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Royals Rumblings - News for October 22, 2014

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REV IT UP

Ed Zurga

Royals Rumblings - News for October 22, 2014

Joe Posnanski writes what an advantage it is for the Royals to essentially have three closers.

One question people ask me all the time is this: Aren’t the Royals just lucky? It’s not like they planned this thing out. When they traded for Wade Davis, they wanted him to be a starter – and he badly wanted to be a starter this year until Hochevar got hurt. They did not scout out Kelvin Herrera in the Dominican Republic, even though he lived just down the road. The guy just showed up. And they just took a flyer on Greg Holland – they had no idea he’d become one of the game’s dominant closers.

Aren’t the Royals just lucky?

Sure they are. But there are a couple of points to be made about this. One: Nothing ever works out exactly to plan. The Yankees wanted Mariano Rivera to be a starter. Stan Musial began his career as a pitcher. The St. Louis Cardinals took Albert Pujols in the 13th round, which means they didn’t want him in the 12th. Lucky happens.

Which leads to the second point: Recognizing luck is the key to having luck. You know the old joke about the guy who prays daily to win the lottery and then finally hears a heavenly voice say: "Look, I’d like to help you, but you have to buy a lottery ticket first." The Royals might have been lucky getting those three pitchers. But turning that trio into perhaps the greatest closing machine in baseball history is the Royals’ doing.

Rany Jazayerli writes for Grantland about the improbability of the Royals run and whether they are truly a team of destiny.

Like every other team in baseball, the Royals value sabermetrics enough to employ people specifically for their expertise on the subject. The sheer ubiquity of analytics in baseball front offices has diminished the edge teams can get from using it — but has not diminished its importance. On the contrary, it has revealed it. The sooner people on both sides acknowledge that the war is over, the sooner we can move on to issues that are actually debatable.

Precisely because the Royals’ success can’t be easily explained in the data, though, it’s tempting to try to explain K.C. as a team of destiny. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, having latched on to the story of South Korean superfan SungWoo Lee when he arrived in Kansas City this summer — an arrival that closely corresponded to the Royals beginning their current 49-23 streak. I’ve tried to build a career on approaching baseball in a coolly rational fashion, but when you feed a starving man nothing but gravy, a sense of delirium sets in. I’m looking for patterns in the tea leaves.

ESPN's David Schoenfield backtracks from his earlier piece calling this the "worst World Series ever", by giving ten reasons why you should LOVE this World Series.

10. Because you never know. Maybe the heroes will be Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey or James Shields and the Royals bullpen. But maybe the heroes will be Travis Ishikawa or Lorenzo Cain or even Kansas City pinch runner Terrance Gore stealing the base of a lifetime. Baseball, more than other sports, is unpredictable. That's what makes every World Series so fun but this one particularly so: The Las Vegas sportsbooks have this one split right down the middle. This is truly the most unpredictable of World Series. I can't wait to see what happens.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs looks at pitcher-friendly AND hitter-friendly Kauffman Stadium.

So how does Kauffman manage to be both pitcher-friendly and hitter-friendly? The answer’s actually pretty intuitive, and it has to do with the same stuff we talked about when a few teams were bringing the fences in in the recent past. When you move in the fences, you make homers more likely, but you also shrink the outfield. When the fences are far away, the outfield’s bigger, and here’s a relevant recent excerpt from the USA Today:

But the bigger gaps – the Kauffman outfield has the most square footage in the majors – favored the Orioles early.

I don’t buy that, exactly — I’m pretty sure Coors Field is bigger. But Kauffman’s still big, seemingly the biggest yard in at least its own league. More space means fewer homers, but it also means a lower percentage of space that can be covered by defenders. Which means more baseballs reaching more grass, which means more hits, which — I don’t have to explain this to you.

Mike Petriello at Fangraphs wonders why "Big Game" James hasn't exactly excelled in big games.

Let’s acknowledge the obvious: These are small sample sizes. Nine starts aren’t really that many, and in fact we’re going to be limiting that even further, since I’m not all that concerned with what 26-year-old Jamie Shields did as a Ray against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Phillies six years ago. What’s interesting to us is what he’s doing right now, and what he’s likely to do in the one or two starts he’ll get against the Giants.

Marc Normandin lists four reasons why the Royals will be World Champions come next week.

I promise this isn't going to turn into a lecture on the power of grit or anything. The run environment in baseball keeps shrinking, though, so being able to push across a run here and there with speed and bunts and hit-and-runs and the like can make all the difference -- especially when the pitching backing this strategy up looks like that of the Royals. It's not the early aughts anymore: teams can win with an entire rotation and bullpen doing the heavy lifting and the offense doing just enough to not waste the pitchers' efforts, and that's what's brought the Royals this far.

Steven Goldman writes that the Giants-Royals matchup might be better than you think.

Look, Yostball might not always be the smartest baseball there is, but it's exciting baseball. Someday, someone will figure out how to give us all the elements, a fast team that can hit for a good batting average but also isn't handcuffed by silly batting orders and inordinate out-spending. Until then, this is what we have, so don't try to think too deeply, just enjoy it in spite of all its quirks.

The Royals "Rev it Up" to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off."

The video game "Clash of Clans" almost derailed the Royals season.

Long-time Royals fan and Kansas City native and actor Eric Stonestreet ("Modern Family") mocks Giants fans on his flight to Kansas City.

Oops, KCTV 5.

The Sacramento Bee thinks the clock is about to strike midnight on the "no-name" Royals.

Kansas City construction company Centric Projects is sending 49 of its employees to the World Series.

JEANS WARS! Lee's Jeans of Kansas City asks people to trade in their San Francisco Levi's jeans in for Lee's. But what about us zubas wearing fans?

Molly Lambert at Grantland writes that the multi-cam FOX sitcom "Mulaney" is not quite as bad as it looks.

Ugh, is the "Walking Dead" all just a coma dream?

Sleater-Kinney is reuniting with a new album, can a Bruce Chen-Royals reunion be too far off?

Renee Zellweger is doing great.

Vox asks - where is the most dangerous place in the world to drive?

Your song of the day is Taylor Swift with "Shake it Off."