As we turn the page on another calendar year, here are some of my favorite and notable moments from 2012:
Game of the Year:
Royals 5 - Cardinals 3, 15 innings
Holding a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals Jason Motte strikes out the first two hitters before Billy Butler ties it with a bomb to left-center.
On to extras and Yuniesky Betancourt unties the game not once, but twice! The first time on a double to left following an Alex Gordon walk to leadoff the 14th inning. The second time on a two-out, two-run home run in the 15th to give the Royals the final edge.
Betancourt. You can't make that up.
Injury of the Year:
Felipe Paulino and Tommy John Surgery
After missing the first part of the season with a forearm strain, Paulino made six starts for the Royals (OK, it was seven, but I'm not counting his final start in this mix.) and was absolutely dominant in four of them. It was on that fateful seventh when he strained his groin in the first inning again landing him on the disabled list. While making a rehab start in Double-A, he felt his elbow give and that was that.
Fortunately, the Royals Frequent Visitor Punch Card for Dr. Lewis Yocum was full, so the Paulino surgery was free.
(Yes, I'm recycling old material. What did you expect? This is a year in review post, after all.)
If Paulino doesn't get hurt the Royals starting pitching situation would still be thin, but would Dayton Moore have felt compelled to trade a prospect for a starter? Interesting how things that happen in May and June can have repercussions six months (and longer) down the road.
Managerial Move of the Year:
Returning Alex Gordon to the leadoff spot
On May 26 Gordon was hitting .226/.322/.356 and was languishing all over the batting order. After opening the season at the top of the lineup, Ned Yost was moving him further and further down in an effort to jump start his bat. He hit second for 18 games, third for two games, cleanup six times and sixth in the order in five games.
Then, in what has always been an inspired move by Yost, he finally returned Gordon to his rightful spot in the order. From May 27 to the end of the season, A1 hit .320/.385/.492.
Yes, he was moved from the leadoff spot to third on August 16. And yes, it was just a matter of him finally getting things going. But Gordon and his team high OBP is an obvious natural fit for the leadoff role.
Here's the thing: I don't think moving Gordon down in the order was Ned Yost's call. I've heard from several sources that the Royals ownership was more than a little concerned with Gordon's depressed power numbers. The move down the order was an effort to get him to rediscover his power and drive in more runs. Because RBIZZZZZZZ...
Event of the Year
The All-Star Game. Duh.
Reportedly, this event "opened the eyes of ownership" in our collective thirst for meaningful baseball. Which boggles the mind. We know they don't read blogs. We know they don't listen to talk radio. We know they don't read the papers. But can they be so seriously out of touch with their own fanbase to not understand that there is a huge segment of the population just waiting to embrace this team? It's a little disheartening that it took the All-Star Game for them to realize this. And there are some sinister undertones to this as well.
You know, if they only had an event where they could rub shoulders with the fans... Oh, wait...
Non-Event of the Year
From what I can tell, this is a pretty successful event. Held in January at the Overland Park Convention Center, for three days it gets Kansas City talking about baseball again and helps build optimism for the upcoming season. It also builds some community goodwill. It's something you can't really put a price tag on, because the benefits aren't seen in the ledgers that David Glass reads at bedtime. It's about being a part of a community.
And the Royals cancelled it last year. Because of the All-Star Game.
It's back this year. One day. Seven hours. It's nice that it's back, but it could be so much more.
Here is a brief list of things I'm looking forward to seeing in 2013:
- James Shields starting.
- Alex Gordon doing everything.
- The left side of the infield playing defense.
- A Lorenzo Cain that doesn't break.
- Billy Butler hitting doubles and home runs.
- Kelvin Herrera bringing heat.
- A full season from Salvador Perez.
- Greg Holland being nasty.
Happy New Year