Chin Music’14: Yostest with the Mostest

12 Oct

Return of Royalty

I could’ve gotten on baseball-reference.com, boned-up on KC’s stats and tried to sell a familiarity, but who needs another numbers cruncher anyway? I wouldn’t have dropped WAR into it, I‘ll tell ya‘ that much, baseball’s version of the QBR.

To be honest, I’m pretty much an empty vessel on these 2014 Kansas City Royals. And I’m not alone. Besides those who reside in the 816 and 913 area codes, most national sport observers are equally deficient on the topic. And why not?

............Royals.wc.cca.5.24.11.K.Allison.thumb

Like most fans I’ve not paid much mind to the goings on at Kauffman Stadium since their glory days passed. Those would be the mid-70s (Herzog – Fry) up to 1985 when they won their only World Series (STL) under Dick Howser who died just a few short years later.

Winning ways don’t just forgive faults and cure the blues, they grab headlines, always have, always will. A perennial loser? They’re for the dedicated followers (35% +/-).

Not many predicted these Royals to make this MLB post-season, let alone advance to the cusp of a World Series.

These are the number nuggets on Team Royal:

The team hitting tallies here are not so much the home in the run (95 / AL-15th) as it is the runs on the ledger (651 / 9th), and then the means used to put ’em there (BA .263 / 2nd; SB 153-1st). As for the pitching, the ERA tells the tale (3.51 / 4th).

If you know anything about manager Ned Yost you might’ve been one of the few to see this coming back in March.

Ned works a 5-year plan which fits in fine with ownerships who tend to tug tight on the purse strings. I’d say he’s slightly ahead of schedule, no?

Yost’s first managerial gig was Milwaukee (See: above), where in 6 seasons (‘03 – 08) he compiled a 457 – 502 mark, making the playoffs his final turn and losing NLDS (3-1) to eventual Series champs, the Phillies. Shortly afterwards, Brewers cut ties and Yost landed in KC where he’s followed the same, steady pattern of gradual gain in the wins column.

That leads us to here.

This time Ned’s trip into the second season is proving more memorable, to say the least.

KC unexpectedly won their wild-card play-in game over the A’s, unexpectedly swept the best-record boasting Angels in the ALDS (3-0) and have now unexpectedly taken a 2-0 lead in the ALCS over Eastern rivals, the Orioles, and home-field with it.

............Showalter.wc.cca.4.4.11.K.Allison.thumb

Royals took the opener Friday night for a record 4th straight extra-inning playoff win, in a tenacious effort where small-ball turned muscly in clouting 3 dingers, Moustakas 2-run shot in the 10th the deciding blow, enroute to a 8-6 win, then carried it forward to top the hosts again on Saturday in another barnburner with Cain‘s 4-5 night setting the pace.

Only a handful of big name players remain in this years title tourney but the managers in Matheny (STL), Bochy (SF), Showalter (BAL) and Yost are plenty big to fill the void and keep things interesting. You’ll get no argument amongst aficionados in describing all four as some of the best baseball minds in the business today.

Besides the clash between bats, arms, fingers & feet, the battle of wits could be intense.

7th Inning (Poll Tax)

Baseball’s had its share of poor traditions, no doubt. Segregation, reserve-clause servitude and betting scandals top the list.

But there’s a new custom being forced upon fans at some MLB ball-parks that may constitute the worst undertaken since those pernicious promotions in the 70s like “10 cent beer night” (CLE 6-4-74) or “disco demolition” at old Comiskey Park (7-12-79).

In fairness to the promos, remember what founding father Franklin quipped; “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy,” maybe just not that happy. As to the records, glitter rock was on the outs and the Sox (and their aged stadium) were scuffling pretty good, too, as I recall in my days of youth.

The new practice: force fans to stand at attention in 7th inning stretch to test their allegiance to a rendition of “God Bless America” with its unmistakable religious-political overtone. And this after the game-opening, always welcome, “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Even as GBA’s introduction into ball-parks in 2001 seemed to take advantage of our national state of mourning in wake of the 9-11 tragedy, I could stomach the politicizing of baseball to unify the nation and honor the dead, wounded and emotionally traumatized.

But while the memory stays strong, the mood has changed and so too should the music.

It’s performance now feels singularly conservative in campaign, much in the same way left-leaning politicos & corporate shills jump the anti-Redskins bandwagon to profess a feeling for something they cared not enough to publicly address for decades.

............penny.wc.cca.usmint.2013.thumb

As MLB profits mightily in its ancillary operations (TV / merchandise), it struggles just as greatly to put bodies in stadium seats, competing with so many other entertainments, the lingering ill effects of the PED plague and the deterring high cost of attendance.

Instituting a polarizing ritual that simply promotes one poli-religious view to one segment of the audience, while disenfranchising those who feel the opposite, is contra-indicated for what ails our national pastime and the public purpose in attendance: to enjoy baseball and its accoutrements, have fun and above all else, feel welcome.

Fans are not coinage to be imprinted as they pass through turnstile with political notions as expressed through slogans (“In God We Trust”) and songs. Enough is enough.

If we must be denied the choice of exactly how we choose to use our 7th inning break and must partake in add’l public chorus (ugh), best that owners retire GBA in favor of “Take Me Out to the Ball-Game” or “America the Beautiful,” a song whose sentiment is unmistakably neutral, hopeful and unimposing of test.

Cyberdyne Alert

While champagne was pouring elsewhere, the whine was flowing from Dodgers locker-room in wake of their series loss to St. Louis earlier this week (See: Kemp & Mattingly). Strike-zone was the issue, or its location, to be exact. But the boys in blue had no one to blame but themselves. Lesson for Matt in ‘15: If you’re two in the hole and it looks like a strike, you aught swing away.

............Kemp.4.20.13.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

More significant than the moaning & groaning from the vanquished was the fodder it provided the Xbox® kids who clamor for the umpires to be replaced by machines.

How do you explain the essentialness of the human element in sport to those who were nurtured on video games, fantasy and sabermetrics? Difficult task.

Take balls & strikes away from the umpires, who do a pretty good job, even as their work is scrutinized like no others, excepting NORAD and air-traffic controllers, and baseball stops being baseball. Who knows, maybe the players would be next (See: Honda).

So remember, Matt, next time you feel it important to vent-at-length, consider you might be the tipping-point for a BIG change (See: “Miles Dyson”).

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: N.Yost, 5.25.11, wc.cca, K.Allison; Royals, 5.24.11, wc.cca, K.Allison; B.Showalter, 4.4.11, wc.cca, K.Allison; penny, USMint, 2013, wc.cca; M.Kemp, 4.20.13, wc.cca, K.Allison
Posted: 10-12-14 @ 1:58am; edit @ 12:00, 2:04pm EST

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2 Responses to “Chin Music’14: Yostest with the Mostest”

  1. personalfoul247 October 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Can you read “Root For Cinderella” on personalfoul247.wordpress.com as to why to root for the Royals in the playoffs #Royals #KC

    • Steven Keys October 13, 2014 at 3:23 am #

      Yes, I did: “Royals 2014: “Cinderella” in a power suit, no doubt. These “underdog(s)” only hope the Orioles don’t channel their inner Simon Bar Sinister: Simon says, not so fast, plainsmen!”

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