Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Musings From Roy F. Almania: Twin Comparisons and Deep Dictionary Diggin'

This, ladies and gentlemen, is "Musings From Roy F. Almania." Each month, if we're lucky, my cousin Roy, from down in the humid depths of Joplin, MO, takes time out of his schedule to pen us a piece on his and my favorite Major League Baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. It's seldom Associated Press material, and it's not always as polished as your local rag's sports page, but it's one thing and one thing only: unique and heartfelt.

What? That's two things? My bad. Dig in on this month's (Editor's Note: In true journalistic fashion, he e-mailed me this entry before 12:00 a.m. Central, so I guess technically this counts as a May entry.) installment, just beyond the jump.

I ain't never been much of a linguist, but one word, to me, if a body breaks it on down, can be meant to sum up the first part of the season for the 2009 Kansas City Royals. 'Fore I get into that, though, I must mention that the series in which my boys in blue are participatin' now -- the one 'gainst them confounded Twins of St. Paul -- is the perfect sack-of-feed example to illustrate my point. See, the Twins, to me, are eternal Kansas City nemesis. They've managed, for a number of seasons now, to do things just a hair better than the club formerly owned by the Kauffmans, and playing better ball than them -- even if it's just a hayseed better -- is the means for a successful harvest. They ain't never had much in the way of superstars, but they do field some talent, they drum up better-than-average pitching each year, they have the ability to hit well, play solid defense, and have admirable speed. And by my calculations, taking multiple series from Minneapolis is the fertilizer to better Royal ball.

And I'll be damned if the first two games of this series right now don't do my point justice. Let's first back up and look at their last meeting. It was the top o' last month when KC visited the Hubert Humphrey, and I was tickled when the boys produced a golden goose egg in the form of a series win up there. Now they dropped the first game by a pair of runs, but they fought back from a defecit in the second game, and took it from the home team in extra innings. Then they capped the thing off with another come-from-behind win to take the rubber match. Night before last, they never trailed, even when Justin Morneau hit a two-run blast in the eighth. A solo shot from Morneau early in last night's game, however, made a difference that the Royals couldn't overcome.

If you examine a few factors of the Minnesota roster, you'll find some spots that Kansas City should strive for. For example, their catcher, Joe Mauer, is hittin' .383 and sluggin' . 662 with 14 homers. Miguel Olivo's hittin' .262, sluggin' .524, and has a dozen dingers. Twins base runners have swiped 38 bags, which is actually two fewer than the Royals. Minnesota pitching boasts a 4.28 ERA with a 500:217 K:BB ratio; Kansas City looks more like 4.30 with a 516:244. Royals hurlers have also given up fewer earned runs, fewer home runs, and fewer hits, which means, if overcoming the Twins is the silo in the way to the pasture, than offense must be the problem if they have the pitching edge. The Twins have some 80 more hits than the Royals, which have produced 70-some more runs than their current opponents. And here's the kicker: They got a 15-home run edge, and a 95-RBI differential. They also walk more, have a better team batting average, and a better slugging percentage, so KC has its work cut out for it.

But enough about Team Gardenhire. Let's talk about my word: contention. If that ain't what most Royals fans want more than anything, than I'll be a stuck pig. I know that's what's on my Christmas list every year, and shoot -- I even say a little prayer for it come Independence Day. If you break it down by syllable, you'll find a lot o' meaning in there. Bear with me, now.


I ain't sure if that's the proper phonetic spelling, but imagine it is. While you're playin' along, pretend as though "cun" was the root of "cunning," which my definition as a noun means "craftiness; guile." As an adjective, it can mean adeptness, dexterity, crafty, or sly." Now, I wouldn't necessarily argue that the Royals are very many of things things in both the tops and the bottoms of innings. When they're on the field, they have the potential to be all of 'em, if you look at the potential of this group of pitchers. If you broaden the scope to include the fielders, you might could say there's some craft, and a little bit of dexterity. But adept and crafty this team, as a fielding whole, is not. The team, as an entire whole, however, can "cun" you into thinking that they are crafty enough to tinker with a Wildcard. But we mustn't be fooled, and I think a great many of us were as spring training camp broke.


I reckon we don't need the dictionary for this one. It's a number. There's examples a-plenty with this number that we could use to show how the Royals are underperforming. I'll offer a few: The Royals have played 76 games. They are 33-34, which is 10 games below .500. They should be 38-29, a 10-game swing. In their last 10 games, they've won four, lost six. If they drop this afternoon's contest against the Twins, they'll be 10 games out of first. Through them 76 games, they have 642 hits, 67 of which are home runs. That makes about 9.58 per cent of their hits to be home runs. It should never be less than 10. They are 10 RBIs short of 300 on the season. They are not in the Top 10 in runs scored. You get the point.


This last one's a bit more subjective. It means "to take pains to keep away from; to avoid." This should be KC's motto toward losing. Contrarily, it should be the last thing the fans are doing with their hopes for the team, their desires to follow the club and get out to the stadium when feasible. What fans have done, is shun their early-season expectations and turned to expect the worst. They've shunned the general manager, and they've shunned the skip. As my kids might say, "not cool." What the club and the fan base should be doing, is supporting this team, helping them to shun their opponents each time they take the field. I'm no dummy that thinks the Central can be won this year, but I imagine that this time next year, there'll be many a fan that will be working dawn to dusk to shun the feelings they had about last season's team.