Friday, May 15, 2009

Mea Culpa. (For Real This Time.)

I know, I know. It’s all my fault.

I knew I was risking some blowback with this article last week. But in my na├»vete, I looked at the upcoming weekend series – MGD against a depleted Angels team starting a 30-year-old rookie and a 29-year-old journeyman, with their only legitimate starter going up against The Baseball Jonah – and said, “what could go wrong?”

A lot could go wrong. The Royals could score four runs in three games. They could have a game-tying home-run in the ninth taken away by Torii Hunter. They could lose two more one-run games, dropping their record in those affairs to 2-6. Luke Hochevar could give up twice as many runs in two major league innings as he gave up in 40 minor league ones. Brian Bannister could pull himself from a game with a stiff shoulder. Gil Meche could continue to favor his back – I don’t care what he says, when he’s consistently missing the strike zone high like he was yesterday, it all comes back to his back. The Royals could lose six games in a row immediately after winning six in a row, something they’ve done just twice before in their history (in 1979 and again in 2001, both times in late June and early July.)

Let’s take a deep breath, everyone. Good teams lose six games in a row. The difference is they also win six games in a row. (After winning their first nine games in 2003, the Royals went over five years – until June 2008 – before they had another six-game winning streak.)

So don’t panic. This is the AL Central, where the Royals can lose six games in a row in mid-May and still hold on to a share of first place. Just twice before have the Royals awoken in first place after losing six games in a row – in 1980, when they lost eight in a row in late September after already clinching the division, and in 1976, when they lost six in a row in mid-June, but were still 39-26 at the end of that stretch.

The Royals not only are tied for the division’s best record, they still have the division’s best run differential at +9. The only AL team that has allowed fewer runs is the A’s, who have played four fewer games. And unlike the Twins, the Royals haven’t had a favorable home-road split in their games so far this year. (Minnesota has played 23 games at home and just 12 on the road, which has artificially jacked up their record: they’re 14-9 at home, just 4-8 on the road. Remember, the Metrodome is such a huge and unnatural advantage that the Twins have won two world championships – despite the fact that they’ve never won a single World Series game on the road.)

The last six games represent a missed opportunity, certainly, but they did not bury the team, not in the slightest. Essentially, the season starts now for the Royals, Tigers, and Twins, with the White Sox a little behind and the Indians in a sizeable hole. The division looked like a five-way dogfight in early April; it looks like a five-way dogfight in mid-May.

There are some legitimate questions that need to be answered, of course. How long will Soria be out? When will Meche be back at full health? How long until the Royals send Mike Aviles back to Omaha to find his swing? (Put me in the camp of people who think Aviles should be demoted to Triple-A, and that’s not because I think he’s never going to hit. It’s precisely because I think he will. But right now he needs a mental breather for a few weeks, and in the meantime we can call the “Willie Bloomquist is an everyday player!” bluff. Aviles is currently hitting .194/.221/.269, and somehow I think that even the Spork can beat those numbers.)

But the important thing is that despite those questions, and despite the loss of Alex Gordon, the Royals are pretty much where we pegged them: a .500 team, maybe a little better, in a division that’s likely to be won by a .500 team, maybe a little better.

So again, Don’t Panic. Zack Greinke takes the hill tonight, at home, in front of a sellout crowd, against a pitcher with a 7.18 ERA. The six-game losing streak is unlikely to stretch to seven.

If it does, then we can start to worry. Six-game losing streaks are not a definitive mark of a non-playoff team; of the 16 teams that made the playoffs the last two years, 13 of them had losing streaks of five or more during the season, and 10 of them had six-game streaks. But only five had losing streaks that reached seven, just two reached eight, and none reached nine. (Three teams – the Angels last year, the Red Sox and Indians in 2007 – never lost more than four games in a row. If memory serves, the last team that made it through the regular season without losing more than three in a row was the 1989 San Francisco Giants – who then lost four straight to the A’s in the World Series.)

Tonight’s game therefore has a little more significance than your typical game. So I think you will all understand when I say Game Off. The Royals suck, same as they’ve always sucked. Their hot start is just like 2003, and the same fate awaits them. They’ll never amount to anything, especially the guy taking the mound tonight, who’s just another in a long line of first-round busts. I dare say he’s the suckiest ball of suck who ever sucked.

My work here is done.

17 comments:

Nathan said...

Rany, did your keyboard melt as you were typing those last two paragraphs?

Adrian said...

Put me down as someone who prefers "the suckiest ball of suck who ever sucked" over "The Baseball Jonah."

Submittal Log said...

classic

Moscow Ben said...

Damn Weiner kids.

Matt S said...

I blame myself for my first reply in your week old entry.

I always trigger there big losing streak every year somehow. Either the day I buy direct ticket, or last year when I went to the Angels game at Anaheim. I really tried not to DO anything after opening day this year. But my comment to you must have triggered it.

Curtis said...

Thank you, sir.

Matt Berger said...

Ahhh sweet relief from Greinke who...will rarely be the stopper and us nothing but a historic fluke as the rany who posted the latter part of this mea culpa entry would undoubedly agree. I went last night thanks to Leabo and the guys from BTL, the new seats in CF are sweet but being there makes Guillen look all the more stationary at this point the Royals need to trade for some new knees for Jose so we can make a stretch run oh and a new back for Gil and apparently pain tolerance (beyond that of my girlfriend) for Soria.

Matt said...

Had nothing* not us nothing

pjbronco said...

Thanks Rany. How much do you hate Davies, Bannister and Hochevar now?

Anonymous said...

I’m glad others helped begin the losing streak too. Misery loves company. Chatting with my old Brewer buddies on the day the streak began regarding home and away Series housing certainly didn’t help matters.

I will fight any temptations of daydreaming…………ummmmm brats cooking away at Miller Park while listening to laptop radio 610 Radio Royals pre-game show in late October. Ummmm…..I wonder if Gretchen that cool blonde chick from school changed much in 25 years……..Royals up 6-1 7th inning Denny warning KC fans to arrive early for Game 3 at the Koug due to the traffic problems……..stop it!

Lance said...

'Hi, I'm Lance and I'm a jinxaholic too.' I am now on step one of my program; reversable jinxination. Greinke sucked last night. He will suck again next Thursday. The Royals suck like always!

Anonymous said...

Rany, I say keep The Baseball Jonah. Don't let these haters deter you!!!!

Anonymous said...

Rany, Jonah is a nautical term for someone who brings bad luck to everyone around him. Remember the luckless midshipman in Master and Commander? When they muttered about him, they muttered that he was a Jonah. I know the biblical allusion you're trying to make, but Jonah already has a meaning, and it's a negative one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah

Calif Fan said...

Saturday's game reached new heights of frustration and incompetence. Two of their three runs should have never been scored. No one was available to pinch hit for Meier before his nifty double play? He could bunt in the fifth but not for the key run in the seventh? Is Mike Jacobs beyond totally useless, and why was he in there anyway? Is there anyone besides Callaspo who has even a prayer of a two out hit? Do these guys go to a special class on how to hit into double plays? Do we have to root for a strikeout? The Orioles are two steps below mediocre and yet they look like worldbeaters. All the good feeling around this team is going to disappear except on nights that Greinke pitches. And this on the rare night that the bullpen doesn't let ten people score.

BornBredBlue said...

Man, I thought our defense might actually be able to hold it together after a few weeks. But now it is looking even worse that we expected. I never thought we'd get much out of Jacobs, but I am glad to see Butler be slightly above the "frying pan hands" moniker. However, Callaspo is KILLING us in the field. I count three games that he had DIRECTLY turn from wins into losses. THREE FREAKIN' GAMES! Throw in the three that Hillman has cost us with poor bullpen management and we'd be on top of the world.
I'm glad Crisp can run down balls in center. But my Grandma can throw better than he can. How does he play in the major leagues! He is horrible. The other day he bounced a ball to the cutoff man who was maybe TWENTY YARDS away. Man, that's brutal. And on his left, Guillen has a cannon for an arm and lead bricks for feet. That dude can't move. Period. Throw in errors by the Spork due to positional jetlag, a below average defensive shortstop, and the on-par expected errors from DeJesus, Teahan and the battery, and we SUCK SUCK SUCK on defense.
(That error by Wright the other night that cost of the game just about made me lodge my remote in the drywall. Dang I was pissed.)

Can you actually compete without a defense or offense? I guess we're about to find out this year.

Anonymous said...

I've got to believe that the biblical reference to Jonah probably preceded the time period for Master and Commander. So "Jonah" already had a meaning before it had a meaning then.

Since I've nowhere else to put this, does anyone here realize that we have a new good problem? Slow-starting Mr. Ka'aihue is now hitting .295/.450./.575 in Omaha, with 37 walks in 30 games. Always bites in April, but here he comes. Just turned 25. Where is he at the end of this season?

Chance said...

Rany, were you happy or disappointed that George Brett didn't mention you along with the other "haters"?