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Royals Rumblings - News for September 29, 2023

Yes, it’s been a long, mostly bad season. But this is the last weekend of it and that’s still sad.

MLB: World Series-New York Mets at Kansas City Royals
We’re talking about this, weather you like it or not
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A game and a half yesterday cut into a lot of the stories. Well, that and the 100 losses.

Jaylon Thompson profiled Salvy again. But can you really do that too much? Of course not.

“There is no excuse. If Sal is doing it, you gotta do it,” Royals second baseman Michael Massey said. “You’ve got a guy, at this point in his career, still sprinting down the line and still showing up every day ready to work. (There’s) really not an excuse for someone who just got here to not be doing that kind of stuff.

Anne Rogers talked to pitching coach Brian Sweeney:

“We want to be average or better in walk rate,” Sweeney said. “If we’re higher than that, we better be punching some tickets. We have a hard time doing that. How are we able to miss more bats? If we’re not able to strike guys out, how are we generating some weak contact?”

...and that’s all the official news. Fortunately, some blogs are here to pick us up!

Craig Brown gives a preview of the offseason at Into The Fountains:

Further down the road, I have a notebook filled with ideas for offseason content. October may be slow on the newsletter front as we’re all distracted by a postseason tournament and the piece of metal the commissioner will present to the eventual champion, but there will be sporadic content.

As always, thank you for subscribing, reading and commenting this season. This has, somehow, been my 19th season writing about the Royals. Your clicks and feedback have been my fuel. Although it’s possible I’ve descended into madness. It’s also possible that it’s difficult to tell. I’m glad you’ve come along for the ride.

The Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien tries to find a spot for Nick Pratto next year:

That said, does this mean the Royals will look to trade or perhaps move on from Pratto this offseason? I don’t think so just yet.

First off, much like Brady Singer, Pratto doesn’t hold a lot of value after his rough end to the 2023 season. The Royals would be practically giving him away in any kind of deal, and that’s not smart baseball, especially considering Pratto’s age (still under 25) and prospect pedigree.

Furthermore, prospect development isn’t always linear. Yes, Pratto is struggling now, but he could turn a corner with an adjustment or two. We have seen it all the time with prospects who started slow early on in their careers, only to turn it on and live up to their hype around year three or four.

Patrick Glancy at Powder Blue Nostalgia writes about Royals announcers. I didn’t pick a particularly good quote below - it was all good stuff and worth a read.

The Royals booth in 1985 was composed of three members: Denny Matthews, Denny Trease, and Fred White. It was easy enough to remember, what with the two Dennys. At the time, I thought they were as good as it gets. I still think highly of them.

Trease is kind of the forgotten guy of the trio. He worked exclusively on the TV side, and called Royals games for twelve years. His leading role on television is probably why I remember him so well. I didn’t have the same appreciation for a radio announcer’s craft that I do now, and I just figured that if he was “the man” on TV, that must mean he was the best of the bunch. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was also really good on the mic.

At KOK, Mike Gillespie writes about why the Royals will bring back Jordan Lyles next year:

As strange and illogical as it may seem and sound, need may compel Kansas City to bring Lyles back. The state of the rotation is as uncertain as ever, and he could supply some help of sorts until that rotation stabilizes.

As it stands now, and without significant changes over the winter, only Cole Ragans, and probably Brady Singer, have decent claims to starting spots next season; Ragans’ is a lock, and Singer’s is, assuming he recovers well from the back issue that recently forced him to the Injured List and prematurely ended his season, fairly strong (unless he’s traded, which could happen).

I was going to do this topic a couple of weeks ago when we got our first rain in months, but then I fell down a rabbit hole with generic content and Asian disinformation somehow. That was weird, wasn’t it? Anyway, we were all thrilled for the rain and, while I’m talking specifically about Houston weather there, I think the average Midwestern appreciates weather talk as it’s always newsworthy. So that’s our topic for the day: specifically weather tools.

In third grade, I got to meet our local meteorologist in Corpus Christi for career day as that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. He gave me a bunch of greenbar dot matrix weather maps that I wish I still had today. A quick Google tells me he’s still there today: Dale Nelson, thanks for your time. However, I didn’t go to school for meteorology and am strictly a very casual hobbyist. I’m sure some of you have better tools (I bet Farmhand could best me here) and this isn’t an exhaustive list - but it’s some of the stuff I play with on a weekly basis. Also, all of these are free. There are some awesome tools you can pay for - but I just don’t have a need or expertise. I’ve loosely broken them down into a couple of categories. And I’ve mixed in some Houston (and Kansas) weather lore.


