The Promising Future of the Kansas City Royals: By the Numbers

Numbers are becoming law in sports. Major League Baseball is already the most stat-wealthy league, and the math nerds are beginning to capitalize on the revolution. The rich databases of baseball stats make finding information easy. Most importantly, this opens to door for the most advanced analysis and comparison. And through this door comes the rising fundamental in sports studies.

Michael Lewis authored a book published in 2003 titled “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.” The book follows the experience of the Oakland A’s and the organization’s use of highly advanced statistical analysis to produce a competitive baseball team, despite an inferior revenue stream.

Numbers never lie.

The Kansas City Royals can draw comparisons to the story of the Oakland A’s. They reside in a smaller market and dwell in a much smaller payroll than many of their competitors – the Royals were 4th in their division in opening day payroll in 2013. Kansas City, like Oakland, is trying to buck that trend. However, there is an even closer model for the Royals to follow. And it’s from 10 years ago inside their own division.

Let the eerily similar comparison between the Royals of 2005-2016 and the Minnesota Twins of 1993-2004 begin.

From 1993 to 2000, the Minnesota Twins were an awful franchise. The team averaged just 66 wins per year. They also finished no better than fourth in their division. From 2005 to 2012, the Royals also were an equally miserable franchise. They, likewise, finished no better than fourth in any season and averaged a nearly identical 67 wins per season.

Beginning in 1995, Terry Ryan was the general manager of the Twins. He was around for six years of bad baseball. In his seventh year, Ryan’s team went 85-77 and finished six games behind the division winner. Similarly, Dayton Moore has now just completed his seventh year with the Royals. In his first six years as general manager, Moore’s teams left critics calling for his head. Moore continued to preach “The Process,” one that he often related to that of these same Minnesota Twins. In 2013, the seventh year under Moore, the Royals won 86 games and finished seven games behind the division winning Detroit Tigers.

Again, nearly the exact track of the Twins a decade earlier.

This is where the uncertain future of the Royals veers into the “charted” waters of the Twins. In the three seasons following Ryan’s seventh year with 85 wins, the Twins won three consecutive American League Central titles and averaged 92 wins a season.

This is the bridge that the Royals have not crossed yet: the years of 2014, 2015 and 2016. If the team follows the model they have so perfectly traced so far, an average of 92 wins over the next season will surely get them to the top of the division. Right?

Over the past 11 seasons, the winners of the Central division have averaged 92.64 wins per season. Posting 92 wins would have won the division just 5 of the 11 years. There is no guarantee to how the rest of the bunch plays to help determine the Royals’ fate. However, the addition of the second wildcard slot does improve overall playoff chances.

In 2013, the Royals pushed post-season contention to game 158 of the 162-game season. With a 6-0 loss to Seattle on September 28th, they were finally mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The team did this on the backs of a strong September push. But a horrid May likely cost the Royals a better shot.

A look at the Royals’ records, win percentage and projected 162-game win total by month.

April: 14 – 10 .583 95 wins
May: 8 – 20 .286 46 wins
June: 16 – 11 .593 96 wins
July: 15 – 10 .600 97 wins
August: 16 – 15 .516 84 wins
September: 17 – 10 .629 102 wins

When put into numerical form, the Royals performance in May was a clear outlier. All together, of course, it tallies 86 wins. But if the Royals could have removed May from the equation – and this isn’t entirely fair, but – they would project to win 94.8 games. Mathematically, this would project them to top the yearly average of the division winner and they would have accomplished that very goal this year.

The Kansas City Royals are at the fork in the road on a beaten path: a trail the Minnesota Twins took to three consecutive division crowns. The numbers are there: too similar to ignore between the two case studies. The Royals now just have to navigate the charted waters.

All that’s left to do is play ball.

Moneyball.

Professor Profile: Scott Reinardy

Web, news

Scott Reinardy is an associate professor in the William Allen White Journalism School at the University of Kansas. Reinardy has earned both his Masters and Ph.D. in journalism at the University of Missouri. In 2009, he partnered with Wayne Wanta to co-write the book “The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing.”

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Reinardy did not always think he would become a university professor, however.

Reinardy used his education from the University of Missouri to move into the academia world. Like his backdoor entry to becoming a professor, Reinardy also stumbled into the challenging realm of becoming an author.

After the completion of his first book, Reinardy has begun the process of thinking about his next book. This work would build off his research in the evolving world of newsroom journalists.

