By In Stuff

A Royals Toast

In the afterglow, I find myself trying to remember the low moment, the moment that summed up all of what it meant being a Kansas City Royals fan the last 20 years or so. I think of the time Tim Belcher was named the Kansas City Royals pitcher of the year despite the somewhat limiting fact that he had a 5.02 ERA and had pitched no better than the numbers. He sat on stage glumly, accepted the award with a sheepish speech about how he didn’t deserve this award (in this case, he really didn’t) and sat down no doubt thinking he couldn’t wait to get out of Kansas City (which he did a year later).

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think of the time an energetic New York attorney named Miles Prentice, who had roughly the same net worth as your next door neighbor, was picked to buy the Royals. Prentice used to hop around town wearing suits and a Royals baseball cap, and he supposedly went into the manager’s office and told him to stop letting his hitters swing on the first pitch and into the radio booth to tell the announcers to use an egg timer, the way Red Barber did, to alert them when it was time to remind listeners of the score.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think of a time when a genial man named Herk Robinson, as general manager, wanted to hire an artist to paint the Royals players in action in order to help the scouts. When told that the scouts already had something called video, which rather precisely transferred reality to a television screen, Robinson said yes, but art, true art, can transcend reality.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

The drought wasn’t the thing. Yes, it had been 29 years since the Royals last reached the postseason — and baseball has completely turned upside down in those 29 years. The game has made the divisions smaller, added wildcards, rearranged the schedule, made it all but impossible for a team to NOT go to the postseason at least every now and again. The Royals would not go. But the drought wasn’t the thing — it was the hopelessness surrounding the drought. The Royals did not come close to the postseason. The Royals did things so mind boggling that the postseason seemed as far away as flying cars and trips to another galaxy.

I think of a time when a manager named Tony Muser decided to change his image. Muser was and is a good baseball man but he had this Charlie Brown cloud hovering over him, so that no matter what fiasco befell the Royals, you sensed the Muser was still looking up at the sky certain that a piano was about to fall on his head. In his final spring training, he announced that he was going to be more positive, a Happy Tony Muser, and the players created a calendar where they would put a smiley face sticker on days when Muser actually smiled.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think a player named Ken Harvey, a 6-foot-2, 240 pound bopper from Beverly Hills (via the University of Nebraska) who went to high school, at least briefly, with Angelina Jolie. Harvey had this odd batting style where he would slide his right hand over his left during the swing and then employ a massive upper cut, but he hit well enough one year to be the Royals lone All Star representative. Still, it was his penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time that marked his career. He was hit in the back with an outfield throw. He threw the ball into a pitcher’s face from point-blank range. He got tangled up in the tarp trying to do something or other. Harvey was not a comic figure, though, he was a proud young man who just kept having bad things happen to him, not unlike Royals fans themselves.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think of a time when the Royals decided to buy Johnny Damon a house in order, I suppose, to instill loyalty and make him want to stay in Kansas City when he became too expensive. Damon ran kicking and screaming from Kansas City at first opportunity anyway, probably when he realized that for a few million dollars extra he could buy his own house.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs. 

Nothing was easy about this season. These Royals are not a great team. They are often not a good team. They will not hit even 100 home runs this season — the first American League team in 20 years to fail to reach triple digits. They are ninth in the league in runs scored, just thirty or so runs ahead of last place. The calling card is pitching but they don’t have one starter who you could yet call a great pitcher. 

But, dammit, that team never stopped plodding, never stopped toiling — run scoring for them is like manual labor, but they dribbled their singles and yanked their doubles and stole some bases and found a way to dig enough runs out of the dirt. Their starters, young and old, pitched to contact and relied on a frisky defense and somehow managed to give the bullpen enough leads. And that bullpen, that amazing three-man bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, shut the games down.

No, the Royals are not a great team — but they understood each other and they saw their line to victory the same way a great golfer can see the line of a putt into the hole. Chemistry is an overused word in sports. Belief is an overused word in sports. Narrative is an overused word in sports. The Royals still used those themes, and now, for the first time since 1985, they are going to the playoffs.

I think of a Royals player falling off first base like a cut down tree, and I think of another climbing the centerfield wall only to see the ball bounce off the warning track in front of him, and I think of two Royals players jogging to the dugout, each thinking the other would catch the ball which landed softly and happily in the grassy area they had left behind. I think of a player not wearing sunglasses, losing a ball in the sun and having it hit him in the face — he wore sunglasses on the plane right home to cover the shiner. I think of a pitcher so frustrated that he complained to the press that he can’t even get no-decisions.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think of Joe McGuff, my friend, who was instrumental in bringing the Royals to town. He suffered from ALS at the end of his life, and once when I went to see him the hospital he could barely speak, but he still managed to ask me what I thought of the Royals future. Those were bleak days, and I told him that they sure needed another George Brett. I saw recognition in those eyes — one year, when Brett suffered from hemorrhoids during the World Series, he was asked if he found the timing cruel. “Sure, I do,” Brett said. “I ask, ‘Why me? Why not Joe McGuff.” Joe wanted to talk some more about the team, what could be done, but he could not speak the words, and he began to cry.

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

I think of Buck O’Neil, my friend, who believed in the power of baseball to fix anything. In the most desolate of days, he was asked if the Royals had any chance against the money and might of the New York Yankees, and he raged, “OF COURSE they can beat the Yankees. The Yankees can have all the money in the world, but they can only put nine players on the field, just like our Royals.” When the Royals would win a game, even toward the end of one of their many lost seasons, Buck would take it in and then say, “It’s turning around.”

The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

Every team with a long run of losing has stories, of course. Every team with a long run of losing has believers too, who refuse to stop caring even when there seems nothing left to care about. I think of a blind man in Kansas who would have his wife read to him the Royals account every morning at breakfast, and he would then ask her to go over the box score hitter by hitter. I think of a farmer in the Northern part of Missouri who would record the west coast games off the radio and listen to them in the morning when he worked the farm. I think of a friend in Overland Park who kept trying to give the Royals up, and kept finding himself drifting back when Opening Day arrived. I think of a restaurant owner in Kansas City who framed the Royals World Series tickets he got last year, not as a joke but as a harbinger of good things.

There’s no telling how much of a reward this season will be. The Royals still have a chance to win the division, and they still have a chance to fall to the second wildcard, so this postseason could be a full-fledged baseball series in Kansas City or it could be one game in Oakland … or it could be a magical run that rivals the crazy and wildly unlikely 1985 World Series march.

I think of Dayton Moore, the Royals general manager. He has made some missteps, no question. He has turned down some dark alleys, no doubt. But when he arrived in Kansas City eight years ago, he promised to build a respectable baseball team. He worked day after day to make it happen, not only on the field, but throughout the organization. One day, we were in the Plaza — that shopping district in the heart of Kansas City — and he said: “This would be such an amazing place for a parade.”

There might not be a parade. But there might be. And that’s the toast for the Royals on this day many thought might never come. Raise a glass. The Royals, those Royals, are going to the playoffs.

83 Responses to A Royals Toast

  1. Dodger300 says:

    Congratulations to Joe and Royals fans everywhere. Hope to meet you in the Worls Series!

    • Joe,

      I know the pain of not having a playoff team, or at least having the title ripped from under you. I love the Royals, even went to games there from CA, and went to the Negro League Hall of Fame and the Jazz Museum. However, as an SF Giants fan, I lived my entire lie getting our hearts ripped out; in 1971, in 1989, in 1993 (when they won 103 games and didn’t even get in), and, especially in 2002. To finally get in… Anything can happen in the Playoffs, you just have to get there. I am rooting for the Royals to 1) Win the division OR 2) Win the WC Game, to ensure that the long suffering KC fans can get a home game or 2 of Playoff Baseball.

  2. Jodee says:

    I was an 8-year old girl in 1980, and I fell in love with Brett, White, and the KC Royals in general. I have been a Loyal Royal all these years, when they were, too often, THOSE Royals. I now live overseas and have been waking up every morning to check scores and look at box scores, and sometimes to even catch the last inning of play-by-play on my phone. This morning I woke up, followed the last inning, and felt pure JOY. Thanks for the great article Joe. It’s a great reminder of the many lean years us Royals fans have endured and why this playoff spot is such a great thing for Kansas City. Now, let’s #takethecrown.

  3. blingslade says:

    Joe, thanks for always keeping the Royals in your thoughts through all these horrible years. Without you a lot of KC fans would have gone bonkers by now.

    And one more thing: Alex Gordon for President!

  4. Bravo, and God, if they win even a series I can see the fans getting behind them from all over

  5. Craig says:

    Joe Po may be the best sportswriter in the country right now.

    • Mysterious.j says:

      If so, that says more about the dearth of good sportswriters than anything else.

      • That’s some major snark – perhaps you don’t know as much about sports journalism as you THINK you do!
        Posnanski is a fine writer and has been honored as such. He was given the Associated Press Sports Editors “Best Sports Columnist” award in 2002 and 2005, Joe has also received numerous other awards, including the 2012 NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year.
        The Baseball Bloggers Alliance “Online Writer of the Year” award is NAMED the “Joe Posnanski award, You don’t get awards named after you unless you’re pretty damn goo t what you do!

      • Chad says:

        Go away, troll.

  6. manders says:

    I moved to KC 26 years ago and have only heard stories about the ’85 Royals. They have never had a winning season, or made it to the playoffs, in the years that I watched my children grow from infants to adults. I’ve always been a bit baffled why Opening Day sells out each year. This town has never stopped loving the Royals and it has been amazing to witness. What a joyful day in KC!!!!

  7. Doug French says:

    Thanks Joe. I needed that. GO ROYALS!

  8. Kansas City Andy says:

    Thanks for reliving these moments for us again, Joe. I never want to forget how bad the Royals were! (Yes I do.)

  9. Bill says:

    I guess it gives you some sort of perverse pleasure to rag on the Royals after their best moment in decades. The Royals make the postseason and some ex-Kansas City sportswriter thinks it’s his duty to bring up all the low moments from the last 29 years. Jealous that you don’t get to cover them after turning your back on Kansas City and skipping town? You don’t deserve to write about the Royals. They are in the playoffs and you’re not. Go write about Roy Williams and leave our Royals alone. Go Royals!

  10. postseason Jeff says:

    For people around the country to fully appreciate the emotions of what proud Royals fans are feeling today, they need the history lesson. Joe, you left out the fireworks display when Mark Quinn finally took a walk. Great article!

  11. tombando says:

    They were actually pretty ok thru ’95–not good, sure, but they Did contend ’87, ’89, ’91, ’94, ’95 sorta. Guess trading Wil Myers wasn’t the end of the world for KC eh Joe?

    • Myers hit .218, .292, .319 this year, btw.

    • Jim says:

      It’s the Derek Jeter effect. The Royals have been bad as long as Jeter has been good. “What about 2003?” you ask. Jeter was injured and only played 119 games that year. In Jeter’s declining years, Royals got better. Now that Jeter is retiring, Royals make the postseason. Coincidence? I think not. The Jeter curse has been lifted for the Royals.

  12. Liz says:

    WOW a great read. Thank you! I go back to the very beginning ( 1969 ). Love the city, the friendly fans and the Team !!

  13. Chris says:

    The royals are going to the play in game to get to the playoffs (unless they pull out the division)

    • Grover Jones says:

      Well said. Can you really “make the playoffs” if you only play one game? If you never even play a home game?

    • Gesge says:

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. One hell of a lot of celebrating for earning the right to play exactly one more game, which might be on the road.

  14. Bryan Mack says:

    Great article, but I would absolutely call James Shields a great pitcher without thinking twice.

  15. Utah Shortstop says:

    Just think about your life the last time the Royals were in the playoffs. Those of you that were alive.

  16. If the goal here was to make me cry, you succeeded. Nice piece. I am old enough to remember the utter desolation when the A’s left town and the boundless joy I felt two years later when the Royals were born. I went to the first game the Royals played. My dad, who is 96 and still a baseball ball man knew that it meant a lot to be there. I rememberF rank White, and Lou Piniella George Brett and Steve BaIlboni. They were an “expansion team” but it never felt that way

    I remember when the field was Astro Turf and tube top Sunday was one of the highlights of year. I remember going to theAll Star game in Kansas City in 1973 and watching Amos Otis and Hank Aaron on the same field. I remember when the Royals were one of the best, if not the best, teams in baseball.

    I went to the playoff games with the Yankees and to a World Series game with the Phiillies, both of whom I hate to this day. I remember the I-70 series and it killed me not to be for the games and all of the hoopla that surround it. I had just moved to Virginia online and I lost track of them for awhile. Now I watch nearly every game of the season through my cable package and I can listen to my old friend Denny Matthews through my MLB ap. My love was rekindled.

    Last year when they were in the middle of that awful losing streak, I was listening to the radio feed at 3 am when it poured rain in St. Louis and the Royals begged the umpires to to let the game continue because we needed a win so badly.

    I love these new Royals just as much because they’re not a juggernaut. I believe they’ve learned from the ups and downs the past two years.I believe they’re a good team and more importantly, they believe it too. Denny Matthews said recently that when he surveys the baseball landscape, he doesn’t see a great team, but a lot of good teams. The Royals are a good team.
    I’ve always been a Royals fan. I am very, very proud to say that today.
    Roz Fehr

  17. As a Yankee fan, I’m rooting for the Royals to win the World Series. That way, Joe will have no choice but to write frequently over the next month.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Great piece. Always love to hear your thoughts. Keep it up

  19. JW says:

    I’m so sorry to do this, but…

    The Royals, these Royals, are going to lose to the Tigers.

    • Mark Daniel says:

      The Tigers have Brad Ausmus as manager and Joe Nathan as closer. I don’t know how anyone could have confidence in that team.

      • The Tigers do have a better team, and the Royals won more games than a team of their talent level should have…. But in a short series, all that goes out the window. The Tigers are a very flawed team, with several marginal players in their lineup, a very weak season by Verlander and Miggy not putting up another monster season (though still a good season). So the Tigers are hardly a lock to beat the Royals. Though, if I was a betting man I wouldn’t be dropping cash on the Royals.

  20. theSportsSnark says:

    You’re completely wrong, Joe. THOSE Royals are NOT going to the playoffs. THOSE Royals are the reason I have not seen my favorite baseball team play a playoff game since I was 2. THESE Royals are going to the playoffs. The ones with gold gloves all over the field, and 3 bullpen pieces with ERAs hovering around 1 and just enough starting pitching and hitting to get it to them to win. THOSE Royals are the ones going to the playoffs, not the sad sacks in your article.

  21. Laura says:

    Great blog Joe. I’ve been rooting for the Royals since they made the world series in 1985. I can clearly recall telling my grandfather they would win it. He told me no way. But I believed. I still believe! This is a team that doesn’t give up. I am a born and raised New Yorker so you can imagine the ribbings I’ve gotten these 29 years. This moment is sweet. I got my first chance to see a game at The K on 8/26 and what a game I saw. Can’t wait to go back again!

    • Well, the 88 Dodgers won it all with a marginal lineup. But the Royals don’t have either Orel Hershiser or Kirk Gibson to erase some of the lack of quality. If the Royals win the Wild Card game, and even if they lose, they wildly overachieved already. IMO, anything else they accomplish is an exponential over achievement above getting to the post season…. And highly improbable.

  22. NevadaMark says:

    I’ve been waiting for this column for 5 years.

  23. MikeN says:

    Does this mean Mike Sweeney has to resign here?

  24. MikeN says:

    I notice this column makes no mention of Ned Yost.

    • John Leavy says:

      You’re not the only one who noticed.

      Look, I do NOT expect Joe to change his mind about how good or bad a manager Ned Yost is. Joe may even be right- MAYBE Yost is a lousy manager, and the Royals may have made the playoffs in SPITE of him.

      It still looks petty and spitful not to mention him. Yost did something no other ROyals manager has done in nearly 30 years.

      Joe, would it kill you to give the guy just a LITTLE hat tip?

      • Spencer says:

        Joe is right. Yost is a lousy manager and they did make the playoffs in spite of him.

        This does not warrant a hat tip or any credit given to him. The players deserve all the credit and more. Giving him no credit or mention is not petty. To do so would be charitable.

    • Paul Zummo says:

      Hey, Mikey, still want to defend Ned Yost after bringing in Alvarez?

  25. LBprGuy says:

    And how much better would this playoff trip be if there was a Wild Card Three-game series instead of an elimination game.

  26. Mike McKenzie says:

    Thanks for the memory bank, Joe. I think back, with a heavy heart sprinkled with the joy of great friendships, about Dick Howser, and Joe Burke as well as Joe McGuff (the amazing man who brought me there, and stood by my side when I left), and Darrell, and Quiz, and Splitt, and Fred, and share the tears and the goosebumps of this moment with all of my hometown family and friends. Again, I appreciate you, as always, for the vicarious trip.

  27. Richard Aronson says:

    I am happy for the Royals’ fans. I think it is good for baseball when teams break long droughts.

    I would change “plane right home” to “plane ride home” in case the article might get reprinted elsewhere.

  28. MikeN says:

    By the way, note that even with Yost’s supposed blunder, if he had done it the way you wanted, and the Royals won, the end result would have been worse. They would play at Detroit for the division, likely lose, and then play a rested As team.

    • NevadaMark says:

      Yeah, but we didn’t know that then. And it WAS a blunder. But Yost deserves his share of the credit for his team’s success, no question about that.

    • Jason Ray says:

      Playing Detroit for the division wouldn’t be worse. I see what you’re saying, but I think that having to win Monday or Tuesday is much better than having to win Tuesday.

  29. Tim Pinkelmann says:

    Great writing as always Joe. I’m a KC expatriate old enough to remember skipping school to go to the very first Royals game at Municipal Stadium (Lou Piniella got four hits!).

    A classy operation from the start thanks to Mr. K, I remember “THOSE Royals” as winners like Brett, White, Wilson et al.

    I ached when the Yankees would always knock them out of the playoffs. Then I rejoiced when they won the ’85 Series, watching the last game 2000 miles away at a near-empty bar in a town where baseball was an afterthought. Later I suffered from afar with sadness as a once-great franchise lost its way.

    Maybe, just maybe, this is the first step back to those Glory Days.

  30. Brent says:

    So, Joe who voted for that pitcher of the year award for Belcher, the local writers or the organization? BC Kevin Appier had 5.6 WAR compared to Belcher’s 1.1. And pretty much the other numbers are all greatly in Appier’s favor too (other than the since discredited win statistic. The implication of your first paragraph was that it was pathetic that the Royals best pitcher sucked so much, but Belcher wasn’t even close to being the Royals best pitcher (he was their 3rd best starter by ERA+). If it was the organization that picked the pitcher of the year, then sure let’s indict them for making such a foolish pick. If it was the writers, though, I am not really sure that particular example was the best example of the Royals’ haplessness from that period.

  31. Ken says:

    My daughter just got married last Saturday. She was born in 1982. As a three year old, she watched the 85 playoffs and World Series with her in my arms. I am a blessed man.

  32. Zak says:

    Dude you didn’t get the point of this article at all…Reread the article, or get glasses, whichever works better.

  33. Andrew says:

    Nice Mitch Albom impersonation.

  34. wogggs says:

    As a lifelong Royals fan, the last 34 years of which were not spent in Kansas City, I am very excited.

    As a lifelong Royals fan, the last 34 years of which were not spent in Kansas City, I strongly expect the Royals will lose on Tuesday.

    As an A’s season ticket holder (and playoff ticket holder), I am not sure who to root for on Tuesday. I guess we’ll see which shirt I wear to work tomorrow.

  35. Brent says:

    Here is something odd I noticed when looking at the list of playoff teams. Although we Royals fans are deservedly described as long suffering (until this year) when it came to making the post season, we are actually better off than many of the other post season teams when it comes to World Championships. It feels weird to be considered better off than the Nationals (never won), Pirates (1979), Orioles (1983), and Tigers (1984) and not really much worse than the Dodgers (1988) and A’s (1989). Only the Angels, Cardinals and Giants are 21st century winners.

  36. Dark Side of the Mood says:

    Dear Royals Fan-

    Since you have not been in the playoffs since before the Berlin Wall came down, since before the fall of the Soviet Union, since the early days of Ronald Reagan’s second term, I wanted to update you on how things have changed:

    1) There is now something called a Wild Card game. You are in this. This means your Royals have one game to play and if they lose they go home. They are used to that. If they win, they advance to the next round of the playoffs. More uncharted territory.

    2) If they win the Wild Card Playoff, they advance to the Division Series. This is now a best-of-five, which means the team that wins three (3) games advances. Am I going too fast? I understand your head must be spinning.

    3) If they win the Division Series, your team will advance to the LCS. That stands for League Championship Series. Your team would then be competing in a best-of-seven. This means the team that wins four (4) games advances. It doesn’t have to be four in a row, just the team which gets to four in those seven games. Are you following the math? With no ties, if the series goes as long as it can go, one team will win four games and the other team will win three. The team that wins three will go home. Ah yes, home; such a familiar ring to it.

    4) We are far beyond the wall now, walking on ground your grandparents may remember. The World Series. They have played this every year but one for over 100 years. No, really. If you have friends who live in St. Louis or New York or Boston call them and ask them about it. This is again a best-of-seven series. Only now, you are playing against a team from the other league. Crazy, I know. If you win four games (remember the explanation above) you will be called World Champions! It’s very exciting.

    Congratulations. Savor every moment. Soak in every detail; who knows, you may be asked to recite your memories for your children or your children’s children. They are, after all, the Royals.

  37. […] we made it, and it is so sweet to be […]

  38. MikeN says:

    Seems like the As are loaded with Red Sox players. Is there something about being on the West Coast that makes you want all these guys?

  39. […] years with the team that he was going to be a happier, more positive person going forward in 2002 the players responded by creating a calendar where they put a smiley face sticker on days when Muser….  He was fired 18 games into the 2002 season leaving probably very few smiley faces on that […]

  40. Melvin says:

    Wow. Any piece in which the “highlights” include references to such luminaries as Herk Robinson, Something McGuff, and Ken Harvey can’t be good. So with a bit of reading, I was right: this piece is boring. Why not talk about the current Royals roster and how it was built through trades, the draft, and shrewd free-agent signings? Or why not revisit some of the good times with Frank White, George Brett, Sabes, and the rest of the crew? Or better yet, why not compare the two teams? But this? Eh. This was just plain boring.

  41. […] my hedging starts tonight as the Royals host their first playoff game since 1985.  I’m taking KC at -103 (Shields) vs Lester and the A’s on the mound.  Also, for your […]

  42. Dennis says:

    For my money, the all time Royals’ highlight was not winning in ’85. It was George hitting the home run off Gossage at Yankee Stadium in 1980…with Howard Cossell in the booth. I still get goosebumps (pardon the pun) thinking of that. I worked in Wichita then and must have spent $100 on long distance phone calls to all the friends i grew up with in Kansas City.

  43. Trent Phloog says:

    Me, on this site today:

    *checks for post about WC game*

    “Nope, not yet.”


    …waits 5 seconds…



  44. MikeN says:

    Joe wrote a post about how the Royals loss was all Ned Yost’s fault. Then they came back and won the game. He’s still working out how to rewrite it.

    • Ha. True. This game went back and forth so many times. At one point you’re thinking, it’s over. They’re going to lose. Then, well, maybe they can pull this thing out. Then, no, they just can’t push a run across the plate. Then….. Yeah, can you imagine if Yost did something boneheaded and they lost?!! Or, conversely if he did something really smart and they won! But, this pretty much shows that it’s the players. And the triple was just over the gloves of the outfielders and the Perez hit looked like it transmogrified and somehow passed directly through Donaldson’s glove. A fraction of an inch and Joe’s writing a different column today, perhaps, about how the Royals just couldn’t get that final hit when they needed it.

  45. Mark Daniel says:

    I think the final hit would be an interesting case study for defensive metrics. It’s actually perfect, because you have a slow mo replay from the perfect angle, shown here: (go to 30 seconds). We have Donaldson at 3rd base, who is by all accounts an outstanding defender.
    We can see where the ball was hit, how far it was off the line, how hard it was hit, where Donaldson was positioned at the time of contact, and we can also see that Donaldson just barely missed the ball as he dove.

    On the surface, this looks like an extremely difficult play that very few, if any, third baseman could make. However, I also believe that UZR and DRS do not use player positioning in their calculations, so it’s possible that while this play may have been impossible to make for Donaldson, it may numerically be easier than it looked on TV because 3rd baseman are positioned in various locations including guarding the line in certain circumstances.

    So my question is how is this ball rated in UZR or DRS? I believe balls are judged by speed and location, and then given a number between 0 and 1 based on how often similarly hit balls are converted into outs. In this case, Donaldson did not make the play. I’m certain that similar balls have been hit throughout the season and have been converted into outs. As such, Donaldson should have been dinged a certain number of points in these metrics. How many points was he dinged? And do we think this method of defensive evaluation is treating Donaldson fairly? I mean, should he be held responsible, even slightly, for not making that play?

  46. Ed Ludwig says:

    I have missed Posnanski since he left the K.C. Star. I realize he went on to bigger and better things. But it’s obvious he still has a heart for K.C. Thanks for the wonderful article. I sit her writing this as I try to recover from the most exciting week in Kansas City sports in recent memory. Monday night the Chiefs destroyed the Patriots and Tom Brady. And last night (Tuesday) our crazy Royals came from a 7-3 deficit against Lester’s A’s and won in 12 innings with a game-winner from Salvador Perez. Two homers from Oakland’s Moss were to be the death knell for the scrappy Royals, but they stole a playoff-record seven bases and the game by using 10 players who weren’t even on the opening day roster. Perez swung at a pitch a foot outside and low and knocked a ball down the third base line to score Christian Colon with the winning run and cause pandemonium at the K. It was an instant classic which the entire sports world who were resilient enough to stay up past midnight (central time) witnessed in incredulous disbelief; all except those never-say-die boys in blue. The hunt for Blue October is on, the 29 year playoff drought is gone, and it couldn’t be better right now in Kansas City! “Let’s go Royals!!!!!”

  47. MikeN says:

    For Joe, Having the Royals win this game over the Moneyball A’s is like Jim Rice and Jack Morris making the Hall of Fame on the same day.

    • Noah says:

      No way! I think it was more like having to choose either Alan Trammell or Lou Whitaker to make it to the Hall, but not both. I was happy with the outcome either way, but it was a shame to see one of the teams lose.

  48. kb says:

    I think of the time the manager yanked the starting pitcher out of the game when he was cruising along with a 3-2 lead, after only 88 pitches to put in a pitcher who is normally a starter when he in fact had several proven, good relievers at his disposal, only to watch that starter turned into an adhoc reliever suddenly give up five runs out of nowhere. Yes, those Royals are going to the playoffs!

    • MikeN says:

      Joe Torre used to do that all the time. These moves always seemed to work in his case, except when he was matched by Randy Johnson in relief(twice).

  49. tombando says:

    Oh if they ONLY had kept Wil Myers no telling HOW far they’d have gone—

  50. Ben D says:

    Joe, you were the first person I thought of after the Royals clinched the pennant. Then the next day I get my favorite publication in the mail (Our State Magazine) and find your name on the cover. As a Reds fan (who enjoyed your book THE MACHINE immensely), I really hope that a small market team can win the World Series this year and stick it to the Yankees, Dodgers, and ‘Sawks of the world.

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