Author: Craig Calcaterra

sung woo lee

Royals super fan SungWoo Lee will be back for the World Series


You’ll recall the story of SungWoo Lee, the Royals super fan from South Korea. Short version: He just randomly declared himself a Royals fan 20 years ago because he likes to root for an underdog and because he thought Kauffman Stadium looked beautiful. He would watch their broadcasts to improve his English skills. His fame as a fan grew on Royals blogs and message boards over the years.

Back in August, Lee was invited to Kansas City and he had the time of his life. And it coincided with a Royals winning streak. Rany Jazayerli wrote it all up at the time. It’s quite a great story.

Now Lee is coming back for the World Series:

SungWoo Lee, the South Korean salaryman whose ardent support for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals has made him a cause celebre in recent months, has gotten permission from his bosses to take time off from work and attend the World Series.

Mr. Lee will fly to the U.S. early this week to cheer on his beloved Royals as they face the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 on Tuesday evening at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

As the story in the Wall Street Journal notes, it was not an easy task getting him here. He just started a new job, it’s crunch time for his employer and you can’t simply tell your boss in Korea that you’re taking time off for some international sports-related travel under such circumstances. Heck, try doing that here at a new job. “Um, sir? There’s a cricket match going on in Pakistan I’d like to go see. It’s important over there and I’m, well, sorta famous on the Internet in that community. Can I take the time off?” You’d be lucky not to get your butt kicked to the curb instantly.

But it’s working out for Lee. His boss is letting him go, and you have to figure there will be a ton of shots of him in the crowd starting tomorrow night.

Frank White is still estranged from the Royals

frank white royals

As a young man, Frank White actually worked on the construction crew that built Kauffman Stadium. A local product, White signed with the Royals in 1970 after a tryout of all things and made it through their local baseball academy. And, of course he went on to enjoy an 18-year career in Kansas City, winning eight gold gloves, a World Series ring and eventually being inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.

All of which makes this story from Jeff Passan unfortunate. Several years ago the Royals had a falling out with the man who, arguably, is the franchise’s most popular player. As a Royals minor league manager he was passed over for the major league job a couple of times. Later, the team slashed his salary for a community relations/P.R. gig he, like a lot of former players, enjoy in retirement. Finally, he was fired as a Royals broadcaster in part, many suspect, because he was critical of the team. As if being critical of the Royals before this year was unreasonable or something.

As Passan notes, there has been no rapprochement between White and the Royals, not even with the current baseball renaissance in Kansas City.

Local news digging deep into the Giants-Royals matchup

Realistic vector magnifying glass

I’m trying to decide who this is aimed at or the sort of use to which a fan can put this information, but I guess this is largely accurate:

Sure, it could be updated to “Kansas City:Puddle of Mudd, San Francisco: Huey Lewis and the News,” but that may not do either city any favors.

Only one more full day without baseball people. We can make it through this together.

Josh Byrnes is likely to be the Dodgers GM

Josh Byrnes

Andrew Friedman is the head of baseball ops, and he plans on hiring a general manager beneath him, a la Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in Chicago. Jon Heyman reports that the GM is likely to be former Dbacks and Padres GM Josh Byrnes:

Josh Byrnes, the former general manager of the Diamondbacks and Padres, is seen as a leading candidate for the top executive job under new club president Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers, league sources said.

Byrnes is viewed as a strong possibility to get the coveted job, as sources familiar with the situation say his experience is viewed as a plus for a storied, big-market team with heavy media coverage and add that his philosophy aligns with that of Friedman. The pair are also said to be fairly close, though a prior relationship had been less than obvious.

Figure all the big-picture thinking would be Friedman’s and that he would have veto power over the moves Byrnes and his folks bring to him.

Friedman: Mattingly will return as manager

Don Mattingly

This was expected, Joe Maddon-talk notwithstanding: Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said at his introductory press conference today that Don Mattingly will “definitely” be the club’s manager in 2015.

And Mattingly will not be a lame duck, as he is under contract through 2016. That give Friedman at least a year, and possibly two, to impress upon Mattingly that he needs to play his best players as much as possible.