A Primer on the Rules of Cricket, Pt. 3
(In honor of the Cricket World Cup which is apparently happening. You're probably watching. See the long ago Parts 1 and 2 here.)
21. Weather determined by a canvassing of the nobles to be inclement shall result in a fortnight's delay during which time each player shall be afforded one loaf of pudding and one hot water bottle per diem.
22. This delay shall be called by the home team a "Jammy" and the away team a "Gulliver." The groundlings need not speak of it at all.
23. Should it ever be determined who told the Australians about the game, play shall be cancelled until such time as a large pike might be acquired. Any curious Queenslanders shall be told some pishposh about it being the DARKENING INNING though, of course, the DARKENING INNING happens only in Lunius. Should it actually be the DARKENING INNING, any Queenslander with sense will be in his hovel.
24. A dropped catch is called a "Ninny."
25. Given an errant bowl, the runner is allowed to advance a number of wickets equal to but not exceeding his proximity from the
King Queen determined by The Boy counting off every odd numbered pace until he reaches the Monarch. His bow shall not count as a pace though his failure to properly address the Monarch shall result in an immediate re-counting of the pace, this time on the even footfall.
26. In the event a match exceeds a yeoman's working week, four dullards from each team's county shall be found, greased, and set upon the pitch until such time as one hath vanquished his foes and shall, individually, be declared the winner and rewarded with a generous estate in one of the colonies or a geographically commiserate amount of tea.
27. The Prime Minister shall not be invited except at the discretion of the magistrate who can take, in exchange for the invitation, one night with the Prime Minister's
wife spouse after the State's next masque.
28. A successful catch is called a "Ninny."
29. The digging of a trench for the purposes of tripping the elephant is, henceforth, ruled bad sportsmanship and the offending shovelman shall be repositioned atop the parapet until such time as a passing knight errant honors his dropped kerchief. He shall be given 6 kerchiefs or 4 if the beast dies.
30. Gambling is strictly prohibited for amounts larger than 18 guineas, 5 pence, 49 marbles, 2 obs, and a finger's balcots.
A Primer on the Rules of Cricket, Pt. 3
* The indispensable NewPages blogged about The Cupboard (and our contest) here. Very grateful for the coverage from a source we (and everyone else) use all the time.
* O, yeah, thanks for asking: we are having a contest. Tell your friends, please. Only 10 days left.
* Speaking of us, Dave's book got a great review from Publisher's Weekly here and em's taken a tenure-track job here. Go Anchormen!
(Serious question: that's an awesome mascot, but what do they call the women's teams? Are they the Anchorwomen? Is it too much to hope they're the RI College Lady Anchormen?)
* While D and e were accomplishing things, I was making a snarky joke at one noted MFA program ranker's expense here mostly to see what would happen. Um, results as expected.
* Seriously though, Glenn's tournament thing is really fun. Read his blog.
* I've always appreciated how Jeff Tweedy buys unlit cigarettes. I bet Lou Reed doesn't.
Look. This is happening. I'm sorry.
So, in summary, here's what the Royals did this off-season: traded away their best player for a package of prospects somewhere between underwhelming and whelming, mostly stayed away from the free agent market except for one smart signing, and fully committed to the youth movement they'd only been sort of casually seeing for the last half decade. Basically, the Royals are that guy who suddenly realized they're middle aged and living in a terrible town and that the options available to them aren't as grand as they might have been the day after their high school graduation. So he finally sold his expensive but aging Corvette, stopped spending his paychecks on electric guitars he could only use to play "Enter Sandman" on, and used the saved money to replace his beleaguered girlfriend's promise ring with a diamond engagement ring.
These are good things. These are always good things.
That it should have happened a decade ago is beside the point. Here's what matters: the Royals, like this guy, finally get it. They don't have all the options, and, even better to know, they might finally realize that nobody does. That fallacy destroys teams--and people--by making them think their job is to find the correct choice rather than the best choice. There is no correct choice and, at least in the Royals case, if there is one, somebody else is going to get there first. So the Royals, needing an outfield bat, would make their offer to Torii Hunter or whomever, get rejected, and then spend $36 million dollars on Jose Guillen because he was next on the list (it's also probably important to note here the Royals suck at making lists). They sought the correct thing rather than the best thing--which in this case would have really been anything other than giving that much money to a washed up, HGH using headcase--and they did it because they cared to much about perceptions. Without a plan (or confidence or the ability to, you know, win baseball games) the Royals could only win media battles. This seemed like the correct thing, to be able to say, "Well, sure, we overpaid, but now you guys can't say we're not serious about competing."
It took 10 years for someone to finally realize that a team serious about competing would, well, compete, that the Royals don't have all the choices, they only have theirs, that of the choices they do have some are better than others but none can be called correct unless they lead to the World Series, that being called correct doesn't matter anyway, that only wins matter.
This last bit--the seeking of approval from outside sources who are at best disinterested and at worst openly hostile to a small, incompetent team--still worries me a little. You see, the Royals have the best farm system in baseball. They may have the best farm system since people started keeping track of these things. Everyone thinks so and rightfully the Royals are proud of this fact, a little too proud maybe. A smart organization wouldn't care or would only care insomuch as they make it their goal to be #1 year after year. The Royals...well...we'll see.
To see the danger here, one need only look at the Royals epic Gil Meche signing. Let's chart the conventional wisdom here:
2006 - The signing - "The Royals are stupid."
2007 - Meche is good - "The Royals are okay."
2008 - Meche is better - "The Royals are brilliant."
2009 - Meche's arm falls off - "The Royals are unlucky."
2010 - Meche's arm fails to reattach - "The Royals are stupid again."
2011 - Meche shockingly retires - "The Royals are lucky."
And here's the thing: it's all true yet none of it matters. The Meche contract was both brilliant (they really did "fix" him and turn him into the player they paid for) and stupid (he was never going to single-handedly put them into contention). It was, in the end, a big waste of time and money and attention yet the Royals chose to ride this wave of perception rather than simply focus on winning games. They were defensive then geniuses then, I guess, they were just Odysseus getting blown around the Mediterranean by fate. They wanted to be seen as having made the correct decision when really they should have made a decision, lived with the consequences, and then tried to continuing making decisions in service of a coherent plan.
Now these prospects again have the Royals feeling like geniuses and taking thinly veiled shots at anyone who ever doubted "the Process." But prospects fail or get injured or maybe, even with the abundance of talent in the system, there's still just not enough there to turn the franchise into a winner. Who knows what will happen. I also know this: at least at the moment, the Royals are doing it right. The question now is if they keep doing it right or if they again find themselves competing over perceptions when they should be competing on the field.
Can they do it? I don't know. It's so easy for a team to get fixated on what they should do or would do or are supposed to do rather than what they can do. Nothing has likely changed about their reliance on old timey baseball wisdom that might as well chalk everything up to magic (or "grit") and I wish they'd go about their business with a little more of a yeoman's humility rather than a scared child's tendency to plead for attention then lash out when it's negative. Still, despite some considerable apprehensions, it's a wonderful time to be a Royals fan.
Just a quick top 10 done with no scouting knowledge at all.
1. Eric Hosmer - Not even my favorite player, really, but do guys like this ever miss?
2. Mike Moustakas - I do worry about the strikeouts and the (lack of) walks.
3. Wil Myers - Part of me still wishes they would have kept him at catcher.
4. Mike Montgomery - If he's healthy, he's nearly unstoppable.
5. Danny Duffy - Threw a 59 MPH curve in a game the other day.
6. John Lamb - O, why not. Great stuff, great makeup.
7. Christian Colon - Everyone says he'll be solid like it's a bad thing.
8. Jake Odorizzi - Curious about how slowly he's moved though.
9. Brett Eibner - Could be a poor man's Sizemore. Or he could never hit.
10. Cheslor Cuthbert - A lifetime away but sounds great.
C - The less said about this position the better. You always hate to root against a guy getting healthy, but at my darkest moments I do wish Jason Kendall's surgery would have been performed at the Cleveland Institute for Staph Infections.
1B/DH - Kila Ka'aihue and Billy Butler will switch off between the two. Nothing may be more indicative of the Royals finally getting it than the fact that Kila is not only in their plans, but that they seem set on giving him a full year. The old Royals would have fed him to the Sarlacc after his first 0-4 then started the Sarlacc for the rest of the year even though everyone knows Sarlacci can't hit lefties and never walk. Or something.
O, and Billy Butler is good. I see 30 HR this year. I do.
