Motown Mowdown: Royals Win Series Over Tigers

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Sure, there are series’ that are ho-hum and feel like just another day at the office. Then there are ones that are more important, or at least important to the mind. As we speak the Detroit Tigers are in last place in the American League Central, a once strong powerhouse now turned into a tamed kitty. Over the last five years we have seen the Tigers spank the Royals on such a regular basis that most of us got used to the routine. But the last two years have been a different story, as Kansas City has held their own and even taken a number of important games from the Tigers. So to say it felt good this week to see the Royals take two of three from Detroit would be an understatement. To see Kansas City pound the ‘Boys from Motown’ well, that felt great. Two blowouts of a division rival is enough to put the biggest smile on any fans face. So how did we get here? All it took was some solid all around baseball to get to your answer.

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Series MVP: Kendrys Morales   

There was some tough competition for this honor, as Lorenzo Cain and Ben Zobrist both put up some hefty numbers in these last three games. But Kendrys Morales was an offensive juggernaut against Detroit, going 8 for 14 with 2 home runs, 8 RBI’s, a BAbip of .600 and raised his OPS over 20 points. The first of his two home runs was hit on Tuesday night, in the Royals one loss in this series:

Morales would get another deep blast on Wednesday night, driving in 3 runs that night.

He came just a few feet short of a third home run in this series on Thursday, but had to settle for a double and 4 RBI’s. Morales is currently sitting at 98 RBI’s with four weeks left in the season but I can almost guarantee he won’t reach the all-time leader for RBI’s by a Royals designated hitter. Hal McRae owns that honor, driving in 133 runs back in 1982. Morales has shown this year that he still has some gas left in the tank(I will fess up to being one that thought he had begun his regression) and has been a vital cog in the middle of this Royals batting order. Morales has been hot as of late(.327/.417/.635 over these last two weeks) and hopefully he can continue this hot streak all the way into October.

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Pitching Performance of the Series: Yordano Ventura  

Most concerns about Yordano Ventura were alleviated with his start on Wednesday night, a start that showcased just how dominate he can be. Ventura went 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run while walking 1 and striking out 11. That is two consecutive starts that ‘Ace’ has struck out 11, a feat only duplicated by a few other Royals:

In fact Ventura has looked more like the pitcher we envisioned he would be this year over his last five starts, stringing together some numbers that can put a smile on even the most pessimistic fan’s face:

In some ways he just made the Tigers hitters look silly:

The most impressive part of his outing was how Ventura was able to mix his curveball and change-up in with his electric fastball. In fact, Ventura used his fastball only 57% of the time, while his curve was used 25% and the change-up 16%. Going back to the end of July and Ventura was using his fastball more(62%) while only using his curve sparingly(14%), even throwing in a few cutter’s. When Yordano has a good feel for his off-speed pitches he can set batters up with his fastball and then get them by throwing something off-speed. He has been able to do that a lot more this past month and if this is the Ventura we see the rest of the season, he easily locks down a spot in the postseason rotation.

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Down Goes Detroit! Down Goes Detroit!

The Royals offense is a curious thing. It’s not nearly as bi-polar as in year’s past, but it still has their moments. Then there are games like Wednesday and Thursday, where the Royals bats were so hot that I expected to see smoke rising off of them. Kansas City was able to get Detroit’s starters out of both games early, leaving the Tigers bullpen to try and stop the bleeding. Problem is, the Tigers pen is one of the worst in baseball. The Tigers pen has a -0.3 WAR so far this year(28th in baseball), 2nd highest FIP, 71% LOB percentage(26th in baseball) and an ERA of 4.76, the 2nd highest in baseball and highest in the American League.

So you can see why the Royals eyes got larger and feasted on this atrocity of a bullpen. It should be no surprise why Morales, Cain, Cuthbert, Orlando and Zobrist all contributed with home runs in this series and why the offensive numbers were off the table for these three games. In years past Detroit has been able to get away with a creaky bullpen due to their solid rotation and aggressive hitting. Now that some of those key parts have been traded and the team has had to deal with injuries, that pen becomes a giant bullseye for all teams to target. Knock out the Tigers starters and you have a good chance of picking up a ‘W’.

