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chenyan Aug 10

With apologies to Little Orphan Annie Roquan Smith Jersey , the sun’ll come out today.

Considering the month the Kansas City Royals just went through, and that they’re currently in often-overcast Seattle, that was no guarantee.

No team in baseball will be happier to flip the calendar than the Royals, who are coming off the worst June in their 50-year history.

“I’m ready to turn the page and start over in July,” Royals manager Ned Yost told The Kansas City Star. “It’s just kind of a reset. We’re out of there, it’s done; it’s behind us. Let’s go on to July and see what happens.”

How bad was June?

The Royals went 5-21, tied for their fewest wins in the month (and that came in 1981, when they went 5-5 as the season was interrupted by a work stoppage).

They scored four or fewer runs in all but two games, including 21 of the past 22, and never won back-to-back games.

Kansas City scored a major league low 58 runs in the month, 29 fewer than runner-up Tampa Bay (87).

They batted .193 (162-for-839), the worst month in franchise history (the 1992 Royals hit .207 in April) Isaiah Oliver Jersey , and had 10 hits in a game just once.

“It’s not frustration,” Yost told MLB.com of his club’s rough June. “Well, that’s a lie. We’re all frustrated. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen an offensive drought like we’ve had all month long. It’s pretty puzzling. There’s no answer for it.”

One of the few bright spots for the Royals was the performance of rookie right-hander Brad Keller (2-2, 2.25 ERA), who is scheduled to face Mariners left-hander James Paxton (7-2, 3.65) in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

In his last outing Monday, Keller pitched seven innings, allowed just two hits and struck out six in a 2-0 victory against the Angels, getting his first win as a starter.

The Angels hit just one ball out of the infield against Keller and never got a runner past first base.

“It was pretty super-duper,” Yost said. “Just banging strikes, on the attack, everything that you want. Just a great pitching performance. Never was in any real trouble and had the game in total control.”

Keller became just the second Royals starter to throw at least seven shutout innings while allowing two or fewer hits within his first five major league starts. The other was Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (now the Mariners pitching coach) in 1990.

“I was able to keep the ball down Authentic John Ross Jersey , keep them off-balance,” Keller said after his last start. “Slider felt really good and made some adjustments in the bullpen prior to this game, and it felt really good.”

Paxton, who is 2-0 with a 2.54 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City, will be facing the Royals for the second time this season. He didn’t get a decision in a 4-2 Seattle road victory on April 11, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out 10.

Paxton had nearly identical statistics in his last start Tuesday in Baltimore, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings with one walk and 10 strikeouts in a 3-2 victory.

“(Paxton) came right after them, right out of the chute,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I thought he was outstanding.”

LeBron James gets to the NBA Finals every year, masking the East’s mediocrity.

Lately, he’s been the underdog and the finals’ outcome has been predictable.

That doesn’t seem like the best thing for a championship series, though James representing the East is a better finals option for the NBA than a Kyrie Irving-less Celtics squad or the uninspiring Raptors.

James provides the star power to drive TV ratings. So the NBA hasn’t needed the best teams in the finals; it has had the best player.

”The real answer is it’s better to have both John Ross Jersey ,” said Scott Rosner, the academic director of the sports management program at Columbia University. ”The NBA, if you step back from it, has been very much on an upward trend, you can argue more than any of the other big four sports leagues. There’s a lot of different reasons for that, but clearly it’s a star-driven league.”

For eight years running James has provided the glimmer of hope that the JV against the varsity really can be competitive. He can almost single-handedly create compelling basketball. Still, he’s on the verge of losing in the NBA Finals without winning more than a game for the fourth time. Nonetheless, fans are still watching in huge numbers.

It’s been a nice run, but the NBA probably needs to think about getting the best teams in the finals when James isn’t.

He could leave Cleveland as a free agent this summer, maybe even head West. And once he’s done slipping on his Eastern Conference champion hat every spring, the problem that’s been concealed by his immense talent comes into full view.

The Larry O’Brien Trophy won’t be awarded before Friday night in Cleveland, or maybe sometime next week back in California. But the NBA championship was essentially decided on Memorial Day in Houston Dan Bailey Jersey , when the Warriors rallied to take Game 7 from a Rockets team that was the only one with a realistic chance to beat them, and would likely be beating Cleveland now.

”To me, Houston wasn’t just one half away from advancing to the finals. They were one half away from winning a championship,” ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said.

That’s why Van Gundy advocates a playoff format where the top 16 teams were seeded by their records. That would allow any two teams to meet in the final round, rather than the current system that mandates East against West.

”Listen, I’m for the best teams meeting in the finals,” Van Gundy said. ”I’d be fine if they played the conferences for travel purposes through the year to minimize how many times you’d have to go cross-country. But I’ve always been for the top 16 records should be in the playoffs, and I would be absolutely fine if you then seeded 1 through 16, regardless of what conference you played in during the regular season.”

Commissioner Adam Silver continues to say concerns about too much travel make that change impossible for now. James has said he prefers the traditional East-West format, and it’s hard to blame him since it’s helped provide him such a smooth path to the finals. Even in a season like this, when he doesn’t have the strongest of teams around him – and one of the worst in the league defensively – he can carry them through seven-game series in the East.

Silver said he looked it up and found that James has had 59 different teammates during his run, so it’s not as if his teams need continuity and cohesiveness. All it’s taken to play for the title the last eight years is James.

”My point before Kolton Miller Jersey , if you have LeBron James playing with 59 different players over eight years, it means that presumably the team LeBron is on is going to be a dominant team,” Silver said. ”Whether they get to the finals every year is a separate issue.”

They almost certainly wouldn’t have won more than one round this season, where as the sixth-winningest team in the league they would have been slotted to meet the third-seeded Warriors in round two in a 1-16 format.

That could create must-see matchups in every round of the nearly two-month march to the championship, but it comes with risk to the league.

Having James home in mid-May would be disastrous from a business standpoint. His mesmerizing performances against the Celtics, when he played all 48 minutes in a Game 7 victory in Boston, catapulted ESPN to the most-watched Eastern Conference finals since 2012. And questions about his future dominate the sports headlines as long as the Cavs are playing.

If the East loses its most imposing player and most important personality, the league and its marketing partners would be left to sell an NBA Finals matchup lacking its marquee product.

”It is certainly a situation where all things being equal you’d rather have your best teams with your best players in it, your superstar players in it,” Rosner said. ”That said, given your druthers would really prefer to have a competitive series.”

There are only a handful of teams considered legitimate championship contenders. The number could grow even smaller this summer after James makes his future plans.

”Can our system be improved upon?” Silver said. ”I think it can. I think it’s something we’re constantly looking at.”

Better hurry. James won’t be around forever.

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