2B - Chris Getz. I really just don't care about him at all. He's sort of like that student who I forget is in my class until I have to give his paper a D. Here's a sign the Royals don't get it: Getz's name is sometimes mentioned as a possible leadoff bat because he's vaguely fast. Let me save you the trouble of looking it up: his career OBP is .315.
SS - Alcides Escobar. I can't help it, I like this guy even though he hasn't played a game for the Royals yet. I'm a sucker for toolsy prospects and if we'd gotten this guy for Greinke a year ago, everyone would have been thrilled. Plus, his name sounds like he borrowed it from Scarface. I'm on board.
3B - Mike Aviles. He's good. Wilson Betemit is a nice bat of the bench, too. Yeah, this will work out just fine. Plus, look for Mike Moustakas to step up at some point and move Aviles over to 2B after Alcides "White Knife" Escobar takes Chris Getz for a walk in the Everglades.
LF - Alex Gordon. God, I have thoughts. Here's what I've been saying about Gordon recently: he's either going to shock people or fall apart completely. And this is the season. I don't think he's going to be just average. There's too much talent and too much that says his problems are mental. I think he either becomes a .280/.370/.500 guy or is somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with Eric Crouch next year. And, frankly, I still think he's going to put it together. Yes, I know this is stupid, but I don't care. He's the one player on the Royals who knows how to take a walk, the power is real, and those two things usually lead to success.
CF - Lorenzo Cain! He's my new favorite Royal. I don't even know if he's good, but between him and Alcides "Blow Back" Escobar, the Royals won the name side of the Greinke trade. And, yeah, I think he's a little good, too. Another toolsy player with some important skills (defense, speed, solid onbase), I think he's going to be a key part of the Royals future. Unfortunately, that future likely starts in July after Melky Cabrera eats his way to the bench.
RF - Sigh.
SP #1 - Luke Hochevar is best known for looking vaguely like my Royals buddy Anders, but occasionally he's a solid pitcher. It's not Luke's fault--I think he'll have a good year--but every time I think this Royals team might be better than people are talking about, I remember that he's going to be the opening day starter. No offense to this rotation, but, um, there are holes. Luke is a fine #4 and I think he'll turn into a solid #3. If he's your opening day starter, however, it means your #5 is going to be some donut like Sean O'Sullivan.
SP #2 - Jeff Francis. This is the smart free agent signing. Really no downside here and, in fact, a whole lot of upside. It does make me wonder why the Royals weren't making signings like this before. Or was Brett Tomko this signing and we're all just pretending otherwise? Best to move on, probably.
SP #3 - Bruce Chen. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bruce Chen is the best Chinese-Panamanian pitcher in the game.
SP #4 - Vin Mazzaro. Hey, any time you can deal your 2nd best position player for a guy who can't beat out noted donut Sean O'Sullivan for a roster spot, you've got to do it. Seriously, there's a strange silence in Royalsland over the David DeJesus trade. Yeah, they had to trade him. It made sense. But this trade? Making less sense by the day as it becomes clear Vin Mazzaro isn't very good and no one ever thought he was. You can sign guys like this everywhere. Why trade for one? Seriously, it's like the Royals answered a Craigslist ad from someone who wanted a new car stereo and offered to trade next Tuesday. Enjoy driving around blaring OMG, Billy!
Royalsland, incidentally, is Scandinavia's worst country though features a strangely compelling ride at Epcot.
SP #5 - I did some looking into this, and the Royals aren't going to need a fifth starter until mid-April 2013.
Fine, if you must know, it's (Hiram) Kyle Davies or proto-cruller Sean O'Sullivan.
The best part about detailing out the rotation is that at various points I realized I was probably getting the numbers wrong, but it honestly doesn't matter. It'll go Hoch, Francis, and then the next three spots can be filled in any order by any of those pitchers. And don't worry, that will happen. It's like a game of musical chairs at the vertigo ward.
(How are my similes doing today? Feeling a little off).
Bullpen - Here we go. I like the bullpen this year no matter how it shakes out. Say what you will about the rest of the Royals prospects, but they've got a wealth of young, cheap, and intriguing arms for the bullpen. Sure, it's the least important place to have prospects, but it does make it fun. In particular, I'm excited to see Tim Collins who is shorter than your sister but throws in the mid to upper 90s as a lefty. Your sister can't do that.
One bit of sadness here: Joakim Soria no longer wants to be called the Mexicutioner due to the ongoing drug violence in Mexico. I completely understand this, of course, but it's the end of a glorious era.
