(FYI: I’m going to be out next Friday so here are a few of my thoughts on the upcoming season)
Seems a little strange to say this, but this time next week we might be playing baseball for realsies. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m very conflicted. I want to be really happy about baseball returning. I love baseball. I wouldn’t be writing here otherwise. I mean, geez. I was watching a glorified scrimmage the other night on YouTube and felt comforted listening to Phys. Phys!
You guys know about my new-found love of the CPBL (Go Monkeys!). When they started playing baseball on 4/11, Taiwan had 385 cases and 6 deaths. They’re at 452 and 7, respectively. Most of those cases between 385 and 452 happened the first week or two they were playing with cardboard fans and robot drummers and all of that fun. Then they went like 6 weeks without a new case and didn’t get any new ones until they relaxed their travel quarantines from other countries. In short, they were at the (likely) tail end of their pandemic. And now they have fans in the stands. South Korea and Japan have followed suit. The pandemic is not over in those places, but it’s mostly contained with occasional outbreaks. Baseball could be seen as a symbolic rebirth, a hopeful return from a dark time for these countries.
But that’s not how it’s going to be here. We’re in the throes of a second wave worse than the first. Or maybe it’s just an extended version of the first as we never truly got under control here. No one can say with a straight face that we’re in the tail end of this. And there’s even the potential for it to get worse with a looming crisis of school spread, economic necessity, and cooler weather on the horizon. Even if baseball starts up next week and they successfully play in their bubble, to me, it will feel more like a testament to how a billion dollar industry can insulate itself from its fans. It will be a false normalizing, a pretending that everything is fine even as we all know it’s not true.
So, on the one hand, I will be happy to have baseball next week, those familiar sounds and rituals that help make summer great. On the other hand, it will be accompanied by the all too familiar economic and psychological burden that may drain much of the joy out of our wonderful game.
Anyways, onto the news:
The Royals traded Tim Hill last night to the Padres for power-hitting but free swinging OF Franchy Cordero and RHP Ronald Bolaños. A story by Matthew was on the front page last night.
Here’s the story about the trade from MLB.com.
You can read about it from Clint Scoles if you’re on his Patreon:
Royals Trade Tim Hill for Upside https://t.co/8TI1PFPf9U— Royals Academy (@ClintScoles) July 17, 2020
And Drew Osborne writes about it for Royals Farm Report.
It kindof makes this AP feel-good story about Tim Hill a bit awkward. Good luck in San Diego, Tim!
His spot appeared secure again this spring when the coronavirus pandemic brought baseball to a halt. It left him with a difficult decision. Not only does Hill have a family history of cancer, he also has Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition associated with a higher risk of colon cancer. Those factors left Hill wondering whether he should step on the field when baseball resumed or stick to the sideline, knowing they increased the risk of complications should he contract COVID-19.
MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan had a Twitter mailbag yesterday. Let’s see- which question should we use? I guess we’ll go with his answer about the back of the bullpen:
That’s a good question, and I think Matheny will be flexible. But I expect Ian Kennedy to be the closer, and his go-to setup men will be Trevor Rosenthal, Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont and Greg Holland. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Rosenthal get some save opportunities as well. He looked unhittable in Spring Training.
Pete Grathoff mentions that, of course, now that he’s healthy, Salvy will be the Opening Day catcher.
“Without question, what we’re seeing from him is (he’s) everywhere we would hoped he would be and more as far as more timed up than I thought,” Matheny said. “He’s in a better place offensively right now than we had seen when we were in Arizona. “And defensively, the guy knows what he’s doing. And it helps that he is worked relentlessly to put himself in a position where we can pretty boldly give you that answer.”
Non-standard outlet? How about the Bureau County (IL) Republican? I had to go look up where that was - it’s in north central Illinois and was the birthplace (birth county?) of former NL President Warren Giles. The paper talked with Brad Groleau, who was supposed to be the Burlington Royals trainer. They interviewed him as he went to local St. Bede Academy (as did J.A. Happ) and talks about working for the organization during COVID.
Groleau said working on his Spanish should be beneficial because he works with many Latin American players. “It’s definitely helped,” Groleau said. “I work for the Burlington Royals, a rookie affiliate. We work with a lot of Latin American players who are trying to learn English but are not fluent. To be able to build rapport, being able to speak some Spanish goes a long way. I enjoy learning it.”
Groleau said he’s appreciated how the Royals have handled the pandemic. “We’ve had great communication from Assistant General Manager JJ Picollo,” Groleau said. “He’s kept us in the loop with everything in the organization. They kept every staff member on. They’ve kept every player – major and minor leagues. I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a Royal through all this. The leadership from the owner to the GM to the assistant GM has been great.”
