Category Archives: Baseball

Late, late, late night games

I am running on less than fumes right now. I have only myself to blame.

I got up at 0350 Friday morning. I just could not sleep Thursday night and in the wee hours of Friday. I had two morning appointments in Overland Park, which of course can be a pain if you have to drive from near KCI like I did. Found out that I need to go back to Morse-McCarthy Monday afternoon to get the brakes replaced. That’s what happens to a nine-year old car with 391,000 kilometers (243,000 miles). But it has not stranded me in the middle of nowhere, so as long as it gets me from Point X to Point Y, I’m good.

I got to play trivia for an hour with Larry at Buffalo Wild Wings, my first visit there in two months. I didn’t linger any longer than I had to so I could get out to Columbia and watch LSU play Missouri in volleyball.

The beginning and end of the time in the middle of Missouri were fine for the most part. The time inside Mizzou Arena left me wondering if I can ever go back to LSU.

I e-mailed the volleyball team’s media relations contact, Chelsey Chamberlain, that I was coming. I sent it out Monday. Not one word back. No contact elsewhere either.

Inside the arena, Ms. Chamberlain did her best to avoid eye contact.

Am I that repulsive? Maybe I am. 

LSU stayed competitive with Mizzou through the first two sets. In the second sert, LSU led 24-23 and could have tied the match, but blew set point. Mizzou won the next two points to win the set, then dominated the third. Final: 25-22, 26-24, 25-12.

The beginning and end was pretty good because I found some things I can’t in Kansas City, and certainly nowhere in Kansas.

Before the match, I hit the jackpot at Schnucks, the leading grocery chain in St. Louis which has expanded west, but only as far west as Columbia.

Schnucks had the peppers I love so much on hot dogs, peppers which are not carried by Hy-Vee or Hen House in Kansas City, not by Whole Foods, and certainly not by Target and Shit Mart, er, Walmart. I bought six jars, and they happened to be on sale for $2.50 each. I’m set.

After the match, I picked up White Castle. Again, Columbia is as close as I can get to White Castle. The company has introduced a slider made with plant-based materials, and I must say it is delicious.

Now I want to drive back to Columbia for Schnucks and White Castle. Believe me I’ll be hoarding if I’m there for LSU’s baseball series vs. Mizzou in mid-April.

I had to drive back to Kansas City because hotels in Columbia were almost all booked, and those that weren’t had exorbitant rates, because Mizzou hosts Kentucky in football. In fact, the game kicks off in less than an hour.

Exorbitant doesn’t begin to describe the price of going to see LSU-Alabama a week from tonight. I don’t want any part of it. I think next Saturday I’ll be in bed before 1900, even though we go back to standard time (FINALLY) and have an extra hour. I might be up at 0200 the next morning.

When I returned to the hotel at 0015, Game 3 of the World Series was still going strong. I turned it on in the 13th when Boston took a 2-1 lead. Sure enough, Los Angeles tied it in the bottom of the 13th.

I stayed awake long enough for the 14th, then zoned out. When I woke up at 0730, I discovered the Dodgers won in EIGHTEEN innings on a solo home run by Max Muncy.

The game took SEVEN HOURS and 20 minutes. It ended at 0030 Pacific, which was 0330 in Boston. By far the longest postseason game in history in terms of game time, and easily the longest in World Series history. There was an 18-inning National League Division Series game in 2005 between the Astros and Braves.

As far as marathon postseason games go, the National Hockey League is the only league which comes close. No NBA playoff game has lasted more than four overtimes, and the longest NFL postseason game, Miami at Kansas City on Christmas 1971 in the last game at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, went one and a half overtime periods. Association football matches have never lasted more than 120 minutes of playing time before (a) going to a shootout or (b) being replayed entirely.

I am feeling run down. That happens when you’re up for 21 straight hours then  sleep only six.

Steinle on sports, 1/24/2018

I forgot to mention this last night about new Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks…

…his birthday is August 8, 1969. That means he was born only hours before Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenewinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Tex Watson went to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and brutally murdered Sharon Tate and five others on orders from Charles Manson. It’s just a coincidence, but I hope it’s not a metaphor for Wilks’ tenure with the Cardinals.

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Anyone who thought the Jaguars would defeat the Patriots last Sunday for the AFC championship was a fool.

The Patriots rallied from a 14-3 deficit and won on a touchdown pass from Brady to Danny Amendola with less than three minutes left.

Thrilling? I don’t think so, because for New England, it’s par for the course.

I honestly believe the Patriots get satisfaction out of falling behind and coming back, just to jerk viewers around. The early deficits the Patriots fall into lull fans of the opponent into a false belief the opponent will win, but when the chips are down, Brady will make the plays needed for his team to win, giving the proverbial middle finger to the fans of the NFL’s 31 other teams.

If you need any proof, look at Super Bowl LI. I watched last year at Buffalo Wild Wings, and even when the Falcons were up 28-3, I KNEW the Patriots were going to come back and win, even as those around me were cheering wildly for the Falcons (Kansas City really hates the Patriots, maybe more so than the Broncos and Raiders, which is hard to believe). Why? Thomas Edward Brady and William Stephen Belichick.

In Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots were down 24-14 to the Seahawks entering the fourth quarter. Two Brady touchdown passes later, New England is ahead. Then Malcolm Butler makes the play of the game with the interception at the goal line. Again, the Patriots tell the rest of NFL nation “F YOU!”.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the first Brady-Belichick Super Bowl, saw a reversal of the above, but the same outcome. New England led 17-3, but winning in a blowout just wasn’t its style, even though Brady and Belichick were only in their second seasons with the Patriots. The Rams’ comeback to tie simply allowed Brady to be the hero and Belichick to look like a genius when the Patriots drove downfield in the game’s final two minutes to win on Adam Vinatieri’s field goal on the final play, rather than play for overtime as John Madden suggested the Patriots do.

If the Eagles take a big lead in Minneapolis on the evening of February 4, do NOT get excited. It’s all a big tease. The Patriots will find a way to screw you and win another Super Bowl. It’s their modus operandi, and frankly, Brady and Belichick like it that way. What fun is there in winning every game 42-7?

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The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will consist of Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. The first four earned the requisite 75 percent from the Baseball Writers Association of America, while Trammell and Morris were inducted by a special Veterans Committee late last year.

To me, Morris is being inducted based upon one game, the 10-inning shutout he pitched for the Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series vs. the Braves. Yes, he was the ace of World Series championship teams with the Tigers (1984) and Blue Jays (1992) as well as the Twins, but a 254-186 career record, a 3.90 career earned run average and a 1.296 WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) doesn’t scream Hall of Famer.

Personally, I would much rather have seen Jim Kaat, who won 283 games in 25 seasons with the Twins, White Sox and Cardinals, among other teams, get in before Morris. Kaat had a better career ERA (3.45), and he was one of the best fielding pitchers of all-time.

Trammell was a .285 career hitter and one of the best defensive shortstops of his time, although he was overshadowed by Ozzie Smith. He was the anchor of maybe the beset double play combination of the last 50 years, playing alongside Lou Whitaker for 19 seasons in Detroit. He also was very loyal to the Tigers despite the team falling apart in the latter years of his career and two ownership changes.

I’m not going to argue with the four voted in by the BBWA. All very worthy. Thome, Chipper and “Vlad the Impaler” were among the most imposing sluggers of the 1990s and early 2000s, while Hoffman was a lights-out closer during his long and distinguished career, mostly with mediocre or worse teams in San Diego.

I was very happy to see Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Edgar Martinez all fail in their bids for the Hall. However, I know sooner or later some or all of them will make it to Cooperstown, so nothing I say here is going to really change anything. Besides, it won’t change the grand scheme of the world.

I am against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa making it because they were on performance enhancing drugs. Same with Rafael Palmeiro. All four do not deserve to be in the Hall because they disgraced the game of baseball.

Martinez didn’t take PEDs, but he was half a player for most of his career. I think the designated hitter is the most abhorrent thing in all of sports. Cannot stand it. Martinez was mostly a DH during his long career with the Mariners, and while his supporters point to his gaudy numbers, I say all he had to do was bat and never had to worry about fielding. He could go to the cage underneath the stadium while the Mariners were on defense and get his cuts in, while others who played the field didn’t have that luxury.

Martinez will likely get in next year or in 2020, and I’m resigned to the fact David Ortiz, another player who was mostly a DH, will get in on the first ballot. But that doesn’t mean I have to like the DH. I never will. NEVER. And God helps us if the National League ever adopts it.

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The possibility of an all-hot weather Stanley Cup Final may become a reality later this year. Tampa Bay, Vegas and Nashville are all near the top of the NHL’s overall standings, and the prospect really sickens me.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the NHL has any business in places like South Florida, Tampa, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Las Vegas and Arizona. I am not really happy with a team in Dallas, or two teams in the Los Angeles area, either. If you get down to it, you can’t play hockey outdoors in Washington DC during the winter, either, and it’s an iffy proposition at best in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Canada should have at least 10 NHL teams. One in every mainland province at least, which means Saskatchewan should have a club. Quebec City should have one. Toronto could easily support two. So could Montreal. And one team should be in Atlantic Canada, whether it be Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

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Who’s #1 in college basketball these days? I don’t care. I’m not watching until it matters.

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The Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd Monday. I noticed because the Bucks are my favorite team, but I’m not going to sit here and mope. Life goes on, and I could not care less about the NBA.

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Danica Patrick dating Aaron Rodgers? Great catch for her. Terrible downgrade for him. Should have held on to Olivia Munn while you had her, Aaron.

That’s it. Have a good night. And a better tomorrow.

Mandatory and play do not go together, Little League

The Little League World Series began Thursday and continues through next Sunday.

I refuse to watch, unless it happens to be on at a sports bar, where I don’t have control of the televisions. But usually I have enough to distract me, including trivia and other sporting events.

I refuse to watch for one primary reason.

Mandatory play.

In most levels governed by Little League International, including the 12-year old level, which is the age group for teams in the LLWS, everyone who is listed on a lineup card must get into the game for meaningful action.

If a team has 13 or more players on its lineup card, every player must (a) bat at least once, or (b) play three consecutive outs on defense. And three consecutive outs means just that; a fielder can drop three fly balls or let three balls go through his legs, but he has to stay out there until three outs are recorded.

If a team has fewer than 13 players on its roster, then everyone must either bat once or play SIX consecutive outs.

A coach who violates this rule is subjected to severe penalties, and the player(s) who did not get into that game must start the team’s next game.

It happened in a regional game in Connecticut this summer. The coach of the New Hampshire state champion refused to insert the one player on his team who had yet to play. The commissioner of the New England region ruled if the coach violated the rule, he would be suspended for his team’s next two games.

What made this ridiculous is New Hampshire trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth–the last inning–with runners on the corners.

The coach refused.

Good for him.

Let me see: I’m going to bat someone who has yet to play just to satisfy a stupid rule when he represents the winning run. Okay then.

The mandatory play rule is asinine. I don’t care if the kids are 12 years old.

It’s a fact of life some kids are just not as talented as the others. It may be some kids hit their growth spurt earlier, it may be a kid is just not naturally talented, whatever.

If the greatest heartbreak in a kid’s life is not getting into a Litlte League game, then that kid has a great life.

How many Little League players are going to make their high school varsity? I would say less than one third.

How many of those who make their high school varsity are going to play in college? Less than five percent.

And how many players in college (or high school) are going to play professionally (and by professionally, I mean the minor leagues)? Less than one percent. And very, very, VERY few are going to make it all the way to Major League Baseball.

Starting in high school, NOBODY has a right to play. NOBODY. There are tens of thousands of high school varsity players across the United States who see little or no action in their careers. It’s not anything against them. It’s a fact of life.

Mandatory play in Little League is another symptom of the participation trophy culture of the United States. Just like parents complaining their son or daughter didn’t play.

I think mandatory play should be abolished, period. But if Little Leasgue insists on keepig it, it should be outlawed for use in state, regional and World Series play. Teams should be able to use their best players at all times when their seasons are on the line. And coaches who refuse to abide by it need to be applauded, not punished, for upholding the spirit of the National Pastime.

I wasn’t good enough to play baseball when I was very young. I tried, but it was futile. I gave it up. It’s not good to quit, but I knew I wasn’t coordinated enough. It’s simply a fact of life I deal with.

No kid should be discouraged if he doesn’t play. It’s all about the team.

Kansas doesn’t have to worry about it anyway. No team from the Sunflower State has ever played in the LLWS. The only area with teams sanctioned by LIttle League are in the southeast corner, and those are grossly overmatched in the Midwest regoinal.

Week of weird

It has been one of those weeks. Nothing bad, just some unusual happenings.

I’m leaving my house in half an hour to go to Russell High School for the Russell Relays track and field meet, which gets underway at 3 p.m. The intense severe weather is not forecast to arrive until tomorrow, but Russell High is not taking any chances, opting to cancel preliminary heats in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and high hurdles, and scrub finals for five of the seven field events in order to move the meet along. This will be the last meet on the current track at Russell’s Shaffer Field; a new eight-lane track will be ready for 2016.

Tomorrow is supposed to be really nasty. Russell is on the eastern edge for a moderate risk of strong tornadoes. And I’m alone.

Yesterday was another one of those days. It started off innocently enough, with my 9 a.m. appointment in Hays with Crista Geyer. There were some painful things I brought up with her, but otherwise, it was another very productive session.

I dozed off and almost missed the 1 p.m. start time for Victoria’s track and field meet. I got there right at the starting time, and I stayed for two and a half hours. I had to run to Hays really quick after, then made the trip back to Russell for the Broncos’ baseball and softball games vs. Southeast of Saline. I started at softball, then left after the fourth for baseball.

The rain arrived at 5:40, just as the first game of the baseball doubleheader ended. It was a bad day for the hometown team; softball lost 13-2 in five innings, and baseball fell 2-1.

The second game of the softball doubleheader was canceled and will not be made up. Southeast wrapped up the North Central Activities Association championship in game one. The Trojans will likely have a bye in the first round of the Class 3A regional hosted by Beloit May 18-19. Russell is in that regional and likely will be seeded sixth or seventh (last).

The second game of the baseball doubleheader has to be played. Russell/Victoria can win the NCAA championship outright with a win, or Southeast can force a tie if it wins. That game will begin at 4:30 this afternoon. Russell/Victoria wanted to play the game later, but Southeast said no. The Trojans aren’t used to night games, since their field in Gypsum lacks lights.

My parents departed for New Orleans and their 10-day visit Wednesday morning just after 6. I got up way too early to see them off, and I paid the price. I dozed off three times in my office chair while I was working on articles for this week’s Russell County News. At 1:30, Elaine Mercer had to send me a Facebook message to get on the ball. I did. Thankfully she got on me about it.

I stayed up way too late watching Shark Tank reruns which I recorded. I almost missed my appointment with Crista. By time I woke up, it was 8:07. Fortunately for me, I can get ready quickly, and I will admit I took liberties with the speed limit. I made it from my garage door to the parking lot at High Plains Mental Health in 27 minutes.

Tuesday I was speeding along I-70 from the opposite direction. Elaine wanted me to go out to the Russell baseball and softball games vs. Beloit. Problem was, I was in Kansas City, and I was trying to wrap up my work for the week. I had so much track agate typing to do it ate up the clock. I didn’t leave the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs until 1:30, and even then, I had to go to the Chick-Fil-A on Barry Road just east of I-29 to use their Wi-Fi and get everything done. I didn’t leave Kansas City until 3:15, after I fueled the car and got snacks at the QuikTrip on Barry Road near Zona Rosa.

I only stopped for a frappucino at Starbucks in Junction City. I got back to Russell just after 6:30, and when I tuned in to the radio broadcast of the softball game, it was the bottom of the sixth of the second game. Even though the game was tied, it appeared the umpires were going to end the game after six innings and declare a tie if neither team scored. Sure enough, neither Beloit nor Russell scored.

However, the coaches prevailed upon the umpires to play the seventh. Good thing for me, because I got there just in time to take a few pictures in the bottom of the seventh. Better thing for Russell, which scored to win 4-3 and end an 11-game losing streak.

I went over to baseball and took some pictures, but due to the overcast and light rain falling, I had little to no light. I got what I could and went home.

Now I have to pray the house and I stay upright tomorrow. The weather looks much better starting Sunday.