(Brief aside on people who want to trade Soria: I get it. Maybe they should. Hell, if they did it for that Montero package, I might even be excited about it. But keep in mind the correct vs. best choice thing again. Stats give us the illusion of thinking we know the correct choice, but it doesn't excuse the reality of the situation which is that of the limited options available to the Royals, the best one likely involves some continuity. The Royals can build a winner by trading Soria, sure. They can build one without trading him, too. There's not one correct way, and, in this particular case, I'm unconvinced trading Soria makes winning easier).
1. Minnesota - The window is closing, I think, but they can win it one more year.
2. Detroit - Miguel Cabrera can do all that drunk?
3. Chicago - Because someone has to be third.
4. Kansas City - Despite that rotation, I think there's some talent on this team and quite a bit of flexibility to either move parts and/or bring up prospects after the All-Star break.
5. Cleveland - Or they could end up 4th or cease to be. It doesn't really matter.
So here's how I see it playing out: a middling first couple of months and a lot of games where the starters don't make it to the 6th inning. Still, a sense of optimism as the minors continue to produce (though not at last year's level) and Moustakas eventually joins the major league club. Already well out of contention by the break, a few other guys (Crow and Duffy?) get looks before September and maybe a few more guys come up around the trade deadline as the few remaining veterans get shipped out.
Breakout performers: Butler, Gordon
Beats expectations: "No Pablo" Escobar, Hoch, and, sigh, Francouer (granted, expectations are so low they are currently recording an album of graceful indie rock songs)
Regresses: Betemit, Chen
Gets traded: Melky, Francouer, Francis
Comes back way too early: Jason Kendall
Proves to be bad: Getz, O'Sullivan, Mazzaro, Kendall
Remains a mystery: Davies, Kila and, to a degree, Aviles
Never gets a chance: Maier, Dyson, Blanco
And there we have it, 2.5k words on the Royals. Really, all you need to know is that the real test will be whether or not General Manager Dayton Moore can avoid screwing the roster (or the payroll) up, whether Ned Yost can prove worthy of managing into the team's rosy future, and whether the kids continue to climb the organizational ladder toward the majors. Sooner or later decisions are going to have to be made about which prospects to keep or trade and how to build the roster around them, but for now, at least, Royals fans are drowning in hope rather than tears.
Seriously though, Lorenzo Cain! He sounds like a guy who beat up a train!
* So I've got a Sire Line up at Everyday Genius right here. You should do what I do and have EG in your Google Reader. You will not be disappointed.
* That Sire Line is mostly notable for being the first one in the series. There are now 50. I have no idea how that project went from something inspired by a picture in Dave's bathroom to that .jpg I created at work (sorry, Mark!) to this terrible, long ridiculous thing.
* I'll write more about both of these bookish soonish, I'm sure, but last week I read Mat Johnson's Pym and received Ryan Call's The Weather Stations which I'm going to start today-ish. You're going to want them both. Trust me.
* The Cupboard is still having a contest. Tell your friends, submit, etc. The deadline is March 31st.
(Look, I've been sick and grading and writing and watching Castle. No excuses. In return for you not saying anything, I thought I'd offer you this picture of Thesis Defense. It's funnier than anything else I could think of. Also, I plan on writing a Royals preview this weekend so look out for that).
Yes, we made our own t-shirt uniforms. No, no other teams have these. Yes, I put mine on a pillow and hug it while falling asleep.
Other things of interest:
* The font is Futura Bold. We spend a lot of time telling people that.
* My number is 4. Alex Gordon's number. Like Alex, I've spent the spring working on my game in the hopes of turning my career around. Unlike Alex, I'm not actually going to do it.
* I cropped off my legs though you can get a general sense of their color by looking at the white on my shorts. Those aren't stripes, those are view strips.
* Or maybe you don't know which one I am. In that case, assume I'm the one who looks like Running Scared-era Billy Crystal.
* Yes, I'm drinking a Guinness. I don't know what it is about strenuous activity, but all I want to do afterward--once the vertigo has slowed--is drink the thickest beer I can find. Usually it's a Boddington's.
* You'd think this would cause me to realize that there aren't any good British basketball players and that this might be a sign, but no, it does not make me realize that.
* It does make me hum "Live Forever" and want to smoke, however.
* We've got a week off for spring break and playoffs start Tuesday night. Between now and then I'm going to work on my shot and font selection.
Thesis Defense vs. the Refs
(Our team had gotten some low sportsmanship scores from the referees of our last couple of games and so we were in danger of being held out of the playoffs for being jerks. Apparently some players argued a call or two. Not me. If the refs even look at me, I feel chagrined and immediately want to hand the other team the ball. Thankfully, I never have the ball so this doesn't really hold us back).
50 some hugs we gave the other team, the refs, random passersby
Condescending the level of nice we achieved by the end of the game
1 shot attempt during warmups where I missed the hoop
1 girls that shot attempt hit in the stands
0 points scored on me due to my stifling defense
7 players we had which made it much, much better
40 seconds left when the game was mercy ruled
35 seconds of running I had left in me when this happened
More than 85 utterances of good game
5 fans in attendance
Reclined my demeanor on the bench according to fans
18 the number of the player who said he was going to guard me
0 the number of minutes this player spent guarding me after he put it together that I wasn't going to shoot, move, or generally try to do anything other than rest when our team was on offense
Thesis Defense is 4-0 and, assuming our performative fawning didn't upset the refs, on our way to the playoffs.
Migraines never actually hurt. If you have something that hurts, it isn't a migraine. It's something else. Probably the terror measles. I'm very sorry for your family's upcoming loss.
You're only having a migraine if you're experiencing the following:
* A phenomenal deal at Papa Johns
* A reluctance to admit you're watching Castle
* Poprocks tongue
* A sudden and profound appreciation for those cookies they serve with coffee on airplanes
* Hand tremors
* Also, Tremor tremors
* A greater than normal avoidance for grading papers
* The ol' jimmy ghost
* Some terrible story you wrote that's about a columbarium
* The sensation of having recently learned the word columbarium
* Owls, everywhere, owls
Bully / Bullied
James Scott by Ryan Call
1 tape-bound volume
Book Design by William Todd Seabrook
Cover Design by Beth Sullivan
Cover Photos by Steve May
$15/year subscription, $5/individual
Bully/Bullied by James Scott and Ryan Call is now available from The Cupboard. Two stories, one story.
*ABOUT THE VOLUME*
One tough kid and another tough kid and two stories, told side-by-side, about what it is we might want from one another, how it feels to just be left alone. Nick Gradowski is a bully. Jeremy Haskins is bullied. Tanya Wheatley is tough as shit. The Winter Carnival is a bright beacon, a place for handjobs and blue polar bears. If there are two sides to every story, Bully / Bullied wants to find a third, a fourth, a way out from our actions and their consequences.
Read excerpts here.
*ABOUT THE AUTHORS*
James Scott's fiction has been published in One Story, American Short Fiction, Quick Fiction and other journals, and is forthcoming in Post Road. His work has been nominated for the Best New American Voices Anthology and the Pushcart Prize and anthologized by flatmancrooked. He has received awards to Yaddo, the Millay Colony, the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the New York State Summer Writers' Institute. Currently, James writes for the music magazine Under the Radar and teaches workshops at Grub Street.
Ryan Call's stories appear in Caketrain, New York Tyrant, Mid-American Review, The Collagist, and elsewhere. He and his wife live in Houston.
The Cupboard mails 4 volumes per year at a cost of $15. Subscribe here.
Individual volumes, including past volumes from Mathias Svalina, Caia Hagel, Michael Stewart, Joshua Cohen, Amanda Goldblatt, and Andrew Borgstrom are available for $5.
The Cupboard’s First Contest!
Reading Feb 1 - March 31
Prize: $500 & publication
Judge: Michael Martone
The Cupboard is holding its first-ever contest. The winning author will receive $500 and the manuscript will be published as an upcoming volume. We're looking for prose submissions between 4k and 10k words. In the past, we've published short stories, essays, collections of flash fiction and prose poems, and combinations thereof. Send us your best work. Submissions are received and read anonymously, and all submissions are eligible for regular publication.
To submit, go to: http://www.thecupboardpamphlet.org/submit.html
Also, contest submitters are eligible for a discounted subscription to The Cupboard.
Subscribers are still welcome to submit at any time. We will also be holding an open submission period this May.
*OUR NEXT VOLUME*
The Buff by Anne Marie Rooney will be the next volume of The Cupboard. Look for it this spring.