Joe Posnanski writes that the Royals continue to confound logic. That sure is fun!
But it is in the field that Aoki is a particular joy to watch; I have never seen a player look so confused while making so many good plays. It is like Aoki’s mind is a lost GPS voice repeating, "Still calculating," but he somehow gets to the ball and catches it anyway. In addition to the backhanded stab over Cain’s glove, he also spun helplessly under a ball he’d lost in the lights, and he chased after one warning track fly ball by way of San Bernardino. But the balls all ended up in his glove, as always happens, and in this, he seems as surprised as everyone else. After catching the ball over Cain, he smiled and shrugged and theatrically tossed the ball into the booing crowd....
Raul Ibanez, a 42-year-old hitter who played for some of those unfortunate Royals teams and plays for this one, too, says it like this: "It’s baseball. It doesn’t have to make sense."
Fivethirtyeight shows that projections can pretty much be thrown out the window when it comes to the playoffs, and the Royals are the best example of this.
To test this, I gathered preseason Vegas over/unders and Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projected records back to 2005, then plugged those projections — and regressed versions of each team’s regular-season record — into a logit model attempting to predict the outcomes of every playoff game from 2005 to 2013. In accordance with every other failed study looking for magic postseason bullets, it appears that preseason projections don’t matter a bit when predicting the playoffs. I tested PECOTA and Vegas separately and together as a composite prediction, and neither was a significant predictor after controlling for a team’s regular-season performance.
Baseball Prospectus talks to Danny Duffy about his stuff.
"If a guy’s an early hacker, I will maybe mix in a two-seam every now and then. But I try to just keep it simple, I attack with my four-seam and if I can't find the command with that, I'll see what I can do with the sinker," said the 26-year-old. "I try to line my two fingers up with the two seams on the back side of the horseshoe and I move my thumb up if I want more movement, on to the side and on to the equator of the ball."
BREAKING NEWS: Terrance Gore is fast.
The Wall Street Journal compares Royals manager Ned Yost with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and calls Ned a not-very-nice-name.
For Yost, nothing changes. He is the kind of man who will not order eggs at Sunday brunch past 11:59 a.m., because that’s the afternoon and the afternoon is lunchtime. With the Royals clinging to a one-run lead in the sixth inning of the AL wild-card game against Oakland, Yost had a trio of dominant relievers to pick from. But it was not their prescribed time to pitch, so he brought in a rookie starter, Yordano Ventura, who had thrown 73 pitches just two days earlier. The ensuing three-run homer set off an avalanche of criticism that was muted only by the Royals’ dramatic comeback victory.
Here’s what Showalter and Yost have in common, though: Whether to the delight or the infuriation of their fans, their in-game management is noticeable. And their public personas are far from cardboard.
Andy McCullough writes that Yost is willing to change his ways for the post-season.
Therein lies the difficulty in evaluating Yost as a manager, according to conversations with rival executives and scouts who followed the Royals this season. The officials requested anonymity in order to speak freely about Yost, now in his 11th season as a big-league manager and the longest-tenured skipper in Kansas City history. Yost shepherded the team to 89 wins this season, the franchise’s most since 1989.
"I think given the talent that they have, that’s probably right around where you would expect them to be," one executive said. "I don’t know that Ned Yost has won them many games. I don’t know that he’s actually cost them as many as people would like to put at his feet."....
"He’s not going to steal you any games," one executive said. "But he’s also not going to kill you, either. Unless he decides to double steal."
Ted Berg of USA Today provides a defense of Yost.
But though quibbling with his choice in that spot is understandable, it’s important to at least recognize that Yost managed to get a 1.28 ERA over 204 1/3 innings from his three best relievers in the regular season. Maybe Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland are good enough to do that in any manager’s bullpen, but it really can’t be that Yost is pushing the wrong buttons all the time, or that he has no sense of his personnel.
Speaking of Ned, Jeff Foxworthy is cheering on the Royals and his buddy Ned.
So, you know who Jeff Foxworthy thinks is funny? Wait for it.
Royals manager Ned Yost.
You mean the stoic, grumpy, often-sarcastic Ned Yost? Yeah, that one, Foxworthy will tell you.
"I guess I see a different side of him," said Foxworthy, Yost’s hunting buddy in Georgia. "Once he gets away from baseball and he gets out hunting with us, he’s just a riot.
"It’s like going behind the curtain and seeing the real Oz."
Look for Ned Yost's HBO special "Boom, Yosted" this November.
DAVID GLASS IN A WET T-SHIRT (NSFW)
New York Times writer Joe Drape reflects upon his Royals fandom and what it means to pass the torch onto younger Royals fans.
There are far more qualified baseball lyricists than I to evoke the timelessness of a pastoral game that has long been passed down from father to son. But I do know what playing a game well means to a small-market city where the professional players are neighbors as well as stars.
In the 1970s, Fred Patek, at 5 feet 4 inches, was a diminutive All- Star shortstopvfor the Royals, but to my mother he also was "Nice Little Freddy," who moonlighted at the toy store in the mall where she bought our Christmas presents.
The Hall of Famer George Brett, Hal McRae and the homegrown Frank White, all a decade or more older than I, were fixtures in restaurants and shops in the Brookside neighborhood or were seen shopping on the Plaza with their families. Ours was — and remains — a smile-and-nod kind of town.
No one’s britches were bigger than anyone else’s in the heartland.
Sung Woo is now the John Kruk of Korean sports broadcasting, except Sung Woo speaks more fluent English.
Even former Royals greats like Amos Otis are enjoying the ride. And 1985 World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen was even on hand to watch the Royals Devil Magic.
Greg Holland has had some kind of week, racking up two saves in the ALDS, and celebrating the birth of his first child.
THIS IS STILL A THING THAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT.
The Mayor of St. Louis is a dunderhead, as are most Cardinals fans.
Your song of the day is Kool and the Gang with "Celebration."