Day games usually result in limited news, but this day was busier than most.
It’s been announced that LoCain will officially retire a Royal but now there are details.
Cain, who patrolled center field for seven seasons in Kansas City — including the pennant years of 2014 and 2015 — will sign a one-day contract with the club and be honored before the Royals’ May 6 home game against the Oakland Athletics.
Pete Grathoff collected a number of dreary (and less dreary) stats about the Royals start. And that was before yesterday’s loss:
Just nine teams since 1901 have been shut out on two hits or fewer twice within the first six games of a season. That’s a shortlist of teams the Royals would have rather avoided joining.
It’s the third time in franchise history the Royals have opened the season by winning just one of their first six games. The good news is the other teams finished above .500: The 1993 Royals had an 84-78 record, while the 1994 squad was 64-51 in a season shortened by a labor strike.
Jesse Newell talks about how the Royals are trying to improve their framing:
Hoover said part of this season’s improvement has been getting the Royals catchers out of the habit of “playing umpire.” In essence, don’t determine whether you think it’s a ball or strike on the way in; instead, work to frame every pitch and let the umpire decide things from there.
Sam McDowell also tries his hand at reminding us that the season is young and there are positives. But I thought this exchange to start the article was quite amusing:
The umpires gathered near the third-base line, waiting for a replay to determine whether Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. had hooked a baseball on the fair side of the foul pole. And waiting to answer what became the most intriguing, coin-flip question of the opening home stand of the season.
Will the Royals score today?
To date, by the way: No, no, yes, yes, yes, no and yes.
This is a couple of days old, but I didn’t see this linked in the last couple of Rumblings. For those wondering about the Pasquatch/Sasquatch, Jesse Newell’s got you:
Vinnie Pasquantino says — now that he’s aware — he’ll absolutely be peeking toward left field at times this season. The Royals first baseman only learned Monday about a new home tradition: When he reaches base at home, the team releases “Sasquatch” atop the Royals Hall of Fame in left field.
Pasquantino, who has several nicknames, says “Pasquatch” is his favorite; he even arrived at the clubhouse Tuesday with a Sasquatch gold chain around his neck. This new gesture from the team, then, is a not-overly-advertised-but-also-not-subtle way to celebrate his accomplishments.
Also, the team is repairing the damage to signs in the outfield:
The “R” on the Royals logo above the club’s Hall of Fame building in left field was missing, and a part of the “H” on the “Hall of Fame” sign suffered damage as well...
The damage was caused by high winds that rolled through Kauffman Stadium on Friday, March 31. The team had an off-day on the date as part of its opening series against the Minnesota Twins.
Kansas City Business Journal had some interesting quotes about how business gets done with real estate in the city, particularly with relation to a potential downtown stadium:
Mayor Quinton Lucas on Wednesday questioned how city officials had negotiated the $5.4 million sale price for the original development agreement, which was executed with Swope Community Builders in 2017, then transferred to and renegotiated with VanTrust later that year.
Rich Muller, executive vice president of VanTrust, said the city had negotiated the price to reflect its properties’ fair market value at the time of the initial development terms. He acknowledged a trend of price increases for other properties in and near the East Village “once acquisitions and rumors start going around.”...
Muller said a public engagement process would take place once any redevelopment plan is assembled. Without naming names, he said that VanTrust is having conversations with “end users who have an interest in being Downtown” but that a plan cannot be put together until the developer is sure of the properties it controls.
Joe Posnanski writes a bit about Bobby Witt Jr. at his JoeBlogs (paywall for some of it):
And his rookie season was … uneven? Is that the word? He got off to a dreadful start — he was hitting .215 with a .269 on-base percentage two months into the season. Then he got scorching hot for a month and looked like baseball’s next big thing. Then he was meh for the last two months. In all, he did hit 20 homers and steal 30 bases, which was awesome — he’s only the fifth first-year player to have a 20-20 season — but he struck out a lot, he didn’t walk at all. And his defense was generally atrocious.