Current Weather

For simplicity, NOAA is probably easiest to get just the facts on the current weather and short term forecast. It has a clean interface and you can get everything you want at a glance. There’s all the current important stats right at the top along with an easy visual 5-day forecast. It has quick links to hourly weather forward and a 3-day history. If you want to read a couple short sentences, the forecast will even go out 10 days.

Yes, the radar could be better placed, but NOAA’s radar is nothing to brag about. In fact, the NOAA radar from a few years ago was better in a number of ways. The current one does a much better job of being able to zoom in - you can see where a storm is down to the street (almost - yes, radar is imperfect). However, we lost a number of other tools like rainfall totals and the windstorm map. One of the scariest things I ever saw on radar is now immortalized on Wikipedia. I used to like to go watch the wind maps when there was a storm so I started getting a sense of what it looked like. The wind map from the first ever EF-5 was terrifying to see on radar. I hoped that it was away from any populated area, but even casual weather people now know that as the Greensburg tornado that leveled the western Kansas town.

Weather Underground used to be top notch and it’s still fine - one of the sites I’ll look at, especially for long term forecasts. But, in 2012, it was acquired by the Weather Channel and has had little development put into it since. The site’s interface is a little different, but the information is almost identical to what they were putting out more than a decade ago. The number of services it provides has decreased rather than increased since the acquisition. It’s almost as if it was bought up to remove competition rather than augment a portfolio. Strange, that.

You’re not going to find any support for AccuWeather here. The Myers brothers are awful for a number of reasons and one glance at their Wikipedia pages should tell you all you need to know. There’s the copious sexual harassment complaints at AccuWeather. There’s the time the Trump administration tried to nominate the CEO brother with the JD (Barry) and not the one with the PhD in Meteorology (Joel) to head NOAA... which I’m sure had nothing to do with them both being long time GOP donors. But, really, it mostly has to do with the time they tried to pass a law in Congress to restrict NOAA from releasing data. If they had their way, we would all have to pay them for repackaging NOAA data, something that should be a free public service since our tax dollars fund NOAA.


Climate Graphs

We’re going to keep going back to NOAA because they have some great products. On a larger scale, each major office has some climate products. When you’re looking at your local forecast, go to the right side under “More Information” and click on the “Local Forecast Office” link. I’m going to brag on the Houston office as they have some great visualization. Does the bar graph look like it belongs on 2002 internet? Yes! But is it still a great way to see just how hot or cold a month has been? Definitely!

If you look at the August graph, you can see just how insanely hot the month was here. Yes, that’s 10 record highs and only 3 days under 100 - easy to see at a glance. FYI: it was the hottest month on record (so, 150 years, give or take) with an average temperature of 91.0 degrees. That’s not the average high - that’s the average temp at any given time in the month. Take a look at the graph again - less than half the days had lows below 80!

I know everyone talks about how awful the weather in Houston, but I think they miss some of the picture. I know I’ve talked on these pages about how summer here is more relentless than it is intense. Generally, there isn’t a single day in June, July, or August that drops below 70. So, yes, at, say, 4 am on the “coolest”, rainiest day of the summer - it’s still 72 and humid as an armpit. Oh, right, we’re also built on a swamp. But those temperatures you saw about - that’s definitely not normal for us. Per wiki:

During the summer, temperatures reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 106.5 days per year, including a majority of days from June to September. Additionally, an average of 4.6 days per year reach or exceed 100 °F (37.8 °C).[95] Houston’s characteristic subtropical humidity often results in a higher apparent temperature, and summer mornings average over 90% relative humidity.


Rainfall (or Lack Thereof)

I mentioned how NOAA lost some of their rainfall capabilities on their maps. Locally, we have the Harris County Flood Control District map to help pick up the slack. It lists rainfall totals at dozens of rain gauges around the city so you can see who got rain or not. For a county as large as Harris, there’s huge variability in rainfall. If you set it to “Rainfall in the last” “1 Month” - you’ll see parts of town getting anywhere from a half inch to almost 12” of rain. Want to see something meteorologically crazy. Go to Rainfall Data -> Historical. Set the date to “before 8/29/2017” and 7 days. In case you haven’t guessed, that’s Harvey. There are some 0s and sub-20s that are broken gauges. But you can see what everyone else got. Here’s the NOAA map that showed every single square inch of Harris county got 25”+ inches of rain during those few days. Also, that frowny face on the map has always made me grimly chuckle.