What exactly does this transforming journalism landscape look like?

Regardless, Reinardy says his research and writing stems from his initial desire to be a mentor and professor.

Calling All Sports: Phones are watching

I would bet that as you read this sentence, your phone is within arms’ reach. If I’m wrong, it’s probably charging after overuse. If I’m right, then you are most certainly in the majority.

People, especially the younger generations, have become nearly dependent on their smart phones.  So much power in such a small space. But what happens when we blend our sophisticated devices with sports?

Suddenly, everyone becomes a reporter. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: everyone can now read or see what we want to show them. Fan videos can go viral in just minutes. Specific moments can be captured for niche audiences.

Touchdown Free State High School.

It takes a simple click to show everyone what they want to see. Or to see what everyone wants to show you.

Reporters can record audio and video throughout sporting events to capture the true essence of a game. Words can paint an image in your mind, and gifted writers have an incredible knack to get you inside the atmosphere. Pictures and video, however, put the action right in front of the consumer. They let you see, hear and nearly feel.

After all, isn’t a picture worth a thousand words? Here is footage, in its most raw state, of the interaction of phone and coach during an interview.

But a camera on a phone isn’t always a good thing. It can capture athletes and coaches at their worst as well as their best.

Riley Cooper, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, used a racial slur at a concert this summer. In 1990, the narrative goes different: no one knows, no one hears. In 2013, one fan captures it all and sparks a nationwide controversy. The difference: an 8-megapixel camera attached to a phone.

The multimedia demand has shown Twitter’s influence in the highest divisions of sports. The NBA banned social media for players during the game. This includes 45 minutes prior to tip off until the locker room opens for media after the game. The NFL’s all-star game, the Pro Bowl, allowed players to tweet from the sidelines to help generate interest.

It’s not just coaches and players that need to make sure they are aware of a phone’s presence. Media members must be cognizant too.

Covering a press conference after a Kansas basketball game, a reporter put his phone on the table to record the audio. Midway through the interview, a loud ringtone sharply interrupts head coach Bill Self in the middle of a quote. The reporter sheepishly snuck up to the podium and shut off his phone. Good thing it came after a Jayhawks win.

Phones are here to stay. There is simply too much good to outweigh the bad. The most successful reporters will be the ones who are keen to the use of these weapons of journalism and have the ability avoid the potential character destruction.

Okay, you can go get your phone of the charger now. Even Joe Horn couldn’t keep away from his that long.

JV Football: Lawrence Free State wins 30-6 over Shawnee Mission Northwest

Lawrence Free State was strong on both sides of the ball as they beat Shawnee Mission Northwest 30-6 in JV football action Saturday morning.

Running back Kalim Dowedell scored twice on the ground for the Firebirds after a scoreless first quarter.

Defensive coordinator Max Cordova had high expectations for his unit at halftime.

“We have one pick (interception). One is not enough,” Cordova said. “Don’t wait for next year. There should be a big egg on the scoreboard.”

Free State’s defense shut out the Cougars after giving up an early second quarter touchdown.

Linebacker Darian Lewis added another interception in the second half. Andrew Keating also caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tye Carter to push the score to 30-6.

Free State’s junior varsity record moved to 2-0.

Dowedell: Two rushing touchdowns

Keating: One receiving touchdown

Murray: One receiving touchdown

Lawrence Free State takes on Shawnee Mission Northwest: JV Football

Lawrence Free State takes on Shawnee Mission Northwest: JV high school football

SMNW gets its first and only big play of the day.

Tye Carter battles to complete a touchdown pass to Blake Murray.

Free State defense holds with an interception right before halftime.

Inside Free State’s halftime huddle.

Halftime update with Coach Cordova.

Kalim Dowedell punches it in from 1 yard out.

End of 3rd quarter update.

Post game with Coach Cordova.

Post game with Andrew Keating

Inside the Broadcast with Farzin Vousoughian and Jackson Long

After senior Farzin Vousoughian and junior Jackson Long attended Tuesday’s weekly press conference with Kansas coach Charlie Weis, along with media availability with defensive coordinator Dave Campo and selected players, they spent three days forming their game notes.

Vousoughian and Long were set to call the game between Kansas and South Dakota on KJHK. Their interviews were complete, research was done, notes were printed and the equipment was in the Jeep. All that’s left is for the aspiring sportscasters is to arrive safe and sound – and very early – and set up the equipment. The rest is up to the on-air talent to deliver a good call.

Vousoughian, who called several Jayhawks athletic events on KJHK last year, knows what it’s like to put on a headset live at the stadium. But for Long, it was his first time calling a game for KJHK.

Despite being new to the challenge, Long was confident going into the game after gathering lots of knowledge about the two teams.

In this timeline, Vousoughian and Long will take you through their day, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the give you an inside look, from pregame, to the game itself and postgame.

*          *          *

3:05 p.m. – Farzin and Jackson pick up sideline reporter Dylan and producer Ricky from their apartments in south Lawrence. The KJHK bus has left the station.

3:20 p.m. – The crew heads to the stadium where Farzin drops the equipment off with them. The KJHK parking pass is at the Union: Farzin would regret this.

3:30 p.m. – Security checks the equipment bags as we walk in. Each member has broadcast equipment, as well as personal notes for the game.

3:40 p.m. – Surprise! The crew finds its suite in an air-conditioned room on the 9th floor. This is a nice break from the 98-degree heat outside.

3:50 p.m. – The crew starts setting up. Farzin arrives, sweating like a J-school major in a calculus class. He definitely took one for the team walking from the Union.

4:00 p.m. – More cables and cables and cables.

4:20 p.m. – We miss our 4:30 pregame show hit. KHJK Sports Director Kerry Gains is doing the pregame show back at the Union, but we are unable to be ready for him to come to us live. Why? Because of cables, cables, and more cables.

EDITORS NOTE: If you haven’t been able to tell by now, setting up the board and communications systems is no easy task. What seems like millions of feet of cords and wires, all required to be in correct position, are doing their best to curb our excitement for opening kick off.

4:30 p.m. – Bob Newton, KJHK’s radio technician, comes in to save the day. Simple fix. We had buzzing from a switched on telephone line that we weren’t using. So while we were mildly upset, we had it right!

4:35 p.m. – With the real struggle behind us, the crew heads down for pregame grub. One of the best perks of being media in Farzin and Jackson’s experiences.

4:45 p.m. – It looks like a family meal. Four members of the KJHK crew sitting around the table eating catered pasta and breadsticks. Not bad for financially challenged college kids.

4:55 p.m. – Ricky notices that the Oregon Ducks have scored 28 points since we’ve been in the press box.

5:00 p.m. – The crew clears their plates and it’s on to study materials. The press box does an excellent job of providing media members with stats and team information.

5:30 p.m. – Farzin and Jackson are back up in the box to make a quick teaser for the broadcast. Kerry Gains sends it down to the stadium from the Union pre-game show. Farzin and Jackson hit the topics of quarterback play, an improved defense as well as an influx of junior college talent.

5:45 p.m. – Farzin sends the call back to the station until kickoff. Once off air, he tells the produced to bring it back for good at the 5:55 p.m. mark.

5:55pm: Farzin and Jackson take over the broadcast. Jackson runs the color, which analyses the play on the field. Farzin is play x play, which describes the action on the field as it unfolds.

6:05 p.m. – Farzin gets the call as the Kansas Jayhawk kick off the 2013 season.

1st Quarter: 2:18 – South Dakota gets on the board first. Farzin’s first touchdown call of the season goes to the wrong team. Jayhawks are down 7 points.

2nd Quarter: 14:28 – The first Jayhawk touchdown of the season! Farzin on the call as James Sims takes it 1 yard in for the touchdown. Jackson describes the play as a great choice to utilize Kansas’ excellent outside blocking.

2nd Quarter: 9:45 – Big defense linemen Keon Stowers picks off a pass and takes it to the house. Farzin and Jackson go crazy! But there is a penalty on the play. Producer Ricky turns up the ref’s mic volume and we hear the call. It’s a holding to bring the touchdown back AND unsportsmanlike celebrating the faux touchdown.
EDITORS NOTE: For you Chiefs fans, this is very similar to this moment last year against the Steelers.

2nd Quarter: 3:25 – Farzin sends it down to Dylan on the sidelines who describes James Sims’ fumble deep in South Dakota territory.

2nd Quarter: 1:28 – A KU wide receiver catches a touchdown pass for the first time since October of 2011. Farzin’s pregame research gave him that nugget to share with the radio audience. 14-7 Jayhawks lead.

Halftime: Farzin sends the call to the Union for the halftime show. The team takes breaks and Jackson and Farzin switch. Jackson will do play x play for the 2nd half and Farzin will do color commentary.

3rd Quarter: 13:29 – Jackson gets his first exciting call on KJHK when James Sims takes it in for another KU touchdown. Farzin describes the zone blocking from the offensive line that made the play possible.


4th Quarter: 14:32 – Connor Embree makes another great punt return. Jackson sends it down to the sideline reporter for more insight on the play.

4th Quarter: 7:36 – Jackson sends the call to a commercial break when he sees the timing official on the field. The official wears a bright orange sleeve to notify when broadcasts should go to break or stay on air.

4th Quarter: 7:35 – Still off air, Farzin and Jackson talk about how it’d be nice to have a porta potty in the box because of the amount of water each drinks during the broadcast.

4th Quarter: 0:05 – KU runs out the clock on South Dakota. Jackson wraps up the call and thanks Farzin and the crew for a great broadcast.

9:10 p.m. – With a crowd of 41,920 in attendance, the Jayhawks are victorious, 31-14. The Hawks are 1-0 on the season.

9:15 p.m. – Jackson calls it goodnight for the broadcast, and sends it back to the Union for the KJHK post-game show.

9:25 p.m. – Charlie Weis’ press conference begins. He is noticeably relaxed after his first win in over a calendar year.

9:35 p.m. – Jackson asks why KU linebacker and captain Ben Heeney spent time on the bench during the third quarter. Weis’ lets the room know it was strictly for cramps.

9:45 p.m. – Farzin asks Weis how the team gelled with so many new recruits and transfers in the two-deep depth chart. Weis says the ceiling is much higher for the team.

10:00 p.m. – The crew leaves the press conference room. Farzin takes another one for the team and walks to the Union to grab the car. The other three members head up to pack the mess of cables still in the press box.

10:25 p.m. – Take down is always much easier than set up. Dylan, Ricky and Jackson box up the equipment quickly, and head down the elevator where Farzin is waiting like a taxi driver.

10:30 p.m. – The equipment has to go somewhere. The crew drives over to KJHK’s office on the third floor of the Union and drops it off.

10:45 p.m. – At the end of a long night, Farzin drops off each crewmember like he is the babysitter. The gang is all home by 11 p.m., just in time to do nothing on a Saturday night.

Free State takes strong first step in new season

Lawrence Free State’s defense flew around the field making big plays Friday night. The Firebirds drubbed Shawnee Mission North 47-7 in the season opener behind five first half turnovers.

North’s offense struggled all night as a fast and physical Free State defense took advantage of the Indians’ young quarterbacks. The Firebirds kept North from crossing midfield until the 11:30 mark of the 4th quarter.

Firebird linebacker Blake Winslow caused problems all night leading the blitzing defense with a fumble recovery, 5 tackles and 3 sacks.

“Once you can get the snap count down you can get a big jump,” Winslow said. “You get a jump on that tackle and you are home free.”

Winslow also added a receiving touchdown to put Free State up 14-0 less than three minutes into the game.

North’s second errant punt snap of the night led to another score from running back Stan Skwarlo. Joe Dineen, who is heading to KU next year to play safety, found Keith Loneker down the seam for a 27 yard strike to cap the 1st quarter at 28-0.

The rout was on for the Firebirds. But Free State head coach Bob Lisher was focused on his team getting better.

“We want to see where we execute, see where we don’t,” Lisher said. “We want to continue to get better. We want to continue those things we should be doing.

“I’m not sure we did all that tonight. But it’s the first time out and sometimes it’s hard to maintain your intensity when you’re up 47-zip but you still have to play and play hard, regardless of the score.”

The first team played just one series in the second half.

The Firebirds are coming off a 10-2 season in which they lost to eventual champion Shawnee Mission West in the state semi-finals. Starting on the right foot was important to guiding this new team back to high expectations.

“We definitely wanted to prove a point tonight,” Winslow said. “We’ve carried that loss around with us all year long. We wanted to come out here and get hot and get some momentum.”

Free State is ranked fourth in Kansas’ class 6a, according to kpreps.com. Defending champion West is second behind Derby. Free State will head to Shawnee Mission Northwest next week.

Stats:
Dineen: Passing – 6-9, 73 yards 2td. Rushing – 65 yards, 1td.
Winslow: 5 tackles, fumble recovery, 3 sacks. Receiving – 1td.
Loneker: 2 sacks, fumble return td. Receiving – 1td.
Skwarlo: Rushing – 48 yards, 2td.