Gregorian Chants

Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City

Friday Five: Royals’ fresh start, Ned’s dissection, busted bracket, lugubrious video

04/04/2014 7:09 AM

04/04/2014 7:09 AM

So the Royals are 0-2, which evidently dooms this season even before their home opener Friday at Kauffman Stadium since they’ve never started a season 0-2 and mustered a playoff berth.

That’s a preposterous premise, of course, and not just because the Royals have started their seasons any number of ways and not made the playoffs.

Friday remains very much a moment to celebrate a fresh start and the sense of anticipation and energy earned by a franchise that is coming off its best season in 24 years and appears improved overall.

But if neither one-run loss in Detroit was anything to be ashamed about, neither was anything to build on, either.

So the simple fact is, whether you are an optimist or pessimist, we really know nothing at all yet about the direction and character of this team – other than it has two fewer games it can win now and that that might matter later.

The sample size is statistically insignificant, 1/81 of the schedule, even if it might seem inflated since all the Royals have to show for four days of their season has been losses and thus nits to pick.

But at some point, and some point soon, the sample size will be telling.

A theme for this season is if not now, when? And that tone will be set by their start.

•  The losses, of course, have led to dissecting every single breath drawn by manager Ned Yost.

Now, I can’t say I fully understand all of his decisions. Honestly, though, that’s in hindsight, and I don’t remember feeling like any maneuvers were particularly objectionable as they were being made.

But if you’ve made up your mind that you don’t like him or his work, any move he makes that doesn’t pan out will be perceived as illogical and inexcusable.

Anyway, whether or not you like his decisions, and even if the bullpen has been wobbly, it seems to me the Royals basically are 0-2 because they’ve had 13 hits in 68 at-bats (eight for 61 other than Salvador Perez) and have scored four runs in two games.

I understand there is debate about the true significance of batting with runners in scoring position. But however you value that stat, it’s not good that the Royals have one hit in 16 at-bats in those situations.

It bears mention that the Royals faced two of the last three American League Cy Young Award winners this week, too.

But if this is their time, then facing good pitching can’t be an excuse. And that’s on the men playing, not the guy in the dugout.

•  NCAA Tournament rewind: Pretty crummy bracket. Only hit 22 of 32 “opening-round” games, nine of 16 next round, four of eight in Sweet 16 and one (Florida) to Final Four. Had the Gators to win it all, so maybe it salvages a little something if they come through.

•  As for this last go-round, let’s say Florida beats Connecticut 71-62, Kentucky over Wisconsin 78-76. Then Florida wins the national title by picking up its fourth win of the season over the Wildcats, 68-64.

•  Some years ago, I went to Lincoln, Neb., to write a profile of then-Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and noted he had a 27-inch fish of some sort (can’t remember what kind now) on his wall.

Trouble was, I used the symbol for feet instead of inches in my story, which a friend of my mom’s came across as he flew through St. Louis.

Next thing you know, I get a letter from my mom from New York City with the article enclosed. Marked in red were the words, “Some Fish!”

Now she’s keeping up in the Internet era and was aghast to see my tortured performance in a recent video we did from the NCAA Tournament in St. Louis.

She described me as “lugubrious,” a word I kind-of-sort-of-know the meaning of but looked up to see defined as “full of sadness or sorrow.”

At least she found a way to be encouraging at the end:

“Still, you do lugubrious very well; since I mostly see you calm or even upbeat, this was something new.”

Promise I’ll try to do better, Mama.

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