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2014 Brought Memories, Love of Baseball to KC

Oct 29, 2014 -- 11:24pm

By Chad Rader

The 2014 season was one for the memory books for Kansas City, even if the fireworks didn't fire on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

What more could you ask for? Just the second World Series since 2002 to have gone the distance to Game 7. There should be no pointing fingers at Ned Yost, no second-guessing or calling out one play that killed Kansas City. No need for fans to break down what was wrong with Kansas City - though many fans already started the gripe session in all the above categories immediately after the game.

No, its about what KC did right, and they were almost more right, so to say, than all 29 other teams.

Yes, it pretty much all came to who had the durable and unstoppable ace in Madison Bumgarner. As noted in a prior blog (below), it was the equivalent of the theory that the team with the best player on the court is favored to win a basketball game. The usage of Bumgarner was outstanding. And that's not as outstanding as his 0.26 career ERA in the World Series. Think about that - that's one run allowed for every four complete games.  

The 2014 World Series got everyone talking about the Royals in the Kansas City metro area, and throughout the Midwest. Kansas City turned into Smurf village for nearly a month. All the talk on sports radio was Royals, Royals, Royals and in the brief moments it wasn't, callers were irate it wasn't about Royals, Royals, Royals. And many now will figure out this weekend that the Chiefs are midway through their season.

Every station broadcast Royals coverage, crews camped at Kaffman Stadium for weeks. And once and for all, Kansas City shook the playoff drought - and in Royal style! Kansas City sports fans felt like the center of the national sports world, the nation was reminded that Kauffman Stadium is indeed a spectacular venue and many area businesses enjoye an economic windfall.

But unfortunately, second is still second. No one talks about the Tampa Ray Rays finishing second in 2008, the Cleveland Indians losing in Game 7 in 1997 or the even the 1980 Kansas City Royals losing to the Phillies. Champions are whom is revered for years. And that's why we'll still be playing 80s music the next time Kansas City makes a playoff run.

What stinks is so many things went right for KC with the Wild-Card comeback, the timely homers and great catches and maturing of KC's young stars and a dynamic bullpen and ...

But go ask Pirates fans, or Twins and Oakland fans for the past 20 years, and they've yearned for a World Series appearance. Or just recall two weeks ago yourself, and you won't complain about this outcome.

Win, lose or draw, Kansas City fans should've known entering Game 7 that it was an enjoyable, memorable season - or playoff run. It always hurts when you're oh-so-close, but for once in a long, long time, 2014 made us remember how much we liked baseball in Kansas City.

Where Were You in 2014?

Oct 29, 2014 -- 10:22am

By Chad Rader

A month full of late nights for Kansas City, spending off the holiday gift funds for tickets and biting nails down to the nub will finally conclude tonight.

Not that anyone is complaining one bit - well, maybe some wives who have seen their husbands glued to a TV or the internet for four straight weeks. But they'll be on to another sport of some sort come January or March.

Tonight will be the culmination, and there's no better way than a winner-take-all, this is THE game to decide it all.

So far, while the MLB playoffs were dandies throughout, and the World Series has gone the distance, the World Series has been a set of blowouts, with a record five games decided by five runs or more.

For Kansas City's sake, hopefully there's a sixth in the style of Game 7 in 1985. Which, speaking of...

... am I the only one tired of hearing about 1985? I was for years, as a member of the Royals PR department, when "I remember back in 1985 ..." led off 30% of phone calles or emails, disgruntled about the Royals losing, or the parking was this or the ticket prices were that. Everything referenced 1985 as the last sunny days.  But I figured that would fade once the Royals made the playoffs again.

And I get it, there's comparisons and flashbacks to 1985, since its the last time KC won it all, and in similar fashion returning home down, 3-2. And enjoying a blowout in the process of MLB-record setting proportions (both Game 7, 1985 and Game 6, 2014 rank in the top 5 blowouts in World Series history).

But I'm ready to kill the 80s music (though fun to flashback for sure, "Party Like It's 1985" and all of us discussing where we were at when George and Sabes hugged. No, it shouldn't be killed off forever. It's a great childhood memory for me too. But we just need to reset our reference points and slide it up to 2014, and create that milestone for another generation!

Either way, whatever happens tonight, we'll all be discussing this run to the final game of the MLB season. And it feels like its destined to go Kansas City's way, but we shall see.

Both starters are crapshoots. They could fire 6.0 innings of two-run ball, they could throw 2.0 innings of six-run ball. I'd obviously lean towards San Francisco's bullpen in middle relief with a possible Madison Bumgarner sighting, trotting Yusmeiro Petit back out to the hill, but perhaps starting Danny Duffy to lead off an inning or even Jason Vargas for an inning or two may be just fine.

Hopefully Kansas City doesn't have to get to that point. It either means a) the Giants are laying it on the Royals b) there's an injury c) we're in the 13th inning.

Even if SF lead 5-0 in the third, you may see Wade Davis at that point to stop the bleeding. Or perhaps if Guthrie gets in trouble in the fifth, Herrera and Davis (and perhaps Holland) all may come on for two innings each, starting in the 5th. It's Game 7, and both sides will empty all their chambers if needed.

Tonight will be fun, as there is no tomorrow and Bud Selig will end his tenure handing the trophy to one team or another. It could be a wild celebration again at Kauffman Stadium and - well, just for laughs to bury this once and for all - party like its 1985.

But where were you when Hosmer and Moose hugged? Where were you when Salvy hoisted Holland in the air? Those will be the questions we'll be asking years from now. Hopefully just not another 29 years. Though will anyone complain today, if we were to say, "I remember when we won it back in 2014..."

Let's Go Royals...

World Series Roundup, Game 1

Oct 21, 2014 -- 10:33pm

By Chad Rader

A few notes from Game 1 of the World Series, a deflating loss for Kansas City, but much more ahead in the World Series...

Key moment #1: Shields struggled with P3 in the first, as Posey laced a single, then Pablo Sandoval's RBI double put the Giants on the board out of the gates. Hunter Pence's two-run blast blew the game open before Royals fans even got their first beverage in their hands.

Key moment #2: With Kansas City appearing to have got to Madison Bumgarner in the third with second and third and no outs, Alcides Escobar repeatedly waved at pitches above his helmet for a strikeout, followed by Nori Aoki fanning on a ball in the dirt. After a walk, Eric Hosmer immediately swung at the first pitch. Frustrating.

The rest: Was just filler after those two innings

Shielding Royals fans: Shields has imploded in the playoffs with a 7.11 ERA this postseason. Unless Shields turns in a pivotal gem ahead, it'll be an easier pill for Royals fans to swallow when/if Shields jets in the offseason for a bigger contract. Now the question is, will this postseason cost Shields say $2-$3 million per year, as a team wanting an ace wants, well, big games from a Big Game pitcher?

Hope ahead: Though Giants pitchers seemingly turn into Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford and Andy Pettitte in the playoffs, these San Francisco starters are anything from that. Yes, big names with Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson ahead, but all three remaining starters held a record below .500 in 2014 (Peavy 7-13, Hudson 9-13, Vogelsong 8-13), the first time a team advanced to the World Series with three starters under .500.

Getting to the Ace: Kansas City finally got to Madison Bumgarner, snapping a 21-inning scoreless streak in the World Series and 32.2 in the postseason on the road. Barring a San Francisco sweep, KC will face Bumgarner again, so good for KC to get something on the board against the big lefty.

Who Thunk It?: Would anyone thought when Gregor Blanco was traded from Kansas City in 2011, after playing just 49 games in 2010, that he'd score two runs against KC in Game 1 of a World Series game?

Fire Extinguisher: The fear of the layoff was that Kansas City's momentum would be lost. In a bigger fear, once KC saw its winning streak snapped, would be how the Royals will react? Let's not hope its not the same as the 2007 Colorado Rockies, which won seven straight to advance to the World Series, then after its 7-0 streak was snapped, got swept, 4 games to 0 by Boston.

Deflating stat: In the last 11 years, only once (Yankees, 2009) have lost Game 1 and come back to win the World Series.

What's Ahead: Kansas City must win in Game 2. Good news, Peavy has just a 4.97 career ERA vs Kansas City.

Royals - Giants Preview: From a KC/SF Fan

Oct 21, 2014 -- 11:01am

By Chad Rader

So. there's been about 278 series previews so far, but this one will offer a bit of a different perspective for Royals fans.

27 years ago, as a young baseball fan already enamored with the Royals, I harmlessly decided to follow - and love - another baseball team in the National League. Will Clark became my favorite player after the Brett-White tandem retired, and I annually bought a new San Francisco Giants hate and other attire, as well as Royals gear.

Years went by, the Royals stunk, stunk and stunk some more. San Francisco seemingly advanced to the playoffs once every 2-3 years, with even a World Series loss after the turn of the century. I've seen the Giants play in four different ballparks. Then the Giants purged themselves of the Bonds era, and became an even more likeable team based on pitching, defense and timely hitting en route to two improbable World Series titles.

Sound familiar? Certainly does, and that's what makes this World Series - while perhaps not the name brands national fans originally wanted - very appealing.

Which will give? Kansas City going undefeated in the 2014 postseason with an 8-0 record? Or the Giants having won nine straight postseason series in  a row?

Who will blink in the late innings, with both teams having small ball rallies or a timely homer to win in the final at-bat?

As a huge fan of each franchise over nearly three decades, here are the keys for the Royals to Take the Crown!


Kansas City needs to take one against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who actually has pitched better on the road than at AT&T Park in the postseason recently. Regardless, he's an ace in the playoffs with a 2.67 career ERA, and Kansas City needs to find a way to snag a win.


James Shields has surrendered a 5.65 ERA this postseason, but recent news that Shields passed a kidney stone during this past ALCS may have a bit to do with some of that. In the end, Kansas City needs one big game from Big Game, especially opposite of Bumgarner.


Sure, Kansas City hasn't lost a game in the postseason, and not since October 1985. But odds are it will happen in the World Series at some point, and getting the first game is very crucial for the Royals, especially at home.


After watching umpteen Giants comebacks and rallies in the postseason, the formula for its rallies sounds familiar. A walk, a bunt, a muffed ball or misplay and a run comes in, with another runner on second. Then a hit and suddenly San Francisco has scored two on just one bloop hit.

Yes, does sound familiar, eh? Kansas City usually gets the defensive part right - I don't think Eric Hosmer will be confused with Matt Adams of St. Louis at first base (who botched consecutive plays to lead to a big rally in Game 5 of the NLCS). The Giants have a meager offense as well, so not giving walks to a Brandon Crawford or other light-hitting batters is crucial.


Posey, Pablo, Pence are the core of the lineup. None of them have blasted 30 homers this year, but have all had many postseason moment. And Buster Posey arguably is the game's best catcher, having an MVP under his belt (2012) and just 27. Who can forget Pablo's three-homer game in Game One of the 2012 World Series off Justin Verlander? And Pence, as quirky as he is, is one tough out and just a ballplayer.

Now, the Giants will get a likely boost in Kansas City, with Michael Morse returning from injury and limited to hitting duties, and can DH in the AL park. He blasted a pinch-hit homer in the Game 5 comeback, and will give depth to the Giants lineup in up to four games at DH.


Kansas City obviously needs some hot sticks or key hits, and would go a long way if Billy Butler or Alex Gordon batted .520 for the series. In what likely will be a pitching and defense series, such a hitter as Hosmer, Mike Moustakas or Lorenzo Cain have been early on would carry Kansas City a long way.


- Pablo Sandoval is like Yogi Berra, Kirby Puckett, Vlady Guerrero. He never saw a pitch he didn't like - or can hit. It may be in the dirt, may be a foot outside. But it can be a double either way.

- Hunter Pence is quirky, looks goofy - but is a ballplayer. No matter how horrible his swing and batting stance look, how oddly he runs after a ball in the outfield - Pence will end up dirty and can beat you.

- Looking in the mirror - Kansas City and San Francisco each put together the late rallies. It ain't over until its over...

- Posey can be run on. He's thrown out 30% of runners this year, and pretty much his career. Which isn't something like 45% or crazy. So it can be done.

- Let's not face Yusmeiro Petit. Usually it'll be in a long relief situation, whether a starter was tired, or extra innings. But he set broke Mark Buehrle's MLB record for most consecutive batters retired.


Starters: San Francisco with Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy at the top. Ryan Vogelsong is nothing more than Jeremy Guthrie, but has risen to the occasion in the postseason - as Guthrie did in Game 4 of the ALCS. But the top three are tough, and what's scary is Matt Cain has been out the second half of the season on the DL. If KC can get another round of Jason Vargas and Guthrie stepping up, then the Royals will be fine. The key will be Yordano Ventura in the mix.
Advantage: San Francisco

Long-relief: Usually isn't needed, aside from either a blowout or extra innings. While Danny Duffy is strong, how long can he go? Meanwhile, Yusmeiro Petit set an MLB record for most consecutive scoreless innings in the regular season, fired 6.0 scoreless IP in the 2-1 NLDS Game 2 18-inning marathon and while he's stunk all year, there still is two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum hanging out, who has been blessed with postseason pixie dust in the past.
Advantage: San Francisco

Bullpen: Sure, San Fran has a decent pen with Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla. But Hunter Strickland and Jean Machi are used a lot in high-level situations and just stink. Let's cut to the chase: No one in the game is better than the Royals trio of Herrera - Davis - Holland. And even Jason Frasor has risen up.
Advantage: Kansas City

Defense: Losing centerfield Angel Pagan to injury hurt San Francisco. Sandoval, for how big he is, is surprisingly good at third. Either that, or he makes plays look better with diving and flopping around. Belt is strong at first base. Kansas City has the advantage, but not by leaps and bounds.
Advantage: Kansas City

Hitting: Neither teams is an offensive juggernaut. Usually its piecing together an infield hit, a bunt, a botched play or a bloop. The Royals have the edge with its speed on the basepaths however.
Advantage: Kansas City

Clutch: The Royals certainly have showed they can rise to the moment. San Francisco has shown it can rise to the moment.
Advantage: Push


If Kansas City can get beat Bumgarner once, knock around Peavy once and take advantage against Vogelsong, the Royals should be okay. But Kansas City will need strong starting pitching themselves, and the ALCS didn't see a starter go past five innings, which is a concern.


Kansas City, of course!


I've been asked this many times, but obviously want Kansas City to Take the Crown. A no-brainer growing up on the Royals, having worked forthe ogranization for four years and still interaction with players and fans.

And while it will be hard to root against San Francisco for the first time in 27 years, the good news is, the consolation prize for my favorite team losing is my favorite team winning it all.

But let's make it a fun, memorable series, with the all-time favorite team since I was 6 beating the all-time favorite team since I was 14.

Go Royals!

Royals Playoff Montage

Oct 09, 2014 -- 2:44pm

Listen to a montage of Royals highlights from the 2014 MLB playoffs ... so far!


Fans Enjoying The Royal Treatment

Oct 04, 2014 -- 12:42am

By Chad Rader

Playoff baseball is all about pitching, defense and timely hits. That's certainly what Kansas City has been all about this week.

It would be fun to recollect the big plays and big hits but we all have them etched in our minds already. The Aoki twisting and turning catches. The Jarrod Dyson pivotal thrown out at third. And the two big game-winning homers from Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.

Kudos can't be given enough to Dayton Moore for sticking with Hosmer and Moustakas, and really, there wasn't any other choice. But the two young players that Royals fans have bellyached about for the past two years, as the future faces of the franchises, who haven't produced up to the hype. Yeah, that's all forgotten now.

Hosmer has gone from a light-hitting first baseman to the face of the franchise and a poster boy for ads ahead - beyond Kansas City. And even though he was mic'ed up, Hosmer has appeared to be the leader of the team as well.

What's scary for all is that the Royals will likely be picked by many pundits to win it all next year  - regardless what happens this postseason. All but Billy Butler, Aoki and James Shields will return, and surely, these playoffs will boost these players to even more greatness and confidence next year.

But back to this weekend:

- How tough is Salvador Perez? The biggest contribution from Josh Hamilton may have been knocking the KC catcher out. But he took the shot to the head and kept going.

- Anaheim a whopping 2-for-21 with runners on base, 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. As frustrated as Royals fans may be, yelling "just score a RUN!"at their TVs, you can only imagine with three runs in 22 innings would be like for Anaheim.

- How you think Anaheim likes that Josh Hamilton contract?

- The bullpen for Kansas City vs Anaheim has been quite evident. The Royals bring in former closers in Jason Frasor and are able  - even without Kelvim Herrera - to have the depth to save Greg Holland for the 11th inning shutdown, and not the wince and hope the team can hold on.

- What a run by Lorenzo Cain to beat out the throw.

- And was that the loudest homer you've ever heard, when Hosmer no-brained it into the bullpen?

- All to a 9-inning win and catching up on sleep ... naaaa.

A fun week, and very likely, another big week - or two ahead. The Angels certainly can wake up and bust out a 7-1 romp real fast. But until they do ... enjoy the Royal treatment.

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