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Royals Rumblings - News for January 11, 2019

In a shocking upset, today’s Song of the Day is not from Mario Kart

Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
Salvy Splash!
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

(I don’t think this has been posted here, but likes to make things difficult sometimes by not keeping things in chronological order or putting posting dates on their stories.) Jeffrey Flanagan posts his first Twitter mailbag of the new year.

I’m very high on right-hander Jorge Lopez. I remember after the first couple of times he pitched for the Royals, Salvador Perez pulled me aside and said, “That kid has the best stuff on the staff.” That stuck with me. And then we almost saw Lopez throw a perfect game in Minnesota. Most pitchers have one “out pitch.” Lopez has several. It’s just a matter of gaining experience now.

Alex Duvall (hey, that name’s familiar) of Royals Farm Report continues the Royals Top 75 prospect rankings with 65-61. Speaking of familiar names, this set includes Frank Schwindel, Foster Griffin, and Donnie Dewees. Speaking of which...

There’s still plenty of time for Dewees to carve himself out a role as a big league outfielder, but he’s going to have to prove himself this season with AAA Omaha. One thing that Dewees has going for him is that he can absolutely fly and he plays great defense in CF, despite something of a weak arm. His future role with the Royals should become very apparent by the end of May

In an ESPN Insider article, Bradford Doolittle argues “baseball needs the speedy Royals to overachieve”.

With that observed, here’s a question: What would happen, in this age of record home run levels, if a team went all-in on stolen bases? Thanks to the Kansas City Royals, we may just find out.

Pete Grathoff with a couple of oddball Royals stories.

In the first, Kelvin Herrera made nice with a White Sox fan he mixed it up with in 2015.

He also had a blurb about Mario Kart on the CrownVision.

As did CBS’s Kevin Skiver.

Man, I really wanted to do Mario Kart today but, well, we’ve done it couple of times before (not that it stops me from doing it again). And I already had this week’s Song of the Day written earlier in the week. And, of course, Matt already beat me to the story.

Listicles? YOU BET!

ESPN’s David Schoenfield lists predictions for the remaining free agents. The only Royals mention is as a potential fallback spot for Mike Moustakas.

Even more desperate for content granular, CBS’s R.J. Anderson ranks the Royals as the 28th most likely spot for Craig Kimbrel. But, hey, maybe every other team besides the Orioles and Marlins could decide to pass on him.

This site has had some pretty impressive folks on the Masthead. Today’s Best of Royals Review (TM) looks at one of the more accomplished sabermetricians who has graced the site (and has yet to be featured in this space): Jeff Zimmerman and Comparison of Kendall and Pena as Greinke’s Catcher.

Something to keep in mind is that looking things up on the internet eight years ago was different than today. Just look at the warning at the top: “Warning: 30-40 images are viewable after the jump. It may take a while to view all on a slow connection.”

Much of the work done in this article is at your fingertips now. Want to see the breakdown of a pitcher by pitch type? Just go to Fangraphs. Want to see splits based on a particular catcher (or umpire or whatever)? Baseball-Reference. All sorts of other stats and videos? Baseball Savant has a wealth of information. Pitch charts?

Here’s what those sites looked like when that article was published: Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, Baseball Savant (did not exist), BrooksBaseball. Jeff was doing this sort of analysis for free on our little corner of the internet. In the comments, when asked how long it took: “Way too long (8 hours maybe), but I have been wanting to do it for a while”. I suspect it was like so much Royals writing at the time: part out of love of the team and part out of frustration.

Today’s Song of the Day is a bit of a stretch, but it’s topical so go with me here.

I haven’t been much of an NFL fan for a long time. This isn’t some half-hearted, half-racist political protest or whatnot. Rather, this is from a different (and harmless) kind of pettiness: I started to lose interest after our greedy owner moved the team.

I grew up rooting for the Houston Oilers, the high-flying, hard-luck local team. In 1987, owner Bud Adams threatened to move the team to Jacksonville and the county renovated the Astrodome for $87M and added 10K more seats. Side note: these changes also cost the Astrodome its beloved and iconic scoreboard. A few years later, Adams demanded a new stadium and the city, not really believing he’d move so soon after the recent renovations, did nothing. So the censored packed up and left, a huge blow to the city in football-crazed Texas.

Once I moved to Lawrence, I never picked up the Chiefs like I did with the Royals. While the Oilers leaving affected me in an emotional way, affordability played an even bigger role. To this date, I have only ever been to one NFL game and was gifted the tickets. I was a poor college student (and then poor working schlub) but was able to afford over 100 Royals games in my time in Kansas. However, one Chiefs game would cost me an entire season of 10+ Royals games.

But it was hard to not absorb some of what I heard and saw. I was struck by how similar the Chiefs and Oilers were. Both were old AFL teams with some recent success which had not won anything big since the 60s. They were mirror images of each other with Oilers being an offensive juggernaut and the Chiefs doing their damage on defense. Long stretches of making the playoffs? Check! Years of never winning in the playoffs? Check! Heartbroken by the Buffalo Bills, John Elway, losing home playoff games, and bad kicking? Do I need to go on?

Kansas City Chiefs

  • 1995 Lost Div
  • 1994 Lost WC
  • 1993 Lost Conf
  • 1992 Lost WC
  • 1991 Lost Div
  • 1990 Lost WC

Houston Oilers

  • 1993 Lost Div
  • 1992 Lost WC
  • 1991 Lost Div
  • 1990 Lost WC
  • 1989 Lost WC
  • 1988 Lost Div
  • 1987 Lost Div

The only time either team made it to the AFC title game was in 1993 WHEN THEY PLAYED EACH OTHER! For the Oilers, that roller coaster season came on the heels of The Comeback gut punch the previous season. Houston started 1-4 before reeling off 11 straight. But in the midst of the winning streak was Babygate (a player was fined for missing the game to go to the birth of his kid), DC Buddy Ryan throwing a punch at OC Kevin Gilbride on a national televised Sunday Night Football game, and defensive lineman’s Jeff Alm’s suicide. Blowing the 4th quarter lead to the Chiefs in the playoffs that year was the beginning of the end of the team’s stay in Houston. They cratered to 2-14 the next year and started a rebuild that wouldn’t finish until the team moved to Tennessee.

Along with the fledgling fantasy football industry, one other thing kept my waning interest in the league: NFL Primetime. The late 90s were, in many ways, the heyday for produced “short attention span tv”.* There was no Sunday Ticket or Red Zone or internet streams where you could watch every game. So if you wanted to keep up, this was the best way. This was arguably the peak of Chris Berman’s career and Tom Jackson was an excellent co-host.

*In my mind, this would include sports recaps like NFL Primetime, Baseball Tonight, and SportsCenter but also live events that had to switch between multiple games like the NCAA Tournament

What I particularly appreciated is that with the longer format, they told a story about each game rather than just showing a couple of touchdowns. Per wiki: “Rather than provide the usual package of scoring highlights, NFL Primetime presented extended highlights which also showed less dramatic plays. This provided context for the greater depth of analysis of each game. A common non-dramatic play that would be shown would be a game-clinching first down while a team was running out the clock. Some of the less dramatic plays would be used to demonstrate an overall large accomplishment.”

People may diminish the show because of Berman’s later years, but this was one of the best hours of television for a long time. It was extremely well produced, smart, and entertaining, especially for a highlight show. Nominally, I believe the show still exists. But it was basically killed off in 2006. As part of their Sunday Night Football contract, NBC also got exclusive rights to doing a highlights show during the Sunday evening window. Between life changes and the death of NFL Primetime, my interest in the league has since been relegated to watching a handful of playoff minutes and the Super Bowl, which is more cultural touchstone than sporting event, anyway.

But let’s talk about the NFL Primetime music. It’s iconic in its own right with a cult following. We’re going to loosely tie this to video games because, in the early days of the internet, a number of the highly sought after tracks were ripped from ESPN NFL PrimeTime 2002 for the PS2 and XBox.

However, there’s not a lot of information out there about the music. Fans have tried to piece what they can together but a lot of the music has been lost and much is unknown. If you’re doing an internet search for the music these days, the two most iconic songs are Powersurge and International Statement. Interestingly, today’s clip is probably the most famous in the show’s history but no one seems to know the song title. Also, it’s not their best moment production-wise, as you can tell they struggle with going back and forth between the two games, and I think Berman loses his script or teleprompter partway through - but it’s really compelling tv.

Note: I’m also going to use this as my license to use more NFL Primetime music in the future.