We’re into that part of the season where the news of (insert boring story here like trading Ryan O’Hearn for $1) is going to get milked for a week because, otherwise, it’s all tumbleweeds. So, while it’s slow, we’re going to take a day to talk about how to make a Friday Rumblings. I want to emphasize that this is how to do a Friday Rumblings and everyone else has their own way for their own days. Also, I apologize for the excessive use of horizontal rules - I think like a programmer, not a graphic designer, so this makes the most sense to me.
First, let’s talk about the “how” before we get into some examples.
At SBNation, they use a content delivery system called Chorus. You can read more about this “next-generation publishing platform” in this article from, checks notes, 2012. While “next generation” commenting system Coral
will likely always be a dumpster fire is less than ideal, Chorus pretty much does what it’s supposed to do.
It has fields for Headline, Dek (that sub header that today reads “It’s Friday the 13th... spooky?”), permalink changes, a lead art picture (like that snazzy one of Dizzy Dean at a typewriter), an area for tags like the “Royals Rumblings” at the top that leads you to a page of past Rumblings, and then a giant area for text. Inside the body text area, it’s a competent WYSIWYG web editor, a method popularized back in the Geocities days, with some extra buttons for things like bolding text, adding links, and embedding videos or Tweets.
To help me fill up that text, I have an incomplete, unpublished story called “Future Royals Rumblings Notes” which is a giant scratch pad of story ideas and lists of content I’ve already used (to avoid duplicates). For instance, I had a personal rule with the SotD that I could only do a song for a game once per year. So if I used a song from, say, the Xenoblade Chronicles soundtrack back on January 1st, you wouldn’t see it again until the next next. The other big thing there in that story is a giant list of Royals links. That’s where we’ll start the next section.
I organize my Rumblings into 5 main sections: “Official Royals news”, “Royals blogs”, “MLB news”, “Off Topic”, and “Song of the Day”. I often combine a couple, especially in the slow offseason.
For the first section, here’s what I consider “official” sources:
KCRoyals.com: https://www.mlb.com/royals - And associated Twitter accounts like https://twitter.com/Royals beat writer Anne Rogers and other former writers or public figures like Jeffrey Flanagan, Mike Swanson, etc.
KCStar: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals - Again, and associated Twitter accounts. Lynn Worthy is the official beat writer, at least for another couple of weeks, until he joins the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covering the, yuck, Cardinals. Hopefully we’ll see a full time replacement and not a shared resource, but who knows in this newspaper climate. Other writers at The Star do Royals stories, too: https://twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff https://twitter.com/pgrathoff https://twitter.com/mellinger/
The Athletic: https://theathletic.com/royals/ - The Twitter is a bit messier for this as they don’t have a “beat writer” for the Royals currently after Alec Lewis moved to cover the Minnesota Vikings. I have a number of former Royals writers who also occasionally write for the outlet. I think these names are all recognizable to longtime Royals fans: https://www.twitter.com/rustindodd https://www.twitter.com/JPosnanski https://twitter.com/jazayerli
Associated Press: https://www.apnews.com/KansasCityRoyals These stories are usually picked up in the Star but, if not, I double check here.
Royals MLBTR: https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/kansas-city-royals - Not official, per se, but if any little transactions fall through the cracks, the Royals page for MLB Trade Rumors might have them
Google News: https://news.google.com/search?q=kansas%20city%20royals - Finally, for anything I might have missed earlier, this is a bit of a crap shoot and a catch all, as it’s a random aggregator and sometimes has stuff days or weeks old. It’s also a good place to pick up oddball stories from non-standard outlets.
One of the things I have to do, especially this time of year, is check Rumblings from the last couple of days to make sure I don’t repeat a story. No one is running Royals stories every day so the latest story may be from a couple of days ago. Oh? What’s that? I’m in danger of losing my Pop-Tart rations. I have been instructed to correct my previous statement and inform all of you that your beloved Royals Review, of course, publishes every day, even in the offseason.
