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Royals Rumblings - News for September 15, 2023

Today’s OT gets a little weird. Dull, but weird.

Only 1,866 people showed up to watch the hapless 1985 San Francisco Giants go for their 99th defeat of the season against the Houston Astro’s, losing 7-2. The team is the only one in franchise history to lose 100 games. (Karl Mondon)
There are no “hapless” Royals pictures in our archive, but this one has a caption that starts: “Only 1,866 people showed up to watch the hapless 1985 San Francisco Giants go for their 99th defeat of the season”. Sound familiar?
Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

It’s a really, really slow news day. Already broke 100 losses. No game yesterday. But we still managed to get enough to put together a whole rumblings. And there’s even some OT fun.

Jaylon Thompson at The Star looks at where the Royals are relative to some other baseball futility:

If the Royals want to avoid setting a new franchise mark, they must win 10 of their next 15 games to pull even with the 2005 squad. With a 10-5 mark, they’ll finish at 56-106....

The Royals won’t match the 1962 New York Mets, who own the modern-era record for most losses: 40-120. However, they could join some historically bad company, depending on how the remainder of the 2023 campaign unfolds.

Some other notable records:

If the Royals went 0-15, they’d finish 46-116 — the most losses since 2003 (Detroit Tigers, 119) and fourth-most since 1900.

KC must go 6-9 or better to avoid a bottom-10 season in losses (111) since 1900.

At their current pace, the Royals would finish between 50 and 51 wins (111-112 losses).

At, Anne Rogers profiles Logan Porter:

His junior year, Logan took a fire science course that required 120 hours of community service. To help log hours with a schedule filled with baseball, he asked a family friend and former Royals staffer Darryl Kennedy if he could work at the facility that summer. Soon, Porter was a clubbie for the Royals’ Arizona Rookie League team.

“Bubba Starling was coming up then,” Porter said. “Carter Hope is another name that comes to mind. Just to be alongside those guys when they were coming up and seeing their journey was incredible.”

Also from Anne, part of an MLB listicle about “One player from each team who took a big step forward”:

Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr.A lot has been made, and rightfully so, about Witt’s breakout offensive season. He has an .811 OPS in his second year in the big leagues. He’s stolen 44 bases. If he hits two home runs, he’ll become the first Royal ever with a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season. But Witt’s defense has taken a massive step forward, too. His 13 Outs Above Average entering Wednesday were fourth-most among all position players. Witt went from -9 OAA at shortstop in his rookie season to 13 this year; his fielding run value went from -8 in 2022 to +10 in ‘23. Witt is becoming the type of franchise player the Royals believed they had — and he’s only 23 years old. — Anne Rogers

Want to learn CPR before the game Saturday?

In his MLB Trends column, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports looks at Cole Ragans:

Ragans, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2016 draft, did not pitch at all from 2018-20 because of two Tommy John surgeries and the pandemic. He reached the big leagues last August and went up and down with Texas. He’s never lacked ability — Ragans touched 97 mph with a knockout changeup and a good curveball as a prospect — just durability.

With the Royals, Ragans has averaged 96.7 mph with his fastball and topped out at 101.0 mph. The swing and miss rate on his changeup is approaching 40%, which is top of the line. It’s only nine starts, but gosh, what a nine starts it has been.

Speaking of Ragans, Zach Crizer has a decently long profile of him at Yahoo:

It’s a pitch that would’ve made pitchers from even 25 years ago blush, and it’s a pitch that just about every major-leaguer today would sign up to throw. Combining slider levels of drop with fastball-type velocity is an overpowering weapon, one wielded by Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Corbin Burnes, Zack Wheeler and the like — you know, the best pitchers in baseball. It’s the pitch that helped Ragans accelerate to a cruising speed of “scoreless innings with lots of strikeouts.”

But, approaching the 100-pitch rubicon, Ragans let a 99 mph fastball sail high and wide against Davis Schneider as he put a second man on base via walk one batter before he truly lost his footing. “Very few of those,” Lefebvre intoned at the time. “For all that power, there have been very few pitches where you feel like he overthrew and made a noncompetitive pitch.”

Three long Royals blog articles so each gets a blockquote.

David Lesky writes about Alec Marsh:

And it seems like the Royals have found the perfect role for him. Maybe they found the perfect opener for him with Cruz, who features that high-90s sinker and hard slider. I tend to like pitchers who are pretty opposite for an opener/bulk combo and Cruz and Marsh have some things in common, but they give very different looks, so I’m good with this duo if that’s how they want to move forward.

Kevin O’Brien wrote about three Royals pitches (yes, pitches):

As of Thursday, Kowar is producing a 17.1% swinging strike rate and a 33.3% CSW rate with his slider, which ranks him in the 64th and 72nd percentile in those categories, respectively. The swinging strike rate is 10.4% better than a season ago, and a big reason for that increase is that the slider is generating more chases this season than it did in 2022. Last year, Kowar’s slider only generated an O-Swing% of 17.6%. This season? That slider is producing an O-Swing% of 36.6%.

Patrick Glancy writes about Frank White (and Ozzie Smith and Devon White):

But White will always be best known for his defense. I encourage you to check out some of his highlight reels. They’re spectacular. Never paired with an elite SS, he nonetheless wowed Royals fans for nearly two decades and won an astounding eight gold gloves. Perhaps his legendary rival Reggie Jackson said it best. “White saved as many runs as I drove in.” Pretty high praise coming from Reggie.

Buckle in - this one is a fun one. Fun? That’s probably overstating it. It’s a “one”, I guess (You’re twice the “the” he ever was). The best I can say is that it’s a boring, wild ride.

NOTE: While I’m loathe to give these sites any free traffic, it feels important to cite my sources.

If you remember back to January, one of my first Rumblings to the year, I talked about the sources I looked at each week for news. One of them is Yahoo. They collect oddball stories from around the web, including their own writers, under their Royals page. I even linked to one above today.

Beneath a couple of other stories, I saw the headline “Astros aim to capitalize on late series with hapless Royals” from the Salt Lake City Sun. First, I was going to comment on an article using the word “hapless”, something these days reserved for blogs and other informal writings.

But then I noticed, wait - “the Salt Lake City Sun”? Why would someone in SLC care about either the Astros or Royals? I mean, I get why the Grass Creek Gazette cares about the Royals annual blood feud with the Mariners. But Astros/Royals? The midpoint of their rivalry is in Rangers territory. Or a stupid (redundant, I know) Greg Abbott Tweet.

My curiosity piqued, I click on the link and go to the Salt Lake City Sun. It has the motto of, I kid you not, “See what we say”. Wait? “See what we say?” I’m not even sure what to say about that motto. On the side, there are links to stories about Canada housing tax incentives, an Amazon “AI diktat” (seems like an odd word choice), and a South Korean-funded hydroelectric project in Nepal. Quite the potpourri of stories. Oh, and a review for Lorenzo’s Oil. WHAT? That movie’s at least 25 years old - I remember The Critic mocking it as “a mixture of fantasy and crap... Fantacrap”.

Where the “about” would be, I click on a link that says “Network”. It takes me to a page that looks only slightly post-Geocities for something called “Midwest Radio Network”. It has an old-timey looking microphone and boasts “80 years of media”. As it wikipedia page says: “the broadcasting division focuses on the operation of FM and AM commercial radio stations in the Midwest region, west of Sydney”. Oh, Midwest like Australia not Midwest like Kansas City.

Their Wikipedia page reads like an advertisement for a small company. You know the type: the small town company of 200 employees that thinks Wikipedia is their own personal advertising space. They’re the ones that have a wiki page longer than an old blue chip like IBM and boasts about things like their fall festival and how Suzie won a regional manufacturing award 13 years ago.

This is a real entry from the “History” section of their wiki page:

Poisoned potatoes

On 1 December 1946, at the direction of Lithgow Police, 2LT broadcast a warning to thieves who had stolen a bag of potatoes from a farm at nearby Portland that the potatoes had been treated with copper sulphate poison. The police were concerned the thieves may have tried to sell the potatoes unaware they were poisoned.

Sure enough, down in the “Operations” section, the Salt Lake City Sun is listed as one of their “Online newspapers”. There are also a number of papers that have “same name as the 1927 newspaper” (Indianapolis Post), “named after a newspaper published in 1928” (Houston Mirror), or “inspired by 1838 newspaper” (New Orleans Sun). If I didn’t know any better, it looks like they took the name of famous(-ish) defunct papers for website names in an attempt to get more traffic.

Back on the Midwest Radio Network page, they say:

The concept of a network of online newspapers, now operated by Midwest Radio Network, was developed in 2000 as part of the then-evolving Big News Network, which comprises in addition to its signature Big News portal, a complete directory of News

So now we’re into the “Big News Network”. And, yes, of, course, they have a wikipedia page, too. And the Midwest Radio Network is listed as one of their divisions along with Mainstream Media. If you go to their main page and scroll down through their brands, you’ll see a list of all of their “Brands”, which are basically (Location) News.Net so like ArgentinaNews.Net, TaipeiNews.Net, and, yes, SaltLakeCityNews.Net. Midwest Radio Network’s website has the same thing, only, again, they have those famous(-ish) names for their outlets.

