Category Archives: Kansas City Royals
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.
According to Royals fans, we might as well not play the 2016 World Series. Besides, how can Kansas City lose now that Alex Gordon has signed a four-year, $72 million contract which will keep him as the starting left fielder for the greatest baseball team ever assembled?
I am being very sarcastic about the Royals being the greatest team assembled. They are not. Far from it. However, I cannot deny keeping Gordon was very important.
If Gordon left Kansas City, the only Major League home he has known, the Royals would have entered the 2016 season with Lorenzo Cain in center field and two huge question marks on the corners. Alex Rios, who started most of 2015 in right field, is not expected back. Jerrod Dyson is a great defensive replacement, but he is not starting material. Paulo Orlando has not proven himself. And of course, Ben Zobrist is now playing for the Cubs.
Royals fans across the social media spectrum started posting all kinds of celebratory posts, complete with numerous hashtags.
Not surprisingly, the hashtag queen of Facebook herself, Jami Applegate, had FOUR hashtags in her status about Gordon’s re-signing, all of them very long. Had she been on Twitter, only one of the four hashtags would have fit in the 140 characters.
If you aren’t following Jami Applegate on Facebook, you need to. Every post includes at least two extended hashtags. Some include six or seven. And some of them are so long you could make a complete sentence out of them.
Gordon didn’t get the $20-$23 million per season he was hoping for. But nobody cry for him. He got the Royals to pony up $18 million per year, and that’s no mean feat given David Glass’ notoriously cheap ways throughout his ownership of the franchise, which only stopped when he realized it was far more fun to win than make boatloads of cash. He’s doing both right now and having the last laugh on his fellow owners.
I apologize for going into Howard Hughes mode for the last three days. It hasn’t been very good for me, and I figured I should not be posting it, per the request of Brittany and Lisa.
The highlight of my week since I last posted Sunday from Garden CIty? A long, long drive north on Kansas HIghway 23. Seriously.
I left Garden City at noon Monday. I drove east on Kansas 156 and decided to go north on K-23, just to do something different. The scenery wasn’t much, just a lot of open fields, but it was something different and more interesting than what would have been if I would have taken K-156 to either US 283 at Jetmore or further east. I could have taken 156 all the way to Great Bend and then turned north on 281, but I figured taking 23 would allow me to see something new and get me to Interstate 70 at Grainfield.
I was home Monday night for the first time since July 21. With the World Series still going on–Monday was a travel day–the hotel rooms in Kansas City, at least those which were available, were outrageously priced. No thank you.
I hate being home on Monday nights. Not only because I miss Buzztime’s The Pulse, but because I also have trouble with my Tuesday workload when I’m at home. I often am later than when I’m in a hotel room, and this was the case again. I could not pull myself out of bed completely until after 9, and that put me behind the 8-ball. Fortunately, junior high stuff was over, and most teams only had sub-state volleyball and regional cross country, so it wasn’t as heavy a load as it would have been last month at this time.
I watched the first part of game six of the World Series, but I turned it off when the Royals scored seven in the bottom of the second. I knew there would be a game seven. And I had the feeling the Royals were going to win because no road team had won the World Series since 1979.
The work on Wednesday wasn’t bad. I needed less than four hours total to get all together once I finally woke from my slumber. The rest of Wednesday was torture. Not only was I stressing over the World Series and what I would encounter in Kansas City if the Royals won, I was totally upset over the upcoming elections. I am scared to death the left-wing candidates will win the big races for governor and U.S. Senate. The two leftists have not offered anything but to oppose everything their opponents stand for. I guess that’s the way progressives operate.
I needed to get out of Russell. I finally did at noon today after packing the car and voting. It’s nice to be back at the Overland Park Marriott. Now I have to get up before sunrise tomorrow and head southwest to Emporia for Smith Center’s latest foray into Class 2A state volleyball. Since it’s an even-numbered year,. I will have tomorrow night to myself. I’ll take that trade.
Smith Center solved the easy part of the playoff equation last night with a 34-8 victory over Bennington at home. The game was never in doubt, even though the Bulldogs scored in the second quarter to narrow the gap to 14-8.
The Redmen scored on their next drive on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Thayne Benoit to Mason Buckmaster, and then just before halftime, Kaden Meitler’s pass rush forced Bulldog quarteback Kyle Kiborz into a hurried throw which was intercepted by Gavin Overmiller. Smith Center cashed in the turnover for a touchdown, and it was 28-8 at halftime. Game over.
