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Royals Rumblings - News for July 2, 2021

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Bobby Bonilla, Salvy, the NPB, and NES Golf - all in today’s Rumblings

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
Let’s talk about something happier? It’s the Second Day of Bobby Bonilla-mas.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

As there always are with Thursday day games, most of the stories are about yesterday’s game. Suffice to say, I don’t think we need to go over that anymore. Instead, here’s a picture of a rainbow from the day before.

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox
What baseball? Pretty rainbow!
Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Oh fine, we’ll get on with it.

At The Star, Pete Grathoff wrote a story entitled “A closer examination at what went wrong for the Kansas City Royals in June”. It has headers for “Hitting” and “Pitching” - yup, check and check. And then there were these little nuggets:

The Royals were 2-8 in one-run games in June...

For the year, the Royals are negative-13 in runs saved, among the worst in the AL, per the Fielding Bible. Only the Angels, Yankees and Tigers have been worse.

They didn’t hit, didn’t pitch, didn’t field, and didn’t bullpen. I think I see the problem.

I’m just going to put these two tweets right here:

Rany, this is your fault. But, hey, 16-9 and now 17-38... yay?

Also from Pete Grathoff - he collects some responses after the Cardinals Tweet “We are temporarily putting our baseball and BBQ rivalry aside.” BBQ Rivalry. St. Louis. Snicker. That whole exchange was for one of those goofy fan partnerships for Cards and Royals fans working together to get both Salvy and Yadi to the All-Star game. Spoiler: one of them made it.

Of course, it was Salvy who was named an All-Star Game starter. Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were all named to their first All-Star Game.

Your daily Alec Lewis from The Athletic (sub required):

You know I’m a sucker for a non-standard news outlet doing Royals news. Brian Gosset of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram profiles former local high schooler Bobby Witt Jr.

Witt Jr. helped Colleyville Heritage to its first high school baseball state title over Georgetown 14-2 in six innings during the 2019 season. Witt Jr. batted 0.500 as a senior for Colleyville Heritage with 63 hits, 37 going for extra bases. He finished with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs while recording a .575 on-base percentage and 1.095 slugging percentage... Witt Jr. capped off his prep career as District MVP, 5A all-state, an All-American, both Texas and National Baseball Player of the Year by Gatorade and Star-Telegram player of the year.

Royals blog time.

Darin Watson at U.L.’s Toothpick penned another edition of his “The Year of the Card” series, this time spotlighting Jeff Conine. I came for the 1998 Upper Deck of Jeff Conine jumping rope, but I stayed for the personal minor league story:

Here I pause for a personal note: my wife (The Amazing Michelle) and her parents lived in Memphis and had season tickets for the Chicks for many years, including 1990. One of the charms of minor-league baseball is that it is much easier to get to know the players as individuals. At some point during that 1990 season, a group of fans including my in-laws decided to have a potluck/picnic and invite the players and even some Chicks staff. Then as now, minor-league ballplayers were in no financial position to turn down free food. So, for your enjoyment, here is a picture of the future 1990 Southern League MVP and my future 2005-present MVP:

David Lesky (“Royals Offense Far Too Grounded in Another Loss”) and Craig Brown (“Washout”) both had entries about Wednesday night’s rainy game. In the latter, co-writer Colby Wilson also takes a shot at the St. Louis BBQ thing.

Blog roundup:


Yesterday, Max used Bobby Bonilla Day as a chance to talk about Royals lifetime contracts. But since we didn’t have a mention in Rumblings, I’m stealing it for today. In case you’re unfamiliar, ESPN refreshed their article they do every year:

In 2000, the Mets agreed to buy out the remaining $5.9 million on Bonilla’s contract. However, instead of paying Bonilla the $5.9 million at the time, the Mets agreed to make annual payments of nearly $1.2 million for 25 years starting July 1, 2011, including a negotiated 8% interest. At the time, Mets ownership was invested in a Bernie Madoff account that promised double-digit returns, and the Mets were poised to make a significant profit if the Madoff account delivered — but that did not work out.

“But that did not work out” - Heh.

That said, these are the new Mets, definitely not the same old losers as the old Mets (lol), so they are more than happy to capitalize on this tomfoolery. They’ve teamed Bonilla up with Airbnb for an awesome promotion. Sure, you get tickets to a couple of games, hotel suite, ballpark food, and some memoribilia. But then there’s this:

—If you’re looking to add some MPH to the ole’ fastball, stroll down to the Mets gym for a workout and a shower before hitting the hay in the suite.

