Friday, August 8, 2008

Don't get too excited

Just as I've proven that a random post once a month doesn't mean I'm back for good, one drive does not make a football team. Yeah, I got excited by the Chiefs first drive of the 2008 preseason as well...yeah, for a minutes I thought maybe Brodie could be a legitimate NFL QB...I also felt like maybe Will Franklin could be a compliment to D-Bowe and Tony G... Those things being said, it was one drive in a game that doesn't count. Maybe I use all of my senseless optimism on the Royals, but I'm not ready to "Believe!" just quite yet. I will however postpone my prediction on the Chiefs record this year (although I'd pretty much settled on 4-12 again). If Brodie can play like he did last night, and Franklin can be a viable #2, and the line can come together...we might be an 8-8 team....that's why Carl(and Herm) must go. On the other hand, if you want senseless optimism about the Chiefs, you can always find it here.

In other news...

- Brett Favre is a Jet! Fantastic news for my Fantasy team, even better news for the J-E-T-S...I'm still astonished that Carl didn't make this move. The Chiefs would have instantly been a Wild Card contender, and sell outs would be guaranteed.

- Mike Aviles is our shortstop of the future? I know a lot of people think he makes a better second baseman, but from what I've seen it's a lot easier to find a quality second baseman. I like Aviles at short, and as a dark horse for Rookie of the Year.

- Ron Prince gets a 5 year extension!?!? Folks in Manhatten vehemently deny that Mangino and Pinkel bankrolled this extension. In all seriousness, first they lock up Martin and then Prince? Manhappy is going to need a lot of hard alcohol to stay that way.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Maybe I'm just not cut out for blogging

After all, I sure don't seem to have the time for it...or the stomach...or according to several of my readers, the "talent". But who needs talents? Tony Pena? Nope, but at least he doesn't start everyday anymore...Brodie Croyle? What for? He's already the starting quarterback for what's soon to be the laughingstock of the NFL.

Yeah, I guess you could say I'm a little disenchanted with the local "talent" on the professional sports scene...thank goodness it's almost college football season, there's no shortage of talent there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I'm looking smarter and smarter

On June 23rd, I thought we could win 12(maybe 15) of our last 20 before the break and get back into this thing. Some people laughed, others called me a homer...but we're 5-2 since then. What do the naysayers have to say now? Well, they're still naysayers...they'll tell you we're still 9.5 back of the White Sux (who've been red hot, winning 15 of 20). Or that both the Tigers and Twinkies have won eight of their last ten, so we haven't made up any ground on them either. They'll tell you this is a nice little hot streak, but our next cold streak is right around the corner. You know what the Kool Aid Drinker thinks? It doesn't matter what the White Sux, Twins, and Tigers are doing right now...the Royals control their own destiny...and not in that goofy "there are 80 games left" kind of way, but in a much less goofy "we play the Sux 15 more times, the Twins 9 more times, the Tigers 12 more times" kind of way. What does that mean? All the Royals need to do is keep fighting...get to .500 by the end of July (doable)...get to 5 games over by the end of August (doable)...Head into September with a fighter's chance and then we'll play whoever is ahead of us...there will be no way we can all be hot at the same time because we'll be playing each other. In other words, stop looking for the cloud in the silver lining, keep winning and we'll take care of those teams above us when we play them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We're out of the cellar!!!

Remember a couple of days ago when I talked about what a great opportunity the next 20 games were? Well, the Royals are 3-0 since then, out of the cellar and only 7 games out of first. Now we get the hated Cardinals with rumors that Poo Holes may be back for the weekend. Wouldn't be surprised if they're rushing him and he's completely ineffective...especially against Meche, Bannister and Davies. I can't stress enough how important it is that the Royals keep this momentum until the All Star break. With 17 games left, we need 12-5 to get back to .500...that's doable.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Are the Royals out of it?

No they aren't! I know we've got a nice little hot streak going, but it has a chance to turn into a nice LONG hot streak. We have 20 games left before the All Star break and 13 of them are against what I consider to be teams that are no better than our Royals (Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, and Cards w/o Pujols). The other 7 are against the D-Rays and ChiSox, two teams that have played over their heads so far this year. Win 12 of those (very doable) and we're still in this thing, just a couple of games below .500 at the break. Win 15 of them and we're back to .500 and Mr. Dayton Moore can start shopping. It all starts with the next 6 at home against the Rockies and Cards. We should win at least 4 of these...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I don't get to post here much any more

That's the curse of being a successful little league manager I guess...but I have to say it...BREAK OUT THE BROOMS! I hate St Louis...not just the Cardinals, not just their fans, but the whole stinkin city...If Budweiser does indeed sell out there will be absolutely zero redeeming qualities about that place. If the Cardinals get swept at home by the Royals it will only add to what has thus far been the greatest sports year of my life, let's recap:

Kansas Jayhawk BCS victory
Kansas Jayhawk basketball National Championship
Boston Celtics NBA Finals with "The Truth" Paul Pierce winning MVP

Add a Royals sweep of the Cards...wow...what a year 2008 has been...and we're only halfway done.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yeah, I'm still here

and so are the Royals...but they really need to win the next two. Do that and they're 6.5 out with a trip to Yankees stadium next...remember, we still play the first place White Sox 17 more times this year...this is not over.

One other quick question...who is the Royals All Star this year...I'm sure you're initial reaction was "Greinke!"...but not so fast...it's not wrapped up by any means...

Zack Greinke- 5-3, 3.56, 56 Ks, 1 complete game
Brian Bannnister- 5-6, 4.60, 45 Ks, 1 complete game
Joakim Soria- 12 saves, 1.23 ERA, 26 Ks in 23.1 innings
Jose Guillen- 19 doubles, 7 HR, 38 RBI
Alex Gordon- 15 doubles, 5 HR, 26 RBI, .354 OBP

I think any of those guys could make it, but almost assuredly only one of them. Right now I'd rank Soria as the favorite, followed by Greinke and Guillen...with Gordon and Bannister as long shots that need to get ridiculously hot. Wouldn't it be nice if some one would get ridiculously hot?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Took the boy to the game last night

The good will come at the end, first the not so good in a 5-3 loss...

Brian Bannister looked very pedestrian, and that's being kind. Sure, he was one pitch away from a pretty decent outing, but he also escaped a few jams. I'm afraid the Bannister we're seeing now is closer to the real him than the one we saw to start the season. Let's hope I'm wrong once again.

Mark Teahan was terrible. He misjudged at least one fly ball that turned into a double. He made a Busch League error letting a single roll under his glove and he looked terrible in two strikeouts late in the game. One of those came with the bases loaded and he was completely over matched. I'm a big fan of TeaBag but last night was far from his finest hour.

Jumpin Jivin Joey didn't look much better. His speed is not of much use if he's not getting on base and using it. Also, the ball he missed in center was an exceptionally difficult play, but the kind of play that a guy with his speed should be able to make.

The good? Miguel Oliva absolutely raked a couple of balls, as did Awesome Alex and Badass Billy. It was nice to see some hard hit balls by the Royals.

But not near as nice as catching* a foul ball for the boy. We were sitting on the first base side about halfway between the bag and Tea Bag when Garrett Anderson absolutely smoked one right at us. Thankfully the twelve year old in front of us brought a catcher's mitt instead of a real glove.he got just enough of it to knock it down and I snagged it off one bounce. Handing it to my six year old was easily the highlight of the night and he didn't stop beaming...he still was when he woke up with it in his clutch this morning.

Quote of the night? One the way home he says: "Dad, it's kind of odd. I feel excited and sad at the same time. Excited because I got a ball, but sad because my team lost."

here's hoping before he's my age the Royals can stop making that such a common occurance.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That is more like it!

ROYALS NEWS
Jose Guillen beginning to come out of his shell? The 5 RBIs from last night say maybe. If he starts hitting this entire lineup can turn around. DeJesus, Grudz and Gordon have done a good job getting on in front of him, and if they continue these Royals may not look quite as putrid.

Speaking of things we thought, but hadn't seen....Brett Tomko is starting to look every bit as terrible as I'd anticipated. On the bright side we've already gotten more out of him than I expected, and Jorge De la Rosa looks ready for his shot. I'd give Tomko one more start, make sure Jorge can maintain his stellar start, and then make the move.

CHIEFS NEWS
I swear, someone took the reigns from Carl on Day 1. Dorsey and Flowers are two of my favorite picks in the entire draft. They could both be pro bowlers and make an already talented young defense look even better. Everyone else seems high on Alberts, so I'll give them credit for that too.

The flip side is that someone gave the controls back to Carl on Day two. How we passed on Anthony "Mama Gotta Eat" Collins in the third round is beyond me. How we did it to pick a running back and tight end is criminal. I don't know how you can get 6 starters when you use 2/3 of your 3rd round to pick up players at positions where you already have All Pros.

OTHER NEWS

-Turns out when I used to call the Rocket a child molester I was right...HA! Seriously, this guy needs to pull a Mark McGwire...and fast. Time to disappear Roger...maybe to France? In case you don't know what I'm talking about, not only did Roger cheat on the field, he did off the field as well. With country music's one hit wonder Mindy McReady (yeah she was)...bigger problem? She was 15 and he was 28 when the relationship started...WOW!

- The Jayhawks signed another recruit, giving them 7...this pretty much seals that Self thinks Arthur won't be back...could be a long November for the Hawks next year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

0-16?

Okay, I love Jared Allen as much as any true Chiefs fan....and I hate Carl equally as much...but a first and two thirds is not a bad deal especially if Jared was really never going to sign a long term deal. Is it Carl's fault we got here in first place? Absolutely. Are we going to be the worst team in all of football next year? Very possibly. Might we still waste the picks? Almost certainly. But still, a first and two thirds is a good deal. Hope Jared and the Vikings have a fine year next year...and I hope the Chiefs find a way to win at least 1.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Busy time

So the nicknames are almost done, it's been a chore, but there's been so much going on that I wanted to chime in with my thoughts:

No surprise to me that Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur declared for the draft although I would be surprised if Walker or Arthur change their mind. Seems to me that all four should go in the first round and I'm happy for them. I always find it odd when people chastise these stars for leaving early. Who amongst us wouldn't have left college early for guaranteed millions in our field of expertise? A very small percentage indeed, and most of us don't have the same risk for injury that they would. I think Rush and Beasley will be the best pros of the four, I'm just not sure Walker and Arthur have the right make up...but the certainly have the talent.

Frank Martin's 5 year extension didn't surprise me a ton either but i don't think it'll work out very well in manhappy. I feel pretty confident saying that the Wildcats underachieved this season with Beasley and Walker. If they continue that path with considerably less talent fans in Manhappy may be right back where they were in the Woolridge era.

I hear rumors that Luke "I am your Father" Hochevar may take John Bale's spot in the rotation as early as Sunday. Hochevar looked good in his last start in Omaha and while it's earlier than I anticipated, I'm stoked. Greinke, Banny and Hochevar may make up the best young staff in all of baseball.

Speaking of starters, I owe Brett Tomko an apology. He hasn't been near as terrible as I anticipated. In fact, to this point he's been our third best starter. I don't expect that to continue, but I'll give him props now while I can.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I remember a time

when you could count on the Kool Aid Drinker to meet a deadline...of course, that was the same time that no one in KC had on a major title(thank you Jayhawks)....and back when the Royals had no pitching (thanks Zack and Banny)...Now, all bets are off.

Seriously though, I'm just trying to give Jose "Can you see the Mendoza line" Guillen a chance to earn a better nickname....but time is running out.

By the way,

- The Royals are back in sole possession of first place
- Zack and Banny are 6-0 with a 0.80 ERA
- That was the best Kansas basketball team ever...stop debating it
- Tiger choked
- The Royals better build a bigger than 5 game lead if they want to withstand these Tigers are going to make when they get hot.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kool Aid for everyone

What if I'd told you coming into the season that through 9 games:

David "The Jesus" would have only one at bat
Tony Pena "in the Assa" would have only one hit
Gil Monster Meche would have a 6.94 ERA
Jose Guillen would be hitting .162 with no home runs

Well, for one, I wouldn't be the Kool Aid Drinker now would I? But more importantly, what would you guess the Royals record would be? 2-7? Maybe 3-6? Certainly not 6-3, 5 games ahead of the Tigers...but here we are? How? That's a fantastic question.

First off, Wacky Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister have been LIGHTS OUT. They are a combined 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA. No one, not even the Kool Aid Drinker, would have predicted a start like that against the vaunted Tigers and Yankees.

Second, the hitting hasn't been otherworldly, but it's been effective. Jumpin Joey Gathright is a great example of that. He's hitting a meager .194, yet he's third on the team in runs scored and he's stolen 6 bases already (if you're keeping score at home, that puts him on pace for about 105 steals).

Finally, the Royals bullpen has been every bit the strength I expected, led by the one guy I expected to take a couple of steps backward, Joakim "The Dream" Soria. Soria has 4 saves and has struck out 7 in 5 innings while allowing only 2 base runners.

What does this all mean? Maybe not a ton, it's only 9 games...but for a young ball club in desperate need of confidence, it has to mean something.

It means we can be certain that Awesome Alex and Bad Ass Billy aren't going to start as slow as some had prognosticated they might.

It means we can win with our two highest paid players (Meche and Guillen) struggling mightily.

It means that a run at the playoffs may actually be more likely than a 100 loss season.

Most importantly, it means we can all dream a little. Everyone worried that the Royals' April schedule would have fans yearning for football by May 1. Well, that schedule looks a little less daunting now, and the Kool Aid is still tasting sweet. So drink up Royals fans, dare to believe that Bannister, Greinke and Soria can continue making batters look silly. BELIEVE that Gordon and Butler will continue to be the offensive threats we all envisioned they would. While you're at it, let's hope that Meche and Guillen start earning their salaries...tonight...in a victory over the only team to win a series from the Royals in this young season.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Champs!

This is late, but Super Mario was the man...obviously. However, I still think Sherron made the play of the game with the steal and the three. To go from down 7 to down 4 there put us in the game...which we clearly were not at that point. Mario gets the press, and we'll remember that shot forever...let's just try to remember Sherron's too.

Seems like everyone is almost certain Rush is going pro (again) and more than half think Darrell will go pro. But now I'm hearing Mario and Sherron are also considering it? My opinion is that Mario and Brandon should go, while Darrell and Sherron should return. Regardless, we need two of those guys to return to be competitive next year...three and we can make a run at the Final Four...all 4? Well, it's a pipe dream but it'd make us the prohibitive favorites...there's no need to dream like that right now though...we're champs...for almost an entire year...let's enjoy it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

CDR

Can't
Defend
Rush

That's my key to the game tonight. Brandon Rush can guard CDR and he will, very tightly...however, I don't think CDR can guard Rush. In fact, once again, I don't see this game being all that close. I'm going with 81-65 Hawks. I see at least one technical from Memphis, and three Tigers fouling out. You get in a big game like this and the quality of the individuals does matter...it gets down to crunch time and these Memphis kids will return to who they really are...which isn't pretty.

What does all of this mean? Perhaps one of the greatest 24 hours spans ever for this Jayhawk/Royals fan:
National Championship...Opening Day...Yanks...Tigers....going down...B-Rush over CDR....Banny striking out A-Rod...Awesome Alex and Badass Billy going deep....Super Mario from deep....Shady and Sasha slamming down the alley oop....Joakim the Dream slamming the door...I've got goose bumps

Royals 7, Yanks 4

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I told you so

I said I thought it might not be close...and it wasn't except for a couple of minutes in the second half. I can honestly say that the first 13 minutes of the first half were the best I've ever seen played by any college basketball team ever. And that's no exaggeration... for 13 minutes the Jayhawks were every Beaker fans' dream...an unstoppable force. Brandon Rush looked like a lottery pick...Russ Rob and Chalmers looked like the best back court in the country...Cole Aldrich out-Tyler Hansboroughed Tyler Hansborough.

Then, as if the refs had on headsets with the president of CBS in their ear, the momentum shifted. Virtually every call for the next 15 minutes went Carolina's way. Every time a Heel hit the court a whistle blew, warranted or not. To the Tar Heels' credit, they followed the flow and got themselves back in the game...kind of.