- Darin Watson at U.L.’s Toothpick: “50 Greatest Kauffman Stadium Moments, #2: Salvy’s Single Ends Wildest Wildcard Game (September 30, 2014)”
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: “When will this club be fun again?”
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: “Just how bad are the bad numbers?”
Since we’re already starting a little late on these, I’m just going to go “in order” from lowest level of competition to highest. We started with the CPBL previously and will do KBO today and NPB next Friday.
Country: South Korea
Opening Day: April 1st
International Players: Notable names include Dan Straily, Erick Fedde, Félix Peña, and Addison Russell. Full list from MyKBOStats
*gotta be honest - I forgot he was in KC for a couple IP in 2018
World Baseball Classic Result: South Korea won bronze in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. In 2009, they lost the final in extra innings to Japan. Since then, they haven’t escaped pool play and, unfortunately, that trend continued into 2023. In their first game, Royals AA farmhand and Team Australia infielder Robbie Glendinning stunned the Tokyo Dome crowd with a 3-run homer in the 7th, part of a comeback in “arguably Australia’s biggest win in history”. The next day was even worse as Yu Darvish and Masataka Yoshida led Japan to a 13-4 victory, all but eliminating South Korea. They beat the Czech Republic 7-3 but Australia kept winning and eliminated them from the knockout stage. They might have taken out some of that frustration in run-ruling geopolitical rival China 22-2 in only 5 innings:
Rooting Interest: Back in 2020, Max did the official RR guide for the KBO. As I posted before: “while the poll results said SK Wyverns, the comments clearly revealed that the Hanwha Eagles were the Royals KBO doppelganger”. Besides, the Wyverns were sold and rebranded as the SSG Landers, trading dragons for aliens. The Eagles haven’t won a Korean Series since 1992 and have only made the playoffs once since 2007, losing in the semi-playoff (think LDS) in 2018. In 2020, the Eagles finished last by 4 games. In 2021... last by 8 games. In 2022, last by 14(!) games at 46-2-96. This is going the wrong way, fellas. But, hey, they won the 2023 equivalent of the Cactus League crown. Flags fly forever! Is there any doubt who our team is in the KBO? I think not.
Last Season: In the 10 team league, the top 5 teams qualify, but then they have a ladder-style playoff with advantages given to teams with better records. If MLB expands more, I hope they look at all options rather than just making it tournament style where it really weakens the regular season even more. It really misses the point that the regular season and grinding out excellence daily in the regular season is part of what makes MLB unique from other sports.
The KT Wiz finished 4th and hosted the Kia Tigers for the Wildcard round. The 4th place team gets an automatic 1-0 advantage so they just have to win 1 game in the best of “3” series. The Wiz advanced to face the 3rd place Kiwoom Heroes in the “semi-playoff”. Kiwoom won that series 3-2 and then won the “Playoff” round against the 2nd place LG Twins 3-1. The Heroes had been playing since October 16th whereas the 1st place SSG Landers hadn’t played a game since their season finale on October 8th. I wonder how the fatigue vs rust balances out when you get to the Korean Series that starts on November 1st. The Landers beat the Heroes 4-2 to capture the title.
How to Watch: I added this section as it’s just going to be a bullet point down below for all of the leagues anyway. KBO Reddit has a guide on how to watch South Korean broadcasts of games. They generally require a VPN but there are a lot of free games, though not live. I also found another fun option. There’s a Reddit user (DreadsROK) who does goofy fun broadcasts of Hanwha Eagles games on his AfreecaTV channel: “I offer English commentary, translations of the stats and also chat and answer questions. I play the same music for the players and team that is played at the stadium to give the best possible feel of being at a KBO game. I’ll even teach you the dances and lyrics if you want.” It’s not really a fan broadcast, but think of it like the Manning-cast where it’s a superfan watching the game and adding his commentary over the actual broadcast. FYI: I had good luck with Opera and the Asia VPN mode, but, in theory, you should be able to watch from the States without it.
