Even by their own wretched recent standards, this has been a painful season for the Kansas City Royals.
They started with 18 wins in their first 29 games. They followed with a roughly four-month stretch in which they went 37-74.
From June 10 to Sept. 2, KC's cleanup hitters hit no home runs. None. Zero. The guys batting fourth in the lineup — the spot where the other 29 big-league teams kinda try to put their best run-producer — no home runs. They were lucky to win any games at all in that four-month stretch.
In late July the Royals traded for Yuniesky Betancourt, then tried to convince us he's a good defensive shortstop. He is not a good defensive shortstop. He's never been one. He still isn't. PS — He can't hit, either.
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Former No. 1 pick Luke Hochevar had a 13-strikeout game in July, and a three-hit shutout in September. He also spent part of the season in Triple-A and takes a frightening 6.24 ERA into today's final game.
Yet during this disaster, Zack Greinke has been the best pitcher in baseball and Billy Butler has become a legitimate No. 3 hitter.
Greinke will be 26 later this month. He's signed with KC through 2012. His ERA is the lowest in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 2000 — and as some of the more discontented Royals fans like to point out, Greinke never gets to pitch against the Royals.
Butler's contract is under the Royals' control for four more seasons. He has 51 doubles and 21 homers this season — a feat matched by 24 other players in the history of the game. And he's 23.
Only in baseball can a catastrophe like the 2009 Royals season still give fans reason to hope.
"Hope" is a relative term, of course. But isn't it better to dwell on the positive?
Ted's head — A new book by a former employee of Alcor, the company that froze Ted Williams' remains, alleges the baseball great's skull was mistreated by the company.
Larry Johnson says in the book "Frozen" that he watched an Alcor official swing a monkey wrench at Williams' frozen severed head to try to remove a tuna can stuck to it.
It's a truly awful image... and still we want to know how a tuna can managed to attach itself to a Hall of Famer's head.
No wins, one punch — New Mexico football coach Mike Locksley and one of his assistants reportedly had an altercation that ended with Locksley throwing a punch.
Locksley and receivers coach J.B. Gerald exchanged words during a heated meeting. Locksley stormed out, but did an about-face when Gerald uttered the always-inflammatory "Whatever." Push came to shove, punch allegedly came to lip.
Locksley was reprimanded. Gerald was placed on administrative leave — that'll teach him to get in the way of a punch.
Locksley's team is 0-4 in his first season as coach. Last spring he was accused of sexual harassment by a former football administrative assistant.
Good luck sticking around for Year 2, coach.
Forever Favre — I reached the Brett Favre Hype tolerance threshold years ago. I realize I'm not alone.
Still, we have to admit that Favre's game Monday against the Packers holds the potential for huge, rollicking, feel-good-movie-of-the-summer-type entertainment.
Dude might come unhinged.
Favre is slightly deranged during even the most typical of games. He'll be borderline crazy for this chance to stick it to the team that so brutally demanded that he stop vacillating and make up his stinkin' mind a couple years ago.
His first touchdown pass Monday — and he's Brett Favre, so a TD pass is inevitable — might result in an injury to the unlucky offensive lineman that bears the brunt of a Favre hug or head slap. His first interception — and he's Brett Favre, so an interception is inevitable — might make his head explode.
The simple sound of boos from Packer fans might be enough to send him ricocheting into space.
Yes, even for the wearied among us, this game will surely be worth enduring Favre Fever.
So why does ESPN have to try and torture us into submission before kickoff?
I'll grant them their normal Favre overkill, but the WWL claims it will try to break the record for most mentions of Favre on a TV show during Monday's broadcast of "SportsNation" on ESPN2.
Yeah, I know it's all in good, cute fun. ESPN has to already hold the record — we're talking about the network that covered him mowing the lawn, after all.
Still, it'd be OK if the network drew the line somewhere short of insanity.
But I guess we can look on the bright side: It's impossible to make SportsNation host Colin Cowherd more annoying, so this nutty gimmick won't hurt the show.