Now comes the hard part. Smith Center must win at Phillipsburg Thursday, or the Redmen are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Phillipsburg won a tougher than expected game at Ell-Saline 20-14. The Panthers would have clinched a playoff berth if they would have won by a larger margin, but I still think they win the district title Thursday by ousting the Redmen.
I listened to the final three innings of game three of the World Series on XM Radio going south on 281. The Royals won 3-2, as Wade Davis and Greg Holland retired the Giants in order in the eighth and ninth innings to put Kansas City up 2-1.
Since I have XM, I can get the Royals radio broadcasters, Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre. I can also get the Giants’ call, which means the legendary voice of the one and only Jon Miller.
Under the MLB’s radio agreement with ESPN, the only stations which may carry local broadcasters during the World Series are the flagship stations, which this year means KCSP-AM in Kansas City and KNBR-AM in San Francisco. Every other station, including WIBW in Topeka, the only station to carry every Royals game since the franchise began in 1969, must take the ESPN Radio feed.
However, there is no exclusivity for local stations and their broadcasters, meaning any station in one of the competing cities can carry ESPN’s feed if they so choose. This has caused a major ruckus in Kansas City, where WHB-AM, the leading sports talk station in the market and the archrival of KCSP, has carried ESPN’s feed for all Royals playoff games. I’m sure there are affiliates in all the other postseason cities, including San Francisco, which has the same problem. It’s worse in KC, however, because WHB dominates the market, save for Royals games, which air on KCSP. The Chiefs have aired on an FM station, KCFX, since 1989.
Matthews, who has been with the Royals since day one, did not call the 1980 World Series at all. That was the last year local radio stations were precluded from producing their own broadcasts, forcing even the flagship stations to take the national feed, which at the time was CBS Radio.
In 1980, it may not have caused more than a ripple in Kansas City, but it caused a near-riot in Philadelphia, where Phillies fans were not allowed to hear the voice of one of the legends of broadcasting, Harry Kalas. Most sports fans, myself included, first heard Kalas doing voice-over work for NFL Films, but in the City of Brotherly Love, he was Jesus Christ as far as broadcasters were concerned. I say Jesus Christ because the Lord was John Facenda, who of course was the main voice of NFL Films from 1966 until his death in 1984, and also was a famous anchor for the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia from the late 1940s through 1973.
In 1981, MLB changed its rules to allow the flagship station for each team to produce its own broadcasts , but only the flagship could carry the local announcers; all other stations still had to take the national feed. It worked out wonderfully in 1982, when fans for the Brewers and Cardinals got to hear Bob Uecker and Jack Buck, respectively. The next year, Kalas got to call his beloved Phillies in the World Series, but they lost to Orioles. Same in 1984 with the Padres (Jerry Coleman) and Tigers (Ernie Harwell). Matthews got his chance in 1985.
As much as I’d like to sit around, I’ve got to get moving. Got a long trip to Scott City for sub-state volleyball this afternoon. I’ll next report when I’m there.
I have got to start going to bed earlier than I have. I slept too late again today. I also didn’t help myself by stuffing my face. It came back to haunt me just before noon.
Regardless, I’m back in Smith Center for what more than likely will be the final football game at Hubbard Stadium this season. The Redmen must defeat Bennington to keep their playoff hopes alive, but that’s only half the story.
Smith Center, which has lost to Ell-Saline and LaCrosse in the last two weeks, although the latter was a non-district game, also has to defeat Phillipsburg Thursday to make the postseason for the 12th consecutive season. The week six boo-boo in Brookville, a game in which Ell-Saline gained a meager 64 yards, has put the Redmen squarely behind the 8-ball.
The Redmen’s current playoff run began in 2003. It includes five consecutive Class 2-1A state championships between 2004 and 2008, and 29 of the 79 victories in Kansas’ longest high school football winning streak.
It used to be much harder to make the playoffs. From 1981, the year the Kansas State High School Activities Association introduced district football, through 2001, only the district champion reached the postseason. There were a few seasons where 8-1 Smith Center teams sat home because the loss came in the wrong game.
1983 is a good example. The Redmen won the 1982 state title and were undefeated going into their final game of the season. but they lost to Osborne and that was it. The Bulldogs went on to win the 3A state championship, so no shame in that.
The Royals and Giants play game three of the World Series at 7:07 CT tonight. Smith Center principal Greg Koelsch and athletic director Greg Hobelmann are already looking for ways to get updates on the game. I have the MLB At-Bat app on my iPhone.
Speaking of my iPhone…I may have bit off more than I can chew.