I'll admit I was nervous, but coming back from 28 points down against the best team in the country takes too much out of you, even with Roy's maddening substitution patterns. So Carolina got tired, the Jayhawks shook the nerves and once again the game was a blowout. It leaves us with questions, so of which will be answered tomorrow night, some of which we should already know the answer to.

Did Roy choke again? Of course he did. Either that or he's much cockier than I ever gave him credit for. Either way his team was laughably unprepared. My friend Steve brought this up last week, and I thought of it again last night: Everyone acted like the choking was nonsense after his National Championship. Remember that he did it with someone else's players against Bruce Weber who hardly looks like he'll ever be in that type of game again. Maybe Roy really is a choke artist...or maybe...

Is Bill Self really that good of a coach? Let's wait and see how he prepares for Memphis before we answer this one.

Is destiny real? Seriously, 20 years later...K-State in the same region...Baylor in the tourney for the first time since 88...Danny Manning on the bench...Can the curse of Larry Brown really be broken? (sidebar: Seeing Brown cheering for UNC may have upset some KU fans...I was far too elated to give a damn)

Is Cole Aldrich ever going to be that good all the time? I don't think so, but I could be wrong. It kind of reminded me of those two or three times a year the Greg Ostertag would get a fire lit under him. Not sure what fired Aldrich up, but he outplayed Hansborough for a good 10 minutes...which just seems absurd.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bring on the Heels!

Brings on Roy! Seriously, all of these people that spent Roy's 15 years at KU telling me that he's a choker, are now telling me we're underdogs against his team in the Final Four? Bring it on! Tyler Hansborough is the best player in the country? I submit that the Hawks have faced two, maybe three better players already this season. Let's see how Tyler enjoys a couple of Russian elbows to the face..."I will crush you". Lawson is Roy's fastest PG ever? He'd better be when he's chasing Chalmers and Russ Rob the other way after his 6th TO. I'm not even sure this game is going to be close, but I'll play it safe and take the Jayhawks by 8....87-79.

As for Bill Self leaving fro OSU? Please...really? That's absurd, leaving KU for OSU....but even if he does, it's not really that big of a deal. I told everyone this when Roy left, KU is a lot bigger than both of them. No one man is going to make or break a program like this (assuming we stay away from Quinn Snyder and Kelvin Sampson). That being said, I hope he stays because I believe he's truly a great coach. But if for some reason he feels the need to go, I trust sweet Lew to find an equally excellent replacement.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Undefeated!

What a fantabulous first game for our Boys in Blue. Monster Meche struggled but still turned in a quality start against what is a behemoth of a lineup. Brett Tomko somehow got through two innings with only a run before Leo the Lion Nunez clamped down on the vaunted Tigers. As predicted, Soria made it interesting, but notched save #1.



Newsomer Jose Guillen was terrible at the plate (he's still stranding runners) but he saved a run with a seed he threw from right field...after that throw I'm not sure anyone will run on him again. But the hero of the day was Awesome Alex. A two run bomb to rattle Verlander and break loose the offense, then a diving stab for the final out. Anyone else remember a certain left handed third baseman doing it with the wood and the leather? Seriously...92 to go...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Royals Predictions 2008

If your a Royals fan, and you're having any trouble at all getting fired up for the 2008 season, check this out. Yeah, it's a bit long but Rany outdoes himself with this speech. He also stole a bit of my thunder as far as that goes...but never the less, the 2008 Kool Aid Drinker Royals Predictions:

The Good

- Awesome Alex Gordon (.290/27/95) will hit at least 100 points higher in April than he did last year.

- Bad Ass Billy Butler (.315/31/106) will play more than 30 games at first base.

- Gil Monster Meche (18-6, 3.74) will make his second All Star Game appearance

- Wacky Zack Greinke (21-6, 3.22) will make his first.

- Jumpin Joey Gathright will steal 40 bases and appear in 120 games.

- The Royals will finish in the top 5 in team ERA

- Alberto "Don't call me Albie" Callaspo will fill in admirably at 2nd every time Mark Grudzuuuzzzzilanika needs a 15 rest on the DL.

- Tea Bag will return to 2006 form and belt 24 home runs.

- Jose Guillen will drive in 120 runs. (Yeah, I still don't have a nickname for him)

- The Cardinals will lose 90 games in the worst division in baseball

- The Yankees will miss the playoffs...and get swept at the K next week.

- The Royals will draw 2 million fans

- Luke "I am your father" Hochevar will be everyone's father in the 2nd half, and be the third starter in the playoffs.

- That's right, I said PLAYOFFS

The Bad

- The Tigers will win the Central with 110+ wins.

- Mike Sweeney will drive in twice as many runs as Ross Gload, in fewer at bats.

- Joakim "The Warria" Soria will struggle at times seeing as much as a full run increase on his ERA

- Brett "The Human Expetive" Tomko will have an ERA over 6.

- Ross "No need to" Gload and Esteban "Doesn't look" German will play far too much


That's all I've got for now, but much more to come later. I will say, the Royals win 93 games...and the wild card. I'll also say they win today 4-3 as Soria gives us the first of many heart attacks throughout the year. Later this week I'll have my complete list of team nicknames...Go Royals!

Final(ly) Four!

I'll have my 2008 Royals predictions up around noon today, but first my thoughts on this weekend:

- How relieved did Bill Self look when that shot at the buzzer missed? i think he (and many Jayhawk fans) almost expected it to go in. Now Self has his Final Four, but is anyone really satisfied? Nope.

- KU vs Carolina for a shot at the title....with all of the questions that Self and his players will have to face about Roy here's hoping at some point we get the "I don't give a ____ about Roy WIlliams right now" jab. I'd say Self is too classy and the players on too short of a rope, but it would be fantastically funny.

- Memphis looks scary good. I don't know that anyone in the country could have beat them their last two games.

- Yes, Kansas (and Self) almost choked that game away yesterday. There have been a lot of time that Mizzou and K-State fans have accused the Jayhawks of choking, yesterday would have been warranted.

- Stephen Curry has two years to stake his claim as the greatest college basketball player ever, and he has one hell of a start. Curry has now put up over 1600 points in his first two seasons, and a magical run to the Elite 8 over the WCC champs, the Big East champs and the Big 10 champs.

- Kansas of UNC? You'll have to wait until later in the week...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kool Aid going sour?

I may not be on the trey Hillman bandwagon very long. First, he took Nomo out of the rotation competition but left Tomko in it. Then he sent Hochevar to the minors, now he's leaning towards Ross Gload at first, and this. Yeah, you read it right...he's leaning towards starting Esteban German in right field if Jose Guillen is still suspended. German is a terrible defender, even at 2nd base...but in right field? When you have Mark Teahan who played there last year? I'm not totally convince Hillman wasn't sent here from Japan to sabotage my favorite team. If he rips a mask of half way through the season to show that he's really John Tudor coming back to exact revenge over 1985, I won't be surprised.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jumpin Joey!

Joey Gathright is known for jumping over cars, in fact I'd say it's made him a You Tube legend...but pitchers? I missed it last night because I had a little league coaches meeting, and won't have access to You Tube until tonight, but according to sports talk radio and the Royals website, Gathright hurdled a 6 foot tall pitcher on his way to first base last night...oh yeah, he also had 3 hits, an RBI, a stolen base and a diving catch in center field. Why isn't this guy starting again? Gathright's Spring stats:

.354 Batting average
.404 On Base Percentage
15 runs
10/10 stolen bases
8 RBI

We don't have room for that in the lineup?

Monday, March 24, 2008

What a weekend! (again)

Wow, all that basketball...all those upsets...Davidson, Western Kentucky, West Virginia, Villanova...what do the readers want to talk about? KU choking...really? See for yourself, from Steve:

If Bill Self can't reach the Final Four this year, with the talent he has,and the way the regional has played out ... you have to wonder if he's evergoing to do it. Villanova is a replica of UNLV, only not as talented.Wisconsin plays tremendous defense ... but the Big 10 (plus one) has noteam even remotely as talented or deep as KU. Let alone offensivelyassertive. I don't know what shocked me more Saturday, that Wisconsin wonwith ease ... or that a Brutal Big 10 team topped 60. And Davidson, sorryguys, but Bo Ryan isn't giving your 3 point specialists open looks in the2nd half on Friday night. The run's over guys. And if its not, well, I'lltake my chances in a regional final against Davidson.

I should preface this by saying, this is the same Steve who spent most of last season telling me how the Chiefs could still get into the playoffs, but I digress. Should KU be in the Final Four this year? Absolutely, but the road still isn't easy. I was shocks at the ease with which Wisconsin dismantled the Mildcats on Saturday. The plan to put Butch on Sutton and not guard him more than 12 feet away from the basket was genius...hitting all of those 3s was lucky. Point being, if Wisconsin, Davidson, or even Villanova can A) come up with a genius game plan and B) hit a bunch of threes (as teams have been known to do in the tournament against Kansas; anything is possible. Steve seem to hope for a Davidson upset of Wisconsin, I'm not sure. Stephen Curry became my favorite non Jayhawk this weekend, I can't believe he's only a sophomore. He's the only guy left in our bracket that really scares me.

As far as the rest of the weekend?

A&M got jobbed against UCLA
Hochevar is starting in AAA, which means Tomko will probably be in the rotation...BOOOOO
Joey Gathright is hitting .318 and is 9/9 in stolen base chances this spring

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Big 12 Tournament Picks

Yeah, I know no one is looking here for gambling advice...more for comic relief...but my motto has always been to talk trash when you can, because chances are later you won't be able to. So, right now, my Jayhawks are a #1 seed in what looks to me to be the most bottom heavy of all the brackets. What I mean by that is that I think the 2-4 seeds (Georgetown, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt) are weaker than the other brackets, but the lower seeds (#7 Gonzaga, #10 Davidson, #11 K-State, #12 Villanova) are stronger than the other brackets. Is it possible that Kansas won't play a single digit seed en route to the Final 4? I think so, but I won't predict it. In fact, I predict their route will be...

Win over Portland State
Win over Kent State
Win over Clemson
Win over Georgetown
Loss to North Carolina

It's not so much that I don't think the Jayhawks could win it all...they certainly could...but are they better than the 97 team that lost to Arizona? What about the 02 (or 03) team with Hinrich and Collison? I don't think so...at some point you get burnt enough that you stop believing... maybe I've reached that point. Still, Final Four is a nice season.

I see Oklahoma and Baylor going one and done. Baylor because they got a crappy draw, Oklahoma because I've lost faith in them and Phil Martelli will coach circles around Capel. K-State could beat USC...even Wisconsin in Nebraska...but once we get to Detroit, they can't hang with Georgetown. Seems like them getting one game away from a KU/K-State Elite match up and then fading out sounds about right.

This leaves Texas...I hate this...Has any team had a better set up? They leave the state for one weekend, into a pod with Miami, St. Mary's and Austin Peay...really? After that they head to Houston, where they'll probably face the worst #3 seed (Stanford) or an upset winner to get to the Elite 8 against Memphis (worst case). Hypothetically, if they win that they'll face UCLA ( a team they've already beaten) in Texas. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if a #1 seed doesn't win it all, it will be Texas....Excuse me while I go puke...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Come Together

No I'm not going to break into Beatles song, although I would if I thought it would work. But I am going to break into full-on car salesman on you (which is infinitely easier when you used to be a car salesman):

It is time for Kansas Jayhawk fans and Kansas State Wildcat fans to come together if you will. Put away the "I was just helping the sheep over the fence" jokes... Jesus Sandal jabs be gone... It's not the spoiled hippy wannabes versus the clueless farmers...it's the spoiled hippy wannabes and the clueless farmers...Rock Chalk and EMAW together...I know, it sounds crazy... but follow me:

This weekend folks from all across Kansas will invade Nebraska, turning the Big Red State into sea of Crimson, Blue and Purple. They have an opportunity to take the city over, but only if they work together. What if 40% of the crowd is Jayhawk fans? And let's say 35% of them are K-State fans? What if, just for one weekend, they united as Big 12 fans...united against the original posers from So Cal...against the cheese heads from Wisconsin...what if they just flat out took the city over? I'll tell you what would happen, they'd both punch a ticket to the Sweet 16 and Detroit.

Both teams should have a home court advantage by themselves, but with help from their rival school? Does anyone really think K-State can't handle the Trojans at Bramlage? What about Wisconsin? Well what if the Qwest Center into Bramlage North for the weekend...at least when K-State is playing...The Jayhawks can EMAW right a long with their farmer bretheren...maybe even wave a Power Towel or two....okay, maybe that's going too far...but you get the point.

Listen, I'm not asking Jayhawk fans to wear purple or anything...and I'm not asking the Wildcats to break out in Rock Chalk Jayhawk at the end of the game...but let's present a united front...let's send two teams from Kansas, two teams from the Big 12, on to Detroit...to the Sweet 16...and only one game away from the rubber match of what is once again turning into a rivalry. Then we can start with the jokes about Bill Self's (alleged) hair piece and Frank Martin's (not so alleged) over sized suits...

What a weekend!

I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable weekends I've ever been a part of. The basketball was fantastic...the selection committee got it right...and because of how much I enjoyed it, I completely blew of the triumphant return of KCSR TV...well that and the fact that I was setting up the first annual KCSR Bracket Challenge. Again, in case you missed it, simply send me your email address, I'll send you an invite and you could be well on your way to owning the first ever KCSR March Madness Champion T Shirt. More thoughts from the weekend...

12 seed Georgia winning the SEC Tournament, in front of (seemingly) 2500 people was easily my favorite story of the weekend. It's also a testament to the inferiority of the SEC. It's not even feasible that Colorado could have done that this weekend.

Baylor getting in to the Dance was my 2nd favorite story. Besides the Cinderella factor, last time the Bears went dancing? 1988

Sunday's championship game was possibly the best game I've seen this year...I'll take it over either of the Duke/UNC in terms of quality of play. I think Self said it best when he said it was "humbling" at times.

If Brandon Rush keeps playing like this, Kansas will be in the Final4.

If Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers keep playing like this, Kansas will win it all.

A tornado hit the Georgie Dome in the middle of the SEC Championship? WOW! No one died? Bigger WOW! Whoever designed that should get some kind of medal today.

Kansas, bracket is the easiest of them all. Only the 3 seed and 11(K-State) are better than the other brackets. By the way, last time Kansas and K-State were in the same bracket? 1988.

Yeah, I'll probably pick Kansas to win it all in at least one of my brackets.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

KC Sports Report Bracket Challenge

KC Sports Report is running a Bracket Challege through CBS Sportsline. The only difficult part to the entire process is getting signed up. The only way to do it is for you te receive an invite from KC Sports Report. So, send an email to heath.cummings@gmail.com and request an invitation if you'd like play. There is no entry fee, but there is a Prize for fist place. How can you beat that?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Arms Race no race at all?

This article about Brett Tomko scares me to death. In case you don't feel like clicking it(it might make you sick), here's the quotes that got me the most:

The line shows Tomko went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk.

"Great outing," Hillman said. "The line was bad, but with what he did, it was very good. He took the bullpen session right into the game."

Maybe if it's a young pitcher, or someone like Hideo Nomo who's coming back after a two year hiatus I could understand this thinking. But Tomko went 4-12 last year...with a 5.55 ERA...in the weak National League. Moral victories shouldn't be enough for an 11 year veteran who stunk so completely last season. But that wasn't all...

His take on being the Royals' No. 4 starter at this point?

"If that's what they want, I'm down with it," Tomko said. "I felt like I threw the ball well today and I don't feel I've been horrible since I've been here. The Cubs game, yeah, here and there. Other than that, I feel like I'm progressing the way I need to."

He doesn't feel like he's been terrible? Tomko's had 3 starts, here are his stats:
10.2 innings, 10.13 ERA, 21 hits, 15 runs(12 earned), 3 walks, 7 strikeouts

That is as terrible as you can be, Brett....atrocious in fact.

I was really concerned by this whole thing until I read the Star today. This article, while still justifying Tomko's terrible day gave me hope because of this quote from Trey:

“Nothing is solidified with those final two spots,” Hillman declared. “We’ve got too much time left.”

Granted, Tomko still probably has the inside track, but at least they haven't given to him. They have to make him have at least a couple of decent outings, right? I've heard a lot of people speculate that Tomko will make the team no matter what because of his approximately $3 million dollar contract. If that's fact, let's at least start him out in a long relief role and make him show something before we start him. Better to throw away $3 million dollars than 10 games in the standings, especially if you're the Royals.

So, if not Tomko, who? I've tried hard to find alternatives to John Bale as our token lefty, but there isn't one at this point. Maroth will probably have to start in AAA because of an injury scare and De La Rosa has been as wild and ineffective as anticipated. So, my new alternative is no lefty at all...really. I like Bale in the bullpen as a long relief guy...maybe even a swing starter...but I don't trust him in the rotation.

As of right now I like Luke Hochevar and Nomo to fill the 4 and 5 spots. I know everyone says that Nomo is too old, and Hochevar too inexperienced...but they're the most talented guys we have and that's what we have to go with. Yeah, it's similar to the Gathright argument, and it's my philosophy I guess. This team can't win by playing it safe...with guys like Brett Tomko, John Bale and Ross Gload...we need talent and potential and we have to take chances. I know Hochevar and Nomo are both considered big risks, but as of right now that's who I'd take.

Besides, the age isn't that big of a deal. Nomo won't turn 40 until August, a ton of pitchers have had reasonable (we're only asking him to be a #4) success after 40. Hochever, meanwhile, is almost a month older than Zack Greinke...no one thinks Greinke is too young. Here's hoping Hillman (and Dayton) show some guts and start with out 5 most talented pitchers in the rotation to start the year.

Big 12 Bubble Watch

I think it's safe to say that Oklahoma and A&M are off the Bubble Watch for good. The Aggies played inspired basketball last night in their defeat of K-State, looking like the team we expected at the beginning of the season. That was essentially a road game against the #3 team in the conference (who throttled them earlier in the year) without their starting center. Is it possible that Mark Turgeon has turned this team around just in time? I don't feel near as confident about Kansas winning this game today as I did on Thursday.

Oklahoma didn't exactly play inspired, and I don't really expect them to keep it close against Texas, but I think they've done enough to wrap up at least an 8/9 seed. What that means to me is that today's game is huge for them. Winning today probably means they avoid a #1 seed in the second round...I still don't think they can.

As for the teams that lost? K-State fans have to be exceptionally nervous right now. Their resume is eerily similar to last year (other than the 3rd place finish). Surely they don't get left out in the could two years in a row, right? Remember how mad Mizzou fans were when the conference allowed Kansas to get the BCS birth even though the Tigers won the North? K-State fans would have an even bigger gripe if the 4th, 5th and 6th place teams went dancing while they stayed home. I've got the Cats penciled in as a 10 seed.

The Bears still look good to me as well, although they could use some help today. Memphis is destroying Tulsa, so that helps. Other games the Bears and Cats should watch today?
-They need Georgia to lose either this afternoon or tonight, which is very likely
-Carolina embarrassing Va Tech wouldn't hurt anything
-They really need the winner of Michigan State and Wisconsin to win the Big 10. The other side of the bracket features Illinois vs. Minnesota, both teams that need to win the tournament to get in.

Like I said, I think they're both in good shape. But if all of those things went against them? I wouldn't want to be a Wildcat or Bear fan tomorrow evening.

I'd also like to say that I'm pretty irritated with the Missouri Tigers and Kansas State Wildcats...and all of KC should be. The bracket set up perfectly for the first Big 12 Tourney at the Sprint Center to be an incredible atmosphere. Kansas vs. Missouri on Friday night, the winner vs. Kansas State on Saturday...can you imagine what downtown would have been like? Worse yet, the Tigers and Cats needed only to beat teams they'd already beaten this year....but neither one did, and they did it in remarkably similar fashion throwing away any chance at the end with sketchy play calling and sketchier execution.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Big 12 Bubble Watch

Baylor got really lucky that virtually everyone else on the bubble (minus A&M) lost yesterday. I think they're still in, probably as an 11 seed (for now). A&M, K-State and OU all appear to be safe if for no reason other than everyone else collapsing yesterday. Sure wouldn't hurt their chances to win today though, especially OU against last place Colorado. Boone Pickens thinks OSU can get in if they make it to Sunday. I won't totally rule that out, but they need more help. For now they better stay in "Win it all or NIT" mode". I do think yesterday's win clinched an NIT bid for them...and Nebraska.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good email...

Thought an email I received today was worth resetting.

From "Adam":
I know its not exactly KC news but whats your take on Trent Green? Death Wish? Not knowing when to give up? The best thing I think can happen to him is not to have his butt leave the sideline, and I know the Rams blow but that's a lot of money to throw at a guy who is one hit away from vegetable-ism. Am I missing something?

As I told Adam earlier today, I made essentially the same point he's making a little over a month ago here. Now that Green hasn't taken my advice, I can't really say I'm that surprised. We spend a lot of time complaining about the younger generation of athletes being so pampered and disillusioned that they don't think that the rules apply to them. I'm not sure this is that much different. There has to be an air of invincibility to Green for him to make this decision. Either that or he has a wife that goes through money like Jose Guillen goes through MLB teams. Either way, I just hope Bulger stays healthy and we don't have to seen Trent carried off the field again.

On Adam's last point about the Rams, $8.9 million for 3 years is a ton...but this isn't baseball where the contracts are guaranteed either. Seems less than intelligent to count on Trent as a backup to someone as fragile as Bulger, but that's pretty much par for the Rams...and the city of St. Louis. This is the same organization that employed Leonard "Manslaughter" Litttle, you know.

Finally, speaking of St. Louis and fragile: Albert Pujols is going to try and tough it out without surgery on his elbow. Weird how the injuries are piling up for Pujols now. It's almost as if he's a 40 year old man who has been doing something to stay in good condition and then just stopped...I'm just sayin'...

Big 12 Report Week 9

With Texas Tech and Oklahoma State tipping off shortly, it seems like a good time to wrap up the regular season and predict the tournament. This won't be the last Big 12 report though, we'll have a special on Big 12 teams in the dance next week. As for the recap:

Player of the Year never was really a contest and obviously belongs to Michael Beasley. The only real debate now seems to be between Beasley and last year's incredible freshman, Kevin Durant. The regular season numbers are close enough that the postseason will decide this argument. Durant's Horns lost in the Big 12 Championship to Kansas and were knocked out of the dance in the 2nd round. Can Beasley top that?

Coach of the Year: Rick Barnes. Everyone (including me) expected Kansas to win this conference. While many argue they did win a share of it, it's Barnes Horns who received the #1 seed in the tournament. Considering he lost the best player in the nation last year, the accolades are even more deserved.

Biggest Surprise: Baylor Bears. I picked the Cats to go 10-6, so I wasn't surprised by them at all. But the fact that the Baylor Bears are the 5 seed? Needing only a gimme win over Colorado to clinch their NCAA bid? Shocking, especially for someone who picked them to go 5-11.

Biggest Disappointment: Nebraska and Tech disappointed me, but nowhere close to the level that A&M did. To go from a Top 10 team to playing on Thursday for your NCAA life is the epitome of disappointment. Mark Turgeon won't get too many seasons like this before he's back in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Biggest Story: Maybe I'm chicken, but I'll take Bob Knight retiring. One of the greatest, most despised coaches of all time retiring outweighs a few kids (continually) making bad decisions...even if Athenagate lends itself to more humor.

Okay, enough of the past....on to the predictions:

Thursday
Oklahoma State over Texas Tech- Two teams going opposite directions, Cowboys could give Texas problems in round 2.
Baylor over Colorado- Bears clinch an NCAA bid.
Missouri over Nebraska- Essentially a home game for the Tigers, setting up a very fun Friday night at the Sprint Center
A&M over Iowa State- Not sure this win gets the Aggies in, but I'm pretty sure a loss knocks them out.

Friday
Texas over OSU- I really wanted to pick OSU here, but on a neutral floor? With the Longhorns playing for a #1 seed? I don't see how.
Baylor over Oklahoma- This puts Oklahoma as the most likely Big 12 team to get bounced...I just don't like the way they've played lately.
Kansas over Missouri- Maybe the closest game of the day...Tigers come up just short.
A&M over Kansas State- I don't really like this pick, but I can't imagine we'll be lucky enough to get MU/KU one night and KSU/KU the next. Besides, A&M will have revenge on their mind.

Saturday
Texas over Baylor- Playing on Thursday finally catches up to the Bears
Kansas over A&M- Ditto for the Aggies

Sunday
Will the selection committee be watching? They should be, as the winner of this game should get a #1 seed. The first match up between these teams was close, but Texas squeaked one out at home. This will be a home game for the Jayhawks as they christen the new Allen Fieldhouse East. I don't see how Texas (or anyone else) could beat them there this year. As a consolation to all the Tiger and Wildcat fans, they get to hear the Jayhawks complain about receiving a 2 seed because the committee didn't wait for this game to end.

Postseason Prediction
Kansas, Texas- #2 seeds
Baylor- #8 seed
A&M, Kansas State- #10 seed
Oklahoma- #12 seed

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Maroth update

For those of you wondering (like me) what's up with Mike Maroth. This from the Royals mailbag:

I'm a big fan of Mike Maroth. I was saddened when the Tigers traded him to the Cardinals and he got released last October. Is there a good chance of him making the Royals' club?-- Luis C., Bristol, Tenn.
Maroth is a bit behind because of a stiff shoulder but, after pitching in a "B" game on Sunday, he's about ready for Cactus League action. He started out throwing softly on Sunday, but by the end of his outing his pitches were up around 85, 86 mph. That's just a couple of miles per hour shy of his normal speed. With Maroth, of course, everything is getting the pitches to work and hitting his spots as he did so well for years with the Tigers. The Royals already are impressed by his edgy determination and work ethic. Two other left-handers, John Bale and Jorge De La Rosa, are competing for the fifth slot in the rotation and Maroth has some catching up to do. He's agreed to start the season at Omaha if necessary and, with less than three weeks left in Spring Training, that's a possibility. Having a veteran like Maroth tuning up at Triple-A in case another starter is needed in a hurry would be a good option.


I'd have to agree it's looking like a long shot that Maroth breaks camp with the Royals, but the fact that he's agreed to start in AAA if needed is huge. He could be a great asset in May or June.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Case for Joey

First off, the Kool Aid Drinker would like to answer a couple of questions. It seems that everyone thinks that either A) Joey Gathright is on my fantasy baseball team B) He's my illegitimate half brother C) I spent my life's savings buying up all of his rookie cards or D) All of the above. When they find out that none of the above are true, the next obvious question is "Why in the world do you like him so much then? So, I thought I'd respond with the Top 5 reasons Joey Gathright should start in center for the Royals this season...

1. The "Joey Jumps Over a Car" bobblehead would be really awesome.
2. Potential
3. He had and OBP of .371 last year, best on the team
4. I hear he's bringing back the Brian McRae drag bunt
5. Otherwise, Ross "No need to" Gload is going to play 1st and bat 3rd

There are a lot more, but one major theory that I'd like to expand on. The Royals cannot afford power, as evidenced by the fact that we just "broke the bank" spending 12 million a year on a guy (Jose Guillen) that no one expects to hit more than 30 home runs in a year. Power has simply become too expensive, unless you develop it...which we may with Gordon and Butler. But the one thing we can still afford is speed, and that's what we should build this team on: Pitching, defense, and manufacturing runs. A lot of people say you can't win that way in the AL anymore, who's trying? Can we honestly try the same things the Yanks and Sox are with 1/3 the payroll and expect to compete? Absolutely not.

Even if you completely disagree with that theory, I'm not suggesting you give up power to play Gathright...Ross Gload would be the casualty. I like Gload, but as his nickname suggests, he's nothing special. He's a utility man...a pinch hitter...a defensive replacement...but an everyday first baseman batting 3rd? No way. Gload is an asset to the club, and I won't bad mouth him at all, but you can't build a good lineup with him as your 3 hitter. Can you say the same about Gathright at lead off? I don't know how you could. I know he has no pop...I know everyone hates how much he bunts...and he does dumb things sometimes...but he's inexperienced. Give him a full year in the lead off spot and watch how much better this offense is. Give him a full year in the outfield and watch how many times he makes web gems.

You see, Joey Gathright could be exciting. He could bunt his way on, steal second, move to third on a ground ball and score on a shallow fly ball. He can manufacture runs by himself. He can take away runs with his speed in the outfield. He's a raw talent with a ton of potential, which is exactly what this team is built around. It's the only reason for hope in Kansas City: potential. Let us hope Trey, at least for a while...start Joey Gathright.

Amazing Deal...

If you're a Royals fan, and you have kids...you can't miss this deal:

June 1st- Cleveland Indians on a Sunday afternoon.
First 10,000 kids get a Build-A-Bear
Bob Evans Family and Friends Day
4 Outfield Plaza tickets
4 hot dogs
4 sodas 1 bag of Peanuts
$44

That deal is absurd...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 8

It all comes down to tomorrow, with lots of questions left to be answered...

Who will win the conference? Texas
Who will earn the other byes? KU, KSU and Baylor
Will anyone play spoiler on the final day? I don't think so

One thing you don't have to wait until tomorrow for? The Week 8 Big 12 Power Poll...

1. Texas (25-5, 12-3) Just a home victory away from clinching the #1 seed in the Big 12 tourney. In my opinion, just 4 wins away from a #1 seed in the Big Dance.
2. Kansas (27-3, 12-3) Still needing help, likely not going to get it. I guess they can call themselves co champs, whatever that is worth.
3. Kansas State (19-10, 9-6) The slide finally ended against Colorado...now that Cats need a win over lowly Iowa State to (in my opinion) clinch a birth in the tourney.
4. Texas A&M (22-8, 8-7) Who would have guess the Aggies would need a win over Kansas just to finish over .500 in conference? Can the Aggies get in the dance with an 8-8 conference record?
5. Baylor (20-9, 8-7) Surprise of the year in the conference needs a road win at Tech to solidify tourney hopes...and maybe one win in Kansas City to seal them. Scott Drew is at least a finalist for Coach of the Year.
6. Oklahoma (20-10, 8-7) Huge win over OSU kept their tourney hopes alive. Surely they'll handle Mizzou at home...right?
7. Oklahoma State (16-13, 7-8) Cowboys run has ended...but I doubt anyone wants to play them in Kansas City. Did Sutton do enough to save his job?
8. Texas Tech (16-13, 7-8) I challenge anyone to show me a more astonishing week than: 98-54 loss at A&M, 83-80 win vs Texas, 109-51 loss at Kansas...incredible.
9. Nebraska (17-11, 6-9) I predicted Sadler as the Coach of the Year...he may have went the other way. No way this team shouldn't still be in the hunt for the dance. Why aren't they? Start with a 55-51 loss to Colorado. Losing three out of four to Mizzou and Iowa State didn't help anything either.
10. Missouri (16-14, 6-9) Pretty much right where we all (except for the most optimistic of Tiger fans) expected them. Anderson brings in a lot of fresh meat next season and they need to be improved very quickly. It's the Show Me State and Anderson needs to show something next season.
11. Iowa State (14-16, 4-11) Cyclones have lost 10 of 12 since starting the season 2-1. McDermott may be right behind Sadler and Anderson on the hot seat next year...which seemed unfathomable when he was hired.
12. Colorado (11-18, 3-12) Terrible season from a terrible team. They won one more game than I expected, and still have one left. As much as I disliked Ricardo Patton, he may have been the only thing keeping this program afloat.

Next week I'll present the year end awards, project the Big 12 tourney and analyze how terrible my preseason picks were. For now, I'll tell you the finalists...

Player of the Year
Michael Beasley

Coach of the Year
Rick Barnes
Frank Martin
Scott Drew
Jeff Capel

Biggest Surprise
Baylor
Kansas State

Biggest Disappointment
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Nebraska

Biggest Story
Bob Knight retires
K-State end the streak
Athenagate at Mizzou
Baylor gets a bye

Think I forgot a category, or a nominee? Let me know in the comments...

Postseason Projections

Kansas - #1 seed
Texas- #2 seed
K- State- #7 seed
Baylor- #9 seed
Oklahoma- #10 seed
A&M- #12 seed

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Want goosebumps?

