Midweek thoughts for KC Royals fans include the continuing labor situation, former Royals playing overseas, Kansas City-related baseball books and more.
Some KC Royals Midweek Musings while wondering if the current labor deadlock between the clubs and players will spill over into 2021:
Labor stalemate continues. It’s been a week since Commissioner Rob Manfred announced major league baseball would be played in 2020. But as I wrote Tuesday, the certainty Manfred expressed is deteriorating — Manfred himself has lost confidence, MLB recently told the union there won’t be baseball this year unless it waives any claims it thinks it has against the clubs, and several players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Simply put, the news at Monday’s close of business wasn’t good.
Nothing seemed to have changed Tuesday until reports surfaced that some owners (at least six and possibly more than eight) are opposed to any 2020 baseball at all. They could vote against allowing Manfred to impose a season — Manfred, who takes direction from the clubs, can’t establish one without at least 75% club approval, so he needs 23 votes to get a season going. If eight teams vote “No,” we won’t see big league baseball until 2021.
Then, late Tuesday, renowned disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed pandemic-related concern about October baseball, suggesting that baseball avoid ending the postseason in the cold of October.
Fauci’s concerns are consistent with the owners’, who’ve never wavered from their position that the long season the players prefer will stretch the campaign into November. The clubs say they want to avoid playing at a time many believe will be ripe for a second COVID-19 surge. Fauci’s statement will, of course, strengthen their position.
At this point, baseball will return this year if Manfred has the votes to bring it back, or if the clubs and players suddenly work out a deal. But as of this writing (late Tuesday night), there were no signs the parties were talking. And there isn’t much time left to stage a season of any appreciable length.
Former Royals pitching overseas. Former Royal Aaron Brooks continues to pitch well for the Kia Tigers in the Korean Baseball Organization League (KBO). He started and pitched 5.2 innings against the NC Lions Tuesday; although he didn’t figure in the decision, Brooks struck out eight, walked only one, and gave up three runs. He’s now 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in eight games and, in 48 innings, has 42 strikeouts against only eight walks.
Ex-Royal Ben Lively signed with the Samsung Lions but suffered injuries in his last two appearances and isn’t presently pitching. He had a 5.40 ERA in three appearances.
Good baseball reading. I wrote several weeks ago about two Kansas City-related baseball books I picked up, which I’ve now finished and highly recommend.
Definitely worth reading is Mark Sommer’s Rocky Colavito: Cleveland’s Iconic Slugger, the most comprehensive study of one of my all-time favorite players. Sommer presents rich details of Colavito’s minor and major league careers, including the 1964 season when he endeared himself to Kansas City fans as a member of the Athletics. The author also writes about Colavito’s days as the KC Royals’ hitting coach and gives us keen insight into The Rock’s personality and life.
If you liked Colavito, this is the book for you.
Also definitely worth a read is The Kansas City Athletics, A Baseball History 1954-1967 by John E. Peterson. This is, in my opinion, the best history of the KC A’s yet; Peterson’s research is remarkable. The book traces the history behind the A’s moving from Philadelphia to Kansas City, their fascinating but unsuccessful years at old Municipal Stadium, and the causes of their departure for Oakland.
Particularly interesting are Peterson’s long looks at owner Charles O. Finley and his discussion of how the Athletics built one of the best minor league systems in baseball and developed the talent that blossomed after the A’s left town.
Simulation update. It’s been a couple of weeks since we updated Baseball-Reference’s 2020 season simulation. Through Tuesday, the news is bad for the virtual KC Royals — after a miserable two weeks, they’re now in fourth place in the AL Central, 20 games under .500 (27-47) and 20 games behind division-leading Cleveland.
Ryan O’Hearn leads the Royals in home runs with nine but is hitting a horrific .198. Whit Merrifield continues to lead the team with a .321 average; that the club’s second-best hitter, Nicky Lopez, trails Merrifield by over 50 points (.268) reflects the depth of KC’s offensive woes.
Joining the Indians as division leaders are the Yankees, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers, while the Mariners and A’s are tied in the AL West.
Baseball-Reference uses Out of the Park Baseball 21 for its simulation; daily updates appear around noon.
That’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, be safe and stay healthy.