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Royal Blues

July 29, 2010 11:14 AM

ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm moving!

18.JPGHi all,
I know we just went through this rigmarole a few months ago, but I am moving this blog one last time. Things...are not quite right here, so all my stuff will now be at mindahaas.net. In fact, I already started posting there - like this collection of wonderful fan reactions to yesterday's Scott Podsednik trade.

My goal is to never ever ever ever have to move the blog again, which is why I bought a domain instead of joining yet another blog network. Please poke around at the new site, and be sure to check out the photography page, where I've collected all of my Royals and O-Royals photos from the past year and a half.

And of course, there's a handy orange RSS button up in the upper-right corner over there, so please be sure to subscribe.

Farewell and good luck to Real Clear Sports and all the bloggers here. I sincerely hope it works out better for all of you than it has for me. And go Royals!
July 20, 2010 10:07 PM

Tidbits: Disco, babies, etc.

- As you've perhaps heard, the Royals released Disco Hayes. Greg Schaum asked me to share some thoughts on his site, RoyalsProspects.com. You can go read that, if you wish. And comment and such, please.

DSC_6511.JPG- My brother and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world early this morning. (Did my brother have the Royals game on during labor? You bet!) I went to meet my niece this evening. Her eyes were open and she was looking around for a while. Then Anthony Lerew gave up that home run in the first. I turned the baby toward the TV and told her to get ready to see a LOT of baseball like that. She responded by squeezing her eyes shut.

Even at 1 day old, my niece is a smart gal.

- I'm going to Kansas City tomorrow morning. I'll see if I can get a firsthand report from Lerew about his injury. I didn't actually see him get hit, but I hope he's OK. If he's hurt, who would play the role of the stopgap for the stopgap?

The sideburns were in excellent form, though.
July 11, 2010 12:24 PM

Some photos from last night's ORoyals domination

Omaha beat Albuquerque last night, 13-1. Last night's pictures start at picture #19 in this Facebook photo album.

Here is my favorite - it's Irving Falu leaping to turn a double play.
45.JPG

July 10, 2010 2:01 AM

Kila Ka'aihue doesn't think he's the best hitter EVAR...

Ka'aihue batting 01.JPG...and other stuff from tonight's double-header.

For some reason I was grumpy when I got to work today. I pretty much wanted to punch every face I came across for the first hour or so I was there. Don't ask why - it was one of those dumb days where all the petty stupid stuff piles up into one big heap of frowns.

I hope nobody noticed, though. O-Royals fans pay money (though not THAT much) to get into the ballpark, and the last thing any of them (you?) need is for some promotions chick to be frowning all night. But at some point tonight it hit me: I have no right to ever - EVER - be grumpy at this job.

What was it that finally got to me? Maybe it was the little girl with the red, white and blue hair bow and a hot dog in her hand singing along to the National Anthem even though no one else in her row was singing. Or perhaps it was the two ladies I met who are best friends now because their husbands happened to get assigned to coach the same Little League team four years ago. Or the little boy who got to announce an inning over the PA, blasting through his shaky nerves to confidently bellow out the name of his favorite Royals player.

None of that stuff happened on the field, but that's baseball, you know? The players and the fans and the perfect summer weather and the vendors and everyone else - it all comes together in the most spectacular way possible. Some combination of all those things made my bad mood melt away throughout the Royals double-header - a split against Albuquerque - but I think most of the happy moments came from the fans.

*********
A dugout story about Kila Ka'aihue

I've never been sure how hard I should try to "convert" casual fans into actual O-Royals devotees, because really, fans should be allowed to enjoy the ballpark in whatever way they choose. But I do always like to ask little kids one question: Do you have a favorite player?

Predictably, a lot of young'uns around here adore Alex Gordon. A few really love Irving Falu, probably because of a high five or an autograph he gave them, and a few always pick whoever's hitting home runs that week. (Scott Thorman has a lot of little fans this weekend, for example.)

But if a kid doesn't have a favorite player yet, I shamelessly steer them toward MY favorite: Ka'aihue, of course. Before the first game today, a four-year-old kid was brought on to the field to bring the lineup card to home plate with manager Mike Jerschele. Before Jirsch was ready, I was chatting with the kid while we waited next to the dugout. Kila was a few feet away, prepping his bats for the game ahead. And embarrassingly enough, he heard me say to the tiny child: "And do you know who THAT is?"

The kid solemnly shook  his head, no. I told him, "He could be your favorite player. He's one of the best hitters you'll ever see here." Kila whipped his head toward me and smiled - I think it was a smile, anyway - and shook his head violently. I'm not sure who he'd suggest is better, though. Hopefully the little kid was paying attention when Kila, that bastion of modesty, blasted a 2-run homer in the 4th inning.

***********
Nuts 'n' bolts: The actual games
The Royals split the twinbill with the Isotopes, but the win pushed Omaha into a tie for first place - they had been a game and a half back from the Memphis Redbirds, who've lost two straight.

GAME ONE
Philip Humber gave up two dingers that put the Isotopes out to a lead they never surrendered. Disco Hayes had a rough sixth inning that added two more to 'Querque's total. Hayes rebounded with a gorgeous 8-pitch 7th inning, but the Royals were in a hole.

Omaha scored a token run in the bottom of the 7th (the final inning because this was a DH), but nothing came from it other than a later start to the 2nd game.

Alex Gordon doubled, Irving Falu tripled, and Kila Ka'aihue homered in the game. Ed Lucas drew the Royals' only walk.

GAME TWO:
Charlie Haeger's knuckleball fooled some Omaha hitters - he struck out Irving Falu twice, which you know if you follow Falu is a big deal. He's tough to strike out. But other Royals, and some shoddy Isotope defense and catching, sullied Haeger's night and led to three Omaha runs against him. Jai Miller homered off Ramon Troncoso to lead off the 6th, which gave the Royals a one-run lead that they would hold to the end.

Federico Casteneda was decent enough on the mound, but the real story, somehow, was Matt Herges, who pitched 2.2 fantastic innings to slam the door on Albuquerque.

POSTGAME:
Fireworks! Awesome!   
July 8, 2010 2:24 PM

ORoyals back in town tonight

Team candid 02.JPGAn odd schedule this summer means the Omaha Royals are out of town almost as much in July as they were in June. After the eternal CWS-induced road trip, the Royals were back in town for just two games last weekend, then immediately hit the road again for a series at New Orleans. After this weekend's series, it's the All Star break and then another 8-game road trip.

In other words, home games this month are at a premium, but if you plan well you can see a lot of baseball. How? The Royals are playing THREE doubleheaders at home this month - tomorrow, the 24th and the 25th. As far as I know, we're not emptying the stadium between games, so if you're looking for a weekend with a LOT of baseball, this weekend or the 23rd-26th would be ideal.

And of course, if the rumors are true, you'll get to see what Mike Moustakas can do at the Triple-A level during at least some of those games. It may not be this weekend - although I've got my fingers crossed that it is - but Moustakas' moving here is imminent. And why not? There is not a single thing he still needs to "prove" at NWArk, and it would do the organization a lot of good to show that one of GMDM's top draft picks can make progress and become a star. It has to be agonizing for a new-ish GM to wait for his first draft pick to make the Majors. And as we know, Dayton Moore is still waiting.

It's likely that Moustakas will be that first guy for Moore, and that Omaha fans will get to see him soon.

Per Kevin McNabb, here are this weekend's pitching matchups.
  • Thur., 7:05 p.m.: RH Jesus Castillo (0-2, 12.86) vs. RH Gaby Hernandez (5-5, 6.10)
  • Fri., 5:30 p.m.: RH Seth Etherton (2-2, 4.84) vs. RH Philip Humber (4-4, 4.38)
  • Fri., Gm. 2: TBA vs. TBA
  • Sat., 7:05 p.m.: LH Alberto Bastardo (3-0, 3.23) vs. RH Manauris Baez (1-1, 4.79)
  • Sun., 1:35 p.m.: RH James McDonald (5-1, 4.74) vs. RH Bryan Bullington (6-1, 2.85)

Remember that MiLB double-headers are 7-inning games, so the 2nd game tomorrow will likely be pitched by committee for both teams, depending on how much of each bullpen gets used in the first game.

July 4, 2010 1:42 AM

Fireworks, America, and a trade

RosenblattFireworks02.jpgAll I really wanted for my birthday was an Omaha Royals win. My day and my celebration were built around that game, and everything would be dampened if the ORoyals had lost.

And thanks to a trio of ORoyals home runs - capped by a Rick Ankiel walkoff winner! - I got my wish and had a smile on my face as I settled in to watch the postgame fireworks show. At one point, there was a flurry of fireworks that drowned out the music, but in the briefest of pauses before the next round of booms, all I could hear was:

"America, America, God shed his grace on thee...."


...yep. God bless America, and happy Independence Day.

*****************

One thing that minorly soured my celebration - Edwin Bellorin was traded during the game. He's not the greatest of players - he can NOT hit - but I've come to love having him around. The dude has one of those infectious smiles that I can't help but love. But with Manny Pina's imminent callup to Omaha, one of our catchers had to be the odd man out, and it happened to be Bellorin. He left for Round Rock before the fireworks even started.

Before the game - and hence, before the trade - Bellorin made some comment about my (extremely douchey, I know) patriotic stunner shades. I let him wear them, and he didn't give them back until after the game. So, as a fond farewell to Bellorin, here's a picture of that:
BellorinStunner.jpg

June 27, 2010 11:49 PM

Help a family come to Omaha - they could use it

RoadToOmaha.jpgIs it weird that I haven't blogged at all about the College World Series? It's my town, and it's often called "the center of the baseball universe" during this month. I haven't been to any games yet, actually, but I've been working and more importantly, soaking up the CWS atmosphere while it's still intact in its Rosenblatt-centered glory.

13th Street is a hoot, in particular. I've had the pleasure of working in a tent right next to Zesto's, where the crowds are constant and happy, and the employees are great fun. Our other tent, located near the front gates, has been great as well. Chit-chatting with family members of players and coaches has been fascinating. I'm not sure how much is bloggable - I didn't mention that I blog, and I don't usually post stuff from conversations without the other person being aware of what's up. But it's glorious to see how proud all the family members are. I especially liked the father of a catcher; he had so much pride and love in his eyes when he was talking about his son. He was eager to boast - in an adorable fatherly way - about his son's success, and stayed and talked to us about him for quite a while.

Family is a big part of the College World Series experience. It's a time when a lot of young kids figure out that they really love baseball. A coworker took her 6-year-old son to a game, and the kid was, for the first time, more interested in the game on the field than in finding stuff to do away from the field. That kid, with the CWS as his springboard, is going to grow up to be a great baseball fan.

A little boy in South Carolina didn't get that chance. Bayler Teal was 7, just old enough to be getting into baseball in that splendid way that the game grips all of us, but he died of cancer last week. The South Carolina team, moved by his two-year battle, dedicated their series to his memory. The Gamecocks are playing in the championship series, and Bayler's family wants to come to Omaha see the team that the little guy loved so much.

Because this is the age where generosity is easier than turning away from people in need, I wouldn't be surprised if total strangers covered ever penny of the Teals' trip to Omaha. A bank in Bishopville, SC, has an account set up. But for generous baseball fans who don't live out there, Travis Haney, who covers the Cocks for The Post and Courier, will pass along donations made to his PayPal account (his e-mail address is HERE). All he asks is that you mention that it's for Bayler's family so that the money gets to the right place.

Most of you reading this are Midwesterners, and the thing about Midwesterners is that we care about people and we love our baseball. For this family, we can combine those two things and make the final CWS at Rosenblatt special for more reasons than it already is. Go Cocks.  
June 23, 2010 12:35 AM

Ed Lucas' big night wasted in loss

Tonight in Des Moines, Ed Lucas fell just a double shy of the cycle and drove in five runs. It was only the 2nd time in his career that he's homered and tripled in the same game - the other one was July 24, 2008.

The O-Royals ended up losing 8-7 to the I-Cubs. After the Royals put up 4 runs in the first inning (three of which came on a Lucas home run), Gaby Hernandez coughed up the lead, and thensome. By the time Hernandez's day was done, he had given up seven runs, all earned. The Royals clawed back, thanks to a 2-run triple from Lucas.

David Lough, by the way, doubled and homered tonight as well. But the bats weren't enough to hold off the I-Cubs. Blaine Hardy was brought in to hold the tie in the 8th. Around the Kansas City game and College World Series shenanigans, I never did hear if anyone was warming up, but Hardy threw a lot of pitches. He really faltered in the 9th, and could not get out of it. Iowa won, 8-7.

Other tidbits from tonight:

Scott Thorman and Kila Ka'aihue each walked 3 times.
Matt Herges struck out two in his perfect inning of work.
The two home runs Hernandez gave up were in the same inning. The two doubles he gave up were back-to-back. Crap happens in pairs, I guess?

The loss drops the O-Royals out of first place; Nashville has now taken the lead. More about the divisional standings tomorrow...tonight, it's time to go to bed so I can wake up for some jingoism soccer. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
June 19, 2010 11:03 PM

For posterity

The Omaha Royals are in first place...but this division could not be any tighter.
TightDivision.jpg(This may change after the night's games wrap up, but I wanted to capture this glorious moment of either parity or mediocrity - however you want to view it - for posterity.)

June 15, 2010 7:00 PM

Farewell, car

What follows has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. Sorry.

When I left my house this morning, I was grumbling to myself about all the people who have door-dinged my car and not done anything about it. In fact, ALL of the people who have ever door-dinged me - at least one on all four doors - have failed to do the responsible thing. Grumble grumble.

Anywho, I went on some errands, including putting gas in my treasured Taurus. Seriously, I love that car. A few minutes later, the gas I had just paid for was trickling down the street, dripping out of the crumpled remains of my car. Someone had run a red light, and I tried to stop, but I hit him. Both airbags deployed, and my driver door was kind of hard to force open, but my phone stayed in its place in my lap so I was able to call 911.

A Jimmy Johns driver with a flowing mohawk, a kindly lady in a nearby office building, and an attorney happened to witness the wreck, and no one disputed that the other guy was at fault. Hooray! Everyone was super nice to me, too. And I got to ride home in the back of a cop car! Just like a perp!

I'm physically OK, I guess. There happened to be an ambulance nearby, and they are required to stop at the scene of an accident, I guess? They checked me out before the police and fire department even got there, and all was well. Here's what's left of my car.

DSC_6454.JPGSo...that happened. Again, I'm fine, although I did just find a small piece of glass in my mouth. That was...unexpected. Now it's time for the Royals game. I really hope they win.

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