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Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza are the only players in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame who wear a New York Mets cap on their plaque. This may soon change when Carlos Beltran is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2023.
When most New York Mets fans hear the name Carlos Beltran they immediately picture him striking out looking with the bases loaded on an Adam Wainwright curveball in the ninth inning of Game Seven of the 2006 NLCS. The strikeout sent the St. Louis Cardinals to the Word Series, where they defeated the Detroit Tigers in five games. Unfortunately for Beltran, his greatness in a Mets uniform is over shadowed by this one infamous moment.

Throughout his Mets career, which spanned seven seasons, Beltran was one of the most productive players in franchise history both offensively and defensively. He is sixth in franchise history in home runs and runs batted in with 149 and 559 respectively. He took home two Silver Slugger Awards and was named an All-Star five times as a member of the Mets. Until this past season when rookie phenom Pete Alonso took the league by storm, hitting a league-leading 53 home runs, Beltran and Todd Hundley owned the franchise’s single-season record with 41.

Not only did Beltran have a very respectable offensive career as a Met, he was also a force with the glove. In his seven seasons in Flushing, Beltran won the Gold Glove in center field three times. He was moved to right field in 2011 due to consistent knee problems and even there he played above average defense.

While Beltran enjoyed the most successful seasons of his career as a member of the Mets, he also had some very productive years elsewhere. In 1999, Beltran took home American League Rookie of the Year honors as a member of the Kansas City Royals. In his rookie campaign, Beltran hit .293 with 22 home runs and 108 RBI while also stealing 27 bases.

To go along with his five All-Star appearances as a Met, he was also chosen to be an All Star four other times during his career. The only other team he made multiple All-Star appearances for was the St. Louis Cardinals where he was an All-Star in 2012 and 2013. He made his final All-Star appearance in 2016 at the age of 39 as a member of the New York Yankees.

It’s safe to say the Beltran is one of the best switch hitters of all time. Throughout his career, he accumulated 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBI, to go along with 312 stolen bases and a career batting average of .279. He was an all-around player who could hit for power and average, and was the best defensive center fielder in baseball during the prime of his career.

Although many Mets fans are bitter over Beltran because one at bat in the 2006 NLCS, it’s clear that he was one of the most productive players not only in franchise history, but in Major League Baseball as well.

It should be remembered that in that same NLCS, Beltran hit .296 with a .387 on base percentage to go along with 3 home runs. If Beltran had come through in the infamous at bat, theres every chance he would have been named MVP of that series.

Unfortunately for Beltran and the Mets, the 2006 NLCS didn’t transpire how they would have hoped but that shouldn’t take away from the excellence Beltran displayed over his seven seasons in Queens and his 20 years as a major leaguer. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Beltran will end up in Cooperstown and it should come with a blue and orange NY across his cap.

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With Ned Yost’s retirement, the Kansas City Royals need a new manager. The franchise is botching its search for Yost’s successor.
The Kansas City Royals will be one of a whopping eight teams with a new manager when the 2020 season starts. The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Pirates, and Phillies will also have new skippers in the dugout once the end of March rolls around.

But unlike those seven other teams, the Royals are botching the search for the team’s next manager, mainly by not bothering to look outside the organization.

Sure, the Royals have enough change going on this offseason, what with John Sherman purchasing the team from David Glass and his family. Franchise stalwart Alex Gordon may also not be back. And, of course, Yost, who took over managerial duties from Trey Hillman just 35 games into the 2010 season, announced his retirement during the last week of the season.

In a way, staying in house makes sense.

There are several in-house candidates with previous managerial experience, both in the Minors and the Majors, from Vance Wilson, who managed several Royals farm teams before being named bullpen coach for the MLB squad in 2017, to Mike Matheny, former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 2012 through the midpoint in 2018 and who is now a special adviser for the Royals.

Plus, staying within the organization keeps the status quo intact, at least for the time being. This allows general manager Dayton Moore to keep a familiar face around while he learns to work for a new owner. And it seemingly would help Sherman’s transition from the Cleveland Indians, an organization for whom he was part-owner, to the Royals.

Yet, the names connected so far with the Royals search don’t inspire a lot of confidence. And for a team that hasn’t cracked 60 wins in the past two seasons, confidence is a must right about now.

Wilson, who has interviewed for the job, has zero name recognition outside of diehard Royals fans and those who cover the team. And Matheny, despite winning the pennant with the Cardinals in 2013 and taking them to another in 2014, was fired when he lost the clubhouse for old-school ways–and the Cardinals instantly improved after he was let go, winning their division and making it to the NLCS this year.

It’s unknown whether Mike Matheny will be announced today as manager of the #Royals or after the Series.

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 24, 2019

The Royals are also reportedly considering Pedro Grifol, the team’s quality control and catching coach who’s been part of the big league staff since 2013. He has never managed a team at any level, though has also received interest from the Giants.

This all begs the question: why aren’t the Royals looking outside of the organization for their next manager?

Both the Angels (Joe Maddon) and Phillies (Joe Girardi) hired guys from outside their organization. The Cubs went with David Ross, who recently worked as an analyst for ESPN. And the Padres just hired Jayce Tingler, a former Mizzou Tiger who had recently served as the bench coach for the Texas Rangers.

Of the final four teams in the playoffs this season, three of them were led by managers hired from outside their organization. The Astros hired A.J. Hinch after he resigned from the Padres’ front office. The Nationals hired Dave Martinez away from the Cubs. And the Yankees pried Aaron Boone away from the television booth.

Only the Cardinals had stayed within the organization, and that may have had more to do with who they fired (Matheny) than who they hired (Mike Shildt).

Sherman is taking over the Royals after owning a portion of the Indians since 2016. While Tribe manager Terry Francona is unavailable, other names on that coaching staff include Sandy Alomar Jr., who played in the Majors for 20 seasons; bench coach Brad Mills, who managed the Astros for three seasons; and pitching coach Carl Willis, under whose tutelage four pitchers have won Cy Young Awards.

Here are five other outside candidates the Kansas City Royals could consider, and who have been considered by other teams this offseason:

Ron Washington, who won consecutive pennants with the Rangers at the start of the decade and was a finalist for the Padres top job;
Dusty Baker, who managed four teams over 22 seasons and was a finalist for the Phillies top job;
Buck Showalter, who managed four teams over 20 seasons and who was in the mix for both the Phillies and Angels top job;
Joe Espada, Astros bench coach who interviewed for the Cubs top job; and
Stubby Clapp, Cardinals first-base coach who managed in their minors for years and who has interviewed, or will interview, for the Pirates top job.
What would it hurt to interview these coaches?

Worst-case scenario, it drills into Moore’s brain that he needs to stick with a coach he knows, like Grifol, Matheny, or Wilson. Best-case scenario, one of these coaches blows away Moore, and a little bit of new blood gets mixed into the on-field portion of the Kansas City Royals.

By not even interviewing outside candidates, Moore is doubling-down on not only his legacy in Kansas City, but his employment with the Royals. He’s going to be connected at the hip with this next hire. By not even considering outside options, he’s not doing himself any favors.

Nor is he doing his employer any favors.

By only considering people within the Kansas City Royals organization for the managerial position, Dayton Moore is wasting a great opportunity to shine a light on his team. If he hires one of the known candidates for the position, no one outside of Kansas City will care, blink an eye, or take notice.

That’s the worst thing about this whole situation: at a time when excitement can be added, Moore declines to do so.

It’s all so incredibly boring.

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The Royals have activated shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, catcher Cam Gallagher, and pitcher Danny Duffy from the injured list as Major League rosters are allowed to expand to include anyone on the 40-man roster. The Royals have also recalled pitcher Heath Fillmyer.

Mondesi went on the Injured List back on July 17 with a left shoulder subluxation after diving for a foul ball. He spent ten days on rehab assignment with Omaha, smacking a home run in his last game on Friday.

Mondesi exits stage right with a 2-run BLAST to up our lead to 4-0 in the 5th! (and yeah, we think he knew)

Mondesi will be limited in his activities. He can play the field, but is under orders not to dive for any balls or slide head-first into bases. Mondesi is in his first full season in the big leagues and is hitting .266/.294/.433 with seven home runs, 31 steals and a league-high nine triples.

Danny Duffy suffered a hamstring injury while jogging on the field before a game back on August 5. He rejoined the club this week after making a rehab start last weekend with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Duffy has a 4.93 ERA in 18 starts this year with 90 strikeouts and 36 walks in 100 1/3 innings, after missing the first month of the season with a shoulder injury. Duffy will start Sunday afternoon against the Royals. The Royals have talked about ending the year with a six-man rotation, with Jakob Junis, Glenn Sparkman, Mike Montgomery, Jorge Lopez, and Eric Skoglund getting starts this week. Brad Keller has been shut down for the year to limit his innings.

Cam Gallagher went on the Injured List back on August 8 with an oblique injury. He was hitting .238/.312/.365 with three home runs in 45 games. All three catchers on the Royals’ roster – Gallagher, Nick Dini, and Meibrys Viloria – are rookies.

Heath Fillmyer returns after posting a 5.11 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha. He had been pitching much better out of the bullpen after returning from a shoulder injury, giving up just six runs over his last 17 innings. The 25-year old right-hander gave up 15 runs in 15 innings in a stint with the Royals back in April.

Newly acquired first baseman Ryan McBroom is also expected to be added to the Major League roster, and more callups could happen after minor league seasons end on Monday. Dayton Moore told Bob Fescoe on 610 Sports that he expected some pitchers on the 40-man roster to be promoted, but no surprises, so that likely means Kansas City fans won’t see top pitching prospects Jackson Kowar or Brady Singer get a cup of coffee in September.

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Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at the Colorado Rockies’ upcoming free agents and decide whether the team should pursue any.
Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. After qualifying for a playoff spot in back-to-back seasons, the Colorado Rockies came back down to earth in 2019. Winning just 71 games, it was a humbling season for manager Bud Black and company. Luckily for them, they won’t have too many questions to answer in regards to who to retain or let go this winter.

Per Spotrac’s official list, there are just four pieces within the Rockies organization that are set to hit the open market within the next couple of weeks. Are any of the names worth taking a flyer on? Let’s find out.

Chris Rusin, P

Rusin pitched a total of one (1) major league inning in 2019. He gave up four runs. A 6.58 ERA in Triple-A is a cause for concern. Rusin tossed 54.2 innings in 2018 but was far below replacement level. At 33, he offers no upside.

Verdict: Pass

D.J. Johnson, P

Johnson is 30 years old, yet has appeared at the MLB level in just the last two seasons. After picking up his lone career win in 6.2 innings with Colorado a year ago, the right-handed reliever saw his ERA jump to 5.04 this past season. He wouldn’t be the worst option available on the market but if Dayton Moore can refrain from making Johnson a Royal, no one would object.

Verdict: Pass

Drew Butera, C

Many fans will remember Butera for his work with the Royals from 2015-2018. A stellar defensive backup for Salvador Perez, Butera was a part of the 2015 World Series team. Aside from 2016, he’s never been even remotely close to an average hitter and at 36 years old, his defense could soon lose a ton of value. A Butera signing would make for a great rush of memories and a couple of hair flips, but that’s it.

Alonso had a terrible 2019. Posting a .199/.296/.346 line and seeing his home run total decrease by more than 50 percent from the year before, Alonso’s play has worsened since he made the All-Star team in 2017. He could be a candidate for a bounceback season in 2020 but the last thing the Royals need is an inconsistent first baseman.

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Birthdays are always exciting, but some can be more special than others. Nationals outfielder Juan Soto will celebrate his 21st in one of the most epic fashions imaginable on Friday — when he plays in World Series Game 3 against the Astros, the first World Series game in Washington since 1933.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 22 WSH 5, HOU 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 23 WSH 12, HOU 3 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 25 HOU 4, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 26 HOU 8, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 27 HOU 7, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 29 WSH 7, HOU 2 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 30 WSH 6, HOU 2 Watch
shop Shop for postseason gear: Nationals | Astros
Postseason schedule and bracket
If Soto homers, he’ll be just the fourth player to hit a birthday home run in a postseason game, and the second to do that in the World Series. Kolten Wong hit a homer on his 25th birthday in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series for the Cardinals, and Evan Longoria hit one on his 28th in Game 3 of the 2013 American League Division Series for the Rays. The only player to do it in the World Series was the Royals’ Willie Aikens in Game 1 in 1980 — when he hit two homers on his 26th birthday.

Soto made his Major League debut on May 20, 2018, and he’s been wowing us ever since. To celebrate his birthday, here are 21 facts and figures.

World Series
1) Soto homered in his World Series debut in Game 1, when he was still 20 years old. He became the fourth-youngest player in postseason history to homer in the World Series, trailing only Miguel Cabrera, Andruw Jones and Mickey Mantle. He also became the second-youngest player to homer in his World Series debut, trailing only Jones.

2) Soto also had a stolen base in Game 1, becoming the youngest player in postseason history to homer and steal a base in the same game. The youngest had been Derek Jeter, at 22 years and 105 days old in Game 1 of the 1996 AL Championship Series.

Soto swipes second in 8th
Soto swipes second in 8th
00:33
Oct. 22nd, 2019
3) Overall in Game 1, Soto had three hits, including two extra-base hits. He became the second-youngest player in World Series history with multiple extra-base hits in a game, trailing only 19-year-old Jones in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series — two years before Soto was born.

Must C: Soto shines in WS debut
Must C: Soto shines in WS debut
01:34
Oct. 23rd, 2019
4) Soto’s three hits made him the fifth-youngest player in World Series history with three or more in a game. The 18-year-old Freddie Lindstrom had two such games in 1924, Jones had two in 1996, and Joe Garagiola had one in 1946 and Mickey Mantle one in 1952 — both as younger 20-year-olds than Soto.

5) In Game 2, Soto hit a double, notching the sixth extra-base hit of his postseason career — all of which have come this year. With six extra-base hits before turning 21, he tied Cabrera for most in a postseason career at 20 years old or younger.

Soto’s double to right
Soto’s double to right
00:19
Oct. 24th, 2019
6) In the seventh inning of Game 2, with the Nationals leading, 3-2, and runners on second and third with two outs, Ryan Pressly issued an intentional walk to Soto. The walk was notable for a few reasons. First of all, it was the first intentional walk by an Astros pitcher in 2019, including the regular season and postseason, certainly some measure of respect for the youngster. Second, it made Soto the second-youngest player to be intentionally walked in a World Series game. The only player younger was a 20-year, 46-day-old Claudell Washington for the A’s in Game 4 of the 1974 World Series.

Martinez on Soto being walked
Martinez on Soto being walked
00:24
Oct. 24th, 2019
7) Soto has hit cleanup in each of the first two games of the World Series — something he has done through the entire postseason. He’s the third-youngest player to start at cleanup in a World Series, behind only Cabrera, who did so six times in 2003, and Ty Cobb, who did so five times in 1907. That’s a pretty short list.

Rest of the postseason
8) Including his World Series homer, Soto has three home runs this postseason — all of which he hit before his birthday. The only player with more homers in the postseason before turning 21 is Cabrera, who hit four in 2003.

9) In the Nationals’ winner-take-all Game 5 in the NLDS at Dodger Stadium, Soto delivered with a game-tying solo homer off Clayton Kershaw in the top of the eighth, right after Anthony Rendon had gone yard. And it wasn’t just any home run — it was a Statcast-projected 449-foot homer. That’s the longest of Soto’s career, and it also helped the Nationals pull off a road win to clinch the series.

Statcast: Soto’s clutch 449-ft. HR
Statcast: Soto’s clutch 449-ft. HR
00:32
Oct. 10th, 2019
10) The fact that the home run came off Kershaw was notable, too. At 20 years and 349 days old that day, Soto was the youngest player to hit a home run off Kershaw in Kershaw’s career, including the regular season and postseason.

11) That wasn’t Soto’s only clutch moment this postseason. In the NL Wild Card Game, which the Nats trailed, 3-0, after two innings, it was Soto’s hit off Milwaukee’s Josh Hader in the bottom of the eighth that put the team ahead, in part due to Trent Grisham’s error in right field. At 20 years and 341 days old that night, Soto became the youngest player with a go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later of a winner-take-all playoff game, according to Elias. The youngest was 21-year-old Edgar Renteria on his walk-off single for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

Soto’s hit clears bases for lead
Soto’s hit clears bases for lead
00:45
Oct. 1st, 2019
Regular-season career
12) Soto finished the 2019 regular season with 56 career home runs. That’s tied with Tony Conigliaro for second most in Major League history before turning 21. The only player with more was Mel Ott, with 61.

13) Part of how Soto got to 56 career homers? His 34 this season certainly helped. Soto’s regular-season homers as a 20-year-old in 2019 were tied with Frank Robinson in 1956 for second most by a player in a season before turning 21. The only player with more was Ott, with 42 in 1929.

Soto’s 30th homer of season
Soto’s 30th homer of season
00:49
Aug. 31st, 2019
14) And of course, the other component to Soto’s 56 home runs was his 22 in 2018. Soto tied Bryce Harper in 2012 for second most by a player in a single season as a teenager. The only teen with more was Conigliaro, with 24 in 1964.

15) One aspect of the game Soto has been quite good at is maintaining plate discipline. As a 19-year-old rookie in 2018, he had a 18.3 percent chase rate, which was ninth lowest of 143 Major Leaguers to see at least 1,000 out-of-zone pitches. It went slightly up in 2019 with increased exposure — to 20.3 percent — but Soto’s rank among his peers was still outstanding. He had the 14th-lowest chase rate this year out of 146 batters to see at least 1,000 out-of-zone pitches. As a 20-year-old.

16) More evidence of that plate discipline? All of the walks he draws. Soto has 12 career regular-season games with three or more walks. That’s three more such games than any other player before turning 21 on record (since 1908).

Soto’s bases-loaded walk
Soto’s bases-loaded walk
00:20
Sep. 23rd, 2019
17) Soto walked 108 times in 2019, the second most in a season by a player 20 or younger. The only player that young with more walks in a season was Ott, with 113 in 1929. No other 20-year-old or younger had even 90 walks in a season.

18) Soto’s first start in the cleanup spot last year came on June 21, at 19 years and 239 days old. He was the youngest player to start at cleanup in a game since César Cedeño in 1970.

19) He ended up starting eight games in that spot in 2018, third most by any teenager in a single season on record. Rusty Staub started 35 games at cleanup in 1963, and Ott started 24 at that spot in 1928.

20) Soto hit two home runs at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 2018, at 19 years and 231 days old. He was the youngest player with a regular-season homer at any iteration of Yankee Stadium since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989. If we include the postseason, he was the youngest since Jones in the 1996 World Series. Either way, quite a feat.

Statcast: Soto’s 2 HRs vs. Yanks
Statcast: Soto’s 2 HRs vs. Yanks
01:05
Jun. 13th, 2018
21) The circumstances around Soto’s Major League debut on May 20, 2018, and a game he played on June 18 will pretty much always be worth recounting. Soto debuted on May 20 at Nationals Park against the Dodgers, going 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter. Pretty standard debut, not much worth talking about two years later. But five days earlier on May 15, the Nationals had been playing a game at Nationals Park against the Yankees when it began to rain. The game was suspended and set to be made up on June 18. Simultaneously on May 15, the Double-A Harrisburg Senators — Soto’s team at the time — were dealing with rain on the eastern seaboard as well. The Senators’ game at the Bowie Baysox originally scheduled for May 14 was suspended to the 15th, so they completed that game — but were unable to complete the regularly scheduled game for the 15th, which was suspended and completed on the 16th.

When a game is suspended, stats for that game count for the date of the original scheduling — in both the Minors and Majors. That’s important here.

Must C: Soto homers before debut
Must C: Soto homers before debut
01:38
Jun. 18th, 2018
Soto, still in Double-A, played in those games. In the game on the 16th — technically the second time the Senators took the field on the 16th, for the regularly scheduled game — he homered. On the same day, his team finished a game that had counted for the 15th, in which he went 3-for-4.

By the time the Nats and Yanks resumed their game in June, Soto was up with the team. Naturally, he played in the game — and, of course, he homered. If you look at any record book, he’s listed as both going 3-for-4 for Harrisburg and 1-for-2 with a homer for the Nationals on May 15 — a day when in reality, his team played only one game … and it was a resumption of a game from May 14.

Confused? It isn’t exactly simple. But the fact is this: Soto managed to hit a home run in a Major League game that counts for May 15, five days before his Major League debut of May 20. Quite the claim to fame.

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The summer of 1980 was one of the hottest summers on record. The blazing summer heat gave way to three brilliant pennant races in major league baseball. In the National League East, it took a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning in the second to last game of the season to propel the Philadelphia Phillies, past the people’s choice, the Montreal Expos by one game. Peine d’amour in Montreal. In the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers went into the final series of the season needing to sweep the division leading Houston Astros, and they did just that, winning each game by one run which forced a one-game playoff. The Astros prevailed in the playoff game, 7-1, to earn the first division title in the team’s history.

In the American League East, the New York Yankees needed 103 wins to best the runner up Baltimore Orioles, who stayed home despite having the second-best record in all of baseball at 100-62. The only division that did not generate any late summer heat was the American League West, where the Royals, powered by the virtuoso performance of George Brett easily outdistanced the Oakland A’s, winning the West by a 14-game margin.

The fireworks continued into the National League Championship Series, as the Phillies advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1950 by beating the Astros three-games-to-two. Just saying it like that makes it sound pretty boring, but the truth was, this was one of the most exciting five games series ever played. Philadelphia took game one, 3-1 behind a strong performance by Steve Carlton. Houston captured Game Two with a 7-4 ten inning win. The series shifted to Houston for Game Three, which went to the Astros by the score of 1-0, as the Astros scrapped together a run in the bottom of the 11th against Tug McGraw. In Game Four, the Phillies held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth before the Astros rallied for a single run to send the game to extra innings. The Phillies answered in the top of the tenth, with hits from Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski and Manny Trillo to stake them to a 5-3 lead. McGraw put the Astros down in order in the bottom of the 10th to tie the series at two games apiece.

The series spun on Game Five. The Phillies started Marty Bystrom, while the Astros countered with Nolan Ryan. You’d have to assume the Vegas odds-makers favored the Astros in this one. The game was tied going into the bottom of the 7th before the Astros broke loose, capitalizing on three hits, a walk and a wild pitch to push across three runs. With the score 5-2 and Nolan Ryan throwing heat, it looked bleak for the Phillies. The Philly bats woke up and chased Ryan with three singles and a walk. Then the flood gates opened. With two outs, Del Unser stroked a single to right and Manny Trillo followed with a triple into the left field gap. When the dust settled, the scoreboard read Phillies 7, Astros 5.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Astros managed to string together four singles, good for two runs and a tie ballgame. In the top of the tenth, the Phillies Del Unser hit a one out double and Garry Maddox grooved a two-out double for the RBI to put Philadelphia ahead 8-7. Dick Ruthven set the Astros down in order in the tenth to deliver the Phillies to the World Series. The series remains to this day one of the most exciting series I have ever seen.

Over on the American League side, it was déjà vu all over again. For the fourth time in five years, the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals would do battle. Game One, played at Royals Stadium, went to the Royals 7-2 behind a strong pitching performance by Larry Gura. Gura was a Yankee castoff and usually reserved his best for his former team. In this game he scattered ten hits while pitching a complete game. There was some tension early on as Rick Cerone and Lou Piniella tagged Gura for back-to-back home runs in the top of the second, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Kansas City got one back in their half of the second on a Frank White double, which brought home Amos Otis.

The Royals took the lead in the third with Brett working Ron Guidry for a one-out walk. Amos Otis came through with a two-out ground rule double to score Brett. After intentionally walking John Wathan, Willie Mays Aiken dropped a single into left field to score Brett and Otis and give the Royals the lead. The score stayed 4-2 until Brett mashed a one-out home run off Yankee reliever Ron Davis in the 7th. The Royals added some security in the 8th when Darrel Porter reached on a two-out error. Frank White singled to left and Willie Wilson brought them both home with a double to center.

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Here are your 1980 Kansas City Royals
Game Two was played Thursday evening, October 9th in Kansas City. The Yankees started left-handed Rudy May and the Royals countered with their workhorse, Dennis Leonard. May went the distance for New York and only allowed six hits. Unfortunately for him, four of them were consecutive hits in the Royals third. With one out, Porter stroked a single to right. Frank White followed with another single. Willie Wilson then delivered the big blow, a triple into the right field corner. U.L. Washington followed with a double to center, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Leonard was cruising until the Yanks nicked him in the fifth. Graig Nettles, who always seemed to be a burr in the Royals saddle, hit a one-out inside the park home run. Leonard got Bucky Dent on a ground out but gave up a two out walk to some stiff named Bobby Brown. Willie Randolph, another Royal burr, made him pay when he delivered a double to right. 3-2 Kansas City. Dan Quisenberry came on to work the ninth and with two Yankees on base, induced Nettles to hit into a game ending 4-6-3 double play, much to the relief of the 42,633 partisans in attendance. Upon further review, Brown wasn’t quite the stiff I recall. He managed to stay in the league for seven seasons, getting 1,277 at bats with four teams, and delivered a .245/.295/.355 slash line.

The series shifted to New York for Game Three, which was played on Friday evening, October 10th. 56,588 fans packed into Yankee Stadium for the game and it was a classic battle of crafty lefties: Paul Splittorff against Tommy John. The Royals struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, thanks to a Frank White home run. New York answered with two runs in the bottom of the 6th. Reggie Jackson hit a one out double, chasing Splittorff. Royals manager Jim Frey went to his best reliever, calling on Quisenberry to get the final 11 outs.

It didn’t start out too promising. Oscar Gamble and Rick Cerone hit consecutive singles off Quiz to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead as the crowd roared its approval. This set the stage for perhaps one of the most famous innings in Kansas City baseball history. Tommy John got John Wathan on a ground out and set down Frank White on strikes before giving up a double to Willie Wilson. Yankee skipper Dick Howser walked to the mound and gave the ball to Goose Gossage.

The Goose was the epitome of a bad-ass reliever. Gossage stood 6’3 and sported wavy hair and a Fu Manchu mustache. His demeanor on the mound suggested a man who was perpetually pissed off and just looking at him was enough to frighten most sane people. He had a high leg kick which helped propel his fastballs toward the plate in the upper 90’s. Between 1975 and 1986, he was one of the best relievers in the game and in 1980 he was in his snarling prime.

In this game it didn’t matter. U.L. Washington coolly beat out an infield single, which brought George Brett to the plate. Watching the game on television in my parents living room, I had the feeling that the entire series hung on this at bat. George didn’t disappoint. 1980 was his year and no one could stop him. Brett knew a fastball was coming. Power vs. power, mano a mano.

George didn’t miss, depositing the ball into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium. Announcer Al Michaels said that over his entire career, this moment was the quickest transition from a loud ruckus to absolute silence that he’s ever experienced at a sporting event. Just to remind the Yankee fans and Gossage who their daddy was, Brett took 23 seconds to round the bases. Believe me, I timed it. After his leisurely stroll around the bases, Brett was mobbed by his teammates. Quisenberry worked a clean 7th, then escaped a bases loaded, no out jam in the 8th, thanks to a sweet 6-4 double play, which froze the Yankee runner at third. Howser went with Tom Underwood in the 8th, sending Gossage to the showers to search for his missing testicles. In the ninth, Quiz sat down Nettles and Brown on fly balls before getting Willie Randolph looking and the party was on.

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The postseason brings the biggest moments, the biggest heroes, and sometimes, the biggest controversies.

When there is disagreement about a key call, the higher stakes can raise tensions and create a play that sticks in the minds of players and fans for years to come. Here is a look back at some of the most notable disputed calls from the postseason.

2019 World Series Game 6: Trea Turner called out
Protecting a one-run lead in the seventh inning, the Nationals, trying to force a Game 7, were looking for insurance runs when Turner followed Yan Gomes’ leadoff single with a swinging bunt that dribbled to the left of the mound. Pitcher Brad Peacock whipped a throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who had to reach toward the baseline and had his glove knocked off by Turner as he lunged for the base. Turner was called out for interfering with the fielder, which led to a lengthy discussion and a fierce argument from Nats manager Dave Martinez, who became the first manager to be ejected from a World Series since Atlanta’s Bobby Cox in Game 6 in 1996. Washington got the last laugh, however, as Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer later in the inning, as the Nationals won, 7-2. They would go on to win the series in seven games, becoming the first champion to win four road games in the World Series.

2018 American League Championship Series Game 4: Mookie Betts’ homer-robbing catch
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but it looked like the Astros might tie it in the bottom of the frame when José Altuve lifted a deep fly ball to right field at Minute Maid Park. Betts drifted back to the wall, jumped and had the ball deflect off his glove and back onto the field of play. But the ump ruled that a fan had interfered with Betts, preventing him from making the catch. Altuve was called out, a potential big inning for Houston turned into zero runs and Boston went on to win, 8-6, on the way to a championship.

Betts on fan interference call
Betts on fan interference call
02:52
Oct. 17th, 2018
2015 National League Division Series Game 2: Chase Utley’s slide
Utley was never popular with Mets fans from his days with the Phillies, but he sealed his enemy status in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. The Mets held a one-run lead with one out in the seventh, when the Dodgers put runners on the corners with one out. Howie Kendrick hit a potential double play ball up the middle, but Utley wiped out shortstop Rubén Tejada at second with a hard slide that allowed the tying run to score in what would become a four-run inning. Tejada sustained a broken leg and the Mets were furious over the lack of an interference call for what they saw as a dirty play. The Mets lost the game, 5-2, but they came back to win the series in the decisive fifth game.

Must C: Tejada injured on slide
Must C: Tejada injured on slide
02:47
Oct. 10th, 2015
2013 World Series: The Will Middlebrooks obstruction play
The Cardinals and Red Sox had split the first two games, and Game 3 was tied entering the bottom of the ninth, when St. Louis placed runners on second and third with one out. A walk-off win looked likely, but the way it happened was anything but ordinary. Jon Jay hit a ground ball. Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop and threw out Yadier Molina at home. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then tried to catch Allen Craig at third but threw wildly. Craig was subsequently thrown out trying to score by left fielder Daniel Nava, but the umpires called third baseman Middlebrooks for obstruction, saying he impeded Craig. The Cards won the game at home, 5-4, but the Sox captured the series in six games.

Cards walk off on obstruction
Cards walk off on obstruction
02:33
Oct. 26th, 2013
2012 NL Wild Card Game: The infield fly rule
The Braves brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the eighth when Andrelton Simmons lofted a high fly ball into no man’s land in shallow left. Shortstop Pete Kozma ranged well into the outfield grass, but the ball fell between he and left fielder Matt Holliday — seemingly loading the bases for Atlanta. But the left-field umpire made a delayed infield fly call, deeming that Kozma had time to settle under the ball to strand runners at second and third base and put another out on the board.

The game was delayed 19 minutes as the Braves argued the call and fans at Turner Field began throwing debris onto the field. Atlanta was ultimately unable to score in the inning, and St. Louis went on to claim the winner-take-all contest, 6-3.

Umps rule infield fly on popup
Umps rule infield fly on popup
04:59
Oct. 5th, 2012
2007 NL West tiebreaker: Matt Holliday’s slide
This wasn’t technically a postseason game, but we’ll count it here since it was an elimination game. The NL West came down to a Game 163 in 2007, and that game came down to one very momentous play. The Padres carried an 8-6 lead over the Rockies to the bottom of the 13th at Coors Field before Colorado tied it with three straight extra-base hits off future Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman. Todd Helton took an intentional walk and then Jamey Carroll hit a liner to right with Holliday on third. Holliday tagged and sprinted home and seemingly beat the tag, except replay would show that he may not have touched home plate.

Holliday didn’t go back to touch home before the Rockies celebrated, and Padres fans still maintain that he never touched the bag. Colorado moved on to the postseason and eventually the World Series with the 9-8 win, while San Diego’s season came to an end.

Holliday safe at home
Holliday safe at home
00:51
Oct. 1st, 2007
2005 ALCS Game 2: A.J. Pierzynski and the dropped third strike
The White Sox, on their way to a championship, were tied with the Angels, 1-1, in the ninth inning and down a game in the series. With two outs, it appeared that Pierzynski whiffed on a low pitch from Kelvim Escobar to send the game into extras. But as the Halos ran off the field, Pierzynski ran to first base as if there was a dropped third strike, reaching easily. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings agreed — to the Angels’ dismay — as they believed catcher Josh Paul snagged the pitch cleanly. Once play resumed, Pablo Ozuna ran for Pierzynski, stole second and scored on Joe Crede’s walk-off double for a 2-1 victory. The White Sox would go on to win their first World Series since 1917.

White Sox wild rally in 9th
White Sox wild rally in 9th
01:57
Oct. 12th, 2005
2004 ALCS Game 6: A-Rod’s glove swat
There were plenty of iconic moments in the Red Sox’s historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS — Dave Roberts’ steal, David Ortiz’s walk-offs and Curt Schilling’s bloody sock — but Alex Rodriguez’s glove swat takes the title of most disputed. In the eighth inning of Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox were trying to hold on to force Game 7, but the Yankees had just pulled to within 4-2 on Derek Jeter’s RBI single. Rodriguez, the tying run, stepped to the plate against Bronson Arroyo … and squibbed a slow grounder to the right side of the infield. Arroyo came off the mound to field the ball and raced over to tag Rodriguez, who swatted at Arroyo’s glove, knocking the ball free and down the right-field line, allowing Jeter to come all the way around to score.

But wait! After Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to argue and a long discussion by the umpires, A-Rod was called out for interference and Jeter sent back to first. Yanks fans were incensed, and Rodriguez and manager Joe Torre argued the call to no avail. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 4-2, complete their comeback in Game 7 and eventually end an 86-year title drought.

A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
02:16
Oct. 19th, 2004
1999 ALCS Game 4: Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag
This was Red Sox vs. Yankees at Fenway Park, so the atmosphere was already tense. With the Yanks holding onto a 3-2 lead with one out in the eighth, Jose Offerman appeared to beat out a double play with Mariano Rivera on the mound, but he was called out due to what the umpires deemed to be a tag between first and second base by Knoblauch, the Yankees’ second baseman. But a closer look revealed that Knoblauch never touched Offerman, missing him by a wide margin before throwing to first for the “second out.”

The Yanks scored six runs in the ninth for a 9-2 victory before clinching the series the next day en route to their second of three consecutive World Series crowns.

Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
01:21
Oct. 17th, 1999
1998 ALCS Game 2: Knoblauch argues a call mid-play
Game 2 stretched into the 12th inning at Yankee Stadium when Cleveland’s Travis Fryman laid down a bunt. Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson threw the ball to first, but it hit Fryman with the ball. Knoblauch, covering first, pointed toward the baseline to argue that Fryman had gotten in the way, but the play was not ruled dead and the Indians kept running, with Enrique Wilson coming around to score from first.

Torre came out to argue the play, and the umpires conferred for several minutes before maintaining their call. Cleveland tacked on two more runs and evened the series at one game apiece in a 4-1 win, but New York took the series in six and the World Series.

Knoblauch’s miscue at first
Knoblauch’s miscue at first
02:42
Oct. 7th, 1998
1996 ALCS Game 1: Jeffrey Maier aids Derek Jeter
The first championship run of the Yankees’ 1990s dynasty was not without controversy. Baltimore led New York, 4-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1 when Jeter hit a hard fly ball to the right-field fence. It looked as though Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco could have caught the ball, but Yankees fan Maier reached out and tried to glove the ball before it bounced into the stands. Tarasco argued for fan interference, but it was not given. The Yanks went on to win the game, 5-4, in 11 innings before going on to capture the series and their first championship in 18 years.

Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
00:31
May 2nd, 2017
1991 World Series Game 2: Kent Hrbek moves Ron Gant
A Series ultimately remembered for the duel between Jack Morris and John Smoltz in Game 7 also had a wild moment earlier on. The Twins held a 2-1 lead in the third inning at the Metrodome when Gant hit a two-out single to left field, sending Lonnie Smith to third. Dan Gladden’s throw got away, but pitcher Kevin Tapani was backing up the play and fired to first to try to catch Gant. While Gant made it back in time, Hrbek “helped” him come off first base by lifting his leg. Gant was ruled out, and Minnesota went on to win the game, 3-2, and the series in seven.

Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
00:53
Oct. 20th, 1991
1986 NLCS Game 3: Wally Backman’s bunt single
With the series tied, the Mets trailed the Astros by a run entering the bottom of the ninth at Shea Stadium. New York’s Backman led off against Houston’s Dave Smith by bunting up the first-base line. First baseman Glenn Davis fielded the ball and tried to tag Backman, who avoided him but in doing so appeared to swerve out of the baseline to the outside before diving headfirst into the bag. The Astros argued that Backman should have been called out, but to no avail. Later in the inning, Lenny Dykstra hit a walk-off homer for the 6-5 victory, and the Mets went on to win the NLCS and a ring.

Backman leads off 9th with bunt
Backman leads off 9th with bunt
01:58
Oct. 11th, 1986
1985 World Series Game 6: Don Denkinger misses call at first base
Three outs away from a World Series title, the Cardinals held a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth at Royals Stadium. Jorge Orta led off the inning with a ground ball wide of first that first baseman Jack Clark went over to field as pitcher Todd Worrell ran over to cover the bag. Clark tossed to first, and it appeared Worrell caught the ball and got his foot to the bag before Orta reached it. But first-base umpire Denkinger ruled Orta safe.

The next batter, Steve Balboni, singled to left and was pinch-run for. Jim Sundberg laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Worrell got the lead out at third. A passed ball moved runners to second and third before Worrell intentionally walked Hal McRae. Pinch-hitter Dane Iorg followed with a two-run walk-off single. The Royals got a gem from Bret Saberhagen the next night as Kansas City won the World Series.

“The object is to get the call right,” Denkinger said in 2014. “That’s a good thing. So I’m all for review. And if they had it back then, probably nobody would ever know my name.”

Denkinger’s missed call
Denkinger’s missed call
00:35
Oct. 26th, 1985
1978 World Series Game 4: Ball deflects off Reggie
The Yankees and Dodgers were facing off in their second straight World Series and Reggie Jackson — the man who put himself into the history books with his three-homer game against L.A. the year before — was at the center of another big play. The Dodgers led, 3-1, in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium when Lou Piniella hit a liner to shortstop Bill Russell, who dropped the ball but picked it up quickly and stepped on second for a forceout. Russell pivoted and threw to first for a potential double play, but Jackson, running from first to second, stuck out his hip and deflected the throw into the outfield. Thurman Munson came around to score, bringing the Yanks within a run.

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda vehemently argued with the umpires, but the play stood. The Yankees eventually won, 4-3, in 10 innings and took home their second straight World Series crown.

Reggie’s hip deflects throw
Reggie’s hip deflects throw
04:14
Oct. 14th, 1978
1969 World Series Game 5: The shoe polish play
The “Miracle Mets” were trying to clinch their first championship, and they might have gotten some help in that quest. In the top of the sixth at Shea Stadium, home-plate umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree with the Orioles’ assertion that Jerry Koosman had hit Frank Robinson with a pitch. Robinson struck out, and the O’s did not extend their 3-0 lead. In the next half inning, Dave McNally threw a low and inside pitch to leadoff man Cleon Jones, who thought he’d been hit. Again, DiMuro disagreed. But then Mets manager Gil Hodges emerged from the dugout and showed the umpire the black-smudged ball — evidence, he said, that it hit Jones’ shoe.

DiMuro changed his mind, and Jones went to first. Donn Clendenon immediately hit a two-run homer that spurred a rally. The Mets won, 5-3, and completed their unlikely ascent.

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Almost a year ago, the Kansas City Royals added a former 7th-round draft pick to the organization. Can he overcome control problems and help the club’s beleaguered pitching staff?
On November 26, 2018, the Kansas City Royals claimed right-hander Conner Greene off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, a move consistent with their well-earned reputation for plucking once-promising pitchers away from teams that don’t want or need them. The Royals hoped Greene, talented but plagued with troubling control problems, could steady himself and climb from the minors to the big leagues in short order. But can the Royals’ hopes be realized?

Greene’s talent is a given; as pointed out in this space earlier this year, he has a menacing fastball and decent curveball. But if these pitches are his blessing, control is his nemesis, a flaw that likely drove the Cardinals’ decision to DFA him and make him available to other clubs.

Greene’s control problems have not been isolated. He may have given Toronto a slight hint of control difficulties to come soon after the Blue Jays made him the 6th pick in the 7th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. Assigned to the rookie leagues that summer, he issued 15 walks in 30.2 innings for a less than stellar 4.4 BB9. The fact he posted identical 2.7 BB’s in the next two seasons as he advanced from rookie leagues to AA, suggested his first season performance reflected an insufficient sample size or arose from the sudden adjustment to pro ball.

But his control suffered and his walk rate increased steadily over the next three seasons. Pitching at High A and AA in 2016, his BB9 was 4.4; in a season spent entirely at AA in 2017, it rose to 5.6; and it ballooned to an unsightly 6.4 in a 2018 campaign split between AA and AAA. The Cardinals decided not to protect Greene in the Rule 5 draft and DFA’d him. Nevertheless, the Royals saw potential and claimed him.

How to attack his control problems wasn’t the only decision Kansas City had to make when Greene arrived. The Royals, beset at the big league level with holes in their rotation and an inferior bullpen, needed to determine whether Greene was a starter or reliever. Toronto used him in both roles before making him a starter to begin his third season in their minor league system. During 2015 and 2016, he appeared in 53 games exclusively as a starter and went 22-16; then, in 2017, he started all but one of the 26 games he appeared in.

Greene began 2018 starting for the Cardinals’ Springfield AA team and went 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA; despite walking 32 batters in 48.2 innings (5.9 BB9), he was promoted to AAA, where he became a reliever. The role change didn’t help his control, however, as he issued 31 walks in 39.1 innings for a 7.1 BB9, his worst for any minor league team.

The Royals brought Greene out of the bullpen for his first stop with the organization — he started 16 of 21 games at Northwest Arkansas in 2019 and cut his BB9 in half (3.5). But control issues revisited Greene after an August promotion to AAA Omaha. Back in the bullpen, he appeared in eight games and walked 16 batters in 15.1 innings for an ugly 9.4 BB9. He struck out six fewer batters than he walked; the walks contributed significantly to his 1.957 Omaha WHIP.

Although Greene’s experience as a reliever is primarily limited to 2018 and 2019, his control problems do not appear conclusively linked to whether he starts or relieves. His overall effectiveness may be another question: although opposing hitters slashed .237/.357/.312 against him as a starter, and .248/.402/.333 against him as a reliever in 2018, in 2019 they slashed .252/.332/.407 when he started and an alarming .304/.416/.426 when he relieved.

It is Greene’s underlying talent, and the potential the Royals believe he has, that presently secure his spot on the club’s 40-man roster; that new Kansas City manager Mike Matheny is undoubtedly aware of that talent and potential from his Cardinal days may help Greene keep that spot.

The price to get Greene wasn’t steep. To make room for him, the Royals DFA’d Burch Smith after his unremarkable single Royals season in 2018 (1-6, 6.92 ERA). But the November 20 deadline to set 40-man rosters for Rule 5 Draft purposes is rapidly approaching, and the Kansas City Royals may be forced to decide whether the price to protect Greene — dropping someone from the 40-man or blocking another from it — may be too high.

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Royals prospect Kris Bubic wins fan vote (#VoteOmar) for the Starting Pitcher of the Year MiLBY (MiLBY?):

Kris Bubic, the sixth-ranked Royals prospect, brought electric stuff in only his second year as a pro, posting a 11-5 record and 2.23 ERA across both Class A levels. Over 149 1/3 innings, he recorded a Minor League-leading 185 strikeouts while walking 42. The 22-year-old, who spent last summer in the Pioneer League, was so good to start the season in the South Atlantic League that he was promoted after nine starts.

At Royals Farm Report, Drew Osborne profiles potential stud reliever Tyler Zuber.

I expect another solid season out of Zuber. He will probably end up in Omaha sooner rather than later and will have to adjust to the MLB ball which will bare watching. Zuber will be Rule 5 eligible after the 2020 season so the Royals will have to decide whether or not to protect him next year. After this season, and if health stays on his side, the easy answer will be yes.

Jeffrey Flanagan talks about the friendship of Mike Matheny and Cal Eldred.

Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred has been close friends with new manager Mike Matheny for close to 25 years. Eldred and Matheny go on hunting trips together, as they have done on treks to Wyoming and Colorado in the past. Their families, with four children each, take vacations together. Eldred and Matheny first met when Matheny broke in with the Brewers in 1994 and Eldred already was established on the Brewers staff. Their careers later crossed again for two years in St. Louis from 2003-04, and then again for three years there when Matheny was manager and Eldred was a special advisor to the general manager. In other words, the friendship runs deep.

Speaking of managers, it looks like Pedro Grifol is out of the running for manager of the Giants

The finalists are former Phillies manager and Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. Royals quality-control coach Pedro Grifol, one of the first to interview, is no longer under consideration.

Sean Thornton at Bleeding Royal Blue would have preferred Grifol to Matheny.

KC Kingdom has gone mostly quiet in the last week. But KOK is still cranking out articles (lists):

David Scharff slideshows “Pitchers that could start 30 games in 2020”
Michael Huckins continues their team-by-team series with “Making the case for free agents, Pittsburgh Pirates”
As does Shawn Bauman: “Making the case for free agency, Marlins”
The Best of Royals Review (TM) is now ready to get into the meat of the offseason with some fun new (old) articles. Coming off this week’s 2019 SBNation Off-Season Sim, let’s look back at the very first one back in 2012: SB Nation Winter Meeting Simulation Thread*

It was a wild success with almost all teams being active and money being splashed around like crazy. The signing of Zack Greinke at 6/$175M caused much consternation. He would sign for 6/$147M in real life. The Yankees signed Josh Hamilton for 6/$152M versus the 5/$125M he got from Anaheim. “Internet darling” (Max’s words) Shaun Marcum was hilariously signed for 5/$52M. In real life he went for 1/$7.7M. He would only throw 103 IP the rest of his career.

This was also the beginning of OMD’s always entertaining tenure as the Shadow Royals. He tried really hard to trade Wil Myers but didn’t get any deals to his liking. He signed Ryan Dempster. He picked up Rickie Weeks and Jake Westbrook in cheap trades for Aaron Crow and Christian Colon. He made his crown jewel trade of Moose for Trevor Bauer. And he made an even more controversial one: Lamb, Montgomery, Eiler Hernandez, and Yordano Ventura for Bud Norris and the Astros eating much of Frenchy’s contract.

*(I still contend that picture “looks like a young Ed O’Neill after smelling a fart”.)

Following Max’s story in yesterday’s Rumblings about automated strike zones coming “when the time is right”, Manfred also confirmed it’s going to be used in some minor league parks next year.

The Cubs lowered ticket prices after a disappointing season. Though it has been suggested that this is only because they have a disproportionate number of games in the chilly first month of the season.

More Cubs news. At Fangraphs, Craig Edwards asks “Are the Cubs Really Going to Ignore Their Window for Contention?”

He also posits “The Yankees Don’t Spend Like They Used to”.

The Yankees haven’t been saving money over the last decade. Individuals and families save money; MLB franchises increase profits. The Yankees have spent this time increasing profits and looking for a way to win like they used to without spending like it. The past two seasons have proved successful in that regard. The resulting profits also serve to decrease the club’s chances of winning a World Series. It’s a choice the Yankees have made that differs considerably from the previous decade. The Yankees are trying hard to achieve massive profits and winning baseball, and those two goals often compete against each other. They did so last offseason and at the trade deadline, and it will happen again this winter. We will see what choice they make.

I actually got to watch some movies this past couple of weeks so we’ll do some movie reviews. Heck, 3 of the movies are even from 2019!

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – Narrative-wise, it comes after Endgame and, in a lot of ways, it’s freed from the burdern of the MCU. We can’t pretend the snap never happened and, in fact, they integrate it nicely into the plot. However, the stakes can’t be dialed back entirely and we get nods to the Sinister Six and multiverse. With Spidey partially freed from Stark’s shadow and Nick Fury adrift in time, they latch onto Mysterio in their own interesting ways. There’s a lot of misdirection and Gyllenhaal sells almost all of it well. It also has a ton of the necessary light-hearted fun that the franchise requires with Peter’s classmates getting more entertaining by the movie. It’s the best Spider-Man since Spider-Man 2.

Detective Pikachu (2019) – Going in, I had a mixed bag of expectations. It looked bigger budget than most video game adaptations and brought in A-lister Ryan Reynolds. The preview tried to sell a main character with daddy issues, a noir mystery, and some more depth to a science fiction world that blends the modern idealized version of the 50s space age with “Blade Runner” futurism. It ultimately comes off as a budget version of the plot/characters noir buddy mystery of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” meet the setting of everyday magic “Harry Potter” with the high level of polish you expect from a franchise that has a GDP higher than a number of small countries. It’s safe and limited but entertaining.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – The first Lego movie was amazing. It hit the Pixar balance of being for both adults and kids, both in comedy and in emotion. However, a sequel was always an impossible task. It’s just not as good as the original – it couldn’t be. Then that’s combined with some development hell and the usual perils of sequilitis and you get a jumble where the world building is even more haphazard, the characters are a bit more caricature, and it just can’t be as creative. It’s still pretty good, but the first movie isn’t fair to any sequel: it was so good and so clever that it raised the bar while burning the narrative bridges behind it so it couldn’t be followed. If there was no Lego Movie 1 (the plot doesn’t quite allow for that but let’s whistle past that), Lego Movie 2 would have been viewed as “good”. However, if this was the first Lego Movie, there wouldn’t have been a second.

If you want a “bonus”, I also watched The Tuxedo (2002) for some reason. I was hoping for generic Jackie Chan fish-out-of-water action comedy paired with a wacky sidekick. Instead, it was even cheesier than that, had generally bad acting, even for an action movie, and had too many special effects, taking away from the Jackie Chan stunts. It really did feel like an adolescent Disney movie. It was bad enough to be MST3K’d, which makes me feel sad as I love Jackie Chan.

Did you know there have been 69 (and counting) Lego video games?!? They’re split pretty evenly between “original games” and “licensed games”. For the former, I only recall a couple of those games. Most were just released on PC and a number of the console ones could accurately fall under the category of “shovelware”. Lego City Undercover got a pretty good push with decent reviews. I remember the box art for a couple of other games like the Bionicle ones. And, after reading the description of Lego Racers, a creative studio could make that work in modern gaming, especially on handhelds. Or, god forbid, monetize it with microtransactions.

But today we’re going to talk about the first real licensed game of the Lego series: Lego Star Wars: The Video Game. Star Wars video games have been around almost as long as the movies. But this particular game combined two popular licenses: Star Wars and Lego and created a game that sold extremely well (over 6 million copies) and earned a lot of reviews that mostly boiled down to a reaction of “surprisingly fun”.

It was a fairly simple multiplayer game meant for players of all ages. For the youngest, there were no deaths, simple puzzles, and cartoon violence. For fans of the franchise, it played through highlights of all three prequel movies, not unlike the SNES series of games, with the characters, settings, and John Williams score fans had come to know. And, for gamers, it was a pretty decent hack-and-slash with adorable cartoon graphics and tons of unlockables and replayability.

The direct sequel, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, sold even better and their success would lead developer Traveller’s Tales to create games for Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Marvel, and more. In fact, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has already been announced for next year.

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Weekend Rumblings – News for September 21, 2019

Danny Duffy talks to Jeffrey Flanagan about an adjustment to his delivery.

“Moving over on the rubber has given the changeup more real estate now and hitters just can’t give up on it,” Duffy said. “A lot of dudes weren’t offering at it before. But now I can use it more. It’s in my back pocket now.

“It has the same action as it always has but it has more room to work.”

In his Friday notes, David Lesky looks at who could be cleared from the 40-man roster this winter.

The tier of guys most likely to get DFAed includes Jacob Barnes, Kevin McCarthy, newly acquired Randy Rosario, Humberto Arteaga, Cheslor Cuthbert and Jorge Bonifacio. That clears six spots which probably isn’t enough. If you go down to tier two, I see some players who might surprise, but also haven’t really done much to justify their roster spot. I think Conner Greene, Arnaldo Hernandez, Kyle Zimmer (yes, it’s possible) and Ryan O’Hearn all could go. Add in that I expect Cam Gallagher to get traded and there’s a decent chance Richard Lovelady gets dealt and that definitely clears the spots the Royals need.

Adalberto Mondesi made history.

Adalberto Mondesi will become the first player in modern MLB history with 40+ stolen bases & 10+ triples in fewer than 475 plate appearances in a season.

Shawn Bauman looks at the worst strikeout performance by Royals hitters.

One way the Dodgers are better equipped for the post-season than the Astros.

Andrew Friedman is nearing the end of his deal with the Dodgers, but seems likely to stay put.

The Marlins extend manager Don Mattingly.

The Braves clinch a second straight division title.

Peter Alonso becomes just the second rookie to hit 50 home runs in a season.

Padres skipper Andy Green is on the hot seat.

Remembering Global Life Park in its last week as the home of the Texas Rangers.

Yankees pitcher Domingo German won’t pitch the rest of the season following domestic violence allegations.

Former Rays Aubrey Huff and Seth McClung are feuding on Twitter.

The Twins seem to be cursed against the Yankees.

Which hitter is most 2019?

What’s the best weird baseball video game ever?

The Greenland soccer league has the shortest season.

The NBA tries to clamp down on tampering.

North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970.

A spooky black spot on Jupiter is just a shadow.

A complete list of Emmy nominations.

Your song of the day is John Coltrane with Bass Blues.