We’ll have a regular Around the Horn, very shortly.
Here’s the Lineup:
With the Giants in town over the weekend, one of baseball’s great broadcasters made a pit-stop in Kansas City. Jon Miller, “The Voice of the Giants” for the last 12 years and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Play-by-Play man for the last 19 years, called the Giants versus Royals on Friday. Miller then took off Saturday to Chicago for ESPN’s Sunday Night Game of the Week featuring the Cubs and White Sox with his partner, Joe Morgan. Miller has worked in baseball for 30 years and called 11 World Series. He’s also broadcast hockey, basketball and soccer during his career calling sports.
While Miller wasn’t in Kansas City very long, Around the Horn was able to snap a picture of him and set-up an interview for Sunday morning at 8 a.m. (We were probably his wake-up call). Miller was then gracious enough to give us a full 27 minutes of his time (we only asked for 15). In the interest of saving some bandwidth, here is a condensed version of the interview in what we at Around the Horn hope will become a semi-regular feature – Touch ‘em All. We’ll be rounding the bases, providing interviews with broadcasters, stadium personalities and anybody else who works in baseball and will give us at least five minutes. Here goes…
Around the Horn: Good morning Jon. How are you doing?
Jon Miller: Good.
ATH: Are you ready.
JM: Yea, sure.
ATH: Alright, let’s do this. Here in Kansas City, we never really got to see Barry Bonds. He came here once in 2003 and we played in San Francisco once, but other than that, we never got to see him up close. How was covering Barry Bonds?
JM: For a broadcaster it was great because Bonds was the most exciting player in the game. Everything in a Giants game, the game really revolved around Bonds. He changed everything. The way the opposing manger managed was dictated by when Bonds was going to be coming up. Bonds would routinely draw walks with nobody on base – intentional walks, which you’d never seen.
Mike Scoscia in the World Series in 2002, would walk Bonds intentionally in the first inning with runners at first and second or a runner at first. He just wouldn’t pitch to him – things that you never, ever saw. One game in 1998 when Buck Showalter was managing in Arizona, he walked Bonds in the ninth inning with the bases loaded intentionally. He actually walked in a run intentionally and actually moved the possible winning run into scoring position. I think the score was 8-7 after he walked him and there was the possible wining run at second base.
So not only did he do remarkable things, but remarkable things happened just because of his presence. In that way, as a broadcaster, it was great for us because there was always excitement.
ATH: Did you script your home run call of Barry’s record-breaking 756th homer?
JM: I get that question a lot actually and I guess I could’ve. But the job is to capture the moment and how can you do that when it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not really possible to script it. I mean it is, but I just wanted to do it like any other moment that happens. I actually thought of some great lines afterward on my way home.
ATH: Other than the obvious excitement and enthusiasm toward the records, what’s the atmosphere been like in San Francisco when all the TV cameras aren’t there?
JM: The last three years, the Giants were not very good. A lot of those years, Bonds basically missed the whole year. He came back for a couple weeks in September. And then the following year he was there all year but didn’t have a really good year. He finished well, but not the big year we were used to seeing. And last year when he played, he played well. But he had formerly been a guy who could hit for average, hit for power, steal bases and was a great outfielder. The last couple of years, he was not a fast runner anymore. He kind of clogged up the bases and couldn’t really play outfield anymore.
He was really not a National League Player any longer. He had to play the outfield to be in the lineup, but he was not very good at it. So when he was in the lineup – I think he had about 340 or so official at-bats – he was still very good. He had 28 home runs and drew a lot of walks, partly because teams weren’t afraid of anyone else in the lineup.
I think these last three years, the team was not good. The fans in San Francisco were tired of the team. It was an old team all three of those years. It was a team that did not have a lot of energy. They’d win big games in September and maybe win four in a row. And if they could just keep that going, they’d be back in the race. The problem was they’d win four in a row and half the lineup would need the day off. They were exhausted.
So I think fans were tired of that team. And considering that Barry was the face of that team, I think the fans were saying the same thing about Barry. I think a lot of people in San Francisco were unhappy last year that the team re-signed Barry. Because they were bringing back the same, basically old team. They were ready for something new at that point.
ATH: This is probably the most common question you have gotten this year, but how are things different without him?
JM: I think a lot of people wish that Bonds had just retired – announced his retirement and gone out that way, but I guess he felt he could still play. So the Giants said we need to go somewhere different. The net result is that people are very excited about this team, even though the record is not that good. They’re very excited about all the new players.
I think at least eight players have made their Major League debut for the Giants this season. They’ve gone deep into the farm system. We’ve seen a lot of players we’ve never seen before and we’re finding out that some of them can actually play. The best of them seem to be the young pitchers like Lincecum and Cain and Wilson, the closer. Emmanuel Burriss has been a great surprise, the young shortstop. He was at A-ball last year and he seems to be the heir-apparent to Omar Vizquel.
It’s funny, the attendance is down, but I think they’ll still draw 3 million fans. People are very excited about this team, even though the record isn’t very good because they are seeing the future start to form right before their eyes. And after three bad years, I think people are very excited about it.
ATH: It seems like the fans in San Francisco may have something in common with the fans here in Kansas City. The anticipation here is peaking with a new manager and several young players growing on the field.
JM: Hey, those of us who were there Friday night were struck with the similarities. Not only did the teams have identical records, everything about the results was identical as well – their runs scored, runs allowed. But also the make up of the club with some veterans to kind of show the young guys the way and then a whole lot of young talent.
It could be that on the field, for everyday players, the Royals may be ahead of the Giants. Alex Gordon, although he hasn’t fully blossomed yet, has the tools to be a star player. I don’t think the Giants have anybody in the field yet that you would look at and say ‘Well that guy’s going to be the best player on the field.’ Gordon still has the ability to be that. They’ve also got guys like Greinke and Hochevar and guys like that in the rotation that I think have the tools that they can be outstanding pitchers. If that pitching comes along, that’s what makes a team competitive.
The Royals I think just had that one bad stretch for two weeks. And I think they play in a tougher league than the Giants. It’s like NCAA college basketball; their strength of schedule is above the Giants. Everybody in the Giants division has a losing record except Arizona. And the Diamondbacks, after a great start to the season, have not played well for a long time. They are kind of living off that great start, otherwise over the last six or seven weeks, they have kind of fallen off the table like everybody else.
Obviously, the American League Central is one of the most competitive divisions with the White Sox and Cleveland and Detroit. Those are some monsters in that division. And even outside of the division you have to play the Red Sox, Tampa Bay, the Yankees and Anaheim and what not. So I think the Royals play a tougher schedule so they may already be beyond the Giants even though their records are very similar. Although ironically, it may be that their task is more difficult climbing back into being a contender.
ATH: So, you’ve got it set. Working for the Giants during the week and then every weekend you take off to work for ESPN. You’re set.
JM: I think I get the big money for the flying. No, once I’m actually in the cities, I just have to be prepared, go to the ballpark and work the game. I get to go to the park everyday. It’s fun being able to get away and see other teams other than the Giants and the National League games. I get to go to Fenway and catch Yankees-Red Sox. Or like, this weekend, see the Cubs-White Sox, which I think is one of the most exciting interleague series. Or leave the Giants and go see a couple of American League teams play. So, I have sort of the best of both worlds.
There is a lot of travel. The Giants on this trip are going to Kansas City and Cleveland. I’m going Kansas City, Chicago and then Cleveland. After a Thursday night game in Cleveland, the Giants go home and they play Oakland next Friday. It’ll be one of those nights where they get in like two or three in the morning. And then make the drive over to Oakland. So I’ll do that one game and then turn around and fly back to Chicago next Saturday for next week’s Cubs-White Sox game.
So occasionally, travel can be a little brutal. But I still wouldn’t want to trade jobs with many people. I think I’ve still got the best job going. That’s the trade-off. In the eight months of the season when I go to Spring Training until the World Series is over, I’m probably away from home, five months out of that time. It’s not ideal but that’s the job and I’m fortunate to have it.
Every once in a while I wake-up in a sweat in the middle of the night and I realize I’ve just had a nightmare and they tell me “Baseball has gone away and you’ll have to get a real job.” Talk about a night terror.
ATH: Jon, that wraps it up for us. Thank you so much for your time this morning.
JM: Great, thanks a lot.
We wanted to get this up, we’ve got a good story:
Royals outfielder Joey Gathright has a sense of history. He understands what the game he plays was built upon. He volunteered to don Jackie Robinson’s uniform number earlier this season to honor the man who broke the color barrier. He was one of four Royals to do so on Jackie Robinson Day this year. Gathright credits Robinson with influencing his education and showing him the opportunity in the world of baseball.
Today gave him another chance to honor the history of the game, while making some Royals’ history too. After all, seven-run comebacks don’t happen everyday. They are pretty unique. And Gathright had the game-winning hit, while wearing the same jersey Robinson did – a Kansas City Monarchs’ jersey.
It was Salute to the Negro Leagues Day held in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. It was the second largest comeback in Royals history (nine runs is the largest deficit the Royals have ever overcome along with six other seven-run comebacks).
Technically, Gathright didn’t actually wear the same jersey Robinson wore. Robinson played for the Monarchs in 1945 only. The uniforms the Royals wore today honored the 1951-52 Monarchs. The Royals did wear Robinson’s jersey last season in honor of the 60th anniversary of Robinson playing in the Majors. Over the years, the Royals have also worn the 1924, 1942, 1945, 1948 and 1949 uniforms.
Director of the Royals Hall of Fame Curt Nelson said the Royals will try to pair their uniforms with a historic date in Monarchs history, like Robinson’s 60th Anniversary year, his lone year with Kansas City (1945 and 2005) and the Monarchs’ first championship (1924 and 2004).
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants put on throwbacks honoring the 1927 Royal Giants, a team which barnstormed up and down the California coast and traveled abroad. With roots in northern California, the all-star team traveled to Hawaii, Korea and Japan hoping to spread the game. The Royal Giants went 35-2-1 on the Goodwill Tour.
The tour’s impact, along with the other Negro League teams and Major League all-stars who traveled abroad, is still felt today. Two Japanese pitchers threw today (The Royals’ Yasuhiko Yabuta and The Giants’ Keiichi Yabu). Trey Hillman managed in Japan and the country won the inaugural World Baseball Classic. There is even a team in Japan called the Yomiuri Giants which formed in 1936. Coincidence?
Nelson said today’s Giants uniforms were based almost solely off one picture of the barnstormers. The only picture the Negro Leagues Museum had. It features Hall of Famer Raliegh “Biz” Mackey and a few other Royal Giants players. They are wearing grey pin-stripes with an interlocking “RG.”
Nelson said Ray Doswell, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Curator, believes the jerseys featured a brownish-orange or brownish-yellow logo.
Nelson said a lot of teams call the Royals for advice on their Negro Leagues throwbacks. A very non-exhaustive search turns up quite a few examples of throwbacks over the last couple of years, including the Orioles, the Cardinals, the Nationals, and the Brewers who played the Royals in Milwaukee last season.
But it all originates in Kansas City, with the Museum being the defining authority on uniform accuracy and respectfully honoring the past. The Royals have been partnering with the Museum since 1994. Gathright has been here for three of them and he said was significant.
“They paved the way for me and to wear the uniform of the Monarchs, one of the major teams in that league, is very special. And it’s even better to get the game-winning hit on a day like today.”
We’ll have a special post later today. And given the early start for the Sunday game, we’ll skip around the horn.
However, we did promise pics of the Negro Leagues uniforms. Here’s an idea of what you’ll see on the field this afternoon.
The Kansas City Monarchs
The Royals will be wearing Monarchs jerseys. The Monarchs were one of the most storied and successful franchises in the Negro Leagues. The uniform the Royals will be wearing was worn from 1951-52 by the Monarchs.
Kansas City played 37 seasons in the Negro Leagues and was a 1920 charter member. The Monarchs won 10 pennants, with the first coming in 1924 over the Hilldale Giants of Philadelphia. Negro League greats like Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Turkey Stearnes, Newt Allen, and of course Buck O’Neil (who also managed the team) all played for the Monarchs.
Some great Major League players also donned Monarchs unis before making it big in the big leagues. Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks and Elston Howard are just a few of the famous names who played ball for awhile in Kansas City.
The Royal Giants
The Giants, appropriately, will wear Giants uniforms. This version of the Royal Giants was an All-Star team that barnstormed throughout California. There were also Royals Giants teams in Brooklyn and Boston.
The uniform the San Francisco Giants will be wearing is the same one worn by the Royal Giants who toured Japan in 1927 as one of three tours of black players who played in the Land of the Rising Sun. The 1927 tour featured Hall of Famer Biz Mackey and the team went 35-2-1, playing in Hawaii, Korea and Japan. Major League Baseball took a cue from the early tours in Japan and later sent Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig among others.
Here’s the Royals Official Game Notes.
The highway from Nebraska to the K must be filled with Cornhuskers wanting their very own Alex Gordon to take home. Sure it’s not the real guy, but they love him up there. They showed it during the Nebraska Caravan last January and we’re looking at another packed house tonight.
We’re hoping the Nebraskans fill the stadium because that would give us a two-game sellout streak. Last night brought out a ton of people and for more on that let’s go around the horn…
Our team photographer, Chris Vleisides was able to capture some amazing shots last night during the Sky Show. Here’s the photos for those of you who weren’t able to see it and those of you who want to remember the largest firework show in the history of Kansas City.
Gil Meche throws tonight. Trey Hillman said Gil threw the ball with conviction during his last start and that was part of the key to winning his last start. Gil is the ace of the staff and making his 16th start this season. He’s the oldest starter, with Zack Greinke being the only other member of the rotation with more than three years in the Bigs.
Gil posted a season-high 7 1/3 innings last Sunday at Chase Field in Arizona and a season high 10 strikeouts. His recent success (a 3.88 ERA and 44 K’s in 44 innings over his last seven starts) has been one example of the rotation’s turn around. During the clubs five-game winning streak, the starting pitcher earned the win each game. The resurgent starters allowed an average of 1.7 runs per game from June 9-19.
While in St. Louis, Cards manager Tony LaRussa told Trey he was impressed by the young pitching staff the Royals put on the mound. Hopefully Gil can keep some moment going tonight and bounce back after the loss last night.
Jose Guillen’s two-run double last night extended his American League lead in doubles (27) and inched him closer to third in RBI (55)…Other Royals in the A.L.’s top ten: Mark Grudzielanek is 9th in batting average (.307); Guillen is tied for 9th in hits (82) and in 4th in total bases (142) and 2nd in extra base hits (38); Joey Gathright is tied for 8th in stolen bases (17); Mark Teahen is tied for 2nd in triples (4) and David DeJesus is 3rd in batting average with runners in scoring position (.391) …From Manager Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Closer Joakim Soria’s is good to go tonight after taking yesterday off to recover from recording three saves over the previous three days.
With all the pics, and such a short amount of time til first pitch, we’ll hold the Negro League jersey pics for tomorrow’s game until tomorrow’s post. One change that was reported on this blog earlier this week is that the Giants would be wearing San Francisco Seals uniforms. That is incorrect. The uni’s are in and they are Royal Giant uniforms. The Royal Giants that started in Brooklyn, but eventually became barnstormers and played up and down the California coast… kind of fitting for the San Francisco Giants who are celebrating their 50th year by the bay after moving from New York. But more on this tomorrow.
Here’s the Royals Official Game Notes.
You’re getting it here before anywhere else…
Alex Gordon Bobble, Sky Show pics, and Nergo League uniforms – all coming up later. Until then, here’s the Royals Official Game Notes.
The sweep is complete. And now the Royals are on to bigger things. Like Giant things. Sorry, we had to throw at least one cheesy Giants joke in here and, we apologize, there may be more.
Tonight is the Kansas City Sky Show which is being co-hosted by 99.7 The Boulevard. It’s going to be the largest fireworks show in Kansas City history. To give some perspective, the Marketing Department said it will be five times as large as the Royals regular Friday Night Fireworks Spectacular, which as all of you know, is typically really spectacular. They are planning on 30 minutes, on-field pyrotechnics and special CrownVision videos. Should be fun and get people really in the mood for the Fourth of July
But back to the sweep, and for that let’s go around the horn…
Zack Greinke threw seven innings yesterday and it was the sixth consecutive “quality” start for the Royals (all five starters have posted a win over those six games with Greinke getting a no decision last Friday when the Royals lost 1-0 in the 10th.) Greinke gave up only two hits to the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Rick Ankiel made him pay for a mistake in the fourth. But Greinke shut the Redbirds down, giving up only one other hit, walking just one and striking out seven.
The rotation has a 1.91 ERA in the last 6 games, allowing just 9 runs in 42 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .216 and have struck out 33 times in the six-game streak. Ankiel’s homer yesterday is the only one they’ve allowed over the last week. With pitching like that, it’s no surprise we’ve won 5 in a row and 6 of 7.
Tonight’s starter Luke Hochevar began the Royals current five-game winning streak last Saturday. Hochevar, the Royals’ top pick in 2006, is looking to even out his record, as he’s currently 4-5 this season. But all four wins have come against some big names. For his first career win, he beat the owner of the second best ERA in the A.L., Shawn Marcum. C.C. Sabathia, last year’s A.L. Cy Young winner was his second victim. Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was the next to fall. And then Luke beat the Big Unit, future Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson.
That foursome has a combined 451 career wins… Hochevar has four, but counting.
It’s no surprise the Royals have hit 25 of their season total 51 homers in the last 18 games and have gone 10-8 in that span… All three of the Royals’ wins in St. Louis featured homers in the eighth inning or later with a two-run blast by Mark Teahen yesterday, a pair of homers by Alex Gordon and David DeJesus on Wednesday and a game-winner by Mike Aviles in the series opener…The Royals are 7-2 against the National League this season with 9 interleague games remaining – all at Kauffman…From Manager Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Joakim Soria’s availability, after recording saves the last three days is a game time decision.
Don’t forget about the other two great promotions this weekend with the Alex Gordon Bobblehead and the Salute to the Negro Leagues Day on Sunday when the Royals will be giving out Kansas City Monarchs caps.
The Royals will be dressed as the Monarchs and the Giants will become the San Francisco Seals. The day will also feature a Negro Leagues event outside the stadium with former Negro Leaguers on hand to sign autographs.
It’s going be a Giant weekend in Kansas City…We had to do it.
Here’s the Royals Official Game Notes. Please note the previous post about the sellout tonight at the K.
If you’re planning on coming out tonight, please get here early. We are expecting a sellout by 5 p.m. Yep, tickets are going fast and only a scattered few remain.
If you’ve bought your tickets already, remember that lines will still be long for will call windows because of the high volume of tickets which were bought ahead of time. We encourage you to arrive early as well, to avoid waiting in monster lines or worse, missing part of the game.
There is plenty to do inside Kauffman before the game starts. The Royals batting practice runs until 5:45 and the Giants take batting practice until 6:30. You can also cruise the concourses, check out the Royals Hall-of-Fame which will induct a new member next weekend or check out the Renovation display. Plus, there is the scoreboard. Once batting practice is over, we’ll be running different videos up until the on-field pre-game starts. Seriously, how often do you get to bask in the glory a 105 foot tall HD-TV?
Two games done. Two wins in the bag. After the team’s second late-inning win in a row, Royals fans in St. Louis and around the world, need to break out the brooms in hopes of a sweep today.
KC is now 6-2 in Interleague play this season and 8-8 in June with 11 games left, 10 of which are against National League opponents. Last season the Royals went 15-12 in June and 10-8 against the Senior Circuit.
But back to the task at hand – sweeping St. Louis. The last time the Royals were in position to sweep the Cardinals was in 2006, when Ambiorix Burgos and Luke Hudson won two straight in St. Louis. The Royals only sweep of the Cards was in 2001 in Kansas City.
With that said, let’s see how the Royals have been doing it and go around the horn…
Alex Gordon’s go-ahead homer last night was the Royals 50th long ball of the season. Gordon’s homer came just one batter after David DeJesus parked his eighth of the season to tie the game at two.
If you’ll recall, Tuesday night Mike Aviles put the Royals on top with a homer. Sunday, DeJesus hit his first career grand slam and Saturday, the Royals knocked three over the fence. They have lived by the homer lately. In the last 17 games, the Royals have homered 24 times, failing to hit balls out of the park only two times.
In contrast, the Royals hit only 26 homers in their first 55 games. During the first 55, the Royals were able to homer in back-to-back games just three times. During this homer happy run they had a streak of homering in five straight, then six straight and are now riding a four-game homer streak.
Despite the important homers, lock down pitching has been the story of this series. Kyle Davies allowed one run over seven in game one and Brian Bannister earned his first nighttime win since August 28, 2007 last night. Bannister allowed two runs in seven innings, keeping the Royals close enough to strike late.
Joakim Soria has been other worldly this season and earned his 17th save of the season in 18 tries. Two nights. Two 1-2-3 innings. And two saves. Soria shut the Cards down after Ron Mahay and Ramon Ramirez combined on a scoreless eighth.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ rotation has been in flux, flip-flopping their starters for the first two games of the series. Now they have changed their probable starter for the second time for today’s game. Brad Thompson (1-1, 4.58) will now take the mound in place of Anthony Reyes. Reyes was slotted for the start on Tuesday after ex-Royal Todd Wellemeyer was scratched due to elbow inflammation. The injury bug has certainly bit St. Louis this year.
Jose Guillen recorded his sixth outfield assist and turned his second double play this season, helping the Royals to a win despite ending an 11-game hitting streak…John Buck has been the man with runners in scoring position this season, hitting .426, which is tops in the Majors for hitters with a minimum of 45 at-bats in that situation… Prior to this series, the last series loss for the Cardinals was May 13-15…They had won or split nine straight series before the Royals came to town.
As we posted yesterday, a lot of Royals minor leaguers made their professional debuts with the Rookie Leagues on Tuesday night. Some of those players were drafted just a few weeks ago in the 2008 June Free Agent Draft.
Late Tuesday, the Royals announced southpaw Mike Montgomery signed and is heading for the Arizona Rookie League which will begin play on Sunday. Montgomery was the 36th overall pick and the top pitcher selected by the Royals. The new Royal is 6 feet 5 and 190 pounds and possesses a mid-90s fastball.
To date, the Royals have signed 28 of 51 picks from the 2008 draft, including seven of their top 10 selections and 21 of the top 25.
Out of Left Field
Because sometimes when you throw the ball around the horn, it ends up in left field. The Media Relations department recently noticed that two Royals associates would form a very apropo name if they were to get married. Kasey Schweitzer, the Royals Coordinator of Game Entertainment, and Vic Royal, the Royals Manager of Creative Services, would make the perfect couple name-wise. Why? Because, if she chose to, Kasey’s name would become Kasey Royal. Get it? How perfect is that? Too bad Kasey just got married last October to former KU baseball player Jared Schweitzer and Vic has been happily married to Connie Royal for several years.
Today’s starting lineup
Remember, today’s a day game. 1:15 PM CT start in St. Louis.
And here’s the link to the Royals official game notes, which should be up about an hour and a half before the game.
Let’s use those brooms and get our fifth straight win in the process.