What do we have from official sources today? Not much, since we’re still a couple of weeks away from even thinking about Spring Training. Max already posted about the 19 non-roster invitees in a full story.
Here’s a story from Worthy about minor-league staff changes. It’s not much, as we don’t know a lot of those names, but it’s news. Then I skim the story to try and pull out a block quote to make you want to click on that link and read the story and voila:
Promotions on the minor-league staff include Drew Saylor taking on the title of director of hitting performance, Scott Thorman becoming the minor-league field coordinator after having managed the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers last season and Nate Adcock shifting from a pro scout role to assistant director of pitching performance/scouting.
A Nate Adcock sighting makes you want to read the story, right?
Keep in mind: this is a symbiotic relationship with other outlets. Yes, we’re trying to get conversation started down in the comments section But we’re also wanting to give credit on the news of the day to the sources writing about it. If I link to a story, it’s to try and get you, the loyal Friday Rumblings readers, to give them your eyeballs and advertising dollars.
Anne Rogers also has her version of the story, too:
The Royals hired former Nationals pitching coach Paul Menhart to be a pitching advisor in player development. Menhart spent 15 seasons with the Nats and two as their pitching coach from 2019-20, winning the 2019 World Series with the club. “That was just the combination of all the other experiences that I was so gratefully given the opportunity to take part in over the years,” Menhart said. “To get called up to the big leagues like that was just like a reward. And then to have that type of success right out of the chute, there’s really no words that can explain it. It was just a gift.”
I get the idea that often there are press conferences or press releases where all the official outlets get the same information. Then, for their individual stories, they pick out what quotes and angles they think their readers most want to read. I’ve often seem the same quotes verbatim at the Royals site, in The Star, and at The Athletic chopped up in slightly different ways. I wonder if Anne, Lynn, and Alec agree on how to carve up the quotes so they’re writing unique stories and tackling different angles of a press conference. In my mind, I imagine they have a quote draft where they alternate who gets the first pick every day.
Rogers also linked to this story by Nicole Dolan in the Kansas City Business Journal. Kansas City business manager Brian Platt talked about the downtown stadium and more:
In terms of funding, nothing has been brought to the city’s attention yet. Platt said if the Royals have $2 billion of their money and the support of the community behind them, Platt said the city’s right there along with them — but he’s not entirely sure if that’s the case at this point. If the Royals ask the city for money or incentives for help with infrastructure, then there would be a longer conversation at hand.
“Would it make sense for us to take hundreds of millions of dollars from homelessness or crime to put in a new stadium if it’s not going to help solve those problems? We’ve asked but have no answers yet because there hasn’t been a plan submitted yet,” Platt said. “They haven’t said here’s what it’s going to look like, here’s how much we need the city to contribute and need from the city or where it will be outside of a high-level suggestion that the team will need support building surrounding infrastructure.”
Next up is my favorite part - Royals blogs. For as bad as the team has been during the internet era, the Royals have had an overabundance of riches as blogs are concerned, from Rob and Rany on the Royals to, and I say this modestly, one of the finest endeavors in all of human history. There are a number of times, especially in the offseason, where I like to bump this to the top section to reward their good work.
In my mind, I split them into two categories:
—-Writes frequent long stories—-
- Into the Fountains: (Craig Brown): https://intothefountains.substack.com/
- Inside the Crown: (David Lesky): https://insidethecrown.substack.com
- The Royals Reporter: https://royalsreporter.com/
- Royals Farm Report: https://royalsfarmreport.com/
—-Writes frequent shorter stories—-
- UL’s Toothpick: https://ulstoothpick.com/
- Inside the Royals (SI): https://www.si.com/mlb/royals/
- Fansided KOK: https://kingsofkauffman.com/
- Fansided KC Kingdom: https://kckingdom.com/kansas-city-royals/ (this one might be dying)
- There are also a handful of blogs that write infrequently, though these tend to come and go.
