese, it’s just been a while since I’ve had it and it will be a while before we see The Next Big Thing on the ice in the NHL.  “What have you done for me lately?” doesn’t apply to McDavid’s situation…yet.

Chicago Bulls, the Gyro

Just because the Greek man in the apron behind the bar, the one that makes a tzatziki sauce that is to die for, calls it a sandwich, it is not a sandwich, not by my standards.  Look, I understand lazy Americans don’t often think of all the applications of that gyro meat and assume that shaved cone of lamb meat is going to come in a pita, and usually with fries on the side, but there’s more to the menu at your typical Mediterranean grill.  In the same way, when we say “whoever comes out of the East”, we mean the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Yes, we saw what happened on Opening Night at the United Center, but think about how far down the list you’d have to go to get to gyro when someone asks what kind of sandwich the should get.  Now replace “gyro” with “2015-16 Bulls” and “sandwich” with “Eastern Conference favorites”.

 

Carolina Panthers, the Pulled Pork

In the same way that the Vinegar-based barbecue of the Carolina region gets overlooked in favor of its Kansas City or Texas counterpart, there’s not a lot of respect going around for “Riverboat Ron” Rivera, Cam Newton, and the Carolina Panthers, but they’re as legitimate as anything going in the NFL right now.  Sean McDermott has Luke Kuechly on the defensive side of the ball, but that unit is as impressive as anything I’ve seen east of the Rockies.  Yes, that offense misses Kelvin Benjamin like dry ribs miss sauce, but there’s no questioning how Newton is the smoke that makes the meat taste so good.  Whether it’s shoulder or butt, this is undeniably a sandwich, and the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is undeniably a solid MVP candidate this season.

Big 12 Football, the Footlong Hot Dog

A hot dog is not a sandwich, and a winning team that doesn’t play passable defense in Division I College Football is not a juggernaut.  Did you just win a game 70-53?  Well, I’m a lot less impressed by the 70 than I am disgusted by the 53.  If Texas Tech is giving you hard time, while you wait for your offense to get back on the field, it’s fair to say that LSU and Stanford are going unequivocally ruin your day.  Bigger is not always better, and no non-sandwich becomes a sandwich when you make it bigger.  C’mon people!

tcuTxTech

Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, the Club and the Big Mac

I haven’t seen a lot of the Knicks, but I’ve seen enough of Melo over the years to understand his popularity, though I question the hype behind his game.  The guy is a great scorer, and I enjoy watching his bad team play in more Games of the Week than they deserve, but I wouldn’t want to do it 82 times a year, in the same way I don’t need to eat a Big Mac a couple times a week.  He doesn’t pass or think about his team, like most of us don’t think about the extra bun Mickey D’s puts on their signature menu item, but the extra bun still somehow matters.  The club, with turkey and bacon, is a little more complete, a little better for you, and actually a sandwich.  You wouldn’t order either on a date, but you could make a lot more arguments for the extra bread on the club, like it was a 7’3″ stretch-five with legitimate perimeter ability.  You wouldn’t fries with that, but a side of pasta salad seems fitting if Phil Jackson can find it for him the Big Apple.

New England Patriots, the Steak Sandwich

It’s messy and you can’t get it everywhere, but I honestly can’t think of a better sandwich.  I’ve had this opinion for a long time, and while there’s been a crappy skirt steak that doesn’t get the job done, every now and again, it’s certainly a go-to.  It takes the right amount of fire1Bill Belichick and the right amount of seasoning2Tom Brady, even if you don’t put it between the greatest pieces of bread, but that just makes for a good steak.  The weapons the Patriots currently have in Dion Lewis, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola seem to be the perfect starch to accompany an always reliable protein.  You can argue how ultimately unhealthy New England is for the league in the long-term, but it’s enjoyable to watch them play football in the moment.

Kansas City Royals, the Ice Cream Sandwich

What if there was a guy that legitimately drove a windowless white van and took random kids wherever they wanted to go, perhaps satiating their sweet tooth for the ride?  This could only happen in a world where the parents would trust this guy, sight unseen, to have their child’s well being in mind the whole time and not allow them to overindulge on the sweets.  Of course, the assumption is that world doesn’t exist, so nothing like that could happen, even if the guy driving the van is named Ned Yost.  In today’s world of Major League Baseball, you need the long ball and the dominant starting pitching; stealing bases and small-ball, in general, is just a way to get a late-inning run when you need it.  That’s not supposed to be how you win World Championships.

And the sandwiches, don’t forget the flippin’ sandwiches; it’s supposed to be bread, not fried chicken3We didn’t include the KFC Double Down here, but we’d go with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Sure, get fat and happy now, but remember you’re going to spend some time paying for it or cookies4If we were including Oreos, I’d go with the Houston Astros, a JV version of what the Royals have done. that sandwiches the meat together for clean eating with your hands.  Don’t tell that to Ned Yost, who could be the most notorious man driving the ice cream truck since Big Perm, I mean Big Worm.

The Royals broke all the rules.  You’re supposed to have meat and/or vegetables, or something from a jar?  Cheese is the only acceptable dairy?  Well, here’s some ice cream, so the lactose intolerant5New York Mets need not apply!  In a very “Life is short, eat dessert first” kind of way, the Royals decided that starting pitching an early-inning offense would supplement their bullpen and late-inning heroics.

You don’t think you want that, but you need that in your life.  That’s why these sandwiches are kept in freezers by the cash register, because you don’t plan to buy them, but your impulses entice you to do so.  And you don’t care that it’s just crappy cookies and ice cream, it’s the sandwich you wanted the entire time.

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1. Bill Belichick
2. Tom Brady
3. We didn’t include the KFC Double Down here, but we’d go with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Sure, get fat and happy now, but remember you’re going to spend some time paying for it
4. If we were including Oreos, I’d go with the Houston Astros, a JV version of what the Royals have done.
5. New York Mets

Why The NFL Has No Respect For The World Series

The NFL has done something over the past few years to prove to the world that they feel they are the only professional sports league that matters. We all know that the NFL is the top dog when it comes to professional sports, but now they seem to be laughing in the face of America’s former National Pastime.

There was a time when the National Football League actually respected Major League Baseball enough to not schedule a Sunday night game that would be played opposite the World Series. That time is over. Football is so popular in America that a Week 8 regular season NFL game gets more viewers than a possibly decisive Game 5 of the World Series.

nfl-wallpaper

 

NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the undefeated Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos drew about 23 million viewers, while the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets managed to bring in about 17.2 million viewers. Some will point to the fact that the baseball game ran late due to extra innings. The numbers actually show that many viewers flipped over to watch baseball after the football game ended. Game 5 of the World Series actually hit a 12 year high for ratings, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the NFL.

The marquee matchup between the undefeated teams of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers was a little disappointing, while the World Series game was a nail-biter for 12 innings. Fantasy football can also be partially blamed because many people likely had key players in the Sunday night game. After the ratings came out, this was the most watched Week 8 NFL prime time game in 22 years! Obviously the NFL’s schedule makers didn’t know that both teams would be undefeated, but they knew that this would be a marquee matchup that would draw ratings against the World Series.

During its first four seasons on NBC, Sunday Night Football had the decency to take one week off as to not conflict with the World Series. Since deciding not to take a Sunday night off, the NFL’s schedule makers have featured either the Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints in the game opposite the World Series every year since 2010. The thought process is supposedly that neither New Orleans nor Green Bay has a MLB team so there should be no conflicts of interest.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It seems that the NFL is not going to back down and wants high ratings no matter what it goes up against. If this trend keeps up, it may be baseball that is forced to change its postseason schedule to avoid the NFL. With the NFL now playing prime time games on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, that doesn’t leave much for MLB to work with. The World Series might have to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with a travel day on Thursday. They could play the next two games on Friday and Saturday, although that would not allow for the current 2-3-2 format.

Even Pete Rose decided to do something else for Game 5 of the World Series. He had a contract already signed to appear for a private dinner, speech, and autograph session and was not able to be featured as an analyst on the Fox broadcast. It would be nice for the NFL and MLB to work together even if it’s just to schedule one week in October, but that seems unlikely. The NFL regards itself so highly that it will never budge and just wants to keep gaining money and popularity.

How Will You Feel If The Royals Win?

How do you react to one of your lifelong favorite sports franchises winning a championship? I always hear people say “act like you’ve been there before”. Well, I’ve never been here before.

I‘ve been a Royals, Kansas City Chiefs and Missouri Tigers fan my whole life. The Tigers have never won a National Championship in the main sports or football and basketball. The Chiefs haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1969, shoot they haven’t even won a playoff game since 1993. The last time the Royals won the World Series was in 1985, when as a three year old, the only I remember is my dad jumping up and down on our coffee table.

My wife has been asking me what I would do and how I would feel if the Royals won since last year’s playoff run. My wife was not raised to be a sports fanatic the way I was. She knew what the World Series and the big events were, and could name all the big teams and local teams, but that was about it for her sports knowledge. Trying to explain to her what myself fan and a lot of other Royals fans are going through is hard.

It isn’t just the fact that the one of my teams is winning a championship, which in Kansas City is shocking enough. It’s the added fact that this is last of those teams you would have said would win it. The Royals have been the laughing stock of baseball for twenty years. Not only did they not win, they lost in the most miserable fashions imaginable. It was so bad that people got to the point where they referred to bad plays as a “Royals-type play”.

Now not only is that team one game away from winning the World Series, but baseball men like Joe Buck are referring to them as the best World Series team in the last eighteen years. How are you supposed to act and feel when something you never thought would happen for thirty years has happened?

I finally figured out the best way to describe it to my wife was to say it’s like winning the lottery. You’ve played your numbers every week for thirty years. You never thought you’d win, but at the same time, you can’t win if you don’t play. Then one day, your numbers are called and you win the big jackpot. It’s so rare and unthinkable you can’t plan how to react to that.

So, the Royals are one game from a World Series victory that may close down the entire Kansas City metro area the next day. It would be great if that was tonight in New York; just win it and let’s party. If not, than you have Tuesday and Wednesday (if necessary) to in the friendly confines of the K. Either way I don’t have the funds or free time to be anywhere but my living room couch surrounded by family. If the Royals win, I just hope they do not hold whatever I do against me. I may cry, I may run down the street screaming at the top of my lungs, or I may just sit shocked. I may throw on some goggles and let the champagne fly or I may not waste a drop and drink the night away. One thing I know for sure, whatever happens that night if the Royals do clinch, I won’t regret it one bit. No matter how I feel the next morning or what I have to clean up, knowing the Kansas City Royals won the World Series will make any celebration something to remember the rest of my life. Thirty years later, I still remember my dad jumping up and down like a mad man on the coffee table. What will be your celebration story be if the Royals win one more game?

Three Decades, But Only A Moment For Tribe Fans, To Wait

Ronald Reagan was president, Whitney Houston released her first album, the underdog Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. The next year, news breaks of the Iran-Contra Affair, Mike Tyson wins the WBC Title, and the New York Mets need seven games (and a legendary error in Game 6) to defeat the scrappy Boston Red Sox to win it all.

Thirty years. Thirty-one years. Seems like a long time ago… until a Cleveland fan gets an assignment to write something about the Indians that can tie into the current baseball landscape.

In 1985, the Indians were 37 years removed from their last World Series. Hell, the Indians 1948 World Series Championship happened before the Mets or Royals even existed. It would be easy to pen another tale of woe, from another sad, jilted Indians fan. It would take almost no imagination for me to tell you my age1I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny. and add up all those Cleveland championships that don’t exist, as if the city’s bare trophy case is justification for a lifetime of whining about sports. If I wanted to spend the next 500 words typing different combinations of “Only in Cleveland2OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.,” I could finish this column in my sleep.

Nope. I’m here to give Indians fans hope. Or, at least take away the hopelessness.

Only half of the teams in baseball have been around for as long as the Indians, which was chartered as the Cleveland Blues in 19013The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.4I Hate the Yankees. That leaves a robust 15 teams that didn’t even exist before 1962. I’ll spare you the list that compares World Series Championships against league tenure. Instead, let me say that the Indians are a few unlucky bounces away from the same historical success that the Royals and Mets are experiencing this season.

Kansas City had a good ten year run, then disappeared for three generations before their recent turnaround. While the Mets haven’t even mustered a string of consistent success, instead scattering eight playoff appearances – and two championships – over 54 years. That’s what baseball is like if you’re not the Yankees527 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances., Cardinals, Giants, or Dodgers.

It’s been a tough road lately for Tribe fans, but Jose Mesa’s blown save is certainly no worse than Bill Buckner’s error. Those Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner contracts don’t really stack up to the horror that Bartman inflicted upon the Chicago Cubs. It took 86 years for the Red Sox to lift the Curse of the Bambino, which is 85 years and 10 months longer than it took Francisco Lindor to the majors in 2015.

Being a sports fan in Cleveland is hard, it’s the fanhood equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck. Every season we sit on the couch and daydream about all those things we’ll do with the next season. It’s a stressful way to pay the bills and to root for teams. But next payday… let’s just say there’s hope for that vacation we’ve all been dreaming for.

Sources:

World Series History stuff – Baseball Reference

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1. I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny.
2. OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.
3. The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.
4. I Hate the Yankees
5. 27 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances.

Fans Impact The Royals Playoff Run

The Kansas City Royals are up two games to none on the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS. As one of the rabid fans of this Royals club, I like to think that the fans have had a big impact on the playoff run up to this point. Some of this impact is obvious and reported on, while other impacts have been hidden.

If you want to see the physical on field impact that the Royals fans have had on this series, look no further than the Jays right fielder Jose Bautista. The battle of Bautista versus Royals fans has been ongoing since the Royals took on the Jays in Toronto back in August. Bautista was in the middle of many multiple bench clearings and stare downs as the Jays and Royals had one of the most hostile series of the year. He even took to Twitter to proclaim he no longer respected Royals manager Ned Yost. While Bautista has become one of the most arrogant and unlikeable players in the game with his on field antics and off the field Twitter rants; he is especially despised by Royals fans. We will have our team’s backs, and we’ve shown that so far in this series.

After striking out early in game one, Bautista was visibly whining and pouting in the Jays dugout. The fans of KC jumped on this, as videos and memes of Bautista in the dugout went viral. Inside the stadium fans booed him with a furry that only the likes of Robinson Cano and Brett Lawrie have heard. They cheered when he took strikes and booed his whole trip to first base when he walked. After catching a fly ball for the third out late in the game, Bautista faked like he was going to throw the ball to the crowd proving that the crowd had gotten inside his head. The Royals went on to win that game 5-0.

In the second game fans had an even bigger impact on Bautista and the Jays as they blew a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning. Bautista had another bad day at the plate, again whining and pouting after being rung up by the home plate umpire. After that at bat to finish the sixth inning, Bautista taunted Royals fans behind the dugout and in the outfield but showing 3-0 with his hands. It was just a few pitches later that Ben Zobrist hit a high pop fly into shallow right field. Bautista came in as second basemen Ryan Goins went out to attempt the catch. Bautista slowed first as Goins called him off, then at the last second Goins backed away allowing the ball to fall to the ground. Goins said after the game he heard someone yell “I got it”. He didn’t hear someone, he heard 40,000 people inside the K saying it as the noise was a factor. The Royals went on to score five runs that inning, Bautista made no further gestures to the crowd. After the game Goins took responsibility for the play as Bautista threw his teammate under the bus saying the video will show what happened.

Luckily for Bautista and his teammates, they get away from KC for a few days as the series heads to Toronto for the next three games. But that will only protect the Jays from the physical help of Royals fans. No amount of distance will protect them from Royals superstition. Now that you’re done rolling your eyes, hear me out. We are all superstitious when it comes to sports. We all have that favorite shirt, spot on the couch or pre-game ritual. Even Yost has superstitions as he bats Alcides Escobar lead off for no reason other than “we win when he leads off”. Nobody, not even Yost, believes that the sole reason for the Royals winning games is because Escobar bats leadoff. But at the same time, if it works, who am I to argue with the logic?

The same goes for fans. Case in point, the lucky nachos of section 405. Now this goes back to ALDS game five against the Astros. With the Royals trailing 2-0 in the fourth inning when a Royals fan tripped and dropped a plate of nachos onto the stairs in section 405. It was only seconds later that Eric Hosmer roped a single scoring Lorenzo Cain. Someone in the crowd said “don’t touch the nachos, they must be lucky”. Johnny Cueto retired every batter he faced after the nachos were spilled and the Royals scored six more runs. The fans protected the nachos, asking fans to step around them, even taking the broom from the employee paid to clean them up. The nachos were cleaned up in the eighth inning but that didn’t stop the fans in section 405 as they chipped in and bought a new plate of nachos, sitting them in the same spot as a sacrifice to the baseball gods.

Did those nachos have any effect on Hosmer hitting that ball or Cueto pitching his best game of the season; no. Does the fact that my mom has worn the same Royals jersey the day of games since the playoffs started affect how the team plays; no it doesn’t. My wife loves telling me that where I sit, what my kids wear, or what I’m eating has no effect on the outcome of games. As with most things in life, my wife is right. But while she makes logical sense, it’s also hard to argue with results. I’ve always said when it comes to superstitions, what does it hurt? When the Royals come home again we will be the tenth man on the field and do our best to throw the visiting team off their game. But we will also be doing our best to follow Yost lead and do what works, even if it doesn’t make any sense. So protect those nachos, wear that lucky shirt and create whatever seating chart you need. While there is no proof that the crazy things we do help, there is also no proof that it doesn’t!

More Than A Friday: Thinking of Lamar Odom During a Busy Week in Sports

Lamar Odom is going to die. We sincerely hope it doesn’t happen today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or even in the next year. For Odom, there is a reality, and doesn’t that word really have some negative connotation to it? The reality is, that I hope he is able to survive from the time between now and whenever this publishes, but only for a life that doesn’t involve suffering.

Why do I care about the mortality of Lamar Odom? As former Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett so bluntly stated, he didn’t cross my mind before he was trending, so to speak. I don’t mourn for his situation with a Lakers or Heat flag on my car, and I’m not sympathetic to the character he was presented as to the masses on a show I didn’t watch. I know who he is, because of basketball, and I know how much he loved being a Laker, through the words of his ex-wife during a very brief glimpse of that show that I swear I didn’t watch. I’m sympathetic to his situation, because he is very obviously in the public eye, and it feels like he’s slowly dying in front of all of us.

I don’t feel that he deserves that. He deserves our compassion, but to suffer, with all of those toxins eating away at the very life he’s lived for the past 35 years, 11 months, and change; no one has earned that fate. Everyone in the media seems to be acting appropriately sensitive, walking on egg shells and citing his difficult background, while commending his wildly successful life and hoping for the best. We’re all human enough for that; we should be well wishing Odom for a prolonged life or a merciful death, though most of us don’t know the answers. While we brace ourselves for the inevitable assassination of his character from a few directions, and for various reasons, this is a time to be above the noise and just care.

In Major League Baseball

If you lack a dog in this fight, it’s been an awesome week of watching the field dwindle itself from 8 down to 4. If you had rooting interest in the Division Series, half of you are elated and half of you ain’t.

The Chicago Cubs were the first ones in the clubhouse, waiting to see what the rest of semi-final field would be. They had to win that winner-take-all game, which is always dangerous. It meant burning their best arm, leaving one Jake Arrieta available for just one start in the subsequent best-of-5 series. To survive that do-or-die game in Pittsburgh, it meant taking on baseball’s best regular season team and a long-time arch-rival in what’s been a very lopsided pairing for a very long time.

Give it to the Cubs, for not letting history get the best of them. They were able to bounce back after a poor showing in St. Louis in Game 1, a game that had you thinking the Cubs didn’t have the ammunition to survive the almighty Cardinals, beaten and battered as Mike Matheny’s squad may have been. Lo and behold, they kept hitting the ball out of the park, and when the Cardinals pecked away at a Chicago lead, the Cubs scratched back.