Read this article (Special thanks to Tye from BOTC) on espn.com about Awesome Alex Gordon. If you live in KC how can you not love this kid? Is he the salvation of baseball in Kansas City? It's too early to tell, but you could quite confidently say that if baseball is going to be saved, it'll be Gordon that does it.
Case in point: My photobloggrapher was recently trying to pick out her favorite Royal for this season. My favorite being Alex, she was trying to avoid him...and I fed her favorable information about several others, really not wanting to share him. Besides, everyone loves Alex, she should be more original. She tried...she failed.
It's just damn near impossible not to love the kid...Frank White loves him...George Brett loves him...the Kool Aid Drinker loves him...hell, Tony Muser may even love him (assuming he drinks Tequila). As a special tribute, an article I wrote back in 2005 when Alex was drafted...more of a letter than an article, but it still holds true:

Dear Alex


Growing up a Royals fan I’m sure you have a general idea about what I’m getting ready to tell you. We need you Alex, and we need you to be great. Kansas City can be a great baseball town again, hardly anyone disputes that. What Kansas City needs, however, is a reason to believe. Tony Pena came close for four months in 2003; crowds started getting bigger, season ticket sales increased, and then poof! Like most smoke and mirrors tricks, Pena’s didn’t last long and in 2004 the Royals found themselves at the lowest point in franchise history. But this isn’t just about disappointments on the field. From trading away superstar talents, to draft picks busting like piƱatas on Cinco De Mayo, virtually everything that could go wrong for Royals fans in the last 10 years, has gone wrong. We really need you to be different….soon.


The anticipation surrounding your development will rival that of Zack Greinke’s. When you say in interviews that you were a George Brett fan, when you talk about being excited to play for the Royals, we want it to be real. There have been too many people talking over the last 10 years about getting out of Kansas City. There have been too many free agents and tradees that have come in with a less than excited attitude about playing for the Royals. We need your excitement for our egos. Nobody wants to believe that Kansas City is too small a market to succeed. No one wants to think about the players counting down the days to their free agency, or premature departure to “play for a winner”.


Most importantly, no one wants to think about Juan Lebron(1995), Dee Brown(1996), Dan Reichert(1997), Jeff Austin(1998), Mike Stodolka(2000), Colt Griffin(2001), or Roscoe Crosby(2001) anymore. With our current phenom Zack Greinke struggling to keep his ERA below five, it’s hard to get excited about any of our prospects….but you can change that, and you can start by signing soon. The last thing we need is to hear about our owner being cheap in negotiations, or our future star being stubborn and playing hard ball. If you’re really excited about coming to the Royals, take the $3 million we’re going to offer you and get to A ball this summer. By next spring you’ll be in AA or AAA and by this time next year there will be fans clamoring about when your first start will be.


You see, it’s no fun to play in Kansas City when the fans aren’t excited. You’ve heard that Missouri is the Show Me State? Well, judging strictly by the baseball fans, that phrase must have originated on the west side of the state. Kansas City doesn’t have to have a dominant team like they did in the late 70s and early 80s, but they need good players to get attached to, and at least a glimmer of hope that a division title may be within reach. By the time you get here prospects like David DeJesus, Mark Teahan, Billy Butler, and Greinke should have already laid the foundation for a youth movement that should reach it’s peak when you arrive.


But you’ll be the icing on the cake. Fans will drive down from Nebraska just to watch you play. Kansas City fans will instantly fall in love with your George Brett like swing. The last piece of the puzzle, you will be. The most important puzzle in Kansas City sports history. It may seem like I’m overstating it a bit, but if this youth movement fails and Royals fans are faced with 4-5 more years of last place finishes, and underachieving prospects baseball may die in Kansas City.


Your coach at Nebraska was quoted as saying that you had “it”. Well we’re going to find out, because having it is the only way that you could possibly make the kind of impact that the Royals need from you. Think George Brett, with the added obstacles of payroll disparity, an absentee owner, and 10 years of previous losing. Okay, now I am overstating it.


Finally, Alex, welcome to Kansas City. I’m sure you’ll have a news conference here when you sign, and they’ll probably even have you at a ballgame this summer. That’s probably when you’ll figure it out. Chances are the game you attend will at best have 20,000 fans, and they probably won’t have much to cheer about….until they introduce you. Chances are even better that when you here your name called the next sound you hear will be the loudest cheer you’ve heard all night. Get used to it, because if you’re what we all think you are it won’t be the last game where the cheers are the loudest for you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Just sayin

Jivin Joey Gathright:

.444, 5 runs, 1 triple, 2 RBI, 6/6 stolen bases, 1.167 OPS

Will Mike Maroth ever pitch?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Randomness

Some real quick random thoughts...

Has a team ever put up 109 with a lower high scorer than last night? The Jayhawks put up 109 on a hapless Texas Tech team, with Russell Robinson leading the way with 15 points. To me, that's incredible. What's more amazing? That Tech beat Texas on Saturday in the middle of a 44 point loss to A&M and a 58 point loss to Kansas. Regardless, Tech's season is done and the Jayhawks are still in the hunt for a #1 seed.

Joey Gathright had 3 stolen bases yesterday...John Bale threw three scoreless innings...and the Royals won. Bale has thrown a couple of early haymakers at De la Rosa in the battle for the lefty starting job. I'm just wondering if Mike Maroth is ever going to step into the ring. Gathright is doing exactly what I'd hoped he would, making it hard for the Royals to bench him. Seems to me that the odds of Teahan moving to first and Gathright moving to the outfield get better everyday...we can hope.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Play Ball!

The Royals are currently in the 9th inning of their 4th game of the year, leading 7-5. While I'm the first to admit that 4 Spring Training games have very little meaning (Grudz and Guillen haven't even played yet), there are a few things that Royals fans can be encouraged by:

1. Luke Hochevar threw 2 more scoreless innings today; meaning his Spring Training stats look like this: 4 IP, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 BB, 2 Ks. Again it's really early, but Trey Hillman said Hochevar would have to out-pitch a lot of his teammates to make the team...he's doing it so far. Is it better to have Hochevar in the rotation or the pen? Ideally I'd say the bullpen, and that answer has nothing to do with Luke at all. For him to make the rotation, a lot of guys are going to have to have a bad spring. I think it would be a lot better sign for the team if Hochevar pitches well enough to break camp with the club, but has to start in the pen because the guys they expect to start earn their spots.

2. DeJesus, Teahan, Gordon, and Butler are all hitting. These four guys all need to have better seasons than they did last year. They could all benefit from a confidence boost early in the year as well (although I think Butler's confidence will be fine regardless). I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to see Butler and Gordon in the middle of the lineup, as long as they keep hitting the ball they may be. Just wait until Jose Guillen joins these guys in the lineup...

3. Speaking of Guillen, a recent article in Sports Illustrated that those listed in the Mitchell Report may get a fresh start, without punishment from Commissioner Bud Selig. Guillen's suspension is currently being appealed and this could be huge for the Royals. Those first 12 games (almost all against expected playoff contenders) would seem much less daunting with Guillen in the lineup.

Sure, the naysayers will tell you about Joakim Soria and Zack Greinke getting bombed in their first appearances...or about the atrocious infield defense...I'll leave those downers, and others, to them. To me, that's not what spring is about; Spring is about believing that Jose Guillen is worth $36 million. That not only can Meche, Bannister, and Soria repeat last year's success...but that they can improve upon it. That Billy Butler can learn to play 1st base. That Alex Gordon is the next George Brett. That if Trey Hillman can manage a team to a Japanese World Series, he can do the same here. Finally, and most importantly, that the misery is over...No more 100 loss seasons, no more out of contention by May, no more bad trades and worse drafts... Yeah, that's what Spring is about to the Kool Aid Drinker.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 7

It's about time to start eating crow, I figured I'd get a head start this week...

1. Texas (24-4, 11-2) I've badmouthed Rick Barnes a lot this year, but he's closing in on a Big 12 Title, a #1 seed, and possibly Big 12 Coach of the Year. It's hard to imagine who else could win it now unless K- State or Baylor win out.

