Kansas City Royals

Some Royals pass surprise test with flying colors, others…not so much

Most professional athletes don’t care about taking tests or quizzes. They’re professional athletes after all, they don’t get paid the big bucks to ace pop quizzes. Nope, they get paid to act and react in the moment; it’s all about instinct. Unless you happen to play for the Kansas City Royals, then you better have you stuff together.

Royals’ first-base coach Rusty Kuntz has a history of administering tests on outfield play and baserunning techniques and odds are you know as much as some his players.

Not every player on the Royals was given the written quizzes. Among those who were, there was a wide range of success and failure.

“I’d say it was 50-50,” Kuntz said. “Some of them did relatively well. Some did OK. And some had no clue.”…

“These guys are major league players, but they’ve got a couple of years of minor league experience, and before that they were in high school,” Kuntz said. “I’m trying to get them out of the box. I’m trying to feed them bits and pieces so they can apply it once the game starts. Such as, can you have an infield fly rule on a bunt play?”

That’s one most of the Pirates two years ago and most of the Royals this spring got wrong.

“They say you can,” Kuntz said. “The answer is no, you can’t.”

Another one that gives everyone trouble has to do with umpires. If the ball hits an ump on the infield grass, is it alive or dead?

“I had experienced baserunners say it’s live,” Kuntz said. “Well, it’s actually dead. But if the same ball hits an umpire on the outfield grass, then the runners keep running because that’s a live ball.”

A lot of players didn’t know that the proper way to slide feet-first into a base is to have the front foot straight up, or that the sun and the wind should be taken into account as soon as a player leaves the clubhouse before a game. …

So which question was missed most often?

“When you’re waiting on a flyball, what part of the ball do you look at, the top or the bottom?” Kuntz said. “Everybody said the bottom. But you’ve got to concentrate on seeing the top.”

And the easiest question anyone missed?

“The distance between bases,” he said. “It’s 90 feet, of course. Some guys got that wrong.


[]: Royals Coach Tests Players With Baseball Quiz

MLB General

The Full Count: Hey, don’t forget about baseball

1. The Amazing A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez is having the best month of his incredible season so far in September. He has 8 homers and 15 RBIs in just eight games this month, including a home run in five straight games. Rodriguez now has 52 long balls this year, setting a new MLB record for a third baseman. He is the first Yankee to hit fifty homers in a season since 1961, and is only the fourth MLB player ever to record at least three fifty-homer seasons (Ruth, Sosa, and McGwire). If he remains hot he could record a 60-160 season, which only Ruth and Sosa have ever accomplished. Rodriguez helped the Yanks to a 6-3 win over the Royals, with Chien-Ming Wang picking up his 18th win. Wang remains tied with Josh Beckett for the major league wins lead. The Yankees swept the Royals for the second straight series, and they took 9 out of 10 games against KC this season. Barring a complete collapse they should win the wild card, as they have a four game lead over the inconsistent Tigers.

2. The Crazy Central: The NL Central lead changed hands once again, as the hot Brewers passed the slumping Cubs. Milwaukee has won 4 out of its last 5 games to retake their lead, which they have held the majority of the season. They beat the Reds 10-5 on Sunday thanks to six homers. Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks each went deep twice, with Braun recording his 30th homer in only 94 games. Ben Sheets improved to 12-4 despite allowing five runs, but he fared much better than Reds starter Phil Dumatrait. Dumatrait failed to record an out, giving up homers to Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Braun to lead off the game. He is 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA in six starts this year, making him perhaps the worst pitcher in baseball. Dumatrait has more runs allowed than innings pitched in all but one of his starts this season. The Brewers should be able to hold on to the division lead for a while, as they will face the three worst teams in their division (Pirates, Reds, Astros) in consecutive series.

3. D-Back Domination: Arizona is beginning to pull away in the NL West division, with five straight wins. They swept the Cardinals over the weekend, extending their lead to three games over the Padres. All three games were close, and the Diamondbacks relied on stellar bullpen play to win. On Sunday they won 6-5 thanks to a four-run rally in the seventh. Bob Wickman, who was acquired off waivers, pitched a scoreless inning in his debut for Arizona. The Diamondbacks continue to win despite a pitiful .248 team batting average and a mediocre bottom of the rotation. This is due mainly to their bullpen, which features four relievers who have below a 3.00 ERA. Arizona, who is tied for the NL wins lead at 81, is certainly the surprise story of the majors this season.

Player of the Day: Johan Santana, Twins: 7 innings, five hits, one run, 10 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the White Sox. Santana ended a personal slump as well as a six-game losing streak for Minnesota.

MLB General

The Full Count: Teixeira still paying dividends

1. Terrific Tex: The biggest winner at the trade deadline is as clear now as it was on August 1. The Atlanta Braves, with their acquisition of Mark Teixeira, got one of the best hitters in the league. In 18 games with the Braves, Teixeira has nine homers and 25 RBIs, including two homers and six runs driven in on Monday against the Reds. It was Teixeira’s second straight multi-homer game as he led the Braves to a 14-4 blowout of Cincy. Brian McCann added a grand slam, and Andruw Jones also homered for Atlanta. Tim Hudson didn’t pitch at his best level (6 innings, 3 runs), but he was good enough to become the first National League pitcher with 15 wins. The win puts the Braves at one game back of the Padres in the wild card race.

2. Battle of the Best: Two of baseball’s best teams, the Angels and the Yankees, began a series in exciting fashion on Monday. The Angels won 7-6 in the 10th inning thanks to a game-winning RBI double by backup catcher Ryan Budde. The Angels barely survived in a game that had six lead changes and not a lot of pitching. For the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez became the first player in baseball to hit 40 homers this year, and had three more RBIs, giving him 118. Jorge Posada also homered and drove in three, but the Angels were able to win with a more balanced attack on offense. LA improved to 73-51, the second-best record in baseball behind the Red Sox. The Yanks fell to five games back in the division and 1.5 back in the wild card.

3. The Streaks are Over: Overall it was a good night for the Chicago White Sox, as they snapped an eight-game losing streak with 4-3 win over the Royals. But the best thing that has happened to the team this season, Bobby Jenks’ 41 straight retired batters, came to a close. Jenks gave up a leadoff single to Joey Gathright in the ninth, ending his remarkable streak, which tied the previous major league record. He then retired the next three batters for his 34th save. The Sox were able to win with a rally in the seventh, tying them with Kansas City for last place. It’s an embarrassment for the franchise to be even near the Royals, especially considering their above-average payroll and recent World Series championship. But it’s been a lost season for the White Sox for months now, so many Chicago fans are probably already looking forward to next season.

Player of the Day: Tim Wakefield, Red Sox: 7 innings, four hits, no runs, 5 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over the Devil Rays. Wakefield improved to 15-10, tying him for the major league wins lead.

MLB General

The Full Count: It’s only the Devil Rays but damn

1. Return of the Bronx Bombers: The Yankees’ offense had been above-average this season, but far from dominant. Then, with 45 runs over the past two days, their lineup is finally the dominant force many expected it to be at the start of the season. After sweeping a doubleheader with scores of 7-3 and 17-5 on Saturday, the Yankees annihilated the Devil Rays 21-4 on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez led the charge with his 34th homer and 99th RBI. Hideki Matsui went 5-6, Robinson Cano went 4-6, and rookie Shelly Duncan hit two of New York’s six homers in the rout. Tampa Bay starter James Shields was pounded for ten runs as his ERA rose above 4 for the first time since April. The Yankees are now catching up to the Tigers for the major league runs lead; they’re only three behind after that incredible two-day span. They have a season-high winning percentage but remain 7.5 games back of Boston.

2. A Day of Shutouts: Excluding the Yankees game, Sunday was actually a day of low scoring. There were six shutouts overall throughout the major leagues, which including many dominant pitching performances. Roy Halladay hurled a three-hit shutout in the Blue Jays’ 8-0 win. Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Guthrie of the Orioles pitched seven scoreless innings in Baltimore’s 2-0 win over the A’s. Philadelphia crushed San Diego 9-0 thanks to JD Durbin’s career-first complete game. Houston won a 1-0 showdown with Pittsburgh thanks to one of Woody Williams’ best starts of the season. Finally, Arizona blanked Chicago and Washington shut down Colorado.

3. Royal Embarrassment: The White Sox were viewed as a preseason contender in the AL Central division. I even thought they would take second place. However, after a season that has gone wrong in so many ways for Chicago, they find themselves tied with the Royals for last place. At 43-54, only Texas and Tampa have worse records in the American League. The White Sox have a lowly offense which is tied for last in the AL in runs and dead-last in batting average and on-base percentage. It’s not like their pitching has been magnificent either, with a 4.76 team ERA. Chicago lost a series at Boston 3-1 by a combined score of 31-14. Their upcoming series include matchups with the Tigers and Yankees, so it could get worse for the White Sox.

Player of the Day: Roy Halladay, Blue Jays: 9 innings, 3 hits, no runs, one walk in an 8-0 win over Seattle. In what has been an off season for the perennial All Star, Halladay improved to 11-4 but still has a 4.15 ERA.

Kansas City Royals

The Full Count: Bring out the brooms

1. Surprising Sweeps: Multiple teams completed unexpected sweeps on Wednesday. The most shocking was the Royals’ sweep over the Angels, who have the most wins in the majors. KC beat them with pitching, allowing just 7 runs the entire series and none yesterday. Jorge De La Rosa, who came into the game with six straight losses, outdeuled the Angels’ Jered Weaver for a 1-0 win. The majors’ second-best team was swept too as the Mariners dominated the Red Sox. Their 2-1, 11-inning win yesterday was capped off by Jose Lopez’s game-winning RBI double. One of Dice-K’s best starts of the year, an eight-inning, three-hit gem, was blown by the bullpen. The Braves busted out of a slump to crush the awful Nationals for three much-needed victories. They annihilated them on Wednesday 13-0, bringing them to a tie with the Phillies in the process.

2. No Support for the Rocket: Roger Clemens isn’t pitching very well, with a 5.32 ERA through four starts. However, the Yankees’ offense isn’t helping him out much. In his last three starts, all losses, Clemens has received three runs of support from the offense. On Wednesday, Clemens allowed 4 runs in 6 innings, but the Yankees were shut out by the Orioles. Erik Bedard was fantastic, with 7 innings, 2 hits, and 8 strikeouts in the win. With another loss, Clemens was denied his 350th win yet again. The Yanks have now dropped four games in a row.

3. Older is Better: A record-tying six 40-year-old pitchers took the mound on Wednesday. Clemens, Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Woody Williams, and Jamie Moyer all took the mound. They went a combined 3-1, with Smoltz, Maddux, and Glavine picking up the victories. For Glavine it was his 297th career win. Maddux pitched seven strong innings to gain career win number 340. Most of these pitchers are having excellent seasons, and perhaps there have never been as many excellent 40-year-old pitchers as there are this year. Kenny Rogers was scheduled to start as well, but the Tigers game was rained out.

Player of the Day: Jack Cust: 2-5, HR (13), 5 RBIs as the A’s beat the Indians 13-7.

MLB General

The Full Count: Yankees are creeping up

1. Make it 9: The Yankees extended the longest winning streak in the majors to 9 games after sweeping the Diamondbacks. They won 7-1 on Thursday thanks mainly to Andy Pettitte’s eight-inning, one-run start. Pettitte has quietly posted a 2.93 ERA this season, the best mark on the Yankees’ staff. The Yankees’ offense and pitching are on a roll as they’ve outscored their opponents 67-24 during the streak. Alex Rodriguez drove in two runs to give him 21 RBIs in his last nine games. Hideki Matsui’s three RBIs give him 12 during the nine-game win streak. The Yankees took advantage of another loss by the Red Sox to move within 7.5 games. They will face the Mets, who are on a five-game losing streak, over the weekend.

2. Start Wasted: Tim Hudson outdeuled Johan Santana, but the Braves wasted his efforts with a meltdown by the bullpen. Hudson pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk. Santana went seven strong as well and struck out nine, but he allowed two runs. The pitcher’s duel didn’t decide the game though, as Bob Wickman gave up three runs in the ninth inning to lose the game for Atlanta. The 3-2 win completed a sweep for the Twins, who have won four in a row and are just 5.5 back of the Indians. The Braves moved behind the Phillies for the first time all season, albeit by just a half game. The road won’t get any easier for the Braves, as they travel to Cleveland, who has the second-best home record in the majors.

3. How `bout that Royals offense!: In a bizarre occurrence, the Royals of all teams have scored 17 runs in two of their last four games. After beating the Phillies 17-5 last Sunday, they topped the Cardinals 17-8 on Thursday. Mark Teahen had five RBIs and leads the team with 35 on the year, and Alex Gordon homered as the Royals destroyed St. Louis. They scored 8 runs in the second inning, then 6 runs in the fourth. What a powerhouse! The Cardinals’ Kip Wells had six earned runs in one-plus inning and extended his major league lead in losses to 11. Now the Royals rank 22nd in runs scored, leaving their usual last place in that category. Now the White Sox can be considered the league’s worst offense.

Player of the Day: Justin Germano, Padres: 6 innings, no runs, in a 7-1 win over Tampa. The nearly unknown Germano is 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA on the year.

MLB General

The Full Count: How to waste $8.3M a year

1. The Offseason’s Worst Signing: It always fasinates me that teams choose to sign a pitcher they know is bad instead of bringing one up from the minors and saving $10 million. For example, the Mariners paid Jeff Weaver $8.3 million a year this offseason even though they knew he couldn’t pitch in the AL. Didn’t they know how bad he was, considering he had a 6.29 ERA and 3-10 record last year when he player for division foe Los Angeles? Well, this year, Weaver has been the single worst pitcher in baseball easily. After another shelling Thursday against the Tigers, his ERA stands at 14.32, his WHIP is 2.59, and opponents are batting .459 against him. Add that to an 0-6 record, and you have the single worst signing this offseason by any team. In games that Weaver does not pitch, the Mariners are 15-9, a winning percentage that would be good enough for the division lead. Weaver gave up 6 runs in 5 innings against the Tigers, which actually lowered his ERA. Justin Verlander got the win for Detroit, who is 9-1 their last 10 and took over the division lead.

2. One year makes a difference: In 2006, Toronto finished ahead of Boston for second in the AL East. This year, they aren’t even in the same league as the Red Sox; Boston swept them in a three game series and leads them by more than 10 games. The Blue Jays have now lost 9 in a row, and have a worse record than the Devil Rays. Even their ace is struggling. Roy Halladay came off a 12-hit, 9-run start last week and allowed 7 runs to the Red Sox. Meanwhile, Tim Wakefield continues to be one of the more underrated players in baseball, as he improved to 4-3 with a 1.79 ERA. In his last two starts, Wakefield has allowed zero runs in 14 innings. Boston now has a seven-game lead over the Yankees, while the Blue Jays’ playoff hopes are pretty much already over.

3. If you think the Blue Jays are bad…: The Kansas City Royals might never be a good team again. They have failed to make the playoffs since their World Series title in 1985. KC has finished in last for three straight years, and it’s a guarantee that this year will be their fourth in a row. They were walloped 17-3 by the Oakland A’s, a usually light-hitting team. The A’s hit six homers, including two each by Dan Johnson and Jack Crust. The Royals had three different pitchers allow more than four runs as they fell to 11-24. The A’s are just one game back from the Angels for first place.

Player of the Day: Dan Johnson, A’s: 4-4, 4 runs, 4 RBIs, 2 HRs in a 17-3 win over Kansas City.

Stat of the Day: 47…That’s the number of homeruns the Reds have this season, the most in the majors. Would anyone have guessed that at this point in the season, the five most powerful teams would be Cincy, Milwaukee, Florida, Texas, and Tampa? The Reds are led by Adam Dunn with 11 homers, Josh Hamilton at 8, Alex Gonzalez at 7, and notably Ken Griffey Jr. with 6. Griffey has 569 career jacks and is tied for ninth on the all-time list.

MLB General

The Full Count: Yankees get much needed sweep

1. Double Trouble: After going 1-8 in a one-and-half week stretch and falling to the bottom of the division, the Yankees cranked out a much-needed sweep of the Texas Rangers. On Thursday, they won both games of a doubleheader, based on the strength of their pitching, believe it or not. In game 1, Andy Pettitte pitched six strong innings and the bullpen held him up in a 4-3 win. In the second contest, Mike Mussina came off the DL with an excellent 5-inning, one-run effort. After a period in which it looked like the Yankees’ pitchers couldn’t stop a Double A offense, now they’re at full strength again with the return of Mussina and Chien Ming-Wang. More good news for them is that they play the Rangers again next week.

2. Cleveland Comeback: The best team in the league is currently the Cleveland Indians, and lately they’ve refused to lose. The Indians have a 10-1 record in their past 11 games, and on Thursday they completed a sweep of the Blue Jays. Toronto had captured a four-run lead early as Troy Glaus hit his fifth homer, but Cleveland stormed back thanks to Victor Martinez and others. Martinez went 4-4 with two RBIs, and Grady Sizemore hit a game-winning double for a 6-5 victory. The Indians still only have a 2 game lead, because Detroit has been hot lately as well.

3. Criticize him now: The most widely panned signing of the offseason was the $10 million-a-year contract the Royals gave to Gil Meche. But so far this year, he’s been worth it. Meche is 3-1 on the league’s worst team, and has an excellent 2.23 ERA. His pitching was good enough to lead the Royals past the first-place Angels as they became the last team in the AL to reach the 10-win mark. Meche pitched 7 innings and allowed just 2 runs, which came on a first-inning homer to the untouchable Vladimir Guerrero. The Royals’ 5-2 victory gave them a 2-2 tie in the four-game series. Meche now ranks first in the AL in innings pitched and third in ERA.

Player of the Day: Manny Ramirez, Red Sox: 2-5, 2 HR (5) including the game-winner, 3 RBIs in an 8-7 win over Seattle.

Stat of the Day: Since his first start of the season, Daisuke Matsuzaka has allowed 22 runs in 31 innings, good for a 6.38 ERA. He got torched for 7 runs against the Mariners on Thursday.

MLB General

Oct 26 in Sports History: A couple of game 6 meltdowns

In 1985: While everyone remembers the tremendous gag-job by the 1986 Red Sox in the World Series, the previous Fall Classic featured a similar meltdown. This one, many felt was caused by an umpire, as the name Don Denkinger will forever be cursed on the eastern side of Missouri. With the St. Louis Cardinals leading the I-70 World Series three games to two and holding a Game 6 advantage 1-0 into the bottom of the 9th inning, Royals pinch hitter Jorge Orta tapped a weak grounder to first. Pitcher Danny Cox of the Cards cleanly fielded Jack Clark’s flip and clearly had Orta beat by a step. One problem: first base ump Denkinger was the only person in America who thought Orta was safe. The Cards argued bitterly, became completely unglued in the field as Clark misplayed a popup, catcher Darrell Porter had a passed ball, and Dane Iorg drove home the winning run with a bases loaded single to send the series to a seventh game. There, the Royals promptly smacked the shell-shocked Redbirds 11-0 to win their only championship. Karma rules, though, as they haven’t sniffed October baseball since and now are as formidable a ball team as the Springfield Power Plant softball team (pre-Mr. Burns’ ringers).

In 2002: Speaking of awesome, The-Cosmos-Are-OK, Game 6 meltdowns, who can forget the collapse of the Barry Bonds-Dusty Baker-led San Francisco Douche Giants against the Whatever Angels? The Giants built a 5-0 lead through six innings and a smug Bonds was about to wrap up his coveted, undeserved World Series ring. Funny thing was, the Baseball Gods knew stuff we didn’t at the time, and let the Angels claw their way back with a huge rally and a 6-5 win. Baker (who thought it was such a cute idea to almost get his three-year-old son mauled at home plate as a bat boy), suddenly couldn’t manage a Quick Stop let alone a baseball team, made wrong move after wrong move and the Angels eventually ripped the ring off Bonds’ puffy finger in seven games. Those thundersticks and the Rally Monkey were wicked-stupid, though. Baker quickly bailed on the Giants and went on to an even better punishment with the Cubs the following season, when he was introduced to a nerd-fan named Steve Bartman.

Oakland Raiders

Odds and Ends: Jerry Porter is the worst teammate in the world

Class act

On a day when a backup punter stabs a starting punter in the leg, Jerry Porter still manages to get the worst teammate award. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Porter was pumping his fists and laughing while Aaron Brooks got sacked for the 7th time in the loss to the Chargers.

I haven’t heard anybody in our organization say anything about that, any teammate or anything,” Shell said. “If that did happen that’s a big disappointment from my standpoint. That would be disappointing, and that’s something, if he did that, something he has to deal with, with his teammates as well as other people.

Porter was deactivated for Monday’s game because he’s clashed with Art Shell all preseason. Porter just signed a five year deal last season that gave have $10M in guaranteed money. Nice way to pay the Raiders back, Jerry.

[AP]: Royals pitcher, catcher fight in dugout

[ESPN]: Keep Branch on your fantasy bench folks, he’s not expected to play this weekend

[Fox Sports]: Since the World Cup, US Soccer has dropped from #5 to #29

[TSN]: Bob Clarke doesn’t give a shit if nobody likes him

[Jeff Little]: People stealing paychecks in the NBA