Day: November 11, 2015

Links Part 2: Everything Else

Now for non-Royals links. I’ve been sitting on some of these for nearly a month. I hope they’re still worth it!

First, something brand new. Actor/comedian Aziz Ansari wrote in the New York Times about many issues surrounding minorities in TV and movies. It is funny and surprisingly great.

Aziz Ansari on Acting, Race and Hollywood

At Grantland (RIP), Mike Thomas wrote this wonderful profile of the late Jan Hooks.

The Laughs, Pathos, and Overwhelming Talent of Jan Hooks

Now a whole mess of music-related links.

Yes, I was very excited to read this GQ profile of Taylor Swift. We all have our guilty pleasures.

Taylor Swift on “Bad Blood,” Kanye West, and How People Interpret Her Lyrics

Remember Terence Trent D’Arby? If you do, you likely remember how he completely disappeared after he had that one, fantastic year (at least here in the States). This profile is fascinating.

“I was killed when I was 27”: the curious afterlife of Terence Trent D’Arby

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Instead of looking back on a classic album and finding new ways to praise it, Ryan Bray decided to look at a legendary band’s one, terrible misstep: the Clash’s Cut The Crap. It’s telling that the band did not include any songs from Crap on either of their two box sets. “This Is England” is a good song.

This Is (Not) Radio Clash: Cut The Crap Was a Snapshot of a Legendary Band’s Low Point

And for your listening pleasure, check out The War On Drugs’ recent Radio City Music Hall performance.

The War on Drugs: October 8, 2015 Radio City Music Hall

I know I put two Joe Posnanski pieces in my Royals Links post. But hare are two more. First, he and Michael Schur “debated” the Jose Bautista bat flip from game five of the ALDS is awesome.

Flipping Out

And then, for people visiting Kansas City during the World Series, he broke down the local barbecue scene. Aficionados will catch a few factual errors.

The Proper Way To Order Bryant’s Burnt Ends

College basketball kicks off this weekend. Which is way too early. Here’s a proposal to move the season back at least one month. Which seems a little extreme, especially when you see what it does to the back half of the season.

My opinion: Every team can play one game per week in November, beginning with the week before Thanksgiving. Exemptions will be made the week of Thanksgiving only for teams playing in holiday tournaments. Part two of my idea is why it will never work: cut 2–3 games from the schedule so the tournament still ends right around April 1. Schools aren’t giving up that money, though.

NCAA men’s basketball VP Dan Gavitt on moving the season (and the NCAA Tournament) back one month: “There are merits on a lot of levels”

I still have many pieces stocked up that I need to read. Fortunately I’ll be spending about seven hours on planes over the weekend, so I should be able to share them next week.

Links Part 1: R’s

So, so, so far behind on sharing links. So I’ll break them into two sets. We’ll begin with articles related to YOUR WORLD CHAMPION KANSAS CITY ROYALS!

A rather significant sports journalism event took place during the baseball playoffs: ESPN shut down the wonderful Grantland sports/pop-culture site. Many took that as a sign that there isn’t room in the modern, hot-takes-centric media world.

Turns out, though, there’s actually a ton of great sports writing out there. Despite the collapse of print media and struggles boutique sites like Grantland have gone through, we are living in an era when an amazing amount of fantastic sports writing still manages to get published.

There were a ton of great articles about the Royals over the past month. Here are a few of my favorites.

We’ll begin with two wrap-up pieces posted after game five of the World Series.

Our old pal Joe Posnanski (who we’ll hear from again) was predictably great.

Long May They Reign

And Jeff Passan, Yahoo’s national baseball writer who just happens to live in KC, isn’t quite on Posnanski’s level. But this is pretty good.

The epic story of the 2015 Royals and their World Series championship

Rather predictably, a number of old school (or at least old thinking) voices shouted that the Royals were the “anti-Moneyball team” after they won the world series. Which if you have half a brain, and understand that Moneyball was about more than the Oakland A’s love of on base percentage and slow first basemen, you immediately know is a stupid take.

Fortunately there are a couple excellent pieces that point out how dumb that argument is.

First, Posnanski.

