Sensible Lineups? No Such Thing...
Growing up, I never really had a taste for or a desire to listen to any kind of music. I knew that bands like Matchbox 20, The Goo Goo Dolls, Bush, and Green Day existed, but unlike the rest of the kids I was in school with, I don’t think I listened to any band’s CD until I was in 8th grade. Looking back on it, I guess my excuse is that I simply never had a connection with any of those bands or the types of songs they wrote. Despite being a pretty good trumpet player from 1997 to 2003 and experiencing an increased level of interest in music during my first two years of high school, I still hadn’t found that one artist (or even that one song) with such a captivating sound, it made me drop whatever I was doing and really listen.
Then in August of 2001, I heard John Mayer’s No Such Thing on the radio, and I was instantly hooked. Sure, I had absolutely no idea at the time that the song was called No Such Thing or that it was written and performed a guy named John Mayer, but I knew I wanted to find that information as soon as possible. After all, popular/rock music finally made sense to me, and I wasn’t about to let it go. A short while after, I headed out, bought Room For Squares, Mayer was well on his way to becoming the Official Musician of KRB.
Quite simply, Mayer just worked for me. I understood where he was coming from. Not only did the sound of the music work – and sound is the most important aspect for me – but the lyrics made tons of sense as well. I completely related to the words in most of the songs on Squares, but No Such, Why Georgia, My Stupid Mouth – the first three tracks on the album – especially stood out. Listening to those was (and still is) therapeutic, like hearing my own daily thoughts in song form.
Fast-forwarding to the present, Mayer’s made a 180-degree turn by forming the John Mayer Trio and releasing Try!, the group’s first CD. Despite changing his music from quiet rock to more of a blues and old school rock sound and altering his appearance to fit the new genre, the connection I have with his work is continuing. A lot of that connection has to do with the fact he can play the hell out of a guitar, but once again, the music itself – Who Did You Think I Was and Try specifically – perfectly describes how hard I try to be completely different from everybody else in my daily life.
So for all those years, maybe I was just searching for an artist who seemed to understand where I was coming from. I’m thankful I found that artist, because through his songwriting, Mayer’s helped me find answers in this still verdictless life.
With that said, here are a few Royals notes, what you really came here for...
I realize that countries without any real baseball history like Italy and the Netherlands have to stretch a ways to fill their rosters, but seriously, what's really the point of their participation or even the tournament itself if players are taking the field for countries they've probably never visited? Here's an idea: have those born in America play for America, those born in Canada play for Canada, and so forth. That, or just ditch the thing altogether.
I'm voting for the latter.
"He's done it before, he understands situations," Bell said. "He doesn't freak out."
It's amazing how something as simple as understanding how a lineup works has been twisted over the years. I've said this before, and I'm probably going to be saying it many times again as we head towards Opening Day: The point of a lineup is not to set up innings, and each spot in the order most definitely does not have its own responsibilities. In other words, the leadoff guy can be slow on the basepaths, the second hitter in the order does not have to be a good bunter, the third isn't required to be the team's best hitter, and the fourth shouldn't always be the team's "best RBI guy."
Ultimately, the only time the order matters as far as situations go is in the first inning when your team starts at the top. And since nobody should EVER lay down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning, it shouldn't even matter then. A team will have all sorts of slot combinations due up in subsequent innings, leaving us with a lineup's main objective: to get the best hitters the most plate appearances, thereby maximizing any team's chances of scoring runs.
How is that so complicated? Most people understand that a team's very worst hitters should hit at the bottom of the order, so why don't they understand that a team's very best should hit at the top? Bizarre.
If the Royals really wanted to break new ground and, more importantly, win more games, they'd hit DeJesus leadoff, Mike Sweeney second, Reggie Sanders third, and so on until they got to the out machines in the bottom third. Unfortunately, the man in charge in KC is just like the other 29 managers in MLB, who all probably think that "understand[ing] situations" is the most important trait for all second hitters to have.
Hitting talent? What's that?