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Plenty of more goodness coming from this series win for the Royals. Brace yourself; time to spill out some news and notes from this first week of September:

  • Alex Gordon was activated on Tuesday, which was great news for those of us that worried Gordon would be lost for the rest of the season when he went down back in July. Instead, he made a quick recovery and got a heroes ovation in his first at bat back:

He would get a sac fly in that at bat, helping put Kansas City on the board. Gordon is a big part of this Royals team and having his back is nothing but a plus. It appears he will be batting 6th most of the time this month, but don’t be surprised if we see him hitting leadoff come October:

It’s great to have Alex back but if you want to understand the true depth of this team, check this out:

It’s almost like the Royals didn’t miss a beat. It does appear as if Alex will be rested fairly often, as he has been in the lineup about every other day since Tuesday. I am totally on board with this, as we want him as rested as possible before October rolls around. So yes, I am excited Gordon is back. But I’m not the only one:

  • The Royals beefed up their bench on Monday with an acquisition of Jonny Gomes from Atlanta:

Gomes has postseason experience and will mostly see action against left handers, as per his success against them:

He also isn’t too shabby playing at ‘The K’:

If things got bad enough, he could even fill in out of the bullpen:

He also can fight off a pack of wolves:

Good acquisition by Dayton Moore, as Gomes could be a solid bat off the bench in the playoffs. It also appears as if this trade was made because of the uncertainty of Alex Rios’ condition. Speaking of…

  • Word trickled out on Tuesday that Rios and Kelvin Herrera both came down with a case of chickenpox:

It’s a little unclear how this affects the team going forward. It looks like both players will be cleared to return in about another week, but chickenpox is much worse if you get it as an adult:

So it will be interesting to see if there is a period where Rios and Herrera play at not quite full speed. The good news is that it appears no one else on the team came down with the illness. It also appears as if we don’t have to worry about Morales and Gomes:

  • The September call-ups have begun:

There is a good chance we see quite a bit out of these guys, as manager Ned Yost rests his regulars throughout this month. It also appears this could be all we see of players recalled from the minors:

Some of these players have already become a necessity. All saw action in this series and Cuthbert saw starts in the last two games:

It also helps when you blow the other team out of the water for two straight nights. Just saying.

  • Justin Verlander started against the Royals Tuesday and was coming off of his one-hit effort against the Angels last week. But Verlander has a history with Kansas City:

Verlander went 6.2 innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs(2 earned) while walking 1 and striking out 4. The Royals didn’t dominate him but you could also say the same about Verlander. Maybe it’s because the two teams play each other so much, but it definitely seems like the Royals are not fooled by Verlander. Verlander might look more like the Verlander of old, but the Royals are not impressed.

  • The Royals celebrated their ‘Franchise Four’, which was selected by the fans before the All-Star game this summer. George Brett, Frank White, Bret Saberhagen and Dan Quisenberry were chosen for this honor and it was great to see three of the honorees on the field this week:

All four men hold a special place in my fandom, as they were all prevalent stars when I began watching baseball in the 1980’s. It was also great to see Frank White out there, as he has been at odds with Royals management over the years and has only been at a few games since his firing a few years ago. I had been asked when this voting was going on who my four would be, and this was who I chose. I think there are legitimate arguments for the likes of Willie Wilson, Kevin Appier and Amos Otis, but I think the fans chose the right four. Hopefully we get to see White return next month to throw out a first pitch before a playoff game. Yes, fingers are crossed.

