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Royals Rumblings - News for January 22, 2021

The Monarchs are Back?

Salute to the Negro Leagues 2012
John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Not Royals news but definitely Kansas City baseball news.

Remember how the T-Bones stopped paying their bills and went bankrupt? They got bought up and now they’re partnering with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to become... the Kansas City Monarchs (story: Bill Ladson at

The club was looking for a name change for several months and worked with longtime fans, brand agencies and league officials to help come up with a new name. Monarchs quickly emerged as the favorite and most inspiring option. The NLBM and Brandmeyer’s MaxFun Entertainment, LLC, have signed a long-term licensing agreement that will allow for use of the Monarchs name.

“The Monarchs is a brand that is near and dear to our hearts. We are very protective of it,” Kendrick said. “But the more we had the conversations and the more we saw the business plan, the more this [became a reality]. It led us to this point today where we announce this rebranding.”

I was a little skeptical when I heard the news. But if Bob Kendrick is onboard, then full speed ahead!

Kevin Hardy at the KC Star also has a story about this news.

When teams like the Kansas City Royals sport throwback Monarchs jerseys, interest in the Negro Leagues and the museum generally ticks up. And Kendrick hopes the deal with the T-Bones will do the same. “Negro Leagues baseball hasn’t been played in 61 years. So how do you keep it relevant?” he said. “And what I instantly saw was an opportunity for relevancy.”

...Jackson County Executive Frank White, a former Royals player and part-time T-Bones coach, said the Monarchs brand is known as a “name of champions”. “The PA announcer before every game will say to the fans, ‘And now, here comes your Kansas City Monarchs,’” White said. “And I think that’s a heck of a tribute.”

Pete Grathoff has a story with some fan feedback about the name change.

Yesterday, the Royals agreed to contracts with 14 per-arbitration players.

KSNT was nice enough to list the players if you don’t want to click on the above link:

The Kansas City Royals have signed 14 players. They include Scott Barlow, Scott Blewett, Kris Bubic, Carlos Hernández, Jake Newberry, Angel Zerpa and Tyler Zuber; catcher Sebastian Rivero; infielders Kelvin Gutierrez, Nicky Lopez and Ryan O’Hearn and outfielders, Khalil Lee and Edward Olivares, and Junction City native Nick Heath.

I don’t think it’s not “Newkirking” if I’m quoting Shaun. That’s only when Shaun quotes Shaun, right?

Hawkeye Sports had a profile on former Royals announcer Bob Davis:

“I have lived in Iowa, Chicago and Kansas City,” Davis said. “Your school stays with you. Where I was a Bears and Cubs fan (in Chicago), now I’m a Royals and Chiefs fan (in Kansas City). But your school, the University of Iowa, is with you permanently.”

I know it’s not baseball, but since we’re talking about old KC franchises, I thought I’d throw in this story from Rustin Dodd (sub required):

Since not much happened yesterday, Royals blogs get their own section today, stealing the area that usually goes to “other baseball news”.

While I’m sad to see that the content isn’t here at RR, I’m excited that Craig Brown has started a new venture: Into the Fountains. He has a free newsletter (subscribe!) and does a daily blog post that looks a lot like the great writing he’s always done whether over at BP, here, or elsewhere on the web. Yesterday’s story was a mix of news and notes about Wade Davis and other signings around baseball:

Davis has lost about one mph off his fastball each year since 2015. That’s a huge issue. Last year, his heater averaged 91.4 mph and the opposition dined off of it to the tune of a .417 batting average and 1.167 slugging percentage. Yikes. And that famous cutter? The velocity of that pitch is also down about five mph and was battered for a .500 BA and 1.000 SLG in 2020. Likewise troubling, his walk rate had ballooned to over 6 per nine while his strikeout rate has dropped the last couple of years. It’s a longshot that Davis will be able to contribute, but sometimes long shots come in.

Speaking of Wader, Kevin O’Brien at Royals Report dives into his signing, as well:

Another interesting development for Davis in 2021 will be the usage of his cutter, which was his most effective pitch as a Royal and Cub. According to Baseball Savant data, the wOBA on his cutter was .231 and .233 in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, the cutter was also amplified by whiff rates of 30.7 and 35.7 percent during those two years, respectively, as well. That being said, while he did maintain a 37.8 percent whiff rate on the cutter in his first year with the Rockies, the wOBA rose to .274. In 2019, the wOBA increased .341 and the whiff rate dropped to 31.3 percent. And last year, those wOBA and whiff rates were .618 and 25 percent, respectively, in a limited sample.

Finally, let’s complete our “Wade Davis signing story-stravaganza” (that’s a word, right, because I really want that alliteration) with Fansided:

I have a folder on my bookmarks tab called “Royals” where I’ll toss random stories. But, as you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t done a lot of off topic stuff lately and some of these stories are embarrassingly old. But it’s the offseason and no one is paying attention anyway so let’s take a look so I can clean out the folder

We just finished watching The Good Place and I saw an article (that I can’t find now) claiming Ted Danson was the most prolific sitcom actor ever and I was like “wait... what?” But then I started thinking about this: from Cheers to Becker to The Good Place? That spans 3 decades and shows where he was the main star of each show. So maybe that’s not as outlandish as I think. Who would you consider the best Sitcom actor of all time? I think you have to star (maybe not top billing but part of the major ensemble) in at least 2 major sitcoms - so, for instance, as iconic as Jerry Seinfeld is, I think he’s out since he was only in one sitcom. In my lifetime, only a handful come to mind that even meet that criteria: Michael J. Fox, Kelsey Grammar, Danny DeVito, Ed O’Neill, and Tim Allen.

So Bitcoin is at the ridiculous sum of $40K, give or take. I mean, it’s crazy, could you image someone buying something for a couple of bucks only to have it jump high enough to pay off a house and get their kids through college (cough, RR meme, cough)? How about the story of Dogecoin? It was a joke (sort of) but it still exists and currently trades at 8/10ths of a cent. Looking at the news on it’s price page, apparently, as of Thursday, you can even use Dogecoin to pay for Pornhub. What a world we live in. Anyways, here’s a 2018 CNET story about the rise and fall of Dogecoin about “how Dogecoin went from a joke equivalent of bitcoin to one of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrencies — before it all came crashing down”. I was going to start listing things in this story like the Dogecoin NASCAR car, the joke cryptocurrency “Bells” based on Animal Crossing, the Jamaican bobsled team, it’s nearly $2 billion market cap - but I just can’t do it justice. It’s so very... intenet-y.

And, finally, let’s talk beer. Or at least what St. Louis thinks passes for beer: Budweiser. Remember that whole deal a couple of years ago where Bud used ads to accuse other beer makers of using corn syrup, implying they used none? This led to a legal dispute and possibly the theft of Budweiser’s recipes:

In May, a judge ordered Anheuser-Busch InBev to stop using certain language related to corn syrup in its advertising and allowed Miller Coors to proceed with its action. Last month, the court told Anheuser-Busch InBev to stop using the phrase “no corn syrup” on its packaging.

The new legal filing, which is heavily redacted, claims that an employee of the Budweiser brewer sent information including the recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra to an employee of Miller Coors around the time of the Super Bowl. The Miller Coors employee had previously worked for AB InBev. He allegedly solicited the recipes via text messages, saying he had been asked by Miller Coors’ senior management to provide information about Bud Light, the legal complaint states.

According to the court documents, the Budweiser employee printed out screen shots of the recipes, folded them up and removed them from the brewery. The employee then texted photographs of the recipes to the Miller Coors employee. Anheuser-Busch InBev explains in the court documents that its recipes include specific mixes of hops and barley, as well as the weight and volume of ingredients. It describes the information as “extremely valuable” to competitors.

This was back in 2019 and I have no idea what ever came of this case.

Over Christmas break, we shared the original Star Wars trilogy with my 5 year old son for the first time. He’s going to grow up with my childhood of knowing the fact that (40 year old spoilers!) Darth Vader is Luke’s father long before he understands why that’s even significant. This is in contrast to my wife, who saw the movies for the first time when they re-released the Special Edition and was that person who audibly gasped in the theater, likely to the bemusement of everyone around teenage her.

As an aside: Should we show the five year old any other movies? I mean, know the obvious answer. But I think he’d like Episode 1 so we have considered showing it to him. However, Episode 2 is garbage and Episode 3 is too dark so we’d probably just stop there. I also considered that he could probably watch Episode 7 but, again, likely not 8 or 9. Sure, the easy answer is just leave it at 4/5/6 and call it a day. But it’s possible we could also show him 1 and maybe 7. Thoughts?

Ok, ok - back to the video games. But this is all quasi-relevant to today’s song of the day. As was foretold: “Considering my love of all things Gamecube, it’s a mortal lock we’ll see Rogue Leader at some point”. That “some point” is today.

One more diversion and we’ll jump into the game. When the Gamecube came out, I was a poor college kid. Actually, scratch that - I had dropped out of school and was working a pretty miserable job (um, kids, don’t do this). I didn’t get a 5th generation video game console (N64 or PSX) until after the generation was over and mostly just played on friends’ consoles. But I was really excited about the 6th generation. Unfortunately, I was dirt poor and didn’t have money to burn on such frivolities.

A co-worker of mine was a really big Star Wars fan and really wanted to play Rogue Leader. But he didn’t care for Nintendo so he didn’t have much interest in the console. So he proposed a deal to me: he would pay for half in exchange for getting to keep the console for the first 6 months and then he’d be done with it. I think he took some pity on me and knew how much this meant to me so I was extremely grateful. It’s one of the reasons the Gamecube will always have a special little place in my heart.

If you’ve never heard of or played it, I’m just going to quote the original 2001 review from IGN’s Matt Casamassina:

It’s taken more than 20 years, but a development studio has finally captured the spirit and beauty of the Star Wars trilogy movies and crammed it all into one action-packed game. The Factor 5 developed Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader represents the evolution of the LucasArts shooter franchise, which was sparked to life on Nintendo 64 some years ago. The GameCube sequel comes complete with all new levels based on scenes from the trilogy, the ability to pilot classic crafts as Jedi hero Luke Skywalker and more secrets than can easily be counted. And it’s quite possibly the most beautiful title we’ve seen on any home console. Rejoice.

How about Ricardo Torres at Gamespot?

While all of Rogue Leader’s components are strong on their own, they display a great amount of polish and end up making RL far more than the sum of its parts... Thanks to tight graphics and immersive gameplay, Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron easily stands as the most impressive launch title for the GameCube. GameCube owners in search of a showcase for their new system owe it to themselves to pick up a copy.

That’s effusive praise from the two biggest online video game publications at the time.

Just look at the video below. Yes, the graphics are a bit grainy by today’s standards, but remember this was one of the launch games for the Gamecube. But remember, we’re just months removed from the N64 and original Playstation. Those FMVs look like they were cut right out of the Special Edition (pause for commentary about that) and shrunk down to the cute little Gamecube disc size

Here’s the game introduction and the first level where players are thrown right into the Death Star trench run: