Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

New management, players make Royals worth listening to

June 26, 2008

This summer I decided to get a little more involved in listening to the Kansas City Royals baseball games, and at times they have been exciting.

I decided to call my baseball analyst, Don Smith, forgetting that he was not a Royals fan. Don is a former coach and teacher in the Bonner Springs school district and he still has unpleasant memories of his coaching in the district. Before coming to Bonner Springs Don was a successful baseball coach in Iowa, but he never got a chance to coach baseball at Bonner Springs High School. As I stated, his memories of coaching in Bonner Springs are unpleasant, which is understandable knowing the entire situation.

I first got acquainted with Don in 1978 when I was coaching his daughter, Amy, in basketball and volleyball at Sacred Heart School. Amy was a unique girl whom I enjoyed coaching. She went to high school at Bonner Springs, where she was a member of the state championship volleyball team. Don - who retired several years back - is now painting houses with two more former teachers in the school district, Chuck Davis and Leo Richter. They are keeping very busy.

I got a renewed interest in Royals baseball after the hiring of General Manager Dayton Moore, and manager Trey Hillman. The Royals have several young players whom I believe will remain in the major leagues - namely Mike Aviles, David DeJesus, Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen. Moore is doing a fine job addressing one of the Royals' biggest problems: pitching. The Royals have had good luck so far toward the midpoint of the season with some of their starting pitchers who have pitched up into the seventh and eighth innings. The Royals also have one of the best closers in the American League, Joakim Soria.

The Royals have little chance of making the playoffs or even finishing at the top of the Central Division, but they are making baseball more enjoyable for the Kansas City fans. In previous years the Royals have had hard luck in keeping high-caliber players such as Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Jeff Suppan. Economically, the Royals being in a small market have a tough time competing with big-money teams like the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. I never like to second-guess major league managers, but it is only natural. Many of us criticize these managers. I question the Royals manager to a certain extent for the way he is making up his lineups. Jose Guillen, whom the Royals shelled out some big bucks for, in three games has played three different positions in the outfield. Teahen came here as a third baseman and has been moved to the outfield and is doing a respectable job, but he still thinks of himself as a third baseman. That's a position that has been nailed down by Alex Gordon.

I still contend Frank White, the former Royals standout second baseman, should be somewhere on the coaching staff instead of the minor leagues in Wichita. White was always well-liked by the Kansas City fans as a member of the World Champion Kansas City Royals of 1985. I plan to keep my radio tuned to the Royals games and hope they have a good second half after the All-Star Game.

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