As for Royals blogs,
Fansided’s KC Kingdom and Kings of Kauffman remain unreadable on my browser but people with other setups may enjoy their good work.
Royals Report asks: “Danny Duffy will be the Royals’ Opening Day starter, but could it be his last?”
And, finally, U.L.’s Toothpick continues his 1980 story, including a George Brett 4-hit game.
Brett had four hits, including a double and a triple. Since returning to action on July 10 after an ankle injury he suffered on June 10, Brett was 17 for 29, with a batting line of .585/.636/.862. Throw in the game where he got hurt and the game before it (covering his current nine-game hitting streak), and those numbers improve somehow, to a .600/.650/1.029 line.
Let’s take a brief look at July 17th in history, via Wikipedia. FYI: If baseball starts soon (fingers crossed), this section will probably be retired.
In 1203, “The Fourth Crusade captures Constantinople”. I’m not a big history scholar to begin with but the time from the Roman Empire (400ish?) to the Renaissance (1400s) is mostly a blank slate to me. Rome falls apart and there are the Dark Ages/Middle Ages and the Crusades. There’s King Arthur but he’s mostly mythology. Oh, and Vikings. But that’s all in Europe. I know even less about what was going on in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Did I mention, not a history scholar.
In 1402, the Yongle Emperor ascends to the throne of the Ming Dynasty. You may remember him from last week’s Rumblings talking about the Yongle Dadian encylopedia.
In 1918, Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed as part of the Russian Revolution. It’s the end of the Romanov dynasty that dated back more than 3 centuries. In every picture I’ve ever seen of Nicholas II, he has a sad and tired expression, as if he knew that his time and his family’s time was coming to an end.
In 1955, Disneyland opens in California. I went a couple of years ago and, well, there is something magical about walking in those gates for the first time and seeing the giant castle.
It’s the date of the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in Kansas City.
In 1984, the legal drinking age is goes from 18 to 21 in the United States from the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. In the 70s, more than half the states lowered their drinking age below 21. This followed as 18 year olds could be drafted into Vietnam and, subsequently, were given the right to vote by the 26th Amendment. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others fought back and the law was passed that said if a state didn’t raise its minimum drinking age (back) to 21, they would lose 10% of federal highway funds. South Dakota sued but lost in the Supreme Court.
Historically, it’s also been a bad day for air travel with major fatality accidents in 1996, 2000, 2007, and 2014.
But let’s end with the story of Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan. On this day in 1938, he was supposed to take a trans-Atlantic flight. He developed a fuel leak on his first leg from Long Beach to New York and was told to return back to California. Instead, he took off and headed the “wrong way” to Ireland. It seems like there’s a lot of “wink-wink” about his claims of misreading the compass and going the wrong way, especially considering the flight took about 28 hours.
Corrigan claimed to have noticed his “error” after flying for about 26 hours. This is not entirely consistent with his claim that after 10 hours, he felt his feet go cold; the cockpit floor was awash with gasoline leaking from the unrepaired tank. He used a screwdriver to punch a hole through the cockpit floor so that the fuel would drain away on the side opposite the hot exhaust pipe, reducing the risk of a midair explosion. Had he been truly unaware he was over ocean, it seems likely he would have descended at this point; instead, he claimed to have increased the engine speed by almost 20% in the hope of decreasing his flight time. He landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome, County Dublin, on July 18, after a 28-hour, 13-minute flight. His provisions had been just two chocolate bars, two boxes of fig bars, and a quart of water.
And the fallout for him was minimal:
Aviation officials took 600 words to list the regulations broken by his flight in a telegram (a medium that encourages brevity by charging at a rate per word). Despite the extent of Corrigan’s illegality, he received only a mild punishment; his pilot’s certificate was suspended for 14 days. He and his plane returned to New York on the steamship Manhattan and arrived on August 4, the last day of his suspension. His return was marked with great celebration. More people attended his Broadway ticker-tape parade than had honored Lindbergh after his triumph. He was also given a ticker tape parade in Chicago. Later he met with Roosevelt at the White House.
Today’s baseball birthday’s are a bit of an underwhelming lot. There is a Hall of Famer, Lou Boudreau, but I’m going out on a limb and guessing most don’t know much about him. I don’t. The next best player is Roy McMillan. Could not tell you a thing about him. The only other players above 10 bWAR are Adam Lind and Jason Jennings. There aren’t even any current players born on July 17th and there are no former Royals.
I was going to do a new game this week but it’s already getting late and we’re nearly to 2000 words. So here’s a spoiler to the next game we’re going to do. It’s Nintendo’s anime answer to Perry Mason, Phoenix Wright.