Monthly Archives: June 2015

Riding the emotional wave

It has been one heck of a roller coaster ride over the past 48 hours. I went from feeling great to feeling miserable—all my own doing–back to feeling somewhere much, much higher than miserable, but I didn’t want to get back to great just yet. But let’s say I’m far better off Tuesday at 2 p.m. than I was Sunday at 7 p.m. 

I didn’t listen to Crista and it cost me dearly. Tori was bartending Sunday night, and I was so upset she had un-friended me on Facebook. I let it eat at me and eat at me. I told Liz about it, but she tried to get me to brush it off. She told me it probably wasn’t me, but maybe it was her parents or someone else. I do undertsand there’s a huge age gap between myself (39 is approaching rather quickly) and the girls at Buffalo Wild Wings. 

Crista told me not to worry about social media. If someone is a friend, they will be your friend outside of Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And Tori has been that way with me for the last two years, even though I gave her really good reason not to on Opening Day in April. 

I started crying and then told Tori, Liz and Sekou, who had been bartending from 11 a.m. to 5 when Tori came on, that I had no intention of going to Brittany’s wedding reception. I gave a litany of reasons why I wouldn’t go, mostly because I would be by myself and would hardly know anyone. 

I told the same thing to Brittany in a Facebook message. She told me that if I wasn’t going to be comfortable that I shouldn’t come. She said she wanted me to come, but now worried that I would have an outburst and said I would get kicked out. She also mentioned security, which I took to mean she felt I couldn’t handle it and that the security would be looking only at me. 

I tried to cheer up when my trivia pals Jane, Mark and John showed up, but by time I left, I was back in the dumps. I was so desperate. 

I got so angry that I fired off a nasty message to one of my dearest friends, Stacie Dauterive Seube, one of the few I consider myself closer to than Liz or Brittany. In it, I told her to tell her autistic son, Collin, to give up hope. I told her Collin would end up alone and sad like me. 

Needless to say, Stacie wasn’t happy with me. She had not been this angry with me since we were at Arabi Park. She had every right to be mad. However, she understood what I was feeling about the wedding reception. 

I penned a long letter to Crista, hoping that by faxing it to her in Hays that she would get in touch. Only a few paragraphs got through, but it was enough to have her call me a little after 9. We talked for 15 minutes, and she told me that at weddings, there just isn’t a lot of time to talk to everyone and the bride and groom are busy with pictures, greeting guests and all the like. She spoke from practical experience since it was that way for her and Lance at their wedding. 

Then Peggy Cox chimed in. She told me I needed to go to the reception because it was about Brittany (and Zach) and I should celebrate that. 

I then told Brittany what Crista and Peggy told me and she was glad I was feeling better.

Enjoyed my Monday at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Dawn showed up from 4:30 to 6, and then Dan and Pam came from 6:30 to 9:30. All around a great time. 

I slept in today. Finally dragged myself out of the room to get back to my bartsool for 2 and the beginning of Buzztime’s Countdown. It’s going on an hour and a half as of right now. 

Love. Embrace it! 

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled Friday that all 50 states must recognize same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriage had been approved legislatively by numerous states, by Iowa’s Supreme Court, and then by several United States Circuit Courts of Appeal, which meant it was legal in all states covered by the circuit (for instance, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down an Oklahoma law banning same-sex marriage, which extended in turn to Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming). 

The date of the ruling, June 26, comes as a perfect medium between two important dates in the LGBT movement. 

It was two days before the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, considered the seminal moment in the nascent LGBT movement. 

In the wee hours of June 28, 1969, the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, one of Manhattan’s largest and best known hangouts for homosexuals and lesbians. Apparently, the riot started when men dressed as women refused to go into the restroom with female NYPD officers, who were supposed to identify that the men were men, and then they would be arrested if they indeed had male organs. 

The LGBT community had not gained much ground between the Stonewall Riots and what would become one of America’s worst hate crimes. 

On the evening of June 24, 1973, an irate patron who was refused entrance to The Upstairs lounge in New Orleans’ French Quarter (Vieux Carre for those who speak French) squirted a bottle of lighter fluid all over the stairs leading to the entrance and then ignited it. 

Nearly all of the patrons in The Upstairs were trapped in the deadly inferno. The stairs obviously were destroyed by the fire, and the windows had bars over them, preventing escape by all except the skinniest of people. 

Thirty-two people lost their lives that horrific Sunday night. Coverage outside of New Orleans was minimal to none. It rated less than two minutes on the CBS Evening News and only a few seconds on the NBC Nightly News. It rated nothing on ABC. At least CBS had a correspondent and a reporter from local affiliate WWL reporting. Newspapers across the nation reported the blaze the day after simply because it killed 32, but by the next day, it had been forgotten by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other national publications. 

Nobody was charged with the arson and the 32 counts of murder. The suspect killed himself in 1974 as the coward’s way out. 

I am heterosexual. However, who am I to tell two men they can’t love one another? Or two ladies? I have seen some really beautiful movies revolving around lesbian relationships. I watched two such films in 2013, “Bloomington” and “Loving Annabelle”. 

I believe love conquers all, no matter if it’s gay, bisexual, straight, whatever. LGBT people want to be treated with dignity, the same as myself and my heterosexual friends. 

My dear friend Brittany will be marrying the love of her life, Zach Morgan in two weeks. I would love Brittany just as much if she were marrying a lady. 

I believe love should be unconditional. Liz, Brittany, Lisa, Peggy, and a lot of others accept me flaws and all. I love them flaws and all.


(Not so) forgotten friends

Late last night when I was mentioning all the friends I am fortunate to have in my life, I left out way too many. 

Herb Vincent, the longtime LSU administrator who now works at the Southeastern Conference office in Birmingham, has not only been a friend, but a mentor who taught me the importance of hard work, but also had my back when I needed someone on my side. He had to let me go after my first semester at LSU, but it was a lesson I needed to learn, and he taught me in the most professional and most gentle way possible. No yelling, no name calling, just a firm, fair talk. Two months after he let me go, he really helped me out of throny situation, one which almost got me kicked out of LSU.  He had to get on me many more times, but he did it because he wanted me to succeed. 

Michael Bonnette, Herb’s successor as LSU sports information director, also had to kick my butt more than a few times. Like Herb, he also did it because he wanted me to be at my best and to do the best possible job I could. We had our falling out after I moved to Kansas, but lucky for me, we repaired that relationship. 

Wendy Wall came to work in the sports information office in March 1997. We quickly bonded, and that’s what makes her absence from my life very tough on me. I cry about it sometimes. She and her husband Sid are just such wonderful people. I hope we will reconnect one day. 

As for Kansas, I left a lot of people out. 

Of course, I forgot about the lovely Dusin clan of Phillipsburg: Al, Stephanie, Lindsay, Jeff, Michael and Mattison. They were the first from Phillipsburg to befriend me when I moved to Kansas. I’m very grateful for that. I’m also indebted to Terra Keeten, the Panther volleyball coach who has always made me feel welcome. 

Speaking of volleyball coaches, Nick Linn at Smith Center has always been someone I can turn to. His players are so polite, so well-mannered, and very friendly. I got to know two, Deb (Fricker) Hanson and Rebekah (Burgess Miller) during my first years in Kansas. I’ve been fortunate to also know Sarah (Tucker) Linn (not related to Nick), McKenzie and Sydney Benoit, Ellie (Albert) Stansbury and Kaitlin Albert, Lynzee Mace, Addison Kingsbury, Tangie and Cheyanne Hileman…the list goes on. 

I was fortunate to get the chance to call Smith Center volleyball matches for the school district’s cable television channel for a few years. Allan Dunnvan and Greg Hobelmann gave me that opporutnity and have been good friends. So have superintendent Ron Meitler and principal Greg Koelsch. 

The Smith Center coaches are all first rate and all have been very good to me: Mike Rogers, Brock Hutchinson, Tim Wilson, Darren Sasse, and the living legends, Dennis “Big Hutch” Hutchinson and Roger Barta. 

Between Smith Center and Phillipsburg lies Kensington, and two of my favorite people, Don Wiens and Sheila Bogart, have made my experiences with Thunder Ridge very enjoyable, as has John Boden.

I forgot a few people in Norton, too. Wrestling coach Bill Johnson has always taken the time to make sure I have everything I need when I come to cover his team. I miss Doug Ray and his daughter Amanda greatly. I will greatly miss Greg Mann, the Norton superintendent who is good for high school athletics and just plain good for education in Kansas, period. I really, really miss former Norton AD Larry Mills, as his lovely daughters Hannah Broeckelman and Sophie.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my colleagues at Main Street Media: Albert Lin, Frank and Elaine Mercer, Elizabeth Wisehart, David and Myra Thompson, Terri Ryan, Shelly Twenter, Amy Hoss and Joe Gonzales and the press room. I probably drive them nuts, but they’ve really helped me, as have former colleagues Susan Shank, Cindy Reed and of course Diann Bills, eldest child of Jack and Kathy Krier and sister of Jamie Krier. 

Brittany, Liz, Shannon and everyone else at Buffalo Wild Wings have made me realize I do have people who support me. As has Crista. 

Flash flood of emotions

Today will go down for me as one of the most emotional days I’ve experienced. Not in a bad way. Just a wave of emotions which have overcome me, simply because I got to spend so much time surrounded by people who love me and truly care about me, and in turn, people I love and truly care about. 

As soon as I found out today was LIsa’s last day at Buffalo WIld Wings, I knew it would be emotional for me. Before I started therapy with Crista, I doubt I could have handled it. If this had happened, say, last year at this time, or even in October or November, I may not have gone. I might have told Lisa that I was sorry I couldn’t come, but it just was best if I stayed away.

Now, I knew I would be able to handle it. I knew LIsa was moving on because she and Jeff each had exciting new opportunties and the chance to plant roots in Chicago, where LIsa would have the loving support of Jeff’s family. 

Also, Lisa asked me to be her for her final day. Nobody I can recall who was leaving somewhere had ever asked me to show up for their final day. I was humbled. 

I left Russell before sunrise, made the obligatory stop at Starbucks in Junction City, and got to Kansas City at 10, one hour before opening. 

Before going to Buffalo Wild Wings, I had to make a special stop at Bed Bath and Beyond on the opposite side of Interstate 29 along Barry Road. 

It has now been two years since I first met Liz. I knew she had been working at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Zona Rosa for a while when I started coming regularly in May 2013, but we did not get to talking until one day in June, when she liked a particular song I chose on the jukebox. The song: Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”. It’s the great one where the band screams, “HEY, TEACHER, LEAVE US KIDS ALONE!”. I played the song almost every time I put money in the jukebox at Ivar’s, my favorite hangout in Baton Rouge. Now, whenever I hear the song, I think of Liz. 

At Bed Bath and Beyond, I purachsed a beatuiful oak salt and pepper grinder set. 

The pepper had very special meaning for our friendship.

It was late, late one night in October when Liz told me that I didn’t have to be anyone else, that she accepeted me for who I was, flaws and all. She told met that I was all the pepper I needed to enjoy life and make it worthwhile. 

I had the idea to buy her a pepper grinder back in April. I kept it in the back of my mind before doing it today. 

LIsa was behind the bar when I arrived a few minutes before 11. She was very happy to see me. Lisa is more reserved than Brittany or Liz, who will come up to me with a huge grin and throw their arms around me. But I know Lisa really cares about me and loves me just as much as Brittany, Liz and a  lot of the others. 

The day dragged on for the most part, but at 3:45 my trivia pals Robb and Dawn Amos came in. They wanted to see Lisa off as well. 

We had a great time playing trivia for over two hours. Just before 6, Lisa said her goodbyes. I was able to get through it without tears.  At least I’m going to see Lisa again at Brittany’s wedding reception in two weeks. 

Brittany, Liz and many others I know are on shift tonight. I took a break from 8:30 to 10:30 to check in to my hotel and get some food and beverages for the stay. I’m now back at Buffalo Wild Wings watching the Royals wrap up an easy win over the Athletics in Oakland. 

How in the heck did I end up with friends like these? Regardless, I am blessed. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Not just Brittany, Lisa, Liz, Raymie and the others at Buffalo Wild Wings, but Peggy Cox and her daughters Caitlyn, Courtney and Chelsea; Sue and George Rossi and Janet and Kevin Jilka; Shareece Hileman and Anne Kingsbury; Larry Bernard; Sean Spoonts; my former boss, Jack Krier and Kathy; and last but not least, Crista Geyer, who with Dr. Patriarca at High Plains Mental Health, and Dr. Shanon Custer and Dr. Stacey Jones, keep me healthy, both mentally and physically. 

I would give everything I own to see Stacie Dauterive Seube and a lot of my old classmates from Arabi Park Middle. The same goes for Tiffany Peperone. For Brenda LeBlanc. For the entire Borne clan. At least I have seen Bill Franques in the last few years. 

I can’t dwell on the bad. I’ve got too much good. 

Pack the bags

I thought my Friday would consist of getting up late, watching the rest of season 1 and beginning season 2 of my summer review of The O.C., watching the Shark Tank reruns on my DVR, and battling the computer at chess. I also thought about getting a trip to Topeka or Manhattan in to go to Hy-Vee.

Lisa Toebben changed those plans shortly after 2.

She sends me a message on Facebook, asking if I would be at Buffalo Wild Wings for her final day of work there. She and Jeff are moving to Chicago so they can each start new jobs.

I immediately said yes, and that I would be there for opening at 11 a.m.

I thought I would go to Kansas City for the July 4 weekend and see everyone for a few days, go home for a couple of days, then return in time to attend Brittany’s wedding reception July 11.

Fortunately, those plans were flexible,and thus I will be on my way to KC before sunrise.

I had a wonderful session with Crista. We discussed Renetta Rogers and the origins of our relationship, which began 11 years ago Thursday. I also brought her some action photos and some of the selfies I took last week. She thought Brittany was beautiful. Crista also told me I was fortunate to have people like Brittany, LIz and the others who care about me.

It won’t take much to pack. I really haven’t unpacked since getting home Sunday. At least this time Starbucks in Junction City will be appropriate.

Two unlikely finalists, take two

I wrapped up my pages for this week’s Russell County News a little after 1 a.m. I slept in fits and starts and didn’t get really good sleep until late this morning. By time I woke up, it was 12:10. I watched some more of season 1 of The O.C. and am now watching Shark Tank on CNBC.

Six years ago tonight, LSU won its sixth and most recent College World Series championship, defeating Texas 9-4 in the third and deciding game of the finals at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the CWS from 1950 through 2010. Most of Rosenblatt was demolished in 2011 and 2012, but many seats, home plate and the foul poles still stand at the corner of 13th Street and Bert Murphy Drive, only a few blocks south of Interstate 80 and next to the Henry Doorly Zoo, one of the world’s elite zoological gardens.

Tonight, Vanderbilt and Virginia are playing a winner-take-all game for the national championship for the second consecutive year. If you would have told me in 2000 that the Commodores and Cavaliers would be playing in back-to-back years for all the marbles in Omaha, I would have laughed so hard I might have died. So would have thousands of college baseball experts and fans alike.

In 2000, Vanderbilt was the doormat of the SEC, much the way it was in football. The Commodores’ field was not a joke. It was not a dump. It was inhumane.

To say it was not suitable for college baseball would have been a gross understatement. It was not suitable for high school junior varsity, much less a Southeastern Conference school.

There were three sets of portable bleachers. The dugouts were nothing more than covered benches. The “press box” was a modified trailer (not a double-wide) on top of the third base bench. The fence was chain-link. The scoreboard was something you would expect to find at a high school facility.

In short, beyond awful.

Today, Vanderbilt plays on the same field, but the rest of the structure barely resembles the old one. There is brick and iron to be found everywhere. The press box is modern and roomy. There are chairback seats all throughout the grandstands. There are real dugouts and a real fence. The scoreboard has been modernized.

Nobody could have dreamed it would happen at Vanderbilt. But the Commodores have proven if you build it, they will come.

Since Tim Corbin arrived in 2003 to replace the kindly Roy Mewbourne, the Commodores have taken off. Vandy has won and won big year in and year out in the nation’s best baseball conference, capped off by the 2014 national championship and possibly another in a couple of hours.

At least Vanderbilt never considered cutting scholarships or treating baseball as the equivalent of an intramural sport.

Virginia did.

In 2000, the Cavaliers came to Baton Rouge to open the season and were demolished in three games over two days by LSU. Bayou Bengals left-hander Brian Tallet, who would go on to earn All-America honors that season and pitch in the Major Leagues, twirled a three-hit shutout in the opener.

The next April, as LSU coach Skip Bertman piloted his final Bayou Bengals outfit, it looked like baseball in Charlottesville would soon be relegated to second-class status.

Actually, make that fourth-class status.

A UVa advisory board suggested the Cavaliers’ intercollegaite athletic program be divided into four tiers.

The first tier–football, men’s and women’s basketball–would be fully funded, with a full allotment of scholarships, a full allotment of coaches, first-class travel, first-class schedules, and all the comforts an Atlantic Coast Conference program was accustomed to.

Baseball was relegated to the fourth tier, which would mean no scholarships based upon athletic ability and no travel outside the ACC’s footprint and most non-conference games within the Commonwealth of Virginia, which would have meant a heavy dose of VCU, Richmond, James Madison, Old Dominion, George Mason and Virginia Tech, which was still three years away from full ACC membership.

No women’s sports were projected to fall into Tier Four. All were men’s sports, including golf, tennis, wrestling, cross country and track and field. Had UVa threatened to place an y women’s sports in Tier Four, it would have opened the school to a flood of Title IX lawsuits.

Nobody could have dreamed what was about to happen.

The UVa baseball team received “anonymous” donations of over $2 million to build a state-of-the-art baseball stadium on the site of its dilapidated grounds. By the beginning of the 2002 campaign, Davenport Field, named in memory of former UVa coach and executive director of the Virginia Student Aid Foundation, Ted Davenport, who was a close friend of longtime Cavalier coach Dennis Womack.

While the average fan did not know the person behind the anonymous donation, the insiders in Charlottesville knew where they came from.

John Grisham, internationally acclaimed author, graduate of Mississippi State and Ole Miss Law School, had donated the funds to keep the baseball program at UVa alive and well.

In 2004, the Cavaliers tapped Notre Dame assistant Brian O’Connor to succeed the retired Womack, and it wasn’t long before baseball far eclipsed football and men’s basketball as the best UVa program.

The Cavaliers have been to the CWS five times under O’Connor. Tonight, they are aiming to become the first ACC team to win the title since Wake Forest in 1955 (Miami’s four championships all came while the Hurricanes were an independent).

Vanderbilt and Virginia have certainly produced their fair share of Major Leaguers under Corbin and O’Connor, but both programs have also been wildly successful at attracting the academically gifted player who may not be a perfect fit for LSU, Florida State or another national power and groomed them to fit into perfect puzzles in Nashville and Charlottesville. These programs are no flashes in the pan. They have staying power, and both should be in Omaha time and again as long as Corbin and O’Connor are calling the shots.

Three slow days

Saturday was fantastic. The final day of my stay and I wish it could have gone on forever. I got to spend almost 10 hours with Brittany and Raymie, and five with Liz. If I did not drive back to Russell the next morning, I would have stayed until closing time at 1 a.m. There will be a weekend for that coming up.,

I miss Brittany, Liz, Raymie and everyone else already. I’m sad I didn’t see Lisa, but I will very soon.

I left Kansas City at 7:30 Sunday morning. I stopped at the Topeka Hy-Vee, and again at the Quik Ship in Salina on I-135 and Crawford to use the restroom and get a frozen Pepsi. Got home right at noon, in time to eat salmon with my parents for Father’s Day. It was delicious, although I was sad to leave my friends. I didn’t get to see Alexandra Mullinax, who didn’t come back from her vacation and back to work until Sunday night.

I watched the U.S. Open most of Sunday evening, simply because there was nothing else on. Jordan Spieth did the unthinkable, bouncing back from a double bogey on 17 to birdie 18 and eventually win the tournament win Dustin Johnson choked with a three-putt on 18. He had an eagle putt to win and missed, then missed a short birdie putt which would have forced an 18-hole playoff Monday. Louis Oostheizen shot 67 Sunday to move into contention, but he ended up tied at 3-under with Johnson and Adam Scott, he of the illegal putter (at least as of January 1) and the arrogant caddie, Steve Williams, who was fired by Tiger Woods.

I like the fact the U.S. Open has refused to let go of the 18-hole playoff if it is still tied after 72 holes. To me, it is the fairest way to determine the champion of a major tournament.

The Masters stinks in this regard, because it has been sudden death since 1976 (the first sudden death playoff was 1979, when Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Ed Snead (?) and Tom Watson in two holes). The last 18-hole playoff was in 1970, when Billy Casper won by five strokes over Gene Littler.

The sudden death playoff is fine for minor tournaments, but it absolutely sucks for a major. Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros found this out in 1987, when Larry Mize chipped in from 43 meters (47 yards) on the second playoff hole to win the Green Jacket.

The PGA Championship was the first major to use a sudden death playoff, when in 1978, John Mahaffey topped Jerry Pate and Watson at Oakmont on the second hole.The sudden death playoff was used five more times, the last in 1996, when Mark Brooks left Louisville and local hero Kenny Perry hearbroken by winning on just one hole at Valhalla. Perry would redeem himself in 2008 when he helped the United States win the Ryder Cup on the same course.

Beginning in 1997, the PGA adopted a three-hole format, which was first used in 2000 at Valhalla, when Tiger topped Bob May. It has been used three more times, most recently in 2011 when Keegan Bradley bested Jason Duffner at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

The last 18-hole playoff at the PGA was in 1967, when Don January topped Don Massengale by two strokes at Columbine Country Club, not too far from the site of the Columbine High School massacre 32 years later.

The Open Championship did not move away from the 18-hole playoff until 1985; however, the last time a fifth round was needed to determine a champion was 1975 in possibly the most famous golf tournament ever played.

Tom Watson and Jack Newton were tied through 72 holes at Carnoustie, as each finished at 9-under par 279. The playoff of July 13 was played in a driving, blustery rain, not unusual for the east coast of Scotland in mid-July. With the golfers tied at 1-under heading to the 18th, Watson, the native of Kansas City, hit his second shot to within 25 feet of the hole, while Newton’s approach found the front left bunker. Watson made par and Newton could not, and Tom had the first of his eight major championships.

The Open Championship did not test out its four-hole playoff format until 1989 at Royal Troon, when Mark Calcavecchia won by three strokes over Wayne Grady and Greg Norman.

Watson was involved in the most recent playoff at the Open Championship, bowing to Stewart Cink only 46 days shy of his 60th birthday. Tom had the lead going to the 72nd hole at Turnberry, but he bogeyed to give Cink new life.

Not much has gone on since Spieth’s victory. It’s too hot to do anything anyway. A little work, some Shark Tank, some college baseball, and some The O.C., where I am beginning my review of all 92 episodes, which I have done every summer since 2010.

I have an appointment with Crista Thursday at 9. Looking forward to that.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the signing of Title IX, the infamous amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act which guarantees women the same opportunities as men in education. That has been largely interpreted to mean women deserve as many sports as men at colleges and high schools.

Tomorrow is a much more tragic anniversary, at least as far as New Orleans is concerned.

Fourth and final day of this

Friday was another very long day at Buffalo Wild Wings. And with most of my close friends working, why would I want to go back to my hotel room and spend time alone? With the room being free until tonight, I don’t feel guilty about not spending more time in the room. All it has been has been a crash pad. 

At Brittany’s suggestion, I picked up a selfie stick yesterday at Best Buy. Only cost $27 after tax. If you’ve been on my Facebook and/or Instagram (@davidsteinle) accounts, you’ll see some with Brittany, Raymie and Liz, as well as my trivia pals Robb and Dawn. 

I got to Buffalo Wild Wings at 1:15 yesterday and stayed until 11. I had to use the restroom at QuikTrip on Barry Road, which was a convenient excuse to get gas for the drive home tomorrow. 

I’m going to stay as long as I feel good today, because tomorrow, I’m driving back to Russell. My mother is cooking blackened salmon for Father’s Day, and I don’t want to miss that. I feel terrible I won’t get to see Alexandra Mullinax, who has been on vacation and comes back tomorrow, but I figure I’ll see her again at Brittany’s reception if I don’t see her before that. 

It is brutally hot out there. The heat index in Kansas City is 106 (41 Celsius). Ten degrees hotter than New Orleans. That’s brutality. And it’s going to be pushing 100 (38 Celsius) in Russell and western Kansas for the next few days. The hot weather is the reason why I want to get out of KC so early tomorrow. And why I’m going to stay late tonight. 

I’m convinced Kansas is one of the worst weather states in the U.S. You don’t have to worry about hurricanes, but tornadoes are much worse, because there is no lead time. Too hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and the wind whips your car around like nobody’s business on the open road. Missouri might be worse with the humidity, especially in the St. Louis area. Mississippi and Alabama are terrible, too. 

Ned is Number One

Ned Yost is now the Kansas City Royals’ winningest manager. The 3-2 victory over the Brewers at Kauffman Stadium last night was Yost’s 411th, moving him past Whitey Herzog and onto the summit.

That Yost needed only 411 victories to move to the top of the list tells me the Royals (a) have had many, many bad years, even though they made the playoffs six times (not counting the strike-shortened season of 1981) between 1976 and 1985, but more importantly (b) the manager’s seat has been a revolving door, going back all the way to  the day Ewing Kauffman was awarded the franchise in 1968.

Yost has been manager of the Royals since May 14, 2010. He has managed more games, 824, than any skiipper in team history. In September, he will surpass Dick Howser for the longest tenure in team history. Howser amanged the Royals for five full seasons and the first 55 percent of a sixth before the tragic diagnosis of brain cancer which would claim him on July 17, 1987.

Since Howser’s sad departture, the managerial position has been as unstable as an isotope of plutonium 239. And some of the people occupying the manager’s seat have been totally unworthy of being the skipper of any professional baseball team, much less one of the 30 in Major League  Baseball.

One of the worst was the man who preceded Yost. Trey Hillman was hired prior to the 2008 season after managing in Japan. Terrible hire by Dayton Moore. Just terrible. In two seasons and a month and a half of a third, Kansas City was 52 games under .500.

I happened to witness Hillman’s last game as Royals manager, a 5-4 victory over the Indians May 13, 2010. It was on a Thursday afternoon. By time I returned to my room at the Kansas City Airport Marriott, I learned Hillman had been fired and Yost, who managed the Brewers from 2003 through most of the 2008 season, was going to take over.

The next morning, I departed Kansas City and drove to Smith Center for the Mid-Continent League track and field meet. I spent most of the day listening to the two sports talk stations in Kansas City, KCSP and WHB, discuss Hillman’s firing and Yost’s hiring. None of the talking heads believed Yost was the long-term solution, and wondered if Moore had a short list for someone to come in after the 2010 season was complete.

Yost has supposedly been on the proverbial hot seat time and again. Some couldn’t believe he survived the 2012 season, when the Royals finished 72-90, the 9th time in 11 seasons they lost 90 or more. A slow start in 2013 fueled even more speculation Yost was on his way out.

Yet Kansas City turned it around following the 2013 All-Star game and stayed in the wild card hunt deep into September. An 86-76 final mark convinced Moore that Yost was the right man for the job.

Moore has been vindicated by the Royals’ performance in 2014 and the first two and a half months of 2015. And now Ned Yost will go for win 412 tonight vs. the Red Sox.

Carbon copy Thursday

Never a dull moment at Buffalo Wild Wings today, where I’ve been since 1:40. 

Ethan Hoyle, one of the most dedicated and die-hard Royals fans on the staff here, had the early shift behind the bar. He was not happy when the Twins defeated the Cardinals 2-1 on a home run in the bottom of the ninth. 

The Twins-Cardinals series this week represented the ultimate catch-22 for Royals fans. On one hand, Royals fans do not like the Cardinals, nor should they. On the other, the Twins are the primary competition for Kansas City, at least right now, for supremacy in the American League Central. The participants in the 1987 World Series split the four-game set, with each team winning twice at home. It was exactly the same way in the World Series. Minnesota had home field and used it to great advantage, winning the four games it needed for its first World Series title in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the first for the franchise since 1933, when it was the original Washington Senators. 

Counting the playoffs, the Twins were 62-25 at home in 1987. By comparison, they were a meager 31-56 away from the Metrodome, which was torn down in 2014 to make way for the Minnesota Vikings’ new $700 million stadium, which will open for the 2016 NFL season. 

Jenn Reilly, whom I thought had already gone on maternity leave, was behind the cash register when I came in. I was glad to see her, but I was happier that she was sitting down. Being on your feet all day is nothing a lady who is over eight months pregnant needs to be doing. 

A little after 4, I turned back, and there was Liz. Less than a minute later, she had me in a vise grip of a hug. I don’t think anyone has been that excited to see me since I was involved with Renetta Rogers a long time ago. No check that. I KNOW nobody has been that excited to see me since Renetta. It’s nice to be missed. 

Liz dyed her hair blonde last weekend. She looks good either blonde or red, so I’m not complaining. 

Stephanie Suggs, who went to the LSU-Fullerton CWS game Tuesday (I’m jealous), is behind the bar tonight. Brittany is back tomorrow and Saturday. 

I’ve seen a few of the old faces tonight, including Casey, Alyssa and Morgan Gilliland, whose disgustingly adorable daughter, Faith, is six months old Sunday. Morgan Tomac was here this afternoon. 

Hard to believe it’s now only 23 days until Brittany and Zach tie the knot, and that Liz and Lisa will soon be moving. They’ve been three people I’ve leaned on so heavily over the past two years with Liz and the last year and a half for Brittany and Lisa. But all of them are entering new and exciting chapters of their lives, much the way I did 10 years ago.