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Royals Rumblings - News for December 4, 2020

It’s December so a lot of holiday-themed stuff going on today

Trans Siberian Orchestra, The Lost Christmas Tour
If you get a chance post-COVID, TSO is a really fun show
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Jeffrey Flanagan talked to Mike Matheny about the Michael Taylor signing, the OF situation, and more:

Matheny reiterated what general manager Dayton Moore said earlier this week, that Taylor will get the first crack at the starting job in center field. “Yes, that’s how we’re approaching it,” Matheny said. “It’s something we tell all our people, too, that this is an opportunity. Go take it. Run with it.

“You’ve also got Edward [Olivares] out there. You’ve got Nick Heath. You’ve got Whit Merrifield, who I know wants to be included in that conversation. You have Bubba Starling, [who was non-tendered but is expected to re-sign]. And I know that Khalil Lee wants to be included as well.”

(warning, lots of Tweets incoming)

Long time Royals front office member Toby Cook is no longer with the team:

Kiley McDaniel with a couple of Tweets about Royals roster roulette yesterday:

Alec Lewis (sub required) following up with Mike Minor about signing with the Royals

How about we combine listicles and blog posts today?

R.J. Anderson at CBS Sports writes about the most “intriguing non-tendered players”:

Maikel Franco KC 3B

You have to feel for Maikel Franco, who was non-tendered for a second winter in a row despite hitting .278/.321/.457 (109 OPS+) with eight homers in 60 games. (The Royals evidently favored Kelvin Gutierrez.) Franco is a below-average athlete who doesn’t play a graceful third base and who won’t contribute on the basepaths. At the dish, he’s more than capable of putting a charge into the ball … he’s just prone to fluctuation because his swing-happy approach limits his on-base ability and results in a lot of weak contact (especially of the pop-up variety). Franco figures to land with a team seeking right-handed thunder from a corner-infield position.

Over at Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien talks about what this means for the roster and other “intriguing roster possibilities”.

At Royals Blue, Connor Miller does not use the term “intriguing” but does say “the door finally opens for Gutierrez”.

How about some news around MLB?

Matt Snyder at CBS Sports writes about how MLB hasn’t decided on the DH for the NL for 2021 and how that’s affecting the market.

Not only does it put many National League teams in a situation where they are trying to build their best roster possible, but they also have to have contingencies in place for either scenario. We know their interleague games need a DH anyway, but that’s a far cry from using one every day, especially if we’re looking at a full season as opposed to the 60-game mish-mash we just experienced.

Craig Edwards at Fangraphs talks about the Non-Tender deadline. The last bullet was “This was as bad as it was expected to be”:

While the non-tender deadline is generally more of a minor date in the offseason calendar, it was a much bigger deal this season. With a greater number of players expected to become available, teams have, for the most part, opted to wait on signing free agents to see who got let go. With the pool of available players now larger, we will see if teams choose to wait out the available options to get even more favorable terms in free agency. We also saw a large number of arbitration-eligible players agree to deals before the deadline to avoid the possibility of being non-tendered. The uncertainty surrounding how arbitration will play out after a shortened season also likely played a role in the increase of these deals. The starting pitching market in free agency appears to be moving rather quickly, and the Mets’ signing of Trevor May could get the reliever market moving too. But the non-tender deadline was a snap back to the reality of the long, cold winter players face ahead.

The Staten Island Yankees are suing, well, the Yankees (NY variety) and MLB. They were one of the teams left out in the cold from the MILB restructure. Although they haven’t been officially told that by the look of this press release:

“Although we still have not heard this from the Yankees directly, it would appear from their press release that they would like us to go from the past arrangement in which the Staten Island Yankees were an affiliated minor league team of the New York Yankees — where we facilitated player development and brand exposure, among other benefits to the New York Yankees — to one in which we play unaffiliated baseball with no relationship to the Yankees whatsoever.

When I was looking up the 20-year-old stadium at wiki, I ran across this little nugget:

When the September 11 attacks happened across New York Harbor, the RCB Ballpark was used as a staging area for emergency workers due to its proximity to the Staten Island Ferry’s St. George Terminal, and thus to Manhattan. After the attacks, the RCB Ballpark soon became a “spiritual link and sight line to Manhattan” for Staten Island residents.

At Yahoo, Hannah Keyser looks at “moment-based merchandise” with a longform look at the marketing and idea behind places like BreakingT and Rotowear:

It’s part of the small but growing sector in sports apparel that specializes in celebrating the super-specific viral moment. T-shirts for the Twitter crowd, or other people who want to demonstrate a fandom that runs deeper than a broad allegiance to the team logo. In fact, none of the shirts that BreakingT or Rotowear produce can include any MLB team iconography at all — not even pinstripes. Instead, they focus on individual player likeness. That’s because both companies are officially licensed not by Major League Baseball but by the MLB Players Association.

Friday friends know that I like to do someone linemovie reviews to give us something to talk about. Since it’s seasonal, I thought I’d revisit the Christmas special tiers I made back in 2018:

The one liner movie reviews seem to get discussion going. How about we make this seasonal with tiers of Christmas specials?

Tier I: How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas - both sentimental favorites, both still beloved Emmy winners. The Grinch is more popular though both occupy the top spot in American Christmas lore.

Tier II: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman - the former was the first major Christmas special in 1964 and gave rise to the others. The latter is the last of the super popular quartet from the 60s.

Tier III: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Twas the Night Before Christmas - This is where the list starts to fall apart a little. Each of these is from Rankin/Bass in the 1970s and gets a yearly showing but is not nearly in the same category as the R/B classics from Tier II.

Tier IV: Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas - Two titans of entertainment try their hand at the Christmas special game, a few years after the R/B specials above. In fact, I might even be tempted to swap this and the above tier. The former is Disney doing one of the best interpretations of the Dickens classic while the latter is Jim Henson’s take on The Gift of the Magi.

Tier V: The Cricket on the Hearth, The Little Drummer Boy - The other couple of Rankin/Bass cartoons from the 60s that get lost in the shuffle. I have to say I haven’t seen either in years. Maybe I should watch them in the next week.

Tier VI: Sequels and/or crossovers of any of the above. Rudolph in dinosaur times? Rudolph and Frosty in the summer? Charlie Brown’s 4th Christmas outing? Probably best to avoid these.

Some updates:

  • I’m still really comfortable with the top two tiers. I also think there’s a really defined hierarchy: Grinch, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty - in that order. I don’t think the top 2 need much explanation: the Grinch is a Christmas juggernaut and Charlie Brown is the sentimental favorite. There’s a good reason both won Emmys and they hold up more than any other, especially considering both are more than 50 years old.
  • On Tier II, Frosty is shorter and more simple. Rudolph is more... complicated. It has more memorable scenes, but, holy crap - the Honest Trailers guy has this right: “man, this is movie is so much weirder than I remember” and you turned a Christmas song “into like Lord of the Rings for kids on acid”. And let’s not even talk about Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.
  • I think maybe I’d swap Tier III and Tier IV. I really do like Mickey’s Christmas Carol for its simplicity and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is as close as it gets to a Christmas cult classic
  • Speaking of Tier III (now IV): I like Twas the Night Before Christmas significantly better than the other two in the tier but I don’t think that’s the popular opinion. Clearly, Arnold likes The Year Without Santa Claus better (oh, yes, it’s that clip)
  • I’ve seen the Tier V ones since. Yeah, they belong in Tier V or lower.
  • Screw it: We’re going to talk about Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. There’s an evil vulture whose eon will be up at new year (and I quote wikipedia): “after which he will turn into ice and snow and disintegrate”. So he kidnaps Baby New Year. If Rudolph doesn’t find by the end of the current year, it will be December 31 for all eternity. So Rudolph teams up with an anthropomorphized military clock, a camel with a clock as part of its body, and Red Skelton as Father Time to go traverse (checks notes) - the archipelago of old years, where each island is a different time period (it’s crappy Chrono Trigger!). There’s a giant whale with a clock doing a bad Elvis impersonation, a fairy tale island because apparently all fairy tales took place in 1023 AD, and, of course, dinosaurs. The day was saved, thanks to… the Powerpuf— um, Rudolph, a knight, and Benjamin Franklin. If there’s anything I learned from the 70s, it’s “kids, don’t do drugs”.

I wasn’t really ready to talk about a new game today but I was looking for Christmas music and stumbled upon some videos that will work for the season. I didn’t realize this, but apparently Rocksmith has a Trans-Siberian Orchestra DLC pack. We’ll talk about Rocksmith sometime in the coming weeks or months (I’ve never played it but I was curious about it), but here’s a teaser TSO and “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”: