Long. Scroll for (1) Fan Experience (2) The Game (3) Scouting Report on Bonifacio etc.
I got to Busch Stadium last night to watch the Cards forfeit one to the Cubs ... and watch ex-Royal budding superstar Emu Boner. It's been years since I've been to a MLB game. I'm a casual fan who stopped following teams when I started fantasy, and now that I quit fantasy, I'm "enjoying" being a Royals fan.
The Fan Experience
The scalpers were friendly. Too friendly. They must've known I'd already had a beer and lost my audition. They were passing off a $59 ticket as $120 face, pointing at the seating chart behind 1B when it was in RF. They did their job. I forked over $40 and a $5 tip. I sat 12 rows up in fare territory. It was not long ago when that seat at the K was a $10 bleacher ...
Shops and restaurants are numerous and fantastic. Overpriced of course. I had an aisle seat, the aisle's narrow, and the concession dudes visited too often, so my view was obstructed a third of the time. On the flip side, if you like drinking $8 Buds, the service was fantastic.
In between innings was kind of lame. Cheerleaders dancing on dugouts and launching t-shirts. Music? (I'm a fuddyduddy, I grew up on the Fenway organ.)
They had so many kids and nonprofits before the game, they had to paint the RF foul line five minutes before gametime, after they all marched out the tunnel. Watching the paint crew was like watching six hardhats take three hours to fill a pothole.
Ugly. 17-5. A replay challenge in the 4th when it was already 8-2. (Yawn.) Shoddy defense by both teams - misplays, poor decision-making in game situations. Then after Pat Neshek got the side on 16 pitches in the 8th, Mike Matheny threw Randy Choate out there to get some BP work. By the time the Cubs had batted around, Boner scored his fifth run, and Daniel Descalso came on for the final out. Is Neshek that fragile that he couldn't go out there to finish?
The Scouting Report
Emilio Bonifacio reached and scored five times. Every time he was on 3rd, the Cards defense caved. In the first, the infield played in with one out and Anthony Rizzo up. He scored on a (crossed up?) WP. In the fourth, again with one out and the infield in on Rizzo, he drew a throw home 6-2 and eluded the tag. (That was the reviewed play.) By the time it was 15-5 in the 9th, again with Rizzo up and one out, the D let him score from third on the 4-3 groundout. Facing the righty Fornaturo in the 6th, he fouled off three pitches (away-away) and went the other way through the SS hole. Later that inning, he scored on Starlin Castro's two-out double only because he had run on that 2-2 pitch. Maness worked him inside to get him out in the 7th. Overall, offensively, he hit like a Dream Royal Creamsicle - all singles and a groundball double. Two hits on 0-2 counts. Defensively nothing complicated happened in the OF to really judge him, but he ended the game nicely going back on Matt Carpenter's deep lineout.
Allen Craig looked like he'd never played RF at Busch. He misplayed the carom on Castro's first-inning hit into a triple. And he tried short-hopping Junior Lake's 9th-inning double while ignoring the serious English on the ball bouncing off the dirt.
Travis Wood looked like Pete Rose on the basepaths. He legged out an infield hit, laid down a beaut of a bunt on 0-2, and took third on a flyout in the 6th so he could score on Rizzo's SF. Sometimes from the stretch, he looked rushed. He took weak-hitting Bourjos to 3-0 from the stretch and eventually walked him. Then he grooved one to Mark Ellis with two outs and two strikes. He hit two guys in the 5th - starting with the pinch-hitter Garcia on a 3-0 count. For that infraction, he got plunked in the sixth by Fornataro.
Junior Lake had a homer, two doubles, and 5 RBI. But with the game 7-0 in the 2nd, two outs, men at 1st and 2nd, he hurried gloving Mark Ellis' single to left. Instead of throwing out Yadier Molina at the plate, he allowed both runners to score.
Mike Olt had a bad fifth inning defensively. Two batters after he nearly took too long deciding not to go home on Craig's RBI groundout, Yadi caught him napping and stole third without the ball leaving the mound.
Yadier Molina's not just an All-Star, he's a future HOFer. That fifth inning was classic, basic, heads-up baseball -- taking an extra base on a play at the plate, and eyeing the defense to take third without a pitch.
Rick Renteria keep his bullpen quiet until Yadi's fifth-inning single made it 9-5. If bad blood erupts over Wood getting plunked in the 6th, I'd blame the manager for leaving Wood in that long. No wait, I'd blame Darwin Solomon Smith Barney E.F. Hutton for swinging for the fences with two out and none on in the 5th. (He popped out.) Would it kill ya to dink one to right and bring up a pinch-hitter?
Mike Matheny was insane for bringing on Choate in the 9th.
Things the Royals do worked OK in this game. A Guthrie-like line of 6IP 5H 4ER 3BB 4K. Lots of advancing runners without seeing it in the stats. Giving up lots of line drives ... that's why you pay your defense.
It's really curious why the Royals released a contact guy with heart and good baseball instincts -- Boner. Sure, the reasons made sense, and other offseason moves stunk more (like Kotteras). Watching him and Yadi was really the highlight of my night.
The game's too expensive. We've got three kids. We're spending $300 on a day trip to Worlds of Fun, but we won't fork over that kind of cash for a ballgame. When they're older, we might do the Storm Chasers. They're not sports geeks, so they're years from appreciating what's better about (what should be) a major league contest.
Now, back to Omaha ...