Here were are, a dozen years later, and the market has shifted. Everybody’s read “Moneyball.” Everybody is pushing the limits of their analytics. Every team has brilliant, open-minded analysts and economists and psychiatrists reading code and studying trends and looking for secrets.
But … are they all looking in the same places?
Or, to put it in riddle form: If every team is playing Moneyball, which one is the Moneyball team? Holy barbecue Batman, could it be: The Kansas City Royals?


At Hardball Times, Alex Skillin points out that many sabermetrically-inclined analysts may be selling the Royals short because of their past.

A closer look at how the Royals are run and the manner in which they’ve built their current roster reveals an organization that is smarter and more progressive than it’s given credit for. In fact, if Kansas City had a better reputation within the sabermetrics community, the Royals would be receiving far more praise from analysts and statheads alike for their play this season.

The Royals Are A Sabermetrics Team

I really enjoyed two non-Kansas City writers’ works over the past month.

At Sports On Earth, Will Leitch offered up daily columns. Here are three of my favorites.

First, he point out how the mood around both the Royals and the city had changed from last October.

This Year, A Different Feeling In KC

Following the Mets’ meltdown in game four, he wrote about how the national media was missing the big, true story of the World Series.

Royals Are Changing The Narrative

And finally, he tapped into some Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch [1] territory by suggesting that the Royals had the ideal postseason.

The Royals Postseason Was Perfect

Grant Brisbee wrote some wonderful stuff at SB Nation.

Here, he addressed the strange blend of feelings amongst Royals fans both excited about potentially winning a World Series and being worried that Lucy would once again pull the football away before the moment of triumph.

The Royals are caught between waiting for the other shoe to drop and beating other teams to death with the shoe. They’re heading to New York with their best shot to win a title in 30 years, unless it’s not quite as good as the shot they had last season, not yet. The Royals are at the doorstep of a World Series championship, and nobody’s sure how to act, other than fans cheering wildly because any team that’s gotten this far by doing that deserves it.

Royals fans are caught between the impossible and entirely possible

His Series wrap-up covered a lot of ground but I loved every word.

The Royals were the team without a clock. They lived the entire postseason like they figured out the loophole of baseball, that it never ends if the last out isn’t recorded.
Congratulations, Royals. Congratulations, Royals fans. I’ve watched a lot of championship runs over the last couple decades, but I don’t remember anything quite like that.

The Royals won the 2015 World Series because of devil magic and pure talent

There were a number of fine pieces during the ALCS that I could share as well. I’ll pick only Brisbee’s, though, which points out how a few key calls went the Royals way in game six and uses that as a jumping off point for how any number of small decisions are often the biggest factors in a team winning or losing.

Teams aren’t supposed to face insurmountable odds in two straight postseasons and come up with miracle comebacks. In the Wild Card Game last year, the Royals were down to about a 3 percent chance of winning after Mike Moustakas lined out to end the seventh. In the ALDS this year, the Royals were down to less than a 2 percent chance of winning the must-win Game 4. According to my English major math skills, that means less than a .006 percent chance of winning back-to-back pennants.
The Royals like to eat math. They like to do it in front of you, looking you in the eye the entire time. Know this about them.

The Royals Are Going Back To The World Series

Oh, and Jeff Sullivan kind of hit on that Nick Hornby angle as well at Fangraphs. I love his lead, comparing the Seattle Seahawks consecutive Super Bowls to the Royals’ back-to-back pennants. He argues if you’re going to go 1–1, you do it how the Royals did it, not the Seahawks.

It’s not that there was no way to come to accept the crushing defeat. There was one way. There was one way to achieve perfect closure, and the Royals just found it. The demons of uncertainty have been vanquished. The angels of certainty dance in their stead. There’s no more opponent for the Royals to rally past — they’ve accomplished the last of the accomplishments.

The 2015 Royals: A Baseball Team For Baseball Fans

  1. There’s a section in Fever Pitch where Hornby tries to work out what the perfect soccer result is. I can’t find it, but I believe it was a 3–2 win where your team is behind both 1–0 and 2–1 before coming back to win.  ↩

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