On the other end of the scale is, yet another NOAA product. You can check out your state level page by entering your zip code. Texas is in bad shape right now. We’ve received about 7 inches of rain over the last couple of weeks and there are still giant cracks in the ground and I’m hoping my foundation is ok. You can see on the Texas map that the Houston area has moved up to “D3 - Extreme Drought” from the “D4 - Exceptional Drought” it’s been in the last month. But it’s going to take even more rain to get us back to normal-ish.

Why did anyone think building a city on a swamp that reaches 90 degrees nearly a third of the year and gets about 50” of rain a year was a good idea? It was timing and luck, more than anything. Galveston was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900. And when I say “destroyed”, it killed over 8000 people and devastated the bustling port city. The next year, oil was discovered at Spindletop, beginning the Texas oil boom, and the Houston Ship Channel began in 1909, taking away much of Galveston’s port traffic.


National Maps

I feel like I’m basically advertising for NOAA at this point, but they are really good at what they do. Another major site to look at is the Storm Prediction Center. Do you have a quirky guy around the office who is like “there’s a decent chance of tornadoes tonight” and you’re like “how do you know that?” This is how.

The Convective Outlooks maps are great. If you want to know “is a tornado going to hit my house” - it won’t help. Weather is simply too hard to predict to that level of granularity with even our best tools. But you want to know what night your local TV is going to be interrupted because there are tornadoes in the area - this is where you find that.

If you ever see red or pink on that map in your area, be careful that day. That typically means there’s a 15-30+% chance of a tornado within 25 miles of any given spot in those areas. Does that mean it’s going to hit your work or house or school? Probably not. Even a 30% chance of a tornado within 25 miles leaves a huge majority of the area unaffected. That’s just the nature of tornadoes: intense but (usually) small path. These warnings are conservative by nature. The areas that were green three days ago regularly turn orange or red as you get closer to the day. If you ever see pink on the “Day 2” or, god forbid, “Day 3” forecast - a multi-tornado outbreak is likely.

Another part of SPC is the Watches and Warnings Map. Want to see where any active tornado, blizzard, or flash flood warnings are in the US? They’re all on this map.

Have you ever heard anyone refer to weather forecasts from “GFS” or “The Euro”? GFS is the US National Weather Service’s forecast computer model while “The Euro” refers to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model. These are the big forecasting computers that a lot of meteorologists use to make their weather predictions. Of course, anyone can read a model run. The real expertise comes in being able to see the flaws in those forecasts or bring years of local knowledge to know what the weather usually does when the forecast looks different.

If you want to play around with forecasts, Tropical Tidbits is great to see model runs from the GFS, Euro, or other models. The default when you go to the page is the pressure and precipitation map. However, if you want to see the temperature forecast, go to Thermodynamics -> 2m Temperature (shaded). Then just click the play button and you can see forecasts up to 16 days out. A word of warning: the further you go out, the less accurate it gets. For instance, for tomorrow’s forecast, if you see rain in the area - you know it’s not going to rain in every square block of the city, but some places will probably get some. Five days out, that rain may or may not form. Ten days out, that front may not even reach you or it might be even stronger than you expect. And fifteen days out - there’s so little signal to extrapolate from that you’re basically just getting a guess of what it usually looks like at that time of the year.


Local Weather Blogs

A great asset for your community is a great local weather blog. There’s a closet industry of great local weather blogs now. I used to read Gary Lezak’s blog in KC, back when few others were writing, though he’s retired now. In Houston, the dominant weather blog is Space City Weather. The lead editor, Eric Berger, used to write for the Houston Chronicle and still writes for Ars Technica. Their motto is “hype-free forecasts” and they do their best to give realistic forecasts to counter the scary local news weather men.

We’re anxiously awaiting out first real cold front of the season. It’s particularly late this year and, stop me if you’ve heard this before, threatening to break the record for the latest in recorded history. Fall Day is a big day here in Houston. Yes, some people will use a low of 62 as an excuse throw on fuzzy boots and drink Pumpkin spice lattes as a reward for surviving another brutal Houston summer. But, even more importantly, we can breathe a sigh of relief as the jet stream has dropped far enough south that it will push tropical storms to our east. We might get the odd short-lived western gulf rainmaker, but the destructive, long-track wind storms are all but done for us for the year.

Guitar Hero is always a good excuse to grab a random song that’s kindof topical. How about Guitar Hero 5’s rendition of “Only Happy When it Rains” by Garbage? If we want to talk about Shirley Manson’s wonderfully robotic yet strangely human turn in the criminally underrated Sarah Connor Chronicles, that’s cool, too.