- Check the Royals subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/KCRoyals/
For the long stories, I look to Craig and David to lead as they are legit OG Royals bloggers. Of course, neither has anything new today so this would be the point where I make some lame joke about how they’re the same person and mix up their names. Kevin O’Brien has been quietly doing great work at The Royals Reporter for about 5 years now and I try to feature his work whenever I can. Alas, he also does not have a new story up today.
Making up for all of those, though, is Alex Duvall, back with a vengeance at Royals Farm Report. He unleashes his 2023 Preseason Top 50 Royals Prospect Rankings:
I mentioned on Twitter a while ago that with a general lack of upside left in the system, this year’s ranking could wind up being a “highest floor” contest. Meaning, which player is most likely to contribute at the big league level regardless of how much impact they’ll have. That favors the likes of Maikel Garcia, Angel Zerpa, and Nick Loftin who seem like the closest things you can get to a useable big league piece, even if they aren’t expected to be All-Stars at any point necessarily. It also would theoretically take away from how we value guys like Carter Jensen. Jensen has one of the highest ceilings in the entire system, but prep catchers with a batting average under .240 leave a bit to be desired in terms of floor. So, the ultimate question is, how do we balance these things when the system pretty clearly has a trend throughout?
Here’s a little bit of a spoiler to whet your whistle:
#1: Gavin Cross, OF
Number one with a bullet. This wasn’t particularly close for me this year. Usually there’s at least a little bit of conversation for our top prospect, but lately it’s been a pretty simple equation with Bobby Witt Jr. and Gavin Cross in the system.
Cross has by far the best combination of floor and ceiling left in the system. The Royals legitimately have some good variety of both, but Cross is really the last guy left with a lot of both. His pedigree, approach, defensive prowess, and college production make him the closest thing imaginable to a lock to play in the big leagues. His power, attack angle, speed, and sheer size give him a chance to be an All-Star at his very best. I don’t mean to sound too down on the rest of the system, but he is the only player the Royals have right now with all of those traits.
If I had to put an ETA on Cross, right now, I’d probably say somewhere between July of 2024 and May of 2025. I don’t think he’s *quite* as polished as some people that I’ve seen but he’s certainly got the ability to make a quick climb through the minors if he’s healthy.
Go open it in a new tab and read the rest. We’ll be here when you get back.
With the shorter entries, I tend to give a bullet with author, site, and maybe a brief summary. For instance:
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: 3 reasons to be optimistic about the KC Royals this year - Slideshow about Vinnie, Witt, and a new brain trust
- Darin Watson at U.L.’s Toothpick: 50 Greatest Kauffman Stadium Moments, #14: Five-Run First Leads To NL Romp (July 10, 2012) - With the 50th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium a couple of months away, Darin continues his weekly countdown of “greatest moments” with the 2012 All-Star Game and, of course, Home Run Derby (BOOOOO!)
Now we’re into the MLB section with news from around the league. I have links to major sports outlets as well as their Royals-specific pages to try and grab even more stories to share.
There’s not a lot of news, but that’s handy as we’re already at roughly eleventy billion words.
Something like Buster Olney reporting that all AAA stadiums will use robot umps in 2023 would fit squarely in an MLB section and not a Royals section.
The electronic strike zone will be used in all 30 Class AAA parks in 2023, sources told ESPN, seemingly another significant step toward the implementation of the technology at the big league level in the near future.
The Automatic Balls and Strikes system, commonly referred to as ABS, will be deployed in two different ways. Half of the Class AAA games will be played with all of the calls determined by an electronic strike zone, and the other half will be played with an ABS challenge system similar to that used in professional tennis.
Each team will be allowed three challenges per game, with teams retaining challenges in cases when they are proved correct. MLB’s intention is to use the data and feedback from both systems, over the full slate of games, to inform future choices. As of now, MLB has no firm date to implement its Automatic Balls and Strikes system in the big leagues. But in recent seasons, the robotic umpire has been used increasingly in the minor leagues.
This is also where I can find listicles to pad either the “Official Royals” section or “MLB” section, as needed.
For instance, Dayn Perry at CBS Sports gave offseason grades:
The only long-term contract handed out is Jordan Lyles’ two-year deal. That’s inoffensive enough, and every team needs innings. That said, you’d like to see bolder steps in a lackluster division like the AL Central — even if the Royals are still in building mode. Grade: C-
Or R.J. Anderson, also of CBS Sports*, listing the Royals as a “dark horse” in the Pablo Lopez trade market:
How’s this for a dark horse team? There’s little to no indication that the Royals under new top executive J. J. Picollo are ready to make the kind of win-now maneuver that obtaining López (or whomever) would qualify as, but let’s blue-sky it all the same. We noted prior to the offseason that the Royals already have the ingredients for a quality young lineup in place; all they needed to move into contention, in our past estimation, was some quality starting pitching. Picollo has since signed Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough this winter, meaning that all they need now to make the jump is, well, some quality starting pitching. The Royals would appear to have more worthwhile young hitters than they can possibly start, suggesting the time will come when Picollo has to make a move. For now, he’ll probably wait and see.
*Is it CBS Sports’s Dayn Perry or CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry? I’m really not sure and that’s why my genitive-case uses for that outlet always default to some flavor of the “of CBS Sports” construction
Sometimes I’ll put together an Off Topic section. Maybe it’s some big story for the week (crazy Gamestop thing in 2021), a personal anecdote (Hurricane Harvey) (Houston Ice Storm), a collection of random news stories I’ve been saving, movie reviews like last week, or something entirely different. The OT series I’m most proud of was The Best of Royals Review back in 2017 to 2020, but, man, those were a lot of work. I wanted to do those stories justice with good framing, links, and context.
Truth be told, I like to get these done before Thursday night as they are usually the biggest time sink. Well, them and/or SotD (below) - usually one of them will be the longest part of Rumblings. Everything above this can take an hour, maybe two, if I keep getting distracted. But these two long sections can grind on. I remember hammering away at the Gamestop one until 2 in the morning because the story was still moving and traditional media had no idea how to cover it.
Often these topics are sometimes things I don’t know a lot about until I do a deep dive and then, naturally, I want to talk about it. I may come to the wrong conclusions, at times, but I promise that they’ll be well sourced if I’m going to share it. One of the highest compliments I ever got was someone paraphrasing a movie quote at me: “I feel safer about your guesses than most other people’s facts.” All that research takes time.
Naturally, that’s why, as I write this - it’s already 9:19 PM Thursday night, I’m barely halfway through SotD and haven’t even started on the other couple of sections above. See - that’s another thing that can be confusing. I don’t know about the other writers, but I don’t tend to do Rumblings in order. I write the parts that I’m most motivated to write first and fill in around it. Sometimes, the links are what I want to do first. Sometimes, it’s the SotD or OT. Today, it was the introduction, this section, and part of the SotD. Next up will be to finish the links and then finish up SotD.
When you’re finally done at “I spent too long doing this” o’clock (11:42 PM currently*), you go to the Preview page, read it over and maybe catch a glaring error or two that spellcheck missed, and then set a time for it to be posted. You were just at 9:19 in the previous paragraph and suddenly, it’s 11:42. Again, non-linear writing process.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. Speaking of which, want some usually decent but sometimes awful advice (and, really, knowing is rarely half the battle)?
I know, I glossed over the SotD today. This is one of the places where each writer can add a bit of personal flavor. Honestly, I have no idea when this even started and I’ve seen it on other SBNation sites so it’s not unique to here. But it’s definitely a staple of Royals Rumblings.
Prior to this year, my contribution has almost always been video game music. In my past life, I wrote for a video game blog and I do have a number of video game soundtracks to share that most people don’t know about. As I mentioned last week, I’ll be branching out a little bit going forward. Today, the SotD is going to be the below GI Joe jingle. This probably has nothing to do with the fact that I had a much longer SotD section written, but, in a shock to no one, I might have gotten a bit verbose with the above and it’s already came in at 3500 words. I won’t inflict 5000 Rumbling words on anyone without a good reason so we’re going to airlift the other 2000 to next week and we can talk about it then. Until next Friday!