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Royals Rumblings - News for August 30, 2019

I completely missed the Royals being eliminated from the playoffs on Tuesday

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals
I swear I’ve used a lot of Jorge Soler images this year
Peter G. Aiken

ICYMI: Jorge Soler hit home run #37 yesterday and is just one behind Moose for the team record with a month to go.

If you have your subscription to The Athletic handy:

Over at Royals Academy, Clint Scoles profiles the 6 Royals farmhands who will be going to the Arizona Fall League.

After the 2018 draft, Lynch gave the appearance as the top pitcher in the system, tossing his fastball into the upper 90s with three suitable secondary pitches to go alongside it. This season for Wilmington he got off to a slow start before finding his footing in late April and giving the appearance he was ready for Double-A through May until an injury during his first June start tossed a speedbump into things. Since his recovery, the left-hander has pitched well for Wilmington and a good showing against some of the game’s upper-level competition in Arizona could show that Lynch is ready to join Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar at the upper levels of Kansas City’s system next season.

What would you expect from RFR’s Alex Duvall, who copied the name of RR’s Alex Duvall? Naturally, he copied Clint Scoles in profiling those AFL players.

I’m not a fan of the 1B designation for Cancel this fall, but I guess he could still mix in at 2B while he’s there as well. I have heard from within the organization that they want Cancel to start working out at 1B more, but I am not 100% sure how to feel about it. It’s good knowing that they want to try to find the kid playing time, but a move from 2B to 1B takes a significant hit out of Cancel’s prospect value.

Fangraphs’s Eric Longenhagen looks at the whole of the Arizona Fall League rosters. However, he doesn’t make any mention of the selected Royals.

Joe Posnanski chronicles David Glass’s tenure as Royals owner.

In 2006, with things at rock bottom, David Glass (and his son, team president Dan) made their best decision: They hired Dayton Moore to be the team’s general manager. Now, it’s true that Moore’s baseball record with Kansas City is mixed — the team is terrible again. But he brought a vision, a sense of purpose and a dignity to the Royals. Moore brought in a bunch of good baseball people. He insisted that the team spend money on scouting and development. And when the window cracked open, Moore was allowed by the Glass family to aggressively push through — the Royals went to back-to-back World Series, winning it all in 2015.

Then the window shut hard and the Royals are terrible again. They are 24th in the league in team payroll and 27th in attendance, and the future looks pretty shaky. Only now, this team is worth more than a billion dollars.

Speaking of waxing poetic, Meg Rowley at Fangraphs deconstructed the 12 minutes of suspended baseball game from last week.

It was a testament to a few things — the surprising rigidity of baseball’s schedule, the allure of a chance, however small (entering the day, our playoff odds had the Red Sox with a 1.7% shot at playing October baseball), the grip of a discounted hot dog on the hearts of children. But the whole ordeal also made me think about how we think about time — how we sometimes consider it banked, or free, or very precious, or, when we’re mad, or tired, or perhaps inconvenienced, something we’d just like to hurry along. The Red Sox played the Royals for about 12 minutes, and in that span, they showed us time in four different states. These are those four.

Fansided has sprung to life lately!

Ryan Sikes with 5(!!) new stories in the last 24 hours. There might be more before this gets published!

Elsewhere around the Fansided network:

Katherine Acquevella at CBS Sports checks in on the robot umpires in the Atlantic League.

TrackMan obviously affects everyone involved on a baseball team, but how has it been for the umpires? Many of which have had to essentially tweak their entire career and approach to calling balls and strikes. After initially being taken aback by the news of an electronic strike zone, Atlantic League umpire Freddie DeJesus now recognizes its game-changing potential.

”As I’ve had the opportunity to do it now, it’s great,” DeJesus said. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s good for the game. I can see it down the line getting to the next level. It’s just an opportunity for bigger things to happen within baseball.” DeJesus was the home-plate umpire for the first regular season Atlantic League game to utilize TrackMan to call balls and strikes. His earpiece was requested by the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, and now resides in Cooperstown.

Joe Posnanski also wrote about automated strike zones in his baseball-as-poetry way.

The only thing that matters is: Does the ball go through the strike zone. And maybe that really is the only thing that matters … but that’s now how it has been for more than 100 years. Take this pitch from Trevor Bauer on Sunday against the Pirates. The bases are loaded and the oft-maligned C.B. Bucknor is behind the plate and this second pitch to Bryan Reynolds looks an AWFUL LOT like a strike: (image from Gameday that really looks like a strike)

...But now watch the pitch itself (video of pitch). I mean, look, sorry, that doesn’t look like a strike. Bauer didn’t come close to hitting his spot, the catcher had to jump outside just to catch it. If the umpire HAD called that a strike, I imagine the fans would have gone crazy over it. In other words, the gap between what the eyes and minds see and the ball/strike call also exists in computer simulations. Ask yourself the question: Was Trevor Bauer’s pitch a strike?

Jeff Passan of ESPN (that still feels weird to say) tiers out the major trades at the deadline and how they look one month later. None of the Royals moves were big enough to make the list.

Miller Park, with a retractable roof, had a rain delay on Wednesday. The roof was open when a storm rolled through and they raced to close it. For the record, I’ve watched fans at Minute Maid Park (also with a roof) get absolutely soaked during heavy rain. There are a couple of seams where the roof meet the stadium that aren’t completely rigid or sealed and blowing rain pours in.

Aristides Aquino of the Reds hit his 13th home run in his 100th plate appearance. That’s unprecedented.

Dan Szymborski begins his annual tradition of doing an “Elegy for the Season” for each team as they are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Baltimore Orioles lead things off.

In case you were wondering, the Royals were officially eliminated on Tuesday so they’ll be up soon. The Tigers are also mathematically out of it. I totally missed this.

Speaking of Szymborski, he’s quoted (is it “quoted”, if your tweet is cited?) in this story about all the times baseball has been dying. According to Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated, it’s been reported to be dying for almost as long as it’s existed

Oh, what the hell. One more time. Szymborski!

(For the record, I’ve never met Dan but, yes, I do picture him as Michael Keaton with crazy hair, looking a bit dead, and wearing a black and white suit).

Today we’ll conclude our little romp through four historical NES RPGs with the one that’s perhaps, the most historically significant: Final Fantasy. It’s a bit revisionist to paint it as wildly popular in the west. It doesn’t appear on the NES million seller list, whereas all 4 Dragon Quest games were (almost exclusively on Japanese sales). But its legacy comes from spawning the series that for years would be seen as the gold standard for jRPGs in the West.

The game’s development is a bit famous in gaming lore with stories taking on their own life about how Square would have to declare bankruptcy if the game failed. However, director Hironobu Sakaguchi has walked those back a bit (per wiki): “Although Sakaguchi confirmed some of the theories, he later downplayed the rationale for choosing the word “final”, saying that “it was definitely a back-to-the-wall type situation back then, but any word that starts with an ‘F’ would have been fine””

Want to tie together all 4 games in this series? Wiki does it for me: “However, when the RPG Dragon Quest was released and proved to be a hit in Japan, the company reconsidered its stance on the genre and approved Sakaguchi’s vision of an RPG inspired by Ultima and Wizardry.”

Many who worked on the original NES Final Fantasy series, known as the A-Team, have had huge impacts on the video game universe. Of course, Sakaguchi was the long time Final Fantasy director who games have sold over 100 million copies. Two other game designers would go on to create their own major video game series: Koichi Ishii (creator of Mana series) and Akitoshi Kawazu (creator of Saga series). We’ve talked at length in this space about Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary composer. Programmer Nasir Gebelli was related to the Iranian royal family but moved to the US and programmed a number of hit Atari and NES games (Rad Racer, 3-D WorldRunner) before retiring on his video game royalties. Graphic designer Kazuko Shibuya is one of the most famous pixel artists of all time; she created the “iconic title screen and blue menus”. Character designer Yoshitaka Amano has worked at length in both the video game and animation industries on properties as disparate as Final Fantasy, Speed Racer, Gatchaman, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. You get the idea: it was a tightly collaborating collection of very talented individuals at the start of an industry who all went on to wide ranging success.

Why was it a success? First, it’s a huge game. The world was giant by NES standards and helped give the game its epic feel. The use of walling off certain areas with specific items (not just keys) was not unique to this game (for instance, it’s featured prominently in The Legend of Zelda), it was very well done here. Also, the grand scope of the game felt much larger than any of those aforementioned RPGs. That seems silly when you consider all 4 deal, to some degree, in the timeworn (even at that time) fantasy story of historical heroes saving the world from some great evil.

The gameplay balance was fairly well done, though some classes are more essential than others. The pacing was less than ideal (ogres and creep grinding, anyone?) and there were some cheap moments (silly one hit kills in the elemental dungeons). But the leveling system was, generally, well done and the class upgrade quest was a neat bonus. Also, a lot of this is wallpapered over by the fact that the game is just gorgeous. Shibuya and Amano deserve a huge amount of credit for making the game come alive.

Below is the introduction that started it all*:

*ok, not entirely - there was a prologue of sorts before it, but work with me here