August 10, 2014
Has anyone noticed that the Kansas City Royals are on a seven-game winning streak, putting them just a half game behind the Tigers in the AL Central race? They swept both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants, as the visiting team in both series. Now they face a four-game series (at home) against the Oakland A's, who have the best record in the majors. Last weekend in Oakland, the Royals won two out of three games, so who's to say they can't keep it up?
* That was the title of a song recorded by The Beatles in 1964, which they in fact played in Kansas City that same year. It's one of those twangy, rockabilly tunes with lots of seventh chords, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
The game I saw at Kauffman Stadium on July 25 was plenty exciting (Royals 6, Indians 4), and the closeup view I had made it even better. For some purposes, a photograph from field level is more useful than a standard elevated view. So, I just had to take a closer look at my diagrams, and sure enough I found a few minor flaws. For one thing, I realized for the first time that there are additional entry portals midway down the lower deck not far from the foul poles. In the corrected version, the lateral aisle in the lower deck is about five feet toward the rear. The handicapped seating platforms are now rendered more accurately, and the profile has been tweaked as well. Finally, there is a new "transparent roof" version diagram, showing the entry portals in the upper deck more clearly.
But wait, there's more! The last time I was in Kansas City (August 2011) I couldn't find the old Municipal Stadium historical marker, and I wasn't even 100% sure about the site because the neighborhood had been totally rebuilt and I didn't recognize it. This time I found the marker right away, and learned about the neighborhood redevelopment plan called "Monarch Manor" that apparently caused the marker to be temporarily put away for a while. (See kcmo.gov.) So, once again, I checked my diagrams on the K.C. Municipal Stadium page, and made a few corrections. In the new and improved version, the roof extends ten feet forward from where it used to, and the upper deck extends five feet forward.
At the southeast corner of Monarch Manor is brand-new Monarch Plaza, a nicely landscaped area that is a vast improvement compared to the simple sign and bench that was there before. It features tributes to Satchel Paige (A's 1965), Buck O'Neill (Monarchs 1938-1943 and 1946-1955, with three years of military service during World War II), John Wyatt (A's 1961-1966), Amos Otis (Royals 1970-1983). John Mayberry (Royals 1972-1977), as well as to three black Kansas City Chiefs football players.
I was curious about the big old brick school on the west side of that long-vacant plot of land, and learned that it is Lincoln Preparatory School, which was founded in 1865. See www.kcpublicschools.org.
Less than a mile from Monarch Plaza is the historic 18th & Vine District of Kansas City, and that's where the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located. It shares a beautiful new building with the American Jazz Museum. It is chock full of professional-quality graphical displays and relic mementos from the glory days of African-American baseball. I learned a lot about the personal hardships endured by the Black players in the days of segregation, and I also learned that the first-ever Negro World Series, in 1924, was played (in part) in Philadelphia's old Baker Bowl. (The Monarchs were "World Colored Champions.") Those who are curious about this vital aspect of baseball history should definitely take a look at www.nlbm.com. I added this photo to the Negro Leagues page:
For anyone who is planning a trip through Missouri and is considering a stop in Kansas City, here is an amusing lightning-fast "tour" of highlights in that fair city: youtube.com; hat tip to Dan Clem.
This weekend featured some rather extraordinary extra-inning games, some of which had big implications for the divisional races. In Anaheim on Saturday night, the Angels beat the Red Sox 5-4 in 19 innings, thanks to a home run by Albert Pujols. Both teams scored a single run in the 14th inning. In Atlanta, meanwhile, the Nationals beat the Braves 4-1 in 11 innings, thanks to a single by Wilson Ramos and then a double by Kevin Frandsen with the bases loaded. That brought the Nats' lead in the NL East back up to 4 1/2 games. Then today the Blue Jays beat the visiting Tigers 6-5 in 19 innings on an RBI single by Jose Bautista. Toronto tied it 5-5 with a run in the bottom of the ninth, and then neither team scored for the next nine innings! Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays) got three hits and five walks, becoming the first person to reach base eight times in one game since Rod Carew did so (against the Brewers) in 1972. Perhaps also worth mentioning is that the Cubs beat the Rays 3-2 in 12 innings today, on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo. (No relation to Nats' GM Mike Rizzo, as far as I know.) The Cubs barely avoided being swept at home.
Congratulations to Derek Jeter, who got his 3,431st career base hit on a soft ground ball to shortstop yesterday, passing Honus Wagner on the all-time hits list. See MLB.com. One almanac source I have says Wagner had 3,415 hits, and another source says 3,418. With only seven weeks left to go in his career, there is only a small chance that Jeter will surpass #5, Tris Speaker, who had 3,514 lifetime hits. Jeter's hit did not affect the game's outcome, as the visiting Cleveland Indians won, 3-0.
While looking up those records, I came across an interesting factoid: Asdrubal Cabrera (recently acquired by the Nationals from Cleveland) made an unassisted triple play on May 12, 2008 against the Toronto Blue Jays.