Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pennant fever in Kansas City!

***DISCLAIMER***
All of the events described below are fictitious. But they COULD be real. Someday.
OOTP is an ultra-realistic baseball simulator, that lets you control every aspect of your team, from free agent signings, sicking within a budget of a small-market city, to managing your team's on the field plays pitch by pitch, to keeping fans happy by not raising ticket prices too high, or trading away their favorite player.
Below is a recap of what IS POSSIBLE. In this case, with those lovable losers - the Kansas City Royals.

Just an FYI: I play all these games out, batter by batter. A full game takes about 15-20 min. But "the rest" of the simulator- negotiating trades, figuring out who to call up from the minors, setting ticket prices just right to balance attendance and cash flow... that's the fun part!
******************

You knew it was going to be something special when we were above .500 when three players in the All-Star game, two starting. Yes, your 2009 American League Wild Card Kansas City Royals are experiencing pennant fever for the first time since 1985.

Thanks to some well placed trades and a few risky offseason free agent signings, the boys in blue are back in the playoffs again for the first time since before a few of their players were born.

A quick recap of the season highlights thus far:
April 5: Signed free agent SP Pedro Martinez to a 1-year deal worth $1,000,000
April 6: Opening Day, Zack Greinke and the Royals lose 4-3 to the White Sox. Another long season looks to be in store for the boys in blue. Opening Day lineup: Crisp, Callaspo, Butler, Gordon, Jacobs, Guillen, DeJesus, Aviles, and Olivo.
April 10: The Royals beat the Yankees 9-7 to improve their record to 4-1.
April 15: In his second start, Pedro Martinez hits the DL with a shoulder strain - and is out for 4-5 months. He would return in August as a nearly unhittable middle reliever.
April 22: SP Zack Greinke sprains his shoulder in the 3rd inning, and goes to the 15-day DL. But the Royals beat Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians 9-6 anyway to cap a 5 game win streak.
April 29: Coco Crisp goes 1 for 4 with an RBI triple to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, and Willie Bloomquist hits a pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
April 30: The Royals finish April with a record of 13-9. A sign of hopeful things to come?
April 30: Hurting for starting pitching, the Royals trade 1B Billy Butler and CL Joakim Soria to the LA Dodgers, for SP Chad Billingsley. Billingsley goes 15-4 for the rest of the season, including a 6-0 record in September during the playoff push. Mike Jacobs becomes the starting 1st baseman, and promptly goes on a HR tear.
May 6: Coco Crisp goes 0-4 against the Seattle Mariners, ending his hitting streak at 25 games.
May 7: Zack Grienke tosses a 5 hit, 8 inning, 3-2 win against Seattle in his first game back from the DL.
May 16: Signed free agent SP Ben Sheets to a minor league deal - with the hopes he would return from the DL in August and be a late season asset.
June 4: To strengthen the bullpen in the wake of the Butler-Soria/Billingsley trade, the Royals acquire Cardinals closer Jason Motte for minor league prospects.
June 18: The Royals make a trade with the rebuilding Boston Red Sox for reliever Manny Delcarmen.
June 29: Mike Jacobs hits 3 HRs against Minnesota. The Royals lose anyway, 16-7, pushing their record to 36-39, 3rd place in the AL Central.
July 2: Zack Greinke strikes out 10 White Sox (his 4th 10+ K game of the year so far) - but loses 6-4, to bring his record to 3-9 on the year. It continues a theme of great performances, but low run support.
July 4: The Royals beat the last place White Sox 9-2, pushing their record back to .500, second place in the AL Central, and into 5th place in the AL Wild Card Race.
July 14: Alex Gordon and Mike Jacobs (leading the league in HR with 17 at the break) start for the American League, which loses the All-Star game 6-5 in St. Louis. Zack Grienke is selected, but doesn't play.
July 17: In the first game back from the break, John Buck singles home David DeJesus to beat Tampa 2-1 in 13 innings. Greinke pitches into the 8th, giving up only 1 run on an error. Jason Motte pitches 3+ innings of no-hit relief, and Manny Delcarmen closes out the 13th for the win. The Royals starting lineup: Crisp, Teahen, Gordon, Jacobs, Guillen, DeJesus, Callaspo, Aviles, Olivo.
July 23: The Royals trade Left Handed SP Greg Smith (acquired off waivers earlier in the season from the Colorado Rockies) to the Boston Red Sox for 1B Kevin Youkilis and his ginormous salary. Greinke needs more run support, and the Royals are above .500 past the All Star break. Fans welcome the decision with open arms.
July 26 (Emery's first Royals game!): Kyle Davies 1-hits Texas, striking out 6 and going a complete 9 innings in front of a sell-out crowd. The best Royals pitching performance of the year! The Royals improve their record to 51-46 and move into 4th place in the AL Wild Card race.
August 17: Luke Hochevar is thrown out of the game for hitting Paul Konerko with a pitch and igniting a bench-clearing brawl. The Royals lose the game 17-1. Their worst loss of the season. But the Royals go 9-4 for the rest of August.
August 18: Ben Sheets returns from the DL and gives up 5 HR in 4 1/3 innings - but the Royals beat the last place White Sox anyway, 16-9.
August 31: The Royals finish August 71-60 overall, and very much still in the playoff picture, 2nd place in the AL Central behind the ML-leading Cleveland Indians (86-46), and 4th place in the AL Wild Card Race behind Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto.
September 1: MLB expands active rosters to 40. The Royals call up a flock of bullpen help from AAA Omaha and sign two free agents: a backup catcher and a pinch runner to help for the playoff push. Royals beat Oakland 3-0 behind a complete game 3 hitter from Billingsley. The Royals starting lineup: Crisp, Callaspo, DeJesus, Gordon, Jacobs, Youkilis, Lubanski, Buck, Bloomquist.
September 4: Pinch Runner Corey Wimberly races home in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Royals win a thriller against the Angels at home, 6-5.
September 21: The Royals enter the second to last week of the season with a 4-game set at home against the Wild Card leading Red Sox. The Royals win the first game 7-6 with some clutch hitting in the bottom of the 7th, and a strong bullpen.
September 23: The Royals move into a tie for 2nd place in the wild card with Baltimore, 0.5 games behind Boston, after beat Boston 13-1.
September 25: The Royals take sole possession of the wild card lead for the first time all season as the Red Sox lose their 5th straight to the Yankees.
September 27: The Red Sox lose their 7th in a row, and eliminate themselves from playoff contention.
September 30: The Royals finish September with an 18-10 record, including a 4-game sweep of Boston and winning 2 out of 3 against the Yankees in the final week.
October 1: Off Day for the Royals. The Royals, Yankees, and Orioles enter the last 3 games of the season and finish the day in a 3-way tie for the AL wild card, with the Orioles and Yankees tied for the AL East lead. Chad Billingsley is named AL Pitcher of the Month for the 2nd time this season as he goes 6-0 with a 1.70 ERA in September. Tug Hulett is named AL Rookie of the Month, hitting .333 with 3HR and 21 RBIs.
October 2: Zack Greinke beats the Twins 4-1 in Minnesota, in a complete game, winning his 6th straight, but the Royals remain in a 3-way tie for the wild card lead, as the Yankees beat Tampa 5-3 and the Orioles beat Toronto 3-0.
October 3: Chad Billingsley (winning his 14th straight game!) and the Royals clinch no worse than a tie for the AL Wild Card when the Royals beat the Twins 14-1, and both the Yankees and Orioles lose.
October 4: Last day of the regular season, and all of Kansas City is scoreboard watching as the Royals maintain a slim 5-4 lead over the Twins in the 7th inning... A Royals win, or either an Orioles or Yankees loss would all send the Royals to the playoffs. The Royals score 6 in the top of the 7th, and you can feel the excitement all across town. The news becomes official in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Royals game... Tampa has just shut out the Yankees, 2-0! The Royals close out the 2009 Regular season by beating the Twins 11-5, and clinch the AL Wild Card!

All of Kansas City is abuzz as the playoffs start today. The Royals open the ALDS at home against the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, led by Nick Markakis (.309/.378/.487) and Matt Wieters (.309/.387/.527). The starting pitchers for Game 1 will be Chad Billingsley (17-6, 3.00) for the Royals and Rich Hill (18-7, 3.59) for the Orioles.

More updates as they become available!

In the meantime, here are the 2009 season summary statistics, and how the Royals fit into the MLB leaderboards.




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