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Royals Rumblings - News for March 10, 2023

General Greinke kept the redcoat Royals from defeating the blue clad Royals. Did I get that right?

Syndication: DetroitFreePress
Did the Royals re-win the War of 1812 yesterday?
Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press

Royals Media Guide out yesterday

Anne Rogers looks at some Royals that could benefit from playing time during the World Baseball Classic:

2. Edward Olivares, OF

It seems like every year, Olivares has been overlooked or blocked on the roster, and when he did get an opportunity last year, he got hurt, playing just 53 games because of hamstring injuries. But at every turn, Olivares just hits. His contact skills and sneaky pop could impact the Royals’ lineup, and he’ll get more opportunities with outfielder/catcher MJ Melendez playing for Team Puerto Rico.

Pete Grathoff lightly profiles new Royal Jackie Bradley Jr:

When he met with reporters last week after signing a minor-league deal with the Royals, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. shared his goals for the spring.

“Make the team first,” Bradley said. “Kind of want to start with the basics and get back to playing some good baseball.”

Also at The Star, Aidan Richmond from ASU (Special to The Star) writes about the Royals hot start:

The Royals made “Raid the zone” their motto this spring following the shortcomings of last year, and the pitchers have lived up to that goal thus far. Issues with walks and strikeouts from last season? This spring, at least to this point, they seem to be squarely in the rear-view mirror.

The team’s pitching staff currently ranks eighth-best in walks allowed and has the second-most strikeouts in the league. Previously, first-year manager Matt Quatraro had emphasized the importance of pitching in the spring, and he’s seen major strides in during his first year as a manager.

No new articles from Royals Farm Report, but this Tweet idea is pretty fun:

Also on the blog side of the house Royals Reporter Kevin O’Brien looks at Brad Keller’s spring:

One of the biggest developments this Spring for Keller has been the addition of a curveball to his pitch repertoire, which was developed this offseason at Driveline Baseball, the pitching development factory led by Kyle Boddy, who was previously a pitching coordinator in the Cincinnati Reds organization...

So far this Spring, it is hard to tell how much of his success can be credited to the curveball, especially with Statcast data not being available at Surprise Stadium, the Royals’ Spring Training home. Nonetheless, the curve has given Keller another north-south breaking offering that could play well off his four-seamer, which has become his more utilized fastball pitch over the past two seasons (in comparison to his sinker).

Blog roundup:

The bread and circuses went on, even in a stadium emptied by a pandemic and skies darkened by a natural disaster
Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

I consider 3/11 to be a hugely significant day. In fact, I wrote that back on September 11, 2020:

Obviously, today is 9/11 and has huge historical significance for those living in the United States. But this year, I think 3/11 [2020] was a hugely significant date. We’re exactly 6 months into when the pandemic “became real” for a lot of people. 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.

We are essentially at the third anniversary of COVID and every six months, I’ve felt the need to write a little bit about it. This was at the one year anniversary:

We talked a bit about this yesterday so maybe we’ve already talked it out. 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.

Beyond writing about it myself, I’ve wanted to give others a place to freely write about it, if they wanted. We’ve gone through a massive collective trauma

Six months later, in September of 2021, I wrote about the picture I posted above.

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 don’t know what outlets give out “Picture of the Year” awards, but I always thought that, it should be in the running, along with pictures of packed hospitals and morgues, eerily empty streets, or the civil unrest picture of a President holding a Bible upside down, fresh off teargassing a protest.

Last year, I did not mark the date as the lockout ended on March 10th so I was frantically trying to get together all the news about the new CBA. That was one of my last entries of the year.

Last September, I was out of the country, dealing with my own family issues. Which leads in the point that this pandemic and these couple of years have not affected everyone evenly.

I’ve often thought back to this clip where Stephen Colbert is interviewing John Oliver in the early days of the pandemic. The part I think about starts at the 5:46 mark (link here).

Remember early on when people were trying to rediscover self or being a better person (or were all over Tiger King, The Last Dance, or Among Us)? Colbert ask Oliver what’s he’s doing and if he’s rediscovered any old skills after waxing poetic about how he changed a bike tire, something he hadn’t done since he was a kid. Oliver tries to play along, joking: “I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old and I’m trying to make a TV show from scratch, so there’s no extra time in my day to learn Spanish or how to make a profiterole. That’s just not happening”.

But then the camera, which had been split between the two, only show Oliver. The veil drops, and he leans into the camera and says to his old friend, in all sincerity “I’m drowning, Steve”. I’ve always wondered what Colbert’s face looks like during that time that they had to cut away. Oliver tries to bring it back with a couple of dark jokes about union infractions and “talking to a civilian trying to land a plane”. It’s brutally honest TV where Oliver is trying to open up, Colbert seems uncomfortable, and they hastily cut the segment and jump to another part of the interview.

