It was another woeful road loss. It was another blown lead. It was another night marred by a failed start. Instead, those fightin' Kansas City Royals had other ideas.
Trailing 7-6 entering the 9th inning, the Royals rallied for a tying run against Oakland's scarlet C'ed Huston Street, then took the lead in the thanks to a double by Berroa (of all people) and a game winning single by Mark Grudzielanek. Grudz (who now has the all (un)important batting average up to .318) by the way, is clearly the only Royal who could seriously be taken as an All-Star at this point, although I guess the random as hell reliever method has its merits as well. (Cross your fingers Jimmy Gobble!)
For once, its nice to read about the Royals and not think about the ongoing stupidity that is their non-firing, non-resigning of Allard Baird. Baird, the lamest of the lame ducks, is now apparently going to stick around at least through the draft. Supposedly, the Am' Draft is like, you know, important to the Royals or something, given that their greatest pride is being "small market" and all the revenue sharing cash and built-in excuses it brings. Basically the only obligation of the small market moniker is that you have to obsess on the Draft and the virtue of building a team through it. This is paragraph two of every column about you, talking point #1 for every media interview you give. Its everything, rightly or wrongly, and its also the Holy Path of Love to the one thing Glass truly cares about: maintaining a low payroll.
So here in Kansas City, we've decided Baird must go, but we're gonna let him preside over one last draft anyway...
How is this a good situation? Shockingly however, the Braves/Dayton Moore camp are the possible creators of the situation, because Moore isn't availible until after the draft himself.
You're our scouting director, and we know you are leaving. Still, why don't you decide our draft picks one last time as you walk out the door...
I'm not MBA'ed enough to properly describe this situation, but this seems like a willed conflict of interest from the Braves side, and just blanket bad business from the Royals end. Still, Allard's role as The Last Boyscout is partially to blame. Sure, we all know that Glass in all probability, if Baird had resigned on May 4 that a) Glass still wouldn't have a replacement and that b) the situation at Royals Central would be pathetically unprofessional. It'd still be better than what we have now...
So where were we? Where was that positive vide I felt before... Ohh yea, the game. The game itself.
The lost must be devastating for those in Oakland. Its tough ever losing to this team, but losing a series proper -- and at home no less -- borders on unthinkable. Still, you look at their lineup on some nights, and you wonder what all the fuss is about. And this from a guy who's been beaten down by night after ceaseless night of Dougie Mientkiewicz in the 3-hole.
Most amazing, of course, is the performance of the offense, who pounded out 12 singles en route to 8 runs. Sure, its not the most consistent offensive philosophy, but about once a fortnight it works... just don't expect 12 singles a night.
But we scorn too strong, for the game also featured the rare sighting of a Royal Home Run, take that Albert Pujols, by none other than once and future leadoff man David DeJesus, a.k.a. the hope of the franchise at the moment. Despite the reassurances of the Royal brass, DeJesus was, as Will Carroll put it, plainly "vulnerable" to extended problems, and clearly not right to begin the season, and a longer than expected trip to the DL followed. He's still hitting only .206 on the season, but a functional DeJesus helps the boys in blue in closer to the faintest reaches of the merely "bad", not the truly incompetent.
Did someone say incompetence? Not this blog. Congrats to Buddy Bell on career win #401. Should the Royals win out... well, he'll still be below .500 lifetime, but who's counting. Honest to God, on some nights, unable to sleep, I look deep into the blank lifeless eyes I see in the mirror and start to think that Bell's not half-bad as a bullpen manager. Or, is it simply that we've been so innundated with awfulness for the last decade that anything mediocre looks acceptable? Perhaps the advertising campaigns I see on TV in Iowa touting Wisconsin vacations are a workable analog...
Said bullpen however, did combine for 5.1 IP to the tune of 4 hits allowed, 5 walks and 5 strikeouts, all towards only allowing one run. Sure Bautista was horrible, but he did stand upright for 4+ innings, and if we don't have someone do that every game, we can't use 5 pitchers to complete the game, and we can't let RSTN suck in every last advertising dollar.
And so we roll along, happy as all heck to get win # 13 out of the way (I've heard that its one of the hardest milestone's to cross) as well as road win #4 on the season. If you aren't already obsessing on the 2003 Tigers you should be. Perhaps the issue here is Bell, who had the duty of managing the Tigers through 2002. Ohh how he must have felt watching 2003 unfold at home? Something like Buck Showalter's plight watching the Yankees and D'backs he built run off to greener pastures. Those lovable Tigers memorably went 43-119, buoyed by an incredible 3-20 April.
Want to see something scary?
Record through 50 games:
2003 Tigers: 13-37
2006 Royals: 13-37
Not that anyone's looking or anything.
Other "notables" include the 1939 Browns (43-111) who lurched to 14-36 through 50, 1941 Phillies (47-107), who sat at 16-34 through 50; and the 1988 Orioles (54-107), who were 11-39 through 50 (those slackers). Although, to be fair, they did start 0-21, which still might be one of the more incredible things ever.
The lesson: even despite this recent downturn in losing, through 50 games, the Royals are still on the right track, in the exact place they surely want to be.