Rany Jazayerli Newsbeat
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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?
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.
for his generous support.
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