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The World Champion Kansas City Royals

54 Responses to The World Champion Kansas City Royals

  1. Owen says:

    The story about your mother-in-law put tears in my eyes, as per usual, Joe. Great piece.

  2. murr2825 says:

    First of all, what a thrilling baseball team to watch. Just pure joy the way they fight pitches off and steal bases and make the great plays. Congrats to the whole TEAM.

    Secondly, Collins will be second-guessed for sending Harvey out there (and he should be) but in the fifth inning, bases loaded and nobody out, he leaves Cespedes in there to hit, even though he couldn’t generate any power off his front leg. If Cespedes hits a ground ball at someone, it was an opportunity for a relatively easy triple play.

    Am I the only one who thought of that? The announcers certainly didn’t seem to. Then Cespedes leaves the game (!)

    Thanks for your usually interesting and thoughtful recap of the game and the WORLD CHAMPION KC Royals.

    • Bob says:

      Regarding Cespedes, the announcers did mention it, saying it was a trivial double play if he hits a ground ball. I believe it was 0-2 when he got hurt, so it was going to tough on the pinch hitter if you bring one in.

      On Hosmer’s run in the ninth, can’t help but wonder last year Alex Gordon did not try to dash home. I wonder what Hosmer’s odds of scoring on a play like that is statistically compared with Gordon’s situation.

      • Hosmer is out by more than five feet if Duda makes a decent throw. Hey, it was an aggressive play & it put pressure on Duda to make that throw & he didn’t. But I’ll tell you, it was , at most a 20% play. 80% of the time (at least) a major league player throws him out. If he’s out, we’re still playing and Hosmer’s the goat for his idiot try to score. It all goes to how the players perform, not the managers. Hosmer went & Duda didn’t execute a relatively simple throw, albeit under a lot of pressure. People need to place a lot more emphasis on execution, or lack thereof, then on manager decisions.

        • MikeN says:

          That’s just it. The manager’s decision to be aggressive is changing the numbers in his favor.

        • a2colin says:

          Simple, Familia had a 0.116 BA against during the playoffs and less than 0.5 hits/inning in the Series. So, are Hosmer chances better doing what he did or staying on third and hoping Gordon does more than hit a third consecutive weak ground ball and ending up stranded on 3rd ala Gordon himself last year?

    • The second guessing on Harvey is silly IMO. Familia had blown 2 saves already, although it’s not that he pitched terrible. And Harvey is dominant for 8 innings. If he takes Harvey out and Familia blows the game, then Collins still gets second guessed. It’s up to the players to execute. Whether it’s Familia or Harvey, it’s not some back of the rotation or bullpen shlub that got trotted out there to pitch the 9th inning. It’s a front line player. Either way, I consider Collins makes a good decision. But fans just look at how things turned out. Harvey couldn’t put away a 1-2 count on the first batter. That’s partially on him, but also it was a good at bat. That’s not the managers fault. Hosmer hits a double. Also not the manager’s fault. Then Hosmer tries an ill advised run from 3rd and Duda throws the ball away. Again, not the manager’s fault. The players had that game to win if they executed, and they didn’t. KC DID execute so they won. Their manager is no genius by anyone’s imagination. But when the players execute the manager looks good. When they don’t the manager looks bad. But it’s the players, not the manager, that decided this game.

      • Richard says:

        For those who complain that the “Win” is a stupid stat, the “Save” is even stupider, and the “Blown Save” even stupider than that. Familia comes in with no outs and the tying run on second. He gets three ground balls from the next batters, all of which get turned into outs. What more can you ask from your pitcher? But because the tying run scored on one of those ground ball outs, he gets stuck with a Blown Save.

  3. JAD says:

    Hiya Joe: Just thought you might like to know that I was rooting for the Royals this World Series for one reason; and that is you. Although I must say if it was KC vs the Yankees, well I”m a Freudian Yankee fan, and if the Cubbies had made it, well, that would have made for a better, more dramatic story and I would have been rooting for them, but since there were no Yankees and Cubs, it was KC in my heart…just so I could read your story about it. You’re writing has brought me a lot of joy and laugh out loud moments over the years. The Clarence Clemens memorial, your kids sports and Harry Potter stories, Baseball Night in America (best ever baseball column), Rulan the Wrestler, your dad, Cleveland, golf stories about Tom/Jack/Seve, even one about the Olive Garden. Thanks so much for all of that.

    So for me, rooting for the Royals was really rooting for you to be overjoyed. As another famous sports media guy once said: “How about that?”


  4. Dale says:

    This long-suffering Cleveland fan is very happy for the Royals and their fans. The team is a joy to watch and, in many ways, feels like a throwback to another era. I can only hope that one day, there will be a team in Cleveland like that.

    • If the pattern of Joe continues, maybe the Browns will win the Super Bowl in 3-4 years. He was writing despairing blogs about the Royals for years. Terrible moves, terrible players, embarrassing play…. Up until last year. So, maybe if he writes enough about how inept the Browns are, they will eventually win it all.

  5. steph says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it is pretty insulting for joe to call a back to back world series team “lucky?” How about Good? As in, really, really, good, as in dominant?

    Joe is being a bit disingenuous about these Royals. For years, I mean, for very many years, Joe was the most reliable source in the world for Royal mockery. He had a running series about Yuniesky Betancourt and how dumb Dayton Moore and Ned Yost were. He mocked their every move, their every lack of move, the James Shields/Will Myers trade, their failure to trade, and everything else. Last year, he couldn’t stop making fun of them, and partway through September last year he decided to run a bunch of stories about how “interesting” the Royals were, and how they were overperforming, etc… It was his way of saying “Oh crap, they aren’t going to fail, and now I look like a doofus, so I will start changing my tune and stop making fun of them quite so directly. In the offseason he mocked them for standing pat. This year, even after running over their division wire to wire and winning it all, he thinks it is luck, and then backhandedly says that luck is a sort of skill that a fictional movie guy has.

    Bottom line is Joe couldn’t get off his high horse about what a good team should look like, what a valuable player should look like, and what an effective management team should do, and he missed the boat on a back to back world series team actually does do. How does anyone luck into that?

    Sometimes the analysis is wrong. Sometimes a team of players figures out ways to win that they are good at and can execute daily from April through October, and it is up to the statisticians to figure out how they did it, not chalk it up to luck just because they can’t figure out how they did it. Or worse, assume they do know all the ways of winning, and dismiss the actual winners as lucky. We are talking about 324 regular season games and two full Octobers worth of winning here. We are not talking about a lucky streak.

    Somewhere there will be an analyst and writer who breaks down the Royals and figures out how they are doing it, and that guy/girl is going to do us a much better service than the establishment writers who just call it luck and spunk and grit. Obviously there is a very valuable set of skills here, and we need better analysis to quantify it. Unfortunately, Joe has spent so much time mocking them that he is not in position to see that somewhere in the background they had a plan that clearly worked all along. He missed it. Nearly everyone missed it.

    • “Obviously there is a very valuable set of skills here, and we need better analysis to quantify it.”

      No, we don’t. We know what the skills are and roughly what they’re worth. Great defence, great bullpen, hit for a high batting average (albeit with a mediocre OBP), hit lots of doubles but not many home runs.

      The issue is not that the Royals have come up with some super secret formula for winning, it’s that the areas they excel at tend to be unsustainable from year to year. Defence tends to be more consistent than relief pitching, but I don’t think any team apart from the Earl Weaver Orioles has been as consistently excellent at it the way these Royals have the last few years. There are two teams they strike me as very similar too: The 2002 Angels and the 1999 Reds (who won 96 games but missed the playoffs). Both those teams won games mainly due to phenomenal defence and a strong bullpen with a mediocre rotation. Both these teams won 10-20 games less the next year.

      That’s why people picked them to regress this year, not “nobody can quantify the brilliance of the Royals”.

      • And as for the whole “WAAAH, that big meanie Joe used to write bad stuff about the Royals”, I mean, are you serious? The Royals *were* terrible. Yuniesky Betancourt *did* suck. So did Jeff Francouer. Ned Yost *was* a god awful tactical manager (still is actually).

        Why can’t people just enjoy it when their team wins rather than whining about how nobody respects them or whatever?

    • Mike Clark says:

      Joe does not hate the Royals, never has, probably never will. You are also taking the “lucky” comment way to literal. I believe the story was how the Royals made their own luck through exceptional ability, applying constant pressure and their unrelenting determination. The colorful comments about the past were being provided to show how far they have come and more directed at the vast majority of fans across the country who don’t know how bad the Royals were and how bad they were not that long ago. But while he was in KC, every year he began the season with a story on how the Royals would win the pennant. And for the better part of the past 30 years (28/30 actually) they never came close. But Joe always saw the good in them regardless (maybe partially attributable to Buck O’Neil). But four years ago after he left KC he wrote his usual blog preseason article but with a different slant; a national story in Sport Illustrated about how the 2015 Royals won the World Series (which turned out to be prophetic), how they built the team through great draft picks, and changed the way small market baseball was done. So I don’t really think he thinks the Royals were “lucky” as much as it was a way to tell the story from bottom dwellers to the top. But as Joe always says, you see for yourself what you want to see. In case you missed the article, here is the link:

    • Brett Alan says:

      “Am I the only one who thinks it is pretty insulting for joe to call a back to back world series team “lucky?””

      You’re the only one who thinks he DID call them “lucky”. His point was clearly that while some of the events that led to them winning might, in isolation, seem like luck, that they made that “luck” happen by putting the right players on the field and encouraging them to play the game a certain way. The comparison to James Bond is that his “luck” is the result of being prepared and being audacious. Give it a second read with a more open mind, and–with a little luck–you’ll understand.

      • steph says:

        No I am not the only one who thinks he called this team lucky. He very obviously called them lucky. Give it a second read with an open mind and you will see that that is what the entire article is about, from the opening thesis statement through the last.

        And yes, I am aware that he thinks luck is some kind of skill, which is why I said so in my original comment that you are responding to.

        And that is my beef, because nobody says homeruns are a lucky skill, or ace pitching is a lucky skill, or drawing walks is a lucky skill. No, those things are quantifiable skills that some have and others don’t and everyone has a varying degree of. What the Royals have simply has not been quantified or appreciated very accurately, and I read virtually everything Posnanski writes (except the springsteen stuff) because I think he is one of the most insightful baseball writers we have — Which is why I have been so disappointed in his coverage of the Royals for the past two years. It is as though Ned and Dayton are his best friends now, since they have won, even though he spent years tearing into them, harping about how “The Process” was stupid, failing, etc… Well now that it has worked so well he has to backtrack, and since he has not applied his usual analytic mind to the Royals, he has nothing else to say except to talk about luck. Because he does not know how they are doing what they are doing.

        There are tons of baseball writers who have no idea what they are doing, and I usually go to Joe to get the real story, the story that the statistics help show. But now I am getting this imaginary BS about lucky skills and spunk and grit and garbage that Joe usually avoids.

        It is my belief that the Royals are the most skilled team in baseball over the past two years. Look at nothing but their total won/loss record over two years including October (they earned their way there, and those wins and losses count). They are among the best, and someone may argue in favor of a few other teams in the discussion, but KC has to be in it. And the best baseball writer in the world, who also specializes in KC, has nothing to say except luck. Its disappointing.

        • Brett Alan says:

          “Luck is his business. There are no accidents, no coincidences, no unexpected breaks. He has developed luck with his coolness under duress, his bravery when in danger, his deep preparation and, finally, his audaciousness when the critical moment arrived.”

          That very explicitly states that the “luck” he’s talking about isn’t luck at all. No accidents, no coincidences, no breaks. That’s the point, and you’ve completely missed it.

          • Brett Alan says:

            Oh, and if you still don’t buy that, consider this, from another article he’s written on the Royals’ championship:

            “But when predicting the future, you shouldn’t worry too much about the details. What was clear in 2011 was that something fundamental had changed with the Royals. It was the same thing we saw last year with the Chicago Cubs (who I think will win the World Series in the next five years). The Royals had the most valuable asset in all of baseball: Young talent. And if they used that young talent in the right way, they would ascend.

            Well, the Royals did.”

            Does that not make it clear that their success was the direct, foreseeable result of the way they built their team? Which would be the opposite of luck?

          • steph says:

            Give it a break. Joe is obviously calling the royals lucky. It is what the article is all about, entirely about. Yes, he describes luck as some sort of skill, that’s also very obvious, which you would know if you read any of my previous posts. But he has no idea what that skill is or how to quantify it, which is why he calls it luck instead of what it actually is. All MLB players and teams are extremely skilled and athletic and are coached by savants who think of nothing but baseball for 70 straight years. All players are obsessed with baseball, love it, study it, get excited about it, etc… Those are not quantifiable traits and they are not unique to the Royals and they do not explain how the Royals keep winning over all the other teams that do the same stuff.

            What the Royals have is not luck, and it is not even a form of luck that should be called skill, unless you also think homeruns and good pitching are a lucky skill. They are just plain skills, and calling them luck or grit or spunk or whatever garbage misses the entire point of it in the first place. The reason Joe is insisting on doing this is because he does not know what quantifiable skills the Royals have that make them so good. So he chalks it up to coolness under pressure, magic, and general nonsense.

            The reason he does that is for years he has worked within a paradigm of what a valuable player, manager and GM look like, and what skills are valuable and which aren’t. Now Yost and Moore and the Royals have Moneyballed the whole system and found ways to win which have not yet been added to Joe’s understanding of the game. For years he second guessed their every move, after Moose and Hosmer got called up and weren’t the power hitters Joe wanted, he said it was just the Royals being Royals and failing to develop their talent because his definition of talent was vastly different from theirs. Yes in 2011 he predicted they would win in 2015, but he thought they would win by developing power hitters, Will Myers (who they traded and he got mad about) Hoz and Moose. When all three of them failed to be power hitters in KC, he said it was a failure.

            Joe has mocked their free-swinging approach at the plate, advocated for more walks and strikeouts with fewer hacks, and has backed it all up with research of all sorts, and the Royals have now found a proven way to win without following that research at all. Joe thinks they must be manufacturing their own luck, like David Eckstein and Darin Erstad and all the stuff he generally mocks.

            Find a way to explain how the Royals are winning. It will be much more productive, interesting, and worthwhile.

          • Brett Alan says:

            OK, Steph, you win. What he actually said means nothing; you want to be hurt, be hurt. The article was not only claiming that the Royals were lucky; it was insulting your parents, too. Enjoy.

    • Al says:

      Steph, I’m not sure you “got” the article. The royals, like Bond are lucky. Their talent, skills, preparedness, audacity, etc…. seem to bring the luck, just like Bond. Luck is not an accident, it’s something the Royals have worked hard for. Dd you read the article?
      Also, don’t get on Joe for berating the Royals years ago. I’ve been a Royals fan since my Dad took me to games when they played downtown. They were horrible back then, and they have been horrible at times since. If they’re horrible, isn’t it the journalist’s job to report that? As a fan, I’ve complained, second guessed, and complained more during the bad times, and I’ve cheered and celebrated during the good times. That’s what fans do. Why can’t reporters do the same?

  6. Billy Beane said, “My shit doesn’t work in the post-season”, implying that winning in the post-season was nothing more than a crapshoot. It was a handy way to rationalize teams that never advanced in the playoffs, luck of the dice and all that. Funny though how KC’s shit does work in the post-season. Were it not for a superhuman performance by Madison Bumgarner, they would be back-to-back World Champions now. Time and time again they rolled over highly favored opponents, mounting comeback after comeback. Seems that making contact, running the bases aggressively, playing great defense and having a lockdown bullpen works better in the playoffs than working out walks and waiting for homers. Or should I say, apropos Billy Beane, it simply generates more luck?

    • The postseason is a crapshoot. Nobody wants to hear this when their team wins (although they don’t mind it so much when their team loses. Go figure.), but it’s true.

      There is no magic formula for winning in the postseason. Some teams win by playing great defence, some teams win with Derek Jeter at shortstop, Jorge Posada at catcher and Bernie Williams in centre. Some teams win with great starting pitching, some teams with great starting pitching don’t win and some teams without it win instead. Some teams have a great bullpen, some don’t. Some teams win with a lot of home runs and by getting on base, some don’t. The only thing I can say is that being a great regular season team slightly increases your chances. Anything more than that, nope.

      Trying to read anything into a handful of short series is a fools errand. The Royal’s haven’t “cracked the code” or “reinvented baseball” or whatever else anyone is saying about them. Everyone who wins thinks they’re an exception until they’re not.

      They were a very good to great team, one of the best in the league, who won a few short series in pretty remarkable fashions. Love it, enjoy it, but don’t act like they’ve got it all figured out.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Two years is hardly a huge sample size. If not for a huge comeback against Texas, helped in part by a lucky bounce, the Royals would not even have gotten out of the first round. And do we even need to mention the errors that the Mets made that essentially gave the Royals a couple of games. Harold Reynolds kept kvelling about how the Royals put the ball in play and good things happened. But if they had been playing a team with better defense, how much good would it have done them? Is hitting a weak ground ball to second and having the second baseman butcher a play that most high schoolers would have made an example of how you should play the game? The Royals are a good team; I picked them to win-but hardly some super juggernaut that has figured out playoff baseball.

      • MikeN says:

        Funny how all these teams commit errors against the Royals…
        Perhaps it’s because they are so aggressive.

        • KHAZAD says:

          Or perhaps it is that some teams start a guy at second base that has cost his team a run defensively every 103 innings he plays there because he is a plus offensive player. You have to expect Murphy to cost you runs out there. That is who he is, they chose to play him there, you get what you get.

          The Correa play was actually difficult with the deflection off the pitcher. Murphy’s error in the last game didn’t even really matter. It made the score more lopsided, but that game was over.

          The Royals also gave up a couple of runs when someone reached on an error. Even though they are the best fielding team in baseball, when you play 16 post season games, stuff is going to happen. When you are a below average team in the field (like the Mets) it is pretty much a guarantee. Good teams overcome it, teams that are not good enough whine about it.

  7. Melissa jackson says:

    Please, please tell me your next book is going to be about this team!

  8. Larry J. Nelson says:

    Joe I will half to disagree with some of your ideas. First sports are not just to watch and talk about. There should teach us lessons for life. Most reasonable people believe you make your good luck by working hard to reach your goal. And we know the Royals work hard as a group. A lesson for life. They support each other when a member has some challenge such as death in family or poor performance. When Salvador Perez got on base they pulled him for a faster runner. You did not see him fight the change. The players are not playing for themselves. As it turned out Salvador was not behind the plate to catch the final strike. But he won the Most Valuable Player of the Series. Another life lesson.
    Now what really beat the Mets. They beat themselves. They have players who were thinking of themselves and not the team as a whole and what should have been their shared goal. If they do not learn from this experience they are not going to reach their goal of the World Series.
    Joe I come from the small Kansas town of Lindsborg just a few miles from Winfield. My parents were both ball players and always followed the Kansas City teams. As a kid we went to a ball game played by the Kansas City Athletics. And I can remember when we took long school recess to listen to the world series of the 50s. My mother Mildred Nelson was the center fielder for the Lindsborg soft ball team. They won the state championship when my mother charged a fly ball, caught it and doubled off a runner on second base. As a kid she played tennis on her farm, basket ball and bowled. Her twin sister Millicent won may golf tournaments in Hutchinson, KS. She died at age 102.5 and my mother died at 101. Proof that sports keep you active and you live a long and productive life. And you learn many good lessons for life. As a 76 I am an active bike rider and skier. My goal is to make a 100 years old. HopefulIy my family and friends will help me reach this goal. I thank you for your consideration. Larry Nelson

    • “Now what really beat the Mets. They beat themselves. They have players who were thinking of themselves and not the team as a whole and what should have been their shared goal.”

      This is such rubbish. It’s basically saying that the Royals won because they are better human beings than the Mets as opposed to (or in addition to) being better baseball players or because anything can happen in a few games. Acting like a postseason victory makes a team more virtuous than everyone else is just incredibly obnoxious.

      • invitro says:

        I love you duffsovietunion. Please keep posting. These morons get incredibly loud after one of “their” teams win a WS… they claim it proves all the garbage they believe to be true.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      With all due respect, you are making assumptions without any basis. Yes, the Royals supported their player when there was a death in the family. I suspect most teams would have done that. I don’t think the Royals are unique in that respect. Frankly, I doubt the Royals work any harder or support each other any more than most teams, including the Mets. The Mets did beat themselves, but not because they were only thinking about themselves. I don’t think Daniel Murphy was worrying about himself when he missed the ground ball. I know you are talking about Matt Harvey but, frankly, if he had gotten the Royals out, people would be lauding him for his competitiveness. Would you really want a pitcher that did not want to be out there in the 9th inning? The Royals are a great story but, like all the other teams, it’s a job. They are out there to win, but also to make money.

      As for being a life lesson, a lot of people work hard and do not have success. Hard work does not necessarily lead to success unless you also have talent. I could work as hard as possible and still not be a major league baseball player. Yes, hard work can create luck, but sometimes luck is just luck. (And I’m not saying the Royals were lucky. I thought before the Series that they were the better team.)

      • invitro says:

        Except that the Royals WERE lucky. Every team that has won the World Series since there were eight playoff teams (and maybe before) has been lucky. Luck is the determinating factor in the playoffs, and this isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact.

  9. Bob Lince says:

    So there you have it. The Royals won with grit and love of the game. David Eckstein lives. Hire Joe Morgan back.

  10. Bob Lince says:

    IIRC, in the WS the Royals scored 15 runs after the 6th inning of games, while the Mets scored only 1.

    It must be a great relief to a batter, coming up in the latter innings, his team down a couple of runs, knowing the opponent probably is done scoring for the night. He and his fellows don’t have to get the lead, and then get the lead again, and maybe again, to win. Just get on base, manufacture a couple or 3 runs, and say good night.

  11. Marc Schneider says:

    It’s interesting that with all the talk about the Royals manufacturing runs and not relying on home runs, the biggest hit of the series was probably Gordon’s home run in the 9th of Game 1. If the Mets win that game, the whole tenor of the series would have been different. At worst, assuming things went the same way, the Mets would have been up 2-1 and who knows how Games 4 and 5 might have played out. I did think the Royals were the better team, but there is a tendency to exaggerate things they did like small ball that worked out largely because of the Mets poor defense and weak bullpen.

  12. Mark says:

    I would like to follow the “luck” theme winding in and through this discussussion. I am a lucky man – my wife tells me so regualrly – and fortunately, she is correct. I am lucky or, as many in my western Kansas community would put it, I am “blessed”. Whatever the label, I have it and I am grateful for it. I know I cannot take credit for it. For example, it was luck that my niece passed Joe’s “Soul of Baseball” on to me last week. I devoured it between games 3 and 5. It enriched my enjoyment and appreciation of the Series immensely but no one could have appreciated the fire, joy and intensity of the Royals more than Buck.
    It occurs to me though that all of us have luck. For some of us, it seems to be predominantly good and for some, it is not. Why is that? I don’t think luck is just some random external force or series of events – although that is part of it. What makes luck good or bad is the attitude of the holder. It is the old saw – the cup is half empty or half full – that personal predisposition to react positively or negatively to events. Luck isn’t just how the ball bounces or how far it carries – it is how we let that affect us and how we respond. The “Never say die” Royals had luck and made the most of it – good and bad. I am grateful to have been a witness. I am also grateful to Joe for his beautiful rendition of the character and inherent goodness of his friend, Buck.

    • invitro says:

      “For some of us, it seems to be predominantly good and for some, it is not. Why is that?”

      Probability 101 answers your question in the first week.

  13. SeriousViking says:

    Ok, here goes. I am a new fan of the Royals. I have been a lifelong fan of the Indians. I moved to KC in 2000. that summer I watched a late season game; both teams out of it, a blowout against the royals. Johnny Damon stole third and scored on a wild pitch. Did not change the outcome. That was it. I had a new team.

    Throughout the years I always watched for the little victories. Again, Johnny Damon. Joe Randa, Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye. Zack Greinke making every fifth game a joy. Gordon’s arm, Jeff Francoeur’s arm. Hating watching Lima pitch but love hearing him talk, poet. Sweeney’s swing. Butler’s swing. enough.

    I have watched/listened (no cable) to 100 games a season. More the past two seasons. I have never lived in a championship town (born and bred in Cleveland). The past two+ years have been amazing (no exaggeration) this year especially so. So much fun.

    Thank you Royals (again so much fun).

  14. Anon says:

    Joe –

    Was looking through b-ref and manager challenges. I think it would make for a great column for you since it seems to me like the manager challenge stats say a LOT about a manager. Joe Maddon had more successful challenges this year (28) than Brad Ausmus even attempted (27), the same # as Terry Francona attempted (28) and just 1 less than Showalter, Melvin and favorite whipping boy Matt WIlliams even attempted.

  15. Brad says:

    Like Joe’s mother in law, I grew up in a small town in central Kansas (not far from Cuba, coincidentally). I have been a fan since 1969 and spent many a summer night listening to Denny and Fred. The run between 1976 and 1985 was great, but the last three years have been the best. This group is the best team the Royals have ever had, including the 1977 team.
    What is their luck? I think it’s talent and preparation meeting opportunity. I also believe this run started in 2013. I got Fox KC on my Direct TV that summer and, much to my wife’s chagrin, I watch about 100 Royal games a year. The ’13 team missed the wildcard by a handful of games to Cleveland. It bugged me all winter because I thought that Indians team only had two players, Brantley and Kipnis, who would have started on the Royals, yet they edged us out. What was the difference? For a long time I thought it was because they had a better manager, one who coaxed his team to out perform, while our guy seemed to blow five or six games every summer with questionable decisions. At the end of the season, those blown games separated who went to the playoffs and who stayed home. Forward to 2015. Those Royals have matured and are in their peak years. Yost has grown into his job, though I still scream about some of his moves, just not as many as before. My hope is that they realize they have something special here and that they make sacrifices to stay together. Maybe Gordon and Cueto and Zobrist will look at what happened to Ervin Santana and Billy Butler and decide to take a little less money and stay in KC. One can hope. And if they do, this team could be in the playoffs for another three to five years.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Or the Royals owners-who are not poor-could decide to sacrifice some of their own profits to keep the team together. Why is it the players that are always supposed to make the sacrifice to keep the team together? Why can’t the Royals owners say, “what the hell, we’ll make a little less money and pay the going market rate to keep our players?” The owners have a lot more money than the players so why is it the players who are supposed to take less? Given the team’s success, it’s likely that attendance will increase, TV rates will increase and the team will have more revenue. Why shouldn’t the players be able to share in the increased revenue that they helped make possible if winning is so important to the team.

      • MikeN says:

        Just how much do you expect the owners to spend? they will still be $100 million behind the Yankees and Dodgers.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          Well, they can potentially spend more than they are if the revenue increases. Even if they spend much less than the Dodgers or Yankees, that doesn’t mean they can’t spend anything more. My point was that people always expect the players to sacrifice to keep the team together. Why can’t the Royal’s owners sacrifice some profits to keep the team together. It’s irrelevant that they spend less than the Dodgers or Yankees. I frankly don’t understand your point here. Brad was specifically saying how the players should take less to keep the team together, and that the owners should not be expected to sacrifice anything. The budget that teams adopt is arbitrary; it depends on how much money they want to make. They can certainly make a decision to spend a little more. I just don’t see why it’s always the players that are supposed to sacrifice when the owners-every single owner-has far more money than any player.

  16. I still can’t get over how much credit Hosmer is getting for what was actually an awful baserunning play.

    Watch the replay. I mean, watch the replay. The catcher waits for the throw. The throws whistles by, ten feet wide of the plate. The catcher reaches for it, then slumps his shoulders. He has a smoke, then calls his wife on his cell phone to tell her he’ll be home late. And THEN Hosmer slides across the plate.

    If Duda made anything resembling a little-league caliber throw, Hosmer was out by fifteen feet and the game was over. I actually thought there was a chance d’Arnaud would get the ball on the rebound off the back wall and still tag Hosmer out.

    It was the Royals year. Not to denigrate them, I enjoyed the Series. But every coin flip came up heads.

    • mrh says:

      Hosmer probably was going to be out most of the time. But the next hitter was going to make an out most of the time, leaving Hosmer at third. I don’t know if he thought of it that way or what his chances of being safe were. But probably the break even point is between 15% and 20% – that’s the rough batting average* of Gordon vs. Familia.

      *It’s a bit more complicated allowing for errors vs hits or walks to Gordon that then bring up the next hitter, etc. But I’m a lot more confident estimating that probability than that the 5-3-2 combination is successful.

      Also, did anyone else think the rules against the catcher blocking the plate made the defensive play harder? If D’Arnaud can set up the line from home it’s an easier throw for Duda – he doesn’t have to step so far around Perez and then throw so much across his body to hit D’Arnaud’s glove.

    • Richard says:

      Make Them Beat You.

      I grew up a fan of Whiteyball, and I can’t tell you the number of times when a runner trying to steal would force an errant throw and get an extra base.

      And even if the throw beats the runner, there’s a non-zero chance of the runner sliding away from the tag (granted, they don’t teach that skill enough these days).

      Especially in the postseason, when the tension is already high, go balls out and apply more pressure.

      Especially given the situation, where, even if the Royals lose, they’re still up 3-2 in the series and heading back to play the last 2 in KC.

    • KHAZAD says:

      It was a good gamble, especially when the penalty is only two more chances to win one game at home.

      Everyone focuses on the Duda throw, but there are several elements to the play. The third baseman, who has already hesitated, has to make a good throw to first. No awkward stretching, no short hop, etc. The first baseman has to make a clean exchange. Both these things happened. Wright’s throw was not gunned (as we, and Hosmer, already knew it would not be) but it was in the perfect spot and Duda made a clean exchange. These are things that people evaluating the chances of this play assume would go right every time because they did. It was certainly no guarantee.

      Now, the first baseman almost NEVER has to make a throw home around a (pretty big) runner from the bag. 99% of the time if the 1B makes a throw home, he is already charging in, and knows there will be a play at the plate. In this case, he IS at the bag, making a throw that he doesn’t even practice, and there is a definite “Oh Crap” factor as he realizes that Hosmer is coming.

      Duda makes a hard, hurried throw home. That urgency may have contributed to the bad throw. But it is pretty certain that if he had taken his time with it, it may have been too late.

      Even if the throw is thrown that hard, and is still on target, the catcher has to catch the ball cleanly, shift his weight, spin, and tag Hosmer on the other side of the plate, on the ground, in about half a second, without losing the ball. That’s about how long it is. Don’t look at a still photo, watch the play (in real time, not slow motion) with a stopwatch and see how long it is from the time the ball glances off the catcher’s glove until Hosmer’s hand crosses the front of the plate. That is three more things that have to go perfectly IF the throw is on target.

      BP had an article comparing it to a similar play where the runner was safe, even thought the throw was there. I am not going to say he would be safe every time, but I would guarantee that it would be more than a third, and 50/50 (from the time he ran) might be more accurate with two throws, two catches, an exchange, a quick spin and diving tag all having to go like clockwork to get him.

  17. Jimbo says:

    Great piece Joe. Miss reading you in the Star everyday. A lot of us have fans like your mother-in-law. My great aunt never missed a game – radio or TV. She loved Denny and Fred. To show dated I am, shed died before we won our first Series but I know she took her unbounded hope for the Royals to her grave.

  18. Puckpaul says:

    If David Wright isnt looping that ball to first Duda has a lot more time to step and make a good throw. Wright was terrible the whole series, with some absolutely terrible at bats and those awful throws.

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