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Royals Rumblings - News for January 26, 2018

Goodbye, Lorenzo.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Kansas City Royals
He can fly! Godspeed!
Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Royals Rumblings - News for January 26, 2018

Lorenzo Cain says he will never forget his time in Kansas City.

“It was a blast,” Cain told by phone Thursday. “I absolutely love Royals fans. They loved on me for so many years. Just thinking of them brings a smile to my face. Man, I’m really going to miss them.

”Just all the support they gave me. It was incredible. We all went through so much together.”

Royals Farm Report’s Drew Osborne shared information about the Royals 2018 Cultural Development Trip:

You may have heard a little about the trip some of the Royals prospects took to the Dominican Republic last week. I’m hoping to give you a view of some of the things the Royals minor leaguers did while they were in the DR and some of the things accomplished by this trip. I’m going to start putting out more information on the Royals presence in the Dominican Republic in the coming weeks because I think we need to have an appreciation for what our Latin American players experience in their lives on their journey to the United States.

He also had an interview with Richard Lovelady about said trip.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield examines the glacial offseason market with likely landing spots for the top free agents:

Eric Hosmer, 1B (7)

Best bet: Kansas City Royals. Don’t be surprised: San Diego Padres

Mike Moustakas, 3B (13)

Best bet: Chicago White Sox. Don’t be surprised: Royals

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs examines “Tampa Bay’s Lost Window”, but drops in a few nuggets about the Royals who appear to be their polar opposite.

The Royals have the biggest difference overall, with 35 more actual wins than estimated wins. And that’s fascinating, but at the same time, we’ve talked about the Royals countless times before, in this regard. It is what it is. The Rays have received less attention, for their comparable level of under-performance. The Rays’ difference is at -32 wins, since 2014. I have this information going back to 2005, which is a weird starting point, but, just go with it. Out of the whole sample, the 2014 – 2017 Royals are the greatest BaseRuns overachievers, at +35. And, the 2014 – 2017 Rays are the greatest BaseRuns underachievers, at -32. This has been extraordinary, even if it’s been difficult to notice.

KOK’s Jordan Foote continues their 2018 previews of every player with Jason Hammel. In the headline picture, he appears to be smelling a fart.

KC Kingdom’s Leigh Olesczcak states “Ian Kennedy has to be better in 2018”.

The Best of Royals Review ends the Month of Will with his farewell post: Out Into the Snowstorm - Past a Slightly Mobile Betancourt.

The conflict is palpable:

It isn’t easy to walk away. Hard as hell, actually. I wish I’d done better, written more, talked about more, known more about baseball. But mostly, I wish I’d written more and better. It’s going to be strange and hard to realize, next week or next month, I’m not going to be writing about the next move, the next trade... I struggle, pausing for longer than you can know --- oh hell, surely you can guess actually, for how to wrap up, conclude, say goodbye.

I say this with no intent to offend or diminish those who have come after him, but Will is certainly missed and was a wonderfully unique voice this site was lucky to have.

As a bonus, Matt Klaassen (we’ll see more of devil_fingers) wrote a wonderful tribute to Will over at Fangraphs, linking to a number of his great articles. I reserve the right to use all of these in future installments of The Best of Royals Review.

For the OT section, we’re going back to a big idea I’ve been kicking around for a while: Why does Google suck? No, not in a scary dystopia 1984 way (valid question, too), but in a “Why is it harder to find things than it used to be” way.

I used to be brilliant at using a search engine. I know that sounds stupid, but it really was a useful skill back in the 00s. I’m a pattern matcher by nature and indexing things comes naturally to me. It seemed to amaze people that I could come up with the exact query to find most anything on the internet. All it took was a combination of binary operators and connectors like plus/minus, quotes, and AND/OR to get what I was looking for fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, things have gone downhill and I’m not sure why. My guess is the bulk of the problem comes from a cross between SEO games and some sort of failed AI or targeted personalization. And, unsurprisingly, I get some pretty awful results when Googling “why does google suck”. I want to make the joke that, of course, the Bing results are worse since they just poorly copy Google but, honestly, the results are merely equally bad. But, if you can sift through the bad results, this does come up and there are a few articles about this problem dating back to at least 2011 (and lots of forums complaining about it, even on Google’s own site).

First off, Google no longer takes your results verbatim. It tries to figure out what it thinks you want. And, frankly, it’s not very good at it. However, if you want to go back to the “good old days”, you can use the verbatim option:

By using the Verbatim tool Google will not make the following changes:

*Personalizing your search using websites you have visited before;

*Including synonyms of your search terms;

*Automatic spelling corrections;

*Searching for words with the same stem e.g. “Shopping” when searched for “shop”;

*Finding results that match similar terms to those in your query.

