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Royals Rumblings - News for June 2, 2023

Royals looking to extend their unbeaten streak to 3 days!

Kansas City Royals (3) Vs. Boston Red Sox (13) at Fenway Park
There are a ton of images in the archive when you search for “Kansas City Royals” and “Lost”. This one even has it twice. Sad trombone sound.
Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

I haven’t been able to find the answer to this one. When was the last time the Royals had 2 off-days in a row in-season? Bonus points if it wasn’t something in the first two weeks of the season when schedules are screwy because of Opening Days.

As such, not a ton of news again today, but we’ll do our best and also make up for it with a long OT/SotD section.

The Big Slick is today! Tickets are still available.

Big Slick is back in a big way! Join Paul Rudd,Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, Eric Stonestreet, David Koechner, Heidi Gardner, and their celebrity friends for a softball game at The K on Friday, June 2. Gates will open at 4:30 p.m., with the celebrity softball game beginning at 5:00 p.m. After the game, stick around to watch the Royals take on the Colorado Rockies. And best of all, it’s all for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Big Slick to help in their mission.

This elicited a fair number of positive responses and the (sadly) expected blue checked mouth-breathing ones, as well.

Want a crazy minor league stat?

The Star comes hard with 6(!) stories about the Royals. Someone get them two days off more often! Jaylon Thompson and Pete Grathoff each have a trio. I flipped a coin and it said we’re starting with Thompson.

First, he previews the upcoming Rockies series as Moose returns.

“When you spend 10 years of your life with people and … (many) in the minor leagues, you become more than teammates,” Moustakas told The Star during the 2020 campaign. “You become more than friends. It’s almost family. It is family, and it really showed in that 2015 season.”

He also talks about some changes MJ Melendez is making

Melendez is hitting .213 against fastballs, per Statcast. He has 28 strikeouts against the combination of four-seam and two-seam fastballs, cutters and sinkers. His struggles have contributed to a lack of plate discipline in chasing those pitches. Melendez has seen 485 fastballs and whiffed 34% of the time.

As a result, Melendez has worked to improve in the batting cage. He is hitting more off a tee to recreate his swing path and change his eye level. He also increased the height of the tee to mirror the high fastballs that he is seeing.

He also surveys some fans about whether they want downtown baseball or not.

Grathoff asked about the repairs to the scoreboard damaged by Edward Olivares’s home run:

“The reason for the smoke was that each panel has a power supply, and the ball happened to hit right on that power supply,” Sharita Hutton, the Royals’ Senior Director of Communication Strategy, wrote in an email. “That is also why a set of panels immediately below the damaged one went out temporarily.”

He draws parallels to the Ballys San Diego situation and how it might impact the future of MLB broadcasts in KC and around the league:

But fans in KC may want to keep an eye on how things go with Padres broadcasts, as Diamond Sports works its way through bankruptcy proceedings. Will Padres fans jump at the chance to watch now that blackout restrictions are being lifted? Will this end up being the first step in the league’s plan to take control of local television rights from Bally Sports?

And he tries to track down Adalberto Mondesi:

Chris Cotillo, who covers the Red Sox for, was asked on the Fantasy Baseball Beat when MondesÍ might be back in Boston.

“This is the greatest mystery facing the Red Sox these days,” Cotillo said. “This is a guy that they didn’t give up much for ... but a guy they thought had upside even with one year left (before free agency).

“He has not progressed at all. He is not in game action, he’s not facing live pitching, I don’t think in Fort Myers. He’s just at a point where his ACL recovery has not gone as quickly as they thought.”

We’re going to slide the two blog entries for today in here because, well, there’s only 2 of them and they’re from 2 of the best Royals blogs out there.

First, David Lesky looks at the trade market and tiers players by their likelihood to be moved:

95+ Percent Chance


I would say the only team Chapman doesn’t fit on is the Yankees just because they aren’t going to go down that road again. He’s averaging 99.4 MPH with his fastball and has been mostly back to form. I don’t think he fits on a team looking for a closer to take over without looking back, but I do think he’ll get save chances on a new team. Again, he fits on absolutely every single contender. I think the best bets, though, are the Dodgers, Rangers, Rays, Mets or Braves. There are a lot of good prospects on those five teams.

I think they could ask for Nick Frasso from the Dodgers, but I don’t think they get him for Chapman. Maybe with a sweetener attached, but I wonder if they could get Emmet Sheehan. Maybe it ends up with Landon Knack being the guy. I’m not sure who they’d target with the Rangers. They feel like a team that would be hard to find a middle ground with. My opinion is they should target someone like Sebastian Walcott and the Rangers may do it given what their current goals are, but the Royals like guys a little closer. That’s disappointing. Regardless, I would hesitate to think the Royals are going to get a top-10 prospect for Chapman, but bidding wars change everything, so you never know.