  • Finally, Johnny Cueto struggled in his start on Tuesday, the third straight start he has had issues. There was lots of concern about Cueto, but I’m not one of them. If he looked like he was compensating on the mound for an injury, or even had a loss of velocity I would have my worries. But it appears his problems are purely location:

Dave Eiland has already worked with Cueto and they think they have fixed an issue with his arm slot. Remember, three starts is a small sample size and while it is a bit concerning, we are talking about one of the best pitchers of the last four years:

Now, if he struggles again this weekend…

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Tweets of Royalty

Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates with Salvador Perez after Cain hit a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

So 29 games remain in this regular season for the boys in blue and the magic number continues to dwindle:

Most of us have been in a playoff frame of mind for awhile now, but Kansas City not only has to lock down the Central, but also home field advantage in the playoffs. Regulars will be rested during this month, but they also need to keep their eyes on the prize. The White Sox are headed into Kauffman Stadium this weekend to take on the Royals and while they haven’t performed up to expectations this year, they have given the Royals fits throughout the year. Kind of like that gnat that lingers and won’t go away, no matter how often you shoo it away. So by no means will this be an easy series. At this point, every win is another game closer to lowering that magic number. There will also be a battle for the 4th starter spot for the playoffs, which at this point looks to be between Kris Medlen and Danny Duffy. Three games up, hopefully at least two go in the win column. Steady wins the race, as has been the case all year for the Kansas City Royals.

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The Pine Tar Game

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Today marks the 32nd Anniversary of the infamous ‘Pine Tar Game’ between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. To celebrate this memorable game, I decided to watch the entire game. I realized once I started, that watching a game from 1983 was amusing to say the least. So with that said, here is a thoughts column on a game that will forever live in baseball lore.

  • Ooooooo, 80’s graphics! My son couldn’t grasp why the graphics were so bad. I told him that was the best we had at the time. He said that was sad.
  • Bert Campaneris was still playing in 1983?
  • The Yankees announcers are horrid. Yes, it was a different period, and I realize that. But it’s amazing to listen to just how bad the commentary was back in this era. There is literally no statistical analysis at all. In fact, Phil Rizzuto has discussed so far moustaches, buttons on the jersey and the tobacco in Leon Roberts mouth. The sad part is they are probably on par with Steve Physioc. Yes, Phys is that bad.
  • I realized this when I watched the 1985 World Series recently, but I have really gotten used to having all the information on the screen during the game. The only part that drives me crazy is not being able to see the score and outs at all times! We sometimes tease that there can be too much information on the screen but at the same time it has become a vital part of our baseball watching experience.
  • Steve Balboni without a moustache is blasphemous. Although without the lip hair he has a passing resemblance to John Belushi.
  • U.L. Washington still has his toothpick in his mouth. The. Entire. Time.
  • I almost forgot Don Slaught spent some time in Kansas City. I keep picturing Slaught with that guard covering his face after he had gotten hit in the face later in his career.
  • Since I didn’t see Dave Winfield until later in his career, I think I forgot just how crazy athletic he was. He is playing center field in this game and a few innings in it makes total sense.
  • Trash talking on Municipal Stadium in Cleveland…beautiful!
  • John Wathan should be in the Royals Hall of Fame. Yes, Wathan wasn’t a great player, but he was a solid part of these Royals teams in the 80’s and has stayed in the organization throughout the years, whether he was managing or scouting. To me, Wathan is a guy transcends any numbers he compiled in his career.
  • Frank White was pretty damn graceful on defense. I don’t think I am saying anything you didn’t already know.
  • There is a lot more discussion in the broadcast about strategy and I like that. Part of the beauty of baseball is the mental back and forth that goes on between the two teams as they decide what is their best move in a close game.
  • Skoal Bandit tote bag day at Yankee Stadium? Pretty sure you wouldn’t get a tobacco company to sponsor any giveaway at the stadium in this day and age.
  • Lou Piniella(seriously, I thought he had retired yyyyyyyyyears before this) made a catch that was very reminiscent of Nori Aoki. In fact the route Piniella took was straight out of Aoki’s playbook.
  • There has been some talk about the Royals needing pitching. Within a year of this game, the Royals would have Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, two young pitchers in their farm system, in the majors. By 1985 you can add Danny Jackson to that list. Pitching was a big part of that 1985 championship team.
  • There aren’t enough pitchers who throw sidearm in the majors these days. Take note, youngsters.
  • Don Baylor scares me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley in the 80’s. I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t want to today.
  • Let’s go to replay…oh yeah, they don’t have that yet…
  • Every generic 80’s song used for these games used a synthesizer. People loved their moog’s back in the 80’s.
  • Amos Otis might be one of the most underrated players in Royals history. He wouldn’t quite be on the Royals ‘Mount Rushmore’, but he would be pretty damn close.
  • Don Mattingly as a defensive replacement? Wonder if Balboni was higher on their depth chart in 1983.
  • I know it’s Rizzuto, but do you need to ask whether or not Willie Mays Aikens was named after Willie Mays?
  • Brett vs. Gossage is such a classic matchup. Is the modern day equivalent Aroldis Chapman vs. Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?
  • Brett just seemed so locked in there against Goose. It seemed like no matter what Brett was going to drive a pitch during that at bat.
  • If you are a lip reader, don’t watch George’s mouth after he runs out. I noticed a plethora of four letter words spewing from his mouth.

