Simmons, Deadspin are wrong to hate on Kansas City

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As you know by now, Kansas City has been selected as the site of the 2012 All-Star game.  In the past 24 hours this decision has been subjected to derision by two of the most influential voices in online sports media: Bill Simmons and Deadspin. I have much love for both The Sports Guy and the House that Leitch Built, but they’re absolutely full of it in this case.

Simmons didn’t hit the matter hard, but he did it on his Twitter feed last night, sarcastically cheering the choice by sayingYeah!!!! Four days in Kansas City in mid-July when
it’s 110 degrees!!!!! Who’s in???” and then agreeing with readers that one of the New York parks, Washington, Philadelphia or Minnesota were better options. When a reader reminded him that Kauffman Stadium was “new” it appeared that he either (a) assumed that the person was mistakenly suggesting that it was a 100% brand new ballpark and sarcastically changed his mind; or (b) honestly didn’t know about the renovations to the place himself.  He then moved on.

Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky was a lot more hostile in his post this afternoon, saying Kauffman “received the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, for some reason. No clear reason,
actually,” and seemed to completely miss the fact that the Royals and the people of Kansas City just got done pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a massive renovation.  Petchesky went on to say “All-Star Games should be about either showcasing shiny new stadiums, or
beautiful old ones,” and added that Kauffman was “far from beautiful.”

Which merely shows that Petchesky has never been to Kauffman Stadium, because he’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful park in Major League Baseball.  I mean it — the place is gorgeous and — the quality of the current tenants notwithstanding —  it’s a wonderful setting in which to see a game.

But maybe that’s just an aesthetic difference on our parts. More troubling for me is what seems to be a weird schizophrenia on Petchesky part about the value of an All-Star Game to begin with.  On the one hand he says Kansas City doesn’t deserve it, and that it should be a reward to places with newer parks or a longer, richer baseball heritage.  Then he goes on to trash the reality of having an All-Star Game in one’s town, saying that the financial benefits are “bunk” and that it’s a giant hassle for everyone involved.  So I assume that you don’t care if Kansas City has it then, Barry?

Overall, both Simmons and Petchesky take on the matter reeks of — and I don’t believe I’m going to say this — coastal bias.  Doesn’t matter which coast. Simmons is physically on the west while his mind and heart reside in the east.  I don’t know where Petchsky lives, but the whole “Kansas City? Really?” attitude just stinks of the east coast and people who call anything west of the Hudson flyover territory.

I propose this: a road trip for Simmons, Petchesky and Joe Posnanski or some other person who appreciates how cool Kansas City really is – and it’s very, very cool — to disabuse them of whatever misinformation they’ve been fed about the place over the years.

Then we can revisit this in 2012 when baseball holds its All-Star Game in a beautiful park that is home to great baseball fans and is surrounded by a pretty damn spiffy city.

UPDATE:  More Kansas City scorn, this time wrapped up in a bow of “oh, wouldn’t it be great if Boston got the All-Star Game!”  So right. I mean, the Sox are so overlooked and they haven’t had an All-Star Game in Fenway since 1999!

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.