NEW YORK — One of the popular topics here is the amazing Chris Davis and a home run pace that puts him in line to challenge Roger Maris’ mark of 61 home runs, if not Barry Bonds’ record of 73.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
^ I said this on Twitter, but that’s the 207th season of 37 or more home runs since Steve Balboni’s Royals record of 36 in 1985. Mike Schmidt is on that list. Eric Davis. Jesse Barfield. Let’s move on.
It’s an earnest thought, but also a naïve one. If the questions are unfair to Davis, he can largely blame his peers and predecessors. Major League Baseball — specifically the players’ union — did this to itself.
They were successful in putting off drug testing for many years using a privacy defense, ignoring the greater good. If they had any foresight, they would’ve understood that what Davis is dealing with now is part of the fallout, one of the consequences of fighting testing for so long.
Baseball is hardly the only sport dealing with this. Tyson Gay, who voluntarily participated in extra drug testing as part of a US Anti-Doping Agency program called “Project Believe,” recently failed a drug test.
The point is, it may be nice to live in a world where Davis can challenge home run records without chemical help. I hope we do live in that world, actually. I just know we don’t live in a world where we can assume it. Not anymore.
This week’s eating recommendation is the eggs benedict at Eggtc., and the reading recommendation is this wonderful piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about Yoenis Cespedes — you may have noticed him in the Home Run Derby last night — and his family’s journey from Cuba.
Before we start, if you haven’t seen this video of Wilt Chamberlain at Kansas and are into such things, it’s worth the time. Absolutely incredible.
Anyway, let’s get to it. As always, thanks for your time and for reading.
@ RealJordanC Can we start looking forward to Chiefs season yet. Or is it too soon?
Well, if it’s too soon, it’s not by much. The Royals are running out of time. Specifically, Dayton Moore is running out of time. Like I wrote today, the Pirates are the latest team living the Royals’ dream. The Indians have left and apparently come back faster than the Royas.
It’s not that there’s no hope. I continue to think the Royals are well-positioned if the pieces fall into place, it’s just that it’s reasonable to wonder why they haven’t fallen into place yet. There is talent on the roster, and all over the field. This is, largely, the lineup Royals officials have envisioned winning with. It’s the lineup scouts and executives in other organizations have envisioned the Royals winning with.
But unless there’s a major hot streak — they’d need to go 9-2 to be above .500 by the July 31 trade deadline — the Royals will be in a position to again sell spare parts.
@ Speck60 Dayton should go ahead and pull the plug on this season and sell. Agree or disagree?
The problem with this question — and I don’t mean anything to you, specifically — is that there’s no indication about what the Royals could get in return.
If they’re out of it and can get value — more than the compensatory draft pick they’re in line for with Ervin Santana, more than the value of a cheap and currently dominant closer for Greg Holland — then, sure.
But the flip side is that the James Shields trade changes the algorithms. There is more emphasis on winning big leagues now than ever before. So part of the thought process is a hesitation to break up what many in the game still think can be a contending team in 2014.
That last paragraph has more to do with trading Holland than Santana, of course.
@ YesAnotherRyan Will Ned Yost have a job in the MLB this time next year?
If and when Ned is fired as the Royals manager, he’ll have a job somewhere else if he wants one. This is how those things work. He’s a baseball lifer, a smart man who cares about the game. There will always be jobs for guys like Ned.
Now, if you’re talking about whether Ned will have a manager’s job in major league baseball this time next year? My guess is no, but I wouldn’t argue the point too strongly and here’s why:
The Royals, for all their problems, are still tracking for their best record in a decade. It’s a weird thing, because they’re also tracking to fall under (fair) expectations.
My guess is that if the Royals win 77 or more, Ned will get another contract. Only a guess.
If they’re happy being -6, then we’ve got other problems.
@ Alan_Covington What is it that Frank White wants/needs to hear from the Royals to make things right?
He’ll say it’s trust. He doesn’t know who he can trust in the organization, because he feels like nobody stuck up for him when he was fired. That’s a general answer, and one that doesn’t address his own share in the problems that have led to this embarrassing Cold War.
I do believe it should be the Royals to make the first step, but when that happens — whether it’s Dan Glass himself, or a mediator like David Glass, Dayton Moore or even George Brett — there’s no magic line that can be said to make everything better.
It will take a conversation, or more likely conversations. There might be yelling. There needs to be acceptance from both sides — Frank recognizing he’s the common denominator in problems he’s had with the franchise for decades, and the Royals for misreading one of their most valuable assets and fumbling the relationship enough for it to get to this point.
I’ll say this again, and might every time I write about this: Frank needs to drop or ignore the self-serving apologists that are only making this more difficult.
You guys, David Glass is not the problem. If I can use an outdated joke: 2005 called and wants its legitimate point back.
@ kent_swanson What is it with KC athletes receiving accolades for their talent and performing miserably in regards to wins and losses?
I referenced this in Sunday’s column, but part of being a Royals fan is you lose touch with what actual good baseball teams look like. Three All-Stars feels like a million All-Stars — it’s the team’s most since 1988, for goodness’ sake — but it’s really not.
The Red Sox and Rangers have three. Orioles and Blue Jays have four. The Tigers have six. That’s a third of the American League with as many or more than the Royals. It’s a nice haul, but the difference is most other teams don’t have gaping holes in their lineups like Alcides Escobar or Mike Moustakas or whoever is playing second base for the Royals.
The Chiefs are kind of the same deal. Just like Sal Perez, Alex Gordon and Greg Holland are each deserving of their spots here, the Chiefs have legitimate stars in Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and others.
The problem there, of course, is it doesn’t matter how good Flowers’ coverage is if Jalil Brown is on the other side of the field four yards behind a receiver streaking toward the end zone.
@ kevintadkins I just got a new job minutes from @ OklahomaJoesBBQ, this is license to balloon my weight by 50% in pulled pork, right?
Well, I’d say 15 percent pork, 20 percent ribs, 10 percent fries, and five percent “other.”
@ GJAlexander any comment on the Star continuing to publish baseball articles penned by Lee Judge?
I like Lee. I understand that what he does isn’t for everyone, just like what I do isn’t for everyone. I have a suspicion — and that’s all it is — that the people Lee’s stuff doesn’t speak to tend to be people on Twitter and, probably, many who read this blog.
There are good insights in what Lee does, things you might not notice that make a difference in the games. Just like there are good insights in stats and other ways to consume baseball, things that don’t make their way into Lee’s stuff.
We’re all free to pick what we like, or what speaks to us. I like to look at it all.
I did the Olive Oil thing. I was such a badass six-year-old.
The Royals had, basically, two very good starters (Shields and Santana) one average (Jeremy Guthrie) and then 33 starts (more than a third of the season) by Wade Davis and Luis Mendoza.
Mendoza, you can live with. Nobody has a lockdown fifth starter. But Davis is a problem, because he was an important part of the Shields trade and so far is putting up Kyle Davies numbers.
Depending on how you look at it, there’s actually reason to believe in Davis. Half his starts have been good, including five of the last seven. The problem with that, of course, is that it requires a benefit of the doubt the Royals lost long ago and sounds a whole like lot the defense of Luke Hochevar.
@ RoyalAK47 What will it take for Yost to be fired?
A second-half tank.
Saw that, a remarkable stat. Depending on whether you go before the draft or after (this was the Hochevar year), the Royals had Alex Gordon and Billy Butler and basically nothing else.
Right now, they have Yordano Ventura — seriously, he’s much more important to the Royals’ future than most seem to realize — Adalberto Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer, the struggling Bubba Starling, Miguel Almonte, Jorge Bonifacio and Orlando Calixte, among others.
Butler and Gordon, obviously, have turned out to be very good players and a farm system is judged on how many good players it produces. I’d take the system now, because of depth.
@ gillie_john how long until FOF George Brett finds better things to do w/his time? (Face of Franchise)
My gut feel all along is that George would do the rest of the season, and then step away for 2014. We are well past his original one month commitment, so he’s presumably enjoying it and feels like he’s helping. He’s said he’ll reevaluate every two weeks or so, but I haven’t heard anything to push me off my original read that he’ll step away after the season.
@ ClintT13 How does a guy like Manziel get drunk in so many bars despite being under 21? Most people use fake IDs, but he’s recognizable.
Wait. Really? You’re under the impression that bars don’t serve minors? Or that there aren’t a million bars that would love to be “the place Johnny Football partied?”
There would be, rough guess here, half as many bars in college towns if they didn’t serve minors. That’s not awesome, but it is a decent guess.
I owe you my life, my happiness, my spirit.
The Royals will give Starling as long as he wants, and the read on him has always been that he would likely struggle at first because he hasn’t played a lot of baseball growing up. I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember one scout saying something like, “Professional pitchers will make him look silly in the beginning, even at the low levels, but if he ever ‘gets it’ he could be a star.”
Right now, obviously, he’s still trying to “get it.”
@ ClintT13 If I told you there was a place in St. Joe with better BLTs than The Peanut, would you even believe me? It’s Norty’s, by the way.
No. I would not believe you. And I don’t believe you.
I will, however, try it.
@ froggiemlm So your a sports writer, pretty plush gig going to the biggest events. if you had to choose something else where might you land?
Plush. You’re a funny guy. If you’re asking what I would do if not for sports writing, it’s something I’ve thought about but really only in the abstract. The only money I’ve ever made for anything other than writing has come from three sources:
• Mowing lawns when I was a kid.
• A miserable summer at Walgreens.
• Bets with my stupid friends^.
^ These stupid friends have undoubtedly made more money off me, but it’s my blog.
But, I do understand that I’m lucky to have this job. Or any other in sports writing. Doing this for a living, you are constantly reminded that you’re getting paid for essentially silliness. Not that we all have to change the world, but it does make you think about doing something to help. So when I close my eyes and think of a different career, it’s usually working with a non-profit like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Operation Breakthrough.
Of course, if it turns out I’m not as altruistic as I hope, maybe I’d go tend bar on a beach.
The Sportings are at 19,504 right now, and the Royals are at 21,908. That’s a significant gap to make up. I’ll take the Royals.
You saying Jesus Christ can’t hit a curveball?
@ Trevor_Pyle if you lost your credentials and has to go as a fan, what body part would you sacrifice to see the Chiefs in a SB?
I’m keeping my body parts, unless you’ll let me lose a little fat.
Catch up on work, actually. I’m not going to give too much away, but we’ve got a few projects working I think you guys will really like. Two on the Chiefs, one on the Royals.
@ m_dunn probably late for # TT but can we talk abt how bad berman is? borderline mccarver territory. what dirt does he have on ESPN execs?
I’ve thought a lot about this, actually, because I can’t stand the guy either. But here’s where I land: ESPN is in the business of doing what’s good for business. And they’re very good at doing what’s good for business — Forbes recently called ESPN the world’s most valuable media property.
Which tells me there are a lot more people out there who like Berman.
The smelly guy. You’re going to get cut sometimes playing pickup, and if you don’t get cut you’re going to sprain an ankle or get accidentally poked in the eye or something. But showering isn’t that hard to do, and I say this as a prolific sweater. I usually take an extra two t-shirts to play, you know, just as a courtesy. If you’re a big sweater, I suggest you do the same.
The worst is if the stinky guy just wants to post up all day. If he’s a drifter, you can sort of play off and let him shoot. If he’s a post-up guy, you might fake a bad back or something to get out of there.
I’ve actually thought of this. The problem is time. Between a blog post every weekday and hopefully three or four columns a week, I’m doing fine to keep up here. I’ve also wondered about traffic, if it would be worth it.
Is there enough interest in this? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if so, I’ll look at it again.
@ TbobSmith How much is Mizzou going to miss Sheldon next year? I’m scared these SEC teams are going to run all over us. Huge shoes to fill
Well, yeah. Guy was a beast, Mizzou’s best player. What I have a problem picturing is how it will impact Mizzou, because you have to think — law of physics, right Andrew McCutchen? — they won’t have as many injuries as a year ago.
The coaching staff will have to attack differently, but I’m also hesitant to put too much into the loss of one player. This is college football, the cycles change so quickly, the men involved are used to adapting.
@ MrBenMcGuire I was going to contribute something witty and Kansas City today but I have to back out; I’m suffering from some “dehydration”.
OK, that’s not bad.
I prefer bourbon…
…and I’ve been called worse.
@ BobbyCave Will this season finally teach the @ Royals that pitching is needed in the post-season but its the bats that carry them there?
The 2000 Royals are interested in what you say.
@ TbobSmith had a friend in town from Chicago this weekend, he went to Pizzabella, said it was great. Have you ever been?
I haven’t, but it’s on the list. Art of Pizza is, too. I used to be down on Kansas City’s pizza options, but the last year or so has opened my eyes a bit. Always knew and loved the underrated and overlooked pie at the Caddyshack, which is still my favorite in town. But Pizza 51 is also tremendous. Spin is very good. There’s also a place called Johnny Joe’s, a tiny place just west of the Plaza, that deserves more love.
The one we always get at home is, well, dangit, I can’t remember the name. They sell it at the City Market farmers market … comes in hot or mild, with cilantro or without … someone help me out here.
As far as a restaurant, I don’t have one that I think is AMAZING. Margarita’s is good. Manny’s, if you combine the hot and regular, is good. Typically, I like a chunky salsa, with some kick. There’s gotta be some better ones out there. I’m all ears on this one.
I think they finish 78-84, trade Ervin Santana, and call up Yordano Ventura.