Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Friday musings on the Royals, Shocker basketball and setting back your clocks

▪ With apologies to the 2014 Kansas City Royals and acknowledgment of their run to the World Series, I’ve always considered three teams to be in a battle for the best in Royals history. They are: 1977 (102-60, lost 3-2 to Yankees in best-of-five ALCS); 1980 (97-65, lost to Phillies in World Series); and 1985 (91-71, won 4-3 over Cardinals in World Series).

▪ This season’s Royals, though, might be the best team in franchise history. I think it is, even though there are no stars. Those other great Royals teams had stars, most notably George Brett. But there were also Frank White, Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, Bret Saberhagen.

▪ The 1977 team was led offensively by Brett and Al Cowens, who batted .312 with 23 homers and 112 RBI. Dennis Leonard was 20-12 and Jim Colbern (remember him?) was 18-14. Doug Bird and Marty Pattin combined to go 21-7, mostly out of the bullpen.

▪ The 1980 team included Brett’s historic run at .400 — he finished at .390 in 117 games. Wilson had an incredible year, batting .326 with 230 hits, 133 runs and 79 stolen bases. First baseman Willie Aikens added 20 homers and 98 RBI while Leonard again won 20 games, Larry Gura won 18 and Quisenberry had 33 saves.

▪ The 1985 team would probably get the most votes as the best Kansas City ever because it won a championship. Brett batted .335 with 30 homers and 112 RBI and Saberhagen won 20 games and left-hander Charlie Liebrandt won 17.

▪ But I think the 2015 Royals, 95-67 during the regular season are the best team in franchise history. Perhaps I’m just caught up in the moment, but this team amazes me with its resilience and approach to hitting. From 1-9, the Royals have difficult outs. Opposing pitchers can’t relax and Kansas City can strike quickly from any spot in the lineup. The starting pitching is questionable, but the Royals have a lights-out bullpen that takes pressure off the starters.

▪ What do you think? Which team would you choose as the greatest in Royals history?

▪ I’m not into the NBA season as much as I thought I would be, unfortunately. I haven’t watched a second of the NBA yet. Of course, it just started and I’ve been busy. Maybe this weekend.

▪ What I am doing is catching up on Ray Donovan. Anybody else like this show? What a mess of a family, huh? And I’ve just started the third season.

▪ Wow, Kansas State plays a basketball exhibition tonight? Where does time go? I ask that rhetorically because I’m aware no one can really provide an answer. But it is a fascinating question — where does time go? I’m not sure I’ve ever given it much thought, certainly not as much as I in this bullet point.

▪ How worried are Kansas State football fans? How disconnected are Kansas football fans?

▪ K-State doesn’t play until Oct. 5 in a Thursday night game at Bill Snyder Stadium against Baylor. The following week the Wildcats go to Texas Tech. K-State, which has lost four straight after a 3-0 start, could soon be 3-6 and would need sweep its final three against Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia to become bowl eligible. And in the back of everyone’s mind, they wonder: When will Snyder decide he’s had enough? It’s impossible to predict and it will be both shocking and unsurprising when he decides to step down, if that makes sense. And anyone who thinks they know when it’ll happen doesn’t. They’re just guessing.

▪ I have to say that after seeing Snyder get bowled over on the sideline in last week’s game at Texas, I wondered why he didn’t turn in his headset right then and there. What a brutal sight and how tough is this old guy to get right up?

▪ There has been a feeling throughout baseball in recent years that strikeouts don’t really matter as long as a team hits a lot of home runs. Well, the Royals might be changing the way everyone thinks. They rarely strike out, put the ball in play but don’t hit a lot of home runs. Putting the ball in play, and especially being able to do so to all fields, is becoming a more-appreciated hitting skill. In this age of shifts, the Royals are so hard to defend because they have a lineup full of hitters who spray the ball everywhere.

▪ It’s going to be fascinating to see how Gregg Marshall juggles his roster at Wichita State this season. Marshall has had deep teams during his years with the Shockers, but nothing like this. There is quality depth at every position.

▪ How great would it be to see a Kansas-Wichita State game this season? Or every season, of course. But especially this season with two such talented, fascinating teams. Shame on those who refuse to make this happen.

▪ Winter’s coming. I can feel it. And when we turn the clocks back early Sunday morning, I’m really going to feel it. I will appreciate the extra hour of sleep, though. I sleep less now, so perhaps we could do a thing where we turn back the clocks one hour for 30 days in a row? Just a suggestion.

▪ My wife just made me turn on the heat at our house for the first time of the season. I was reluctant, even while wearing a coat and two pair of socks. “We have to save money for retirement,” I told her, to which she replied: “You’ll be retiring without me if we don’t have some heat.” So I turned on the heat.

▪ I’m going to miss baseball season when it’s over. I pride myself on having endured 53 seasons as a devout baseball fan. I believe it has helped build character. It’s not easy to be a baseball fan but it’s also impossible to stop once you’ve taken the plunge.

▪ I’m craving a lemon poppy seed muffin.

▪ The Jayhawks, Wildcats and Chiefs are making football around these parts a bit irrelevant so far, huh?

▪ I proclaim it officially basketball season. Ladies and gentlemen, start bouncing those basketballs.