Thursday, October 30, 2014

San Francisco Giants fans watch game 7 on jumbo tv in Civic Center Plaza

10/29/14, "Fans at Civic Center Plaza, across from City Hall in San Francisco, cheering on the Giants while watching a jumbo television. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times," final 3-2 Giants over Royals

10/29/14, "As He Bows Out, Bud Selig Sees Positive Signs," NY Times, Tyler Kepner


Mo praises Bumgarner postseason finish:

NY Post: "Rivera said he enjoyed watching Madison Bumgarner work magic in Game 7 of the World Series against the Royals, with five shutout innings of relief after pitching a complete-game shutout three days earlier.

Bumgarner posted a 1.03 ERA this postseason, a number to which Rivera could relate. In 96 career postseason games, Rivera had a 0.70 ERA.

“It is amazing what [Bumgarner] did, because that is when it counts,” Rivera said. “He was determined to do whatever it takes within his power to help the team win, and he was the difference.”"

10/30/14, "Why Mariano Rivera doesn’t think A-Rod will be a distraction," NY Post, Mike Puma


"Affeldt...has made 22 consecutive scoreless postseason appearances, one shy of tying the record held by Mariano Rivera."...

10/30/14, "Giants close out Royals to win World Series," Boston Globe, Peter Abraham


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kansas City Royals beat San Francisco Giants 10-0 in World Series game 6

"Mike Moustakas after hitting a double that drove in Alex Gordon in the second inning. He was one of 11 Royals to go to the plate and one of eight who recorded hits during the inning. Credit Jamie Squire/Getty Images" final 10-0 Royals over Giants

10/28/14, "World Series 2014: Royals Crush Giants and Force Game 7," NY Times, David Waldstein
"Yordano Ventura, the Royals’ rookie starter, honored the memory of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, who died in a car accident Sunday in the Dominican Republic, by writing “RIP O.T.” on his cap.

This game was dedicated to Oscar Taveras, my good friend,” Ventura said through an interpreter. “It was a little emotional for us.”

Ventura pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits. But he walked the bases loaded with one out in the third to add a tiny bit of suspense. Then he got Buster Posey, who is without an extra-base hit in the postseason, to hit into a double play to end the inning as the fans erupted again."...

10/28/14, "Giants manager Bruce Bochy walks through the dugout in the top on the ninth inning during Game 6 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 in Kansas City, Mo." SF Chronicle photo. final 10-0 Royals over Giants

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Flyover for World Series game 3, Kansas City Royals v San Francisco Giants

10/24/14, "A flyover was part of the pre-game ceremony before Game 3 of the World Series at ATandT Park on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.," "Photo: Beck Diefenbach, Special To The Chronicle." final 3-2 Royals over Giants

10/24/14, "The crowd cheers with two outs in the fourth inning during Game 3 of the World Series at ATandT Park on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.," Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle." final 3-2 Royals over Giants

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

NHL postpones Wed. Oct 22 Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators game after Islamic militant killing in Ottawa followed by wild shooting in Canada Parliament

UPDATE: 10/24/14, Montreal: The killer's Libyan father still lives with his Canadian mother though they're legally divorced: "By the summer of 2013, Zehaf-Bibeau had moved again. Back then, Montreal resident Bari Malki peaked out of his suburban home across the road from the one that he says Zehaf-Bibeau’s parents, although legally divorced in 1999, still share. Parked on the street was a dark-coloured Hummer. Scurrying around the luxury vehicle was a man with long dark hair, a white skullcap and wearing what he described as a typical Arab wardrobe. Malki learned the man’s identity only when he turned on the news Wednesday and saw the photograph of a gun-toting Zehaf-Bibeau. He recalled the booming voice of the shooter’s father, Bulgasem Zehaf, urging his son to stop cleaning the vehicle because it wasn’t even dirty."..."What propelled Michael Zehaf-Bibeau on path to radicalization," Toronto Star, A. Woods, D. Bruser


"So shocking were the day’s events to the Canadian psyche that organizers canceled a National Hockey League game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs....The shootings come two days after a Canadian soldier died and a second was injured after being run down by a car driven by a suspected Islamic militant (30 mi. from Montreal) whom authorities said had been “radicalized.”"

10/22/14, "NHL postpones game between Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators," Vancouver Sun, John Dujay

"Tonight’s @MapleLeafs at @Senators game has been postponed. http://t.co/wPS3hofoQU
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 22, 2014
“The National Hockey League wishes to express its sympathy to all affected by the tragic events that took place this morning in downtown Ottawa,” the league said in a statement on its web site. No word on when it will be made up."...

10/22/14, "Attack Drags Canada Into Terror Era as Nation Reels," Bloomberg Business Week,

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Infante hits home run in World Series Game 2 win by Kansas City Royals

10/22/14, "Kansas City Royals' Omar Infante after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 2 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.," ap. final 7-2 Royals over Giants

10/22/14, "San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (60) yells into his glove after giving up a home run to Kansas City Royals Omar Infante (14) to give the Royals a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 2 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City Wednesday," Jose Luis, SacBee, final 7-2 Royals over Giants

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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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