- In the Korea Times KBO preview, more evidence for the Eagles as Royals: “The Eagles finished in last place in each of his [foreign manager Carlos Subero’s] first two seasons here, and their first-place showing in this year’s preseason is still no guarantee that the perennially rebuilding Eagles will make the postseason for only the second time since 2008.” If you’re curious, they’re already 1-3 and in the basement. Sad trombone.
- Meanwhile, this preview from the Korea JoongAng Daily states “ There is a temptation in the KBO to assume that none of this will have any impact on the KBO’s perennial bottom feeders, but when it comes to the Eagles it’s always best to be optimistic.” The Kiwoom Heroes seem quite compelling: “Lee, the reigning KBO MVP and winner of practically every other accolade going last season, could prove to be a gamechanger on his own next season, although it will likely be the last the club gets out of him as he is expected to be posted to the majors at the end of the year. But while Lee returns, the Heroes lost big hitter Yasiel Puig in the offseason after the Cuban slugger plead guilty to lying to federal law enforcement officers. In a surprise move, they replaced him with Addison Russell, another controversial player who hit .254 when he played for the team in 2020.”
- The league has also had some off-the-field problems (quotes from Korea Times preview), too: “Last week, the Lotte Giants severed ties with pitcher Seo Jun-won after discovering the 22-year-old had faced a criminal investigation for alleged sexual misconduct involving a minor. The KBO has since suspended him indefinitely. On Wednesday, the Kia Tigers fired their general manager Jang Jung-suk for allegedly asking the team’s former catcher Park Dong-won for a kickback during contract negotiations last offseason.” The GM claims he only made the offer “in jest” but the team took it seriously enough to fire him instead of letting him resign. Local prosecutors also raided KBO offices, looking for evidence of bribery involving the league’s broadcast rights.
- This is expected to be Shin-Soo Choo’s last season. He’s had a good baseball life. He was named MVP of the WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup and signed with the Mariners after the tournament. He played 16 years in the majors with 4 different teams. He played in the playoffs 3 times, though his teams never advanced. He made the All-Star game at 35 and got some down-ballot MVP support in two other seasons. In 2009, he played for that silver medal winning South Korea team in the WBC. After making about $140M in MLB, he returned to his native South Korea at age 38 in 2021. Last year, his SSG Landers won the Korean Series.
- Ever found yourself wondering where Trey Hillman is these days? He’s in Korea. Here’s a quick little reminder for those of you who don’t remember Hillman. He played minor league ball and became a scout and then manager in the Yankees system, winning a New York-Penn League title in 1990 and eventually working his way up to managing the AAA Columbus Clippers from 1999-2001. He became the Rangers director of player development in 2002 and then went to manage the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2003. While there, he won the Japan Series in 2006 and another Pacific League pennant in 2007. He was a candidate for a number of MLB managerial jobs and would accept one with the Royals. Bradford Lee does a good job of explaining why he was a good candidate, chronicling his time here, and what went wrong. After being fired, he bounced around various assistant jobs with a number of MLB clubs before accepting the manager job with the SK Wyverns in 2016. He is the first person to manage in MLB, NPB, and KBO and, when the Wyverns won the 2018 Korean Series, the first person to win both the Korean and Japan Series. The Wyverns are now the SSG Landers and he’s back with them as an advisor, as of 2023.
- http://eng.koreabaseball.com/ - The Official KBO site has some parts translated into English
- https://www.reddit.com/r/KBO/ - KBO Reddit
- https://mykbostats.com/ - Good English stats website with a clean interface and lots of data
- https://koreatimes.co.kr/www/section_600.html - The Korea Times sports section usually has a number of KBO stories mixed in with other sports news
We haven’t done a video game song yet this year so it’s time to remedy that. It is a rerun, revisiting a soundtrack we’ve done a number of times before: Xenoblade Chronicles. This is the most well known overworld track from the game, the music that plays while you’re wandering around the giant on Guar Plain.
There’s also this version that Nintendo put out ahead of the 3DS version of the game: