Games » Minnesota TwinsJul28
OK, so why be a Royals fan now?
The team has clearly given up on the playoffs and started selling off parts. If you found out that the captain of your cruise ship had sold the propeller, that might give you pause. Try to enjoy the fact that you’re still on a cruise…you might not be going anywhere, but it’s still a cruise.
My wife once asked me what I found so compelling about baseball. I told her that if there were a movie that made you so mad you wanted to break something, so happy you wanted to hug strangers, so depressed you were numb, so suspenseful you couldn’t breathe, so giddy you were spraying beer on friends, everyone would want to see that movie…and that’s what a great ballgame is like.
If you know what to look for, there are always fascinating moments in a ballgame. That’s been a big part (I hope) of this web site. I’ve been trying to pass along the insights players and coaches gave me. The game’s a whole lot more interesting when you know what you’re looking at.
You can be a fan of an absolutely awful team and still see 60 wins. The best teams win approximately six out of 10, the worst approximately four out of 10. So cheer up — when you head to the park or turn on the TV, you’ve still got a 40 percent chance of seeing the Royals win a game.
Unless they’re playing the Minnesota Twins.
Speaking of the Twins…
As I recall, Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” started off with Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe.” Mine involves a Twin hitting a line drive. The night before this game, Ned Yost said his pitchers were not throwing enough quality strikes down in the zone (knee to just below mid-thigh…mid-thigh and up gets you a free trip to Omaha).
Brian Bannister’s pitching performance was better than the other pitching performances the Royals have been getting during this stretch (not a high bar to jump over), but still not good enough. He left a couple of pitches in bad locations, the Twins hit them out, and there goes your ballgame.
Betemit at third…
Another Wilson Betemit play that a better fielder could’ve made was ruled a hit. The Royals are supposedly going to keep running him out to third, so this is a situation to keep your eye on…or not, depending on how strong your stomach is.
Yost and Rusty Kuntz made it clear that Alex Gordon’s transformation into a big-league outfielder is far from complete. One of the skills you need to play outfield in the big leagues can only be worked on in the big leagues: Judging fly balls against the backdrop of a third deck. Well, he got lots of practice against the Twins.
I also wonder if Gordon’s tendency to lift the ball is a concern. Watch batting practice and you would’ve seen him hit a bunch of impressive, high, long drives that landed on the warning track that would’ve been outs in the game. After that, I checked what Alex has done since coming back to the team.
He’s three for 19 with a walk. Seven of his 16 outs came on fly balls and two on strikeouts. Strikeouts and fly balls don’t put enough pressure on the defense (on a fly ball, one guy has to do one thing…catch it…on a ground ball, two guys have to do three things…catch it, throw it, catch it). Twenty plate appearances aren’t enough to draw a conclusion, but they’re enough to make you wonder.
Recently, I made the case that Yuniesky Betancourt is a better ballplayer than many observers think, but here’s another thought on the matter: Even his defenders think he goes to sleep at times and can screw up a routine play.
Can a winning team afford to have the word “inconsistent” associated with a crucial defender?
You can mentally take entire innings off in the outfield and get away with it if nobody hits you a ball. Lose focus up the middle on the infield and people find out quickly. If the Royals are ever in the playoffs (I know, I might as well start making financial plans for the day I hit the lottery), do they want to be at the mercy of Yuniesky Betancourt’s ability to focus?