Judging the Royals

Dining with Drew leftovers: The best stuff we didn’t use

KC Royals catcher Drew Butera (right) and The Star’s Lee Judge.
KC Royals catcher Drew Butera (right) and The Star’s Lee Judge. skeyser@kcstar.com

As you may already know, Drew Butera and I went to Garozzo’s Italian Ristorante, had lunch, recorded it and made three videos of the experience.

But the three videos only cover about 19 minutes of a lunch that took 1 hour and 40 minutes. Lots of stuff didn’t get used and some of it was pretty interesting.

Can't go to lunch with a ballplayer? We'll bring one to you: Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera. We sat down with him at Garozzo’s Italian Ristorante and (in the first of three episodes) talked about Sicilian Butter, Sicilian Artichokes and wh

Can't go to lunch with a ballplayer? We'll bring one to you: Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera. We sat down with him at Garozzo’s Italian Ristorante and (in the second of three episodes) discussed the pleasures of home cooking and leftovers.

Can't go to lunch with a ballplayer? We'll bring one to you: Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera. We sat down with him at Garozzo’s Italian Ristorante and (in the third of three episodes) hit the wall during the dessert course. Drew theorized t

For instance:

How a comeback win can set off a hot or cold streak

The night before our lunch the Royals came back from a 7-1 deficit and beat the Houston Astros on a walk-off homer by Mike Moustakas. I asked if a win like that could get a team on a hot streak and Drew said yes, a comeback victory builds a team’s confidence.

After that comeback win against the Astros, the Royals went 5-2.

Drew pointed out that a bad loss could also set off a cold streak: letting an opponent get up off the mat and beat you undermines a team’s confidence.

After losing that game to the Royals, the Astros went 2-5.

Winning the World Series makes you hungry for more

After winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals had a down year in 2016. Some fans speculated that the players were now satisfied with their accomplishments and weren’t giving it everything they had.

Drew said it was exactly the opposite.

After you win a World Series you realize how great it is and want to win another one — nothing else is acceptable.

You hit one of ours, we hit one of yours

At the beginning of 2015, Royals batters were getting drilled by opposition pitchers more often than seemed necessary or acceptable.

When position players are getting drilled, they need a pitcher to step up and protect them: the other teams need to know there’s a cost to pitching too far inside.

A lot of people deplored it, but after Kelvin Herrera buzzed Brett Lawrie’s tower and then pointed at his own head, Royals batters quit getting drilled quite so often.

Catchers and pitchers don’t like to come right and say they hit guys on purpose — that’s a great way to get fined — but Drew agreed that Herrera’s actions had an effect on the rest of the league.

And as long as we’re talking about Kelvin Herrera …

Drew said all the Royals pitchers were pretty good about hitting the mitt. It’s rare for him to set up on the inside corner and then have to lurch to the outside corner to corral a wild pitch.

Asked to name the hardest guy to catch, Drew said Kelvin Herrera.

Not because Herrera is wild, but because Herrera throws so hard it gives a catcher less time to react.

That’s why catchers need to know what’s coming; if a catcher thinks he’s getting a slider away, but instead gets a hard sinker in, the pitch can do a lot of damage to the catcher’s thumb.

With a runner on second base the pitcher and catcher use a more complicated series of signs; that’s why you see a catcher go out to the mound and make sure he’s on the same page with his pitcher.

Especially if that pitcher is Kelvin Herrera.

Why catchers look around

When a hitter digs into the box, take a look at the catcher; he’ll be looking at the hitter’s feet. If the hitter has moved from his normal spot in the box, it tells the catcher what to do next.

If the hitter has moved up in the box he’s looking for something off-speed; back in the box, he’s looking fastball. On top of the plate he wants a pitch away; off the plate he’s looking middle in.

That’s one of the reasons some hitters don’t like to move around in the box; they don’t want to give the catcher any additional information.

Next, watch the catcher look up at the hitter when he gives the pitcher the signs. The catcher wants to know if the hitter is peeking back, trying to steal a sign. Those Oakley wrap-around sunglasses gained some popularity with hitters because they allowed hitters to peek back without getting caught.

Drew said if he catches a hitter peeking back, he won’t give the sign. And if the hitter keeps peeking, Drew might remind him that the pitch is coming from the mound, not the catcher.

Let’s wrap this up with the best moment we didn’t use

When I’m making a video with a player I hate to use a hand-held mic: it’s a constant reminder that we’re doing an interview and it changes the way people act and talk.

Wireless body mics are much better because after a while you forget you’re wearing one and that’s exactly what happened to me.

If you saw the raw footage of “Dining with Drew” you’d see me excuse myself and get up to use the restroom. In my absence, Drew and our cameraman, Shane Keyser, discussed the best way to heat up leftovers.

Meanwhile, the sounds of me using and flushing a urinal could be heard quite clearly. It wasn’t my finest moment in journalism, but to be honest, it could have been a lot worse.

We’re already planning the next “Dining with Drew” and next time I’ll try to remember to turn my microphone off if I visit the restroom.

Talk to you soon.

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