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Royals Rumblings - News for September 10, 2021

Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles
Run, don’t trot to read today’s Rumblings!
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Not a lot of Royals or MLB news so I’ll try to make up for it with some OT sections below.

There’s a two-fer from The Athletic (submarine required; maybe subscription, too):

I’m pretty sure Ben Clemens at Fangraphs “invented” the word “enpumpkining” in an article about Carlos Santana. He also has tables that use the term “wOBACON”.

Over the course of Santana’s career, he’s been a fearsome fastball hitter. That’s partially because he does an excellent job making pitchers throw him strikes, but it’s also because he knows what to do with them: swing frequently, rarely whiff, and do damage when he connects. He still saw a good number of heaters, because he does a great job of getting into favorable counts, but pitchers were simply choosing their poison. Better to meet him in the zone and take your chances with a ball in play than miss and give him a walk.

That trend no longer holds. He’s having his worst season against fastballs since 2015, one of his worst pre-decline seasons. What’s gone wrong? Pretty simply, everything. His swinging strike rate on fastballs is the highest of his career (excluding a partial 2010 rookie season). His whiff rate when he does swing is a ghastly 17.5%, even with his 2011 season and worse than any effort since. We only have barrel data since 2015, but his barrels per swing mark is quite poor too: 3.4%, ahead of only his 2018 season and in the bottom third of the league.

The Kansas City Monarchs had a good inaugural* regular season and playoffs begin tonight

Kansas City Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra on Thursday was recognized as the American Association Manager of The Year for the second time.

The Monarchs, formerly the Kansas City T-Bones, set a franchise record for wins this season and open the playoffs against the Sioux City Explorers Friday night at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kan.

*(that works, right? even though it’s not a new franchise and not the original Monarchs?)

Listicle anyone? MLB Pipeline looks like they’ve started putting out one every Thursday. Today’s is “Hottest pitching prospect in each org”:

Royals: Jon Heasley, RHP (No. 14)A ton of the focus in the Royals system has been on the burgeoning bats, but don’t sleep on Heasley and his sprint to the finish. The 24-year-old right-hander owns a 1.45 ERA with 42 strikeouts and six walks allowed in his last six starts (31 innings) for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Heasley possesses two above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball, and while control hasn’t typically been an issue, he is thriving by hitting the zone consistently down the stretch.

I give them a lot of grief but thank the heavens for Craig Brown and David Lesk— wait a second? Lesky took yesterday off /and/ made a “Facts of Life” reference in his latest post from Wednesday? I demand a refund!

Fortunately, Craig and Thursday sub Colby Wilson delivered:

You never want to be watching a Royals game and have your thoughts turn to Chip Ambres. You just don’t.

It’s even worse when you can’t decide which Chip Ambres incident you’re recalling.

Chip Ambres was the first name I thought of after last night, too.

Mike Gillespie keep up his steady work for Kings of Kauffman, asking about last night’s game: “Where does blame lie for this catastrophe?

And... that’s all she (or he) wrote on the Royals yesterday.

In the A’s-White Sox game yesterday, a fan caught a foul ball in his fanny pack.

Marcell Ozuna has entered into a diversion program to get his domestic violence charges dropped.

The 30-year-old was arrested in May after Sandy Springs officers reported seeing him choke his wife, throw her against a wall and strike her with the cast on his broken fingers. Felony charges were later dropped against Ozuna, but he instead faced a pair of misdemeanors — family violence battery and simple assault.

That seems pretty awful. What does he have to do? I’ll just leave this here without further comment:

Ozuna appeared in court virtually Thursday morning and agreed to enter into the pretrial diversion program. The conditions require the Major League Baseball star to be placed on six months of supervision, undergo a 24-week family violence intervention program and complete at least 200 hours of community service, Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Simone Hylton told the court. Ozuna is also required to take an anger management course and undergo a psychological evaluation.

So there was an odd (alarming?) story from Hunter Renfroe yesterday. He’s on the Red Sox, who are in the thick of the pennant race but also in the middle of a COVID outbreak with 9(!) players testing positive and other missing time due to close contact. He went onto a Boston talk sport talk show and claimed “MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms.” And to make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, the host said “MLB asked you to stop testing” and he responded with “Yes.”

