Tag Archive | "Home Game"

Home finale was biggest moment in Royals history since 1985

Editor’s Note: Matt Kelsey is one of the original writers for i70baseball.  He has since moved on to other projects but submitted the following.

When I was much younger, my father took me and my brother to a the last game of the season for the Kansas City Royals.

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We went to a lot of games when I was a kid – one summer, it seemed like we were out at the ballpark every other night – but this game sticks in my mind. It was the the late 80’s or early 90s. Back then the Royals were pretty good, posting a winning record most years, but the MLB structure of the time lumped the Royals into the huge American League West division, which featured seven teams and only one playoff spot each season. They were never good enough to break through and make the playoffs.

That year, the Royals were well out of the race, and the final month of the season was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The last game of the season was especially pointless.

But we had an absolute blast that day. The stadium was on the verge of being empty. The orange seats of the Royals Stadium (yes, this was in the pre-Kauffman Stadium days) upper deck were a vast sea nothingness, and they belonged to us. The players were having fun down  there on the field, looking forward to their pending winter vacation, and it rubbed off on the handful of us in the crowd. After the game, we waited outside the stadium and collected autographs. All the players were signing that day. All of them were happy. One of the players (Danny Tartabull, maybe?) left the stadium in a huge fur coat, a woman on each arm, and climbed into the back of the biggest limousine I’ve ever seen.

As for the game itself? I remember nothing. I just remember the atmosphere that day.

Flash forward twenty or so years to Sunday afternoon. The 2013 version of the Royals were playing their last home game of the season. That game was much different. The Royals were in the midst of a Wild Card race, the first time they had been playoff contenders for a decade. After battling the Texas Rangers into extra innings, Justin Maxwell blasted a walk-off grand slam for the win.

And it was arguably the most important moment in Royals history since Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.

Yes, the Royals were sadly eliminated from contention a few nights later. But when this season started, could you have imagined the Royals competing for a wild card spot?

This team was written off multiple times during the season – even before the season began.

  • When the team traded top prospect Wil Myers to Tampa for James Shields, they were written off as an organization with its head placed firmly up its butt.
  • When the Royals lost on Opening Day, they were written off as a team that couldn’t even win with Shields, a legitimate ace, on the mound.
  • When the team went 8-20 in the month of May, they were written off as the same old Royals, with no hopes for postseason play.
  • When the Royals lost 10 out of 12 after a stretch where they went 17-3 spanning late July and early August, they were written off as a team that couldn’t stay on a roll.
  • And in the heat of the playoff race, every time the Royals lost a game, they were written off.

But the truth is, the Royals were contenders through the first 158 games of the 2013 season. And this season was no fluke; the 2014 Royals should be just as strong, if not stronger. They won’t be written off so quickly in the future.

Which makes last Sunday’s home finale that much more important.

It wasn’t just an amazing, walk-off, extra-innings win in front of a sellout crowd. Sunday’s game was a message to the rest of Major League Baseball: The Royals are not a joke anymore. The Royals are for real. They may be eliminated in 2013, but any opponents who write off the Royals in the future will regret it.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 4th of July Edition

With the 4th of July upon us, we can find ourselves thinking what the holiday means and all of the activities available for us to participate in.  Most of the country will take part in parades, fireworks, cookout and of course America’s favorite past time, baseball. Either watching or playing, there is no denying that baseball is a part of American History.

While it is certainly possible to research what games have been played on the 4th of July, it is much harder to verify what photos for baseball cards were taken at those games. I decided to take a different approach and look for cards that were patriotic in theme. There has to be a reason why we have the phrase “as American as Baseball and mom’s apple pie,” right?

I was a little surprised to find how few patriotic cards I had, or least knew about. There are a lot of cards that have stars or banners on them. These are mostly All-Star cards or insert cards. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, however, I hope you enjoy Bike Spokes And Shoe Boxes visual salute to the 4th of July!

1997 Bowman Chrome International Refractor – Sean Casey

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2002 Fleer base – Sean Casey
This is the back of card, the front has red and blue stripes, but the flag is more noticeable on the back. Plus I think it interesting that Sean Casey was born on July 2nd.

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2002 Studio base – Rickey Henderson
Both Fleer and Studio whet with the flag theme for their 2002 releases as a tribute of sorts after the World trade center attack in 2001.

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2013 Topps Series II – David Ortiz

This picture was taken during Ortiz’s speech to the crowd at Fenway Park before the first home game after the Boston Marathon tragedy.

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Other patriotic cards that I can think of include any Team USA cards and USA National Team from the 2009 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. The World baseball Classic cards have a graphic of the United States flag on them. If you have any cards that are patriotic please post them here to share and show your pride in the good ‘ole U.S of A.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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Cardinals And Rawlings Launch “Varsity Club”

The St. Louis Cardinals and Ralwings Sporting Goods team up to launch “Varsity Club”
Exclusive fan club for teenagers is first-of-its-kind amongst MLB teams

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (February 7, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals today announced an expanded partnership with St. Louis‐based Rawlings Sporting Goods to benefit area youth. Through the partnership with Rawlings, the team is launching the Cardinals Varsity Club presented by Rawlings, a membership-based program exclusive to teenagers and young adults in Cardinal Nation.

“Rawlings stepped up to the plate when we launched Redbird Rookies in 2004 and they have been an outstanding partner,” said Michael Hall, Vice President of Cardinals Care and Community Relations. “We are very excited about this new venture and we look forward to sharing Cardinal baseball with more kids in our community.”

The membership-based fan club is exclusive to teens and young adults, ages 14-19, and offers a personalized fan experience for the age group. Although many teams have fan clubs, the Rawlings Varsity Club is considered to be the first-of-its-kind for the teen demographic among major domestic professional sports leagues. The $35 membership includes a ticket voucher for two tickets to a 2013 Cardinals home game, two exclusive promotional items – Varsity Club backpack and Cardinals flat bill cap – a Cardinals coupon book, two issues of Cardinals Magazine and more. The year-long Varsity Club membership culminates with Rawlings Varsity Club Day at the Ballpark on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Members will receive two tickets to the game, early access to the ballpark for a program featuring Cardinals front office executives, Rawlings representatives and Cardinals players, and the opportunity to parade around the warning track pre-game. Fans can visit cardinals.com/varsity to obtain more information or to register for the 2013 season.

“The Rawlings Varsity Club membership program is a natural progression of our continuously-expanding partnership with the Cardinals,” said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for Rawlings. “This first-of-its-kind sponsorship platform allows us to better connect and engage with our core target market, offer exclusive product discounts and tailor unique experiences as they progress in their playing careers and fan avidity for the Cardinals.”

In addition to the Varsity Club sponsorship, Rawlings renewed its presenting sponsorship of the Cardinals Kids Club (formerly the Cardinals Crew Kids Club) in an effort to grow with young Cardinals’ fans and fortify its commitment to enabling baseball in the St. Louis community. The Kids Club, for fans ages 15 and under, is in its 13th year and this season features Jon Jay as its official spokesman. This marks the third year that Rawlings will participate as the lead sponsor of the Kids Club in which 7,300 kids took part in 2012.

Membership for the Cardinals Kids Club presented by Rawlings is $25 and includes two Cardinals tickets, a Cardinals drawstring bag designed to look like Jon Jay’s new 2013 “St. Louis” home alternate jersey, a stylish pair of headphones, a Cardinal-themed lunch bag, a new 2013 Cardinals Kids Club lapel pin, membership card and lanyard, as well as an invitation to an exclusive member’s only party at Busch Stadium featuring autographs, food, fun, Fredbird and more. Fans can renew or purchase memberships and obtain more information at cardinals.com/kidsclub, or call the Cardinals Kids Club hotline at314.345.9888.

In addition, the Rawlings Replay equipment trade-in program will continue as part of these sponsorships, which has outfitted more than 8,000 Redbird Rookies players since its origin in 2011. Rawlings is the Official Batting Helmet and Ball Supplier of Major League Baseball.

Since its inception in 1997, Cardinals Care has invested nearly $18 million in helping children, including providing nearly $11 million in grants to over 800 non-profit youth organizations, and building 19 youth ball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Missouri and Illinois. For nearly a decade, Cardinals Care has run the innovative Redbird Rookies program, a free baseball league for kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play. In addition to providing all the uniforms, gloves, bats, balls and other equipment needed for each team, Redbird Rookies also provides extensive off-field support in the areas of health, education, mentoring and the cultural arts for each of the nearly 4,500 kids who participate in the program each year. Cardinals Care has distributed more than $16 million to area children’s organizations. To learn more about all of Cardinals Care’s programs visit cardinals.com/community.

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Crown A Royal and Blue Balloting announced

KANSAS CITY, MO (April 20, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals launch the 2012 All-Star Game balloting campaign “Crown A Royal” at Kauffman Stadium tonight when the club hosts the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:10 p.m.  Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed in the middle of third inning during each Royals home game beginning tonightthrough Tuesday, June 12.

During 12 special Royal Blue Balloting Days, fans will be encouraged to vote for a chance to win great prizes.  Plus, the first 200 fans to complete at least 100 All-Star ballots will receive an All-Star balloting sticker and royal blue Mardi Gras beads.

The grand prize for the person who fills out the most ballots during the entire Royal Blue Balloting Days campaign will represent all Royals fans at the MLB All-Star Week Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and will be the first fan to enter MLB All-Star FanFest at the Kansas City Convention Center on Friday, July 6.

The club’s official All-Star Balloting Station, where fans can pick up and turn in ballots before the end of the fourth inning of each designated Royals Blue Balloting Day, will be located at Gate E.

Royal Blue Balloting Days:

·                    Friday, April 20 vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m.

·                    Saturday, April 21 vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 6:10 p.m.

·                    Sunday, April 22 vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 1:10 p.m.

·                    Friday, May 4 vs. New York Yankees, 7:10 p.m.

·                    Saturday, May 5 vs. New York Yankees, 6:10 p.m.

·                    Sunday, May 6 vs. New York Yankees, 1:10 p.m.

·                    Friday, May 18 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 7:10 p.m.

·                    Saturday, May 19 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 6:15 p.m.

·                    Sunday, May 20 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m.

·                    Friday, June 1 vs. Oakland A’s, 7:10 p.m.

·                    Saturday, June 2 vs. Oakland A’s, 1:10 p.m.

·                    Sunday, June 3 vs. Oakland A’s, 1:10 p.m.

On these designated days, fans that complete at least 100 ballots will be entered into a raffle to win one of eight different Royals prizes or experiences:

·                    Batting practice tour on the field for four

·                    “Legends” tour of Kauffman Stadium

·                    Ceremonial First Pitch

·                    Outfield Experience party for 20

·                    Be a part of the Hot Dog Derby Race

·                    Be a part of the Teeny Weeny Race

·                    Autographed oversized All-Star ballot

·                    Autographed jerseys and baseballs

In addition to the in-stadium promotion, Royals fans can also cast their votes up to 25 times with the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot.  Online voters are eligible for an exclusive Royals ticket discount and will be entered into a sweepstakes drawing for a Kauffman Stadium Hall of Fame Suite for 20 guests during a 2012 regular season home game and a jersey signed by a 2012 Royals All-Star representative.  Online voting is open now until Thursday, June 28.

For details on the Royal Blue Balloting Days or the 2012 All-Star Game, fans can visit www.royals.com/vote.

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Don’t tell me to be patient!

Once again the Kansas City Royals are starting the season by solidifying themselves on the Mt Rushmore of baseball futility. They have yet to win a home game! They let Prince Fielder, and Jose Bautista steal bases. They found a way to lose a game that’s never been done before, or if it has no one can remember, by hitting two consecutive batters to force home a winning run. It’s frustrating to the point of being mystifying how one organization can come with so many ways to be terrible.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. In January I wrote a post called Winter Worries. Unfortunately it appears a lot of my worries are coming true. The past two weeks have reminded me of 2004 more than the Kauffman Era. Key players are on the Disabled List. Veteran players have regressed. Rookies have regressed, in the case of Greg Holland, spectacularly. The league has adjusted to the younger players and they appear to have trouble adjusting back. I don’t know if Ned Yost is going to jump in the shower with his uniform on, or flee the team in the middle of the night. Since that whacky stuff has already happened, probably not. But it would not shock me if the Royals find some other way to make their fan utter “WTF” and national media text “LOL” to all their friends. You see, this organization has more of a track record for creating scenes fit for a Yackety Sax Youtube video than winning baseball games.

I’ve been told thirteen games is not a large sample size. Let me tell you about a sample size: Since April 18, 2000, the date David Glass assumed sole ownership of the Royals, the Royals are 813-1144. That is the worst record in the Major Leagues during that time. (They are 2 games back of the Pirates in case you were wondering.) Is that a big enough sample size? Royals fans have been told by non-stake holders that the Royals have one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball. We’ve been told that this 2012 version is better on paper. I guess I should believe that, but fans don’t print up t-shirts, and you don’t get to hang banners in your stadium for being good on paper and winning awards from publications. You get those things by winning baseball games.

The organization tells us it takes 8 to 10 years to build from within and go from terrible to winner. Really? Tell that to Andrew Freidman General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He was promoted to General Manager after the 2005 season. At the end of 2008 the Rays were American League Champions. I hope Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers doesn’t hear that it takes 8 to 10 years to turn a team around. Daniels was also promoted to General Manager at the end of the 2005 season. It took him four seasons but the Texas Rangers won the AL Pennant in 2010 and 2011 and look to make another run, not just for the playoffs, but for the World Series title. Both of these General Managers took over their organizations six months before Dayton Moore took over the Royals. Want another example unfolding in front of our eyes? Look at the Washington Nationals. In March of 2009 Mike Rizzo was promoted to General Manager of the Nationals. Granted, the Nationals haven’t won anything yet, but they look a lot more promising than the Royals right now. Tell me again how long it should take to rebuild an entire organization?

DO NOT tell me I need to be patient! And that I’m some how not a good fan because I’m losing patience with “The Process”. I’ve been patient. The fact that I even care enough to let this baseball team make me mad says enough about my patience. It’s not like I’m being unreasonable. I was not expecting to see a World Series or even a division contender from the Royals this season. What I am expecting is for the Royals to not be fundamentally terrible in the field and on the base paths. I’m expecting them to not walk the bases loaded. I’m expecting them not do things that are so off the wall and terrible that the Royals land on baseball blogs for the wrong reasons, and become punch lines for late night television. All I’m asking is that the Royals be mediocre as opposed to historically terrible.

Is it too much to ask of the Royals to not open their home schedule with a half inning so bad that casual fans tune out for the rest of the year? Is it too much to ask the Royals to not spiral into a losing streak that has diehard fans questioning why they root for this team in the first place? Is it too much to ask that the Royals be more relevant than Major League Soccer in their own town? Is it too much to ask that the front office find some other marketing drivel to defend their terrible on field performance? It shouldn’t be. Other teams in worse markets than Kansas City have used a process to turn their organizations around. Asking Royals fans to trust Dayton Moore’s “Process” is becoming too much to ask.

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Royals Introduce Bruce Chen Joke Of The Day

KANSAS CITY ROYALS INTRODUCE BRUCE CHEN JOKE OF THE DAY PROMOTION
Club Invites Fans to Submit Jokes for CrownVision Feature

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 12, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals, in conjunction with pitcher and funnyman Bruce Chen, have announced details of a new “Joke of the Day” promotion for the 2012 season. Fans are encouraged to submit their favorite funny line for an opportunity to have it delivered by Chen on the CrownVision video board during a 2012 Royals home game. To be considered, fans may submit their joke in 300 characters or less at www.royals.com/jokes by Friday, February 10.

Royals fans can guarantee Opening Day tickets with any Full Season, Half Season or 21-Game Season Ticket plan in addition to the opportunity to purchase 2012 MLB All-Star Game ticket strips. Royals season ticket holders also receive reserved parking, the priority to purchase additional tickets for all 2012 home games, access to special events and more!

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Albert Pujols Final Home Game: Part 5

It was one month ago today when Cardinals fans packEd Busch Stadium for the final regular season game of 2011. As the crowd of 41,469 passed through the turnstile, many knew in the back of their minds it could very well be the last home game Albert Pujols ever played in a Cardinals’ uniform. St. Louis was still 2 games back of the Atlanta Braves for the final playoff spot in the National League with just 4 games to play. Though everyone hoped that the Cardinals would make the postseason tournament, or better yet – that Pujols would resign, no one was willing to take any chances.

So on September 25th in a game versus the Chicago Cubs, Pujols received ovation after standing ovation from the sellout crowd. Win or lose, stay or go, fans let Albert know how much his play was appreciated over the last 11 seasons. Up to that point, Pujols had led the Cardinals to 2 World Series appearances and one championship, collecting three MVPs, a Rookie of the Year Award, and amassed dozens of other accolades along the way. Thanks to an 8th inning go-ahead home run by shortstop Rafael Furcal, the Cardinals won that game and eventually clinched a playoff spot on the final game of the season.

So on October 4th and 5th, Cardinals fans got to see Albert a couple more times wearing the home red and white uniform. With the Cardinals trailing 2-1 the best of 5 series versus the National League’s best regular season team, fans again braced themselves for the worst in Game 4. For the second time in a week, it could’ve been Pujols’ final game in a Cardinal uniform. But thanks to a big 2-run home run by 3rd baseman David Freese… and a lights out 3-hit shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies by Chris Carpenter in Game 5, the Cardinals again advanced.

So on October 14th, fans once again packed Busch Stadium for what could have been Albert’s final home game as a Cardinal. The Cardinals cruised to a 7-1 victory, clinched the National League Pennant two days later in Milwaukee, and once again set the stage for Albert to return home.

So on October 20th, the Cardinals hosted the Texas Rangers for Game 2 of the World Series. Win or lose, it once again could’ve been Pujols’ last home game as a Cardinal. In the bottom of the 8th inning, it what could’ve been his final at bat at Busch Stadium in a Cardinal uniform… Pujols launched a ball back… to the track… to the wall… caught. The next inning, Albert made a critical fielding error that led directly to the game-winning run for the Rangers. Could that really be the final memory Cardinals fans would get of perhaps the greatest baseball icon in franchise history?

Of course not.

Wednesday, the World Series (and Pujols) returns to Busch Stadium for Game 6. For the 5th time in a month, it could very well be Pujols’ final home game in a Cardinal uniform. Thursday’s Game 7 (if necessary) could be the 6th. Like great theatre, the Cardinals season – and Pujols’ tenure in St. Louis – simply does not want to end until every last moment of heart-racing drama has taken place. In this drama’s previous 4 acts… our protagonist has come up short. Pujols has gone 1 for 16 with no HRs and 1 RBI in the other four games that could’ve been his last. There’s no telling what we can expect tomorrow in Game 6… or what possibly might lie ahead in Game 7… but I do want to remind you of a couple things: This is the same man who, with the team one out from elimination in the 2005 NLCS… hit a 3-run home run off the best closer in baseball to give the Cardinals a 1-run victory. The same man who just had a “down” year… hitting .299 with 38 home runs. The man who drove in the game tying run in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS… and the man who scored the winning run that same inning. This is the man who hit walk-off home runs on consecutive days earlier this year to keep the Cardinals’ season afloat. This is the man who just 3 days ago become the 3rd man in baseball history to hit 3 home runs in a World Series game, the 3rd man in history to drive in 6 runs in a World Series game, and the 2nd man to have 5 hits in a World Series game… and reached all three of those benchmarks with 1 swing of the bat in the 9th inning.

This is the man who we’ll all be telling our grandkids about someday, and his final script in St. Louis has not yet been written. Sit back enjoy the final days of an unforgettable baseball season.

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In The Driver’s Seat

The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves one win from their 18th World Series appearance after beating the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 Friday night to take a three games to two lead in the NLCS. The Cards got timely hits, capitalized on numerous Milwaukee mistakes, and turned in another stellar bullpen performance in the last NLCS game at Busch Stadium for 2011.

It is interesting to note that three times in the last three weeks, the Cardinals have played a home game that could have turned out to be the final game at Busch for the year. Each could also have been the final home game for Albert Pujols and/or Tony LaRussa (among others) as a Cardinal. Yet they have won each of these games, and eventually clinched some type of victory that allows this 2011 season to continue on to the next level. And they have to do it once again.

Maybe it was a nod from the baseball gods that the Cardinals won. October 14th is the anniversary of another pivotal Game 5: the 1985 NLCS. And with Ozzie Smith in the house to throw out he first pitch while Jack Buck’s golden voice set the scene over the video replay from 26 years ago, it really felt like there was no way the Cardinals could lose this game. The difference in this year’s Game 5, of course, was the absence of the heart-stopping, dramatic ending. But a win is a win, and the most unenviable position imaginable would be having to go win two games in a row in Milwaukee in order to win the series. Instead, the Cards enjoy one more “Happy Flight” that hopefully isn’t their last.

That’s not to say the Cards have no shot at winning at Miller Park. Obviously they’ve already won one game there this series and they won several there during the regular season. If nothing drastic happens, the Cardinals definitely have the better starting pitcher going in Game 6 (Edwin Jackson over Shawn Marcum) and at the very least carry a slight advantage for Game 7 (Chris Carpenter over Yovani Gallardo). And with momentum on their side, the Cards have to be the favorites—if only by a hair—to win this thing and move on to the World Series.

Had the Cardinals not given up the lead in Game 4, all the discussion about games in Milwaukee would be moot; they would have wrapped up the series Friday. But it was the Brewers who played themselves out of the game this time. They committed four errors, their pitching wasn’t very good, and they came up empty in clutch situations. As a result, their backs are against the wall for however long this series lasts.

And now, the NLCS shifts back to Milwaukee. Maybe the Cards can wrap this thing up Sunday and give everyone all the rest they need back home before the World Series starts up in St. Louis. Maybe we’ll see a go-ahead bomb from Pujols while Nyjer Morgan watches it fly over his head then throws his glove down in disgust.

Regardless, Game 5 was just another must-win game for the St. Louis Cardinals. They’re probably getting pretty used to them these days, considering every game has been a must-win since the end of August. And that’s how they should view Game 6 as well.

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Royals Announce 2012 Regular Season Schedule

Royals Announce 2012 Regular Season Schedule
Home opener scheduled for April 13 vs. Cleveland

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KANSAS CITY, MO (September 14, 2011) — In conjunction with Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Royals today announced their 2012 regular season schedule. Opening Day is scheduled for Friday, April 6 when the Royals visit the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium. It marks the fifth time in franchise history that the Royals have opened against the Angels (1971, 1973, 1975 and 2011), the fourth time in Anaheim. Kansas City will begin the home schedule on April 13 vs. Cleveland at 3:10 p.m.

Kansas City will host Interleague matchups against Arizona (May 18-20), Milwaukee (June 12-14) and St. Louis (June 22-24). The road Interleague schedule consists of visits to Pittsburgh (June 8-10), St. Louis (June 15-17) and Houston (June 18-20).

Kansas City’s holiday schedule sees the Royals at home on Labor Day vs. Texas (September 3), and on the road at the Angels on Easter (April 8), in Chicago on Mother’s Day (May 13), at Cleveland on Memorial Day (May 28), in St. Louis for Father’s Day (June 17) and in Toronto on July 4th.

The month-by-month home game features: April – 10; May – 12; June – 15; July – 11; August – 15; September – 15; October – 3. The Royals will host a pair of 10-game homestands, first from April 13 to 23 and again after the All-Star Game from July 13 to 22. The club’s longest road trip is a 10-game stretch from June 29 to July 8.

In addition to the 3:10 start for the home opener, the Royals host 1:10 weekday contests on May 17 vs. Baltimore, June 6 vs. Minnesota, June 27 vs. Tampa Bay and July 19 vs. Seattle.

Standard start times for all other contests at Kauffman Stadium in 2012 are:
Monday through Friday: 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: 6:10 p.m.
Sunday: 1:10 p.m.

The complete 2012 schedule is attached with game times for home contests. Times for road games will be announced at a later date. The game dates and times are subject to change.

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Royals Farm Report: April 14th

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals have provided us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system. The details are listed below:

Royals Farm Report: April 14th
A look at the Royals farm system one week into the season


Triple-A
In their first year following the team’s name change, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) have gotten off to a slow start, going just 2-5 through the season’s first week. The Storm Chasers sit three games back of Nashville (5-2) in the PCL’s American Northern Division but have yet to play a home game in 2011. The team will look to reverse its fortunes when it opens brand-new Werner Park on Apr. 15.

Who’s Hot
Though he has yet to go deep in 2011, Eric Hosmer has a team-best total of 10 hits in his first 31 Triple-A at bats, good for a .323 batting average. Most of the Storm Chasers’ power has been provided by Clint Robinson. Six of the 2010 Texas League Triple Crown winner’s hits this season have gone for extra bases as he leads the team with three home runs and three doubles. On the mound, reliever Louis Coleman has seven strikeouts in three innings of work, while Mike Montgomery shook off a rocky first start to throw four scoreless frames against Round Rock on Apr. 12.

Who’s Not
Mike Moustakas clubbed his first home run of the season on Apr. 10 but is off to a slow start overall, hitting .188 with eight strikeouts and just one walk through seven games. One of the last players cut from the Royals’ opening-day roster, Gregor Blanco has three hits in 25 at bats, adding up to just a .120 batting average in the season’s first week. Left-hander Everett Teaford was touched for four earned runs (and two homers) in 4.2 innings in his only start, while Vin Mazzaro, expected to be the Royals’ fifth starter when the major league schedule requires one, yielded five runs in just 2.1 innings in his first outing of the year.

Double-A
Despite the graduation of many of the top performers on the title-winning 2010 squad, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) have opened the season a franchise best 5-1, carrying a five-game winning streak into the team’s first road trip. The start is the team’s best ever through six games, and the Naturals have opened up an early two-game lead on second-place Tulsa.

Who’s Hot
After missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery, Mario Lisson has shown no ill effects from the layoff, hitting a team-best .455 in the season’s first week. Three of Lisson’s five hits have gone for extra bases and he is the only Natural with more than one home run. Also returning to action after missing all of 2010 is infielder Jeff Bianchi, who has hit at a .348 clip with four extra-base hits. Wil Myers notched a pair of three-hit games in the Naturals’ most recent series and his hitting .333 overall. Relievers Blake Johnson and Mario Santiago have combined to toss 14.2 scoreless innings without a walk, while starter Heath Rollins allowed just a run on three hits in six innings in his first start. The Naturals have a team ERA of 2.36 through six games.

Who’s Not
Northwest Arkansas is hitting .300 as a team, but catcher Salvador Perez is off to just a .200 start at the plate, although one of his hits was a deep homer that tied the ballgame in extra innings Sunday. Jamie Romak has come out of the game slow as well, batting .227 with seven strikeouts in five games. Left-hander Chris Dwyer has struggled in each of his two starts, allowing four runs on eight hits in his most recent outing against Corpus Christi. Overall, Dwyer has posted an 8.59 ERA.

Class-A Advanced
Like the Naturals, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) end the season’s opening week in first place. Despite an overall slow offensive start, the Blue Rocks sit atop the league’s Northern Division at 4-2, one game ahead of the Frederick Keys.

Who’s Hot
The offensive star for the Blue Rocks has been infielder Rey Navarro, who is hitting at a torrid .480 clip with 12 hits in 25 at bats. Five of those hits have gone for extra bases as Navarro has already logged three triples in 2011. There is a big statistical drop-off after Navarro, though John Whittleman, acquired in a spring training trade, is batting .292 with a team-high five RBI so far. One of the Blue Rocks’ top prospects, Tim Melvillestruck out seven in his second start of the season, giving up a lone run in six innings. Two other hurlers, Jake Odorizzi and Noel Arguelles, each opened the season with solid outings. Odorizzi gave up one run in four innings, while Arguelles tosses four scoreless in his first professional start.

Who’s Not
The Blue Rocks’ 4-2 start looks even more impressive considering that the team has an overall batting average of just .208. Navarro’s scorching start has been offset by sluggish weeks from Alex McClure (.091), Jose Bonilla (.091), Nick Francis (.120) and Juan Graterol (.154). On the other hand, the Blue Rocks have posted a 2.33 team ERA, as only Elisaul Pimentel has endured a very rough outing. Pimentel allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in just three innings, resulting in a 12.00 ERA.

Class-A
Former Natural Vance Wilson’s managerial debut has begun slowly, as his Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) finished the first week at just 2-5. Though they are not in the basement of the league’s Western Division, the Cougars have early ground to make up as there is a three-way tie for first at 5-2.

Who’s Hot
Outfielder Alex Llanos has been Kane County’s biggest power threat in the early going, collecting five extra-base hits and totaling a .333 batting average in the season’s first seven games. Ryan Stovall has matched Llanos’ total of four RBI despite playing in just three games and is hitting .375, albeit in just eight at bats. Leondy Perez was a tough-luck loser in his first start of the season, giving up just two unearned runs on four hits in seven innings of work.

Who’s Not
Though he hit .333 in early action, former Arkansas Razorback Brett Eibner tore a ligament in his thumb while attempting to make a diving catch in the outfield and could miss up to three months. Gerard Hall (.111) and Angel Franco (.167) have not yet been able to pick up the offensive slack with Eibner out of the lineup. Leonel Santiago has struggled in his two starts, posting a 10.57 ERA in 7.2 innings of work.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization
One of the longest-tenured Naturals, Rowdy Hardy begins his first season in the Atlanta organization with Double-A Mississippi. Through two appearances, Hardy has given up two runs (one earned) in two innings, good for a 4.50 ERA. Joining Hardy on the Mississippi Braves is Ernesto Mejia, who is batting .304 with two home runs while serving as the team’s everyday third baseman. Also in the Braves’ system is Ed Lucas, who was a candidate to fill a bench spot on Atlanta’s opening-day roster but begins the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, where he is hitting an even .300 through six games. He’s teammates with former hard-throwing Naturals reliever Juan Abreu. He’s walked three but has yet to allow a run in three early season appearances.

Like Hardy and Mejia, Corey Smith finds himself in the Southern League as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers. Smith is off to a hot start in the early going, batting .381 through six games. Other former Naturals throughout the minor leagues include reliever Dan Cortes in Seattle’s organization (5.79 ERA in three appearances for Triple-A Tacoma), infielder Chris McConnell in the Nationals organization (.214 for Triple-A Syracuse) and original Natural Jose Duarte, who is batting .115 through the season’s first week for Advanced-A Jupiter as he begins his first full season in the Florida Marlins’ system.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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