Kevin O’Brien, the Royals Reporter, looks at MJ Melendez’s batting profile in the context of possibly signing him long term:

In 51 games and 212 plate appearances, Melendez is slashing .205/.297/.362 with five home runs, 23 RBI, and a wRC+ of 80. The meager home run total, and .157 ISO, which is 19 points lower than a season ago, don’t give Royals fans hope that Melendez’s power has developed all that much in 2023. On the other hand, Melendez’s batted ball metrics demonstrate that his power this year is certainly maturing, even if it has shown in the surface-level numbers.

Got enough little tidbits here around MLB to make its own section.

Ben Clemens as Fangraphs talks about what Grathoff did with the Padres and Bally:

Earlier this year, Diamond Sports Group declared bankruptcy. That dry corporate action, precipitated by a huge debt burden, is starting to have real world consequences. This Tuesday, DSG missed a payment to the San Diego Padres, as Alden Gonzalez first reported for ESPN. That terminated the contract between Bally Sports (a Diamond subsidiary) and the Padres. By Wednesday, the Padres were off of Bally and broadcasting their own games via Major League Baseball.

That’s a pretty big escalation in what until now felt like a slow-moving situation. In fact, in bankruptcy court, Rob Manfred testified that the league received less than one day’s notice of this missed payment. “[They told us] less than 24 hours before they were going to go off the air that they were going to stop broadcasting Padres games,” he said. (Diamond’s lawyers have contested that timeline.) That led to the Padres terminating their contract with Bally Sports, naturally enough, and to MLB stepping in to broadcast games.

There was more news in court on Thursday

A U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled in favor of Major League Baseball and four of its teams in Houston on Thursday, forcing Diamond Sports Group, which runs broadcasts under the name Bally Sports, to fully pay the contracts in question.

...Diamond has long stated that it needs to secure streaming rights in order to prop up its Bally Sports+ app and run a more sustainable business, but it currently holds the streaming rights to only five major league teams — the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins. MLB has shown no interest in providing streaming rights for the others.

Also on Fangraphs, Michael Baumann asks “What Would it Take For MLB to Force an Athletics Sale?

If Fisher wants to sabotage the sport’s reputation in his city, play three-card monte with taxpayers and legislators in two states, shoo away potential fans, and let his ballpark fall into disrepair, that seems to be his prerogative. There’s nothing the fans, the players, even the government can do to prevent Fisher from continuing to destroy this team, and collect the profits from doing so. As long as the A’s don’t flirt with bankruptcy, the only body with the power to force Fisher out — the owners — has no incentive to make a change.

I don’t know if this had come out before, but Reddit had a post reach the front page with the title “Leaked audio of what an ejection looks like in MLB”. It’s from 2016 and most of the exchange was between Tom Hallion and Terry Collins. This was the year after Chase Utley had broken Ruben Tejeda’s leg on a dirty slide in the 2015 NLDS. Known hothead and headhunter Noah Syndergaard threw behind Utley and was immediately ejected. Then there’s 2 minutes of a hot mic so you can hear what goes on between umps, players, and managers during something like that. It was fascinating and I give Hallion a bunch of credit for how he acted there.

Just a reminder: In game 3 of the 2015 World Series, Syndergaard threw his first pitch behind Alcides Escobar because the Mets 100 mph flame thrower couldn’t handle a hot streak from a career .258 hitter. And then he told them to meet him 60 feet 6 inches away. Oh, hey, look what the Royals got for their troubles:

2015 World Series Game Five: Kansas City Royals v. New York Mets
Look at what Syndergaard doesn’t have

OT Intro

Today, we’re going to talk about Lost.

Last year, our family went on an amazing vacation to Hawaii. One of our stops was at Kualoa Ranch (, filming site of hundreds of movies and TV shows. We took one of their tours on an old school bus where the driver would stop and tell you about a particular location or give trivia about a particular show filmed there. At one point, the tour guide asked “Who watched any of Lost” and most of the bus raised their hand. She then asked “How many watched a couple of seasons” and there were maybe a dozen people, at most. Then she asked “Who made it through the end?” and my wife and I were the only ones with our hands up.

While I think some people might want to deny they had sunk so much time into a show with a much-maligned finale, I think it was safe to take everyone at their word as we were the only ones who spent significant time in the prop room with the map from Desmond’s bunker, the model used for the submarine, a taxidermy polar bear, and tons of Dharma paraphernalia. Also, while on Oahu, we sought out the Lost beach on the north side and the Others camp, as well, and got a thrill from being there. Ever since, I’ve wanted to take a look back and see if the highs were as good as I remembered and that eventually morphed into a partial rewatch of about 30 episodes.

