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Rany Jazayerli Newsbeat

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

KC’s Baseball Writing Royalty

But Neyer didn’t just turn me on to baseball writing. He turned me onto the Kansas City Royals.

Now, I am not a Royals fan: I am a Cardinals fan, which is not quite the opposite of a Royals fan, but it’s close. But Neyer was a fan of the Royals, which was something else that was new. I hadn’t read many sportswriters who openly admitted they were cheering for a particular team; my college journalism professors had told me that was against the rules. (They were wrong, by the way.) But Neyer was passionate about his team—it was easier to be passionate back about the Royals then; it had only been a decade or so since they’d last made the playoffs—and because I was passionate about reading his work, I learned about them as well. And then I realized, that, jeez, there were a ton of baseball writers who were either Royals fans, or wrote for the Kansas City Star, which had one of the best sports sections in the country.

Neyer led me to James, of course (and he was a Royals fan too), but also Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus (which led me to Joe Sheehan and Nate Silver and Christina Kahrl and Clay Davenport, none of whom were Royals fans but all of whom were brilliant) and my former colleague here at Sports On Earth, Joe Posnanski. These were all wonderful writers, but they were also wonderful writers about the Royals.

And the best part was that these devoted Royals fans and/or observers is that they were all so smart in a way that the team was so dumb.

No love for Lee Judge?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 01, 2014 at 11:45 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, joe posnanski, rany jazayerli, rob neyer, royals

The Baseball Show with Rany Jazayerli and Joe Sheehan - 9/29/14

Missed (understandably, I think).that this has been posted. It also seems to have all sorts of audio issues, including eventually becoming totally unsynced. I don’t think even Rany and Joe talk over each other that much. Anyway.

  • Unsurprisingly, the two discuss Rany’s team, the Royals. They go over the strange set of circumstances—expanded playoffs, exceptional parity, and second-half swoons—that helped the Royals advance to the postseason with 89 wins. They move on to the squad itself, and its unusual strengths of low-strikeout hitters and a superb defensive outfield.

  • Rany describes what it was like to be at the game (at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field) where the Royals clinched the postseason.

  • They discuss Ned Yost’s managerial acumen. Rany admits that Yost is a poor tactical manager, and has failed to develop the Royals’ vaunted minor league hitters, but also cites the dismissal of hitting coach Kevin Seitzer as a factor in the latter. Rany thinks that, even despite his tactical mistakes, Yost deserves some credit for the superlative performances of his pitchers. Rany: “Ned Yost clearly, in my mind, has a positive impact on the clubhouse stuff that you and I are in no position to quantify, and may not exist.” Joe is not a Yost fan. He thinks Ron Washington illustrates that we might mistake managing a specific clubhouse well for a more general “good clubhouse guy” skill.

  • One manager whom they do both like is Buck Showalter; they express their admiration for winning 96 games with the Orioles’ roster. They also praise Joe Girardi.

  • Joe doesn’t think that the Royals’ level of success justifies the high price paid for James Shields. Rany admits that he was previously vocally against the trade and is afraid of being seen as stubborn at this point if he sticks to that. But he praises Shields’ pitching so far, and believes that the Royals’ postseason performance this year also factors into the calculus.

  • They do a little playoff discussion and prediction. Both like Kansas City over Los Angeles, and Washington over the wild card. Rany likes Baltimore over Detroit, Dodgers over Cardinals; Joe is opposite.
The District Attorney Posted: October 01, 2014 at 07:42 PM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: joe sheehan, ned yost, podcasts, postseason, rany jazayerli, royals

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jazayerli: They Might Be Royals (Royals)

And keep your gushers sealed in tight with aluminum foil (foil).

The Royals’ walk rate (6.04 percent) is the lowest in the major leagues since the strike zone was redefined in 1969. They’re on pace for 99 homers, which would be the fewest by an AL team since 1994… while they’re last in the majors in walks, they’re also last in strikeouts… All of that contact has propelled the Royals to third in the majors in batting average, meaning that despite their historic lack of plate discipline and power, their overall OBP (11th in the AL) and slugging (11th) are merely bad, not putrid. Their 110 stolen bases are 24 more than every other AL team, and their 83 percent success rate is third in the majors…

The Royals rank ninth in the AL in runs scored… However, they excel in run prevention. I say “run prevention” and not “pitching,” because while the Royals’ pitching staff is above average, their defense is the best in baseball for the second year in a row. Their fielders have been worth 52 runs above average this season according to FanGraphs, a year after their defense saved an incredible 88 runs… The Royals’ outfield defense, in particular, has been astounding…

The Royals’ playoff odds, which were barely out of single digits at the trading deadline, are now above 70 percent, including better than 60 percent odds of winning the division…

Appropriately enough in a season in which up is down and black is white, the Royals aren’t really winning because of their fabled farm system, the one labeled maybe the greatest ever three years ago, when it put a record nine players on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list… Of the nine players featured on that top prospects list, only one, lefty Danny Duffy, has made a significant contribution to this year’s team…

To win without any power, and without any plate discipline, requires a minuscule margin for error.

But on their 29th try, the Royals might have finally hit a gusher.

The District Attorney Posted: August 19, 2014 at 02:11 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: rany jazayerli, royals

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jazayerli: Hitting Wins Championships: Why the Chicago Cubs’ Inverted Rebuilding Strategy Is Starting to Look Brilliant (Grantland)

I don’t simply mean that the Cubs are rebuilding with complete conviction; under the terms of MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, that’s really the only way to go.1 Nor do I mean that the Cubs are nearly the extremists that the Houston Astros are. I’m referring instead to the core principle with which the Cubs have been trying to build a championship roster since team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were hired after the 2011 season, a principle that distinguishes this rebuilding project from almost every other one in baseball history: They’re building an offense from within and a pitching staff from spare parts.

This flies in the face of more than a century of conventional baseball wisdom, which states that (1) pitching wins championships, and (2) a team can never have too much pitching. The Cubs’ approach is completely counterintuitive. It’s also completely right.

Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 12, 2014 at 07:48 PM | 75 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, grantland, rany jazayerli, theo epstein

Monday, August 11, 2014

To Sung Woo, Thanks For Everything! Rany Jazayerli

Hey, I’m a Korean Royals fan too!

This summer, Sung Woo finally decided to take the plunge. Taking advantage of a job change, he was able to carve out ten days from his schedule to come to Kansas City, watch the Royals play, and maybe do a little sight-seeing and barbecue-eating while he was in town. He emailed Kamler and fellow Royals fan Dave Darby that he was buying his plane ticket and reserving his hotel room; they told him not to worry about transportation, that they’d pick him up and drive him to the ballpark and introduce him to Arthur Bryant’s and maybe the Negro League Museum while he was in town.

If the story had ended there, that would have been enough: three people who have never met, and can barely communicate with each other, bonding together like long-lost friends over a shared mutual interest in a crappy baseball team. A couple of guys were going to take a day or two off of work to show a complete stranger around town. Movies have been made with flimsier plots…..

For posterity’s sake, I’m going to do my best to summarize what has happened since, though to save time I won’t be able to link to everything. To get the full flavor, check out Sung Woo’s Twitter feed, or Kamler’s.

- Greeted by camera crews Tuesday afternoon, was on four local TV broadcasts that night.

- Was featured in the Star Wednesday morning.

- Took a tour of the Negro League Museum later that morning, featuring tour guide Bob Kendrick and an entourage of two dozen people.

- Gets featured at Deadspin and USA Today.

- Has lunch at Arthur Bryant’s.

- Is interviewed on 610 Sports that afternoon.

- Trolls the Best Fans In Baseball.

- Tours Boulevard Brewing Company that evening.

- With the Royals still playing in Arizona, he gets a shoutout from Danny Duffy – who, behind the scenes, also had a lot to do with Sung Woo’s story becoming as big as it has – on the Royals pre-game show.

- Got an email from Mike Sweeney.

- This is all still Wednesday, by the way.

- Appeared on 96.5 The Buzz Thursday morning. Was given a helmet signed by Billy Butler and a hat signed by Bruce Chen from the station.

- Is featured in the English-language Korea Times.

- Received a personal tour of Kauffman Stadium from the Royals, led by Jennifer Splittorff, who presented him with a SPLITT patch and one of her dad’s bobbleheads afterwards. Goes out on the field, touches the grass, picks up a bullpen phone, basically does everything short of hitting a double in the gap.

- Gets a personalized “SungWoo Lee” #23 Royals jersey, presented by Curt Nelson, the Director of the Royals’ Hall of Fame.

- Walks across the Truman Sports Complex to tailgate before the Chiefs’ preseason opener.

- Is presented with his own personalized #1 jersey by the Chiefs, gets tickets near the 50-yard line. Meets former players and current team president Mark Donovan.

- Friday was a pre-scheduled trip to see the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, so much of it was spent in the car. However, once there he managed to:

- Watch batting practice from next to the cage;

- Get invited into the clubhouse by manager Vance Wilson, who had heard about his story;

- Shake hands with every player one by one, and give Mitch Maier – back mentoring the baby Royals – a bear hug.

- Rode the Naturals’ pickup onto the field with their mascots.

- Got on the field as a human bowling ball during a mid-inning promotion. He managed to knock over six pins.

- Got Maier’s autographed jersey after the game.

Saturday, he was back in Kansas City for his first chance to watch the Royals play live.

- Prior to the game he was the star of a massive tailgate party in the parking lot, where he met his adoring masses.

- Appeared on the Jumbotron in the middle of the fifth inning.

- Was a story on Sportscenter – SPORTSCENTER – after the game Saturday night.

- Appeared in studio with Joel Goldberg and Jeff Montgomery on today’s pre-game show. Montgomery gave him an autographed glove as a gift.

- Took part in the dance-off competition against Jimmy Faseler – whose spot as Everyone’s Favorite Royals Fan he usurped. Sung Woo won, of course. (Sorry, Jimmy.)

- Was featured at MLB.com.

Somewhere along the way he appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered. He’s gotten tweets sent to him from Jeremy Guthrie, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler (at least – there may be more.)

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM | 48 comment(s)
  Beats: fans, korea, rany jazayerli, royals

 

 

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