We’ll say good-bye to the Cardinals, and point out that they’re just another great National League team that managed to win at least 100 regular season games on a long list of triple-digit winning National League teams that have failed to win the World Series since the Mets won it all in ’86. The 2015 chapter of the Mets are a little different; they’re not supposed to be here. Blame the Washington Nationals for that, but maybe credit these young Metropolitans for being too dumb to know the stage is too big for them or that they’re not ready yet.

For a while, we’ve known the National League’s chapter of New York baseball was acquiring too much talent to be kept down for long. Remember when Matt Harvey was pretty much the chosen one there? Those days are long gone, with the flowing locks of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard making the Dark Knight (and the Yankees) an afterthought in Gotham. You’ve got Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright earning the headlines for Terry Collins’ team, but it was the efforts of the likes of Michael Conforto and Daniel Murphy that put them in the place they needed to be to host the Cubs on Saturday in Game 1 of the NLCS.

As for the Dodgers, the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for two games apiece wasn’t enough. Chase Utley taking out Ruben Tejada on a questionable double-play breaking slide wasn’t enough. Justin Turner’s .526 batting average wasn’t enough, nor was any other aspect of the roughly $310 million payroll enough to get three wins against these Mets in a best-of-five series. If you’re into math, they were paying about $77 million, per team that advance farther than them in the 2015 Playoffs.

It’s probably not the best of ideas to reduce a best-of-five that goes the distance down to a single inning of an elimination game, but that’s how we’re going to roll with the American League Division Series. The conversation of the day on Wednesday, at around 2:30 PM (Mountain Standard Time) was about whether or not the Astros could rebound from their 8th inning collapse, a few days prior, against the defending AL Champs at home. And maybe the Royals had something to do with that as well, but you had to hold the phone on making Game 5 of Astros-Royals into headline material. Down 6-2 in the eighth inning, on the road, six outs from elimination, the Royals put together one of those innings. They got some bounces and scored enough runs(5) to survive(a 7-6 victory), but needed another win to advance. That was Monday.

Before the Royals could do what they needed to do, back at home on Wednesday evening, there was the issue of settling the other half of the bracket with Game 5 in Toronto. Fast forward to the 7th inning of that one, game tied at 2, with Rougned Odor on 3rd base and Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. On a Russell Martin throw back to Blue Jays’ reliever Aaron Sanchez, the ball hits Choo’s bat and squirts toward the third baseman. Odor scores on the “throwing error”, and all hell breaks loose in Toronto. After a review, the Rangers lead 3-2 and they were 9 outs from another trip to the ALCS. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus wasn’t prepared to help the cause.

It started with a routine ground ball to short, which he mishandled. Then, there was a double play ball, and well, the ball was thrown poorly by Mitch Moreland at first base, and Andrus couldn’t haul it in. Next batter, it’s a sacrifice bunt not executed well, where a good throw to third should eliminate the lead runner, but Andrus can’t handle it. Bases loaded.

Toronto tied the game on a ball that should be described as a Texas Leaguer, and could have invoked the Infield Fly Rule, floats beyond the reach of the Texas second baseman. It ends up being a fielder’s choice at 2nd base, but the tying run scores. Tie game, runners at first and third for Jose Bautista.

What he did was hit the ball, so far that metaphors would be ineffective for those that don’t know much about Canadian geography. It was a three-run job, giving the home team a 6-3 lead that would stick. After he hit it, he tossed his bat about eight feet in the air, and (we assume) it traveled for kilometers before it reached the ground, well after he’d run the bases.

Blue Jays win, and they’re back in the ALCS, for the first time since 1993. That was the year Joe Carter hit baseball’s second (and most recent) World Series clinching walk-off home run. In a lot of ways, regardless of what happens to the Blue Jays the rest of the way, this Bautista shot may have been a bigger deal.

1908, 1985, 1986, 1993. The last time the Cubs, Royals, Mets, and Blue Jays have won it all, respectively. We’re going to get someone new, while the Giants, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees watch from the couch…and I that’s just fine by me.

In Football

Ohio State is going to stay #1 until they lose. It’s just the way it is. I look forward to them playing Penn State under the lights in Columbus, but I’m not looking forward to seeing them wearing all black, for the sake of wearing all black.

