Edition No. 18
July 17, 2012a
STANDINGS AT THE ALL-STAR BREAK
I am sorry for the delay in penning my annual contribution to our group’s newsletter. A few too many other obligations (work) and fun activities combined to put me behind a bit. Also, I am experiencing significant trepidation, as I do each year, in trying to keep up with the high standards set by such men of eloquence as Skipper, Itchie, Magpie, U-Belly and Mouse, and the statistical genius of Big Guy and Possum. I actually attempted to keep some notes as the season went along of interesting tidbits to ultimately include in this writing. I think that lasted a week and now, looking back, they are nearly indecipherable. Oh well, here it goes.
Congratulations to Mitch for putting together an outstanding first half. A 361 point lead at the break is not insurmountable, but, nonetheless, formidable. The Wahoos, if they ever shed all that bad luck and the injuries that are keeping them down, will likely have a run in them. The Monarchs have been steady all year and can cause some trouble. Chuck continues to entertain with the constant roster renovations, picking up and dropping, at a constant rate. FYI, Chuck, there is no prize for most transactions. I did truly laugh out loud when learning that Chuck had dropped Vin Mazzaro within ten minutes of his start and the first inning was not yet over. Being at that particular game, I understand it, but that is a quick hook. No sentimentality for those wayward Cubs. I, on the other hand, apparently have endless patience for the likes of Derek Lowe (now cast off) ( he did have a couple of nice starts), Mike Minor, (finally let go) (he had no nice starts), Bruce Chen (soon to be set adrift) and Tim Lincecum (more on him later).
Usually the 7th Inning Stretch is a series of whines and moans about the plight of the Blues. And this edition will include plenty of that. But a recent rise in the standings to the lofty perch of 7th place (now 8th) has certainly lightened the mood in the Blues Clubhouse after being beset by the Curse of the Skipper and languishing in the league bowels for the bulk of the first half. (Skip – usually I am pleased to accept your Dead Ass Last prediction and move on. While I was stunned beyond measure to receive your stamp of approval in the annual Picks and Pans edition, I fervently request that such future honors be bestowed elsewhere.)
I attempted to draft for power, homeruns. But, alas, it is not to be. Goldschmidt is having a serious power outage; Logan Morrison’s having a miserable season; B.J. Upton, no consistency and some DL time. Thankfully, there is Joey Votto and his MVP season. He has been carrying the Blues. Our recent run up in the standings is as a result of about 3 or 4 straight nights of outstanding pitching. Those 100-150 point pitching nights can make things look nice for a few days, but they are impossible to maintain. That is why one needs hitting night in and night out to rise to the top. The Blues simply do not have the depth of hitting to maintain it over the long haul. There have been a few bright spots: Aaron Hill hitting for the cycle twice in 14 days, simply unprecedented. It also helped that on one of those nights, Diamondback teammate Goldschmidt was 4 for 4.
I guess that is a way to encapsulate the Blues season thus far: a series of highs and lows – peaks and valleys – with plenty of time in 13th place. Now, the lofty heights of 8th Place. (Not sure I should even allow myself to look at how many points separate me from 6th place.) Reaching mediocrity would be a great season, considering how it started.
Some memorable highs and lows:
-- May 16: 107 points, 3 quality starts: moved into 10th. Actually spent a few moments calculating what it would take to get to 6th (60 points) (big mistake) then: May 17, the dreadful negative point night. A total of 4 hitting points, minus 6 pitching points, from 3 starters! 3 Losses! Also throw in there the beloved, but once again disappointing Royals losing in the 15th inning on the same night. Never look too high, my friends.
-- Another low: May 21. Watching baseball on the TV. Mike Minor of the Braves, gives up a homerun in the 1st inning on ESPN. Switch over to Royals game. Watch Yankees Kuroda give up a homer. Switch back to check on Minor, now 4th inning; has not allowed a hit since opening inning homer. Yet, I get to watch back-to-back-to-back homers, including one by the opposing pitcher. Bye-bye Mr. Minor.
Seriously, is there a more disappointing player this year than Tim Lincecum? Prior to his last start, he was 3-10 with a 6.42 ERA, and according to Yahoo: “statistically the worst starting pitcher in the majors.” Read that sentence again: “statistically the worst starting pitcher in the majors.” For my 3rd round pick. Beat that one, boys! He has really been hard to watch this year, with the exception of two starts.
In truth, though, all is right with the World of McBlunder. Yes, the Blues are struggling. But I did have a wonderful trip to Miami with a portion of our merry band. (The new stadium is an architectural monstrosity – the Big Potato Chip, set down in a terrible neighborhood. But we did meet some nice hookers in a local establishment and got to see some of the boys overreact to a little hotel bathroom issue.)
This was followed by a great trip to New Mexico and Colorado in June with the lovely Deb and daughter Danielle, recent high school honors graduate (top 10% of class of 255 graduates.) Also the end of private high school tuition. (Except now for that private college tuition. Had two great days of white water rafting on the Arkansas River, including a trip through the Royal Gorge.
The kids are great. A.J. has a great summer internship at Kiewit, in the accounting department (many, many thanks to Brother Pirnie for his influence). A.J. on track to graduate in December (3-1/2 years,) and hopes to land an accounting internship in the spring and then back to KU for Masters in accounting. He is President of my old fraternity at KU. Now, Danielle is off to Benedictine College in the fall. It is a small (1,600 enrollment) private, Catholic College in Atchison, Kansas. A perfect fit for her. (She is the religious, party-adverse child in the family.) They spend a good amount of time with me, but not enough. Most importantly, they have really taken to Deb.
All is well with girlfriend of almost two years. Marriage discussions held, no pressure being applied. We are headed back to Colorado in early August for a week, including an attempt at my 4th Fourteener (mountain over 14,000 feet): Uncompahgre Peak – 14,309 feet. Training as much as time allows, on the bike 4-5 times a week, 15 to 20 miles each. Losing some weight, but not enough. (Eating well, remains difficult.) We have some plans to visit Boston with Deb in late August. (She has a work thing there.) Royals will be at Fenway. Then looking for a beach trip this winter, plus plenty of College and Chiefs football this fall.
Again, all is very, very good for this league misanthrope. Dead Man Walking, No more. Nothing but blue skies and sunshine. Hope all is equally well with you, my good friends.
A few more random thoughts:
I missed out on the Message Board listings recently, so here are my contributions:
Top 10 Concerts – All Time
1. Bruce Springsteen – 3 times in KC, once in Chicago
2. Jimmy Buffett – 3 times
3. Lyle Lovett – KC August 2011
4. Levon Helm – now deceased, drummer for the Band, KC 2011
5. Lucinda Williams – KC 2009
6. Eagles, Linda Ronstadt , Dan Fogelberg, with a surprise visit from Jackson Browne – Arrowhead Stadium 1976
7. Billy Joel / Jackson Browne - ... circa 1984
8. The Old 97’s – KC 2010
9. Asleep at the Wheel – 3 times
10. O.A. R. this past Saturday, KC
Top 10 Movies – All Time
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
3. To Kill a Mockingbird
4. Jeremiah Johnson
5. Saving Private Ryan
6. Shawshank Redemption
7. American President
8. The Searchers (John Wayne’s best film)
9. Cool Hand Luke
10. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Wayne)
Brief Political/Non-Baseball Thought:
I know Skipper likes to honor Nebraskans, and I understand the pride one may have in William Jennings Bryant, but really he was a three time loser, who supported prohibition and did not believe in evolution. Pair him with Ty Cobb, a renowned racist, and that is this year’s picture on the website? I volunteer to seek out next year’s picture, if asked.
Check out this blog from one of my favorite writers, Joe Posnanski, former KC Star and Sports Illustrated Writer, with a nice ode to my home town, Kansas City: joeposnanski.blogspot.com.
Quote/Thought for the Day: “When everything is immediately available and infinitely reproducible, nothing is valuable. How can it be? How many times might beauty and heartbreak or love be replicated and still have meaning” Charles Frazier, Thirteen Moons, 2008.
Just a thought, concerning our modern world and the difficulties we face. But real beauty, real heartbreak and real love is out there. Enjoy! Sunshine and blues skies.
Skipper: Keep those updates coming. We really do enjoy the exploits of the Ernst boys and the Mount Michael Team. I really do miss those days of A.J.’s baseball and Danielle’s softball. You can’t enjoy those days enough.
Speaking of enough…this is more than enough from me.
I miss you all. Have a great 2nd Half! Go Blues!