Category Archives: Kansas City Royals
Tonight, the Dodgers and Brewers begin the National League championship series in Milwaukee. The roof will certainly be closed.
Good thing Bud Selig demanded it when Miller Park was built. At least the Brewers don’t have to worry about freeze outs in April like the Red Sox, Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Indians and Pirates often have to put up with, and the Royals, Cardinals, Rockies, Phillies, Reds, Yankees, Mets, Orioles and Nationals sometimes do, and the Blue Jays did before Skydome (now Rogers Centre) was built. Even the Rangers and Braves have had a game iced out every so often. The Rangers won’t have to worry about that anymore starting in 2020 when their retractable roof stadium opens next to Jerry World.
The Dodgers, of course, are one of baseball’s iconic franchises. Dem Bums, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider and Don Newcombe, then Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Tommy Lasorda in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw has done just about everything in his Hall of Fame career except win a World Series. He could cement his plaque in Cooperstown if the Dodgers win it this year, especially when the American League champion, the Red Sox or Astros, will be heavily favored in the World Series.
The Brewers? Put it this way: the Dodgers have won 48 games in the World Series and six championships, and since 1969, have won two World Series and lost in four others. Tonight will be the Brewers 36th postseason game in franchise history. The sweep of the Rockies in the division series brought the franchise’s all-time postseason record to 17-18.
The franchise didn’t even begin in Milwaukee. It started life in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots. The original owner of the Pilots, Dewey Soriano, was grossly undercapitalized, and there was no suitable stadium anywhere near Seattle for Major League Baseball. The bond issue to build the stadium which became the Kingdome was approved in 1968, but even if construction began immediately, it would not be ready before 1971.
The idea in Seattle was to begin in 1971, along with a new team in Kansas City, which lost the Athletics to Oakland after the 1967 season. However, Stuart Symington, a U.S. Senator from Missouri, demanded Major League Baseball grant Kansas City a new franchise in 1969, or he would introduce a bill to revoke MLB’s antitrust exemption.
It was a reverse move of how the New Orleans Saints were born, when, in 1966, Senator Russell Long and U.S. Representative Hale Boggs agreed to introduce legislation to provide the National Football League an antitrust exemption to merge with the American Football League if New Orleans were granted a franchise.
Baseball commissioner Spike Eckert–who would be fired by owners at the end of the 1968 World Series–and American League president Joe Cronin bowed to Symington’s threat, and American League owners did not want an imbalanced schedule where every team would be force to sit for at least two periods per season, so they awarded Soriano and William R. Daley, who almost moved the Cleveland Indians to Seattle (before the Indians almost moved to New Orleans), the Pilots.
If baseball wanted to do it right AND appease Symington, the best idea would have been to give Kansas City and either Montreal or San Diego a franchise in 1969, and have Seattle and the other city wait until 1972 so the Kingdome would be ready for sure.
The Pilots had to pay the Pacific Coast League $1 million since the minor league club which played in Sick’s Stadium had to relocate to accommodate the Pilots (the minor league team didn’t move far–to Tacoma). Sick’s Stadium wasn’t up to MLB standards, and it was hastily expanded, but still short of the 30,000 minimum capacity. Worse, the plumbing often got clogged by overflow crowds, and visiting teams had no hot water for showers on many a day and night.
Soriano was meeting in secret with Bud Selig, then a Milwaukee automobile magnate, to sell the Pilots. Selig would then move the team to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Milwaukee had been without MLB since the Braves left for Atlanta after the 1965 season, hosted the White Sox for 10 games in 1968 and 11 more in ’69, and the attendance for those games was triple that what the team averaged in Chicago during those seasons.
The deal between Soriano and Selig was consummated in Baltimore on the opening day of the 1969 World Series, but Washington state called in its political heavyweights, the same way Louisiana and Missouri did.
The Evergreen State had two very powerful Democratic U.S. Senators at the time, Warren Magnuson and Henry “Scoop” Jackson. They, along with Washington attorney general (and future successor to both) Slade Gorton, went to federal court to block the sale and give MLB to find an owner which would keep the team in Seattle.
Two potential deals failed. Soriano and Daley fell into bankruptcy, and came very close to a deadline which, if the players and staff had not been paid, would have made the players free agents and left MLB with 23 teams, not 24, for 1970.
Meanwhile, the Pilots were training in Arizona, not knowing where they would be playing 81 games in 1970. The moving trucks which left Arizona with equipment stopped in Salt Lake City, not knowing whether to drive north or east.
Finally, six days before Opening Day, bankruptcy judge Sidney Volinn awarded the franchise to Allan H. Selig. The Pilots were now the Milwaukee Brewers.
Selig originally envisioned the Brewers wearing the Braves’ colors of scarlet and navy, but it was too late to order new uniforms, so the new Milwaukee team took the field in the Pilots’ colors, royal blue and gold. The colors stuck through 1993, after which the Brewers went to navy blue and old gold, and even added green for three seasons (1994-96).
Milwaukee’s early teams were terrible. The Brewers played in the American League West in 1970 and ’71, building impressive rivalries with the Twins and White Sox. Then, inexplicably, they were moved to the AL East in 1972 when the Washington Senators became the Rangers. MLB would have been just fine keeping the Rangers in the East; after all, the Dallas Cowboys competed in the NFC East. Instead, the AL stunted the Brewers-Twins and Brewers-White Sox rivalries until 1994, when all three were (briefly) in the AL Central together.
The Brewers didn’t enjoy a winning season until 1978. To be fair, though, the Expos were horrid until 1979, and the Padres didn’t succeed until 1984, but since the Royals went the full five games with the Yankees in the 1976 and ’77 ALCS, Milwaukee fans were getting restless.
In 1978, the logo which has been called “the most clever in all American professional sports” was created. The famous ball-in-glove logo shaped in a lower case “m” and “b”. The asshole who changed that logo after 1993 needs to be found and beaten brutally. Why the team won’t wear the logo full-time is beyond me.
In 1981, the Brewers made the playoffs due to Bowie Kuhn’s asinine decision to split the season because of the players’ strike which cancelled games from June 12-August 8. Milwaukee had the best record in the AL East in the second half, earning it the right to play the Yankees in the best-of-five series to determine which team went to the ALCS. The Brewers lost the first two games in Milwaukee, but somehow won the next two in the Bronx before losing game five.
The next year, manager Buck Rodgers was fired with the Brewers below .500. In came Harvey Kuenn, and Milwaukee rocketed to the top of the division, thanks to “Harvey’s Wallbangers”, consisting of sluggers Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie and Cecil Cooper, and steady hitters Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. The pitching staff was led by Cy Young winner Pete Vukovich and closer Rollie Fingers, the anchor of the “Swinging A’s” bullpen on Oakland’s championship teams of 1972-74.
However, the Brewers nearly blew it. They went into Baltimore on the final weekend of the regular season with a three-game lead over the Orioles. Earl Weaver, who was retiring at the end of the ’82 season, led his club to three straight victories, leaving a winner-take-all game 162. The winner of that game would be on a plane to Anaheim for the ALCS vs. the Angels, who barely held off the Royals in the West. The loser would go home. (There was a potential playoff in the NL West, where the Braves held a tenuous one-game lead over the Dodgers.)
The Brewers somehow pulled it together on October 3, 1982 and won 10-2. However, Milwaukee foundered on the west coast, losing twice to the Angels and standing on the brink of elimination.
The cold and hometown fans warmed up the Brewers, who won three straight and earned the right to face the Cardinals in the World Series.
Mike Caldwell pitched the game of his life in the World Series opener, shutting out the Cards 10-0. St. Louis won the next two games, but Milwaukee rallied to win Games 4 and 5 at County Stadium. As the Brewers loaded the plane at General Mitchell International Airport the evening of October 17, 1982, Milwaukee was one win away from its first World Series championship since 1957, and its first sports title since 1971, when Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) led the Bucks to a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets for the NBA title.
Wisconsin needed the Brewers to win. The Packers hadn’t done a blessed thing since Vince Lombardi left the sideline following Super Bowl II; the Bucks always seemed to come up empty, losing in the 1974 finals to the Celtics and then falling short time and again in the playoffs after that; and Wisconsin football and basketball were second-worst in the Big Ten consistently (Northwestern kept the Badgers from the bottom).
It didn’t happen. The Cardinals bombed the Brewers 13-1 in game six, then claimed game seven 6-3 to celebrate on the Busch Stadium turf.
Milwaukee was done for a long, long time. The Brewers came close to winning a division title only in 1992, falling just short as the Blue Jays were on their way to the first of back-to-back World Series titles. In November 1997, Milwaukee baseball fans got some great news: the Brewers were moving to the National League.
The Royals were the first team asked to move from the AL to the NL, since the leagues did not want to have an odd number of teams and be forced to stage interleague play every day (that would come in 2013 when the Astros moved to the AL). The other idea, to place the expansion teams in one league, was vetoed by the AL., because it did not want to cede Florida to the NL (the Marlins started in 1993). Therefore, one team was asked to switch from the DH league to the No-DH league.
Kansas City made perfect sense. The Royals would have been in the NL Central with the Cubs and Cardinals, meaning St. Louis and Kansas City would play for something much more meaningful than three picayune interleague games in late August.
Instead, David Glass, chairman of the board which ran the Royals following founder Ewing M. Kauffman’s death in July 1993, said no. claiming Kansas City was an “American League” city.
Next up? The Brewers. Bud Selig, chairman of the owners council and acting commissioner (he became full-time commissioner in July 1998) said yes in about one-eighth of a nanosecond.
The new league did nothing for the Brewers. In 2002, Milwaukee went 56-106, eight games worse than the Pilots did. The Brewers reached .500 in 2005, barely missed out on the wild card in 2007, then finally reached the playoffs in 2008, finishing second behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. Milwaukee traded for the Indians’ CC Sabathia at mid-season, knowing he was a rental (he signed with the Yankees in the offseason and promptly helped the Bronx Bombers to their 27th, and most recent, World Series title), then fired Ned Yost (yes, Kansas City, THAT Ned Yost) in September with the Brewers trailing the Mets for the wild card.
Milwaukee ended up losing its division series in four games to the eventual World Series champion Phillies. The Brewers hovered around .500 in 2009 and ’10, then won the NL Central in 2011, thanks to Zack Greinke, who won a Cy Young in 2009 with the Royals.
To get Greinke, the Brewers had to significantly mortgage their future. Traded to Kansas City were a couple of prospects, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Escobar and Cain, along with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, gave the Royals what many termed the deepest farm system in baseball. With hotshot catcher Salvador Perez already in the bigs, the Royals were looking towards 2014 as the year they hit the big time.
How right they were.
The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in the 2011 division series, but lost to St. Louis in six in the NLCS. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Rangers in seven in the World Series.
Milwaukee regressed in 2012 and ’13, but in 2014, started 20-7 and led the NL Central by as many as 6 1/2 games. Yet a disastrous final six weeks left the Brewers barely above .500, 82-80. The Brewers plummeted to 68-94 in 2015, earning manager Ron Roenicke, who led the team to the 2011 NL Central title, a pink slip. In came former MLB utility man extraordinaire Craig Counsell.
Many suggested the Brewers tear it down and rebuild from scratch, much the way the Astros did in the early 2010s when they lost over 100 games for three straight years, bottoming out at 51-111 in 2013. Milwaukee looked like it was doing that in 2016, when it went 73-89.
Then came 2017. Most expected the Brewers to occupy the basement of the NL Central, and possibly one of the worst teams in baseball.
Instead, Milwaukee’s youngsters played out of their minds. The Brewers led the NL Central (over the defending World Series champion Cubs) in July, and even though they could not hold that lead, stayed in the wild card race to the bitter end, falling only one game short of the Rockies. An 86-76 record whetted fans’ appetite for 2018.
And here we are. The Brewers fashioned the best record in the NL, trailing only the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros overall. Milwaukee has its best chance to win a World Series championship since the days of Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and Lew Burdette. The Packers have won plenty since Brett Favre’s arrival, but Green Bay is almost two hours north on Interstate 43, and the team stopped playing games in Milwaukee in 1994, so some Milwaukee fans feel quite detached from the Packers.
I’ve followed the Brewers since 1984, the first year I was old enough to follow MLB. That year, the Brewers made history by playing a 25-inning game against the White Sox. That, and 1987, when the Brewers started 13-0 and Molitor fashioned a 39-game hitting streak, was about it for me until 2008. Then 2011 was it until now.
I had given up on the Brewers when they were swept in a five-game series at Pittsburgh near the All-Star break. Yet they’ve won 11 straight as they head into the NLCS.
I hope the Brewers can pull it off. But I’m always a doubter. I don’t know if the starting pitching can hold up against Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger. I don’t know if Christian Yelich can continue to hit out of this galaxy against Kershaw. I don’t know if Moustakas and Cain can regain the magic of 2014 and ’15 when they helped the Royals win two AL pennants and a World Series. I don’t know if Knabel, Hader and Jeffress can get the key outs.
Prove me wrong, Milwaukee. Prove me wrong. Change my doubt into faith. Hopefully that the Brewers are playing in Boston or Houston the night of October 23.
I returned to Russell yesterday a little after noon, one day later than originally planned.
Thank you, Jason Malasovich.
I’ve known Jason for over 30 years, longer than almost anyone else who does not share my last name. In fact, only two of my current friends list on Facebook has known me longer, Rosemarie Renz (Huguet) and Lisa Syrdal (Clague), both of whom I attended kindergarten through fourth grade with at St. Robert Bellarmine Elementary school.
Jason and I were teammates as 10-year olds playing basketball for Carolyn Park, the playground adjacent to what was St. Robert Bellarmine, which was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and again by Hurricane Rita and was not rebuilt. The same complex was brand new when it was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 but rebuilt in that case.
Carolyn Park did not have a gym, so we practiced at Arabi Park Middle School on the northwestern edge of St. Bernard Parish, less than half a mile from the city limits of New Orleans. The year we played together as 10-year olds, Arabi Park was in its last year as an all-girls school. Jason went to fifth grade at Chalmette Middle, which was all-boys. In the fall of 1987, Arabi Park and Chalmette Middle both admitted the opposite gender, and since Jason lived in Arabi, close to Judge Perez Drive, the main thoroughfare of St. Bernard, he changed schools.
I attended St. Robert’s in the fifth grade, but I had a terrible time, so my parents pulled me out. They sent me to a school which I don’t want to talk about for the first quarter of my sixth grade year, one where stupid stuff (I would like to use another word, but won’t) was allowed and not discouraged. Finally, they decided to send me to Arabi Park.
Jason and Rosemarie were the only people there I knew for the first month and a half. I wasn’t in any classes with them except physical education until mid-December, when I was transferred into all the same classes as them and began to know the people I would be in class with until my departure for Brother Martin at the end of my seventh grade year.
The Arabi Park group split into three groups: one which went to Chalmette High, notably Jason and Shawn O’Neil; one which went to Archbishop Hannan, a co-educational Catholic school further east of Chalmette High, the group Rosemarie was in; and a third which went to Andrew Jackson, at the time a magnet high school which did not play football, basketball, baseball and softball. The notable ones among this group were Stacie Dauterive (now Seube) and her younger sister, Andree, who was two years younger (although their younger brother, Rene, ended up at Holy Cross, largely because he was a very good baseball player). I was the outlier going to Brother Martin, and was one of the very few who was accepted from a public middle school.
Hannan flooded during Katrina and relocated to Madisonville on the west side of St. Tammany Parish, closer to Hammond than Slidell.
Jason and I played basketball again together when we were 12 and in the seventh grade. Jason was pretty good and made the parish all-star team, as did Shawn and Michael Marques, a classmate of mine at Brother Martin who started for two years for the Crusaders’ varsity. I wasn’t too good, but there was one game where I did score 10 points in the first half and 14 total despite battling a bad cold.
When he was at Chalmette High, Jason played for the Owls baseball team and started at second base for two years. One night I went to a Chalmette game but I was cheering for the Owls’ opponent, Shaw, since I knew a few people coaching at Shaw, a couple of whom, including longtime football coach Hank Tierney, were in attendance. I also knew Shaw’s baseball coach, Pat O’Shea, who sadly passed away from prostate cancer last month at 67.
The last time I saw Jason in Louisiana was in September 1995. He was in the Golden Band from Tigerland, and my dad and I went to the LSU-Auburn football game and noticed him as the band was preparing for its pregame show.
I lost touch with everyone from Arabi Park quickly after I went to Brother Martin. I attempted to reconnect with Stacie in the summer of 2005, but Katrina interrupted those plans.
Facebook finally brought me back into their orbit. Go back to almost the beginning of this blog and you can see what happened.
I hoped and prayed that Rosemarie and I would connect when I was in Baton Rouge earlier this year, but it didn’t happen. I was sad about that, but seeing Brenda, Dorinda, Dan, Lisette and the others from LSU more than made up for it. I still miss you, Rosie, and hope we’ll meet very soon.
Jason commented on a picture I posted on Facebook last week. It was me with my very short haircut, thanks to Ashley at Sport Clips, who will be my only stylist for the near future with the lovely Amber Desario out on maternity leave to take care of her new baby boy. He asked me how far I was from Kansas City, assuming I was back in Russell and not knowing I was a lot closer than he thought.
I told him Saturday morning I was in town and would be available Sunday and Monday (I didn’t want to tell him I had blocked out trivia time Saturday at Buffalo Wild Wings AND Minsky’s LOL). So we made plans to meet last Sunday in Lee’s Summit, an area of Kansas City I don’t usually venture to.
These days, I don’t go east of Interstate 435 often, if at all, save for going to Liberty. About the only times I venture east of 435 and south of the river are when I absolutely have to do something in Independence or Blue Springs, or else I’m blowing past those communities to go to Columbia, St. Louis and outside Missouri.
Jason asked me if we wanted to meet halfway, but I told him no, I was one person vs. seven for him, since he had his wife, Melissa, daughter Olivia and son Carson with him, in addition to three members of Melissa’s family with him. I wasn’t about to make them waste that gas. Since I had nothing to do Sunday, I figured I had all the time in the world to drive from Clay County to the southeast corner of the metro.
Their choice for a late lunch Sunday was Jack Stack barbecue in Lee’s Summit. I ate at the Overland Park location last month and was througoughly impressed. This time, I did not order nearly as much food as July. Burnt ends and potato salad. Delicious.
When we were eating, Jason told me he was taking his family to the Royals game vs. the Cubs the next night. I was planning on going back to Russell Monday, but I decided to go to the game, my first in four years.
I saw tickets were very expensive, and there wasn’t a ticket to be found in section 232, where they were sitting. At that point, I thought seriously about going home Monday and telling them I couldn’t make it, making up a white lie. Later, though, I was able to find a ticket in the same section as them, only one row lower. After purchasing the ticket–$98 plus fees and tax–I felt better and committed to Monday in Kansas City.
I splurged on reserved parking. Good thing I did. It was a much shorter walk in the heat from the car to the stadium, and it really came in handy after the game as you’ll see. I waited the 45 minutes in line for the gates to open, but met a very nice family of Cubs fans to talk to, so the time passed fast.
I originally bought a general parking pass, but I forwarded it to Jason and they used it. Saved them $15 (it cost $12 online).
Jason bought two giant hot dogs and asked me to split them with him. I resisted at first but then changed my mind. After all, he bought the dogs (I bought Melissa and the kids popcorn), so I said why not. The Chicago dog with tomatoes, sport peppers and relish was delicious. I wish Sonic still had them. The Kansas City dog had barbecue brisket and coleslaw, and it was also good. I didn’t even notice the slaw, and I don’t eat slaw.
It rained twice during the game, which the Cubs won 3-1 on the strength of a home run and RBI double by Javier Baez. The contest was delayed for 22 minutes in the top of the fourth; it rained harder in the ninth. However, since there was no lightning during the latter storm, umpire crew chief Joe West, the senior umpire in MLB, decided to let the game conclude, which it did with a 1-2-3 frame by Cubs closer Pedro Strop.
We had to wait out the rain about 15 minutes before we finally left. They drove home yesterday through Arkansas and north Louisiana, while I ventured west on Interstate 70.
What I wouldn’t give to see more of my old friends from Louisiana. Rosemarie and Stacie are near the very top of the list, as are Tiffany Peperone, Janine Koenig and Wendy Wall. Brenda was above all of them, but that was fulfilled in April. So was Dan.
I’m still a bit heartbroken over not seeing Liz and Lisa anymore in Kansas City, but that heartbreak was eclipsed by losing Dawn, who is loving it back in Florida. I don’t blame her. But life is empty without her and the others.
If Peggy and Caitlyn were to exit…oh boy.
FYI, the Cubs won 5-0 last night behind one-time Royals farmhand Mike Montgomery. The series finale is tonight, then the Cardinals come to Kansas City over the weekend.
I’m less than 90 minutes away from my next session with Crista, whose importance to my life outranks everyone I’ve mentioned, short of my own family and Dr. Custer.
Going to make this short because I have a date with a long stretch of concrete known as Interstate 70.
Cubs defeated the Royals 3-1 last night. Javier Baez was the star for the Chicagoans, launching a 420-foot home run just to the right of dead center field in the sixth inning to put his team ahead to stay. Baez added an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth.
It wasn’t a complete sellout at Kauffman Stadium (about 5,500 short of capacity), but it was the Royals’ best crowd on a Monday in at least three years. I would say it was at least a 65-35 split crowd in favor of the Cubs. Considering (a) the Cubs have one of the largest fan bases of any team in North American professional sports, (b) the Royals are terrible and (c) the Cubs are here for the first time in seven years and won’t return until at least 2021, I was totally expecting it.
The Kansas City Police Department had me all turned around leaving the stadium. I’ll go into detail later.
That’s all for now. Time to make that long and painful drive west, but it won’t be nearly as painful this time because Peggy wants to meet me in Hays this afternoon.
For the first time since June 9, 2011, the Kansas City Royals will play a home game without Mike Moustakas on the roster, not counting games in which he was on the disabled list.
The Royals host the Cubs for the opener of a three-game series. This is the Cubs’ first visit to Kansas City since June 2011, and will be the last until at least 2021, maybe 2024, due to the interleague rotation between divisions.
FYI, only the Cardinals come to Kansas City every year. In years in which the AL Central and NL Central are paired for interleague, there are six games between the teams, three on each side of Missouri. In the other years of the rotation, that number is cut to four, two at each site.
Your intrepid blogger will be in attendance tonight, my first visit to Kauffman Stadium since June 2014. I wouldn’t have touched this game with a ten-foot pole, but a friend from my distant past changed my mind. I’ll explain later.
Moustakas started at third base for the last Royals-Cubs game in Kansas City, a 6-3 Royals victory on June 26, 2011, giving Kansas City a 2-1 series victory. NOBODY playing for the Cubs that Sunday will be in the lineup this evening for Joe Maddon, nor will star third baseman Kris Bryant, on the DL with an inflamed left shoulder.
Meanwhile, two Royals who were in the lineup, Alex Gordon (left field) and Alcides Escobar (shortstop), probably will be penciled in by Ned Yost tonight, although Yost may sit Gordon since the Cubs are starting recently acquired Cole Hamels, and Gordon does not hit left-handed pitchers well.
The batting orders from that day:
- Cubs–Koskie Fukudome (RF), Starlin Castro (SS), Aramis Ramirez (DH), Carlos Pena (1B), Reed Johnson (CF), Blake DeWitt (3B), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Geovany Soto (C), D.J. LeMahieu (2B)
- Royals–Melky Cabrera (CF), Eric Hosmer (1B), Billy Butler (DH), Gordon, Jeff Francoeur (RF), Moustakas, Matt Treanor (aka Mr. Misty May) (C), Escobar, Chris Getz (2B)
- The starting pitchers were Randy Wells for Chicago and Luke Hochevar for Kansas City.
- James Russell and Chris Carpenter (the one nobody has heard of, not the one who was once the ace of the Cardinals’ starting rotation) relieved for the Cubs, who were managed by Mike Quade.
- Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Joakim Soria all pitched in relief for the Royals, in their first full season under Yost. In fact, I was in attendance at the last game for Yost’s predecessor, Trey Hillman. Hillman’s Royals defeated the Indians 6-4 on a Thursday afternoon, but were still 12-23. By time I returned to my hotel an hour later, Hillman had been fired and Yost hired.
I might be the only person in attendance who won’t give a damn who wins, save umpires and media members. I can’t stand the Royals (at least since Ewing Kauffman died in July 1993), and I can’t stand the Cubs (I’m a Brewers fan, and two of my favorite people on earth, Larry and Lisa, are Cardinals die-hards).
One of my dear friends from my LSU days, Laurie Cannon (Moll), is a huge Cubs fan now living in Chicago with her family, so I would lean to the Cubs this series.
I paid for reserved parking tonight. It’s going to be a zoo, and I expect the Cubs to have more fans than the Royals for this series. Same over the weekend when the Cardinals visit.
My time in Kansas City is almost up, at least this time. I’ll be in session with Crista in 48 hours, so I have to get back to the west soon. This has been a lot of fun, though.
There will be no World Cup matches today, fitting since today is the 242nd anniversary of the independence of a nation which cannot fight its way out of a wet paper bag in association football, at least when it counts the most.
It’s even more fitting the World Cup is off today, because the country celebrating the 242nd anniversary of its independence gained said independence from the country which birthed “the beautiful game”.
One of the constituent countries of the nation where association football (soccer for those snooty Americans) is still alive in the World Cup, thanks to ending a curse which had long haunted it.
England advanced by winning a shootout (kicks from the penalty mark) yesterday over Colombia.
Repeating: England advanced by winning a shootout.
Let that sink in for a few seconds.
It’s the first time The Three Lions have won a shootout in the World Cup since it was introduced to team sports’ greatest spectacle in 1978 (but not put into practice until 1982).
Previously, England had been eliminated in 1990 (semifinals vs. West Germany), 1998 (round of 16 vs. Argentina in a match which saw David Beckham draw a straight red card two minutes into the second half; that England was able to hold Argentina scoreless for 73-plus minutes was amazing) and 2006 (vs. Portugal, with Cristiano Ronaldo burying the winner).
England appeared as if it would win in normal time 1-0, with Harry Kane burying a penalty kick in the 57th mniute after he was taken down in the box rather aggressively.
Colombia played borderline dirty all match, with the manager giving an English player a hard shoulder as they exited the pitch at halftime, and another Colombian player getting away with a headbutt as they jostled in the box on a free kick.
However, Colombia’s Yerry Mina scored the equalizer only seconds from full time, and the match continued. The half-hour of extra time was scoreless, and the groans went up from Newcastle and Sunderland in the North East to Bournemouth and Southampton on the south coast, and all points in between.
The tension had to be most palpable in Sunderland and Liverpool.
English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is a native of the North East of England. He played for Sunderland before leaving the Black Cats in the summer of 2017 after they were relegated out of the Premier League.
Everton, located in Liverpool and the archrival of the world-famous Liverpool Football Club, won the bidding war for Pickford. However, the Toffees were unable to fully take advantage of having Pickford and Wayne Rooney, finishing well behind Burnley for the final European qualifying spot, and obviously behind the Big Six of the Premier League: Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal.
FYI, the four most famous residents of Liverpool, two of whom are sadly no longer with us (one at the hands of a bloody murderer) did not care about the Merseyside Derby, the name given to the Liverpool-Everton rivalry. It was reported The Fab Four did not care much for football, at least the kind played with a round ball (Paul McCartney performed during the Super Bowl XXXVI pregame show and Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show).
In fact, when England won the 1966 World Cup at the old Wembley Stadium, Paul, John, George and Ringo were on the last leg of their last concert tour in the United States. And if you think few Americans care about soccer in 2018, the number of soccer die-hards in 1966 may have numbered less than the number of members of United States House (435).
Back to 2018, Pickford and his mates.
The announcers on Fox stated throughout extra time that Colombia was a lead-pipe cinch to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Sweden. They felt Colombia had enough momentum from the late equalizer to score in extra time, then kept harping on England’s failure in shootouts in the past when it looked like the third shootout of the round of 16 would be a reality.
Surprisingly, English manager Gareth Southgate chose Kane to go first. Many managers save their best kicker for the fourth or fifth round, which is what the United States women did in shootouts in the World Cup finals of 1999 and 2011. In 1999, Mia Hamm, arguably the greatest female association football player to date, went fourth, leaving the heroics to Brandi Chastain and her famous sports brassiere. In 2011, Abby Wambach went fourth, but because the three before her–Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all missed, it didn’t matter, and Japan won. More of the blame lies on the shoulders of Hope(less) Solo (now Stevens).
Kane and Marcus Rashford scored for England after Radamel Falcao and Juan Cudrado did the same for Colombia. Luis Muriel scored the third kick for Colombia, but Jordan Henderson’s attempt was turned aside by David Ospina, shifting the edge to Colombia.
The pressure was now on Pickford. If he could not stop Mateus Uribe, the South American side would have a huge edge, knowing it would at the very least go into sudden death.
Pickford got a piece of Uribe’s arching shot. It hit the crossbar anyway, and England’s condition was upgraded from critical to satisfactory. It became completely healed when Kieran Trippler scored to knot it up again.
Carlos Bacca stepped to the mark for Colombia. He went right, and Pickford was spot on, easily stoning the Colombian substitute forward.
Southgate sent Eric Dier onto the pitch in the 81st minute to spell Dele Alli, the Tottenham striker. Dier now was called upon to take the last kick of the regulation round. If he missed, the kicks would go into sudden death. If Dier scored, England would play again Saturday.
Dier went hard and low to his left. Ospina guessed wrong. England was jolly indeed.
England now plays Sweden, a 1-0 victor over Switzerland. The winner of that match plays the winner of Croatia-Russia, which is also Saturday.
Friday’s matches are France-Uruguay and Brazil-Belgium. I picked Croatia, England and Brazil as semifinalists before the knockout round, and I’ll stick with that. I had France playing Portugal, with Les Bleus losing. I’ll pick France to win, though, against Uruguay.
Maybe it was time for England to end its curse. The Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. The Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship, ending Cleveland’s sports curse which spanned 51 1/2 years. The Cubs ended the Curse of the BIlly Goat by winning the 2016 World Series, their first in 108 years. The Astros broke through last year, their 56th season, to win their first World Championship. The Eagles won Super Bowl LII earlier this year, Philadelphia’s first NFL title since 1960. The Capitals won their first Stanley Cup last month, ending a long run of playoff futility.
See? Most bad things will end. The bad news? All good things WILL end sooner or later.
Meanwhile, the Rays and Marlins played 16 innings last night. How depressing. Paid attendance: 6,259. I’d like to know how many people actually went to the game in Miami, and how many were left when it ended at 0040 Eastern.
The Royals and Orioles seem to be racing to the bottom. Both have lost 60 games, and both are so far out of the playoff race they need the Hubble telescope to find the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Mariners and Indians. Both are on pace to lose 114 games. Neither will probably lose that many, but both will likely fall short of 60 wins.
The Royals host the Red Sox this weekend. There are only nine more big-revenue home games left on the schedule at Kauffman Stadium: the three this weekend, plus three-game sets with the Cardinals and Cubs.
In case you’re curious, the Royals and Orioles play three in Kansas City Labor Day weekend. I’m sure the ticket office at The K is burning up over ticket sales for that one.
I officially turned 41 a little less than two hours ago. Of course, not as big a deal as last year, but it is Friday the 13th, the sixth time my birthday fell on a Friday. I was born on a Wednesday in case you’re curious.
My 13th birthday DID fall on Friday the 13th. I was in eighth grade at Brother Martin High (most of the Catholic high schools in New Orleans have an eighth grade), and I recall Tropical Storm Jerry formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It was pretty gray and damp the rest of the day and all of the next day.
This is the first Friday the 13th birthday since 2006, when I turned 30. I was busy that day: woke up in Wichita, drove up the Kansas Turnpike to Emporia for a tennis tournament, then went to Abilene for a football game, and finally back to Russell, becuase I had to turn around and cover a vollyeball tournament the next morning.
Last year, I was in Hays for a volleyball tournament because Cailtyn was playing and Peggy was coaching. This year, I’m in Kansas City.
My parents always leave town around the time of my birthday to go south, first to visit my brother and his family near Nashville, then down to New Orleans to visit my Uncle Jerry and also gamble on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My parents were going to go to Biloxi right after visting Nashville, but had to alter their plans when Hurricane Nate came ashore in Mississippi last Saturday night. They went yesterday instead.
The first professional sports event of my lifetime was Game 4 of the 1976 American League Championship Series, which started a little more than five hours after I came into the world. The Royals needed to win in the rebuilt Yankee Stadium to stay alive. They did, prevailing 7-4, setting up the fifth and deciding game the next night. Of course, the Yankees won that one 7-6 when Chris Chambliss hit Mark LIttell’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth (barely) over the right-center field fence to send the Bronx Bombers to their first World Series since 1964. Maybe it was best the Royals missed out on that World Series, because Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine destroyed the Yankees in four straight. I don’t think Kansas City would have fared any better.
The Royals lost to the Yankees in the ALCS in both 1977 and 1978 as well before finally breaking through in 1980 (the Orioles defeated the Angels in the 1979 ALCS). At the time, Kansas City tied the Mets as the fastest MLB teams to reach the postseason (8 seasons), although the Metropolitans won the World Series in 1969.
Not going to be a particularly busy birthday. Lots of trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings and a visit to Minksy’s later. Same for tomorrow. Sometimes routine is good.
Reports of my demise, while not exaggerated, are premature–at least for now.
I am well aware I haven't posted for over a month. However, there hasn't been anything worth reporting in July, at least outside of the first 40 hours of the month.
I have barely left Russell the last three and a half weeks. I have no desire to fight the scorching heat which has gripped Kansas for much of the month. It's really bad when 95 is considered a decent day. It has been over 100 half the days of the month, and as high as 110 a couple of days. Next summer I'll plan a return to Louisiana so I can escape the heat.
Today is not supposed to get to 90, which calls for a parka. Seriously, I cannot wait for fall. This summer has been downright brutal.
Kansas City is in a lather over the Royals, who take an eight-game winning streak into this weekend's series with the Red Sox at Fenway. Royals fans are saying "bring on the Dodgers" and "Kershaw is no Bumgarner" already. Sorry to be the wet blanket, but the Royals have won all eight of those games against the Tigers and White Sox, who are putrid. The White Sox are easily the worst team in the American League, and while the Tigers don't have the second worst record in the Junior Circuit, they are paying just as badly as the White Sox.
When I lived in Louisiana, I took pity on the Royals after they fell into the abyss. Since Louisiana doesn't have an MLB team and it never will, the pipe dreams of some idiots in the 1970s notwithstanding, there really wasn't a team to root for, although the Astros were popular in many parts, and the Rangers had a few followers in the northwest corner of the state. I was, of course, rooting for the Brewers, and then the Royals, because I heard it from some people about how bad they were, knowing I had roots in Kansas.
Royals fans have become quite insufferable since going to back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning the latter. It's like 1986 through 2013 were an alternate universe, and the 2014 and 2015 teams have direct lineage to the 1985 World Series winning team, and the 1970s squads which won three consecutive AL West championships. Losing 100 games in four of five seasons between 2002 and 2006? Didn't happen. Trey Hillman as manager? Nope, not real. Emil Brown, Mark Grudzielanek, Mark Teahan, Yuniesky Betancourt? Who were they?
