Starting out with sad news. Special assistant to the general manager Jim Fregosi Jr., 57, died last night of a heart attack. Here’s the story from The Star:
“Our entire organization is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Fregosi Jr.,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement. “Jimmy was an amazing baseball man who had a passion and love for this game. His desire to compete, his strong conviction, and keen eye for players separated him as an evaluator. But above all, he was our friend and we shared all the ups and downs and great things this game has to offer. We will continue to cherish the great memories we have together.
Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (for those of you who live under rocks), has some Hall of Fame news:
Honored that @mlbnetwork asked me to introduce fans to the 7 Negro League players who were on the Early Baseball Era ballot for @baseballhall consideration during last Sunday’s Selection Show. Here’s my Buck O’Neil intro. @NLBMuseumKC @MLBNetworkRadio @Royals @MLB @MLBPA @Cubs pic.twitter.com/aQLdbGtuTP— Bob Kendrick (@nlbmprez) December 9, 2021
Something a bit goofier? I WANT ONE!
IYKYK. pic.twitter.com/FPb9fQOPTb— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) December 9, 2021
Speaking of things I want that were also mentioned on Royals Reddit (the picture from the Tweet above was from Reddit), someone stumbled across an official Royals-Twins lineup card at a Goodwill in Minnesota for $5. In that thread, people mentioned Don Wakamatsu and his gorgeous lineup cards. I’d love one of those for my collection. Here’s an article in the Star from 2015 about him and his lineups.
For Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu, the roster sheets he fills out before each game are precious history recorded with pen and ink, the colorful glory of baseball itself.
“I wouldn’t call it true calligraphy,” Wakamatsu said of his attention to detail in preparing the lineup card. “I never took a class. It’s just my own form. From my standpoint I don’t think it’s all that great.”
But look at that razor-straight, Gothic lettering. Lefties in red. Righties in royal blue. Switch-hitters in black.
Tim Dierkes of MLBTR hosted a chat with Christian Colon on Jotcast (not familiar with the site):
Definitely Not At Work: What’s the hardest part about playing in the MLB?
Christian Colon: The lifestyle playing in the MLB is hardest. you start looking around and compering your game and life. when you don’t have to do that. Just go out and compete
I’m really happy when there are blog posts on Thursday during the offseason. Big thanks to Alex, Kevin, and Mike.
At Royals Farm Report, Alex Duvall finishes his “Evaluating the AL Central Windows” series with the Royals:
1. I don’t think the Royals window for playoff contention opens in 2022 under the current playoff format. Give the kids a year to get their feet wet, give the rotation one more year to establish themselves, then go get yourself a big time free agent next offseason to put this team over the top in 2023.
2. Whit Merrifield is getting up there in age, but most of this Royals core is under 30 years old, which is great. They’re going to have a wonderful combination of veteran experience and extremely talented youth here in a couple of years.
3. I’d take this core (at present) over anyone else in the AL Central in 2025. There’s not a single other roster I’d rather bet on. This team is going to be really good if they’re patient and play their cards right. I don’t know exactly how much of this core will still be together in 2025, but the Royals have a beautiful core to build around and it’s only going to get better if they can find a big piece or two to add through trade or free agency.
At Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien profiled the 4 players the Royals lost in the minor league Rule 5 draft and the minor league signing of Ivan Castillo.
Castillo seems to be the quintessential prospect that Dayton Moore likes to acquire, and it is pretty likely that Moore and the Royals front office won’t give him much of a chance either, much like Olivares, Brett Phillips, Brian Goodwin, and Lucius Fox before him. That being said, I do think Castillo was acquired to solidify the middle infield in Triple-A Omaha. The Royals already lost Fox on waivers to the Orioles, and they also were looking thin after former 40-man member Jeison Guzman signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Minor League free agency...
Mike Gillespie at Kings of Kauffman also covers the minor league Rule 5 draft.
Over five years have passed since Kansas City decided to give young college pitcher Grant Gavin a chance by selecting him in the 29th round of the 2016 amateur draft. Gavin was a hometown favorite—raised in nearby Platte County, Missouri, he pitched three seasons for the University of Central Missouri before the Royals picked and signed him. Now, though, it looks like the righthander won’t get to the big leagues with Kansas City. The Padres grabbed him with the 10th pick in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft.
The Tampa Bay Times claims: “Longshot or not, Rays’ plan for Montreal is picking up support”. The whole “split city” thing seems so weird but, who knows.
So, just in case you missed the news this week that Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and her people are exploring a financial plan to potentially build a stadium in Ybor City... by showing a willingness to get involved in this latest plan, Castor becomes the most visible public figure to endorse, at least tacitly, the team’s sister city proposal with Montreal. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept, it is now being taken seriously by people who matter.
I am definitely not posting this article here because of an adolescent sense of humor for story titles: “MLB must stop messing with its balls”
By keeping the two-ball situation a secret, or at least not being clear about it, MLB has generated more conspiracy theories and raised new concerns regarding the legitimacy of the product. That’s particularly problematic as the game is more invested in generating revenue through partnerships with sports betting companies.
“Send a bouncier baseball ... to a prime-time series,” one anonymous National League pitcher told Business Insider. “Then (send the deadened baseballs to) Texas versus Seattle. Or, you know, Detroit versus Kansas City. No one’s going to bat an eye.”
Speaking of cheating, Jay Jaffe is arguing 2022 Hall of Fame cases and yesterday’s was David Ortiz. I swear no one remembers that Big Papi had PED suspicion around him.
