clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Royals Rumblings - News for January 12, 2018

Frenchy Fridays!

Atlanta at Kansas City
An artist at work, a leader
John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images

Kindof short on Royals links today, even around ye olde blogosphere:

Something called a “Patrick Brennan“ kicks off Royals Farm Report’s 2018 MLB Draft Preview with a look at the top prospects.

This is the first piece in our “Early Draft Preview” series. To get things kicked off, I’ll take a look at some of my favorite prospects in this year’s player pool. Most of these players figure unlikely to fall to the Royals, barring any major changes, but it’s still convenient to get a feel of the best this 2018 draft class has to offer.

Old friend Craig Brown continues BPKC’s Royals player profiles with Alex Gordon:

Can he just be a league average offensive performer at any point in the next two seasons?

It doesn’t seem likely. The bat speed is gone and that’s not something that is going to come back. His downward arc on BABIP is true because as we’ve seen, he’s lost precious exit velocity.

KOK’s Tyler Dierking considers a Luke Hochevar return to the Royals:

Bringing Hoch back would be a great move by Moore. He is a low risk/high reward type player that will cost significantly less than any other bullpen arm on the market. He knows the team and organization, and would be a great mentor.

KC Kingdom’s Leigh Oleszczak looks at the possibility that the Padres trade last year could still pay dividends:

The trade didn’t look so hot after half a season, but give it time, Royals fans. Buchter and Maurer still have several years to prove their worth.

Continuing January’s Month of Will at The Best of Royals Review, we look at one of his most popular pieces: The Legend of Jeff Francoeur’s Leadership Needs to Die.

Will uses a Lee Judge piece as a jumping off point but expands it outward:

And again, it’s not just about Lee Judge. Judge is just the guy who was fated to write this particular story on that particular day. I don’t mean to isolate Judge, I mean to isolate the rhetoric Judge used, which is widespread generally and ubiquitous when it comes to this player. There are fifteen guys standing behind Lee Judge waiting to write that story. There are a hundred “baseball men” in the stands and in front offices waiting to tell that story.

And then cuts to the heart of the matter

The legend of Jeff Francoeur’s leadership won’t die. However, that legend appears to hold no connection to any discernible results, either from Francoeur’s teams or his own career. Worse still, the myth of Francoeur’s value as some kind of lesson to fans and readers (nevermind fellow players) is a deeply insulting one that holds us, the readers, in contempt.

And finishing with a somewhat un-Will like flourish that adds punch:

If you can’t replicate this glorious scenario in your own life, you have no one to blame but yourself. Go die somewhere you sickening failure.

Looking at the comments, it was quite controversial at the time.*

*Though, for a one-liner, I love marbotty’s “If you could throw a rock and hit 6 hard workers with one throw... You’d be better than half of our pitching staff”.

Rather that dabble in a number of disparate OT links, I went with something I’ve been reading about for a few weeks. I’m hoping it’s a bit uninformed and alarmist because it’s something I’d rather not be right about.

Probably not the most happy topic but it’s one I’ve been thinking and reading about for a while now: How far are we from World War? It’s only intensified over the holidays, from talking with older relatives to a cultural mirror like the Doctor Who Christmas Special. I’m not a great student of history - I find it interesting, but it’s not my field. However, I have a number of friends and relatives who are in that field and I like bouncing ideas off them about current events. Also, being a pattern matcher mentally, I’m a sucker for that cliche about history not repeating itself but often rhyming.

World War II parallels abound but that may just be because the war is so ingrained in our American psyche. Every leader gets compared to Hitler at some point and Trump is no exception. Just last week, global strife dominated the headlines: President Trump, used his less than subtle Twitter diplomacy with Pakistan and Iran as well as, once again, getting into a missile measuring contest with Kim Jung Un. And while it’s easy to dismiss naive teens playing Nazi dress-up with tiki torches, a person lost their life and it’s hard to deny the specter of white nationalism that’s becoming more open on our shores (as opposed to Europe where it’s had a pretty strong presence for a while).

This is just one of many articles talking about the economy and populism. It even starts by acknowledging “this looks a lot like the time before {choose your economic calamity}” is getting into cliche territory. The author suggests the present looks a lot like 1937, as we’re still mostly steeped in the midst of economic malaise from the Great Recession (versus Depression).

Sidebar: I’ve always struggled with how people followed Hitler. I think a lot of people do: we can’t see how good and decent neighbors were basically complicit, if not active, in something like the Holocaust. And we think that should prevent another from happening. Maybe the best explanation that resonated with me is from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I won’t tire you with all the details, but when I went there, Hitler and Stalin were still good friends and there wasn’t yet an Eastern Front. Everyone still believed that Hitler was invincible. There was a feeling of…both optimism and desperation. I think those are the right words. More than half a century later, it’s still difficult to put words to the mood. Don’t get me wrong—I was not a Nazi, and in my eyes Hitler seemed like some absurd character in an operetta. But it would have been almost impossible not to be infected by the optimism about the future, which was rife among ordinary people in Hamburg. Despite the fact that the war was getting closer, and several bombing raids were carried out against Hamburg during the time I was there, the people seemed to think it was mostly a temporary annoyance—that soon there would be peace and Hitler would establish his Neuropa. People wanted to believe that Hitler was God. That’s what it sounded like in the propaganda.