I mean, I don’t know why a player who appears to be in good standing with the team would like about something like this. This is also complicated by the fact that the Red Sox, like the Royals, are one of the seven teams below the 85% vaccination rate that allows for some of the COVID protocols to be relaxed. So it’s likely there is some clubhouse friction about that. Supposedly patient zero for the outbreak was the vaccinated Kike Hernandez, who had a breakthrough case. Renfroe said “He was vaccinated, and the guys that are vaccinated don’t really get tested. He came on the plane, got some other guys sick and kind of moved forward from there.”

Of course, MLB and the Red Sox have both denied the allegation:

The MLB quickly denied Renfroe’s claims, telling The Boston Globe‘s Julian McWilliams on Thursday afternoon that the Red Sox outfielder “is completely wrong and inaccurate.”

So maybe this is all some misunderstanding, but it seems like a pretty serious allegation to make. I’m not sure a player would make it without something behind it. Anyways, that leads us into...

This has been in my queue for a couple of weeks and I’ve tried to take little bites at it other days but I’m still a bit at a loss as to what to say.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, which has a complicated legacy all its own from the actual events to the War on Terror and the recently completed(?) war in Afghanistan. It is one of the most impactful days in our country’s recent history.

Tomorrow is also the unofficial 18 month anniversary of the pandemic. No, we don’t know exactly what date the first case was here or anywhere, but March 11th was the most impactful day early in the epidemic, as I wrote one year ago:

On that day, WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. But the real news was that night. Within about an hour, the NBA cancelled all games due to Rudy Gobert testing positive (two days after doing this), news leaked out that Tom Hanks and his wife had tested positive, and President Donald Trump held an Oval Office address to speak to the crisis and implement a travel ban.

Man, that Rumblings also has one of those post-apocalyptic pictures of Oakland with the red sky. I don’t remember the source, but I remember some nominations for photo of 2020 that encapsulated where we were as a country: cardboard fans watching baseball with the backdrop of a burning red sky.

I posted this six months ago at the one year mark:

But if anyone wants to talk about their memories of last March, how things have changed in a year, where they are mentally right now or the grieving processes this past year, or anything else, today’s probably a good day.

Going back to March 11th, these were my two Rumblings bookending that date: March 6th and March 13th. What a difference a week made.

Anyways - just some reflections on the previous year. As I offered previously: “the comments are open”. Of course, as always, please be kind in the comments so we don’t have giant swaths of them deleted.

How about something more lighthearted? We just went through all of the theater-released Muppet movies and I find they can easily be broken into three distinct tiers:

Tier 1: Muppets (2011) > The Muppets Movie (1979) > Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) >>

The Let’s Put on a Show (or Reunion Show) tier. I feel like there are two things that Muppts do very well and this tier lets them do both. First, they put on an excellent show on the big screen - from guest stars to great fourth wall breaking comedy to catchy music. Secondly, the characters have heart and that helps them win the day.

Tier 2: Muppets from Space (1999) > Muppets Most Wanted (2014) > Great Muppet Caper (1981) >>

Tier 2: The Caper tier. In a weird way, these feel like odd-numbered Star Trek movies or even-numbered Final Fantasy games. After the iconic movies in the first tier, these are the follow ups where the scope is a bit smaller and tries to tell a simpler and more intimate story. Muppets from Space occupies this weird place between the first and second tiers, tonally, as it doesn’t come after Manhattan but after the next tier, chronologically. However, it feels like they paused the pattern to make the book adaptations and then tried to make the most 90s Muppets half reboot they could.

Tier 3: Muppet Treasure Island (1996) > Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Tier 3: The Book Adaptations tier. It’s not that they’re bad - I mean, at the end of the day, all of them are still enjoyable, even if there’s a little clock watching. However, they’re a bit too faithful to their source material so they don’t give the Muppet characters much room to breathe. Having to slavishly hold to Bob Cratchet or Captain Smollett needlessly restrains Kermit, for instance.

I noticed that March 6th Rumblings from (checks notes) last year...? That doesn’t seem right. Anyway, the game of the day was Scribblenauts. Let’s revisit that soundtrack with the main theme today