A couple of disclaimers. First, as we’ve talked about in the past, typically a lot of my writing is for me to put things right in my mind. I wasn’t planning on sharing these - I was just jotting down notes for individual episodes. But after we finished our re-watch, I was like “hey, here’s a large volume of stuff that people might want to talk about so let’s give it a go”. So I slapped a (couple) thousand word intro at the front and we’ve got our topic for the day. There might be some overlap between the notes in the intro and items covered in the individual episodes, but I tried to keep that to a minimum.

Obviously, this is going to be super spoiler heavy. Turn back now if it’s somehow in your queue and you’ve never gotten around to it. But, really, the show is more than 10 years old at this point so spoiler warnings are probably unnecessary. Spoilers start after the horizontal break - you’ve been warned.

What Lost did really well

There are a couple of simple things that probably don’t need a lot of rehashing as they were trademarks of the show. First, it was a compelling puzzle box show that kept people hooked for years. My wife and I watched it once it went into syndication right before the last season so we were “fortunate” enough to limit the suspense between episodes. I couldn’t imagine waiting a whole week for a new episode, much less a whole summer between seasons, especially with as slow a burn some of the show was. I mean, the summer between the two parts of “The Best of Both Worlds” in Star Trek: The Next Generation felt interminable to grade school aged me. I could only imagine how difficult waiting for the follow up to “Through the Looking Glass” would be if I had to wait through a summer rather than skipping right to the start of the next season.

Secondly, the well-acted and well-written character drama kept viewers heavily invested in the cast well beyond the mysteries. It wasn’t just what the mysteries were that was compelling but how it affected the characters that viewers loved or viewers loved to hate. The truckload of acting Golden Globe and Emmy nominations and awards speak for themselves, but it’s really hard to find a sour acting note outside of a handful of characters who get weeded out in the first couple of seasons.

A couple times a generation, there’s a show where, when it’s done, the cast will show up all over the TV landscape for the next decade. It didn’t hurt that Hawaii Five-O was filming in a lot of the same locations so Daniel Dae Kim and Jorge Garcia were regulars on that show. The IMDB overlap list for that show is literally over 300 (yes, there are some liberties taken with soundtrack and whatnot but most of those are cast and crew). Meanwhile, Once Upon a Time was written by Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz so Lost star Emilie de Ravin was among the dozens of people who overlapped there. Michael Emerson took his boatload of awards from Lost over to star in executive producer J.J. Abrams’s Person of Interest, another show that boasts more than 50 overlaps. Some were already well known like Dominic Monaghan for his time in Lord of the Rings while Alan Dale’s career, mostly as a character actor, has spanned 5 decades. But, for most, this was easily their most well-known credit, the role in their introductory paragraph on Wikipedia. That’s before taking into account just how large the cast was.

However, there are two other features of the show that don’t get enough love how well they were done. Each was imperfect and the misses got a lot of visibility. But I think the show should get a lot of credit even for just attempting to do what they did.

First, Chekhov guns. I’m probably describing something everyone’s familiar with but maybe not the term. Per wiki:

Chekhov’s gun is a narrative principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. For example, if a writer features a gun in a story, there must be a reason for it, such as it being fired sometime later in the plot. All elements must eventually come into play at some point in the story.

Simply put: if you add something to a story, particularly something out of the ordinary, it has to have a purpose. For generations, murder mysteries have tried to do this, hiding the killer in plain sight for a reader to find them. There are a handful of suspects, red herrings, and actual clues that Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot or Jessica Fletcher has to sift through to figure out the whodunit. Many, including Hemingway, have argued that this makes stories feel a bit formulaic and colorless. My counter argument would be that it forces writers to be disciplined and purposeful. Screen time, pages, and your audiences attention span are limited commodities - use them wisely. Also, when a foreshadowed element is well executed, it’s particularly satisfying to the audience.

But rather than hiding a handful of Chekhov guns, Lost simply littered the stage with them. There was no way to keep track of them all so they were all hiding in plain sight. You can watch the magician’s sleeves if he only has 2, but it’s a lot harder when he has 20 or 200. I don’t believe there’s any way to measure this, but Lost seemingly has the highest density of Chekhov guns of any show I can think of. It’s a creative solution to combat the problem that mysteries have seemingly always had where they seemed to either be too easy to be rewarding or too difficult and the audience feels unsatisfyingly tricked by the author relying on literary sleight of hand.

Unfortunately, it just led to two other major problems. One: there are only so many mysteries you can include in a show. The more that is revealed to an audience, the more they start to understand the rules of a show and the harder it is to surprise them. Two: some of those mysteries are just going to be left behind. Stakes escalate and many of the Chekhov guns are never fired. When you’re worried about flying through time or unleashing darkness upon the world, taking time to explain a polar bear will seem anti-climactic when viewers want to see the current high tension plot.

Secondly, Lost excelled at flashbacks for characterization. This isn’t to say this literary device hadn’t been used before, but Lost used it more than had ever been done. The show also did it with such expertise that it’s become part of the common TV language - whole episode character flashbacks are now in vogue again.

But, like the Chekhov guns, this proved to be both a strength and weakness of the show, trading one set of problems for another. It was a brilliant way to provide large characterization to characters who were all stuck on a small island in a small dramatic space. However, it also slowed down the main story. So many episodes, especially in the first couple of seasons, felt like 40 minutes of flashback and only 5 minutes advancing the current plot. That sort of worked when establishing the dramatic rules of the island but became frustrating when a viewer had to slog through a half dozen episodes to see what was going to happen with the hatch, the boat, or the Others.

I don’t think the audience fully appreciated how hard it was to balance the current plot element of the show with the equally important characterization of the show. Lost had a huge ensemble cast and the character flashbacks were the backbone of that aspect of the show. The audience had to be interested both in the multi-threaded plots while also being simultaneously invested in the multi-faceted characters and there’s only so much screen time to go around.

If the first three seasons weren’t difficult enough, they traded it for an even tougher task in seasons four and five with the flash forwards. The writers are trying to predict where the characters will be two seasons into the future. You can’t just let them grow organically and add and drop traits or plots, as needed. Once the writers showed where the characters were going to be a season down the road, they were locked in with very limited dramatic wiggle room. If something needs to change with a character? It’s going to look like a cheap retcon.

Where Lost struggled

I already noted a couple of aspects of the show where the staff and cast tried to ingeniously solve common dramatic problems, only to make new ones. However, those weren’t the most prominent issues.

I’ve always felt that where a lot of people soured on the show was the change in genre and tone between the three major “sections” of it. It went from paranormal survival drama in seasons 1 and 2 to hardcore science fiction in 4 and 5 to religious allegory in 6. The transition from the first to the second was fairly smooth with a lot of overlap. The first half of season 3 was not great but the second half was excellent. However, the second transition was much more rocky. It was not as well executed and, really, the two genres don’t fit together as cleanly. Also, while there’s some overlap between those three genres, there’s more area outside of the center of that Venn diagram. Asking your audience to transition not just once, but twice? That’s a heavy lift.

OT Conclusion

In the end, this is going to sound a little like my thoughts on Evangelion. Upon second rewatch and with some knowledge of what was going on - it holds up much better. However, I’m a science fiction veteran - this isn’t my first scifi rodeo. If I’m having to look for explanations of a number of major plot points, it’s understandable that casual fans lost interest. That is on the writers and directors to dial back some of the obfuscation and put forward a more coherent message for the major plots and themes.

Also, we had the benefit of generally watching the better episodes – I tried to pick the ones I remembered and/or the ones with higher ratings on IMDB and fan sites. We didn’t have to slog through Charlie’s frustrating heroin addiction or that awful episode of Jack’s tattoos or Nikki and Paulo.

Perhaps time also softens some disappointment. My lasting impression of Lost was that it was a good show for the first three seasons that got rocky in seasons four and five before falling apart in the sixth. As I already know the ending, this time, I wasn’t gripping the edge of my seat to see how it all turns out. I could slow down and watch for other little bits. I noticed that they did actually try to explain some of the loose threads, especially in seasons 4 and 5. However, some of the explanations were unsatisfying and others mangled some character arcs (poor Desmond) as they were trying to chase tying up the plot at the expense of character and it was just too hard of a needle to thread.

In the end, I really enjoyed this partial rewatch and my wife and I are considering a full rewatch in a few years when we have more time.

Episode Capsules

As noted above, there might be some overlap between what I said above and what’s in the individual episode capsules. Also, they’re not the cleanest writing - there’s going to be some sloppy prose and duplication of transitions. You’ll see my verbal crutches and repeated transitions in full force without me going back and editing them out. Sorry about that.

Ed note: this entry ended up being over 4000 words prior to adding the capsules, so I’m going to cheat like I did with Evangelion. I’m posting it all here today. But sometime between now and next Friday, we’re going to pull this section and then dump it into next week. Good news! You already know what’s bulking up next week’s OT section.

EDIT: The episode capsules can now be found in next week’s Rumblings.

Honestly, I really wanted to talk about Michael Giacchino, who has won an Emmy for Lost, along with an Oscar, and three Grammys for his other work. But I simply ran out of time and words. Maybe I’ll use some of the time next week to improve on the SotD since the OT is already written.