Nope, the Royals history goes straight from October 27, 1985, the night they won Game 7 vs. the Cardinals, to 2014. At least, that's what die-hard Royals fans will tell you. Ned Yost is the second coming of Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, if not John McGraw and Casey Stengel. Eric Hosmer is the best first baseman who ever lived. Danny Duffy is better than Sandy Koufax.
Keep drinking the Flavor-Aid, Royals fans. When your team is watching the postseason, don't say I didn't tell you so. And then get ready for what's to come in 2018 and beyond. You can party like it's 1999 (or 2002 or 2004 or 2005 or 2006).
As for the other team occupying the Truman Sports Complex, the Chiefs are starting training camp in St. Joseph. WHY St. Joseph?
This is something that should have ended when Todd Haley and Scott Pioli were fired. It was their brilliant idea to move training camp from Wisconsin, where a more temperate climate allowed for more work outdoors, to a Division II college only 50 miles from their training complex. WHY?
If the Chiefs are going to go away from home for camp, do it a long way from home. If there was a Division II school to use, it would have been Northwest Missouri in Maryville, the dominant Division II program of the 21st cenutry. I understand the idea of drawing fans from Kansas City, but if that's the idea, then hold practices at the high school fields in Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, Olathe and Overland Park.
Missouri Western State University got a sweet deal out of it, not only getting the publicity of having the Chiefs, but massive upgrades to its facilities. MWSU had fallen far behind Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) rivals Northwest Missouri and Pittsburg State as far as facilities. Now that the NFL and the state of Missouri have ponied up, the Griffins have palatial digs, at least for Divison II.
Last I checked, training camp is for the players and coaches to get ready for the season, not for the fans to mingle. The Chiefs would be better off holding practices at their complex and televising them instead of letting fans in. The fans would be able to watch from the comfort of their air-conditioned living room (or sports bar if they so desire).
The Cardinals used to hold training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. In the state, but far enough away from the training facility in Tempe. Also, the Cardinals trained at elevation (7,200 feet), so their stamina was built up. That's the perfect idea of going away for camp.
Holding camp at Division I colleges isn't going to work, now that the season starts before Labor Day. It wasn't that way until the 11th game was added by the NCAA in the early 1970s. Now it wouldn't work if the Chiefs went to Columbia to train at Mizzou. Same for the Saints going to LSU. Or the Cardinals using the University of Arizona.
It poured in Kansas City overnight. Two of the television stations are reporting two people are trapped in a restaurant in south KCMO near the state line.
Four hours until kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium. Four hours until the most important Chiefs vs. Raiders game in 22 years gets started. At stake is first place in the AFC West, and in all likliehood, a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The parking lots at Arrowhead (and Kauffman Stadium) opened early today. Those fortunate enough not to be working today can get plenty of eating and drinking (bad idea; alcohol is not recommended in cold weather, since it lowers the body’s ability to fight the chill) before kickoff.
I know all about that from attending numerous games at LSU, where many fans start tailgating on Friday before a Saturday game. Many fans want night games at LSU in order to have more time to tailgate. The worst thing to some is an afternoon kickoff, since it curtails the time to be eating and drinking.
Kansas City is going to melt down if the Chiefs lose. There are two all-sports radio stations in the area (KCSP 610 AM and WHB 810 AM), and not one local personality believes the Chiefs will lose tonight. They say the Raiders’ defense is soft, they think Derek Carr will buckle under pressure from the Kansas City defense, they think it wil be too cold for the Raiders, whatever. If you believe some of the talking heads, the Chiefs might as well book their reservations for Houston and Super Bowl LI. For a franchise which hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1969, and has played in only one AFC championship game (1993) since winning Super Bowl IV, that’s heady stuff.
Many sports fans in the area are upset already. Wade Davis, the Royals’ closer on the 2015 World Series winning team, was traded to the Cubs yesterday. Simply put, Royals owner David Glass didn’t want to shell out the $$$$$ to keep Davis in blue and gold. Instead, Davis heads to Wrigley, where he joins Joe Maddon’s juggernaut. Kelvim Herrera becomes the closer after being a setup man the last few seasons.
The Royals weren’t the only team to trade their closer this week. The Brewers dealt Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox. Milwaukee isn’t expected to contend until 2018 or 2019, but general manager David Stearns is taking a chance on some prospects developing. Closer has been a royal pain in the butt for the Brewers since the heyday of Dan Plesac in the late 1980s. Before that, it was also a pain, because Rollie Fingers was injured and could not pitch in the 1982 World Series. It may not have made a difference, but Milwaukee would have had a better chance against the Cardinals. More recently, Francisco “K Rod” Rodriguez blew up as the Brewers stumbled down the stretch in September 2014 after leading the NL Central for most of the season.
Speaking of the Brewers, Bud Selig is going into the Hall of Fame. His reign as commissioner of baseball was an abomination. Ignoring steroids, foisting interleague play upon us, and worst of all, giving the winning league in the All-Star Game home field advantage in the World Series. On the good side, he brought baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves pulled up stakes and moved to Atlanta, and built a solid core around Robin Young, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, Cecil Cooper and Ben Oglivie, all of whom started on Harvey’s Wallbangers, the Brewers’ 1982 American League championship team. Also, Selig got Milwaukee into the National League.
I’ve been at Buffalo Wild Wings since 1 p.m. Going to stay for part of the Chiefs game, but how long is up in the air.
Just before I woke up, I had a strange dream.
I discovered a secret passageway between Norton and Stockton high schools. I was trying to make my way from Stockton’s gym to Norton’s, but there was a crush of people. I somehow made it through.
In that same dream, Caitlyn and Peggy suddenly disappeared without telling me where they were going. The case to my cell phone broke. To top it all off, Norton’s wrestling team was competing in a tournament, but the high school I went to, Brother Martin in New Orleans, was in the same tournament. I was upset I was missing that.
Norton and Stockton connected? Sure, I know both are in the Mid-Continent League, but they’re pretty far apart. They’re nowhere near each other; Norton is at the junction of US 283 and US 36, and Stockton is where US 183 and US 24 meet. I could understand if there were a passage between Stockton and Plainville, since they’re in the same county and 15 miles apart, but with Norton? Hmm. But anything is possible in a dream.
Now that I’m awake, I have to get ready for my session with Crista in Hays, and later today, my trip to Norton to watch Caitlyn play volleyball vs. Goodland, Dundy County of Benkelman, Neb., and Stratton, Colo. I missed Caitlyn’s matches Tuesday in WaKeeney, but she and Peggy forgave me. The Bluejays won vs. Oakley and Trego to improve to 5-2 this year.
I had an appointment with Dr. Custer yesterday. I learned something new about her: she has two sons, both born in October, although neither on the 13th, my birthday. I’m glad. I’m certain she’s a super mom. My health is pretty good, although I need to be more vigilant about checking my blood sugar.
If the Royals weren’t finished before, they are now. Losing three consecutive games at home to the Athletics, mired in the basement of the AL West, is inexcusable. Maybe Oakland is extracting its pound of flesh for the loss in the 2014 AL Wild Card game. Then again, the Athletics have always had it in for Kansas City, given the franchise’s pitiful 13-season existence in KC.
Ned Yost is going to rue the day he ever brought Joakim Soria back to KC. Yes, he was an All-Star for Trey Hillman, but now, he’s shot. He would have done much better giving Kelvim Herrera the closer’s role when Wade Davis went down. Greg Holland wasn’t an option since he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Royals fans should not be that sad. It wasn’t that long ago avoiding 90 losses was reason to celebrate.
I’m going to have to drive back to Russell after my appointment with Crista. Not ideal, but if I went straight to Norton, I’d be there before noon. The other option is to drive all the way to Colby, go up to Atwood and then over to Norton, but that would burn too much gas. Not a big deal.
The Los Angeles Rams made a huge splash Thursday morning when they traded with Tennessee to acquire the Titans’ No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, which begins April 28.
It’s the first time since 1991 that a team from outside the top 10 traded up to the No.1 pick. That year, the Cowboys acquired the top overall pick from the Patriots and selected Miami (Fla.) defensive tackle Russell Maryland, who was a starter on Dallas’ three Super Bowl championship teams in the 1990s.
Nobody knew it at the time, but New England and Dallas would someday share a common coaching link. Bill Parcells, who did not retire as Giants coach until after the ’91 draft, would coach the Patriots from 1993-96, and then the Cowboys from 2003-06.
The Rams and Titans already share a common coaching link. Jeff Fisher coached the Titans (previously Houston/Tennessee Oilers) from the middle of the 1994 season through 2010, and then took over the Rams in 2012. The franchises have another link with the late Jack Pardee, who played linebacker for the Rams from 1957-70, then was Fisher’s predecessor as Oilers coach from 1990 through the middle of ’94.
Of course, the Rams played in St. Louis from 1995 through 2015, making Missouri a two-team NFL state, as it was from 1963, the year the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs, through 1987, the Cardinals’ last year in St. Louis before moving to Arizona.
Now, you can clearly tell Missouri is once again the exclusive domain of the denizens of Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs’ radio network now shades all of Missouri as part of “Chiefs Kingdom”, a term liberally used by play-by-play man Mitch Holthaus. It used to only include the section of Missouri roughly along and west of US 63, which includes Columbia and Jefferson City. Those two locales did not have many Rams fans until Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce began “The Greatest Show on Turf” era until 1999. The Rams were dominant in mid-Missouri from 1999 through 2003, but after that, the pendulum began to swing back to the west, but really, both teams were pretty pathetic for many years between 2004 and 2012.
I went to a Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday after eating lunch with Bill. I did not see a single Rams item. I saw plenty of Chiefs, Royals, Blues and Mizzou. But no Rams. Not even in the clearance bin. It’s been only three months since NFL owners approved Stan Kroenke’s request to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, and you can’t tell the team played its last game in St. Louis last December 17.
Coincidentally, 2013 was a turning point for the loyalties of both NFL and MLB fans in mid-Missouri.
The Chiefs immediately improved under Andy Reid, starting 2013 9-0. They’ve made the playoffs twice under Reid, winning their first playoff game since 1993 earlier this year. The Rams? Did anyone in Columbia, Jefferson City (and Springfield for that matter) notice the Rams? Sure, they were on TV in those cities when it didn’t conflict with the Chiefs, but did anyone really watch? Those with NFL Sunday Ticket certainly didn’t. And most others could simply watch Red Zone to follow all the games at once.
Meanwhile, by September 2013, people in this part of Missouri realized there was a real MLB team playing on the western edge of the state, not a team playing in MLB masquerading as a minor league squad.
The Royals were pretty much irrelevant in all of Missouri, save for the immediate Kansas City area and the I-29 corridor all the way to the Iowa state line, from the mid-’90s until 2013, when Kansas City enjoyed a late surge and finished with 86 wins.
Now, I would say the loyalties may be 60-40 Cardinals, a major improvement for the boys in blue. Columbia is actually closer to St. Louis than Kansas City by a few miles, but there are an awful lot of Royals fans here.
Now hockey loyalties have NEVER been a problem in Missouri. All Blues, all the time. Yes, I’m aware there were the Kansas City Scouts for two seasons in the mid-’70s, but hardly anybody in Kansas City cared, so I’m certain nobody did 125 miles to the east.
Even Mizzou doesn’t have the entire state’s loyalty. The Kansas Jayhawks have owned the Kansas City metro in recent years, and that ownership has only grown after the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC. Right now, Mizzou is toxic in the City of Fountains.
The NBA hasn’t been in Missouri since April 1985, when the Kings left for Sacramento (Suckramento–thank you Jim Rome). The Hawks left St. Louis for Atlanta in 1968, four years before the Cincinnati Royals moved to KC. I guess the Bulls are the choice of most NBA fans here, although there may be pockets of Thunder fans in southwest Missouri and Grizzlies fans in the southeast.
Major League Soccer? Sporting Kansas City plays in Kansas. Never mind.