More reporters are crowding around Greg Holland than perhaps any time during the regular season and we all want him to talk about how there’s no game to play. Basically, we are all asking him about nothing. This is, in the great spirit of Seinfeld, an interview about nothing.
"Will this be a distraction?" someone asks.
"I don’t think one extra day is going to make or break either team," Holland says quite logically.
The rainout sucks for everyone with tickets, and not just for game three but also game four and (if necessary) game five. People are busy, and the playoffs are exciting, and it can be tough to reschedule real life at the last minute. People with tickets for Monday night now have tickets for tonight at 7. People with tickets for Tuesday night now have tickets for Wednesday at 3. And people with tickets for Wednesday now have tickets for Thursday at 3.
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So that’s not ideal, even without talking about the sheer anticipation of an ALCS game at Kauffman Stadium that’s been 29 years in the making.
The players are going to be fine. They spent time with family last night, or went out for a nice dinner, or just watched football and got a good night’s sleep.
But we in the sports media need a story, need something to talk about, so Jarrod Dyson’s no-sir-I-don’t line lives on for another day, enough for Nelson Cruz to respond through other reporters that the Orioles are, in fact, going back to Baltimore this week and that the Royals will, too.
There was at least one moment appropriate of the day, when Scott Downs goofed around behind Jason Frasor’s group interview, playing around.
"Tiredest act in baseball," Frasor joked back. "Print it."
That’s basically what a playoff rainout does. We still have space in the paper to fill, and the broadcast folks still have time on air to fill. There is no logical reason to think the rainout gives one team an advantage over the other, even if each manager tried to subtly suggest the longer break favored the other guy.
What it means, really, is one more day without baseball. That sucks for all of us who are fans and were looking forward to a game last night, and it sucks especially for those who had tickets and have to either cancel other plans or miss the game.
It sucks on a lesser scale for the rest of us, either producing or digesting one more day of manufactured story lines before we get the game we’ve all been waiting to see. Manufactured story lines like whether the rainout will stop the Royals’ momentum, even though, 1) they had four full days off between sweeping the Angels and winning the first two games in Baltimore, and 2) momentum in these situations has largely been proven a myth.
But, either way, Eric Hosmer is asked about momentum and gives the smartest answer I heard all day.
"We’ll honestly never know," he says. "There’s no way to ever know. It’s just a rainout."
Preach, Eric. Preach.
Also worth noting: it should be dry tonight.
As always, thanks for reading and thanks for the help. This might be the last Twitter Tuesday before the Royals clinch a World Series spot so, you know, be prepared.
I guess I should have known better. I tried to acknowledge that there are other things going on in sports right now.
The Chiefs are 2-3, and preparing for a division game in San Diego that could go a long way in determining whether they can make the playoffs. Sporting just clinched a playoff spot – mostly on a superb goal from the left foot of Graham Zusi – and appear to fully removed from a troubling midseason slump.
Mizzou looks unpredictable as ever, losing at home to Indiana one week, winning at South Carolina the next, and then laying down against a Todd Gurley-less Georgia team at home last weekend. K-State has an important game at Oklahoma this weekend, and the fighting Clint Bowens at Kansas are coming off an encouraging loss to to Oklahoma State.
There really is a lot of other stuff going on, but, well, yeah. Asking about anything else but the Royals right now is asking for replies like these:
So, fine. I appreciate the few of you who tried to play along with my silly thought about spending a few moments talking about something other than the most fun thing that’s happened in Kansas City sports since I started working here, but, well, message received. You guys are right.
Let’s just make this all about the Royals.
OK, that’s not bad.
And I’m not trying to distract from your well-executed joke here, so I’m giving you one more paragraph to bask in that.
OK, so, this might be the craziest part of this crazy Royals ride. I mean, I wrote this column about how the Royals fold under pressure less than three months ago. I believed every word of that column in my heart at the time, and I still believe every word of it was true at the time but, well, this has been absolutely nuts.
As far as these intangible explanations go, I don’t know if there’s something to be said that the Royals felt free and loose once they got into the playoffs in a way that they just couldn’t while trying to break – all together now – The Longest Playoff Drought In North American Sports. I guess that would make sense.
It would also make sense that I was just flat wrong at the time, that anybody who ever doubted t his team was wrong, though if that’s the case the list includes some folks inside the organization.
Unless you want to play the small-sample-size card, the most logical explanation for is that this group does feel a certain freedom after making the playoffs, and that any benefit from playing loose and confident is amplified inside that clubhouse because – genuinely, if generally – really is a group of friends. These guys get along well, they hang out together outside the ballpark and enjoy each other’s company more than what you typically find on most big league teams.
We’re still playing a bit of armchair psychologist here, but, I don’t know, maybe there’s something to that. Whatever it is, it’s been amazing to watch.
Pretty much. Moustakas, as much as any single player, embodies what we’ve all been talking about here, the way a good team has become a great one just as we get to the point in the season that everyone remembers.
I’ve written this before, but Moustakas never hit four home runs in any six-game stretch of his big league career. Now he’s done it in the playoffs. Moustakas was, by adjusted OPS, the sixth-worst hitter in baseball among those with 500 or more plate appearances (Moose had exactly 500 PAs). He is now hitting .318 with an .864 OPS in the playoffs.
I’m not sure I have a great way to explain my point here, but I’ll try anyway. When I see Eric Hosmer during this postseason, I see a guy who might just be a star as soon as next year. That home run in the clincher against the Angels, in particular, was a convincing combination of onions and execution. In that moment and under that spotlight, Hosmer absolutely laser-ed a ball to left-center, the kind of swing and result that’s like hitting coach porn – an opposite field line drive that runs out of room and goes for a homer. It was gorgeous.
When I see Moustakas, I still think he has a lot of the flaws he showed during the regular season. He can hit the snot out of mistakes – and you can be a valuable player, and make millions of dollars by hitting the snot out of mistakes – but I still think there are holes in his swing and approach that can be exploited and keep him from being the kind of cornerstone the Royals once envisioned.
But, hell, I don’t know. I think I’ve proven that much already.
I don’t know if this is in response to the column about the money, but at the very least, I got to link to it again so thanks.
The postseason run does not significantly change the outlook on Shields. They could win the World Series, and I’m still not sure they’d sign him. The Royals played this season under a franchise record payroll, and even as the good-looking man in that column points out they absolutely should bump payroll even higher, I don’t think they’ll re-sign their ace. And I’m also not sure they should.
Big-money free agent contracts for starting pitchers are hardly ever a good idea. You can make an argument that Shields should be an exception to the rule. He is incredibly durable, pitching more than 200 innings every year since 2007. He’s been consistently very good, with just one bad season in eight. He brings value beyond his performance, and I say that as someone who thinks leadership and intangibles are usually overstated.
But he’s also likely to command a four- or five-year contract worth upwards of $20 million per season. I think he’s genuinely liked his experience with the Royals, but Shields already singed one below-market deal to stay in a place he liked. He’s not likely to do it again.
That means that the Royals signing Shields means putting something like 15 to 20 percent of their payroll for a starting pitcher they’d be paying until he’s 36 or 37 years old.
I’d much rather use that money to extend (again) Alex Gordon, for instance. Or make a run at Hosmer, if the team believes like I do that he’s a star in the making. Maybe think about something with Cain, depending on what the medical staff says.
But I’d be hesitant to put that much money into a free agent starting pitcher. History has shown that’s hardly ever a good idea.
But, to answer your question, yes, they’d be better off signing Lester because Lester is the better pitcher.
I have layered and perhaps conflicting thoughts about Dyson, when asked if he expected the series to go back to Baltimore, saying, "No sir I don’t, and I don’t think they think that either."
On one level, I love it, simply because I’m a sports writer and when guys say stuff like this it’s interesting and fun and, yes, gives us something to talk about.
I also love it because it’s Dyson, this is who he is, and I love when guys are able to be themselves. When they’re comfortable enough, even on this stage, to let their true selves be seen. Baseball, in particular, needs more of this, not less.
And for the Royals, if there is any impact, I think it’s a good one. If you spend any time around this team, talking to them about what makes them go, you will probably get the feeling that Dyson is a critical part of their energy. I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that the team fell back a little last year when he went on the DL. He is loud, confident, and hilarious. That’s a pretty good combination.
But – and here’s the part that may be conflicting – I don’t think this stuff matters much. There is no way I can believe that, if the Orioles were about to lay down, Dyson’s WWE routine has suddenly woken them up and livened the spirits and now look-the-hell-out. Do they now care about winning the ALCS – the ALCS – after being apathetic before? Get out of here.
The Orioles are a good team, with terrific players like Nelson Cruz and especially Adam Jones. If Dyson’s words impact them emotionally at all – influence them to try harder, maybe too hard – then I’m not sure how they got this far in the first place.