On July 30, 2009, the New York Times reported that both Ortiz and Ramirez (by then a Dodger) were among the 104 major leaguers who tested positive for PEDs via the 2003 survey testing that triggered the implementation of a bona fide testing-and-penalty program. Records of the test were supposed to have been destroyed, but before they could be, the government subpoenaed and then seized them as part of a larger investigation into the distribution of PEDs. The list of positives was placed under a court seal, and a month later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that in seizing records and urine samples from testing facilities, federal agents had far exceeded the limits of a search warrant that gave them access to the records of only 10 players linked to BALCO. By that point, several names had been leaked to the media, including those of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui.
Though he had been notified in 2004 that he was on the list, Ortiz described himself as “blindsided” by the news. Soon afterwards, he admitted that he had been “careless” in taking over-the-counter nutritional supplements, an explanation that actually left him some wiggle room. More on that below.
Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. However, as Jaffe mentions, Sosa has the exact same PED “record” and is widely viewed as a cheat:
Like Sosa, Ortiz is linked to PEDs only by the 2003 survey test; he didn’t turn up in the Mitchell Report or any other investigation. “In the eyes of baseball… Ortiz is a zero-time offender. He never has failed a test that featured individual discipline, and he never has been charged with a non-analytical positive,” wrote Davidoff in 2013.
Beyond the survey test’s intended anonymity — which is to say the violation of players’ privacy rights via the leak — there’s that wiggle room mentioned above with regards to supplements. “Because neither Major League Baseball nor the Players Association is believed to know the substances for which the players tested positive during that survey testing year — only the government has those results — if a player thinks he tested positive for a supplement, he might have a reasonable case,” wrote the New York Daily News‘ Christian Red and Teri Thompson shortly after the leak. “The supplement 19-norandrostenedione was legal in 2003 and contained the steroid nandrolone, a hard-core performance-enhancing drug used to build muscle.”
As Red and Thompson, MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner, and even the league itself pointed out, there was a discrepancy between MLB’s count of positives (96) and the number of samples seized by the government (104). The union planned to contest some of the 96 positive survey tests but never did because the threshold to trigger mandatory testing for 2004 had already been exceeded. Said MLB in a statement, “Given the uncertainties inherent in the list, we urge the press and the public to use caution in reaching conclusions based on leaks of names, particularly from sources whose identities are not revealed.”
This story bridges our last section (MLB) and our OT section about the KBO.
Just yesterday, Yasiel Puig signed with the Kiwoom Heroes for 2022.
Puig’s contract will be worth $1 million, Yonhap News’ Jeeho Yoo reports, which is the maximum amount allowed for a foreign-born player in their first season in KBO.
As for looking back at the 2021 season, when last we looked at the KBO, former
Royal Cub Mike Montgomery had just been suspended 20 games for throwing a rosin bag at an umpire. He would actually return to the team and start 4 games in October, though he would lose 3 of the 4, giving up 12 ER in 19.1 IP. His Samsung Lions would end the season tied atop the standings with the KT Wiz at 76-59-9. More on that in a minute.
If you were curious, our rooting interest, the Hanwha Eagles finished in dead last for the second season in a row, coming home at 49-83-12. The team was 6th (of 10) in runs allowed but 9th in runs scored. They had the least home runs in the league and the lowest batting average. They were also consistently bad: no months with a winning record.
We’ve talked a bit about how to make the regular season more important in MLB. The KBO has one type of answer. They incorporate a step-ladder playoff structure and built-in series advantages to teams with better regular season records. We’ll see both of these when we look at the NPB next week, too.
As the Lions and Wiz tied for the best record, the Lions, by virtue of their better head-to-head record, hosted a 1 game playoff to determine who got the top seed. William Cuevas, former Red Sox and Tigers pitcher, threw 7 innings of 1-hit ball and combined with 2 relievers to shut out the Lions 1-0 and claim 1st place.
In the Wild Card round, the 4th place Doosan Bears were staked to a 1-0 series lead over the 5th place Kiwoom Heroes. The Heroes won the first game to even up the series at 1-1, but the Bears won game 2 to move on. The Bears then won 2-1 against the LG Twins to move on and face the second place Lions. In game 1, the Lions scored 2 in the bottom of the first but the Bears would answer with 3 in the top half of the second. That’s where the game would remain until Mike Montgomery started the 8th. He gave up a single, wild pitch, and single before an insurance run scored on a double play. An infield single later and his season was over (and he appears to have been released following the season). The Bears would win 6-4 and then clobber the Lions 11-3 in game 2.
That one-run tiebreaker loss back on October 31st, before the playoffs even started, relegated the Lions to that best-of-3 series. Meanwhile, the Wiz got the express ride to the Korea Series, a best-of-7 affair. The Wiz dispatched the Bears handily, sweeping the series 4-0, and winning the franchise’s first title. Here’s the video. Sadly, there does not appear to be a giant video game sword like last year.
We’re going to combine the song of the day with some video game “news”. I add the quotes because there’s not a ton of new “news” here.
Back in February, EA Sports announced College Football was coming back
For those who never stopped believing...#EASPORTSCollegeFootball pic.twitter.com/2vDUYnbXEJ— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) February 2, 2021
Of course, this was prior to the NIL case at the Supreme Court and the latest conference realignment (that probably isn’t done yet).
Yesterday, they announced summer 2023 as the possible release date.
EA Sports is aiming to launch its new college football video game in the summer of 2023. "That's the hope," says Cory Moss, CEO of Collegiate Licensing Co. #CFB #EASports pic.twitter.com/oQToo4Tfz9— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) December 9, 2021
There’s more connecting the dots in this Sporting News article. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath as there are still a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross in the ever changing college football landscape. This article also stated EA plans to use the Madden engine. This isn’t exactly a popular decision in the Twitterverse.
How about some music from one of the old NCAA Football games. It’s a bit reminiscent of the legendary NFL Primetime music.