Tag Archive | "Bo Jackson"

Flopps: The 8 Bit Baseball Card

I am a sucker for this stuff, I admit.


Craig Robinson is the author behind one of the best infographic style books I have ever read, Flip Flop Fly Ball.  Where the book left off, the website took over.

Craig continues his great work over at his site keeping track of what hat he wears everyday and all kinds of graphically represented statistical anomalies.  We’ve featured some of that work here on i70 before, bring you galleries of his Lego Baseball Players and his infographic on Albert Pujols.  Just last week we brought you other 8-bit baseball players from another site.

Today we bring you a sampling of Craig’s newest creation, Flopps.  The Flip Flop Fly Ball baseball cards dedicated to all things baseball.  Browse the images in the slideshow below and then head on over to the site to see the entire collection.  (Don’t miss the Steve Bartman card below)

Use the “next” and “previous” buttons below the slides to browse through all the images.

Albert Pujols

Picture 1 of 14

Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters in recent memory. Perhaps he will forever be remembered as he is depicted here, in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, Featured, MLB, RoyalsComments (0)

Loyal ISA Customer Wins the Holy Grail of Basketball Cards


International Sports Authentication (www.ISAgrading.com) recently ran an unannounced contest to reward the customer who submitted the 100,000th card for grading.  The lucky customer, who won a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie graded an ISA 10 was a regular submitter, Gerald Chasm.  What makes Mr. Chasm winning the most iconic card of the best basketball player ever so special: the fact that he is in the process of collecting the entire 1986-87 Fleer Basketball set, and he actually needed the Jordan rookie card to help complete it!

Mr. Chasm has almost 70 cards of the legendary set, all graded either an ISA 8 or 9, but he has been unable to track down the Jordan rookie, or any card that is an ISA 10.  When asked what his reaction was to winning the card, Mr. Chasm initially thought that he had won Jordan’s baseball rookie card.  When he realized what he had actually won, he was floored!  Asked what his plans were once he completes the set, he said that he was unsure, but that his wife told him to “sell everything else and just keep that set!”

As a lifelong collector, Chasm began accumulating cards in 1954 and remembers playing Little League baseball when Mickey Mantle was a rookie.  He says that he has over 1 million total cards, with over 1,000 graded.  After retiring a couple of years ago, he is now active in online sports card auctions for supplemental income.

When asked what his favorite sport was, Gerald replied that he was a fan of them all, but that racing and baseball were his top two.  His favorite driver is Dale Earnhardt, Sr.  Growing up, he followed the Cubs and White Sox, and traded all of his Yankees cards for cards of his favorite teams.  As a youth he followed Minnie Minoso, Luke Appling, and Nellie Fox.  Besides Earnhardt , Sr., Gerald’s favorite modern athletes are Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and Chipper Jones.

Gerald was also asked if he had any other family members who collected sports cards.  “I enjoy collecting with and for my grandson, and I got my father into card collecting,” he said. “My father was a huge Nolan Ryan collector.”

He went on to say that he “loves the customer service, pricing, turnaround time and grading consistency of ISA.”

International Sports Authentication is a sports card grading company located in Southeast Michigan.  For over four years, ISA has been specializing in grading and encapsulating all sport, non-sport, entertainment and collectable card game cards.  There are over 2,500 ISA graded cards available on eBay.  You can follow ISA Grading online on Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler.  For more information, you can contact ISA by phone at 1-800-309-7785, or by email at:Questions@isagrading.com.

Posted in Card Collecting, Featured, MLBComments (0)

Former Royals Broadcast Legend Fred White Dies

When I heard the news that longtime Royals broadcaster Fred White decided to retire after 40 years with the Royals due to a serious health issue, I hoped he would recover from his illness and enjoy his retirement. But the next day, White died from complications from melanoma.

Fred and Denny

It’s a sad end for a broadcast legend such as White, but he lived full life a lot of folks would envy. In 1973, He began his Royals career as a part-time announcer for the Royals TV broadcasts. When Royals broadcaster Buddy Blattner retired in 1975, White teamed up with Denny Matthews for the Royals radio broadcasts.

Denny and Fred were a fixture of Royals radio broadcasts during the team’s glory days, announcing the 1980 and 1985 World Series and many playoff games. It was White who announced George Brett’s three-run homer off Goose Gossage in the 1980 ALCS and Brett’s 3,000 hit in Anaheim. He also called Bo Jackson’s first big league home run. Denny and Fred worked well together, with their similar announcing styles and their sense of humor. The term “Denny and Fred” or “Fred and Denny” became a lexicon of Royals baseball in the Midwest.

By 1998, the Royals were in decline and the Royals and Entercom, the company responsible for Royals broadcasts, fired Fred White after 25 years with the team. A young broadcaster from Minnesota named Ryan Lefebvre took White’s place. Royals fans were outraged by the move.

After 25 faithful years of service with the Royals, you could understand if White became angry or bitter about being fired. But Fred White wasn’t that type of guy. Instead, he supported Lefebvre and the two became good friends. White took a job with the Royals as the director of broadcast services for the Royals Radio Network, taking a struggling radio affiliate network and making it into the largest baseball radio network in the American League. White also directed activities for former players in the Royals Alumni program.

In 2001, White rejoined the Royals as a part-time announcer. Listening to Denny and Fred again was like listening to the Royals in the old days, even if the current Royals teams weren’t that good.

White didn’t have a catchphrase or even a distinctive voice like Vin Scully. He just had that smooth, Midwestern voice that called a baseball game like it should be called. When I was younger and even recently, listening to Fred White call a game with Denny Matthews or Ryan Lefebvre was a treat, no matter how good or bad the Royals played. Fred will be missed, but he will not be forgotten.

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20 Years after Mark Davis, Royals look to spend again

All the talk since the All Star break has been how the Kansas City Royals may actually be ready to hit the free agent market for some starting pitching.

Well, July 21st marks the 20th anniversary of just how wrong things can go when you go shopping.

For those of us who pine for the good old days of Royals baseball, we recall how the era came crashing down at the feet of one man – reliever Mark Davis.

Coming off a 92-win season, the Royals were ready to load up for another run at the pennant. And who would expect less, with a lineup of George Brett, Willie Wilson, Frank White, Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull, Kevin Seitzer and youngsters Mike McFarlane and Brian McRae.

The rotation was equally stacked with Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza being joined by 22-year-olds Kevin Appier and Tom Gordon.

But the team had no established closer, and prior to the 1990 season, the best one in baseball became available.

With San Diego in 1989, Davis saved 44 games, made his second straight All Star appearance, and became just the seventh reliever to win the Cy Young award.

With a price tag of $3.25 million per year – at the time the highest contract ever award – Davis was just what the Royals needed to slam the door on all those games pitched by their young starters.

But what ensued was a free agency nightmare, the end of the Royals golden era, and a cautionary tale to any team going shopping in the off season.

Maybe it was the pressure of the big contract. Maybe it was the move to the American League. Maybe it was the Kansas City barbeque.

Something didn’t agree with Davis and he was taken out of the closer role before the season was over. He was still striking out guys, but he was walking them too, at an alarming rate of 6.8 per 9 innings. His WHIP ballooned to 1.791. And his miniscule 1.85 ERA from the year before suddenly shot to 5.11.

The Royals even tried shifting Davis to the starting rotation, trying to find anything that clicked. But when the curtain fell on a season that started with such great promise, the Royals record stood at 75-86, sixth in the Western Division.

Jeff Montgomery settled into the closer’s role for 1991, and Davis tried to right himself in middle relief and spot starts. KC’s record improved to 82-80, but tremendous turnover had taken place. This was no longer the Royals of Brett, Wilson and White.

Bad as things had been, the bottom fell out in 1992.

With a clownish 7.18 ERA and an unheard of strikeout to walk ratio of .068, the Royals finally had no choice but to dump Davis for whatever they could get. The ax finally fell on July 21, 1992, when the Royals traded Davis for Juan Berenguer.

Berenguer was hardly an improvement, and he was granted free agency following the season.

So for their $14 million investment, the Royals got 7 saves and a 10-17 record between Davis and Berenguer combined. The team finished 72-90.

There probably isn’t some sort of Mark Davis curse at play here, but there’s no question that the Royals have had little to no luck in free agency ever since. The team has just two winning seasons in the 20 years since the Davis experiment was mercifully cut short.

Strangely, that wasn’t the end of the story however.

From 2006 to 2010, Davis served as the pitching coach of the Arizona League Royals. Following the 2010 season, he was promoted by the Royals to Minor League Pitching Coordinator. For 2012, he returned to his former role in Arizona.

Is having someone who flamed out so famously instructing young pitchers really a good thing? Hard to say. Not much is going right for Royals’ pitching prospects at any level. Which is precisely why the Royals will be shoppers this off season.

But with the topic in KC turning to free agency, it’s worth looking back at the Mark Davis signing with a wary eye. The Royals need to sign some pitching, no doubt. But doing so isn’t always the fix you hope for.

Sometimes it turns into a franchise killer.

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2012 Key Player: Eric Hosmer

“The Process”, as Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has often referred to the Royals’ journey from cellar dweller to perennial contender, is dependent on many things happening, and many players producing. One of those players is First Baseman, Eric Hosmer. If the Royals are to make any waves in 2012 and beyond, it is critical that Hosmer build off of his strong 2011 rookie campaign.

Hosmer, who will be only 22 years old for the entire 2012 season, is likely the most hyped player to wear the Royals uniform since Bo Jackson, who was patrolling center-field for the Royals in the year Hosmer was born. He is represented by “super-agent” Scott Boras, who has made it clear that he will not be advising his client to commit to any sort of long-term deal with the Royals prior to hitting free-agency in 2018. So assuming Hosmer does not make up his mind on his own to remain a Royal for his career, the Royals will have him for 7 more seasons. And they need to get maximum production out of him during that time.

In Spring Training 2011, Hosmer tore the cover off of the ball and probably warranted making the opening day roster. However, the Royals had committed to giving Kila Kilahaue a shot at holding down the First Base job. So, while Hosmer went down to Omaha and continued to rake, Kila could not hit a lick. After just over a month of the way through the 2011 season, the Royals decided that Hosmer had forced their hand, and they had to bring him up. He immediately became the everyday First Baseman and finished 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting, putting up the following numbers;

Games: 128
At-Bats: 523
Avg : .293
HR : 19
RBI : 78
SB : 11
SLG : .465
OBP : .333

You might look at those numbers and say “yeah, they look pretty good, but they don’t jump off the page”. Then you have to remember, he was only 21 YEARS OLD!! He is literally still learning the game. According to baseball-reference.com, there is one player that most compares to Hosmer at the age of 21. His name is Eddie Murray, and he is in the Hall of Fame. Does that mean I think Hosmer will be a hall of famer? It is entirely too soon to tell. But it is very clear that the sky is the limit for Hosmer.

It is entirely possible that Hosmer could progress as a hitter this season, have an all-star caliber year, and the Royals still stink because other things went wrong. But it is nearly impossible to envision a scenario where Hosmer regresses in 2012 and the Royals have a winning season. It is for that reason, that he is as important of a player as any for the Royals in 2012.

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Sports Legend Bo Jackson Announces Bo Bikes Bama

Sports Legend Bo Jackson Announces Bo Bikes Bama
Charity bike ride will raise funds for Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – MARCH 21, 2012 – On April 24, one year after deadly tornadoes devastated the state of Alabama, sports legend Bo Jackson will embark on a five-day charity bike ride with a goal of raising $1 million for the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund. Jackson’s 300-mile ride will offer a glimpse of the devastation caused by the April 2011 tornadoes as well as inspire and offer hope to the people of Alabama.

“The reason for this ride is for state unity and to pay homage to the great Alabamians who lost their lives on April 27, 2011,” says Jackson.  “I want Bo Bikes Bama to bring hope to Alabamians whose lives were forever changed by last year’s devastating tornadoes.  I encourage all my friends and fellow Alabamians to support me throughout this journey.”

The route was designed by TREK Travel to follow the path of destruction.  It will begin in Henager, Ala. and conclude in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  Throughout the ride, former teammates and sports stars will join Jackson as well as others who make a charitable contribution to the cause.  Each day, Bo will ride a custom-designed TREK bike that features the names of the over 200 Alabamians who lost their lives to the tornadoes.  A limited number of spots to ride with Bo are available for a $200 tax-deductible donation.  Those interested should register online at www.bobikesbama.com.

On April 28, at the conclusion of Jackson’s journey, there will be a finish line celebration at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. This celebration will feature live entertainment as well as a silent auction with autographed memorabilia from athletes and celebrities such as Cam Newton and Lance Armstrong.  The bikes from Jackson’s ride, donated by TREK, will also be auctioned off at the event. General admission tickets and VIP sponsorship packages will be available for purchase.

All contributions to Bo Bikes Bama will be donated to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which was established by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley immediately following the devastating April 27, 2011 tornadoes.  The Fund helps Alabamians who have exhausted all other avenues of disaster relief provided by insurance, government funding and relief organizations. For more information about the Fund, visit www.servealabama.gov.

About Bo Bikes Bama
Bo Bikes Bama is a charity bike ride conceived by sports legend Bo Jackson to address the unmet needs faced by Alabamians from the deadly April 2011 tornadoes.  Bo’s ride will take place over five days and will offer a glimpse of remaining damage from the 2011 storms.  All funds raised by Bo Bikes Bama will be contributed to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.  Through corporate sponsorships, private donations and registrations to participate in the ride, Jackson aims to raise $1 million for the cause.  Bo Bikes Bama is possible because of the generous contributions of founding partners Capital Sports and Entertainment, Nike Inc., TREK and TREK Travel.  For more information or to learn how to get involved, visit www.bobikesbama.com.

Posted in Classic, Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Is It Really Time For A Gordon Extension?

I want to be as clear as possible from the start: I am a huge Alex Gordon fan. I was there before the Kansas City Royals even drafted him, watching You Tube clips of that dreamy swing and praying Allard Baird didn’t mess up the chance to draft the prodigy that was Awesome Alex.

Alex Gordon courtesy of Minda Haas

I was also there on Opening Day, with the bases loaded, a sell-out crowd on its feet, and expectations very few would have any chance of meeting. My wife has his jersey, my kid has his rookie card…our family is all-in on Awesome Alex. That being said, I do have to wonder; is now really the time to give him a contract extension?

For a Royals’ fan, this question may seem equivalent to blasphemy. We waited so long for him to become what we’d dreamed he could. We went through ridiculously long slumps, excruciating injuries, broken promises and position changes. So before I go any further, I want to say I am not questioning if the Royals should extend Gordon at some point. I hope Gordon is a Royal for life and proves to be every bit the savior we anointed him back in 2007. But think back just 12 months ago, before his breakout season of 2011. Gordon was on his last leg and it would not have been completely absurd to suggest the Royals give up on him ever becoming the player they’d drafted him to be. Then came the declaration. Many scoffed and almost all of us felt uneasy when Gordon told the world he planned to “dominate” in 2011, but then he went out and did it. Gordon in 2011 was everything we’d hoped he’d be from the beginning. I don’t think I need to recite his statistics any more than they already have been but just consider a couple:

– His 140 OPS+ was the highest by a Royals’ everyday player in 10 years

– His 5.9 WAR (per baseballreference.com’s metrics) was the highest in 8 years

– He not only won a Gold Glove but actually received 3 votes on the MVP ballot, for a team that lost 91 games

– He set career highs in every single major offensive category

That seems like a good time to stop, because it brings me precisely to the root of my question. Did Alex Gordon just have a breakout season or a career year? Baseball history is full of players who have put together seasons as good as, and much better than, Gordon without ever really coming close to repeating the performance. Even Royals history has a few shining examples. Of the 11 Royals to put up an OPS + of 140 or better, only 4 (George Brett, Danny Tartabull, Hal McRae, Willie Aikens) did it more than once. The other 8?

Amos Otis – 31
Mike Sweeney – 28
Bob Hamelin – 26
Bo Jackson – 27
Darrell Porter – 27
Wilson Betemit – 28
Richie Schleinblum* – 29

*Schleinblum may be worthy a post of his own some day. He put up his 140 OPS in 1972 in the only season in which he was ever given more than 500 at bats. He also made the All Star game that year. He was then sent to the Reds as part of the Hal McRae deal, traded to the Angels 6 months later for a PTBNL, and traded back to the Royals in ’75 for Paul Schaal. From 1970-1975 Schleinblum played for the Indians, Senators, Royals, Reds, Angels, Royals, and Cardinals.

The numbers you see by the players’ names are their age when they had their career year. Notice how none of the one-timers are under 26? All of the players to do it more than once were 26 or younger, other than McRae. Does this mean Alex Gordon, who was 27, will never put up another season this good? No, not at all, but I do think it points out the probability is better that he just had his career season.

This matters for many reasons, most notably being that the Royals really don’t need to be in the business of signing players to multiple year deals based on the numbers put up in their career year. I expect Gordon to be a good player this year and moving forward, but I don’t expect him to do as well, relatively, as he did last season. If that does turn out to be the case, why the rush to pay him now when you still control him for two more seasons? Jeff Francouer is already locked up for 2 more years, Lorenzo Cain for the next 5, and you have phenom Wil Myers hopefully making a push to join the club in 2013. There are so many possible outcomes with those four players heading into 2012, why lock yourself into a long term deal? Well there are 2 reasons:

For one, this fan base, while energized and optimistic, is also leery of owner David Glass. Glass is viewed as cheap by many and detached by even more. If fan-favorite Gordon were to leave Kansas City and find the same success that Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye did nearly ten years ago it would be a hard pill for the fans to swallow. Not signing Gordon, after all the talk about it this offseason, could signal to fans that this is the same old Royals that can’t afford to keep any of their homegrown talent.

The second is related to that, if not directly. No one really knows what Gordon’s mindset is. I know he has said publicly that he wants to stay a Royal…Damon said the same thing. What I do not know is whether or not Gordon and his agent are pushing hard for an extension this winter. Is he going to be insulted if the Royals do not put something together for him? If he is, how will he react? Many a player has had a career year trying to prove to management they are worth the extension they did not get. Just as many have pouted and their performance has suffered because of it.

Personally, I see Gordon as the type of player to excel in this situation. The struggles at the beginning of his career have hardened him and I have a hard time seeing him pouting, especially if this team is successful early. Many clubs would have given up on Gordon after his terrible 2009-2010 and wanting to wait until next offseason to get an extension done should not totally erase the goodwill that has been built. If I were Dayton Moore, I would wait to sign Alex Gordon, knowing that if he duplicates, or improves upon, last season I will be digging even deeper into David Glass’ pockets next winter.

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Cooperstown Choices: Brian Jordan

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Brian Jordan.

Brian Jordan
The two-sport superstar trying to follow in the footsteps of Bo Jackson, Brian Jordan arrived on the Major League scene in 1992 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. The team would soon sign him to a baseball only contract and the former All-Pro Safety would concentrate his efforts in the outfield. He would play his final game in 2006 with the Atlanta Braves, making this his first year on the ballot.

1992 STL 55 193 17 40 9 4 5 22 7 10 48 .207 .250 .373 .623 77
1993 STL 67 223 33 69 10 6 10 44 6 12 35 .309 .351 .543 .894 138
1994 STL 53 178 14 46 8 2 5 15 4 16 40 .258 .320 .410 .730 91
1995 STL 131 490 83 145 20 4 22 81 24 22 79 .296 .339 .488 .827 116
1996 STL 140 513 82 159 36 1 17 104 22 29 84 .310 .349 .483 .833 118
1997 STL 47 145 17 34 5 0 0 10 6 10 21 .234 .311 .269 .580 55
1998 STL 150 564 100 178 34 7 25 91 17 40 66 .316 .368 .534 .902 134
1999 ATL 153 576 100 163 28 4 23 115 13 51 81 .283 .346 .465 .811 103
2000 ATL 133 489 71 129 26 0 17 77 10 38 80 .264 .320 .421 .742 85
2001 ATL 148 560 82 165 32 3 25 97 3 31 88 .295 .334 .496 .830 109
2002 LAD 128 471 65 134 27 3 18 80 2 34 86 .285 .338 .469 .807 118
2003 LAD 66 224 28 67 9 0 6 28 1 23 30 .299 .372 .420 .791 112
2004 TEX 61 212 27 47 13 1 5 23 2 16 35 .222 .275 .363 .638 60
2005 ATL 76 231 25 57 8 2 3 24 2 14 46 .247 .295 .338 .632 65
2006 ATL 48 91 11 21 2 0 3 10 0 7 23 .231 .287 .352 .639 63
15 Seasons 1456 5160 755 1454 267 37 184 821 119 353 842 .282 .333 .455 .788 104
162 Game Avg. 162 574 84 162 30 4 20 91 13 39 94 .282 .333 .455 .788 104
STL (7 yrs) 643 2306 346 671 122 24 84 367 86 139 373 .291 .339 .474 .813 114
ATL (5 yrs) 558 1947 289 535 96 9 71 323 28 141 318 .275 .327 .443 .770 94
LAD (2 yrs) 194 695 93 201 36 3 24 108 3 57 116 .289 .349 .453 .802 116
TEX (1 yr) 61 212 27 47 13 1 5 23 2 16 35 .222 .275 .363 .638 60
NL (14 yrs) 1395 4948 728 1407 254 36 179 798 117 337 807 .284 .336 .459 .795 106
AL (1 yr) 61 212 27 47 13 1 5 23 2 16 35 .222 .275 .363 .638 60
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2011.

Why He Should Get In
The case for Brian Jordan to reach Cooperstown is a fairly weak one. A career riddled with injuries towards the end, he can boast 1,454 hits and 184 home runs while driving in 821 runs. In an era where corner outfielders were power hitters that ranked high in the league in most categories, Jordan was average and had a solid career, albeit not a legendary one. His lone All Star appearance came in 1999.

Why He Should Not Get In
Jordan, as said above, had a solid career and was a key component for many clubs. He was not, however, the central part of any of those teams. His lone All Star appearance is the only “award” he ever received and his career numbers keep him well below that of a Hall Of Famer.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, Cooperstown Choices 2012, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (0)

These Guys Were All Stars?

Bo Jackson has the last RBI by a Royal in an All Star Game

There has been some discussion this week about who should represent the Royals in the 2011 All Star Game, in both the Twittershpere and Kansas City sports radio. This got me thinking about past All Stars from the Royals, both good and bad. Which also got me to thinking about the importance of the All Star Game in general.

Say what you want about Major League Baseball’s All Star Game. If you’re going to watch an All Star event from any major sport, Major League Baseball’s is the one to watch. Mostly because baseball lends itself to being the least effected by the event itself.

Unfortunately, Royals fans looking for solace from the teams losing ways shouldn’t look to the All Star Game. I only have one real memory about a Royal in an All Star Game. Bo Jackson’s 1989 1st Inning Home Run. That’s it. That was the last RBI by a Royal in the All Star Game. Think about that. Kids that watched Home Run on TV after their Little League Game, are now coaching Little League.

Of course in order to be show cased in the All Star Game a team must send some one who can make a difference. Ken Harvey did not have a very long Major League career. But a hot two and a half months made him an All Star. Same with Mike MacDougal. He’s not much, but he’ll at least be able to tell his grandkids he was an All Star. Mark Redman? These guys were All Stars? There’s three people that are fans of the “Every Team Gets Representation Rule”

This year is shaping up to be like most years of late. The Royals will get one representative. Don’t look for it to be Eric Hosmer, his name isn’t even on the ballot, and there is a log jam of talent at first base. It most likely will be Alex Gordon. Don’t look now but he appears to be the best left fielder in the American League. You could call Alex Gordon a late bloomer, or you can just call him The Dominator. Most likely you’ll be to call him an All Star after July.

Which brings us to next years All Star Game. The one being played at Kauffman Stadium. Surely, with Hosmer, Gordon, and some strong arms out of the bullpen the Royals will send more than a token representative to their own yard. Then you can say: These guys were All Stars. Except this time it will be a statement, not a question in more ways than one.

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Opening Day Fun But Not Perfect

Opening day 2011 was not a phenomenal one, at least not for the actual game. Opening day is always a bit more of a party than it is a game for many. The parking lot was full of tailgaters and I contributed a bit myself – including getting a bunch of folks together for a champagne toast at 2pm to officially kick off the season. There were great festivities inside and even Joe Randa was walking around. The Royals had pregame videos and people on the field and of course, newly retired Mike Sweeney. Bo Jackson was in attendance and he hasn’t been in KC in a while. All the festivities were happening in and out of the stadium to kick off the season. Oh yeah there was a baseball game, too.

The Royals, full of hope, led by Luke Hochevar, rolled through 3 innings with both teams tied at zero. The Angels however brought the party crashers in the 4th led by Torii Hunter’s solo home run. Back to back doubles followed and the Royals were quickly down two. The Royals continued to struggle and even had a defensive miscue costing them a run in the sixth and the Royals were down 4-0 when Hochever was pulled after 5 2/3. Not a horrible game for Hochevar. It was about what you would expect of him, ending the day with a 4.76 E.R.A.

Angels’ starter Jared Weaver was showing great stuff and just continued to roll through the Royals offense. He pitched 6 and 1/3 and gave up no runs while striking out six and walking two. The Royals were very happy to get to the bullpen, where Jeff Francoeur and Mike Aviles were able to get home runs. This was all the scoring for the Royals as they would fall 4-2.

The negatives for the Royals began with the 0-5 performance by Alex Gordon highlighted by 3 strikeouts including one in the 9th with two outs and two on. Alex Gordon did not dominate this day and it will be interesting to see if he starts to dominate like they said he would this year. The Royals put a big emphasis on defense and still had three errors on opening day. The one that is the most blazing is Chris Getz since he is on this team for his defense. The offense was non-existent outside of the two solo shots as only 5 players had hits and only one, Melky Cabrera, had more than one. The bases were left loaded by both Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar and the tying run was left on at the end of the game on the Alex Gordon strike out. The Royals have to force in runs if they are going to win very many games and cannot leave this many runners on base, especially with one out.

The positives were Hochevar looking to be trending the right way along with six walks by the offense. The Royals needed to be more patient at the plate this year and showed signs of that on opening day but did strike out ten times. This may be more of a positive on Jared Weaver than a negative on the Royals. Francoeur quickly threw to home as Jeff Mathis came around on a Peter Bourjos single. Mathis tried to roll over new Royals catcher Matt Treanor but Treanor held on for the out in one of the best plays in Major League Baseball yesterday.

While I only predicted the Royals to win 70, it would have been nice to see them get off to the 1-0 start. Now it’s a matter of winning at least 3 of the next 5 and splitting this first homestand to start the year off on a positive note. It will be interesting to see if Alex Gordon goes back to the K machine he was last year or if opening day was an aberration of what the season will be. The Royals have 161 more games to play and 5 more in this homestand to give us an idea of what kind of team they are going to be this year. One can only hope a bit better of one than was shown opening day.

KCRoyalman can be heard Mondays here on i70 baseball with Bill Ivie from 10p-11p Central and Sundays at www.royalmanreport.com from 7p-8p Central Time.

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