—That practice may be needed, because you’ll also step right up to the mound and throw the ceremonial first pitch before our night game on July 28.

—You and your guests are probably such diehards that your friends actually call you Mr. or Mrs. Met — but during your stay, you’ll get to hang with these icons, in the flesh (or cowhide?)

I’m not a Mets fan, but I’d love to do this. And, remember, as someone posted a long time ago on this blog (badly paraphrasing) - you have to respect Mets fans because they chose to be Mets fans when they could have easily been Yankees fans.


This week concludes our three part series on Asia baseball.

Two weeks ago, I talked about the CPBL’s hiatus due to COVID. Just a quick little update:

Last week was KBO week and our rooting interest, the Hanwha Eagles, were poised to escape the cellar. Instead, they threw themselves into the part of Royals doppleganger and have lost 10 straight. Go, sister team, go!

This week, it’s the NPB. Just a reminder about how the leagues stack up, here are Baseball America’s thoughts last year:

Overall, here is the hierarchy of how MLB front office officials and evaluators generally view the quality of the various Asian leagues compared to MLB and the minor leagues.

MLB

NPB (Japan)

AAA

KBO (Korea)

AA

High A

CPBL (Taiwan)

Low A

I don’t have a good spot to collect big season-long stories there, but how about some little tidbits I’ve picked up:

  • Kaima Taira of the Saitama Seibu Lions just tied an NPB record of 38 straight games without giving up a run. The 21-year-old closer has 38 appearances on the season and a 0.00 ERA and will be pitching for Japan in the upcoming Olympics.
  • Father Time may finally be catching up with Nori Aoki. The former Royal is having his worst season, by far, in his NPB career with a triple slash of .255/.339/.375, well off his career numbers of .323/.401/.459. He will turn 40 on January 5th.
  • The league is approaching its midseason hiatus. There are two All-Star games on July 16th and 17th. I’m not sure how the two All-Star games thing works but it looks like this is a normal occurrence. Then the league will shut down until August for the Olympics. However, per NPB reddit: “NPB announced 58 exhibition matches will take place when the official NPB schedule takes a break for the 2021 Olympics. The games will take place from Jul 27 - Aug 10.”
  • Finally, there appear to be English broadcast games at 4pm every afternoon on For the Fans network. Here’s the upcoming schedule. Today’s game is the aforementioned Seibu Lions vs the Orix Buffaloes (Ichiro’s former club).

Last week, houjix mentioned the new Mario Golf so I’m going to blame today’s game on him. But why talk about a modern game when we could talk about a really old bare bones one? Today’s game is NES’s Golf.

You may notice from the video below that a full 18 hole game only takes about 10 minutes. Or that there is no music, only some really basic sound effects. Or that the presentation is charmingly retro (I like it, but many reviews claim all the black space is just ugly). But here’s the thing about it: it was among the first ten NES games (hence the retro black box) and one of the first golf games ever made. It sold over 4M copies and is the 10th best selling game of the NES era.

As it started at the proverbial Famicom ground floor, a couple of legends were heavily involved in the game. Shigeru Miyamoto was, per wiki, “directly in charge of the character design and the game design and Satoru Iwata said he was the only programmer”. Per this video, designer Kenji Miki created a number of Golf gameplay elements that are still in use today, including 3rd person and overhead golf views, arrows on the green, and the swing meter.

I recently learned about this, which is the real reason why it was today’s game (houjix is off the hook):

A copy of the original game was embedded in Nintendo Switch firmware. Activating it required the internal system clock to be set to July 11 - Satoru Iwata’s death anniversary - and performing his iconic “directly to you” hand gesture with both Joy-Con controllers on the HOME menu. If successful, a voice clip of Iwata from a Japanese 2012 presentation would confirm the input, and an emulation of Golf with added motion control support would promptly boot up. Golf has significance as one of the first video games Iwata programmed himself for Nintendo while working at HAL Laboratory.

Sadly, once the game was discovered by hackers, it was removed by a firmware update. The theory is that it was an omamori, or digital memorial, to the late Nintendo icon and was never really meant to be found.

Here’s the original and that 11-minute playthrough: