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Royals Rumblings - News for October 2, 2020

Always October!

Kirby: Planet Robobot Celebration Event At Smashbox Studios with Peyton and Spencer List
Royals season is over so I’m going with this picture; I don’t know who she is but she’s standing underneath a giant inflatable Kirby and that’s all that matters
Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Nintendo of America

Per Vahe Gregorian at The Star, sounds like Matheny is a glass full full (not a typo) kind of guy:

Through the shutdown in mid-March, through catching the virus himself and the ups and downs of the potential restart that Matheny called “almost a psychological yo-yo,” he was a rock — with a fountain of optimism pouring over it.

“I’ve enjoyed this season, believe it or not, maybe as much as any season I’ve ever had,” he said.

Sensing Matheny might need to vent or bleed at some point, general manager Dayton Moore even tried to get him to complain about the circumstances. Matheny wasn’t having it in July, and he wasn’t having it on Wednesday when I asked about what kind of personal challenges these last few months brought.

Blair Kerkhoff reported that Royals fans loved catching the team on TV:

The Royals helped pass the COVID-19 pandemic summer with two months of action that produced a 4.6 average rating on FOX Sports Kansas City, according to Nielsen.

No fans in the stands, broadcasters covering all games — home and away — from Kauffman Stadium, and a team that missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year were not problematic for Royals fans. The rating marked a 4 percent increase over the 2019 average and ranked sixth among local market ratings in Major League Baseball. The Royals, who finished fourth in the AL Central at 26-34, have ranked in baseball’s top 10 for local market ratings for eight straight years.

Steve Adams at MLBTR looked at what the Royals might do in the offseason:

Perez, Dozier, Merrifield, Mondesi, Franco and Soler will likely occupy six of the Royals’ lineup spots in most of next year’s games, health permitting. That leaves the club open to pursue outfield upgrades at any of the three spots, an improvement over Nicky Lopez at second base (.228/.279/.307 in 594 career plate appearances) or perhaps a first baseman if Dozier is pushed back the outfield. The Royals probably won’t be fishing at the top of the free-agent market, but there are high-OBP names in the middle tiers of free agency at potential positions of need. Tommy La Stella, Cesar Hernandez, Robbie Grossman and Matt Joyce are among the options to have posted quality on-base marks in recent years. The trade market and an expected slew of non-tenders will only add further options for the Royals (and others) to explore.

Finally, let’s take a look around the Royals blogosphere:

Lots going on around baseball right now.

While the Twins crazy playoff futility streak endures, the A’s won their first postseason series in 14 years. They beat the White Sox 6-4 in a game with 17(!!!) pitchers. And it was a 9 inning game!

The Braves beat the Reds, who didn’t score a run the entire series.

I didn’t stay up for Brewers-Dodgers game 2 and had already hit publish on this one before the Pads-Cards game. But “bite it, Cards and their self-proclaimed BFIB” is evergreen, no matter the results.

A new podcast about the Astros scandal includes former GM Jeff Luhnow speaking publicly about it for the first time.

Also, for the Astros, Justin Verlander had Tommy John surgery and will be out for 2021. Same for former Astro and current Blue Jay closer Ken Giles.

And two stories around baseball and COVID.

Unaware of or undeterred by the term “super-spreader event”, MLB has agreed to make 11,500 tickets available for each game of the NLCS and World Series at Globe Life Park.

But, at least MLB is helping with COVID testing, as per their pandemic manual. Oh, wait, no they aren’t?

Of MLB’s 30 teams, including the Yankees and Mets, only one team, the Red Sox, has confirmed a testing plan aimed at frontline workers in its community. The Giants, who say they have made their testing site for players and coaches available to the city of San Francisco, are the next closest, but have not made specific plans to provide testing for frontline workers...

For months, baseball has devoured about 10,000 tests per week for players and personnel. Those tests have to come from somewhere. The number may not be particularly large compared to the overall number of tests needed across the country, but it adds stress to an already overtaxed system, and grants priority and preference to players and team personnel who could otherwise be perfectly safe at home on their couch...

The News contacted municipal government health departments in every American MLB city, yes, even including Erie County, which became temporary hosts for the Blue Jays when the Canadian government ruled that traveling to and from Toronto would “not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety.” Only one, the City of Milwaukee Health Department, said it had any coordination with its local MLB team on community testing, but the plan is still being discussed and has yet to launch.

Good job, MLB. Sigh.

You know who we haven’t check in on lately? Our baseball sister teams overseas!

(FYI: this was written on Sunday night at the conclusion of the MLB season so stats may not quite be up to date).

NPB (Japan): Yakult Swallows

In Japan’s NPB, the Yakult Swallows were chosen because they boast former Royals Nori Aoki and Alcides Escobar. They are in 6th place in the Central League... out of 6 teams and are 20.5 GB the Yomiuri Giants. Aoki (.309/.410/.585) and Escobar (.281/.325/.335) are 2 of the better hitting players on the Swallows, which may tell you all you need to know. That’s not fair. Aoki is one of the better hitters in the league and Escobar is having one of those nice BA-fueled seasons. Yakult is a decent hitting team but their pitching is league worst, the only team in the league giving up more than 5 runs a game. Their season runs through November 7th.

KBO (Korea): Hanwha Eagles

In Korea, we accurately picked the Hanwha Eagles for our rooting interest. If you remember the last time we looked at them in July, they had just snapped a Royals-esque league record tying 18-game losing streak. ESPN is still showing 1 KBO game a week and I salute the poor (mostly) unnamned writers who have been banished to the obscure corners of and are still doing KBO Power Rankings. The Eagles are, of course, in last:

10. Hanwha Eagles: 32-78-2 (10) — The Eagles were riding a five-game winning streak until the Dinos roared into town and won two straight. Still, one of Hanwha’s best weeks of the season.

FYI: MyKBOStats lists foreign players in the KBO and I believe the only former Royals I see are Aaron Brooks (nice stats) and Ben Lively (less so). The KBO season ends on October 18th.

CPBL (Taiwan)

Finally, in my beloved CPBL, they’re coming down the home stretch. If you remember, my favorite Rakuten Monkeys had jumped out to a big lead in their inaugural season (they replaced the Lamigo Monkeys), only to be tracked down by the CTBC Brothers for the 1st half crown. In the second half, the Fubon Guardians hold a slim 1 game lead over the Uni-Lions.

Per wiki, the playoff format is as follows:

Teams play two fifty-game half seasons. The two half-season winners are automatically the number one and two seeds; the one with the better full-season record gains an automatic berth into the best-of-seven Taiwan Series, played in a 2-3-2 format. The other team must play a best-of-five series against the team with the best full-season record but didn’t win either half-season. If the same team wins both halves, the next two teams with the best full-season record play in the first round; the winner plays in the Taiwan Series, with the team that wins both halves having a 2-2-3 format.

If the season ended today (and if I’m reading this right) the Brothers, who currently have the best record on the season, would get a bye. The Guardians would win the 2nd half and would have to play the Monkeys, who have the 2nd best record overall for the season, in a best-of-five.

The regular season ends October 14th. However, if it’s like the first half of the season, they will schedule the rain makeup games after that. In the first half of the season, 15 games were made up across 2 weeks. So far, there have been 7 games postponed in the 2nd half. Games can still be seen on the Twitter of Eleven Sports Taiwan.

The home run race is heating up, too. Remember Chu Yu-Hsien? He started off the season on fire with 10 HR in his first 13 games. He went ice cold in the power department and had a stretch of 27 games with only 1 HR. He’s been hurt on and off but he’s caught fire again in September with 8 HR, giving him 27. But he has a pair of Uni-Lions to contend with as Su Chih-Chieh has 25 and Lin An-Ko has 28.

Last week, we talked about Kirby Canvas Curse on the Nintendo DS. This week, we’re going back further in the series to, perhaps, the most innovative entry in the series: Kirby Tilt N’ Tumble.

Even the cartridge is memorable as it’s transparent and pink and boasts an odd shape that didn’t fit in some flavors of the Game Boy Color (or next generation’s backward compatible Game Boy Advance family). That’s because it had to fit a gyroscope in the game itself.

For gameplay, you titled the system forward for Kirby to move forward. Backward to move him backward. You guessed it: side-to-side to move him side-to-side. Lastly, players had to give the system a quick pop up to make Kirby jump. So, to get Kirby where you needed him to go, you might be putting the system at a bad angle to see.

That means it’s as difficult as it is innovative. Wikipedia, citing the Game Informer review says the concept “sounds simple enough, it actually results in one of the most dramatic, high-tension game scenarios seen on any system.” Did I mention that each level had a timer?

Here’s the first 20ish minutes of gameplay: