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Big League Stew

What about the Royals?! Chicago Blackhawks and Miami Heat get all the attention, but Kansas City is 11-0-1 in spring training

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Luke Hochevar! (AP)

They all won again Wednesday, the Holy Triad of Athletic Juggernauts: The Chicago Blackhawks, the Miami Heat and the Kansas City Royals. They all refuse to lose.

Yes, even the Royals. The Royals are 11-0-1 in Cactus League play after dismantling the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-1 for their 11th straight victory. Where's the attention for that, Worldwide Leader?

You people only seem to care about the Blackhawks and their point streak, that they're 21-o-3 after withstanding the Avalanche 3-2. The Hawks also have won 11 straight and, because of the NHL's screwy way of doing things, they've picked up at least one point in every game they've played to start the season. Big deal, just because it's unlikely to happen again for at least 700 years or so. At least the Royals' "tie" is actually a tie; After their first game of the spring, they walked off the field not a winner or loser. Three times, the Blackhawks have trudged to the locker room after losing in a shootout. And yet, the Canadian metric math wizards try to tell us they have no losses. It says so right there in the "loss" column! Aargh!

[Baseball 2013 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

And if it's not the Hawks, it's the Heat. They've won 16 in a row after edging Orlando by a point last night. That's nice. Wake me on Selection Sunday, or whatever. Do another Shamrock Shake video whist you're at it.

The Royals, now, here's a story.

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(AP)

They're like the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League. They've had one winning season since George Brett and Bret Saberhagen played in the 1980s, or something. Baseball America and other prospect nerds have been telling us for years that K.C. has stockpiled enough minor league talent to satisfy any young person's speculative baseball card collection.

And when were we going to see this talent manifest itself in victories? Right now, that's when! The Royals front office got tired of waiting for Wil Myers to turn 23 years old and shipped him to Tampa Bay for James Shields, one of the better right-handed pitchers around. GM Dayton Moore knows the Royals need to win now (possibly for his sake) and — poof! — they've gone and done it this spring.

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Now, it's true: Baseball's spring training can mean about as much as the NHL regular season, or the first 40 minutes of any NBA game. But there are some encouraging results emerging from Royals games that go beyond victories, as Royals Review points out. Blogger Craig Brown (no relation, probably) takes note of the Baseball-Reference algorithm known as: "Opposition Quality." He writes:

It's a way to quantify the quality of opposing hitters or pitchers players face during spring training. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being a major league regular.

Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas have faced 9+ quality major league pitching so far, for example. And here's how we know the Royals are legit:

Jeff Francoeur - OppQual 9.1

My new favorite ballplayer is hitting .263/.300/.474 against some pretty decent competition. He's striking out in 20 percent of his plate appearances and somehow has drawn a walk. Sadly, I haven't seen any of his plate appearances this spring, but some of the reports from Gameday are gloriously Francoeur. A three pitch strikeout where he doesn't swing at a pitch. A three pitch strikeout where he swings at all three. And just about everything in between.

Accurate to a "tee" (or a "K") for Francoeur.

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Look, if you don't want to believe in a black-and-white 11-0-1 record, you have to believe in the hellishly gray 9.1 OppQuad. Pick one. You've got to believe in something, right? You're not a nihilist, are you? That must be exhausting.

The Royals, this is their time. (Oh, was that last year?) Well, they're coming to play now. Don't say you weren't warned.

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