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Royals Rumblings - News for August 7, 2020

Last night was fun, right?

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Chicago Cubs v Kansas City Royals
Socially distanced good times!
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Since somebody, and I’m not naming names*, forgot to put up Rumblings yesterday so we have 2 full days worth of baseball content to catch up on this morning. So, buckle in!

*IT WAS DEFINITELY MATT! I’m totally blaming Matt, even if it wasn’t his fault. YUP, DEFINITELY MATT! Or one of you St. Louis pizza eaters (If none of this makes sense, check yesterday’s Rumblings; well, I mean hating St. Louis pizza makes sense, of course).

Last night was fun, right? Let’s remember that rather than that, this time last week, the Royals were 3-4 and in the playoffs (every part of that sentence is just very weird).

Jeffrey Flanagan talked to Kris Bubic about his nice outing on Wednesday. Baseball, man.

“For me, the big emphasis after my last game was to get that fastball command,” Bubic said. “So in the bullpen before the game, I really tried to get a feel for my body and my arm and release the ball in front of me.

“It’s funny that my curveball in the bullpen was pretty bad. First three or four were about 45 feet, and Salvy [Perez] couldn’t even block them. But it was good in the game.”

Also from Flanny (who I’m pretty sure I don’t know well enough to call him that), here’s a story about Sluggerrr putting a Royals jersey on the Marlins Man cutout at the K.

Cubs starter Alec Mills really wanted the win against his former club. And Cubs fans wanted Josh Staumont in their bullpen.

Speaking of Staumont, he got some national attention from Matt Snyder of CBS Sports with the title “Josh Staumont, the Royals’ hidden bullpen gem, might have the best stuff in baseball

My jaw was on the floor.

“Good grief” was being muttered from the Cubs’ broadcast, which included Hall of the Very Good batsmith Mark Grace, who led the ‘90s in hits and collected 2,445 hits in his career.

I had to ask around.

“Stuff-wise, I’m not sure I’ve seen better,” said one scout.

“That’s as impressive an inning as I’ve seen in a while,” said another.

Lynn Worthy covered the roster moves yesterday:

The Kansas City Royals, like all Major League Baseball clubs, had to cut their 30-man roster to 28 players Thursday. Tough decisions were made across the majors. In the Royals’ case, that meant sending super-utility, do-everything infielder/outfielder Erick Mejia, the organization’s Triple-A Player of the Year in 2019, to their alternate training site at T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kan., where he can play regularly in simulated and intrasquad games. Meanwhile, outfielder/pinch runner Nick Heath will get to stay in the big leagues and receive more opportunities to prove his value.

He also talked about manager Mike Matheny using data to manage the club:

The more telling signs were always going to come in the form of decisions made and actions taken when meaningful games started. Matheny had hinted since March that he’d planned to use his bullpen in non-traditional ways, and that’s played out in the opening weeks of the season, with his use of “openers” and multiple relievers closing out tight games — Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland have each recorded saves.

Stephanie Montgomery (wife of Mike), wrote a baseball children’s book:

Last July, a year after she came up with the idea, “Max and Ollie’s Guide to Baseball” came to fruition. The main characters of her book are Max and the family’s dog, Ollie. Max teaches Ollie the basic rules of baseball while walking around the ballpark.

Jesse Newell gives us two quirky stat stories.

The first talks about the 2020 Royals and their historically terrible walk rate.

Out of 2,580 MLB team seasons, the Royals are currently 2,580th in walk percentage, while on track to take down a 102-year-old record set by a lineup that included names like Ivy Olson, Ollie O‘Mara and Mack Wheat...

One example that not every team is like KC in this regard: The Phillies have outwalked the Royals, 30-20, despite the fact they’ve played in six games compared to the Royals’ 13.

But, hey: hope! The Royals could still make the playoffs.

It’s safe to say — results-wise — this season couldn’t have started much worse for the Royals. Kansas City is 3-9, has lost five in a row and also has the worst record in the American League all to itself. Even with all that, I’m here to tell you that the Royals probably have much better playoff odds than you’d expect ... thanks mostly to a changed reality with baseball this season...

The Royals have no doubt dug themselves a hole. And perhaps placing 1-in-16 hopes on finishing eighth out of 15 teams isn’t something that should necessarily get fans fired up. That doesn’t change the reality, though. The Royals are a flawed team among many of them in the bottom half of the American League. Which means their postseason possibilities still have a pulse.

Here’s a pair of (sub required) stories from Alec Lewis at The Athletic:

The AP has a nice little “This Date in Baseball” feature. Let’s grab a couple of select items:

1907 — Walter Johnson won the first of his 417 victories leading the Washington Senators to a 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

1956 — The largest crowd in minor-league history, 57,000, saw 50-year-old Satchel Paige of Miami beat Columbus in an International League game played in the Orange Bowl.

1985 — Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth ended the strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association with the announcement of a tentative agreement. The season resumed Aug. 8.

1999 — Wade Boggs became the first player to homer for his 3,000th hit, with a two-run shot in Tampa Bay’s 15-10 loss to Cleveland. Boggs already had a pair of RBI singles when he homered off Chris Haney in the sixth inning.

2004 — Greg Maddux became the 22nd pitcher in major league history to reach 300 victories, leading the Chicago Cubs to an 8-4 victory over San Francisco.

2007 — San Francisco’s Barry Bonds hit home run No. 756 to break Hank Aaron’s storied record with one out in the fifth inning, hitting a full-count, 84 mph fastball from Washington’s Mike Bacsik. Noticeably absent were commissioner Bud Selig and Aaron. The Nationals won the game, 8-6.

I was young but I didn’t even remember there was a strike in 1985 that apparently lasted all of 2 days.

EDIT: I totally forgot about Royals blogs today. Sorry, all.

Stories abound around the sport.

MLB has re-jiggered the schedule and, theoretically, all games are back on the schedule:

There were a number of rules updates that came down yesterday.

Instead of gradually reducing roster size, teams will have 28 players through the entire season AND playoffs. That’s, um, I don’t like that. Playoff baseball is already so much different than regular season and this just makes it moreso.

Originally, teams were to be at a 30-player limit for the start of the 2020 season and then shrink to 28 on Thursday. Then the rules called for teams to be down to the standard 26-player limit by Aug. 20 and to stay at that level through the postseason. In essence, that final step down has been eliminated, and teams will be at 28 players on the active roster for the remainder of the 2020 season.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that MLB is changing their protocols and threatening potential crackdowns on violators.

“Any covered individuals — whether players or club staff — who are found to have repeatedly or flagrantly violated the protocols, including refusing to wear a face covering when required and reminded to do so,’’ the memo reads, “risks being prohibited from further participation in the 2020 season and postseason (in the case of players, subject to the just cause provisions in the Basic Agreement). The Commissioner’s Office will send written warnings prior to any such action being taken.’’

Here’s a more esoteric new rule. We were just talking about this last Friday, too.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Major League Baseball’s official statistician, neither a team nor an individual pitcher will be credited with a no-no in a scheduled seven-inning game of a doubleheader — unless that game goes to extras. If the contest extends to at least nine innings and that pitcher (or a team’s group of pitchers) has still not allowed a hit, then it goes down in the history books as a no-no.

And if you’re wondering if a pitcher can throw a perfect game in a seven-inning game of a doubleheader, even if innings eight and nine begin with an automatic runner on base, the answer is yes. According to Elias, “A perfect game is a game of at least nine innings where no batter reaches base safely. In the case of a runner on second to start the inning he is not a batter to reach safely. Therefore it is a perfect game.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was mad about Phillies fans being Phillies fans and blowing an air horn outside the stadium when the Yankees pitched.

Olympic silver medalist speed skater Eddy Alvarez made his major league debut for (who else) the Marlins this week.

In 2014, Alvarez became the first Cuban-American male speed skater to make a US Olympic team. He was a silver medalist in the men’s 5000-meter short-track relay at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Alvarez, who played at Salt Lake Community College in Utah, spent six seasons in the minor leagues. He played 66 games for Triple-A New Orleans in 2019, his first year with the Marlins organization.

Melanie Newman, new Orioles announcer, became the fourth female play-by-play announcer in MLB history and fourth active female broadcaster.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen, Poz is doing 30 minutes of writing a day about baseball. I love this idea:

And that was a good lesson: My first reaction to change as a baseball fan is always negative. Always. That is just hard-wired into my baseball fanhood. I have written many times that I believe everybody’s perfect version of baseball is the version of the game that was being played when they were 10 years old. For me, that’s 1977, when Rod Carew hit .388, and George Foster blew our minds by hitting 52 home runs, and starters would complete 20 games a season, and Nolan Ryan struck out 341 batters, and there were two divisions in each league and four teams made the playoffs and nine-inning games averaged two hours and 32 minutes.

I’m not sure 10 years old would be my ideal. Maybe something more like 13-15ish for me. When’s your ideal version of baseball from?

I teased this game a couple of weeks ago (and that has absolutely nothing to do with running out of writing time that night... oh wait, I already said that then... whoopsie). But I also mentioned it a couple of years ago when featuring another game:

The first game in the trilogy, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999) was released back in 2009 on the DS. Back in the DS-era, storybook style games (I think the technical term is “visual novel”) surged in popularity with series like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton becoming best sellers. For those unfamiliar, think of them like “choose your own adventure” books where players watch dialog-heavy story cutscenes and then have to solve a puzzle or make a choice before seeing the next plot point.

I’m sure we’ll do Professor Layton another day, but today’s song/game of the day is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

In an input and output exchange with Hokius the comments, I stated:

I enjoyed Phoenix Wright enough that I was glad I played the game. I’m a sucker for hard-boiled noir stuff and that’s really what it was – the Japanese Capcom take on noir with an anime protagonist. It’s fun for a while but wears thin after a while as you get tired of backtracking to solve puzzles, find clues, etc, and eventually just want to advance the plot. With both, the plot and characters are the strong suit while the puzzles just exist to make it a video game and are executed to a greater or lesser degree of success.

I’m going to let wiki describe the gameplay as it’s more succinct than I could be:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a visual novel adventure game where the player takes the role of Phoenix Wright, a rookie defense attorney, and attempts to defend their clients in five cases. These cases are played in a specific order. After finishing them, the player can re-play them in any order. Each case begins with an opening cinematic cutscene showing a murder; shortly thereafter, the player is given the job of defending the prime suspect in the case. The gameplay is divided into two sections, investigations and courtroom trials.

During investigations, which usually take place before or between trial sessions, the player gathers information and evidence by talking to characters such as their client, witnesses, and the police. The player can move a cursor to examine various things in the environment. By using a menu the player can move to different locations, examine evidence, and present evidence to other characters. By showing certain pieces of evidence to some witnesses, the player can access new information.

It plays out like a detective novel/TV show with an anime-haired protagonist among over the top characters, some quirky mysteries that need solving, and a light dose of some magical realism. I’m sure it’s probably as legally accurate as, say, Matlock. It’s amusing to me that some of the criticisms were that the game were too linear, which seems odd to me as that is mostly required of the mystery genre. Also, I didn’t realize until looking it up today, but the game was originally released in Japan on the Game Boy Advance.

Also, in the past, I’ve been accused of liking niche titles but don’t make this mistake here. The original Phoenix Wright was a popular enough game to spawn 11 more sequels or spinoffs in the years since its release. There’s also a manga, anime, and live action film. Lest you think I’m making this up, today’s song is a compilation of all the Objection themes from the Phoenix Wright series. I think the first one is still the best but there are some charms to some of the other ones.