As a parent trying to homeschool a small child, that one has always stuck with me - from the two people in two completely different places. The one badly needing help and the other not knowing how or being able to give it. It was all too familiar. This just concerns something as “simple” as child care and work-life balance.

For some, there’s the raw death numbers and the life story behind each one. More than a million officially dead and that’s an undercount, looking at excess mortality. It’s hard to get an accurate count when testing was scarce. To say nothing of those willfully trying to hide or change numbers for political gain. Heck, so many are even denying there was (is) a pandemic because it is easier to deny than to look directly at such a problem. By the numbers, it was the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States in 2020 and 2021. The final totals aren’t out yet for 2022, but it likely was #3 again behind heart disease and cancer.

Now, we appear to be in the “waning” days of the pandemic? Society has mostly moved on. I find it an odd calendar quirk that the pandemic shares a (half year) anniversary with 9/11. On that dark day in 2001, nearly three thousand people lost their lives and our world changed drastically. We’re at the point in the pandemic, that it takes a week or, sometimes, in a good week, almost 10 days for as many people to die of COVID. We’re barely into March of this “end of the pandemic” and more than a half dozen 9/11s worth of people have already died this calendar year.

Sure, there are a few holdouts wearing masks in grocery stores. Many are still avoiding large crowds, which is reflected in movie theater and live sports numbers. Others have just withdrawn from society. Our mental health, as a society, is not good. We have a trauma that has fundamentally altered society in a number of ways, similar to how the “Greatest Generation” was impacted by The Great Depression. Our lives have been fundamentally altered in a number of ways.

I know I’ve missed live baseball. I have yet to go back to a game - I wanted to last year but just couldn’t with everything going on. One of my great travel goals is to visit every baseball stadium. I’ve been to 25, including a couple that no longer exist. I want to get back to that pursuit and we’re slated to visit at least one new one this year, maybe two. I wonder how I’m going to feel - I’m still not very comfortable in crowds. Though I also realize there’s a balance to be struck with different levels of safety vs the need for mental well-being.

I know there’s good that has come along with the bad and that shouldn’t be lost. But I don’t think there’s harm in acknowledging the bad. There’s a collective grief we all have to work through, along with our individual ones. Apologies for the maudlin (morose? melancholy?) entry, but it’s the topic that was overwhelmingly on my mind for today and I’m not even sure what I was trying to say. Anyway, I’m out next week and then we’ll be onto Asia baseball previews the three weeks after that. The NPB is up first on the 24th.

Pairing with the above, I find myself conflicted when history echoes. There’s a certain sadness or anger that we don’t seem to be able to learn from past mistakes without repeating them. But there’s also a comfort that we survived these mistakes in the past and we are still here (not that we should use this as an invitation to wantonly press our luck).

For instance, with regards to COVID, there was the 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, where a pastor refused to get vaccinated in accordance with a state law, trying to control a smallpox epidemic:

The anti-vaccine movement mobilized following the decision, and the Anti-Vaccination League of America was founded three years later to promote the principle that “health is nature’s greatest safeguard against disease and that therefore no State has the right to demand of anyone the impairment of his or her health”. The League warned about what it believed to be the dangers of vaccination and the dangers of allowing the intrusion of government and science into private life, part of the broader process identified with the Progressive Movement. The League asked, “We have repudiated religious tyranny; we have rejected political tyranny; shall we now submit to medical tyranny?”.

Or Forbes ran a story called “The Dr. Fauci of the 1918 Spanish Flu”, with a picture of a doctor that looked eerily similar to the former Chief Medical Advisor to the President:

More than a century ago, epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Tuttle prescribed face masks and social distancing to slow the influenza pandemic. He made a lot of enemies—but it worked.

I wonder if we have lived our generation’s 1968, only over a longer period. During the last few years, “Gimme Shelter” from The Rolling Stones, has transitioned from something historical to something entirely too relatable.

Ed note: I kindof wanted to take the lyrics of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, its 40 years of history, and line up an analog from the last couple of years. I think I could get close. Yes, there weren’t the assassinations of JFK or MLK. But we had Russians in Ukraine instead of Afghanistan. Our “trouble in the Suez” involved a giant ship instead of Israel invading Egypt. China under lockdown or Hong Kong under martial law - take your pick. You get the idea. But we’re already at over 1500 words so maybe this is a “challenge” for marking the time on 9/11/2023.