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Royals Rumblings - News for December 8, 2017

Anyone needing an antiquarian book?

Tampa Bay Rays v St. Louis Cardinals
Carl Crawford, pre-book store, homering against the Cardinals
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

MLBTR is doing profiles on major free agents. On Wednesday, they looked at Mike Moustakas.

After over a decade with the franchise, Moustakas has naturally created strong bonds with the organization and within the Kansas City community, and is well-regarded as a teammate and clubhouse leader. Moustakas and wife Stephanie married in 2014 and they welcomed their first daughter in August 2016.

We’ve talked about authors writing about the same topic at about the same time. The day after Max wrote his 2017 Royals trade value rankings, Rustin Dodd penned a piece with the top 10 Royals with the most trade value. I hope they both got the permission of Bill Simmons.

KOK’s Nathan Williams makes “the case for trading Scott Alexander”. Unfortunately, like a lot of things on the Fansided network, it’s slide show (sad trombone).

The likelihood, as much as I hate to admit, that Alexander poses as great of value to the team in 2020 as he does now, is small. Even if Alexander keeps this up, the chance to acquire an integral piece of our next (hopeful) championship run outweighs the value of having a pitcher of his caliber during seasons that look to be bleak.

Something called “Patrick Brennan” (hey, don’t we have one of those?) continues the Royals prospect countdown at Royals Farm Report. They’re at 11-15, so it’s mostly guys you’ve heard of!

In case you didn’t know (I didn’t), a current and former Royal are in the top 3 of a particular leaderboard:

Earlier this week we heard from Royals reliever Peter Moylan who ranks third, behind Graeme Lloyd and Grant Balfour, for the most appearances among Australian-born pitchers.

Buried in a story I was reading about Disney getting close to acquiring Marvel properties from Fox, I ran across a news nugget about Fox. Awful announcing expanded upon it:

For several weeks now, rumors and reports have swirled concerning Disney’s potential purchase of 21st Century Fox broadcast assets, including several TV channels (but not FS1, Fox News, or the flagship Fox station). On Tuesday, CNBC’s David Faber reported that the sides are “closing in on a deal” and that Fox’s regional sports networks would, in fact, be included.

Presumably this would include Fox Sports Kansas City and would eliminate one more potential bidder for the new tv contract.

We’re coming up on the anniversary of this blog’s most famous moment. Yes, this week’s Best of Royals Review is: Carl Crawford’s Antiquarian Book Store.

About seven years ago, free agent and former (Devil) Ray Carl Crawford signed with Boston. Inspired by Crawford’s recent interview answer of “I haven’t read a book in forever” and Will’s many decades (right?) of studying literature, he wrote a satirical piece about Crawford opening an antiquarian book store in Boston with passages like these:

Crawford's passion for New England history began at Jefferson Davis High School in Houston when he read William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation in the 9th grade. "At Jeff Davis at that time, it was very much the old Bercovitch reading of history that dominated. To prepare, I'd read The Puritan Origins of the American Self in eighth grade. Eventually however, I wanted to return to the primary materials."


Dressed in a heavy fisherman's sweater and clutching a newly purchased diary of 1655 Connecticut Governor Thomas Welles, Crawford could not divine his fundamental motivation. "Well, how can you divide the history and wisdom contained in these books, from the books themselves?" Crawford said.

A number of people thought it was legitimate and the story spread like wildfire. Outlets like The New Yorker and LA Times published stories about it. Crawford even responded on Twitter, saying “Yes for those asking, I am going to open a bookstore... Details to come.” Thought he walked it back a couple of days later "Everyone, just so you know the bookstore thing was a joke. Sorry that the sarcasm didn't carry over the internet."

Topps has released some pictures of their flagship 2018 Topps set. If this generates enough (any) discussion, I’ve written up about half of a “history of baseball cards since the mid 90s” story that I can finish up.

This one is an oldie (well, 2015) that has probably been on here but I ran across it again this week. It’s about the history of MLBAM buying up all the team name domains and how there are 3 MLB doesn’t own (Giants, Twins, Rays).

Ready for more baseball fun facts?

Jeff Sullivan is excited to share "an incredible baseball coincidence". He first noted that there are only 5 players in MLB history (minimum of 500 ABs) who have been better in losses than wins. Then he expands it out to 300 ABs and, well, read for yourself.

In the comments, someone linked to an article by ESPN's Sam Miller from earlier this year. It's about Barry Bonds and he claims it's the "greatest baseball fun fact of all time". I don’t know about “greatest of all time”, but it’s quite good.

On the heels of the announcement that Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics due to their elaborate doping scandal (though some Russian athletes can compete under the Olympic flag), United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it is an “open question” whether US athletes will compete

Haley made the surprising announcement in a Fox News appearance tonight, saying that no final decision had yet been made. Everything will depend on the safety of the athletes, particularly as it relates to the U.S.’s relationship with neighboring North Korea, she said. (Which is a different country than South Korea, to be clear.)

Bond 25 is not due until 2019. But GQ had an article out last week that 2002’s Bond 20, Die Another Day, almost destroyed James Bond. That claim seems a little bit dubious as it was the highest grossing Bond film to date. It also seems like you could replace Pierce Brosnan’s Bond with Roger Moore’s Bond in the article and get the same effect. How’d that gritty Timothy Dalton reboot work?

Speaking of movies, every once in a while, I dip into the “hey, I finally saw some movies” bin for Rumblings. My cable provider has an annual Thanksgiving free preview and I stock up on movies, mostly ones that might be worth two hours of my time but maybe not my money (yes, I am that cheap).

I have a weak spot for flawed blockbusters. I like to give credit to a director and/or screenwriter who aims big even if he/she can’t quite pull it off. One of the movies I watched recently was Tomorrowland, which apparently lost $120M. I really wanted it to be great, but it had some serious flaws. I could even make an argument that we’re all worse for it not being better: I think modern society could use a great movie that isn’t purely saccharine and could host a light intellectual debate about the nature of optimism and the idea that the future of the past is better than the future of today. It’s interesting that I saw one review talking about optimism as being counter-culture. I also saw quite a few calling Brad Bird a Randian disciple while Slate counters this:

The most obvious point of departure is that in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt is the hero, while in Tomorrowland, those who want to wall off the city are the villains.

Another movie I watched recently was Riddick, which was a really, really, really poor man’s Pitch Black. There are so many things that awful things about this movie and shame on any of the reviewers who used the “back to basics” or “back to what worked” cliches because very little in this movie actually worked. All three Riddick movies are written and directed by David Twohy, and he and Vin Diesel had grand plans for the franchise going into 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick (remember, Dame Judy Dench was even in the movie!)

From Twohy:

“Had Universal said to us, ‘Let's roll over, let's pick it up right at the end of the last movie’ and funded it, we would have ventured into the Necromonger underverse and we would have had a big The Lord of the Rings-style movie on our hands. But That didn't happen”

From Diesel:

“There are two more in mind... The Chronicles of Riddick was presented as a three part trilogy that would answer Pitch Black in the same way that Lord of the Rings answered The Hobbit.”

Yes, they probably would have been a giant mess but I would have gone to see them.

Finally, in the mood for a Christmas movie, we watched Home Alone, as we hadn’t seen it in years. It ended up being a little bit deeper than I remember it being. Everyone remembers Macaulay Culkin doing mischievous-bordering-on-awful things to Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. But that’s only about the last half hour of the movie. Thinking about it afterwords, that’s probably good as, if it were the majority of the movie, it would play like a bad SNL sketch gone on too long. A lot of the second act was spent stalling the criminals, making them think someone was at home. There’s also a pretty significant plot involving the regrets of Old Man Marley next door and this constant undertone that Kevin has to prove to the rest of his family that he’s competent and can take care of himself (never mind that he’s only 8). Recently, someone on Reddit spotted this little tidbit that tidies up a perceived plot hole in the movie. Also, I didn’t remember this, but at the end of its run, it was 3rd all time at the box office, behind only Star Wars and E.T.

As our chances of snow last night in Houston were at their highest possible level (“small but non-zero”), I thought I would go with a winter themed level for today.

Super Mario Bros 2 is a bit of a maligned game, if there is such a thing for the core Mario series (ok: Mario Sunshine). Super Mario Bros was the legendary game that started it all. Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Galaxy appear on many “best of all time lists”. But SMB2 languishes a bit as “that other SNES Mario”.

It has an odd development history. The original Super Mario Bros 2 from Japan wasn't originally released in the United States as it was quite similar to Super Mario Bros, only more difficult. Instead, a game known as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, which originally started out as a Mario game but was retooled for another franchise, was converted back into a Mario game. Many of the enemies and game elements haven’t appeared again in a core Mario franchise but that also makes it feel like a more unique entry than some others.

The clip below, featuring the icy World 4, has a lot of the good that Super Mario 2 has to offer:

  • It uses a couple of different characters, showing their different abilities: Luigi’s ability to jump high vs Princess’s ability to jump far.
  • The characters go into the mirrored dark sub-space a couple of times.
  • A couple of the more creative/wacky level are included: Level 4-2 is the one with the whales and 4-3 has the trick where you have to ride Birdo’s egg across the water.

As with most NES games, there are only a few songs on the soundtrack and, at first, I thought only two were included in the video. But after watching more closely, most of the soundtrack is represented with “Character Select”, “Overworld”, “Sub-Space”, “Starman”, “Underworld”, and “Boss” (apparently if you want to listen to Wart’s theme, you can just go see War for Planet of the Apes):