Unfortunately, it’s not all that reassuring as it’s equal parts deception and hopelessness, something we seem to have in abundant supply these days.

And I’ve also started wondering if maybe I’m looking at the wrong war. I’ve thought for a while we’ve been in the late 1800s politically: political crisis after crisis, consolidation leading to robber barons, and an ineffective political system giving rise to populism. “Fake news” is nothing new, even if we’re pretending it is. Heck, we basically started the Spanish-American war based on it. Take that, Bob Novak.

This WaPo article argues the economics and immigration look a lot more like pre-WW1. It talks about a cycle where globalization leads to increased technology, immigration, and wealth disparity which, in turn, leads to protectionism, nationalism, and decreased immigration.

Doesn’t the following sound a lot like today? All you have to do is slightly change the names of the technology and world powers (for instance, think of Americans as Brits, right down to the invincible combination of navy plus economy and our “colonial wars”):

Europe’s nationalism and its indifference to war can be explained. Aside from the Crimean War (1853-56) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), the 1800s were a century of comparative peace for Europe. Citizens of England, France and Germany had grown accustomed to colonial wars. These conflicts were fought against undeveloped and under-equipped opponents in far away places, and were mostly brief and victorious. With the exception of France, which was defeated by the Prussians in 1871, none of Europe’s Great Powers had experienced a significant military defeat for more than half a century. This indifference to war, along with the arms race, contributed to a growing delusion of invincibility. Britons believed their naval power, backed by the economic might of the British Empire, would give them the upper hand in any war.

The Germans placed great faith in Prussian military efficiency, their industrial base, their growth in armaments and their expanding fleet of battleships and U-boats (submarines). In the event of a war, the German high command had supreme confidence in the Schlieffen Plan, a preemptive military strategy designed to win a war against Germany’s eastern and western neighbours (Russia and France). Within Russia, the tsar believed his throne and empire were protected by God – as well as Russia’s massive standing army of 1.5 million men, Europe’s largest peacetime land force. Russia’s commanders believed its enormous population gave it the upper hand over the much smaller nations of western Europe. The French placed their faith in a wall of concrete fortresses and defences running the length of their eastern border, capable of deterring and withstanding any German attack.

It’s not as glamorous or dramatized as World War II. No one writes about that “Greatest Generation”. It’s a mostly forgotten war, despite it’s huge significance in shaping “The American Century”. An aside: If history does indeed echo, I’ve wondered a few times what our temperance movement is going to be.

Then again, things are also different. There are enough differences in geopolitics and economics that hopefully the war is not the part that rhymes.

And, as always, I try to remember my Dickens:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Every time we talk of things like they are the greatest or worst ever, it’s good to be reminded that every era thinks of itself that way and rarely is it actually the case.

Or, if you prefer:

I’m not sure how I could cleanly segue that into our song of the day so I’m not even going to try.

Even though the game is almost 4 years old, I finally just finished Bravely Default. I put the game down twice (for months) because I was annoyed with the lack of progress. I probably would have again a couple of months ago if I didn’t know exactly how far I had to go until to end.

It had quite a bit of hype behind it for an original IP by Square (which can be awesome). And I think one should try to grade new franchises on a curve because I realize they are not as refined as the same old money makers. This game did a lot of old things in new ways and should be commended for it. The graphics look good; they’re what a modern version of a medieval RPG on a handheld should look like.

It uses a job system, which was decent but also bloated and flawed. I’ll just pause for a moment and reference what a wise computer once said:

I have also always disliked job systems that require you to basically make your character useless every time you want to try out a new job because the job experience is more important than equipment or character level.

On top of having to drag a useless character or two through long parts of the game, it’s unbalanced, to boot. Many skills are too weak and never used while a few are completely broken.

The story and the characters are cliche until they’re not. It’s frustrating to be drug through half a cliche game to set up some plot twists. Establish the cliches sooner with less game play - those average RPG player knows those tropes so you can assume that knowledge. Simply put: write better. The second half of the game further divides the gaming community. (Minor spoilers) There’s a lot of backtracking and beating the same dungeons and bosses multiple times. The people who really enjoy the game feel the plot twists were a great reward for the slog and want to stay in the universe longer. Everyone else just wanted to see where the plot was going without getting drug through the mud.

If you’re a completist, save your time - it’s a 120 hour slog and that’s better put in something better, like the latest installment of you favorite Atlus or NIS series. You need to be somewhat of a completist to get the best jobs in the game, though. Otherwise, the game’s a lot harder if you just pick the standard jobs available in the main story line.

I’m sure it’s obvious that I had some frustration with the game but it’s not all bad. You may be able to squint and see how another reviewer would play this game and enjoy it. They would see it as a game that takes old tropes and classic gameplay and puts a fun, modern twist on them. It’s a somewhat fresh RPG that’s well polished in a number of ways. But I think the experience is better if you just grab a couple of the overpowered jobs, lean on them, and go straight through the story.

Like everything else about the game, I find the soundtrack a little more hyped than it probably should be. It seemed pretty fresh at first but I was getting tired of it by the end of the game. I still like the character themes, though. This video also includes the themes for the characters in Bravely Second. (note: Even though I enjoyed the in-game preview for the sequel, I’m not going to be playing it for a while, if at all).