Major League Baseball

Keith Allison / Flickr - CC

As the Major League Baseball season enters the stretch run to fall, this is shaping up to be the summer of slam: Baseballs are flying out of the park at a record pace. But nowhere is this power surge more noticeable than right here in Kansas City. Commentator Victor Wishna explains, in this mid-season edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

The sound ... is unmistakable.

Crack. “High fly ball! Deep left field! Gone!”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City fans celebrated when the Royals won the 2015 World Series, but the team has struggled since then, especially this year. Management has started to make changes, and fans are losing their enthusiasm.

But there are still some hard-core fans holding out hope that they can make one more run at the playoffs before the complexion of the team changes even more.

Lynsey Addario

Your job might be challenging, but Lynsey Addario's is literally a battlefield. She's been injured, ambushed, and kidnapped while working as a photojournalist in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Today, we learn why the results motivate her to continue crafting stories out of conflict. Then, the life of a major league ace isn't all about 100 mile-per-hour fastballs ... or is it? We talk about the evolution of pitching with writer Terry McDermott.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Sports fans in Kansas City and beyond are generally a forward-thinking bunch — “There’s always next year,” goes the rallying cry. But what keeps fans coming back for more is a healthy sense of history and, as commentator Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes,” an occasional blast from the past. 

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The tragic death of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, and the visit of his teammates at his funeral in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, drew attention to the Caribbean nation. How did one small country come to have such an outsized connection to U.S. baseball?

Plus, you might believe in the apocalypse, but are you preparing for it? We hear from a few who are -- "preppers" with vastly different world views.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Royals are off to a rough start. But what can fans do about it? What should they do? Simply wait it out? Well … yeah. Sorta. Commentator Victor Wishna explains, in this April edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Saying Kauffman Stadium has been keeping busy would be an understatement.

From renovation projects, to exhibits honoring the late Yordano Ventura and even liquid nitrogen ice cream, we speak with staff from all corners of The K who have made the Royals' 2017 home opener an experience to remember.

But don't worry, we didn't forget about the game! We also analyze the team's strengths and weaknesses as we look at how our boys in blue may perform this season.

Joyce N. Boghosian / National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution / Flickr - CC

Scott Simon, journalist and longtime host of Weekend Edition Saturday, is known for his calm, civilized demeanor, but that attitude quickly changes when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. We speak with NPR's Saturday morning voice about his ties to the baseball team and how their thrilling 2016 World Series win drove him to write a book about his beloved Cubbies.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

In spring training, the Kansas City Royals hoped that Kyle Zimmer, their No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, would pitch for them in the big leagues sometime this season.

It won’t happen.

Zimmer, 24, will undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of nerves between the neck and the shoulder.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he wishes Zimmer experienced a smoother professional career.

Before a college ballplayer can make it to the Majors, they've got to prove to coaches, scouts, and most importantly themselves, that they have what it takes. The Clarinda A's baseball team, and the small Iowa town that hosts it, has the unlikely distinction of not just developing that kind of talent, but of fostering hard work, integrity and responsibility in the process.

Guest:

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: On the face of it, the 1983 Royals-Yankees insanity known as the Pine Tar Game is all about a technicality and a tantrum. But scratch beneath the surface and it's a Shakespearean-caliber drama with complex characters and a generations-long feud.

Guest:

Curve Ball

May 23, 2016
Greg Echlin / KCUR

A swanky new baseball facility in the 18th and Vine district, sponsored by Major League Baseball, raises big questions: Are black kids still playing baseball? Are sports a "way out" for youth? Will the coaches come from the surrounding neighborhood? And what about the kids?

Guests:

Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

Not content to let the "Boys in Blue" bask in their 2015 World Series glow, popular statistical analysis blog FiveThirtyEight says the Royals only have a four percent chance of winning the World Series this year.

The blog's new daily 2016 MLB predictions are a little more generous for the Royals' playoff and division leadership chances: 47 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

St. Thomas Aquinas

When Riley Pint uncorked a 102-mile-per-hour pitch in February he may not have known the exact velocity, but he knew it felt good. Baseball scouts and coaches, meanwhile, knew they wanted to see more of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School senior on the mound.

Pint says pitching professionally would suit him just fine. "It's something I strive for, to be there [in the MLB] one day," Pint said during a phone interview on KCUR's Up To Date, "It's just a little earlier than I expected, I guess."

As major league teams spend more and more money on pitchers, arm injury rates for the men — and boys — on the mound are becoming increasingly common.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR.89.3

In case you missed it, it's officially baseball season. As the Royals prepared to take the field Tuesday in their Opening Day game against the New York Mets, we checked in with the team that prepares the stadium for thousands of fans, and the early birds that arrived at the parking lot hours before the doors opened. 

If raising the World Series banner at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday wasn't enough, Tuesday's awarding of the Series rings was the just the excuse Up to Date was looking for for a trip to The K.  We take you behind the scenes as we talk with sportswriters, the team's official scorer, the man behind the public address system and just what it takes to secure that World Series trophy. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Royals have the core of their World Series championship team back from last year, and their minor league prospects are finding it a difficult task to make the team’s opening day roster.

They’ll make their final roster moves this week before opening the 2016 season Sunday night at Kauffman Stadium against the New York Mets.

Keith Allison / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re a professional baseball player, the last thing you want to hear is that you’re not running correctly.  But that’s what happened to one of the star players for the Kansas City Royals.

With spring training starting this month, outfielder Lorenzo Cain is still trying to adjust his running style.

That didn’t show in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Cain’s dash from all the way from first base to home on a single clinched the second straight American League pennant for the Kansas City Royals. 

Out of sync

Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

Alex Gordon has called Kansas City home for every season he's been in the MLB, and it looks like the 32-year-old may spend the rest of his career here.

Gordon, a four-time Gold Glove recipient, has signed to a four-year, $72 million contract with the Royals.

Gordon helped the Royals win the World Series in 2015 as a left fielder and with crucial at bats, including a solo home run that led to a 1-0 series lead versus the New York Mets.

A Fan's Notes: Ever After

Nov 13, 2015
Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Kansas City Royals claimed their first World Series title in 30 years. Yet the glory hasn’t faded, and fans like commentator Victor Wishna are proudly still basking in it—while also peeking toward the future. Here’s Victor with this championship edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

After that final moment that we’d anticipated for so long…

“Strike three called! It’s over! They’ve done it. The Royals are World Series champions!”

After it was over...

After the last strike, the final out…

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Few will argue against the notion that the Royals' recent run to a World Series title has been a good thing for Kansas City. The New York Times is lauding the metro's "resurgence" and newfound "swagger." Deadspin is fawning over the record-breaking turnout at Tuesday's victory parade. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Blue-clad and buzzing with 30 years' worth of pent up anticipation, Royals' fans began gathering in downtown Kansas City hours before the official start of Tuesday's World Series victory parade. 

Though they were here to cheer on the team that brought their city its first World Series title since the Reagan era, they also clearly drew a deeper meaning from the experience.

The Kansas City Royals became World Series champions last night and their hometown is buzzing with excitement. Up To Date retraces the team's incredible journey and hears from fans around the city.

Guests:

City of Kansas City

It's been a long 30 years since the Royals last earned the title "World Champions," but Sunday's 7-2 victory over the New York Mets has put Kansas City back in the winning mood.

To keep the good vibes flowing, the city has decided to hold a parade and celebration Tuesday to honor the boys in blue. Since it's been a generation since the last local World Series parade, we decided it might help to give Kansas Citians a quick primer on the ins and outs of the party.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Baseball is a notoriously superstitious sport for both players and fans. The superstition is so powerful that it has led two Royals fanatics to make a portable shrine to keep the boys in blue lucky during their battle for the World Series against the New York Mets.

Valdez Campos and Jon Watkins both love the Royals and they both work at Blvd. Tavern. One slow Sunday night at the bar, they got to thinking about how they could honor the team and create a good luck charm to see them through the Series.

Karen Eisenbraun / Twitter

If you've watched the World Series at all this year (and if you live in Kansas City there is a very good chance you have, according to FOX's TV ratings) then you know 'Fur Hat Lady.' She's this year's 'Marlins Man.' 

There she is, peeking over the shoulder of right-handed batters and boring her sunglass-gaze into your deeper conscious. 

 

Keith Allison / Flickr -- CC

Game 2 of the World Series is Wednesday night with the Kansas City Royals up one after winning, 5-4, Tuesday in 14 innings. The Royals say they have the pieces to go all the way against the New York Mets, and the biggest splash was the acquisition of pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds last July.

Though it was difficult for some Reds fans to say goodbye, Cueto’s up-and-down performances since then have left the Royals feeling blue.

Sam Zeff / / KCUR

I wouldn't make a good Royal. 

In Game 4 of the ALDS in Houston, after the Astros hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh to go up 6-2, facing near-certain elimination from the postseason, I gave up. Stopped watching. Walked out of the bar, swallowed the bitter bile gathering in my throat, looked up resentfully at blue sky and thought it might be a good time to rake some leaves.  

Bring on football season, I thought. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It's a cliche but it must have some truth because you hear it before every World Series: good pitching stops good hitting. Who Royals Manager Ned Yost was going to pitch in Game 1 Tuesday evening at Kauffman Stadium had a lot of people worried.

Would he go with Johnny Cueto, the mid-season pick up who got shelled in his last start against Toronto (he gave up eight runs in just two innings) or would Yost hand the ball to the veteran Edinson Volquez?

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