Sam Mellinger

Twitter Tuesday: Bob Bowlsby’s majority, those showboatin’ Royals, and body-slamming Giants

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby

There was a weird moment here. Well, that’s not true. At Big 12 Media Days, there are lots of weird moments. I saw a grown man shake a football coach’s hand, and then, literally, skip away with a smile on his face that I imagine still has not faded. I saw a quorum of Big 12 mascots silently but simultaneously do that gangnam style dance from 2012.

I saw new Kansas coach David Beaty^ fidget in his chair while busting with enthusiasm before going total non-sequitor in finishing an answer.

“You know how hard it is to sit still and sit down when you’re a guy that’s always moving?” he asked. “Anyway, next one.”

^ Read about his enormous challenge here!

So, no. By the standards of the day, this was not particularly bizarre. And, actually, I have to admit I didn’t catch it at first. But going through some notes, I did notice this quote from commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who was asked about Oklahoma president David Boren describing the league as “psychologically disadvantaged” as a 10-team conference without divisional play and a championship game in football.

From Blair’s story:

“It is my understanding at the present time that the majority of our presidents and chancellors believe 10 is the right number for us. There are those that believe we should get larger, and they feel strongly about it. There are those who believe we should stay at 10 and they feel strongly about it. And there are probably four or five in the middle who are persuadable one way or the other. I don’t think there’s critical mass for expansion.”

Now, maybe you don’t catch the weirdness in that quote at first. Like I said, I didn’t. But it’s there, a weird or fuzzy sort of math in which four or five presidents or chancellors who are persuadable, a few feel strongly about wanting to expand, and yet there are enough left over from a group of 10 that a majority believes 10 is the right number.

I asked Bowlsby to clarify. He mentioned that adding a school to the league would require eight affirmative votes. At the moment, Bowlsby said, “there’s nothing close” to eight votes, “so the majority think 10 is the right number.”

The math still doesn’t add up, of course, but you can see what Bowlsby is trying to say. We’re playing a bit of a game of semantics here. In literal terms, if there are four or five persuadable university chiefs, and a few who want to expand, there are not enough to make for a majority convinced that 10 is the right number. Actually, with that many in the middle, there could not even be a plurality.

But what Bowlsby is saying is that without a majority willing to vote for expansion, you could say that the majority are not in favor of expansion.

“The status quo being what it is, that’s where the majority is,” he said. “There is no majority that would move it off the status quo. Since we’re currently at ten, that’s where the majority is.”

My head hurts a little bit, but I think I understand what he’s trying to say.

Anyway, this week’s reading recommendation is John H. Richardson on when the end of human civilization is your day job, and the eating recommendation is the Mexican omelette (add avocado) at Jerry’s Cafe.

As always, thanks for your help and thanks for reading.

The fine folks at Baseball Prospectus are saying 82.2 percent which, really, seems about right. The Royals, even after losing last night, lead the division by 5.5 games. That’s the biggest division lead of any team in baseball.

This is a theme we come back to often here in this silly exercise, but the tendency when you watch a team all the time is to remember the holes. The weaknesses. That’s particularly true for baseball, and, I imagine, PARTICULARLY true for Royals fans who have such a long history of seeing things go wrong. Yordano Ventura did not help things last night, and the Royals may be feeling more motivation to trade for a starting pitcher.

But the Royals have a lot of strengths, too, and enough ways to win to get around their weaknesses. It helps that the other teams have problems, and it helps more that the Royals are on a 12-month nationwide swag tour.

I know this might sound kind of weird, but I keep thinking about how great it would be to be 8, 9, 10 years old right now. That’s right about the age where kids become aware of sports in a different way, and there is a whole wave of kids around Kansas City who are being shown how fun baseball can be. Basically, the opposite of their parents.

I know this will inspire some of you to think about Dayton Moore’s in-a-small-way-I-feel-like-I-won-the-World-Series line^, but that’s as much of a victory as the Wild Card game.

^ Dayton shouldn’t have said it, but what he meant was genuine, and good, and I wish I could find a live link for the column I wrote about it.

I don’t think you can paint with that broad of a brush, but I do think there is a feeling among certain baseball people that emotion is for sissies, and that no matter what, if the good Lord blesses you with a home run, then by golly, you put your head down and run around the bases with a tinge of shame about the attention you’re getting.

This is one of the things we talked about on The Border Patrol, and I’ve written about this before, but I absolutely despise this outdated, small-minded, self-righteous and tone-deaf thinking. The season is too long to act like a robot, and to not let yourself have fun, and beyond that, baseball is in desperate need of younger fans. The sport needs more emotion, more style. Not less. If you don’t like it, get him out.

But I also wonder if there is something else going on here, and before I continue this thought I should mention that I am fully aware I may be completely on my own here. But I do wonder something. Baseball is, increasingly, a local and regional sport. Local TV ratings are generally strong; national TV ratings are generally poor. More fans are paying more money to go to more games than ever before, and if you judge by TV ratings, fewer fans are interested in the World Series than ever before.

That means that baseball teams are increasingly marketing themselves to local audiences, to people who are only interested in their team, and see anyone in the other jersey as “opponent.” I wonder if this, generally speaking, gives broadcasters more reason to talk up their team and talk down at the opponent. White Sox announcers — and I don’t mean this negatively, in part because I think Steve Stone is among the very best — have generally been more homer-ish than most, so maybe those broadcasts are an amplification of this trend.

But, I don’t know. Even as I type that out, I can think of at least a few reasons that’s all b.s. I’m probably overthinking it.

But what Farmer said was very stupid. He was also talking about a baseball game. So let’s move on.

Flipping any wood product is disrespectful, so I would never.

I prefer to grab my junk as I file, like The Kid.

Yes, happy anniversary!

It really is remarkable how different things are, just a year later. That column ran at a particularly tumultuous time for the Royals The next day, they fired their hitting coach and had a team meeting.

In the last year, the Royals have won 107 of 170 games. Mike Moustakas is an All-Star. Lorenzo Cain is a star. Billy Butler is an A. Salvador Perez has played like a thousand games. Wade Davis is still alien-ish, but other than that, it’s all different.

Actually, reading through it again, I do wish the column included the line “the Royals will go to the World Series or I’ll go vegan,” but here’s my favorite part:

There is no reason to believe they’ll do that. No reason to expect it. Some Royals players and others in the organization are reading these words. You can put these men into one of two groups: those self-aware enough to understand this is all true, and those with enough delusion and arrogance to think it’s not.

It’s my favorite part, because Ned Yost has since admitted that he and his coaches knew the team had a problem on big stages, and brainstormed ways to help fix it. The Royals obviously busted through that in a major way, most obviously in that Wild Card game, and have completely rehabbed the franchise’s self-esteem.

I believe this with my heart: the Royals could win the World Series this year, and it would not be as cool as what they did last fall.

This is true, obviously, and I believe this was my favorite …

… but it’s also true that Duffy deserves credit, too. He pitched terrifically, pitched to contact, and allowed the defense behind him to serve as another weapon against one of the American League’s worst offenses.

This is oversimplifying things, but that’s what Duffy has needed to do for a long time. His stuff is good enough, and there are times he can overmatch big-league hitters just on talent. But he’s not Clayton Kershaw, either, and the more he can be smart about pitch selection and location to take advantage of the sport’s best defense, the better he’s going to be.

Also, and I know Escobar is partial to Empanada Madness, but I’d make Duffy spring for some Justus Drugstore.

It’s a good question, and of course there’s no simple answer. Each negotiation is different, each agent is different, each player is different, and each agent-player relationship is different.

But, whatever, I’m not trying to avoid the question, so I’ll point out that in general the specific contract numbers probably mean more to agents than to players. Those numbers are lines on the agent’s resume, and in large part what will get them hired and fired in the future. You don’t build a client base by building a reputation for getting took in negotiations. There’s a reason Salvador Perez switched agents.

Now, I hope this isn’t contradictory: I believe every player has the right to get every last dollar he can, but at some point you’re still rich. The process, in the end, is much more in the hands of players than I think most fans realize. The process is much more in the hands of players than I think some players realize. The agent works for the player, not the other way around, and I know there is pressure from the agent and players unions to get the biggest contracts possible, but the player only gets one career and should make sure he’s happy.

For some players, that means the absolute biggest contract possible, and that’s great. For others, it means taking a relatively small bit less to be happy, and that’s great, too.

I’ve tried to be a watch guy. It just doesn’t take. It feels weird on my wrist, it leaves that weird tan line, and I sweat like I’m on the surface of the sun, so any bit of cover I can skip is welcomed. There is also, I must admit, a long history of me just losing watches.

Being a watch guy has taken on a bigger significance than it should for me, because I see it as a sort of sign of adulthood. Responsible adults wear watches because they need to know what time it is to get to important meetings, and they can wear watches because they’re not airheads who constantly lose their watch.

I may or may not be responsible enough for a watch now. My wife bought me one a few years back, and I still have it. But I haven’t worn it in a long while, because the battery died, and cell phones tell you what time it is, and besides it feels weird, and, well, I’m still not sure I’m an adult.

But, I don’t know. This one looks pretty cool?

This is the kind of irrelevant, made-up, hypothetical and impossible-to-answer question that I absolutely love, so thank you. I have no idea.

He is 29 years old, and only now growing into his talent. When he was a kid, travel baseball was not quite what it is today, but he could’ve easily been playing 70 or more games a year growing up. It would make sense that his skills would’ve developed earlier, particularly with the bat, and perhaps he’d have made his first All-Star game at 26 instead of 29.

But I do suspect that he might’ve become burned out. At the very least, I do think it might have changed the way he approaches the game. Cain has this easy, joyous way about him, and he is also constantly saying his feet hurt, and once, in the heat of St. Louis, wondering who invented day games.

In this artificial world where Little Lorenzo is playing 70 games as a 9-year-old, surely there would’ve been adults pushing him to play more, to practice more, and maybe coming to baseball earlier would’ve simply meant coming to baseball joy earlier. I don’t know.

But it’s pretty great how it worked out.

We went over this a bit last week, but basically, I think Hosmer is in the beginning stages of adjusting back to the pitchers’ adjustment to his adjustment. Simple, right?

A lot is expected of Hosmer, and that’s how it should be, but the expectations cloud the fact that even with some struggles he’s OPSing .796. He could be higher, and should be higher, but this isn’t 2012 when his .232/.304/.359 line essentially got Kevin Seitzer fired.

I believe in Hosmer. I believe in his talent, and his ability to hit to all fields, and I believe that his drive and athleticism will give him every opportunity to be a star. I also believe that, like a lot of guys, he sometimes lets his swing get a little long, which can often feed struggles.

You know they track everything. According to this, the Royals are averaging 27,965 fans on the road. That’s a an increase of 1,093 fans (four percent) over last year. So, not a ton. But not nothing, either.

Well, not to get into a whole thing here, but sure: my wife, my son, my dog, my phone^, my podcasts^^, at least a day or two of good exercise, at least a meal or two that will make me feel shame, reading at least a story or two that will make me feel inadequate, and a glass of bourbon.

^ I hate that this is true, but it is.

^^ In no particular order: Freakanomics, Arseblog, TED, Fresh Air, and Radiolab.

It’s both awesome and significant. It’s awesome because it gives girls positive reinforcement, and it’s significant because this is not a Title IX thing or just being polite. This is a profit-oriented business making a business decision.

This is part of what I wrote about last week, the idea that the reason women’s sports should succeed shouldn’t be that women’s sports should succeed. The real world doesn’t work like that. You have to earn your keep, and women’s sports need to prove they are a valuable commodity in the marketplace.

The women’s World Cup team certainly did that, but it’s also worth noting that EA says it planned on putting Morgan on the cover long before that tournament.

Now, the fact that it’s Morgan on the cover also brings up the idea of objectification, or how female athletes are often viewed or marketed differently than male athletes. Obviously, male athletes are often promoted or used in ads for their looks. But the apparent decision for Morgan’s marriage to Servando Carrasco — who was traded by Sporting to Orlando City yesterday — to be sort-of-kind-of not talked about to maintain some of her appeal to male fans is really weird.

It’s the moment Hulk Hogan showed a nation of young boys that anything is possible in this world if you take your vitamins^.

^ Ahem. “Vitamins.”

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to smellinger@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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