 

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The funny thing about this game is that this situation will never happen again. The whole reason the pine tar rule was even in the rulebook was so the tar wouldn’t muck up the baseballs. Having pine tar on the bat does absolutely nothing to the ball if hit. This game is now one of the most famous games in history and will probably be discussed for hundreds of years to come. If you want to know more about the game, there is a new book out this week called “The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, The New York Yankees and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy” by Filip Bondy. You can get it on Amazon by clicking here. You can also watch this game in its entirety down below. Trust me, it is worth your time.

 

Fading Starling

Bubba Starling signing and press conference

It is fairly safe to say that there is no greater crap-shoot in sports than the Major League Baseball Draft. Unlike the other main sports, determining whether a high school or college baseball player will be able to make all the transitions from level to level isn’t as easy as how fast they run or how hard they throw. Guys who look like total locks end up being average players at best and some don’t even make it to the big leagues. With that in mind, former Royals first round pick Bubba Starling has gone from bona-fide prospect to giant question mark, all in just a few years.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS 2012 SPRING TRAINING

Starling was the first round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals(5th overall selection) in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. Starling graduated from Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas, just a shake and a wiggle away from Kansas City. He had been widely considered as one of the most athletic players in the draft and him being in the Royals backyard rated him higher within the Royals organization. Some believed the Royals felt burned when Albert Pujols played nearby at Maple Woods Community College and was passed over. To be fair, so did pretty much every other team, as Pujols wasn’t drafted until the 13th round of the 1999 Amateur Draft. So the Royals didn’t want to let Bubba get away, especially with the story that could be told when he reached the majors. The thought was ‘Local Boy Becomes Star Outfielder for Royals’ seemed like a great story that could be profited from. After a long back and forth for Starling(as he decided between signing with Kansas City or playing football at Nebraska) , he signed with the Royals to a contract with a $7.5 million signing bonus. Now it was time to play ball.

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Bubba would begin his pro career in 2012 at the age of 19. That year Baseball Prospectus would rank Starling as the 27th best prospect in baseball, a huge honor to a kid just beginning his career. Unfortunately 2012 didn’t turn out the way most hoped, and by 2013 he fell to the 49th best prospect in baseball. This year Baseball Prospectus didn’t even rank him. It is still early in his career, but questions are already being asked. He struck out more than 25% of his at bats in 2013 and there is concern about his inability to read breaking pitches. There is a hitch in his swing which could be affecting this. He does seem to be improving his walk ratio, which is good considering his high strikeout rate. His numbers haven’t been glowing either early on this season:

Year              Age    AgeDif         Tm   Lg Lev Aff   G  PA  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
2012               19      -1.2 Burlington APPY  Rk KCR  53 232 200 35  55  8  2 10  33 10  1 28  70 .275 .371 .485 .856  97   2   3  0  1   2
2013               20      -1.6  Lexington SALL   A KCR 125 498 435 51 105 21  4 13  63 22  3 53 128 .241 .329 .398 .727 173   8   6  0  4   1
2014               21      -2.0 Wilmington CARL  A+ KCR  17  74  60  8   8  4  0  1   6  1  0  9  24 .133 .284 .250 .534  15   0   4  0  1   0
3 Seasons   3 Seasons 3 Seasons               3 Seasons 195 804 695 94 168 33  6 24 102 33  4 90 222 .242 .337 .410 .747 285  10  13  0  6   3
But there is more. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus had this to say just the other day about Starling:

https://twitter.com/ProfessorParks/status/458655355166531584

The picture that has been drawn is one of a prospect who has amazing raw skills(power, speed, agility) but hasn’t seemed to start putting them together yet. Royals GM Dayton Moore isn’t too worried, and in a lot of ways he is right. Starling will be 22 in August, so one breakout season this year or next could elevate him in most people’s eyes. Speaking of eyes, Bubba got the famous LASIK surgery almost a year ago, as the feeling was maybe his eyes were part of the problem. So far that doesn’t seem the case, but Eric Hosmer also got that surgery and he didn’t start reaping the benefits until the following season of said surgery.

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So where does this leave Starling and his future with the Royals? As of now they seem content with him taking the slow climb up the minor league ladder. It’s conceivable that if he starts to take off this year he could be advanced to AA Northwest Arkansas. But that seems to be a big ‘if’ considering how Bubba has produced so far in the minors. As much as the Royals and the Kansas City community are rooting for Starling to live up to the hype, it’s possible he won’t reach expectations. It’s unfortunate, considering he would be the second top ten draft pick during the Dayton Moore era to not be a regular for the Royals(Christian Colon would be the other). Luckily for him, this book has many chapters left in it. At this point though, it looks like instead of his abilities being more in line with Amos Otis, Starling might be closer to Mitch Maier. It goes to show you that there are no guarantees when it comes to the MLB Player Draft. Crap-shoot, indeed.

 


			

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

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If you have been a fan of the Kansas City Royals for as long as I have been(or even longer), you are well aware that the teams they trotted out in the late 70’s and early 80’s were overloaded with talent. Sure, everyone knows about George Brett and Frank White. Most will have heard about Willie Wilson or Dan Quisenberry. Real diehards will mention Amos Otis and Dennis Leonard as key players to Kansas City’s success. But a key cog in the Royals machine for most of those years(and a man who has always been taken for granted) was Hal McRae. In fact, it might be safe to say McRae and his hitting was almost as vital as Brett’s for a lot of those Royals teams.

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McRae’s professional career began in 1965, as he was drafted in the 6th round of the amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds, the 117th overall pick. It’s hard to believe, but at one point Hal was a speedster, a center fielder that could cover a lot of ground. Before the 1969 season though, McRae suffered a multiple leg fracture in the Winter League and he went from being a player who could fly to just being of average speed. As much as the injury hurt his speed, what really hurt Hal in Cincinnati was the pool of talent the Reds were accumulating, a team that would soon be referred to as “The Big Red Machine”. The Reds at that point had an outfield of Cesar Geronimo(who would end up in Royal blue in 1981), Bobby Tolan and some guy named Pete Rose. With George Foster also in the picture, the Reds found McRae expendable and dealt him to Kansas City after the 1972 season. McRae didn’t instantly show Cincy that they had made a mistake, as he would struggle in his first season with the Royals, hitting .234 in 106 games.

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It’s safe to say though that the 1974 season was Hal’s coming out party. McRae would play in 148 of the Royals games, hitting .310 with an .850 OPS and a 3.9 WAR. McRae fit perfectly in the Royals lineup, a contact hitter who didn’t hit for a lot of power but got on base and drove in runs. Kauffman Stadium(at the time known as Royals Stadium) has always been known as a good park for gap hitters, and back in the 70’s it was even better with the artificial turf. McRae would also spend a lot of his playing time at DH, a fairly new position that was somewhat looked down upon. McRae would embrace the role and some would say became a pioneer for the position.

