If the Royals are being targeted for over-celebrating or showing too much emotion — and there are people around the game who believe this to be true — that says more about baseball than it does about the Royals. Respect for the game is important, but so is being free to show natural emotion.
It was reckless, how the A’s Brett Lawrie slid into Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar in the seventh inning Friday. There is no need for Lawrie to come in with his spike high and off the base — directly into Escobar’s leg. But there is no reason to believe it was malicious, and there is an important distinction here.
Billy Butler is back in Kansas City for a three-game series at his old baseball home this weekend. Through some combination of happenstance and serendipity, the schedule gives him the perfect reunion. Including the 2014 playoffs, in which the Royals beat Butler’s new team, the A’s, and the 2012 All-Star game, Butler has played 595 games at Kauffman Stadium. But, always in a blue and white uniform. Always from the first-base dugout.
For all of the mistakes or personality quirks that kept Mike Alden from being a more thorough success as Missouri’s athletic director the past 17 years, he will forever be remembered for getting the two most important parts of his professional life absolutely right. He hired and kept a terrific football coach. And he led the school from a bickering and unstable conference to the most powerful and richest league in the country.
The path back to the playoffs this year is different than the one to the playoffs a year ago, and the Royals’ understanding of and approach to that fact will determine so much. Conversations with people inside and outside of the club show that the best version of the 2015 Royals will be only tangentially related to the best version of the 2014 Royals. The challenge for this group is to succeed again among these moving parts.
We can joke now, because, man, for a minute there it looked like the New Royals relapsed into the Old Royals as Yordano Ventura — the 23-year-old with the 100 mph fastball and new long-term contract — finished the 81st pitch of a shutdown opening day performance by throwing his glove to the ground and writhing in pain. Ventura will make his next start. And, all together now, exhale.
The Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation held its 10th annual benefit fashion show featuring 16 local boutiques and designers on Friday evening at the Kansas City Convention Center with guest host Mario Lopez.
The last time Derek Mitchell weighed himself, the scale said 576 pounds. That was about a month ago, and about 50 pounds less than the number in November that convinced him to change how he was living and take back his health.
It used to be that the only thing surer than the Royals losing games was Kansas City losing its best players in or even before free agency. But with the news of Yordano Ventura’s new contract, the Royals maintained a remarkable track record in keeping their best young players long-term.
After becoming general manager of the Royals, Dayton Moore put a laser focus on the most fundamental and obvious way the Royals were not a big-league operation. Moore and the rest of the Royals front office would make sure that, if nothing else, their team would no longer be the one to let a routine fly ball drop between two outfielders who each assumed the other one would catch it.
Kelly Oubre will enter the NBA Draft and this was always the plan — high school to one year at Kansas to the NBA — never much of a doubt. But Oubre’s official decision, along with Kentucky’s run at 40-0, is a chance to talk about how Bill Self and Kansas have fared with one-and-done players.
The Kansas basketball flame burns hot. White hot. So hot that when Bill Self was hired as coach 12 years ago next month, he touched his chair at his introductory news conference and joked that his hands burned.
There is no question KU coach Bill Self wanted this one with a particular passion. The Jayhawks led Wichita State by eight with five minutes left in the first half. Which had to make watching his team fall apart over the last 25 minutes hurt even more.
The phrase is simple and to the point, somehow both specific and vague. It is strong enough to be the basis of how Bill Self maintains one of college basketball’s powers, but flexible enough for him to bend into the moment.
Rivalry between Kansas and Wichita State? Not as far as the players are concerned. Any added intensity comes from geography, and fans, and a recent push from Wichita and media in the state for these programs to play each other. The Jayhawks and Shockers play for a slot in the Sweet 16 at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
KU is at the point where winning another league title outright and earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament is not nearly enough. Expectations are so high that this team is looked at by many fans as uninteresting, and this tournament as unworthy of investment, because the Jayhawks are such underdogs to make the Final Four.
For first time, it is likely that left fielder Alex Gordon will leave spring training with the possibility of this being his last season with the Royals. His contract is up after this season; if team and player were to negotiate a long-term contract, now would be the time.
The Royals hit 95 home runs last year, the fewest in the majors, and just the sixth team since 2000 to not hit at least 100 home runs in a regular season. The Royals won anyway, but new right fielder Alex Rios presents what might be the Royals’ best and most interesting shot at adding power. He replaces Nori Aoki, who hit just one home run. Rios has 11 seasons of 10 or more home runs and three of 20 or more.
Other than pitchers Wade Davis and Yordano Ventura, no Kansas City Royals player made as much of an individual jump as Lorenzo Cain did last year. He is such a spectacular outfielder that he always will be a valuable big-leaguer, but how well last year’s breakout is followed up depends largely on Cain’s hitting.
Everyone asks Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar if he’s going to take more pitches in the leadoff spot, but manager Ned Yost wants him hitting with a clear mind. Yost’s management style has always been to trust his guys, and as much as anyone else on the roster, Escobar is one of Yost’s guys. Escobar is one of the most durable and dependable players in a sport that worships durability and dependability.
It’s been apparent for some time now that this particular team is as matchup-dependent as any coach Bill Self has had in 12 seasons at KU. We knew that before this week, of course, so seeing it packed into three days at the Big 12 Tournament was a more reinforcement than revelation.