Check out the Salt Lake City Sun’s website next to the Salt Lake City News website. They’re practically identical with the same top story about Phoenix’s 110 degree heat (on a Salt Lake City website). They even have the same favicon (that little icon that shows up on the tab on your browser). You know what else has that, too? The US News, MRN’s national website for the United States. Along with the same stories about the Canada’s housing taxes, Amazon’s AI diktat (sic?), and Nepal’s dam.

At this point, our story takes two different directions. Before we get to the geopolitics (yes, geopolitics), we’re going to look at a goofy sports angle first.

Just a few minutes ago, I was telling my wife about this silly journey and loaded up Yahoo to show her what I was talking about. The same story about the hapless Royals is there, only it’s no longer from the Salt Lake City Sun. Now, it links to the same exact story, only on Zombie Deadspin.

The story is written by Field Level Media. I’ve stumbled across them a couple of previous Rumblings and have asked who and what they are. The second time, I dug far enough to get to this:

FML’s About/Contact page, contains the words “hyper-local”, “built for the current digital age”, “strategic partnerships”, “the next level of the story”, and “all levels of the sports content pipeline”. I have no idea.

Maybe today, we’ll get a little more. If you Google “Zombie Deadspin” and “Field Level Media”, you get only one result: this article from Awful Announcing. Tucked in amongst the news that Zombie Deadspin’s parent company is now using AI-generated stories is this paragraph:

Deadspin also already features a substantial amount of generic content provided by Field Level Media (example here), which provides syndicated sports content to its clients. One G/O editorial employee told AA in June that the generic posts are “drowning the RSS feed and causing people to stop reading the site.” Another G/O Media source said that Field Level Media content was meant to supplement Deadspin editorial staff content, not replace it. Presumably, that would also be the thought for AI-generated content, but the GMG Union doesn’t seem to be buying that.

This is just one guy’s opinion (and not the view of Max or RR or SBN or whatever), but it looks like generic copy. It’s like if you paid “free time spending money” me, “college-aged desperate for resume fluff” me, or “cheap offshore copy editing” me to write Royals recaps. Instead, on the off chance that I’m doing a recap, you get Choose Your Own Adventure, bad Mad Libs, You Be the Star, or bad alliteration (I choose to believe I’m the inspiration for Greg Walker’s headlines, whether it’s true or not). Lucky you!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much further because if you google anything with “Field Level Media”, you get links to tons and tons of their (generic) sports stories. Although, apparently Reuters partnered with them a while ago. And they claim to have “200+ professional writers”. So they have that going for them. You can also find that story where the “Astros aim to capitalize on late series with hapless Royals” on their site, too.

This probably sounds like I’m being harsh on the people writing these stories. They’re probably just underpaid, freelance scribes who generate generic “just the facts” copy like what that AP and Reuters (used to?) put out. They likely do this in their spare time for Pop-Tart money, because the industry is in shambles, no one actually cares about facts, and, after upper management takes their cut, that’s all that’s left. At least it’s not written by AI (yet). Anyhow...

Like I said above, there’s also a geopolitics angle to all this. We’re back to the Big News Network’s wikipedia page. The good thing about wiki is that if you’re a company no one knows much about, you can create the previously mentioned miles long Wikipedia page and no one’s going to edit it. The bad thing about wiki, though, is that if you end up in the news, your wiki page will reflect that. Whoopsie:

In 2020, the non-governmental organization EU DisinfoLab found that the Big News Network was part of a disinformation campaign run by Asian News International (ANI)...

This is the EU Disinfo lab investigation. And Al Jazeera reports:

A Brussels-based NGO working to combat disinformation against the European Union has unearthed a 15-year-old operation run by an Indian entity that used hundreds of fake media outlets and the identity of a dead professor to target Pakistan. The EU DisinfoLab in its report, Indian Chronicles: deep dive into a 15-year operation targeting the EU and United Nations to serve Indian interests, termed this as the “largest network” of disinformation they have exposed so far...

Srivastava Group had come under the spotlight last year for arranging a visit of far-right Members of the European Parliament to the Indian-administered Kashmir after it was stripped of its special status and put under a security and communications lockdown. The report has named Srivastava Group – a shadowy business conglomerate – and Asian News International (ANI), India’s largest video news agency and a partner of Reuters news agency, as the prime players of the operation...

“The coverage – and often distortion – by ANI of the content produced in Brussels and Geneva led us to the Big News Network and the World News Network – an entire network of 500+ fake local media in 95 countries that have helped reproduce negative iterations about Pakistan (or China),” according to the report.

All this because I was just struck by the use of “hapless” in a story about a hapless baseball team.

After all that, it feels right to revisit Phoenix Wright. Originally, we talked about the game series as whole and highlighted the Objection theme. We also did the Pursuit themes. This time, the Detective theme compilation seems appropriate.