Texas A&M will host Alabama, and the Aggies have a legitimate shot to win that game and establish themselves as a legitimate player in the College Football Playoff talk, while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines host in-state rival Michigan State with a good chance to finally allow some points and to likely get handed their second loss of the season.

Florida will travel to Baton Rouge for a night game with LSU on Saturday. They will be without their starting quarterback, while South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt and USC travels to Notre Dame, both without their head coaches. You might expect an 0-3 run from that group with those voids.

On Sunday, expect plenty of blood in the water, in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. Bruce Arians didn’t even take the Cardinals back home last week, after thumping Detroit; you can be sure he wants to get his pound of flesh from Mike Tomlin and company, after they kicked him to the curb a few years back. TJ Ward said he wanted to remain with the Browns (and presumably his best friend, Joe Haden) two year ago, but Cleveland wasn’t interested, so he’ll surely be interested in ringing some bells with his Broncos visiting the 2-3 Browns. Finally, they say snitches end up with stitches, so go ahead and find your own shitty air/inflation-related pun to describe what Tom Brady and the Patriots might do to the Colts on Sunday night.

In the National Hockey League

Call it a Stanley Cup Hangover, or call it the distraction of one of your top players being accused of sexual assault, but the Chicago Blackhawks have looked anything but Champions…so far.

It’s obviously early, but we haven’t seen an immediate impact from Mike Babcock joining the Maple Leafs or Connor McDavid joining the Oilers. Both will happen in due time.

The Arizona Coyotes are basically left for dead by anyone who knows anything about this game, but they’re off to a promising start under Dave Tippett in Glendale. Rookies Anthony DuClair and Max Domi look like they have something special budding in the desert, making major contributions to the ‘Yotes 3-1 start.

It’s Playoff Time

The Kansas City Royals finished the regular season with an American League best 95-67 record. They won the Central division for the first time and will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The fans shattered the all-time attendance record and took over the All Star Game. This has to be considered one of the greatest regular seasons in franchise history. But as of today, none of that matters one bit.

The playoff run will begin this Thursday when the Royals take on the winner of the Wild Card game. That game will feature the Houston Astros traveling to take on the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Experts and fans will go back and forth on who the Royals would prefer to face in the ALDS, and either side has great points. I do not believe that the Royals themselves care one bit who they play. That is not because the Royals believe they are so much better than either team because they are just the WC team while the Royals have the best record. I don’t think the Royals care because they have seen what a WC team can do first hand and will take them seriously.

The Royals have seen what happens when teams don’t take you seriously. They came into the 2014 playoffs as the team every fan base was hoping to play. I remember getting tweets from Baltimore Orioles fans during the ALDS, telling me how much they’d rather play the Royals. They thought the Royals were like Cinderella, and when midnight struck they’d turn back into the old Royals. Before they had time to realize how wrong they were the Royals were celebrating in the middle of the field after sweeping them. The only team that took the Royals seriously was the San Francisco Giants because they were a WC team themselves.

Last season Royals fans just wanted to make it into the post season. We celebrated getting into the Wild Card like we’d won the World Series. Then before that game all anyone cared about was winning just that one game. We wanted to win that one game so we could then play actual October playoff baseball. Once the Royals won that game, any after that was playing with house money and fans would have been happy with anything.

This year fans are expecting a deep playoff run before a game is even played. I should clarify that when I say expecting I don’t mean it in the terms of the season was a waste or people should be fired if the Royals don’t win the World Series. This is still the Royals, and after thirty years of never sniffing the playoffs, most Royals fans would still look at this season as a success no matter how far we go in the playoffs. But that doesn’t change the fact that after getting to the seventh game of the World Series last year, the Royals and their fans have a nasty taste in their mouth. The only way to get rid of that specific taste is by replacing it with the sweet taste of victory that only comes with winning the World Series.

The road to that World Series starts Thursday in Kansas City. If anyone would like to try to take that series from us, they will have to come into Kansas City and take it. For those who want to try, myself and 40,000 of my closest friends have just one thing to say, bring it on!