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Opening Day Countdown: 39 » mindahaas.net

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Feb 28

Opening Day Countdown: 39

Let’s see if I can come up with a post every day of the rest of the offseason. Today, there are 39 days left until Opening Day on April 6.

39 is the number of times Royals batters were hit by pitches in 2011. That was…not good. Only four teams got plunked fewer times – Minnesota, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. It may not particularly matter, as only four of the top ten teams in HBP made the playoffs.

Random: Remember that time that David DeJesus was plunked 23 times in a season? That was 2007, a year in which  Kansas City amassed a pretty impressive 89 HBP’s. Kind of crazy, but again, ultimately meaningless, as that team was pretty crappy.

Moving on: Tomorrow is day #38, and I do not have anything lined up. Perhaps it will be “38 awesome Tweets about the #MajorRoyalsAnnouncement” today. That whole announcement was handled strangely, from the cryptic press release to the announcement itself, but I do not think of it as a blunder on the Royals’ part. Locking up a young stud catcher to a deal that practically redefines “club-friendly” is awfully major, and if Sal Perez plays even reasonably well, it will only become a better deal with time.

I was oddly grateful to have been home with a migraine today, so I could watch all of the events unfold on Twitter. First, the announcement that there would be an announcement. Then, the speculation: Alex Gordon extension? Somebody died? ERIC HOSMER EXTENSION?! Then, hilarious hyperanalysis of the wording of the very brief press release: Well, it’s not about Roy Oswalt or anything because it said they had something to announce about a Royals player. Then, beat writers from everywhere confirming all kinds of things it was NOT: Roy Oswalt remains committed to waiting until midseason to sign anywhere, so it’s not him.

And of course, the jokes. Just check out the #MajorRoyalsAnnouncement hashtag, which people are still tweeting.

No, this was not a PR blunder. The Royals played to social media fans perfectly. By the time Sal Perez walked into the press room, all eyes were already on the Royals and ready for the news. The intentional buildup may have seemed a little bit silly, but is it any more silly than speculating on all our players’ fitness levels all month? It’s February. What else were we going to talk about?

There were a few (mostly the less-astute Facebook crowd) who were disappointed that it was “just” Sal Perez who signed the contract. But, to steal my own Twitter joke, Flannery O’Connor once wrote that a good catcher is hard to find. And we have a good one, and he’s only 20, and his pitchers love throwing to him, and fans love him, and his bat works, and his arm is legendary, and h is OURS. For five years, maybe eight. There will be no more Jason Kendalls for a long, LONG time.

The Royals have signed lots of young stars to big deals recently. Soria and Butler come to mind, and I still think a Gordon extension is in the works. Anyone who says a word about how KC is “just a Yankees farm team” has not been paying attention in a very long time, and can be ignored without further consideration. We’ll welcome them back to The K whenever they finally realize that the Royals are doing things right, and are setting themselves up to win.

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