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1976 would be a banner year for Hal, as he continued his hot hitting. In fact, McRae was leading the league in hitting going into the final game of the season, with teammate George Brett and Minnesota Twin Rod Carew right behind him. Brett would go 2 for 4 and clinch the batting title by a margin of less than .001. McRae was not happy though, as he felt the Twins had conspired to help George win the title. Twins left fielder Steve Brye would misplay a fly ball in the 9th inning that helped Brett win, a move that McRae felt was racially motivated. McRae was so incensed that as he headed back to the dugout after getting out in his final at bat, he would turn toward the Twins dugout and flip the bird toward Twins manager Gene Mauch. A scuffle would ensue, and McRae would let his feelings be known after the game:

“Things have been like this a long time. They’re changing gradually. They shouldn’t be this way, but I can accept it.” […] “I know what happened. It’s been too good a season for me to say too much, but I know they let that ball fall on purpose.”

McRae was never one to be shy or not let his feelings known, and this would be one of those moments. Overall, McRae had a great season in 1976, as he would get picked for his second straight All-Star team and ended up fourth in the MVP voting. 1976 was also the first year that DH was his primary position. Things were definitely looking up for McRae.

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The rest of the 70’s McRae put up solid numbers, even if they weren’t quite at the peak of his 1976 season. McRae would lead the league in doubles in 1977 and continued to be a solid run producer for the Royals. Hal would also be known for being an aggressive base runner. So aggressive in fact that the rule that states a runner must slide into second base to break up a double play is known as the “Hal McRae Rule”. McRae was known to cross body block infielders while sliding into second, which many players had learned to avoid.

Oakland A's v Kansas City Royals

Injuries had started taking their toll on Hal starting in the late 70’s and continuing into the early 80’s. After appearing in only 101 games in 1979, McRae came back in 1980 and was a vital part of the Royals team that would make their first World Series appearance. He would lose close to 40 games to injuries that year, but still put up solid numbers that many had started expecting from him. After having a rough ALCS that year, Hal would have a very good World Series, hitting at a .375 clip, with 9 hits and an OPS of .923. It wouldn’t be enough as the Royals would fall to the Phillies in six games.

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1982 would see McRae stay healthy, which helped him have a season that would rival 1976. Hal would hit over .300, put up his highest OPS of his career(.910), hit the most home runs of his career(27) and lead the league in both doubles(46) and RBI’s(133). The Royals would not make the playoffs that year, but it wasn’t because of Hal. This would garner him with another All-Star nod, a Silver Slugger Award, and fourth place in the MVP voting.

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1983 would see another solid season from McRae as he would play in all but 5 games for the Royals that year. Injuries would return though in 1984 and so would the regression expected at his age(he turned 39 in the middle of the ’84 season). Hal would appear in just a shade over 100 games in both 1984 and 1985 and his hitting took a hit as well. McRae would hit about .260 for both the ’85 season and the ALCS that year, and with no DH in the World Series that year, McRae would see only pinch hitting duty. The Royals would finally get their first(and only) World Series title that year and luckily he got to be a part of that. But it had become apparent that he was nearing the end of his career.

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1986 would be McRae’s last full season in the big leagues, appearing in only 112 games and hitting a paltry .252. The man who had once been a major cog of the Kansas City Royals machine was nearing the end, and on July 17, 1987, he would play his final game in the majors. During his 19-year career, McRae put up some very strong numbers, numbers that even today he should be proud of. Hal would be a career .290 hitter, with over 1000 RBI’s and close to 500 doubles. He would rack up a career OPS+ of 123 and a career WAR of 27.9. Maybe his biggest accomplishment though was his embracing of being the DH and realizing that a career could be made just batting. As guys like Harold Baines and Edgar Martinez would do later on, McRae would not let injuries end his career and in fact helped him flourish. McRae helped make it easier for players to play the majority of their games at DH, as he showed that you could actually make a career out of it.

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With his playing career over, Hal would return to Kansas City’s dugout in 1991, this time as the team’s manager. Much like his playing career, he was hard-nosed and expected the same from his players. McRae would actually turn into a good manager for the Royals and in 1994 had the team playing their best baseball since the late ’80’s. The Royals were making a run at the playoff spot that season before the strike hit and ruined the Royals hopes. When the strike went down on August 12th, the Royals were only four games out of the American League Central and half a game out of a Wildcard spot. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and McRae would be fired before the 1995 season would get underway. But before this happened, there was one defining moment during Hal’s run as Royals manager. It might be one of the greatest post-game blowups of all time. Words cannot do this justice. Just watch:

Just epic. All these years later and people still flock to that meltdown. To clarify, McRae didn’t even think about pinch hitting Keith Miller for George Brett. Actually just typing that makes me agree with Hal. Who would pinch hit for #5, even late in his career? By the way, my favorite part of that is the twirly bird. Fantastic.

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McRae would manage one more team before it was all said and done, managing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for a couple of seasons in the earlier 2000’s. McRae would also show up as the hitting coach over the years for the Reds, Phillies and Cardinals and was St. Louis’ hitting coach in 2006 when they would win the World Series, McRae’s second ring. As far as I know, McRae is out of baseball now, but I can’t help but feel like he could help a team. I hope when everyone thinks of those great Royals teams of the ’70’s and ’80’s, they remember that McRae was a big part of them and in fact they probably wouldn’t have gone as far without Hal. His tough as nails style rubbed off on his teammates and pushed them to be better. Between that and his being a pioneer for the Designated Hitter, McRae has more than enough to be proud of when looking back at his career.

Sure, Your Promotional Schedule is Okay, But…

promotionsYep, I’m one of those fans. Every year when the baseball schedule comes out, I eagerly await the promotional schedule put out by the Kansas City Royals, and to a degree, base my going to the ballpark around it. There are exceptions, but if there is something I really want, I make sure to try and be at that game. Looking at the 2013 promotional schedule, I felt very underwhelmed. Sure, the Billy Butler bobblehead is a fantastic idea, and should have been done a long time ago. I always love when the A’s come to town and the Royals pay homage to the old Kansas City A’s. But looking past those items this year, the promotions are sorely lacking. Does any self respecting fan think they need a mustard, relish and ketchup bobblehead? They would just seem out of place on my shelf with Carlos Beltran and Joakim Soria. A cooler that looks like a gun case? A scarf on Mother’s Day? To save Royals management, I, free of charge, will give them some ideas for promotions. Granted, the schedule has already been made, but these can be used in the future. Or you can make your own. Whatever. I just came up with ideas. Here we go.

1) Mike Moustakas Powder Blue Dirt Shirt

mooseYou might be wondering what this even means. Well, as you can tell from the above picture, Mike “Moose” Moustakas is known for getting quite dirty while out on the field. To celebrate his likeness with Pigpen, the Royals could have a powder blue shirt for Moose with dirt on the shirt. Well, not REAL dirt, but it would look like dirt. The Royals did this a few years ago with a George Brett shirt, putting what looked like pine tar on a powder blue shirt. It looked like this:

Brett_shirtPretty cool, huh? Do this same kind of shirt with Moose, add some dirt, and the fans will flock. It also promotes one of your younger fan favorites, which they should be pushing more, in my opinion. If that doesn’t work, make a Moose stuffed animal that when you press its feet it makes the “Moooooooose” cheer you hear from the fans at the ballpark.

2)Anything with Bo Jackson

bo_openingdayAll these years later, and Bo Jackson is just as wildly popular in Kansas City as he was during his prime. Bo knows popularity. ESPN’s 30 for 30 on Bo was one of the most talked about in a long time and brought Bo back to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Jackson even made an appearance in Kansas City at the celebrity softball game during the All Star Game festivities this past year. So what better time to jump on the Bo bandwagon then now? Now, what you do with the promotion doesn’t matter. Bo sells himself. Bo knows variety. Bo bobblehead. Bo replica jersey. Bo camo hat(I think Bo would dig this). Bo cooler. Bo doggy outfit for Bark at the Park day. Make Bo show up to race mustard, ketchup, and relish(seriously, who thinks they can outrun Bo??). Bo knows condiments. You literally could do anything involving Bo Jackson, and it would be a winner. Jackson was one of the most popular players in Royals history, so it seems only fitting to somehow make him a promotion at some point. Safe to say I will be at the ballpark that day. Bo knows Sean still thinks he is great.

3) Negro League Video Night

negroleaguesbaseballmuseum006aalrOne promotion that is always a plus for Kansas City is the night they honor the Negro Leagues. The players dress up in the old uniforms, and throughout the night they honor the old Negro League players. But with the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, they can take it a step further. Put together a video of the history of the Negro Leagues. Give it away to the first 5,000-10,000 fans that come to the ballpark. Make them realize not only how fascinating this era was but how great these players really were. This is a win/win, as the Royals get a great promotional night, while putting out some plugs for the museum. This should be a partnership that helps both sides and seems like a perfect match.

4) Girls Night Out Photo Night(AKA Quit being drunk ass idiots at the ballpark)

7-2220girlsThe Royals Girls Night Out is one of the team’s highest attended promotions. It is also one that I dread every year. Every year, a bunch of women flock to Kaufman Stadium for this yearly event and a large portion end up sloppy messes by the end of the night. Sure, who doesn’t love their women to be loud, abrasive and completely unaware of their surroundings? I’m sorry, but when I got to a ballgame, I want to sit back, enjoy the action and pay attention to what is happening on the field. On Girls Night Out, that isn’t possible. No, on Girls Night Out, I have to listen to these drunk women blather on about their pitiful lives and how men have done them wrong. Then, if you are sitting anywhere near them, you have to get up every 10-15 minutes to let them out so they can either go pee/get more drinks/find their other friends who can’t find them. I’m sorry your bladder is full, Cindy Jo, but can I please just watch the damn game? So my idea is to have a photo night about a month before Girls Night Out, handing out photos to all these women, showing them for the drunken messes they were the previous year. Sure, it probably won’t do any good. I mean, they will probably just find it funny and continue to make a horse’s ass out of themselves like they do every year. But maybe, just maybe–someone will realize how embarrassing it is and decide to stop after two beers instead of seven. I can only pray. I just want to watch the game. That is why we pay for a ticket, correct?

5) More Bobblehead Nights(of actual players, not condiments)

royalsbobbleheads Anyone who knows me knows that I love bobbleheads. Baseball bobbleheads are even better. Over the years, the Royals bobbleheads have been fantastic, and if you take a second to hop on over to ebay, you find most of these there, granted for a hefty price(except for Larry Gura. Sorry, Larry!). The Billy Butler one this year looks great. But the condiments are an awful, awful idea. All these years of great Royals players, and they are bumped for the stuff I put on my hot dogs? It’s not hard, guys. Amos Otis doesn’t have a bobblehead. Great player back in the day, former All Star and a vital part of the championship Royals teams. Seems like a slam dunk. Hal McRae? Another good choice. I could literally go on forever. Mark Gubicza, Al Cowens, Kevin Seitzer, Jeff Montgomery, and Kevin Appier just to name a few of the players from the past. Hey, just look at the here and now. Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, a miniature Johnny Giavotella, or Bruce Chen. Sure, I don’t particularly like Jeff Francoeur, but if they had a bobblehead of him with an actual cannon for an arm, I would want it(thank you for leading me to that idea, Anna). It is so simple. It is also an easy way to get me to the ballpark. Let’s make a deal now, Royals promotion department; no condiments next year. Worst. Idea. Ever.

6) Disco Demolition Night

discoMaybe this time it will end different…

…and if not, can we destroy every existing copy of ‘Friends in Low Places’?

garthGod, I hate that song. Make it go away. Forever.

So those are just a few ideas. I can only hope that for 2014, the Royals step up and give us promotions worth being proud of. If not, we will have our own Royals promotional night at my house. For a fee, of course. I’m not just giving away those Ned Yost shirts I have tucked away in my closet…

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