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Royals Rumblings - News for January 12, 2024

Anyone have a guess as to when it’s going to be above freezing again?

George Brett - Kansas City Royals
The caption says “George Brett - Kansas City Royals”. Is that a young-ish Brett pulling Santa’s beard like he was the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street?

Max already had the story yesterday about none of the Royals going to arbitration. Jaylon Thompson covered the news for the The Star:

Singer will reportedly make $4.85 million in 2024. Meanwhile, Hernandez is set to earn $1.0125 million. The Royals acquired Wright and Anderson from the Atlanta Braves. They will reportedly make $1.8 million and $1.575 million, respectively, per reporter Anne Rogers.

Anne Rogers had the story? Of course she did:

Just a reminder. While it may be cold outside, baseball isn’t far away:

And, apparently, the Royals will even be on national TV. Yay!

While I’m posting Tweets, the Royals announced their lineup for Royals Rally on February 3rd:

One Jeremy Greco (hey, that name sounds familiar) appeared on KSHB to talk about the stadium:

The “Royal’s Rundown” podcast is run by co-hosts Jeremy Greco and Jacob Milham, and multiple times a week they talk Royals.

“I grew up in KC,” Greco said. “The Royals aren’t the winners of the league, they lost 100 games a lot of times the last couple of decades, but it’s so rewarding when they do win, like in 2014 and 2015. It’s the underdog story that keeps me going and a lot of other fans.”

Their podcast’s cover art shows both of them and a Royals bus.

“Jacob is driving the bus and he’s trying to get us where we are going, and I’m a factor of chaos on the podcast and I’m the one who derails the podcast,” said Greco.

When you create your global media empire, don’t forget us little people.

Do we have to talk about the stadium situation some more? Fine. More smoke around the idea of the Kansas City Star building as the location:

Around 5 p.m. that evening, Clay County Commissioner Jason Withington weighed in on X, formerly Twitter.

“Royals call both Clay County and NKC this morning to let us know they’ve put all the chips in on the KC Star building,” part of his post read.

Withington was willing to speak with FOX4 Wednesday.

“They had decided that there was a sizable offer from the city of Kansas City that they couldn’t ignore,” Withington said of the Royals. “So they were going to put all their attention on the city of Kansas City and Jackson County.”

Kevin Barry at Fox4 KC also speculates on what the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) could look like:

The Milwaukee Bucks’s CBA promised an eventual $15 minimum wage for workers while preserving their right to unionize, and promising to hire from zip codes with low employment.

The Tampa Bay Rays are working through their CBA right now, but it could come with billions of dollars of investment in an 86-acre development that will bring affordable house, retail, office space, a hotel, and a Black history museum.

The Buffalo Bills’ CBA is getting criticized for its pledge to give $3 million to unspecified community projects over 30 years in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in public money with what critics say is limited oversight and accountability for where that money will go.

I know it’s a little late, but Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a really nice obituary for former Royal Billy Gardner, who passed last week.

William Frederick “Billy” Gardner — born in New London, Conn., on June 19, 1927, raised in nearby Waterford, died there last Wednesday at 96 — rates as my second all-time favorite baseball personality, standing on the podium between Tony Oliva and Kirby Puckett.

I can offer no greater compliment than this:

Slick Gardner was our baseball “Burnsie,” and Jerry Burns had to be amidst us here in Minnesota for decades to attain his “All-Time Great Character” status, not a mere five years as Gardner did.

I think we’ve got enough for a blog section this week.

David Lesky takes a stab at roster construction:

Here’s where I’m still predicting a trade. I haven’t deleted that Melendez trade newsletter draft yet because I just think it makes too much sense. Maybe it doesn’t happen, but they have too many no-glove corner outfielders and not enough guys who can hit and catch it. Can they find someone to fit that? I don’t know, but I still do think Melendez goes. Waters could also get moved, which would open up a center field platoon for Blanco, but there’s a darkhorse to get traded in Velazquez if a team really buys the power and pays a premium. The Royals like him a lot, but everyone has a price.

Kevin O’Brien looks at NRIs:

Which Relief Pitching Prospect Makes His MLB Debut?

Christian Chamberlain, Walter Pennington, and Beck Way

Chamberlain, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon State in the 2020 MLB Draft has some of the most explosive stuff in the Royals organization. Last year, he posted K rates of 36% in Northwest Arkansas and 28% in Omaha, both impressive percentages.

Unfortunately, he struggled with control in a massive way, especially when he made the transition to Triple-A. After posting a 16.2% BB rate and 19.9% K-BB% with the Naturals, he saw that BB rate jump to 22.4% and K-BB% fall to 5.6% with the Storm Chasers in 26 outings and 24.1 IP. That, and his 8.51 ERA in Omaha, were big reasons why he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster this offseason despite being Rule 5-eligible.

Nonetheless, if he can polish up his control and build on some positive momentum from this non-roster invite to Spring Training, it’s possible that Chamberlain could make his MLB debut, though it probably won’t be on Opening Day.

Blog Roundup:

Ok, I cheated - that last one doesn’t really go into the roundup:

This leads me to my next subject, the stadiums themselves. I’ve been going to the K for nearly forty years now, and there’s something special about each visit. I suppose I might be jaded if I’d gotten to go more often, but as a kid, it was a once a year event. (Maybe twice, if we were lucky.) I do go more often as an adult, but this has not diminished the ballpark. The K is my happy place.

I love almost everything about it. The iconic CrownVision scoreboard looming over centerfield. The fountains set it apart from every other ballpark, and not only do they provide a spectacular visual, but it’s also nice to feel a cool mist drifting over your seats if you’re sitting in the outfield on a hot day. No other ballpark can offer that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried to visit as many other ballparks as possible on our travels in recent years, and hopefully I’ll knock out more in the years to come. They all have their charms. I’m quite partial to Coors Field, and Wrigley Field was an almost religious experience for a baseball history nerd like myself. Even though my instinct is to withhold praise for anything related to the St. Louis Cardinals, I enjoyed Busch Stadium and this last summer we caught a game in Milwaukee. Heck, I even like going to minor league parks and my son’s little league field. I don’t even have to be there to appreciate it. I could look at pictures of the Polo Grounds with its giant Chesterfield Cigarettes display for hours on end.

Compared to other sports venues, which tend to have a great deal of uniformity, baseball stadiums revel in their architectural individuality. This worries me as the Royals take steps to leave Kauffman behind. Even if they find a way to incorporate the CrownVision and fountains, the new place will never be the same as Kauffman, and no stadium will ever be my stadium in the same way as the K. I suppose I should do my best to appreciate it while I still can and take solace in the knowledge that certain elements of the stadium experience are universal.

As promised last week, I might have some movie reviews coming up. I also promised there might be Christmas movie reviews, even if we’re past Christmas. I’m also going to try and keep these short-ish.

Elf (2003) - I resisted watching this for the longest time because I really don’t like Will Ferrell. Is it over the top in parts? Sure. Is there some stuff that hasn’t aged as well? Does the ending make even the slightest bit of sense? Not really. However, it could have gone the wrong way a number of times, but, each time, Jon Favreau and the cast did a great job keeping it earnest and charming, rather than cynical or too over-the-top. I was doing myself a disservice by avoiding it: Ferrell is absolutely perfect, just like he was as Ron Burgundy. The movie rightfully earns its spot as the most modern holiday classic.

Home Alone (1990) - Unlike Elf, we didn’t show this one to our son yet - probably next year. It’s more of a mixed bag for age appropriateness. Macaulay Culkin was fantastic. You really believe all of his child emotions from being mad to sad to competent to scared to his little sadistic streak. I mean, his family is just a giant bunch of jerks. Not even like comically so - just awful. I know we’re supposed to root for her, but Catherine O’Hara’s character is still pretty awful if you take a step back. The Old Man Marley plot is wonderful through and through. I could watch John Candy improving at scale for hours (though apparently, he was bitter about it later). The last half hour is a rougher watch than when I was younger. Sure, it’s Looney Tunes-style violence, but Kevin really is awful to the Wet Bandits. Still, it’s definitely a holiday classic.

Home Alone 2 (1992) - Is there a more sequel movie that’s ever been made, complete with all the positives and negatives of a sequel. Remember those characters you liked in the first movie? They’re back, so you don’t need to waste time on character introductions. There’s even some new ones like Tim Curry, Dana Ivey, and Rob Schneider. To their credit, Culkin, Pesci, and Stern aren’t the typical sequel caricatures that characters often become. The premise of forgetting Kevin this time mostly works, even as they wink into the camera at how contrived it is. But it’s just so clearly transparent that they copied so many elements from the first movie and shoehorned them into a sequel for a shameless cash grab. Same bad guys in a new place, another “forgotten” old person, and another trap laden house. But it’s got to all be even bigger and more over the top: the house scenes are even more violent than the first, Buzz’s character turn isn’t believable, and all of the subplots (except maybe the Duncan’s Toy Chest one) are just so shallow. It’s not awful but it just didn’t need to be made.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) - I have only seen it a couple of times - it’s just hard for me with my modern attention span to sit down and watch something older. However, this one really holds up. From afar, it has a saccharine coating but it’s darker than its reputation and many of the scenes have a lot of heft. I wonder if, upon its release, it had the generational quality that Forrest Gump would mine decades later: slices of life from a small city in the roaring 20s to the Great Depression and his Bailey Park battle with Potter before sliding into World War II. What else can I add that hasn’t already been said about Jimmy Stewart or Frank Capra or this classic movie?

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Similar to its contemporary above, I haven’t seen it very many times. Elf borrowed a lot of its earnestness from this template. Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, and Edmund Gwenn are all great. While It’s a Wonderful Life appears on a number of “best movie of all time” lists, this one is more comfortable on “best Christmas movie” lists. Some of the psychological scenes and the court drama drag ever so slightly. But its sentiment shines through and there’s a reason people are still watching it decades later.

Migration (2023) - See? I kept my word. There’s a non-holiday movie in here. This movie existed. There was nothing terribly wrong with it, but nothing great about it, either. It was so very generic. The beats in the plot were predictable, though the chef was a reasonably creative antagonist. The writing was, well, mediocre - it wasn’t bad, per se, but it was just there. Though it had little annoyances like not following simple literary rules. For instance, there are 5 major family members and each one should have had a “coming of age” or “quest”, but only 3 of the 5 did so it feels unbalanced. That said, it served its purpose: it wasn’t bad and it was somewhere to take all the kids on Christmas Day and give everyone else a break. And it’s not like Wish looked any better.

How about some John Williams? This is the “Theme from Home Alone (Somewhere in My Memory)”: