I love my job, and before we go any further I need you know I mean those words with my heart and brain. Being able to think and talk and write about sports all day — and get paid for it — feels a bit like cheating, and no matter what, there is literally no day that goes by that having this job does not seem awesome.
All of that said, there are frustrations. Like any job. People won’t talk to you, or you can’t come up with a good idea, or you write a bad column* or, Andy promises to shoot his postgame video with a Billy Butler Country Breakfast bowl on his head and then totally backs out like punk.
* Shut up, you guys. That wasn’t nice.
But one of the biggest frustrations is when you read something someone else wrote that is so good you wish you’d have come up with it first. This is a different feeling than reading something someone else wrote that is so good that you are in awe of the reporting or writing or storytelling. That happens often, and is actually kind of cool, because it can be motivation and inspiration.
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No, reading an idea that you wish you’d have come up with is much more frustrating, and I bring all of this up because Tom Verducci wrote this piece about how MLB should fix its All-Star voting by holding an Election Night.
To be fair, Verducci admits he stole the idea from MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, so I guess my hate is directed more to Greg, but how great would this be: you have primary elections early in the season, get the ballot at each position down to three or five (ten for the outfielders) and open balloting for one day, which would almost certainly turn into a coast-to-coast celebration of baseball and the sport’s best players.
Verducci makes the smart point that we live in a time where Events — capital E — carry the day, because that’s how you get attention and discussion, and that the build-up to baseball’s Election Day would be terrific for a sport that is need of buzz and the attention of young people.
You might notice that Verducci presents the idea, in part, as a way to curb the kind of ballot stuffing that some Royals fans are doing, but even if you’re offended by that part of it the end result would be so much better than the square-peg-round-hole system baseball is using at the moment.
The only way I would like this idea more is if I came up with it, which is why Verducci’s piece — and Amsinger’s idea — will not be this week’s reading recommendation.
As always, thanks for your help, and thanks for reading.
The World Series favorites have a $9 million* starting pitcher who is giving up a .307/.356/.479 line, meaning that against Jeremy Guthrie, the average big league hitter is turning into Jose Abreu or Matt Carpenter.
* $12.2 million, if you count the buyout.
The World Series favorites are banged up all over the diamond, and have had eight members of the opening day roster on the disabled list already. They have given 251 plate appearances to a second baseman who is hitting .233/.239/.314, and their regular right fielder is hitting .220/.248/.271. The World Series favorites were picked by most to finish third or even fourth in their own division.
Of course, the Royals have significant strengths, too, strengths we’ve been over many times here and other places, strengths that start with a spectacular defense, but also including a ridiculous collection of relief pitching, ascending position players, and a defining resiliency. They are 34-0 when leading after seven innings, 36-2 when leading after six and, well, this is just silly and I assume unsustainable, but they are 30-2 when leading after two innings. Those are better percentages than Steph Curry shoots from the free throw line.
Also, it must be said, the American League is not very good. The Royals have a 5 1/2 game lead on the Twins and six on the Tigers in the division, and, even after last night, a two game lead on Houston for the best record in the league.
They are a very good team, in other words, that in the eyes of the gamblers benefits from a weaker field to get to the World Series.
Now, nobody needs to say or read this, but being the betting favorites in June means about as much as what I had for breakfast today* but I also don’t think anyone is taking anything written or said here too seriously, so, you know, let’s move on.
* Avocado on toast, breakfast of champions.
Well, sir, I’m glad you asked. Like any self-respecting sports fan, I am in general uninterested in the home run derby* and this is especially true when the game’s best and strongest home run hitter is injured and not participating.
But I am happy to see MLB try to improve the event. Mostly, I love the idea of a bracket. I like the drama of head-to-head competition, the possibility of bracket pools, among other elements. I also like that it’s timed, rather than done on swings, so you won’t have guys taking pitch after pitch after pitch. That’s boring, and besides, being able to hit un-perfect pitches for home runs is a valuable and impressive skill.
The only thing I’m not all-in on is the bonus time. Seems confusing, and a bit gratuitous, but I’d like to see how it actually looks before dismissing it.
Besides, even without Stanton, there are some guys who would be fun to watch. Prince Fielder was almost literally created to compete in home run derbies. Bryce Harper could put on a show. Jose Bautista. Miguel Cabrera. Mike Trout. On and on.
But, Stanton will be missed, so how about we all watch the time he hit one out of Dodger Stadium? Note the left fielder:
Get healthy soon, Giancarlo.
I don’t think they will do this, and I don’t think they should. At least not right now. This is all a bit unnecessary to talk about at the moment, because these are decisions that will be made in two to four weeks. We talked about this on the Border Patrol yesterday, but there are so many moving parts with the rotation that it would be silly to lock into a position right now.
The Royals can’t have anything more than a guess what Kris Medlen will be, for instance. How Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas come back from the DL will affect how the Royals view their situation, as will any signs about Chris Young’s long-term viability as a full-time starter.
There is, in other words, no way to know with any reasonable certainty how badly the Royals will need a rotation upgrade. You also used the term “frontline,” and if that’s the criteria, I’d be very surprised if the Royals made a move for Cueto, for example.
Remember a year ago, the Royals traded for Jason Frasor a few weeks before the deadline, and Josh Willingham after. Frasor was a wise and efficient move to lengthen the bullpen, and Willingham, well, that didn’t really amount to much. But even the moves the Royals tried to make at the deadline — and they did try — were not going to be blockbusters.
To do a big deal, the Royals would need to give up a significant piece from the major league club, or multiple top prospects from the minor leagues. I just don’t see the wisdom in doing that, particularly when a pending free agent like Cueto would not net the Royals a compensatory draft pick.
Again, a lot can change between now and the trade deadline, but here is another critical point: the Royals have the best record in the league, and will be operating from a position of strength, not desperation.
Well, I assume you will hear many mentions of how Dallas Keuchel can make a case with his start against the Royals tonight. Ned Yost referenced this, saying Keuchel had a “vote.”
Yost has been fairly vague about this, which is exactly what he should be doing. Aside from Keuchel (2.17 ERA, 0.96 WHIP), there are some strong contenders with Sonny Gray (2.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), David Price (2.62 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 110 innings), among others.*
* Chris Sale has a 3.02 ERA, 129 strikeouts and 21 walks over 95 1/3 innings.
But if it was up to me, Chris Archer would be the guy. His numbers are fairly silly — 2.31 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 133 strikeouts and 25 walks over 109 innings — and I think it’d be a good showcase for what might be baseball’s best pitch.
Of course, the awesome, Successful Ned move would be to start Wade Davis.
The answer is Mauk, and not just because he plays quarterback. When you worry every time your quarterback drops back, or fear that every throw will either miss an open man or be an interception, that can be an aggravating football experience. Selden has vastly underperformed his recruiting hype, but I think we’re somewhat used to seeing that in basketball, and besides, there are four other guys out there who can take the shot. Also, as long as he keeps returning to school, KU fans should feel good that they’ll get Selden’s best, eventually.
Starting with Chase Daniel’s first season, here are the completion percentages for every Missouri quarterback since 2006:
Daniel: 72.9 (!)
Blaine Gabbert: 58.9
James Franklin: 63.3
This is a system that promoties high completion percentages, in other words, and Mauk is struggling with that part of it. He also threw 13 interceptions last year, the most by a Tigers quarterback since 2008, and that was easier to take because Daniel also threw 39 touchdowns, had the highest quarterback rating for an MU quarterback this century.
Mauk is only now a junior, of course, and there is plenty to like. Talented players are often the most frustrating, because you can see all the possibilities.
But that doesn’t change the math.
I thought releasing Flowers was the right move, for a lot of reasons, not just the salary cap or his fading production, but because he was a rotten fit for what the Chiefs want their cornerbacks to do. That last point is why I think Marcus Peters was a very good pick, by the way.
Maybe this is semantics, but I think the Chiefs have their best leadership group in a decade, so the Flowers thing isn’t going to be the swinging vote one way or the other.
Now, none of that means blind faith, or that the Chiefs will be great at receiver or center just because. It seems to me that the Chiefs have pulled themselves from atrocious to closer to average at receiver. Jeremy Maclin is a rare plug-in free agent who should have a small learning curve to a new system.
The center position is interesting for a lot of reasons. The Chiefs have had this sort of internal confidence in Eric Kush, and I do see their belief in him as sincere, but they also drafted Mitch Morse in the second round and I believe the team’s decision makers see Morse as at least worthy of giving Kush stiff competition. He may even be the favorite to win the job. Either way, we just don’t know much about either player yet, so I don’t think we can make any pre-judgments.
Yes, man. YES we overreact to stuff like this. The internet is awesome, for so many reasons, including this, but there is this fantastically overblown element where people CANNOT WAIT to be offended by something, and when they find it, jump on it with venom and hate that they want to make sure is hotter than the next person’s venom and hate, all of which is for nothing when Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers come to the party.
What he said was stupid, or at least I think so, because I happen to enjoy the women’s World Cup. I have to admit to not watching much women’s sports, outside of the Olympics, at least, but I also don’t see the point or interest in talking about how I don’t watch the WNBA or whatever.
But, my goodness, is it possible for the internet — particularly social media, and I’m looking directly at you, Twitter — to take it down a notch? Being offended has become a pastime, and I guess I don’t understand the point in it. There are certain idiots who are worth shouting down, I suppose, but it has never been easier for people to avoid watching things they don’t want to watch, or ignore things they want to ignore.
Andy Benoit is a guy who writes about the NFL. He’s solid, from what I see, passionate about what he does. But he is not an elected official, or a person in charge of women’s sports or even a person in a place to influence women’s sports. Not in any way.
He said a stupid thing, and on Twitter. He even deleted it, though that probably just made it worse. I guess I’m just not sure who was swayed by the silly tweet, and needed to hear all the rebuttals.
But, whatever. I guess I’m also not sure why any of us are here every week.
This is going to sound strange, but particularly when I’m not having to cram this between a bunch of other things, Twitter Tuesday is actually one of my favorite things to do every week. I like where we are here. Most weeks, the bulk of what we do here is about sports, some is about food or music or things to do, and it is all entirely pointless. I love it.
I guess more non-sports questions would be fine, if for no other reason than there are only so many times and so many ways to say the Royals need to wait a few weeks to see what they should do about the rotation, but there is also the sad fact that I’m not sure what else to talk about.
You don’t want to hear about my 16-month-old learning to put the plastic ball on the tee and then swing away like some miniature Jose Altuve, and you don’t want to hear about the bourbon I tried the other day or the beer in my fridge or my plans for the weekend and I don’t want you to hear all of this and realize that I am a complete cliche.
But, you guys know what’s what. We’re all friends here. No topic is off limits.
Small technicality: they announced that they would begin accepting expansion bids, but no city or potential ownership group can file a bid quite yet.
Las Vegas and Seattle sure seem to be frontrunners, and both markets make sense for various reasons. Vegas has had a very successful season ticket pledge drive, and Seattle is a good market with a ready-made rival and opening for a winter sports team. Quebec would also make sense, though I hear the NHL would prefer expanding west rather than east.
I want to learn more about all of this before I say anything substantial, but it’s easy to find reasons to be skeptical about Kansas City’s involvement. AEG has very clearly moved on after hoodwinking Kansas City voters, leaving only the invested and the gullible to make the nonsensical argument that the Sprint Center is better without a team tying down so many dates.
For reasons both personal and professional, I would love to see Kansas City pursue and land an NHL or NBA team, but you have to wonder if the timing just didn’t work. The Sprint Center is no longer a new arena, and there is no potential ownership group that’s spoken up. The $500 million expansion fee is a load.
There are some possibilities around town, and the NHL’s announcement means the conversation will start up again. There will always be interest from some folks around Kansas City, and that interest has been expressed to the league, but there are a lot of hurdles between expressing interest and putting together a winning bid.
Hockey in Kansas City is in an interesting place. The Missouri Mavericks have a lot of momentum, including the new affiliation with the NHL’s Islanders. NHL 21 continues to promote the sport at the grassroots level. The idea of an expansion franchise is certainly worth considering.
But, like I said, I want to learn more about where everything stands. But at the moment, it’s not something that feels like it’s happening.
Well, obviously he needs to get healthy. That finger — and it just HAD to be his left ring finger, right? — is a problem, so as long as that’s bothering him, sure, there’s concern.
But beyond that, I don’t think so. We can play the fun-with-endpoints game and see that since May 16 he is hitting .244/.291/.305 with 11 RBIs and 27 strikeouts in 36 games, but if we do that we should probably also note that in the 36 games before that he was hitting .333/.410/.574 with 29 RBIs.
There is an adjustment he needs to make, clearly, but even with his season sort of split in two he has the highest adjusted OPS of his career, and can help win games on the base paths and especially on defense.
The Royals need him to get out of his slump, sure, but there is also a ton of confidence around the team that they are winning at this pace without everything going right. I think you’re much more likely to hear about being encouraged at what it will all look like when Hosmer starts hitting than you are anything about his slump causing trouble. These types of issues and adjustments are much easier made when things are going good.
Hey, also, if this picture isn’t the first thing Aaron Murray sees the next time he walks into the quarterbacks’ meeting room, then Alex Smith and Tyler Bray are not doing it right.
It’s a good question, as both have been passed in the voting, and both are having All-Star-ish years. Let’s look at Hosmer first.
First base is a monster position in the American League, and it’s hard to see where Hosmer makes the top three. Miguel Cabrera will likely and deservedly start the game, but Hosmer’s offensive numbers (.290/.354/.445, eight homers, 40 RBIs) are well behind Prince Fielder (.351/.418/.538, 12, 48). Albert Pujols is that guy again, with 23 home runs, a .553 slugging percentage, and a Hall of Fame track record. Jose Abreu has five more homers than Hosmer, and 39 more OPS points. Hosmer’s defense is better than any of them, and by a bunch, but I’m not sure it makes up the difference.
Third base is a little simpler. Josh Donaldson is having an MVP-type season, and like Cabrera, will likely and deservedly win the vote. That basically leaves Moustakas and Manny Machado, and at the moment, an objective person would put Machado ahead.
Machado: .307/.364/.527 with 15 homers, 43 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and eight Defensive Runs Saved.
Moustakas: .317/.369/.463 with seven homers, 31 RBIs, and seven Defensive Runs Saved.
That’s an advantage for Machado, though a hot stretch by Moustakas could make it closer, and if Yost decides to take three third basemen, it’s pretty clear.
How much that last part factors into it is hard to say, especially at this point. There are so many rules and different votes that managers don’t have as much control over the rosters as some people think. Obviously Yost would love to take his own guys, especially those guys, and Successful Ned would add Moose as a relief pitcher if he had to.
But, looking at it like this, I’d say Hosmer is on the outside and Moose is probably just on the good side of 50-50.
We’ve talked about Yost a lot, both here and with the columns, and I hope I’ve been pretty consistent with him. I think he has significant strengths* and significant weaknesses** and when you mix it all together he’s an average manager and a terrific fit for what the Royals have needed.
* He’s terrific in the clubhouse, getting guys to not just buy-in but be all-in. The most important judgment of a big league manager is whether the players go hard, and the Royals have always gone hard for him, even if there have been some close calls.
** Game strategy, basically, and the need to be talked into tweaking his bullpen usage.
He is the manager of the American League champs, and like we talked about last week, I believe he’s going to be inducted to the Royals’ Hall of Fame someday.
But I also think the impact of big league managers is quite often overstated by fans and media, so I’m not going to go crazy about it.
Well, first of all, I’m going to do us both a favor and assume you misspelled “Joe’s Kansas City” or “Gates” or “Slapps” or, hell, maybe even “McRib.”
But either way, this is tough for me because I believe the list of the 10 most delicious things to eat might look like this:
1. Burnt ends
6. Onion rings
9. French fries
So I feel a bit like you’re asking me to choose my favorite child and, in this case, this cliche makes no sense because I only have the one.
But I’m going to go with the tacos, which may be a surprise, but when the mood hits, there are few things more satisfying than so many delicious and cheap tacos. Also, I love smoking ribs, and I know this is obnoxious, but my ribs are insane. Every time I make tacos, I think they’re delicious, because they’re tacos, but also understand that the experts at In-A-Tub or Los Corrals or any number of other places would not feed my tacos to their dogs.