Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Object of the Game

The object of a baseball game is to score more runs than your opponent. Do you think that the Royals offense knows this? Perhaps someone needs to do an Al Pacino on our hitters. You know the one. The great speech that he gives toward the end of the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. Here is a pertinent part of it:

"What you are hired for is to help us...does that seem clear to you?...To help us, not to (bleep) us up."

The Royals bats have fallen silent. They finally broke their string of 24 consecutive scoreless innings on Sunday in the first inning. With the loss on Saturday, they lost 11 out of their last 14 which included a 6 game winning streak. The difference in nearly all of those losses during this stretch were due to a lack of runs scored. On May 7 after a six game winning streak they led the division by 3 games. They fell to four games out May 23.

Worse yet, they have nearly the same record as a year ago. The Royals are better, are they? The pitching is vastly improved over last year but you also need hitting to win. They have shown more patience at the plate. At times their hitting at times has been...well...timely. But they still have not turned that into more wins then last year.

This division right now is there for the taking unless Detroit starts to run away with it right now. Before the season started it seemed that a 3rd place finish with at least a .500 record would mean a successful year for the Royals. A little over a month into the season all of the sudden it looked the the Royals had a legitimate change to win the division. They still do. But the team needs to start to produce runs like right now.

The first place Tigers come into Kauffman Stadium for a 3 game series. The Royals are 3 games out. They really need to sweep all 3 games from the Tigers to make up for the slump in the standings the past couple weeks. In order for that to happen, they need to get on base and score runs. If they can sweep and start to win consistently again like earlier in the season then they will be that much better once Joakim Soria and Alex Gordon come off the DL. Gordon will need to show that he can be the catalyst for this team like he was in the minors and in college. All Soria needs to do is continue to close. But, in order to close you need a lead.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Voice of Royals Stadium

Over the past 40 years of Royals baseball, many memories stand out that have been well covered and documented in video, pictures, and print. This begins a series of posts throughout the Royals 40th anniversary season about the things that stand in the periphery of those memories. Things that we may not realize are there but without them our memories of our experiences at the ballpark would not be complete.

We begin with the voice of old Municipal Stadium and Royals Stadium.

“Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to Royals Stadium…”

Jack Layton was not as nationally recognized as Sherm Feller the gravelly voiced stadium announcer at Fenway Park or the smooth sophisticated style of Bob Sheppard at Yankee Stadium. His was a rich deep booming voice that radiated from the speakers situated on the standards behind the massive 12 story scoreboard and bounced around the concrete, plastic, metal and glass of our modern new stadium. Jack was the voice of Royals Stadium.

“The Kansas City Royals ask that you please do not interfere with baseballs in play. If you should interfere by reaching over the fence, it could seriously damage the chances of either team. The Royals also ask that you please observe the stadium regulation prohibiting the carrying of cans, bottles or liquid containers into the stadium. The Kansas City Royals thank you for your cooperation.”

His delivery echoed the professional appearance the Royals projected in those days. He announced the lineups, the stadium regulations, and pertinent information throughout the game.

“Ladies and gentlemen…please stand and honor America as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings, Our National Anthem.”

In those days the stadium announcer did not have to remind people to remove their hat and place their hat or hand over their heart. Everyone knew what to do out of respect for our country. A recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir often performed The Star Spangled Banner before Royals games along with a cartoon playing on the scoreboard complementing the music. But that is a story for another time.

Jack was there for every important event from the beginning of the Royals through the 1985 championship and even served as stadium announcer for the Kansas City A’s. He occasionally would take a game off (it seemed like it was Sundays) where Hugh Bowen the station announcer and substitute weatherman for then KCMO TV 5 would fill in as stadium announcer.

Jack died in 1986 and who knows the stories he could tell from his witnessing so many games. I don’t know if his thoughts were ever written down but it probably would have made a good book. At least I would have found it interesting. As I remember, his sign off at the end of the game was something like this:

“The Kansas City Royals thank you for attending tonight’s game. Please drive home safely and come back again soon. It’s grrreat to have you with us! Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the water spectacular”

Special thanks to inningsago and crowngold on the Royals website forum for info on Jack Layton.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Royal Rush Hour

Thursday afternoon while driving home from work on southbound 435 from the Northland, I saw traffic growing and slowing going Northbound. I was puzzled as I did not see a wreck or construction that would cause the back up.

As I drove further south passing over the Missouri River, the 24 highway exit, Truman Road exit and finally the 23rd street exit the northbound traffic grew heavier and heavier. I then realized the reason for the enormous traffic going northbound as I started to see school bus after school bus loaded with children in the northbound lanes.

Over 32,000 attended the Thursday afternoon Royals game. Many of those probably children for School Day at the K. The Royals have held this event for several years but I don't recall a crowd this big. The resurgence of the Royals and the New K probably peaked interest for area schools to attend. The weather was great and there might have been a fair amount of walk ups from those taking off work early to see a game. For whatever reason, it is rather impressive to draw a near sell out for a day game in early May.

I am sure there were regular commuters who got caught in the traffic and probably wondered what was going on making them late. I hope that they eventually realized what the reason was. In a way it was a good thing and something to take note of that this town is rediscovering the Royals.

It probably won't be long that game traffic for night games will start to interfere with the normal evening rush hour. Yet another good sign of progress for our Kansas City Royals.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Comparison Needed. This is Zack Greinke.

All kinds of comparisons are going around comparing Zack Greinke to this pitcher or that pitcher. There is no comparison. Zack Greinke is .... Zack Greinke.

He is confident. He smirks a little when he gets someone to strike out swinging on a 68 mph curve ball. His answers are a little off the wall when interviewed. This is Zack Greinke.

He thrives on the pressure. He does not seem to shake a bit when a rare hit is given up. He takes pride in serving up some chin music if a batter is crowding the plate. This is Zack Greinke.

He prefers to finish a game instead of handing it over to the bullpen. He leads the league in wins and has the best ERA. He is starting to collect hardware as he won the AL pitcher of the month for April. This is Zack Greinke.

So if anybody asks you this question. Who does Zack Greinke remind you of? The answer is simple. This is Zack Greinke.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The NBT Royals Pitcher and Player of the Month for April 2009

The New Blue Tradition Royals Pitcher of the Month is Zack Greinke. Zack Greinke amazed the league in April going 5-0 with an ERA of 0.50. In 36 innings Zack had 44 strike outs. He pitched 2 complete game shutouts and did not give up his first earned run until his last start on April 29. Zack also appeared on the cover of Sports Illusrated and had a feature article.

The New Blue Tradition Royals Player of the Month is John Buck. John Buck was not the opening day starting catcher and remains the backup catcher behind Miguel Olivio. However, Buck appeared in 12 games and hit .300 with 3 home runs, 12 hits 2 doubles, 2 triples and 15 RBI in the month of April.