That only gets you a small part of a way there. And it doesn’t solve for the lack of binary operators unless you want to delve into their advanced tools.

The bigger problem, however, is the results themselves. Google finds itself torn in a number of directions. There are battles between large companies and small companies or principles of truths for individuals versus truth for everyone. But the biggest problem seems to be they’re caught between their advertising dollars and their search engine priorities.

If I were designing a search engine from scratch, I’d throw a ton of resources at identifying title and body text and weigh those results heavily. Conceivably, it would minimize the influence of keywords, headers, and other SEO “tricks”. However, I’m sure smarter people than I have probably tried to tackle this plan and we’re seeing their results. And it’s a lot more complex than that. While I think this delves a little too far into “this is society’s fault” territory (should probably expect that from a site called Search Engine Land), this article gives a good history of some of the problem.

Back to my own search engine design, I’d also put less influence on social media sharing and give much more weight to “legitimate media” sharing. There’d be tiers of media - being linked by Time or CNN is worth so much more than user generated content like say a blog or even Wikipedia as it’s editable with a limit to gatekeeper capabilities. Social media (Facebook, Twitter) would occupy the lowest tier. Also, each level would be capped so that, for instance, even a wildly popular story fake news story on social media is worth only one or two mentions on legitimate news sites. Only, Google did just that in 2012 and that’s also the focus of criticism in this article. Doing that is why bad results on big sites dominate Google results now.

Unfortunately, I really don’t know what the answer is here or if we’re going to get better.

The Dreamcast has been mentioned more than once in the last couple of weeks and it’s time to give that system some love. Sure, I could pick a blockbuster game like SoulCalibur, Crazy Taxi, or Shenmue. But this week, I wanted to go with the most Sega (at least late Sega era) game of all time: Segagaga.

I’m just going to let wikipedia get us started:

Set in the year 2025, the story depicts SEGA with only a 3% share of the market. In Ōta, Tokyo, the city in which SEGA was established in 1951, the company forms ‘Project Segagaga’: a plan to save SEGA from its main competitor, the evil DOGMA. As part of Project Segagaga, SEGA takes two teenagers Tarō Sega (瀬賀太郎 Sega Tarō, voiced by Junko Noda) (the player’s character) and Yayoi Haneda (羽田弥生 Haneda Yayoi, voiced by Aya Hisakawa), and employ them to guide SEGA to the top of the market. The game features cameo appearances from SEGA characters past and present, such as Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog. The game also features satirical references to the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles and Sony’s associated franchises, and there is as a strange cameo appearance from Ralph Macchio of Karate Kid fame who, in various mecha-forms, can be fought in one of the R&D departments and persuaded to join your team.

So, basically, in its dying days as a console maker, after the Dreamcast had already been discontinued, Sega released a game about the dystopian future of the video game industry. In the game, Sega is dying at the hands of the Evil Sony DOGMA and only you, the player, can save it. The gameplay is a cross between a simulation and RPG but also parodies many franchises in other genres and ends with a shmup. Meta, much?

(NOTE: Edge Online has the best article about the game but it’s been lost on their site and is only accessible from Citations from that story below are noted with a *)

The development of this game is about as wild. Keep in mind, development started during a time when Sega hoped the Dreamcast would be able to compete with Sony, Nintendo, and console rookie Microsoft. When developer Tez Okano first pitched the game “It was a huge success! We had such a big laugh! But they did not think that I was actually serious about making the game! So the presentation ended as a huge success, but with no budget. Then I had to go for a second try: ‘Actually, guys – that was not a joke. I really want to make it, and I would like a budget for it!’” *

The game was then developed in secret for two years, as Okano was fearful it could bring bad publicity to the company. By the time he had finished it, Sega was on its way out of the console business and they saw no harm in releasing the game. And, instead, the end result was a love letter to Sega and swan song that couldn’t have been released at any other point in the company’s history. It’s one of the most unique games ever made.

Sadly, it never never made it outside Japan and fan translations have happened in fits and starts. Unfortunately, the most recent progress was five years ago and the dream of playing this game is probably dead for those who do not know Japanese.

This video review delves into the game a bit more and has some gameplay footage. Meanwhile, our “song of the day” is this sad little scene that encapsulates all that is great about this game (provided you remember Alex Kidd). Consider this an act of pouring one out for Sega and the Dreamcast: