Sunday, October 19, 2014

'I truly have to laugh when I hear about the crawling pace of baseball. A one hour football game takes three and a half hours to play,' NY Times commenter

"Yankee Fan NY, NY 25 minutes ago
"I truly have to laugh when I hear about the crawling pace of baseball. A one hour football game takes three and a half hours to play. Most of the time the football players hang around huddling followed by a quick pile up, and then more hanging around. For sheer boredom, nothing can beat a football game, unless it is soccer."
Comment to NY Times article:
10/17/14, "Postseason Vanishing From Broadcast Networks," NY Times, Richard Sandomir

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Former Kansas City Royals employee Rush Limbaugh cheers for Royals, enjoyed watching games which unlike football are still mostly about the game

10/16/14, "Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals," Rush Limbaugh

"Please indulge me on this.  This is somewhat personal to me.  The Kansas City Royals, how about that, a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. Eight straight playoff wins, setting a Major League Baseball record. The extra-inning win over the Oakland A's. Three games over the Anaheim Angels, and now over four over the Baltimore Orioles, and to the World Series. They host it, starting Tuesday night in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium, first time in 29 years.

I was not at the Royals in 1985. I had just left town for Sacramento to set out on this journey, if you will. I worked for the Royals from '79 through '83, so I was there for the 1980 World Series that they lost to the Phillies.  It was exciting and, you know, I had an important job there. I was director of ceremonial first pitches, and I was director of escorting national anthem singers to second base before playoff games. They sometimes even let me pick the anthem singers. It was five years I spent there.  I wouldn't trade those five years for anything.  It was my first five years outside of radio, which I started at age 16.

I met people I would otherwise have not met. I learned things, experience things I never would have. And I had doors open for me simply because I could say, "Hi, Rush Limbaugh, from the Kansas City Royals." People that wouldn't give me the time of day, I'm talking about businesspeople, would open their doors.  But it was also good for me because I found out that I'm not cut out for corporate conformity, but I wouldn't trade those five years, and it's so great....

I was looking at the game last night, watching, and that stadium, they've done such a great job renovating it and keeping it new.  The place was buzzing. It's one of the best places in the country to watch a baseball game and be part of it. These are young players that don't know they can't do anything.  It was great to see, and I just want to take a little brief moment here to congratulate 'em.

RUSH:  One more observation about the Kansas City Royals and the American League Championship Series. I've done something the past couple of weeks I haven't done in years, I have been watching baseball games on TV, and a realization hit me last night.  It's the way it used to be.  I didn't hear any talk of concussions.

I didn't hear the play-by-play announcers or the color commentators lamenting sexual abuse. I didn't hear about whether some player had come out and was gay. I didn't hear about any cultural this or that.  It was just baseball.  It was nothing more than the sport of baseball.  It was on television, it's what was talked about, and all of that sideshow stuff the media has dragged into football (and to a certain extent basketball) wasn't there

It was... Well, they're gonna frown on me for this word, but it was "pure," and by "pure" I mean in the purest sense. It was almost a throwback.  It was the way watching sports on TV used to be, long before the Sports Drive-Bys (media)  decided to go get political on everybody. It was really great.  Something else I was reminded of: The Kansas City crowd is one of the best-looking crowds in baseball. Seriously.

Look, I know I'm biased here. I lived there for 10 years and I worked at that team for five years, but they're respectful of the other team, sportsmanship and all that, some clever signs.  It was all good.  It was great TV, it was great baseball, and it was exciting, and as I say: I haven't watched baseball in years.  But I got the fever, and I think it's great.  Again, I just wanted to take a brief moment to congratulate everybody....

RUSH: Here's Sarah in Overland Park, Kansas City. Welcome.  It's great to have you on the program, Sarah.  Hi....

CALLER:  I've been trying to get through for years.  I've been a fan forever, my family, all of us.  And of all the things for me to call about, I am so happy you mentioned the Kansas City Royals.  I've been waiting because I know about your connection, and I have to tell you, it's just amazing in this city right now.  It's electric.

RUSH: It's like it was, I'll bet, back in the late seventies, early eighties, mid-eighties, when the Royals owned the town and when the Royals defined even the self-esteem of the city.  I mean, they owned it.  Everybody, I mean, the city was totally united based on the Royals and their fortunes, and it was a great time. It was a great period in the city's history.  And you're saying it's back now, huh?

CALLER:  You know, I was two years out of high school in '85, and I was a big fan, I've always been a baseball fan. Politics and baseball are my two favorite things, besides my daughter.  So I was away at college when they won it in '85.  And, you know, baseball is just America.  My family and I were at the game on Tuesday, the third game, and I've never seen anything like it in person. People were singing, "God Bless America" with the singer in, what, seventh or eighth inning.  Nobody knows the words to that song.  It was just people were crying and taking off their caps and just so into it, and I think --

(Break Transcript, Commercial break)

CALLER:  Yeah.  I agree with you, and that's just baseball to me, and, you know, I truly believe America is rooting for this team. They've struggled for so long, and I think Dayton Moore is a genius. I think Ned Yost has managed this team very well. And I think they've both been very patient, as has the owner of the Royals.

RUSH:  Well, okay, we'll grant patience.  We'll chalk it up to patience.

CALLER:  Well, they're great players, and I think it's different than other teams, too. The Royals and the general manager want to hire players who really want to win. They have good character. They work hard. It's been a real struggle. They just have worked so hard.

RUSH:  Well, here's what's happened.  I'll explain it to you in a nutshell.  The Royals simply can't play players what the Yankees, the Angels, and other teams can.  Well, they're a small market.  I don't know the smallest, but they're a small market. They don't have local revenue like other teams do, and despite the revenue sharing tax, it doesn't even begin to make up for it. They have, however, a great scouting department. They sign young players.

It is amazing the quality of the young players that have come up through the Kansas City system, and once they show their wares and they reach their free agency period, they're gobbled up by other teams, and the names are legion.  Carlos Beltran is one.  Johnny Damon is another. These were all Royals.  And, in this case, what happened is this team gelled, while it's very young, this team came together why it's very young before anybody had a chance to test free agency and split. It really is amazing timing when you get down to it.

There was something else that happened this year.  Some fan, the Royals have a fan in South Korea that is absolutely a rabid fan and went through hell or high water to get there in Kansas City to watch a game. His story made the news and he ended up meeting some of the players, became a local celebrity while he was in town, and that almost coincides with the team's reversal of fortunes, not entirely, but they had so many great human interest stories this year.

When I worked there, I'll just share with you a little thing here and then, Sarah, I have to move on.  But when I worked there, you know, every year you hope you make the playoffs 'cause there's nothing better. The postseason is fun, the excitement, the place is packed, the town's buzzing, it's the best.  During a season, you see things -- I did.  I saw plays, late-game heroics, home runs that made me think this is the season of destiny, turning an unlikely double play in the ninth inning in Texas, I'll never forget one of those....

I saw so many of those things this season with the Royals, it made me say, even during the playoffs, that this team is destined.  And, so far, it's proven out.  So the World Series opens Tuesday night in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.  The town is gonna be buzzing. There's no question about it. It's one of the best restaurant towns. It's one of the best dry cleaner towns. I mean, it's one of the best highway towns, best airport towns. It really is. So, Sarah, I'm glad you're all jazzed about it. I'm sure the whole town is. That's the great thing. I appreciate the call very much, and best of luck." 

Image above from RushLimbaugh.com

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High-level, closed door meetings held to revive ban on large sodas in New York City-Wall St. Journal

"Dr. Bassett said in an email that the heaviest burden of obesity and diabetes falls on low-income black and Latino communities, which she said the beverage industry targets with pervasive marketing."

10/15/14, "Forward Push on Soda Ban," Wall St. Journal, "De Blasio Administration Considers New Ways to Cap Size of Sugary Drinks." Michael Howard Saul

"Mayor Bill de Blasio ’s administration is exploring new ways to regulate the size of large sugary drinks in New York City, holding high-level meetings behind closed doors with health advocates and beverage industry executives.

Mayor de Blasio has made clear he supports a ban on large sugary drinks,” his spokesman, Phil Walzak, said on Thursday. “The administration is currently considering plans on the best way to reach that goal.” 

The administration’s talks with lobbyists could revive an issue championed by Mr. de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg , who oversaw a sugary drink ban in 2012 that was eventually overturned by the courts. Mr. de Blasio, in a relatively rare display of agreement with Mr. Bloomberg, has vowed to find a way to limit the size of drinks, a move public-health advocates say would help fight obesity.

Mr. de Blasio has yet to sign off on a new approach. Mary Bassett, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, deputy mayor for health and human services, have held meetings with advocates on both sides of the issue.

The meetings have included officials from the American Beverage Association, a national trade organization that successfully spearheaded the lawsuit that stopped Mr. Bloomberg’s ban, as well as executives from the nation’s leading beverage companies, including the Coca-Cola Co. KO -0.94% , PepsiCo Inc., PEP -1.33% and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. DPS -3.03%
“We don’t think that discriminatory policies against our products are the way to go to address obesity or any health issues,” said Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. He confirmed the meetings with the administration.

Mr. Gindlesperger said the industry hopes to work collaboratively with the de Blasio administration “to figure out what’s the best way to help New Yorkers cut their calories.” He described the industry’s relationship with Mr. Bloomberg’s administration as “toxic”; he characterized the handful of meetings with the de Blasio administration as “cordial and positive.”

Last month, at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference in Manhattan, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group voluntarily pledged to reduce America’s calorie consumption in sugary drinks by an average of 20% by 2025. 

Mr. Gindlesperger said the industry is eager to speak with the mayor and his aides about a plan for the city, using that agreement as the framework.

Officials from the soda companies declined to comment, referring questions to Mr. Gindlesperger.
In September 2012, the city’s Board of Health approved regulations that would prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The industry sued, and the courts ruled that the board, which is controlled by the mayor, doesn’t have the authority to approve such a sweeping set of regulations.

That power falls to the City Council, the courts said.

While Mr. de Blasio said last year he would pursue legislation if the state’s highest court agreed the council was the proper body to impose such regulations, the administration has been wary of introducing a bill.

A majority of council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, voiced opposition to the Bloomberg-backed regulations.

Councilman Corey Johnson, a Manhattan Democrat and chairman of the council’s Committee on Health, said he opposed Mr. Bloomberg’s ban largely because of jurisdictional reasons. He said the regulations should be approved by the council, not the Board of Health.

Mr. Johnson said he welcomes a new proposal from Mr. de Blasio. 

“I am completely open to looking at a fair and healthy way” to regulate sugary beverages citywide, he said.
Others would take some convincing. 

Ms. Mark-Viverito is a close ally of the mayor, but a spokesman said her position hasn’t changed. “She supports approaches that are less punitive on small business and focus on education,” her spokesman said.

Thomas Farley, who served as health commissioner under Mr. Bloomberg and was a chief architect of the plan that collapsed, urged Mr. de Blasio to follow through on his pledge to advance drink-size regulations in the council and try to persuade council members.

“The soda companies hated [the ban]. They lobbied hard against it, and they reached a lot of council members. So, it would not be an easy thing to pass,” Dr. Farley said. 

Still, he said, “it would be good if he tried to persuade folks.”

Dr. Farley said the council could approve regulations that are broader than the original Bloomberg proposal. The council could eliminate some of the loopholes, he said, and apply the regulations “to any food that’s sold for immediate consumption” in the city.

Dr. Bassett said in an email that the heaviest burden of obesity and diabetes falls on low-income black and Latino communities, which she said the beverage industry targets with pervasive marketing. “Limiting portion sizes and looking for other ways to reduce consumption of these empty calories remains a public health priority,” she said."

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Royals Moustakas catches foul in 6th, ALCS game 3

10/14/14, "Third baseman Mike Moustakas catching a foul ball in the sixth. Kansas City scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning. Credit Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters," final 2-1 Royals over Orioles, ALCS game 3

10/15/14, "Now, Royals Can Do No Wrong," NY Times, Tyler Kepner, Kansas City, Mo.

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Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay Rays gen. mgr. to LA Dodgers pres. of baseball operations-NY Times

10/14/14, "From Rays’ Rags to Dodgers’ Riches," NY Times, Tyler Kepner, Kansas City, Mo.

"Dayton Moore, the Royals’ general manager, had the luxury of time and the virtue of discipline in building his team. Andrew Friedman did not take as long to construct a winner in Tampa Bay, but he weathered four rough seasons, including two last-place finishes as general manager, before the Rays won the pennant in 2008.

Now Friedman heads to Los Angeles as the Dodgers’ new president for baseball operationsa general manager, to be determined, will work under him — and the landscape has changed completely.

The Dodgers had the major leagues’ highest payroll this season, around $230 million, and would never characterize themselves the way Stuart Sternberg, Tampa Bay’s owner, described the Rays on Tuesday.

“Given the hand we’re dealt and the way we go about it, it’s half a miracle we get done what we get done and get to where we get to,” Sternberg said during a conference call with reporters, adding: “I never really have a lot of confidence in these things; the games have to be played. But I do have a lot of confidence in the process.”

In nine years as the Rays’ general manager, Friedman, who will be introduced in Los Angeles on Wednesday, had to stick to a process. He never had a payroll above $77 million, so he never had much chance to make an expensive mistake.

The Royals and the Orioles spend more, but neither team has ever given out a nine-figure contract. The Dodgers have five such contracts, and several other deals that simply defy reason.

Brian Wilson got a two-year, $19.5 million contract after pitching about 20 innings for the Dodgers in 2013. Brandon League got three years and $22.5 million after a similar late-season cameo in 2012. Neither pitcher was even the primary setup man, let alone the closer, this October.

Andre Ethier, a spare outfielder, is owed a staggering $56 million for the next three seasons. Another outfielder, Carl Crawford, is owed almost $65 million in the same span. And those players rank below a few others at the top of the Dodgers’ salary structure.

Crawford’s case is instructive. Friedman let him leave as a free agent after the 2010 season, and while he surely recognized that Crawford, at 29, was nearing the end of his prime, it was really not much of a choice. Boston signed Crawford to an absurd seven-year, $142 million contract, when Theo Epstein was the Red Sox’ general manager.

Epstein, like Friedman, is a shrewd team builder, but even he is capable of overreaching. The Crawford contract — like that of Adrian Gonzalez, who was also miscast in Boston — would have continued to drag down the Red Sox had the Dodgers not bailed them out in a 2012 trade. And while Epstein patiently builds the Cubs, with a raft of high-end prospects nearly ready, he has also misfired in Chicago. Edwin Jackson has been among the majors’ worst pitchers since signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs.

The Dodgers have a high enough payroll space to paper over their mistakes; they have won the National League West two seasons in a row. In theory, Friedman gives them a chance to keep winning without wasting so much money — or, at least, while spending more sensibly.

“One of the things I admire about him is his boldness and his courage,” said Matt Silverman, a longtime top executive with the Rays who takes over Friedman’s old spot. “He doesn’t shy away from difficult decisions. He’s willing to stick his neck out for things he thinks are important.”

In Tampa Bay, Friedman’s biggest decisions involved how long to keep players before losing them to free agency or trading them, and which players to target as cheaper alternatives. He did that job extraordinarily well.

But a new set of challenges await in Los Angeles, and a new array of rivals. Four of the five N.L. West teams — all but the San Francisco Giants — have overhauled their front offices since the All-Star break. Ned Colletti, the Dodgers’ general manager for the past nine years, will stay on as a senior adviser.

In time, perhaps, Friedman could lure Joe Maddon to be the Dodgers’ manager, although Don Mattingly is considered safe, and Maddon told Sternberg he was happy in Tampa Bay. Sternberg said he expected no other Rays employees to join Friedman in Los Angeles.

For now, it is Friedman alone, with seemingly unlimited riches at his disposal, but also a bloated payroll and a restless fan base with championship expectations. It is a fascinating assignment, and a whole new world."

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Kolten Wong's home run in the 9th, NLCS game 2

10/12/14, "Kolten Wong’s solo home run in the ninth inning lifted the Cardinals over the Giants," getty. Final 5-4 Cardinals over Giants

10/13/14, "Cardinals’ 4th Homer of Night Is Also Last Word in Game 2," NY Times, Tim Rohan

"Kolten Wong Lifts Cardinals Over Giants, Evening N.L.C.S. at 1-1"

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kansas City Royals were last in Major Leagues in strikeouts as well as home runs in 2014-NY Times, Kepner

"For all the power he has shown in these playoffs, Moustakas was still asked to drop a sacrifice bunt to move the pinch-runner Terrance Gore into scoring position in the ninth inning on Saturday. He did the job, and Gore scored the winning run."...(near end of article)

Image: "The Royals’ Mike Moustakas moved pinch-runner Terrance Gore into scoring position with a bunt in the ninth. Gore then scored the winning run on a double," European Pressphoto Agency. Final 6-4, Royals over Orioles, ALCS game 2

10/11/14, "Reeling Orioles Look to Right Themselves on the Road," NY Times, Tyler Kepner 

"Britton walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning of Game 1 and later said he was surprised by the Royals plate discipline; he expected them to swing more often than they did. It was a reasonable guess, because the Royals are an extreme contact-hitting team. Their hitters ranked last in the majors in strikeouts this season, with just 985. The next-closest team, Oakland, struck out 119 more times.
In this series, the strikeouts have been nearly even — 17 for the Royals’ hitters, 16 for the Orioles’ hitters. But when Kansas City makes contact, good fortune follows. An infield single by the speedy Cain led to a run in the third, and another by Omar Infante led to the go-ahead run in the ninth, on a double by Alcides Escobar.

“They do a good job of putting the ball in play, and once that happens, you can’t control where the balls are, or what happens,” said Darren O’Day, the losing pitcher in both games. “So credit them for doing that. I threw some good pitches, but I’ll wear the loss.”

The Royals have also hit home runs, another category in which they ranked last in the major leagues this season. It had little to do with their expansive home park, either; the Royals ranked 29th of 30 teams in homers on the road."...

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nielsen broadcast tv ratings had errors for 7 months, software blamed, ABC network benefited-NY Times

10/10/14, "TV Ratings by Nielsen Had Errors for Months," Bill Carter, Emily Steel

"Nielsen, the television research firm, acknowledged on Friday that it had been reporting inaccurate ratings for the broadcast networks for the last seven months, a mistake that raises questions about the company’s increasingly criticized system for measuring TV audiences.

The error wound up benefiting one network, ABC, while negatively affecting the others, according to people briefed on the problem. In a telephone call with reporters, Nielsen executives would not confirm that it had resulted in added viewers for ABC, saying they could not discuss individual clients.

An ABC executive confirmed that the error had improved the network’s ratings. As for Nielsen, its executives played down the discrepancy in viewing totals, saying they fell between 0.1 percent and 0.25 percent of the viewing totals.

But it remained unclear how the mistake would affect the billions of advertising dollars based on Nielsen’s ratings, as well as the company’s reputation. And several television and advertising executives expressed degrees of anger and incredulity at both the incorrect ratings and the amount of time — seven months — it had taken to discover the problem.

“These ratings are the currency of the business,” said Alan Wurtzel, who heads research at NBC. “Any time that currency is under suspicion it’s a concern.”

Lyle Schwartz, a managing partner in charge of research at WPP’s GroupM, the world’s largest media buying group, said it was a credibility issue for Nielsen. “You look at Nielsen as the gold standard for currency,” Mr. Schwartz said. “When you introduce these errors on systems that were working fine in the past, you start looking at the numbers a little bit closer to see if there is anything else occurring that we haven’t identified yet.”

Nielsen has long reigned as the main source that the entertainment industry uses to measure TV audiences, and its ratings are the currency on which nearly $70 billion in advertising dollars are traded each year in the United States.

The company has come under increased pressure in recent years as television and advertising executives have called its methodology antiquated and questioned its ability to measure the ways people watch television today, whether on a traditional TV set in the living room or on a mobile phone on the fly. A range of outsiders, including Rentrak and comScore, are challenging Nielsen’s dominance by introducing methods to track TV viewing in the digital age.

Brian Wieser, a media analyst with Pivotal Research, said Nielsen was struggling on multiple fronts. 

“You’ve got a ‘death of TV’ fear in general, you have the Rentrak competitiveness issue, and you have the quality and integrity of the data issue,” Mr. Wieser said.

“Any one of those three things could come up at any time,” he added, “but for those to hit you all at the same time, wow.”

Network shows are judged by small fractions of ratings points and perceptions of a show’s success or failure are often determined by whether the show gained or lost as little as a tenth of a point. In one example that will surely be raised, ABC News made headlines this last week by surpassing NBC News’s evening broadcast for the first time in six years. NBC will undoubtedly question those results now, especially because it has noted for months that ABC began closing the ratings gap in April — or one month after the pro-ABC error affected Nielsen’s system.

Even if the ABC gains were entirely legitimate, they now have a shadow over them. ABC issued a statement on Friday saying that despite the error, the network was confident that it would maintain the ratings momentum that its programming has seen in the opening weeks of the new television season.

The Nielsen executives Pat McDonough and Steve Hasker said repeatedly in their news conference on Friday that the incorrect ratings — which had affected every program on ABC, not just the ones in prime time — fell “well within the tolerance of statistical error.” They said any changes in numbers or the rankings of programs would be largely insignificant and would be corrected when Nielsen issues new ratings on Monday.

But in a statement sent to clients, the company said, “In the vast majority of cases the impact is small, but in a handful of cases the impact is more material.”

The Nielsen executives emphasized that ABC had nothing to do with the incorrect ratings and blamed a new software program that was introduced in March. The mistakes affected something called “all other tuning,” an arcane part of the measurement of broadcast ratings (cable network ratings are unaffected).

Mr. Hasker said in the phone call on Friday that the company had first detected the discrepancy itself, a point challenged by several executives at the broadcast networks.

The error was most noticeable in changes in reported ratings between the first available numbers — which arrive each morning — and the more complete “fast national” numbers, which arrive in the late afternoon. Network executives, including those at ABC, began to notice this fall that ABC’s programs were frequently showing improvement in the second daily accounting — something that usually happens only with the biggest hit shows.

CBS, for example, detected on the first night of the new television season that ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” a show that has been in decline for years, got a bump up in the ratings in the afternoon rankings, even though two big ABC-affiliated stations had not even carried the show the previous night.

After examining its records, Nielsen said it had found the software flaw and traced it back to March. The reason it was detected only recently, Mr. Hasker said, was because of the heightened attention to the flood of original programs in the new television season.

Nielsen says it intends to recalibrate its ratings starting only from Aug. 18, not all the way back to March 2, when the error was introduced to the system, Ms. McDonough said. If specific clients ask for detailed breakdowns for discrepancies during the earlier months, Nielsen will work with them, Ms. McDonough said.

Mr. Wurtzel said NBC would press Nielsen for more information. “I’m asking for it,” he said. “How do we ever begin to do any kind of tracking or historical analysis if you can’t get accurate data?” Advertising clients are also likely to have difficult questions for Nielsen.

Kate Sirkin, executive vice president of global research at the Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group, said a big issue for advertisers was that it had taken so long for Nielsen to alert them to the problem. “The big concern on our part is that this happened, and it has happened for months, and nobody noticed,” Ms. Sirkin said. “That is scary because we pay millions of dollars for Nielsen to do this complicated thing, but that is what their job is.”"

"A version of this article appears in print on October 11, 2014, on page B1 of the New York edition."...

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First postseason meeting of Royals and Orioles was 'a battle worthy of the wait,' NY Times

10/10/14, "The Royals’ Alex Gordon hit a broken-bat double to drive in three runs in the third inning of Game 1 of the A.L.C.S. He also homered in the 10th," European Pressphoto Agency. Final in  10 innings, 8-6 Royals

10/11/14, "Royals Keep Magic Alive, Beating Orioles With Homers in the 10th," NY Times, David Waldstein

"Amid a sea of waving orange towels and unwavering hope, a new era of baseball arrived at Camden Yards on Friday.

The Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals, two cornerstones of early American League expansion, had never played each other in the postseason, despite distinct periods of success in both towns, especially in the 1970s.

In the first 17 years after the playoff format was introduced in 1969, one or the other team was in the American League Championship Series in all but four of those years, though neither had been to the Championship Series in a very long time.

So, on a cool night that provided a fitting backdrop for an October game, the teams finally engaged in a battle worthy of the wait. The Royals took an early four-run lead, and the Orioles fought back to even the score after six innings.

But in the top of the 10th Alex Gordon hit a leadoff home run off Darren O’Day and Mike Moustakas added a two-run shot off Brian Matusz. The Orioles scored a run in the bottom of the 10th, but the Royals held on for an 8-6 victory in Game 1 of the A.L.C.S.

The surging Royals, who won their first two games of the division series with extra-inning home runs, became the first team to hit three go-ahead home runs in extra innings in a single postseason.

Gordon’s homer helped make up for the fact that the Royals had the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the ninth but failed to score. Zach Britton, the Orioles reliever, walked three straight batters, throwing 12 consecutive balls. But Eric Hosmer hit into a fielder’s choice.

O’Day, the side-arming right-hander, replaced Britton and got Billy Butler to hit into a double play — shortstop J. J. Hardy to second baseman Jonathan Schoop and on to Steve Pearce as the announced crowd of 47,124 roared its approval, at least for a short while.

Both teams carried momentum into the series, with neither losing a postseason game entering this series. The Orioles, who last competed for the pennant in 1997, swept the Detroit Tigers in the division round. The Royals, whose last appearance in the playoffs came in 1985, the year they won the World Series, did the same to the Los Angeles Angels after beating the Oakland Athletics in a dramatic, extra-inning wild-card game.

Anticipation for this unprecedented matchup began with tens of thousands of Orioles fans dressed in black and orange, swarming the streets around the stadium for hours in advance, and then bringing the stadium to life with their energetic cheers once the game began.

A light rain started falling in the middle innings, but the game went on, with Chris Tillman, the starting pitcher of the Orioles, facing the Royals’ James Shields.

The Royals were the first to score as Alcides Escobar homered to left field off Tillman in the third inning. Kansas City would score three more times in the inning, even after Tillman came within inches of ending the inning with the bases loaded and only one run in."...

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Friday, October 10, 2014

XM channels for 2014 ALCS game 1, Royals at Orioles

Fri., Oct. 10, 2014 ALCS game 1, Royals at Orioles

Start time, ET: 7:34pm

Home: Baltimore Orioles: XM 89 (Internet 842)
Away: Kansas City Royals: XM 176 (Internet 851)
ESPN announcers: XM 83 (Internet 83)


Postseason tv channels and schedule from Oct. 10, 2014, MLB.com.

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As underdogs, Kansas City Royals are favored by millions of Americans who also view themselves as underdogs. Not that Baltimore Orioles are 'privileged overlords'-Kansas City Star

10/9/14, "Royals rule right now as fans relate to underdog status," Kansas City Star, Rick Montgomery, Kansas City, Mo.

Team owner David Glass seen at left.

"Those long-lowly Royals are America’s new “It Team.”

The nation is speaking, voting online, buying blue. Its sports sages are writing that the Kansas City baseball franchise has become the popular choice of fans whose teams are out of championship contention.

And a decent stack of research supports the leading theory as to why that may be.

Studies call it the “Underdog Effect.” After 29 years of missing out on postseason play, the boys in blue are being viewed, say scientists and pundits, in a light similar to how millions of Americans view themselves: as underdogs. 

A 2014 incarnation, maybe, of the racehorse Seabiscuit. Flyover country’s own Rocky Balboa or the Harry Truman of “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

“People love the underdog story,” said sports psychologist Christian End of Xavier University. “It’s about effort. It’s about justice. It’s a storyline pitched to us over and over again.”

It is not that the Baltimore Orioles – the Royals’ rival in the American League Championship Series beginning Friday in Baltimore – rank among baseball’s privileged overlords. They haven’t gone to a World Series since 1983.

But their payroll is $15 million higher than the Royals’. Also, the Orioles have faced performance-enhancement issues and basked this year atop the vaunted Eastern Division with its Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Whatever the reason, respondents to an online ESPN poll say they’d rather root, root, root for the Royals. Of more than 100,000 votes cast, 68 percent prefer Kansas City over Baltimore in the ALCS. Detroit Tigers fan Rick Grieve, who studies sports fan behavior at Western Kentucky University, has climbed aboard what he called “the Royals bandwagon,” in part because he’s as much a sucker for underdogs as the next person.

But he also said baseball fans of all stripes are mindful of how the small-market Royals got here.

“By doing it sort of the pure way, developing young talent and being patient,” Grieve said. “People appreciate a little more the things in life that take time.”

The Royals are “not high-rollers like the Yankees, paying their way to get the top stars,” he said.

Case in point: The Tigers late in the season acquired Cy Young Award-winning pitcher David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. Meanwhile, the Royals tapped a Texas kid named Brandon Finnegan, 21, who in June had still been pitching in college games.

Price and the Tigers were swept by Baltimore in the playoffs.

Finnegan, on the other hand, has emerged a postseason phenom.

‘Destiny’s darlings’

The Los Angeles Times declared the Royals “destiny’s darlings” and even “America’s team” at the start of the divisional championship series with the home-team Angels early this month.

Since then, sales of Royals merchandise have exploded.

Among postseason teams over the past week, the Royals are second only to the Dodgers in merchandise sales through MLB.com/Shop, said Matt Bourne, a publicist for Major League Baseball.

At Fanatics.com, the nation’s largest online retailer of licensed sports merchandise, Royals sales have led all other MLB teams’ gear since Oct. 1, the day after Kansas City’s thrilling victory over Oakland in the Wild Card Game.

A hero of that 12-inning contest, first baseman Eric Hosmer, has zoomed up the Fanatics.com charts to be the third-most-popular player among consumers seeking jerseys and other athlete-specific stuff.

Some academics suspect the come-from-behind excitement of the Wild Card Game created a broad new landscape of fans for “America’s team.”

Human physiology could have played a role.

Tight, action-packed games “create this emotional arousal” in spectators, due partly to endorphins and adrenaline flooding the nervous system, said Oregon State University marketing professor Colleen Bee.

She is among researchers who have tracked fans’ reaction to sporting events when one side is cast as “underdogs” or “heroes” and the other is designated “top dogs” or “villains.”

But a magnificent game can boost admiration for both kinds of teams, she said. And in the case of the nationally televised Wild Card Game, only the Royals advanced.

The Underdog Effect is buoyed by other factors, including one called “emotional economics.”

Economists, of course, stand behind the theory: Selecting a team to root for involves a simple but unconscious cost-benefit analysis.

“The underdog is a very safe bet,” said Murray State University professor (and longtime Royals fan) Daniel Wann. “If they win, the emotional benefit is huge.

“But they’re not supposed to win. So you, as a fan, have an excuse if they fail. There’s not much of an emotional cost to that.”

Yet another area of inquiry: Are fans cheering for the underdog, or are they really rooting against the top dog?

According to a 2005 paper by University of South Florida researchers who analyzed student subjects, “support for the underdog was found to be more extreme than rooting against the top dog.”

Still, the Wall Street Journal has pushed the anti-top-dog theory to new empirical dimensions with its “Hateability Index.”

When the 10 postseason teams were determined at the end of September, the newspaper scored each club’s “hateability” based on payroll, past pennant success, Sports Illustrated covers, substance-abuse problems – even the players’ “excessive beards.

The Journal rated the St. Louis Cardinals as the most hateable team.

The Royals were rated least hateable."

Image above: "Kansas City Royals fans celebrate with team owner David Glass, left, after the team’s 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels last week at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.," John Sleezer/Kansas City Star

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/article2643232.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/article2643232.html#storylink=cpy

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

2014 MLB postseason games and tv channels from Oct. 10, 2014 to end

Postseason schedule and tv channels from Oct. 10, 2014, MLB.com.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey is burglarized, cash reward for information leading to arrest-Newsday

10/8/14, "Yogi Berra Museum is burglarized," Newsday, Erik Boland

"A break-in and burglary took place at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center Tuesday night, according to the Montclair State Police Department.

There were no immediate details on what was stolen.

The museum is located on the Montclair State University campus in Little Falls, New Jersey. The museum, home to a trove of memorabilia from the 89-year-old Hall of Famer's career, opened in December 1998.

"We are saddened to learn of a break-in at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center," museum director David Kaplan said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the Montclair State University Police Department and other county, state and federal agencies that are assisting with this investigation."

The Montclair State Police Department said in a statement that it would be leading the investigation.

The statement also said that because this is an active investigation, there would be no further details.

The Essex County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help. Sheriff Armando Fontoura said in a statement that its Crimestoppers program is offering "a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects in the case.""

Image: "A Montclair State University police official walks by the Yogi Berra Museum while investigating a reported break-in, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Montclair, N.J. (Credit: AP / Julio Cortez)"

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Ferguson, Missouri summer protests "have spilled into the fall" and into Cardinals baseball. Protester outside Cardinals game says, "This is where white America gathers." Cardinals will add "even more security in anticipation of future protests"-NY Times

10/7/14, "Less Tension on Second Night of Ferguson Protests at Cardinals’ Stadium," NY Times, Ben Strauss

"As the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals battled during Game 4 of their National League division series Tuesday evening, a group of protesters gathered outside, beyond Busch Stadium’s left-field wall. About 15 demonstrators banged drums and chanted in the memory of Michael Brown, the teenager from nearby Ferguson, Mo., who was shot and killed by the police officer Darren Wilson in August.

Clashes between police and protesters shook the small town, just a 20-minute drive from downtown St. Louis, for weeks this summer, and protests have spilled into the fall. A performance by the St. Louis Symphony during the weekend was interrupted by an estimated 50 protesters.
Tuesday’s demonstrators, organized by a local group, Lost Voices, assembled on the street outside the smoking exit of the stadium, where fans can take cigarette breaks during the game. They held signs that read, Down With Racismand “Justice for Mike Brown.” One waved an upside-down American flag.

We’re here because this is where white America gathers, said Beverly Jones, a 54-year-old St. Louis resident. “Racism is still very real, and we will not be silent.”

Security guards formed a barricade between the fans and the demonstrators. Even those wanting to exchange high-fives with the drummers were steered back.

The security presence was beefed up Tuesday after an ugly scene involving protesters and Cardinals fans was caught on video during Game 3 on Monday night. A video of that confrontation, posted by Argus Streaming News, showed Cardinals fans yelling obscenities at the protesters. One fan taped the name of Wilson to the back of his Cardinals jersey.

On Tuesday, the protesters and fans chanted back and forth, with “Let’s go, Mike Brown” alternating with “Let’s go, Cardinals.” But the situation was calmer than it was the night before.

The Cardinals had been in contact with Major League Baseball in the wake of the Ferguson riots and added security personnel in and around the ballpark throughout September. Ron Watermon, the Cardinals’ vice president for communications, said the team prided itself on a family-friendly and safe atmosphere at the park.

“What we saw in that video does not reflect who we are or who our fans are,” he said of the Monday incident.

With the Cardinals advancing to the National League Championship Series, Watermon said the team would look to add even more security in anticipation of future protests."

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Columbia, Missouri is midway point. between Royals and Cardinals parks and Cardinals territory per Times fan map, but a local has 'seen a lot of brand new Royals hats lately'-NY Times, Rohan

10/7/14, "Same State, but Divergent Paths," NY Times, Tim Rohan

"They are separated by 250 miles: the Royals of Kansas City on the western edge of Missouri, the Cardinals of St. Louis all the way in the east. The Royals, in their blue trim, are back in the postseason for the first time in 29 years — the last time, they beat the Cardinals in the World Series— and for much of that time have been lost souls. The Cardinals, meanwhile, in their distinctive red, have become the Yankees of the Midwest, with 11 World Series titles to their name and so many postseason appearances in recent years that fans elsewhere may be starting to grow a little resentful.

So in baseball terms, the distance between these two clubs is a lot larger than what the map shows. Still, the assignment was to drive from one end of the state to the other, to start off amid the euphoria in Kansas City, where the Royals have already surged into the American League Championship Series, and to end up in the been-there-before atmosphere of St. Louis, where the expectations were that the Cardinals would once again find a way to advance deep into the postseason.

Blue state, red state. The question was what kinds of baseball sentiments I would encounter along the way.
I started my journey late Monday morning in the parking lot of the Royals’ home field, Kauffman Stadium. The night before, fans had stood there in the rain, cheering and chanting, laughing and crying, after Kansas City swept its division series against the Los Angeles Angels. 

That’s what happens when you haven’t been in the postseason since 1985 and when even this season’s journey to October took place on a tightrope, with the Royals clinching a wild-card spot only in the final days of the season.

Thirty miles out of Kansas City, driving east on Interstate 70, as I was checking in on baseball on sports talk radio, an exit sign caught my eye: Odessa, Mo. Odessa, Tex., remember, was the setting for the hit football book “Friday Night Lights.” So why not check it out?

Past the row of shops just off the exit, shortly before 1 p.m., I came across two men grooming a football field. They were Randy Osman and David Larson, groundskeepers for the local school district. Larson was pushing a handcart, painting the field lines; Osman was about to fix the vandalized sprinkler system.

“Ornery little kids, man,” Osman said of the culprits.

They said they had grown up nearby and were longtime Royals fans. Osman mentioned that one of his neighbors was a Cardinals fan, from St. Louis. But that was O.K., Osman said, because his neighbor didn’t insult the Royals much when they were down. The Cardinals fan was outnumbered around here anyway, he noted.

As for Larson, he liked the Royals’ chances to keep going in the postseason.

“Detroit’s out of the way,” he said, with a toothy smile. “They could never beat Detroit. That’s the way I look at.” His prediction for the American League Championship Series? “We’ll beat the Orioles four out of seven.”

The next stop was somewhat planned. Before I started my trip, I had consulted The New York Times’s map of fan allegiances. Red, of course, represented Cardinals rooters; blue, Royals fans. And Missouri was so predominantly red, it looked as if the blue parts were being shoved into Kansas. 

Concordia, less than 60 miles from Kansas City, was one of the easternmost towns that still seemed to bleed blue.
It was shortly before 2 p.m. Near the end of the shops downtown, a bar had a sign out front offering a special: a royal Reuben, potato “twisters” and a drink. Inside, Rhonda Rudy, the manager, said the sandwich had always been called the royal Reuben — but not, alas, for the Royals. The bar, it turned out, just has a thing for royalty. Its name, after all, is the Palace.

Rudy said the bar was usually closed on Sundays but that the management had discussed opening it this past Sunday for Game 3 of the Royals-Angels series — and would have, if the place weren’t so understaffed.

From here on,” she said, “we’ll probably be open on Sundays.” (Although maybe not this Sunday, because there will be no A.L.C.S. game that day.)

Back on 1-70, I approached Boonville. “Boonville has something to do with Lewis and Clark,” I remembered my colleague, Joe Drape, a Kansas City native and a Royals fan, saying over the phone that morning when I asked for some tips.

Just off the highway, I spotted signs for a historical marker and followed them past a water tower and some baseball fields until I got to a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark are believed to have traveled this way in early June 1804.

I was alone, except for a couple in a parked car. Patty Waterfield and her fiancé were chatting and enjoying the view. She said she had been born in Kansas City but had moved to Boonville as an infant. Her family used to be Royals fans, she said, but now rooted for the Cardinals. She, however, still pulled for the Royals.

And, she noted proudly, 1985 was the year she had graduated from high school.
Columbia is the midway point between Kansas City and St. Louis and is the home of the University of Missouri. On the Times map, it is Cardinals territory.

Sure enough, at Booches, a local pub, the bartender wore a Cardinals T-shirt. And while there some Cardinals pictures on the wall, there were none of the Royals. Down the street, the man behind the counter at Shakespeare’s Pizza wore a Cardinals hat, although he noted that he had “seen a lot of brand-new Royals hats lately.”

Around the corner, at the Tiger Hotel, the valet said he had grown up in Kansas City. His name was Hunter Schmitt, he was a sophomore, and he said most of his fraternity brothers were Cardinals fans but were also rooting for a 1985 World Series sequel, maybe because they assumed the Cardinals would stomp on the Royals this time.

In any case, he added, “we had 20 guys crammed into my room for the game last night.”

On the campus, a doctoral student and Kansas City native named John Kennedy was wearing a Royals shirt. He said he had been at Sunday night’s division clincher in Kansas City and planned to attend A.L.C.S. games next week. In the past, he said, Cardinals fans he knew had not lorded it over him, and in recent days, he said, they had been texting him, telling him how happy they were for him and his Royals. (Try that out, Mets and Yankees fans.)

And one more thing: “I was born 71 days after they won the ’85 World Series,” Kennedy said of his Royals. “I’ve been waiting for this moment.”

Moments later, a young woman in a Cardinals shirt walked by. Her name was Anna Hornberg, and she said she was a senior from St. Louis. She had been at the World Series-clinching games for the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 and said that Royals fans were, well, harmless.

“We’ll see how they are when the games get competitive,” she added.
A while later, as the sun was setting around 6:30 p.m., I spotted a sign for Williamsburg, Mo. Not, for sure, to be confused with the hipster Brooklyn neighborhood. Still, the name beckoned.

I pulled onto a gravel road, drove past a row of houses and asked a man walking three dogs if I was in the right place. I was. Maybe 50 people lived here, he said, and no, he didn’t watch baseball.

I counted one stop sign, maybe two stores, a community center and a Presbyterian church, where a light was on. I knocked on the door, and a flustered man answered.

They were having a budget meeting, he said, and had no time to talk about baseball.

I can just tell you, I’m a Pirates fan, and I’m depressed, he said. Indeed, Pittsburgh had ended its own long postseason drought a season ago, but this time around it had been trounced in the wild-card game by the San Francisco Giants. So maybe he would be rooting for Kansas City as the postseason progressed.

By now, it was nearly 8 p.m., and Game 3 of the division series between the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers would soon be starting in St. Louis. But first, here was Wildwood, a St. Louis suburb where David Freese, a Cardinals World Series hero a few years back, and the slugger Ryan Howard were raised. At the Big Chief Roadhouse, I found Chris Wirkus with his feet on a chair, drinking beer with a friend, waiting for the game to start.

How did he like his Cardinals’ chances?

“My honest opinion?” Wirkus said. “I don’t care until the N.L.C.S. I enjoy watching the games, but if I had other plans tonight, I would be doing something else.”

With what some might consider a little smugness, he added: “We’ve been there so much. It’s about winning the World Series.”

For better or worse, Wirkus had the final words in my 250-mile journey, and maybe it was fitting that he did. As unscientific as my little survey was, you couldn’t help detecting the difference between Royals happiness, and gratitude, and Cardinals confidence.

By 9 p.m., I was inside Busch Stadium, where the crowd was definitely not as loud as it had been at Kauffman Stadium the night before. Still, when St. Louis took the lead for good, the fans roared, as they did again on Tuesday night when the Cardinals advanced to the N.L.C.S. Blue state, red state. 

With more to come."


"A version of this article appears in print on October 8, 2014, on page B12 of the New York edition with the headline: Same State, but Divergent Paths"

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