2. Kansas (25-3, 10-3) I still thinks a #1 seed is possible, but they'd have to win the last three, and three in the tourney. Possible? Sure...maybe not quite as probable as it once seemed. One thing is for sure, the Hawks need to show some heart in their revenge game Saturday vs....

3. Kansas State (18-9, 8-5) To clear one thing up. I was not predicting a Wildcat collapse earlier in the week. I was just stating that if they did lose 3 of their next 4 (including a first round loss in the Big 12 Tourney) then it would be the greatest collapse in Big 12 history...and I stand by that.

4. Baylor (19-8, 7-6) Bears deserve the jump in ranking after a gut check win over KSU at home and a road win (even if it was at Colorado). I picked this team to win 5 games this year...count me amongst those who are surprised by the Bears possible tournament run.

5. Texas A&M (21-7, 7-6) I'm worried about the Aggies. No way they should have lost to Nebraska on Saturday. Now they have road games against Baylor and OU before a season finale at home against KU. They may blow this thing yet.


6. Okalahoma State (15-12, 6-7) No one in the league is hotter than the Cowboys. Home games against Nebraska and Oklahoma mean by this time next week this team could be firmly on the bubble.

7. Nebraska (17-9, 6-7) I told you I hate this team right? Every time I write them off they throw up a couple of pretty W's...then I get back on the bandwagon. All I'm saying is, their tourney hopes are not lost yet...amazingly.

8. Oklahoma (18-10, 6-7) The Sooners putting up 45 in back to back blowout losses is inexplicable. Now they have to win out, which doesn't seem likely.

9. Texas Tech (15-12, 6-7) A 44 point loss to A&M? UT and KU next on the schedule? They're done.

10. Missouri (15-13, 5-8) All hope of a miraculous run now lives in Kansas City. Wouldn't that be fun? The first year in the Sprint Center, the Tigers making a run to the finals...stranger things have happened...probably.

11. Iowa State (14-14, 4-9) Done.

12. Colorado (10-17, 2-11) Iowa State, @ Kansas State, @ Nebraska...can they win one and avoid 20 losses? They might be able to win one, but unless they skip the Big 12 tournament they won't be able to avoid 20 losses.

I'd like to take this moment, with my mouth full of crow, to remind you that I did pick Michael Beasley as the unquestioned player of the year here. Coach of the Year? Well, we're 3 straight Nebraska wins away from that being a possibility...never say never.

Postseason Projections
Kansas #1 seed
Texas #2 seed
Kansas State #7 seed
Baylor, A&M #10 seed

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm lost

It's going to take me at least another 24 hours to figure out the Big 12 race after the last week...it's ridiculous. Between that and the fact that it's Spring Play season at the Elementary school means the Big 12 Report won't be up until tomorrow...also pushing back my next Royals blog to week 2. How about Hochevar going 6 up 6 down yesterday though?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Starstruck 2/27

Lyons effort not enough in MU's loss to Oklahoma State

Leo Lyons was a monster last night, much like Mizzou fans wish he had been all year. With career highs in both points (27) and rebounds (18) Lyons tried to will the Tigers on to the bubble himself...but it wasn't enough. Don't fault Lyons or the Tigers, their opponent, Oklahoma State, is simply on fire....they've won 5 of 6 and it looks like maybe I was writing about the wrong team streaking on to the bubble. It's looking very possible that the Cowboys will be 17-12, 8-7 going into their season finale at Texas. Of course, the Longhorns will be(most likely) playing for the Big 12 Championship, so it won't be a cakewalk. As for the Tigers, they'll have to win 4 in a row in Kansas City if they want to go dancing....

K-State basketball wallowing in negativity

As usual Whitlock is over the top here, and scathing. The one thing I'll say about this K-State team? I'm not sure everyone realizes how close they are to a ginormous collapse...They were 17-5, 7-1 and in sole possession of first place just two and a half weeks ago. Since then they've lost to Texas Tech, Nebraska, Baylor, and Texas at home with their only win being a revenge pounding of Mizzou. The Wildcats must have one more win and may need two more to make the tournament...to get two they'd have to win a road game which they haven't done in over a month. I'm not saying it will happen...just that it could...and if it does, it may rank as one of the biggest collapses in Big 12 history.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Believe it or not

Fine I'll say it. If Mizzou wins tonight, they've got a realistic shot at making the tournament. In fact, I'd say a better shot than Kansas would have of winning the Big 12. Seems absurd? With a win tonight the Tigers would be 16-12, 6-7 and a half game out of 4th place in the third or 4th best conference in the country. They'd have games left at Baylor, home against Iowa State at home and at Oklahoma. Missouri can win all three of those games and if they did they'd be all but in. If they won two of them they'd be 19-13, 8-8 with wins over the (likely) Big 12 Champs and (possible) Big 10 Co Champs. This is a HUGE game for the Tigers. Let's hope Mizzou Arena is rocking because if it is it's hard to see OSU winning tonight.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finally, the lineup

All of the focus it seems is on the pitching with the Royals this year...

Who will win the last two spots in the rotation?
Will Meche and Bannister be as good as last year?
Will Greinke finally turn into the stud we think he can be?
Can Yasuhiko Yabuta be the next great Japanese set up man?
How will the sophomore season of closer Joakim Soria go?

All of these questions and more are important. Heck, I won't even debate that pitching wins championships. Nope, no questioning the importance of pitching but there is one other thing you can't debate; you have to score runs to win...especially in the American League. How is this team going to do that? Last year the Royals finished 27th in the majors in runs scored, no matter how good the pitching is, that won't cut it...but there's reason for hope:

- Jose Guillen. I should be able to stop at the period, but there are enough naysayers out there, I'll offer this: Guillen would have been the best bat on the Royals last year, there's no reason to expect anything different this year. He gives this lineup a sense of legitimacy it didn't have last year...much like Gil Meche did for the rotation last year. Guillen will make Gordon, Butler, and Teahan better.

- Billy Butler drove in 52 runs(5th on the team) in only 329 at bats. Not a great percentage, but assuming he's closer to 550 at bats this season he should be more productive than any bat the Royals had last year. I think .320/25 HRs/90 RBI is a very realistic projection of Butler's sophomore year.

- No way Alex Gordon starts as bad as he did last year. After the break he hit .264 with 9 homers and 32 RBI in 70 games. I think it's very possible that's we'll see him in the same 25 Homer 90 RBI ball park as Billy Butler.

- Trey Hillman has a new approach. I've heard this a lot, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. Regardless, it has to be better than Buddy Bell's approach...anything different is better. One thing I have heard is that he likes to manufacture runs and Joey Gathright could be a big part of that plan. Gathright's talent and speed is unquestionable, I just hope we've found someone who can hone it.

With that being said, here's the lineup I'd put out there 150 games a year:

CF Joey Gathright
LF David DeJesus
DH Billy Butler
RF Jose Guillen
3B Alex Gordon
C John Buck
1B Mark Teahan
2B Mark Grudzielanek
SS Tony Pena Jr

Now I know a lot of you are wondering why Teahan and Grudz are at the bottom...I think we know what we have in these guys, decent hitters...consistent...solid...but not legitimate 2 and 3 hitters. We're hoping that Gordon and Butler can develop into middle of the order guys right? Why not start them there with some protection? Won't they see a lot more fastballs there then if they're hitting in front of TPJ? My case for Gathright? He's the only legit leadoff hitter we have and he hit .307 last year. More important than that? He's a raw talent. Yeah, he still needs polishing, but so did Willie Wilson, we've got to take a chance on raw talents like this and give them a chance to turn into what they could.

Now here is the lineup I expect...(once Guillen's suspension is over)
CF David DeJesus
2B Mark Grudzielanek
LF Mark Teahan
RF Jose Guillen
DH Billy Butler
3B Alex Gordon
1B Ross Gload
C John Buck
SS Tony Pena Jr

To me, that lineup isn't near as exciting. But what would be exciting is if Hillman chose a lineup and stuck with it. I understand he may be a tinkerer, but Buddy Bell's 'experimenting' with the lineup got very old and in my opinion was a detriment to the team.

What do I expect either of those lineups to do? Score more runs than last year. It seems to me that top 20 would be a nice improvement, and with our pitching top 15 could get us into the playoff race. I think both of those are possible, with Gordon and Butler turning into borderline superstars.