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Royals Rumblings - News for June 29, 2018

The Royals did not lose yesterday!

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Milwaukee Brewers
High five!
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Passan had the story of the day, revisiting the big news of the week.

Two facts define Luke Heimlich. The first is that he pleaded guilty as a teenager to molesting his 6-year-old niece. The second is that he is one of the best pitchers in college baseball. How society reconciles personal depravity with professional excellence is a defining question of today, in politics, in Hollywood, in sports – in all public-facing jobs whose disproportionate hold on our moral leanings places an even greater onus on their role as noble actors.

Let’s be honest, I mostly linked to that so I could post this:

BPKC published an article penned by one of their readers about the topic. I’m just going to post the intro here to give some context:

Since Dayton Moore mentioned the Royals were exploring the possibility of signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich to a contract, there has been plenty of reaction, discussion and debate. Rarely, if at all, have we heard from a survivor of sexual abuse. A reader of BP Kansas City reached out to us and offered to tell his story and to offer his perspective as a survivor. We think what he has to say is important and we thank him for trusting us as a forum. For obvious reasons, he wishes to remain anonymous.

KC Kingdom’s Leigh Oleszczak also weighs in on the Heimlich news.

If the Royals sign Luke Heimlich, it’ll be difficult for me to continue to cheer for them. People tend to forget about people’s pasts if they’re good at sports though, and we’ve already seen that once in Kansas City in recent years. Hopefully Heimlich does not get signed by the organization because otherwise, it might cause me to question my fandom.

She is excited about the prospect (pun intended!) of seeing prospect Nicky Lopez in the majors later this year.

While Mondesi has been thought of being the team’s future at shortstop, Lopez has spent a lot of time there in the minors. Mondesi has also mostly played at second base in the bigs, so perhaps the two can shift around between the two positions.

Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star profiles Adalberto Mondesi’s connection to two players from the Dominican Republic.

There are two people the Royals can thank for the strides in Mondesi’s development: reliever Wily Peralta and late Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. Mondesi has honored the latter for more than a year. He has dangled a silver pendant around his neck, a baseball-shaped disc with stitches etched around the outside and Ventura’s number 30 in the center. He’s worn T-shirts sporting images of Ventura and gotten tattoos in Ventura’s memory. Mondesi posts often on his Instagram account photos and videos of the two of them together. So when Mondesi found out 29-year-old fellow countryman Peralta was born in Ventura’s native province of Samana, Dominican Republic, he gravitated to Peralta.

She also writes about the return of Jorge Bonifacio to a “historically bad offense”:

In a 5-19 June, the Royals’ .190 batting average is the worst in baseball and the worst in a single month in franchise history. The latter distinction once belonged to the 1992 Royals, who batted .207 in 20 April games and scored 54 runs before finishing with a 72-90 record. The team has scored 53 times in June, 25 fewer times than the Washington Nationals, who have scored the second-fewest runs this month.

The Star’s Pete Grathoff reports that “Disney-Fox merger gets antitrust approval, but FSKC’s future is now in question” and “Royals’ Danny Duffy took a mighty swing and ... his bat flew into Brewers’ dugout”.

Here’s your daily The Athletic link. If you click on it, I get a free pony. Or Justin Bopp gets to kill a pony. Or something. I’m not really certain.

Craig Edwards at Fangraphs declares “Offseason Spending on Relievers Isn’t Working Out” in an article that includes former Royals:

While this past winter moved slowly for a number of free agents, the offseason’s available relievers actually found work pretty quickly. By the time the calendar turned, 13 relief pitchers had received multi-year contracts worth more than $10 million, totaling more than $250 million overall. Addison Reed and Greg Holland would later ink deals for more than $10 million, as well. Much has been made of the fiscal restraint exercised by teams this past winter, but teams didn’t really apply that same sort of caution to reliever deals. Perhaps they should have.

RJ Anderson of CBS Sports wrote about a player who, well, I’ll just go with the headline here: “Grant Desme returns to professional baseball, eight years after leaving to pursue priesthood”. There’s even a Royals link.

Truthfully, Desme’s return to baseball dates back nearly a year. When he left the abbey last August, he sent out a horde of emails hoping for a job lead. One surfaced in the inbox of retired all-star slugger Mike Sweeney, who is involved with Catholic athletes.

Next, a couple of articles from sources I’m not sure we’ve linked to before. James Dornbrook from the Kansas City Business Journal examines the Royals sluggish ticket sales situation.

Attracting and keeping younger viewers isn’t just a problem for the Royals, but for the league as well. Overall attendance for Major League Baseball was down 6.6 percent at the halfway point this season, on pace for its lowest average in 15 years. Fortune estimated a leaguewide revenue loss of nearly $355 million on ticket sales alone. Rishe said the only American sports trending upward right now from an attendance perspective are: the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer and esports (multiplayer video game competitions).

(I don’t think this article was posted earlier this week, but if I sterlingice’d this one, my bad) Nick Piecoro from the Arizona Republic looks at Brad Keller from the perspective of the Diamondbacks, who lost him in the Rule V draft.

“We liked him; it wasn’t that we didn’t like him,” Hazen said of Keller. “Our scouts liked him. We liked him. We made the conscious decision not to add him because of where he was in proximity to the major-league team, where we were in the cycle, what we wanted to use our 40-man spots for, we wanted to be aggressive in the offseason in claiming guys … that were closer to the big leagues in our mind.

Time to visit a new system for today’s Game of the Day.

Back in February, I talked about the Gamecube:

Let’s get this out of the way to start the month: I love the Gamecube! American gamers seem to think it was a massive failure. Only, it really wasn’t. Yes, towards the end of the 6th generation, Nintendo experienced their first quarterly loss in the company’s public history. But that was when the Gamecube started to sputter and the Nintendo DS startup costs were eating into the bottom line. The final sales numbers for that generation were 155M PS2s, 24M XBoxes, 22M Gamecubes, and 9M Dreamcasts.

In the late 90s, the N64 was bested by, among other things, the hardware of the Sony Playstation. So, in the early 2000s, Nintendo tried to fight the previous generation’s war and win on horsepower. However, the two consoles that were better at polygon pushing* were destroyed in sales by the “underpowered” Playstation 2.

*The Gamecube and XBox specs aren’t really comparable due to architecture differences but reviews of third party games treated the systems relatively equally while the PS2 was often dinged fractions of a point for not looking at good as the others

Overall, Nintendo was still in good financial shape due to its ultra-conservative business model of stockpiling cash for years and years (they still are; this 2012 article points out that they have enough cash on hand to take big losses for the next 40 years). The DS was starting to making money but it was not a sure thing either. Nintendo had strong competition for the first time in the handheld space from the Sony PSP. In short, they really needed their next home console to be a hit after two mild to moderate disappointments.

Nintendo, particularly Reggie Fils-Aime (aka The Reginator), started talking about the company’s “blue ocean” strategy. Rather than squabbling with ever increasing competition over the same small gaming population, they instead were going to try and draw in new demographics. The DS had begun having success with non-traditional games like Nintendogs and Brain Age. Each would go on to sell more than 20 million copies (the 11th and 20th best selling games OF ALL TIME).*

*By the end of the console’s life, they would be joined in the top 25 with New Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, and Pokemon:Diamond/Pearl. So it’s not as if they abandoned their core market. They just augmented it with previously non-gamers and that helped the DS to end up as the 2nd best selling console of all time.

Nintendo hoped to do the same with their new console, codename: Revolution. But when a skeptical press saw the new Wii name, demos of active play, and a console that was underpowered compared to the competition. They declared Nintendo in grave trouble and, once again, there were cries for Nintendo to get out of the hardware business.

However, that wasn’t how the gaming (or formerly “non-gaming”) public saw it. The system was sold out for more than two YEARS. And what was at the center of that? Wii Sports.

It was the first time in a couple of generations (not including mid-to-late-generation bundles) a major home system had a pack-in game. And it was brilliant! What better way to show off a new way of playing games with motion controls than by including a ridiculously fun tech demo that you would want to share with your friends?

Five simple sports: tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing. Other companies had made much more detailed and elaborate versions of those games before. However, this was the first time people could feel like they were “playing” the game on their tv. I think it’s safe to say that almost every person who owned a Wii played Wii Sports at some point. The game would go on to become the top selling game of all time as a pack-in game to the 3rd best selling console of all time.

The music is also part of Nintendo’s rebranding. It was a softer, more welcoming Nintendo. Everything on the Wii had that sort of feel. Below is the title music for the game: