Monday, April 23, 2012

Time Out.


“You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back?”

The New York Yankees had a 10-game losing streak once. It was in 1913.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had a 10-game losing streak in 1992. That’s their only double-digit losing streak since they moved into Dodger Stadium – in 1962, 50 years ago.

The San Francisco Giants have had two 10-game losing streaks in the last 60 years – one in 1985, the other in 1996.

The Chicago White Sox – hardly a juggernaut franchise – have not lost 10 games in a row since 1976.

Hell, THE CHICAGO CUBS haven’t had a 10-game losing streak since they started the 1997 season 0-14.

The Kansas City Royals didn’t lose 10 games in a row in their first 17 years of existence. They didn’t lose even nine consecutive games until 1986, when they went on an 11-game losing streak. They started the 1992 season 0-9 after losing the last game of the 1991 season. They lost 11 in a row in 1997, a stretch during which Bob Boone got fired, ushering in the glorious Tony Muser Era in Kansas City.

That’s three double-digit losing streaks from 1969 through 2004, and one of them comes with an asterisk. Since 2005, the Royals have now lost 10 games in a row six times – six times in less than eight seasons.

The Royals lost 19 in a row in 2005, then endured 11 and 13 game losing streaks by the end of May 2006, which got Allard Baird axed in favor of Dayton Moore. Jon Lester’s no-hitter precipitated a 12-gamer in May of 2008, and a 10-game losing streak in July 2009 washed away whatever goodwill remained over the team’s 18-11 start.

Still, those were the expected growing pains that come with trying to rebuild a franchise from scratch. Even three years after Moore was hired, an extended losing streak was defensible.

This one isn’t.

Nearly six years after Dayton Moore was hired, in a year when the Royals were themselves so certain that they were going to take a step forward that they boldly unveiled the “OUR TIME” motto, the team has dumped a steaming pile of crap on the curb. Ten straight losses, and even worse, nine of them have come at home. The Royals have the worst record in baseball. Playoff dreams have been extinguished, and it’s still April.

And I’ll confess: I’m this close to losing it.

It’s one thing to play poorly. We’re used to that; you might say we’ve been inoculated against it. The losing streak shines a spotlight on the team’s incompetence, but the reality is that in 15 games, the Royals have been outscored by 21 runs. That’s not the worst run differential in baseball, and it’s not the run differential of a 3-12 team. The Royals should be 5-10 right now, which is to say they’ve played badly, but not so bad that you can’t chalk it up to a mediocre team being in a collective slump. I predicted the Royals to go .500, and .500 teams go 5-10 all the time. They even go 3-12 sometimes.

It’s not the losing streak that makes me want to snap. It’s that the Royals apparently have learned nothing from an entire generation of losing. For 25 years, the Royals have been the most anti-sabermetric team in all of baseball – while the Godfather of sabermetrics lived down the road in Lawrence – and over the last 25 years the Royals have the most losses in the major leagues.

And their current front office, like the front office before them and the front office before them, thinks that this is a coincidence. They keep arguing that the problem with the Royals is that they’re not doing the little things right. That may be true, but only because they’re not doing ANYTHING right. As Jazayerli’s Law of Fundamentals states:

A team’s ability to execute the “fundamentals” is inversely correlated to the time spent discussing the importance of executing them.

In the face of a losing streak that seems like it will never end, the Royals’ solution so far has been to double down on their kamikaze style of baserunning. Before yesterday’s game, the Royals already led the league in caught stealing. But none of those stolen base attempts were remotely as stupid as the one we witnessed yesterday.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Jason Bourgeois led off and reached base on an error by Brett Lawrie. This was a tremendous gift for the Royals, who were losing, 5-2, with six outs to go. Another baserunner would bring the tying run to the plate.

There were a lot of different ways the inning could have broken down from that point, but there was one thing that clearly wasn’t going to happen: the Royals were not going to attempt to steal. That would be ludicrous. Risk an out in order to get a runner in scoring position, when you’ve got the heart of your lineup coming up? When that runner doesn’t represent the tying run, or even the next-to-tying run? In the eighth inning? That would be madness. No one would be that stupid.

The Royals are that stupid.

Not only are the Royals that stupid, but the Blue Jays knew the Royals would be that stupid. Bourgeois wasn’t thrown out by the catcher – he was picked off by the pitcher, who threw to first base as Bourgeois lit out for second.

Not only did the Blue Jays know the Royals would be that stupid, they already told the Royals that we know you’re that stupid. With Alex Gordon at the plate and an 0-1 count, the Blue Jays pitched out. They pitched out with a three-run lead in the 8th inning, and the tying run on deck. They were so confident that the Royals would try an incomprehensively bad percentage move that they deliberately gave a ball to a patient hitter who, if he reached base, would bring the tying run to the plate, with Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer due next. After Gordon flied out, the Blue Jays were still so confident that Bourgeois would run that they threw to first – and nailed him trying to steal.

So this is what The Process has wrought, six years later. A 10-game losing streak. A team that’s so hell-bent on being “aggressive” on the basepaths and “making things happen” that even in a situation which every junior varsity player knows is a time to run conservatively, and EVEN AFTER THE OTHER TEAM SIGNALLED THAT WE KNOW YOU WANT TO RUN, they ran anyway. And got thrown out.

After the game, Ned Yost indicated that Bourgeois was not given the sign to steal, implicating Bourgeois for running on his own. That doesn’t make me feel much better. For one thing, in that situation it’s not enough to not order a stolen base attempt – you need to actively give the runner a red light. Secondly, THE BLUE JAYS HAD ALREADY PITCHED OUT – if that doesn’t remind you to make it clear to your runner to stay put, nothing will.

And finally, why was Bourgeois playing for the Royals? Because they had traded for him in spring training. They also traded for Humberto Quintero, who had his own brain lock in the top of the inning. With two outs and runners on first-and-third, J.P. Arencibia took off for second, trying to draw the throw to start the double steal – and Quintero threw to second base. Brett Lawrie then lit out from third base, and while Yuniesky Betancourt moved in front of the bag at second to cut off the throw, his throw was too late to get the runner at the plate, and the Blue Jays scored a cheap run.

I’ve seen the Royals try the double-steal dozens of times – when Bob Boone was the manager it seemed to happen every week – and I can probably count the number of times it worked on one hand. There’s a reason for that – most major league teams are skilled enough to defense the play. Usually they just hold the ball and concede second base, which is what Quintero should have done. The Blue Jays announcers were surprised that Quintero threw to second on the play. So there you go: the double steal can work. It just can’t work for the Royals, because in order for it to work, they’d have to be playing themselves.

Bourgeois and Quintero, by the way, cost the Royals a legitimate left-handed relief prospect in Kevin Chapman, and another prospect who has yet to be named, but is most likely either D’Andre Toney or Terrence Gore, both young outfielders with the tools to be interesting if they figure it all out someday.

---

I’ve been writing this throughout the day, and I’m putting the finishing touches on this column tonight, after the Royals lost their 11th game in a row, their franchise-record 10th home loss in a row. And perhaps more than any other game in this streak, they lost tonight because their manager decided that the missing ingredient was a strategy that sabermetrics proved was a terrible idea 30 years ago.

It’s not simply that Ned Yost ordered the Royals to bunt. It’s not simply that he ordered them to bunt twice. It’s that HE ORDERED THEM TO BUNT THE RUNNER FROM SECOND TO THIRD. TWICE. In the third inning, Alcides Escobar led off with a double, and then Chris Getz – who was apparently tonight’s winner of “Leadoff Man Lotto” that they play in the clubhouse before every game – bunted Escobar to third base.

With the heart of the order coming up, Yost decided that it was worth giving up an out to move a runner 90 feet. You can’t even argue that he was trying to stay out of the double play. Yost had enough faith in Getz to put him in the leadoff spot – and then had so little faith in him that he ordered Getz to deliberately make an out just to move Escobar from one scoring position to another.

The Royals did not score.

In the fifth inning, Brayan Pena led off with a double, and this time Mitch Maier got the order. Perhaps Maier was being a conscientious objector, because the bunt didn’t work, as Pena was nailed at third base. Naturally, Escobar singled, moving Maier to third base with one out, which was the point of the bunt in the first place. And naturally, the Royals did not score again.

Both of these bunts came because the Royals were trying to score the go-ahead run in a tie game. In the top of the sixth, the Blue Jays showed them a more traditional method: Kelly Johnson walked, and Jose Bautista went boom-boom. And that was the ballgame.

You’d think the Royals might be aware of what power can do, given that their only run in the game came on an Eric Hosmer home run. Somehow, despite four doubles, four singles, and a walk in the game, the Royals did not score another run.

I don’t blame Ned Yost for the fact that the Royals were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. I absolutely blame Yost for once again thinking that the solution to an anemic offense is to order up the same tactic that has been hamstringing offenses for 100 years. There’s absolutely no way to justify bunting runners from second base to third, not that Lee Judge won’t try.

So now we’re at 11 losses and counting, the fifth 11-game losing streak in just over seven years. The other 29 teams in the majors have combined for 14 losing streaks of that length since 2005. The Cleveland Indians – THE CLEVELAND INDIANS, who were so bad for so long that they made the movie “Major League” about them – didn’t have an 11-game losing streak for over 70 years, from 1931 to 2009. The St. Louis Cardinals, our big brother down the street, lost 11 games in a row in 1978. That’s their only 11-game streak since at least World War I.

I can put up with the losing. I can put up with the delayed gratification, even if that delay now amounts to most of my lifetime. But I can’t put up with stupidity. I can’t put up with a team that has only one solution for every problem that develops: keep doing what we’re doing, only do it more. We keep getting thrown out on the bases? Just keep running, and eventually it will work. Making too many outs with runners in scoring position? Make them deliberately!

The other team walks more than our team does? Clearly the problem is with our pitchers, because whether a batter walks or not is completely up to the pitcher’s control, and never mind the fact that Bill James disproved that 35 years ago. God forbid we should encourage our hitters to be more patient at the plate. Yesterday Danny Duffy needed 113 pitches to face 24 batters; Ricky Romero needed only 104 to face 30. The Royals have drawn a below-average number of walks 22 years in a row, and not only is that unlikely to change in 2012, the Royals don’t even think that needs to change.

Anyway, I’m bitter and angry and probably incomprehensible at this point, so I’m going to take a time out. I’m tired of being a dupe. I’ve tried to blend realism and optimism since I started covering the Royals 16 years ago, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue that those two traits are reconcilable. Apparently, I was a sucker to suggest that the Royals might be a .500 team this year.

I’d like to think that when it comes to the other 29 teams in baseball, I know what the hell I’m talking about, even – or especially – when I take unpopular or unconventional positions. I’m proud of this column on the Phillies from last year. I’m proud of this column on the Nationals from last month. I’m wrong sometimes, but I’ll stack my track record up against almost anyone.

But when it comes to the Royals, I’ve been a raging buffoon for my entire career. A trained parrot – one that’s trained to squawk “ROYALS SUCK!” on command – would have done a far better job of predicting the team’s performance every season. (Except 2003. I’ll always have 2003. Even if that was one of the years I didn’t think they’d be any good.)

And now it’s 2012, one year after the Royals were acclaimed as having The Best Farm System Ever, the first year in ages that rational analysts (i.e. analysts other than myself) actually predicted the Royals to finish .500 or even above. And it’s clear now: no matter how far you think the Royals have come, no matter how fast you think they’re going, an 11-game losing streak is always trailing a step behind, ready to pounce like the demonic monkeys in Temple Run.

So I’m angry, but unlike back in 2009, I’m not really angry with the Royals. They are who they are. They’re trying to get better, even if they don’t really know how, and they might even figure it out one day. No, I’m angry with myself. I’ve spent literally thousands of hours writing about this team over the last four years, to say nothing about the time spent watching them, reading about them, thinking about them, perusing box scores of their complex league team…it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Royals have simply overwhelmed the free time in my life.

I’m not saying that there haven’t been benefits to this, if being arguably the world’s most famous Royals fan can be construed as a “benefit”. But the costs have been considerable. And with four children at home now, I’m thinking this would be a good time for me to take advantage of the Royals’ generous offer to take most of this summer off. Maybe read some good books. Maybe play Skyrim – or go back and play Oblivion, which I couldn’t find the time to play when it came out five years ago. Take my wife to the movies. Something.

I’m not dropping the mic; I’m just saying it will be healthier for me to be a little less hard-core about the Royals. I’ll still tweet about them and talk about them on the radio, and if they play respectable baseball for a few weeks I’m sure I’ll have something to blog about.

But if they continue to suck the life out of their fans, I’ll find something else to do with my time. Love is a two-way street, and when I’ve been reduced to starting a column by quoting Drew Barrymore in Fever Pitch, it’s time to take a breather.

This blog is something I’ve done purely out of my love for the team – I’ve deliberately kept this blog spartan and ad-free, because I never wanted this to feel like a job, like something I was obligated to do. But it has become one, in large part because I’ve been afraid to cut back on covering this team out of some misplaced fear that someone might question my credentials as a fan.

Well, screw that. I think I’ve earned lifetime credentials at this point, the same way the BBWAA lets guys vote for the Hall of Fame even after they’ve retired and haven’t watched a baseball game in 10 years. I don’t need to let the Royals consume my life in order to be a fan. So I’m going to dial it back a little.

I’m still rooting for them to win every night (at least until late September and draft position is on the line), and I hope they rip off a 20-10 stretch to get back to .500 and I go back to writing about them like nothing happened. I’m still optimistic that they will be contenders in 2013. Even in the wreckage of a 3-13 start, there are still things to be happy about:

- Mike Moustakas is hitting .286/.333/.518 and playing a genuinely above-average third base.

- Alcides Escobar is hitting .310 (!) and slugging .483 (!!)

- Danny Duffy really could be legit. His fastball has averaged 95.0 mph this season. The only starting pitcher in the majors who’s thrown harder? Stephen Strasburg. The radar gun at the K may be juiced, but that would affect his reading by no more than 1 mph. The only other starter who’s averaging more than 94.0 mph this year is Jeff Samardzija.

- Felipe Paulino can’t be blamed for this mess at all. A month ago the Royals looked ready to bury him in the bullpen; at this point, once he’s ready to go they’ll greet him in the rotation with open arms.

- The longer Bruce Chen continues to finesse his way past opposing batters, the more you have to consider the possibility that he’s the new Jamie Moyer. Not in the sense that he’ll still be pitching 15 years from now, but simply in the sense that he can make up for throwing 87 mph by being left-handed, changing speeds and arm angles on every pitch, etc. Chen is 34; when Moyer was 34 he came into his own as a starter for the Mariners, beginning a seven-year stretch when he averaged 209 innings with a 3.75 ERA in the heart of the Juiced Era. Chen won’t be that good, but he might just be good enough to justify his contract.

- Eric Hosmer’s numbers bear no resemblance whatsoever to the charge he’s putting into balls at the plate.

- Luis Mendoza can’t hurt us much longer.

Yes, even now, even after this, I still can find reason to be optimistic. I simply can no longer justify being obsessive. Not right now. I’ve got too much going right for me in life to let the Royals bring me down anymore. When they’re ready to lift me up, I’ll be here waiting for them.

86 comments:

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Understandable from your point of view. Enjoy the summer. Enjoy your family. Enough is enough.

Mogwai said...

Yesterday post-game ned was talking about "manufacturing runs"....that and the insistence on "my 8th inning guy" approach to the bullpen is EXACTLY what got nervous ned a nearly-unprecedented-during-the-stretch ticket out of the land of kielbasa.

Won't be long now.

Kansas City said...

Thanks for the insights, even as you depart. I echo enjoy your summer and your family. You'll be back soon enough. I would not be surprised to see the Royals get hot before the All Star break.

Ned Yost is a fool as a tactician. I assume Dayton understands that or can figure it out.

Nathan said...

I highly recommend Skyrim. In fact, if you wanted to start blogging about that instead, I'd be fully willing to read it.

Venu said...

I have to agree with you - I have reached the end of my rope as well. Spend time with your Family and leave the blood suckers alone!

CoolHead said...

Maybe start with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. Enjoy yourself. Dedication to a team should not overwhelm the fan, it should invigorate him.

I'm a Jays fan, but I've followed you on Twitter for a year now, always enjoy your take, even if it might be less frequent in the near future.

Unknown said...

Rany,

i'm there and i've been there a hundred times too, but i always come here to find company in my misery. It ain't easy being us, but it's alot easier when you know there's others out there.

The Royals' BS has gone too far, but i hope you don't bail on the blog altogether, it helps some of us. And i suspect it helps you too...

Keep up the good work and hope to read more from you soon. Seriously

Dan Cook said...

Your hundreds of thousands of words were not a waste, as I gained much pleasure and insight from it. Have a great summer.

Ewan Ross said...

""CoolHead said...
I'm a Jays fan, but I've followed you on Twitter for a year now, always enjoy your take, even if it might be less frequent in the near future.""


I'm in the exact same boat. I'm a Jays fan, and through your writing the Royals are very solidly my 2nd favourite team.

The fact that this team has had two of the leading lights in the Sabrmetric community who were Royals fans (Neyer & Rany), and their incompetence has turned both of them away.

Your reaction is perfectly acceptable given your patience over the years. Hope to see you back writing here soon (cause that'll mean the Royals are doing better).

Ewan Ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ewan Ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cronopio said...

Rany, if the Royals didn't do what they do, they wouldn't be who they are. And if they weren't who they are, we wouldn't be who we are.

I watched game 7 of the 1985 World Series on a 2-inch black-and-white Sony Watchman, sitting in a car in the parking lot of Royals Stadium. Since then, it's been nothing but suffering.

But we are Royals fans. This is what we do. And this is what we will continue to do -- until the day when we finally don't. And that day will be glorious. Enjoy your time, however you spend it. We'll be here when you get back.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Rany. Love your stuff, and don't let the Royals ruin your summer. I'll be willing to read whatever you put up.

Joe Royal said...

Yeah, Rany take some time off. You write more than most bloggers anyway. It's been a rough few weeks. I want to see what Paulino offers, and Salvy gets back who knows.

I welcome the Road.

You should really blog about games though. A good one to get into would be Assassin's Creed. I know you like middle east history, and the most recent one features Constantinople in the late Renaissance era. I really think you would like that. Skyrim is so cliche.

sedatedape said...

"Your reaction is perfectly acceptable given your patience over the years"

Actually he hasn't been all that patient. This isn't his first "I give up" post. It's been an almost annual thing.

He actually EXPECTS the Royal's management to listen to him (A blogger,a popular blogger in KC's small pond - but still a blogger) and take his advice. When they don't, he pouts. It wont last long.

I think the title "Grand Poo-Bah Royal Blogger" is too important to him to leave for long.

KHAZAD said...

You may as well keep posting, dude. It's therapeutic, if nothing else.

In this information age, you will still know everything that happens, you won't be able to stop caring,and without the ability to rant about it your head would explode.

I tried to turn away after the Dye for Neifi deal, and even then, I still knew what happened every day, and still got the same sinking feeling after a loss.

I was at the game tonight, in the crown seats with my wife for my anniversary. (I have a great wife) At least I was close enough for Ned to hear me wonder loudly if he had bet on Toronto after that second bunt with no outs and a runner on second.

Andrew Laughlin said...

Hate to be "that guy" but Drew Barrymore didn't say that on Fever Pitch. It was one of Jimmy Fallon's students at baseball practice. Sorry. I have just seen that movie too many times. Great piece Rany.

Andrew Laughlin said...

Hate to be "that guy" but Drew Barrymore didn't say that on Fever Pitch. It was one of Jimmy Fallon's students at baseball practice. Sorry. I have just seen that movie too many times. Great piece Rany.

bbxpert said...

I'm a season ticket holder, and I just want to say that despite the slow start, a true Royals fan doesn't give up on his team. Also, Mitch Maier bunted on his own, but regardless of whose idea it was, it was a stupid play.

Devon said...

Wow, was Ned Yost this bad a manager when he was in Milwaukee? I never really paid attention to him 'til he came to KC. I have to wonder if the Royals hired a stupid manager or if the Royals turned him into one. I know that's a bit "chicken & egg", but it seems unlikely they'd find a manager who fits the organizational philosophy of dead ball when this same manager has had some success elsewhere in the majors.

He could completely undo Dayton Moore-or-Less's minor league potential stars once they reach the majors, just by all these awful decisions.

Oh and, am I the only one watching the standings & thinking that the Royals at 3-13 are going to get a higher draft pick than the Chiefs? :-P

McGoldencrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrfson1 said...

Amen brother!

Jayboid said...

You are right Rany.

A few years ago late in my career I began working with a baseball savvy younger fellow who loved another team.

He encouraged me to enjoy the game again, and put my anti-strike anger away. Enjoy the game as in the total MLB game, not just follow the Royals.

Glad he did, for I am finding myself watching other teams more and more. Again, am older and finding myself often being woke up sleeping in a lazy boy chair with Joel Goldberg droning on about a meaningless HR in the post game.

Yes, this year is different. It is embarrassing to be a Royals fan.

Hello Omaha, Hello Springdale, Hello Pork Steaks, or whatever the team is playing at the Legends.

Lance said...

There is a bright side! Sidd Finch will be available in next years draft.

KCDC said...

I've largely tuned out too. There's only so many times you can watch a bird slam into a window. While it can be funny to watch them struggle for a while, it's time to accept that they're not going to learn and move on with our day.

Fan of the Process said...

Rany - I can understand where you are coming from. I grew up a Cubs fan and was emotional attached to every single pitch, bunt, win, and loss for many years. I finally decided after being swept out of the playoffs for the second year in a row in 2008 that I had had enough.

I realized I wasn't enjoying the game I loved so much anymore. I had to divorce myself from the Cubs. I took basically two years off from the game.

I had lived in KS for 3 years from 2003-2006 and had gone to several games at the K. I started following the Royals through your blog and some other sites. I have since adopted the Royals as my team. I am not as emotionally attached to them (you can never replace a first love), but still really enjoy following them and rooting for them.

It has allowed me to become a baseball fan again.

Good luck

Jroo98 said...

I'm with you. As a lifelong Royals fan I'm used to them losing, but even last year during that two-month stretch before the All Star break they were still fun to watch. This year is different for some reason, probably because they're squandering so much potential. I stopped watching them a few days ago, opting instead for the NHL playoffs and whatever game ESPN decides to show us. I still read the box scores but they aren't getting any more of my money or ratings until something changes.

Mike said...

The Royals are an addition we are saddled with, Rany, and you are our sponsor. Hope you make it back soon.

Mike said...

Dangit, that should say "addiction."

Tampa Mike said...

I thought Yost would be good for developing the young guys, but it doesn't seem to be working. I don't know, maybe his tactical errors just outweigh any developmental improvements.

Dayton kills me with his obsession over Yuni, Getz, and our minor league pitchers. He had to bring in more starters... you can't plan on those guys coming up and performing like that. The Rays have so many starters they put several in the bullpen!

Todd S. said...

I've played both Oblivion and Skyrim, and I would rate Skyrim higher. I spent a good amount of time in Oblivion and it is a very good game. However, if you're obsessive (like me), you'll spend a good deal of time working on skills to level your character properly instead of dungeon-delving. In fact, most of my time listening to The Baseball Show was spent while doing mundane skill-leveling in Oblivion.

Skyrim on the other hand is much more straight-forward with skills, so you can spend more time doing quests, fighting monsters, or sneaking around stealing stuff. So maybe the recommendation is this: 1) If you're determined to play Oblivion, play it first. 2) If you don't care which you play, go for Skyrim because it is a bit more fun. I say "a bit" because both of them are very good and have consumed too many hours of my time to count. (Wait...Steam actually does count the Skyrim hours...*shudder*).

TangoAlphaLima said...

Thanks for your longtime contributions to the Royals community, Rany. Enjoy the time you take off, we'll always be here for when you return.

RoyalinChief said...

You and I both need some time off sir. I like how you finished the post and I agree.... I will be there for them when they are ready to make me happy again instead of constant misery and embarrassment.

Enjoy your family and the summer.

Unknown said...

Rany: I share your pain, but we need this group therapy.

Tory said...

I selfishly hope that you reconsider, because I love reading the blog, but I completely get it.

I've been purchasing the MLB package year after year after year since I left Kansas City, and wonder each year, why the hell I even waste the time, money, or effort to watch this team continue to accept playing terrible baseball.

Grumpy Penguin said...

I came to read this via a Jonah Keri RT on Twitter and I'm really glad I did. I live in Toronto and I could have written exactly the same post about our NHL team: the Maple Leafs. It's not the losing every single year that I am sick of, it's the blatant stupidity that has caused it for most of my lifetime.

I also am a huge fan of Bill James and enjoyed your Sabermetrical analysis of your frustrations.

I empathize with you 100%. Don't let anyone tell you how a "true fan" would react; that bilious "argument" is one of the worst. I took time off from the Leafs this year right after Christmas when they announced a contract extension for the worst coach in the league; once he was fired I paid a little more attention but have yet to return to the passion I held for that team through previous years.

It improved the quality of my life more than I ever thought it would. Enjoy your "Vacation of the Soul".

Bill Spiegel said...

Rany:
I've enjoyed reading your columns, but like you - I'm at the end of my rope. I've spent 35 of my 41 years as a faithful fan, and have spent countless hours and dollars following them.
No more. It hurts to "quit 'em," but I'm done. I'm not going to invest the emotions in this team anymore - they've worn me out.

R40 said...

If you haven't quit them by now, you aren't going to. Too much still to look forward to although I suspect there will be disappointment there as well.

Not even a sabermetric type can overcome fan bias. Dave Cameron made a fool of himself with the Mariners a few years ago insisting that their WAR value overcame the fact that they were outscored and claimed they had one of the greatest defenses of all time when it was obviously not the case just by reviewing the players on the field.

If it weren't for your optimism, how else would you make it through it?

I suffered through a decade of ineptitude with the Rangers before I finally lost interest in baseball altogether for 20 years after the working world forced a separation.

I really don't know how a Royals fan can cope with what they've had to deal with.

I will never have an emotional interest in a team again. It's become too corporate for me.

KC Tim said...

I hear ya! Its times like these were I can see how some people can be from Minnesota and be a Yankee fan. Or that guy from the 90's that was THE die-hard Braves fan who is now suddenly a Rangers guy. Love the posts, see ya back in a few weeks!

By the way, one other thing you got right...or irony that you called this months ago:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/braves-demote-jair-jurrjens-minors-062919515--mlb.html;_ylt=Ah5aVX5lQBp55dS0Esywv3sRvLYF

Chris in Indy said...

Wow. You sound just like me a few years ago. I'm a life long Cubs fan and they were/are doing the same stupid mistakes. Only with the hire of Epstein has my faith been renewed. I still don't waste my time by watching every game like I used to in my youth, but I still find time (a couple minutes) every day to look at the box score and standings. That's all I'm prepared to do until they prove they will start playing the smart way. Its too frustrating! I also decided to spend more time with my family. It was certainly worth it. Good on you!

Unknown said...

Rany,

Thanks for investing your time and expertise over the years. Stepping away from a hot mess like this franchise is a smart thing to do, for yourself, and for your loved ones by extension.

Steve said...

You know what franchise won't let you down? Assassin's Creed. The only video game I obsess over.

Mark said...

Great stuff as always, Rany.

This team stinks from the top-down. Glass is the Donald Sterling of baseball. And Dayton Moore, with his anti-intellectualism and love of "leadership" from turds like Yuni, Frenchy, and Getzy, is a joke.

I'm not going to be able to quit this team cold turkey. But I will do my best to avoid going to the K. I went to nine games last year. There's no way I make it to that many this year.

I'll spend my money at Sporting KC games instead. I much prefer MLB to MLS, but at least the ownership of Sporting cares about wins and losses and takes responsibility for the product it puts on to the field.

Zak said...

Rany-

You've nailed it on the head. Nothing hurts more in life than stupidity.

Everything else is sufferable.

Jason said...

Rany I have a blog I won't mention it here because I don't want to promote it on your site. It has nothing to do with Royals baseball or baseball in general. I have enjoyed your writing for quite a few years even going back to the Rob & Rany interactions. I would like to know who you talked to or what did you to refine your writing style? I am looking to improve my writing on my own blog. My email is jtuck00@gmail.com.

As a Royals fan I am full agreement of your frustration. I hate stupid baseball. I don't understand why we can't get past it.

Thanks Rany! I enjoy the blog.

Unknown said...

On Saturday, Rany, Ned Yost did something that largely was uncommented upon but has to be the CRAZIEST thing I've ever seen.

In the top of the 4th the Royals led 1-0. The Blue Jays had a runner on third and 1 out. Yost PULLED HIS INFIELD IN FOR THE PLAY AT THE PLATE. Predictably, the next batter hit the ball to a place where Escobar would have easily got to it had he been at normal depth.

Failure to just surrender the one run cost the Royals THREE EXTRA RUNS.

I don't think I've ever seen even a little league manager make a move so obviously stupid.

Harwood Benjamin said...

What's wrong with Fever Pitch? Or Drew Barrymore? At least Adam Sandler wasn't in it.

Vonn said...

Rany,

This is the first time I've read your work, and its to read that you may give it up, at least for the foreseeable future. It was a lot of fun to read, not so much for the frustration you obviously feel, but because this is one of those rare fan-blogs that's written by one who is both passionate an well-informed. The Royals aren't the primary team I follow, but they're a close second, and I also had higher hopes for this team, so I can almost get a slight feel for your frustration as a fan who covers them. Take your time if you need to, enjoy your kids and your Wife. By the measure of others who have commented here, you're well respected and deserving of any way you choose to go. If and when you start again, I'll look forward to reading.

Unknown said...

Rany: I'm sure you'll come across these articles but these are optimistic positive spins on the Royals from non-Rany sources (one of them links to your latest quitting):

Top ten in WAR!
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/baseball/mlb/04/23/mlb.power.rankings/index.html?eref=sihp&sct=hp_t13_a0

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/evaluating-the-royals/

rather rapid said...

i'd agree raney fails to know what the hell he's talking about. might help to know by analyzing what the performance variables r in baseball which includes the injury prevention variables, particularly for pitching staffs. once u identify them u willl Raney be more competent at evaluation. start with basic observation--what qualities separate wining base ball teams from losing teams and go from there. the light bulb will come on.

Joe Royal said...

Rather rapid. shut up. youre the one who sounds ignorant.

will_severns said...

Rany,

I love you and I love your blog.

However, as a die hard Royals fan myself, instead of Skyrim i suggest Jesus.

He will never give you the red ring of death.

And since the beginning of time he has never even been on a 1 game losing streak.

Now lets go shock Major League Baseball

War Blue Wave

Lamojamo said...

Rany, I feel your pain. I saw an MLB commercial about why we watch "because they're our team" slogan and I was almost brought to tears. The Royals have to be the cruelest team in pro sports. I've loved your blogs for years now and I thank you for your obsession and passion.

Unknown said...

I'm right there with you rany. There are alot of good books waiting for me instead of reading single A box scores before I go to bed and dreaming of brighter tomorrow. Not that I won't pay attention. I'll be here when they finally figure there shit out.

panbacca said...

Your blog is always a fantastic read; I don't know how you do it every week. But I agree with you; when the Royals are ready to lift us up, we'll be there, ready to go.

Mr. Martin said...

"I’m still rooting for them to win every night (at least until late September and draft position is on the line)"

This is the exact mentality that losing teams fans develop. It is a loser mentality.

Jermaine said...

Writing about stupid, Lee Judge had this to say about Jonathan Sanchez being unable to throw strikes:

"These pitchers can pretty much throw a strike whenever they want to. Watch what they do on 3-0 (most of the time) and you’ll see what I mean. Nibbling is usually not a function of physical talent, it’s a poor mental approach."

Btw, Sanchez threw a ball in three of five 3-0 counts yesterday.

DanT said...

I've been a lifelong fan on both of my hometown teams (the Chiefs and the Royals) even though I haven't lived in KC for 20 years. This is the first week that I've even considered giving up on the Royals. It's not just that the manager and the players are making bad decisions on the field, but Mr. Glass just simply lacks class. He's the opposite of Mr. Kauffman. The anticorruption laws for American corporations are such that only a bunch of lowlifes would be on the wrong side of them, but that's where Wal-Mart's executives are. Classy organizations attract classy people and classless people screw up classy organizations. Think about how much the Royals have degenerated from where they use to be. The old Royals came back from a cocaine scandal to whip off two straight division titles, a feat that wasn't even considered all that impressive at the time, given fan expectations. What Royal fan nowadays this organization has a reasonable shot at even back-to-back playoff appearances?

ginger said...

First of all, it was a young student of his that used that line.. not drew barrymore.

Second of all, I understand every claim you make, and it is hard to deny any of them.
But at the same time... you have been around for so long and you have stuff to be optimistic about now... why now after all the horrible years to you appear to just want to give up on them. i know you say if they play well youll have stuff to write about again. but i have to say as a die hard.. it takes more than all these one run losses and bad luck for me to die on the royals. You said yerself this happened plenty of times before.... so why now?

Jeff Chancey said...

Man you got that right.... well done. Just like the season. Well done and krispy...

HuskerBen said...

They need a new pitching philosophy organization wide. What I am about to suggest isn't traditional, but we need something innovative to be tried to fix the problem.

I would change the philosophy of the minors by adding extra pitching coaches at each level of the organization. I'd have 4 different pitching coaches. I don't think a right handed pitching coach can properly teach a left handed pitcher and vice versa. OK, you say that should only increase it to 2 per level, well I would go even further in breaking the pitchers handedness into two different aspects. Power pitchers and finesse pitchers.

This is where I say the philosophy has failed. Organizationally we currently want everything to be kept down. Power pitchers don't need this theory. They need an in, out, up down philo that teaches them how to pitch in each zone. In keeping the ball down we constantly bounce pitches. It's got to be hard for those guys to always focus on keeping the ball down and then have command and it limits options to in and out and when you miss over them middle even if the ball is down, it's still hittable. Every player has holes in their swing, it’s not epidemic to the Royals only. The Royals need to take advantage of this fact and teach their pitchers to move the eyes of the hitter all over the place and make them feel uncomfortable with what selection they might see. I also feel like the philosophy is hurting the Royals arms. Their release point is always geared to be down in the zone. For power guys I think they would be better served to let it air out once in a while and that just might take some stress off their arms.

Greg Cook said...

KC I feel your pain. From a state that gave us Truman, you should not be asked to bear the unbearable pain of badly managed baseball.
I am a Milwaukee fan, back to the Braves, and have suffered some terrible years, but 2008 was nearly a disaster until the owner pulled Nervous Ned out of the job and gave it to the now Cubs manager to run into the playoffs. Without that move, we may have failed to get to the playoffs.

Ned changes a batting order more than I change out paper napkins while eating slathered ribs. He has a reason for everything and an excuse to boot. Count on how many fingers he admits it was his fault--I bet you don't get past your pointer.

For the love of Mike and the fact he is going to get paid anyway, send the man home. There are friends of mine who would be better managers.

anonymous said...

WINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Royals won.

Captain Corvus 42 said...

Rany,

Thank you for your insightful analysis of the Royals. A friend told me about your blog two years ago. I never miss a posting. You're awesome!

I've been a KC Royals fan since 1975. I share your passion for the Royals (though not your knowledge and understanding).

I don't blame you. Take some time off. Enjoy your kids. Have a great summer.

I'm still optimistic. We'll be watching the Royals play meaningful baseball in October again one day....

Unknown said...

Childhood loyalties are hard to break, but not impossible. I grew up listening to the Angels, suffered through the heartbreak of 1986, and reveled in 2002. But I've never really liked the way the Angels have put their teams together, and the ridiculous Pujols contract was the last straw.

I've since decided that my new favorite team is the Tampa Bay Rays, a smart, spirited team that deserves to be admired.

Kenneth said...

One game winning streak ! you back now Rany :-)

K.C.Tigerfan said...

My first love has always been the Detroit Tigers, as I grew up in Detroit. I have lived in KC for 23 years, though, and I have adopted the Royals as my new favorite team.

When you root for a franchise that sets the modern-day record for losses in a season, then you can come cry to me.

And what turned the Tigers around? A front office that gets it and an owner unafraid to spend money without a guaranteed return on his investment.

Guys (and gals) the real problem, the one problem that cannot be fixed, is the Royals ownership. Glass doesn't care about bringing a champion to KC, he only cares about making money.

TELL ME I'M WRONG.

Antonio. said...

That Detroit team lost due to a lack of talent more than due to idiocy. And that's just one season...and they were in the Series just a few years later. Not the same thing.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Not true, Antonio. For one thing, that season was merely the worst in a decades long funk. Also, the lack of talent and the crap we trotted out to manage it is a function of the idiocy of the franchise. But when Illitch bought the team, things started to change.

His willingness to overpay brought Pudge, then Sheffield, and he wasn't scared to draft good players due to signability concerns.

Plus he hired Dombrowski, who in turn hired Leyland.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

My point is: even the Royals could turn it around but it will take MONEY, which Glass is not willing to invest.

Antonio. said...

Illitch bought the team in '92. From '94-03, Detroit won 664 games. Between '02-'11, Kansas City won 668 games...but without the benefit of two strike-shortened seasons that hurt Detroit's win total from the decade you pointed out. And as so many Dayton apologists will say, it takes 8-12 years to fully turn around an organization, but Detroit made it back from its low point by its third season.

So my point is, "When you root for a franchise that sets the modern-day record for losses in a season, then you can come cry to me," is a sorely misguided statement to make. Yes, when comparing any given year, Detroit takes the cake, but when it comes to mediocrity and continued mediocrity, the game is all Kansas City's. Especially considering Detroit has been in the play offs three times since KC was...

McGoldencrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jayboid said...

I am convinced ownership in most instances means nothing.

In any sport. Desire to win world championsips is the key.

Money invested in vastly overated. Tampa should be a joke, they are nothing but one. Bet the ownership wants to win, yet they can't pay to keep the light on most off seasons.

I've heard from several good sources only 8-10 NFL owners really care about winning.

If money and ownership combined meant world series championships why doesn't Boston or NY Yanks win it every year.

St. Louis......Albert Pujols = luck

New England Pats....Tom Brady = luck

Yanks.......Jeter.....Rivera...and cast playing so well for so long luck, the fact they lost Hilman to the Royals = luck

The Bosox and running out of luck, or good fortune. Call it what you want but check out who's playing SS for them on 4-29. Sounds pathetic.

At this time in space I have no doubt the Yanks/Redsox would trade team for team (minors too) for what the Royals have right now. The whole team, and salary as well.

Think about it, Glass can sit in an owners group and boast. Will we win a World Series, probably not. I doubt we have the desire to really win, the killer instinct.

We used to be lucky and under Kaufman a winning way. Brett...luck...Frank White....luck

Ewing Kaufman win

And we now have a former grocery store owner running the team. Bosox NY are millions invested in front office staff, yet Glass is beating them on 4-29-2009

Illitch.....buys an aging drug pumping catcher who could have tanked, turns into a team builder adn they turn into a great team. Luck

Pat Dunn said...

Love your blog and I will miss the frequent updates, but as with the hopeless, hapless friend you have to let go of and let them fall as far add they need to, we have to accept that Royals' management needs to beat heads against the wall until they get frustrated enough to finally ask for help. That's assuming, of course, that they are not clinically insane.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Rany - would yo take a position with the Royals front office if they asked for help? Clearly, as you have oftentimes noted, the Royals either don't understand sabermetrical analysis or they just don't care.

Also, looking towards the draft, can someone explain how teams evaluate or compare high schoolers versus college players?

Drew Milner said...

Come back, Rany!

Jen said...

I think any loyal Royal fan can understand that occasional separation periods are necessary. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all! Still, I find myself checking your blog every few days for an update, disappointed when there isn't one. I respect your decision and philosophy, but I hope you know how many people will be overjoyed when you find the time to post again!

Tampa Mike said...

Why do Yankee fans always have to go there? Anytime someone is playing well for another team they have to chime in with "he is going to look good in pinstripes". Yea, real clever. How is that even fandom? It's like rooting for US Steel or Wal-Mart.

kward1 said...

I love to read your post, but please don't let the Royals winning or losing determine if you continue to write. Why must you always let everyone know whenever you decide to take a break from writing, are you looking for attention? In closing, I love the Royals and your articles about them, but don't need all the drama.

Ken

Kenneth said...

it seems like a different time when i read your blog about pitching optimism. We were employing Kyle Davies every fifth day. But still we were hoping Hochevar might finally develop and a couple of the four lefties from the minor might develop. Turns out attrition rate of minor leagues is accurate. For the Royals it only affects their pitchers not their hitters.

Matt said...

For those asking him to come back, just listen to him on 610 and 810, he's on there all the time...

Drew Milner said...

Time to come back, Rany!

K.C.Tigerfan said...

"When they are ready to lift me up again, I'll be here"...or words to that effect. WELL?

steak said...

Perhaps you should have saved the "Jonah" moniker for yourself.

Kenneth said...

I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO RADIO. I WANT TO ENJOY HIS PROSE. OF WHICH I DID ON GRANTLAND. I WILL BE BACK WHICH BY THE WAY IS A FUN WEBSITE FOR TV AS WELL

Ryan Walters said...

How about start a new blog. This one about baseball in general... And the if the Royals happen to get a little extra coverage compared to the rest of the league, so be it. It will be a novelty. Won't hurt my feeling a bit.

For this new blog, sell adds, make a little money and write about anything that interests you in the game. I just enjoy and value your insight.

If not, that's cool too. Thanks for all.