My guess is the Royals will lose game three, then win four and five. There’s an enormous chance I’m wrong. Either way, Dyson’s words aren’t going to affect anything other than give sports writers and broadcasters a little material.
Which, obviously, is appreciated.
Guys, this isn’t a secret. Andy has a story in yesterday’s paper referencing that Duffy’s mechanics have troubled team officials. I wrote last week that the team doesn’t trust him (if you read the column, I was more optimistic than I should’ve been about that changing).
Duffy is healthy. That’s the thing people keep going back to, and it’s understandable, because that’s the easiest and most obvious explanation for going away from a guy who was the Royals’ best pitcher for large chunks of the season. But I do believe, from talking to people and from reading clues, that he’s healthy.
This comes down to trust, and I think something was lost in September. He had the strange game against the Indians where he got outs, but didn’t have his good stuff and stopped pitching out of the windup. Then he got shelled in Chicago, the day after the clinch, and I think the Royals just believe they can trust Vargas and Guthrie with a postseason start more than Duffy.
I also think it’s worth pointing out the obvious here, that the Royals haven’t needed a lot of Duffy. He responded in a big way in the opener of the Angels series. If he got knocked around there, the Royals probably lose that game and their playoff run is at least different. But otherwise, the team has gotten through mostly with Brandon Finnegan, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland getting the bullpen outs. That’s a pretty good formula.
If it was up to me, Duffy would be pitching more than he has. I think this is a good time to remember the team has more information than we do, but I would have put Duffy in the rotation.
But the Royals are 6-0 in the postseason doing it their way, so, you know. Yosted.
This is the personnel move I’d most like to see, actually. With Duffy, I think it’s easy to see the team’s side. They have four good starting pitchers, and Duffy was terrific out of the bullpen when they called on him. But at second base, it kind of looks just like loyalty.
Infante had the infield hit that started the rally in game two in Baltimore, but has just four singles in 24 postseason at bats and is clearly limited defensively with a hurting shoulder.
Ned loves his guys, that’s always been a defining trait of his time in Kansas City. He’s loyal to Infante, who hit second in the order most of the year despite a mostly terrible offensive season. Colon has been useful off the bench a few times, but even in the "Colon plays third if they have to pinch hit Willingham for Moustakas late in a game against a tough lefty^" scenario Colon could slide over to third and Infante inserted as the second baseman.
^ Which, in itself, is less likely with Moustakas turning into Roy Hobbs.
But, again. They’re winning. Yosted.
I did not expect to be tweeted by Kansas City Water today.
I’ve heard all sorts of theories. The other night, I went to Garozzo’s with my wife and Mike Garozzo was making the case that it’s all because of his spiedini. Apparently, at least of the guys – I’m not sure if he’d want his name here or not – has gone in there a few times during the playoffs. Makes as much sense as anything else.
Garozzo’s makes a good spiedini, is what I’m telling you.
I joke like everyone else about meteorologists, because we can all look at a radar map on our phone, and, yes, I realize the irony here that I also have a job that many, many, many people think they can do better^.
^ Some of them are wrong.
But, we’re all friends here, so I should also mention that I took meteorology in college and it may have been the hardest class I took. I ended up doing it pass-fail and had to scratch and claw for that pass. And that was 101. At a state school.
So, you know. Keep doing you, meteorologists.
I thought we were at the point where your boss was legally required to understand if you had playoff tickets. Are we not at that point? I mean, what I’m about to say does not apply if you’re an ER doctor or a cop or fireman but here’s your excuse: bossman, I have playoff tickets. Deuces.
Might give him a heads up that you might not be 100 percent the next day, too. You know, courtesy.
We’ve spent a lot of time joking about parades here, but, we all see it’s going to happen, right? No team has ever lost an LCS after winning the first two on the road, and only three of 24 have ever lost an LCS after winning the first two in any setting.
I’ll also tell you this: the Royals should have a parade if they win the ALCS but lose the World Series. I don’t know that they would, of course. I’ve asked people in the organization, and they usually just laugh at me, and say they haven’t thought of anything beyond that day. And I believe them on this, but I also know that the Royals had a parade after losing the 1980 World Series because, in Frank White’s words, "they were just so excited we finally got that far."
I know a lot changes after 34 years, and there would no doubt be some jokes if the Royals had a parade for anything other than winning the World Series, but I think they should.
They’d probably "just" do some sort of fan rally, though.