I’m sorry. I cannot get caught up in Royals hysteria. I can’t do it. There’s something that isn’t letting me.
Yes, I have favorite professional sports teams, but I am not invested heavily in them. For instance, there are no pennants of my teams on the walls of my basement room, I don’t have posters, clocks, lamps or anything signifying whom I pledge my allegiance to. The only thing I’ve got is a Brewers jacket. I have Brewers hats, but I don’t wear them, simply because I can’t. My head is way, way too big to fit comfortably even in a size 8 cap. I “liked” my favorite teams on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, but you won’t find me in Buffalo Wild Wings screaming for them. And you certainly will never find me wearing a jersey. Waste of money. Big waste of money. Why do I want to spend $250-$350 on a shirt?
The Arizona Cardinals, my favorite NFL team, played in Super Bowl XLIII. i got pretty excited when Larry Fitzgerald scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but I knew in the back of my mind the Steelers would come back, and sure enough, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes and assured Pittsburgh of its sixth Lombardi Trophy. It would have been nice to see the Cardinals win, but I would not have gone out and bought a bunch of Cardinals championship gear. Sure, it would have been nice to wear it for a month or two after the game, but once the next season started, what did it matter?
I’ve witnessed LSU win six baseball national championships and two ore football national titles since 1991. The most emotionally invested I was for any of those teams was the 1997 CWS title team, since I had worked all the home games and would be moving into an expanded role for 1998. I got to see LSU win the 203 football title in the Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, but in that case, I was in the press box and could not cheer. I have not watched an LSU football game as a spectator since the Bayou Bengals lost their 1993 season finale to Arkansas during my senior year of high school. I’ve only watched LSU baseball games as a fan during the old Winn-Dixie Showdown at the Superdome in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Do I have preferences for many events? Sure. I could not stomach the Oakland Athletics of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. I was not a fan of the Cincinnati Reds when they won the 1990 World Series. And I have always been negative about the Atlanta Braves, largely because they were owned by left-wing lunatic Ted Turner, and because Turner kept forcing “America’s Team” down our throats on TBS. Unless America only consists of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas, then the Braves are NOT America’s Team.
I’ll freely admit I could not stand Michael Jordan. Great player? Yes. Great person? HELL NO. Turd. Jerk. Arrogant bastard. All about him. I wanted the Bulls of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to lose every game they played, and I was angry every time they won the NBA championship. And I do not like any NHL team in the south. I believe hockey should only be played in places where it’s cold enough to do so outside in the winter. Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta and Dallas don’t qualify.
Is the journalist in me preventing myself from getting caught up in the hype? Maybe so. I do not feel comfortable going to sporting events and just watching. I feel like I have to be doing something, anything, whether it’s taking pictures, taking notes, following something online, whatever. Sitting at a game with a bunch of strangers just isn’t my cup of tea, nor am I one to sit at a sports bar with a bunch of friends to watch a game. I prefer to be in my own world, watching the game the way I feel comfortable doing so, without distraction, without pressure.
I was at Buffalo Wild Wings the night of the Royals’ wild card game victory over the Athletics. I had far bigger concerns than the Royals. I did not cheer. I did not clap. In fact, I put earplugs in for most of the night. I did not go to B-Dubs during the division series because I knew hotel space would be next to impossible to find with the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway in town that weekend.
I was at B-Dubs for game two of the ALCS, but again, no cheering. Just watching, playing trivia and checking on my computer.
I’m watching the 2014 World Series the same way I watched the 1984 Series: a guy who likes Major League Baseball. I am not rooting for the Royals or the Giants. Not my style.
The Kansas City Royals are going to the World Series for the first time since 1985. I don’t know if that has sunk in for a lot of people, particularly in Kansas City, where I’m sure tens of thousands have a massive hangover this morning.
The Royals completed their four-game sweep of the Orioles in the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. It’s the first time the Royals have ever swept a best-of-seven postseason series, and the first time the Orioles have ever been swept in any postseason affair, whether it be best-of-five or best-of-seven.
Today marks the 29th anniversary of the Royals clinching the 1985 ALCS in Toronto. Kansas City lost the first two games of that series in Canada and were down 3-1, but Dick Howser’s crew won game five at home thanks to Charlie Leibrandt’s shutout, then went back to Toronto’s frigid Exhibition Stadium and won the last two games.
As for the 2014 Royals, Tuesday was a very special anniversary for first base coach Rusty Kuntz.
October 14, 1984 was the day the Detroit Tigers clinched the World Series by defeating the San Diego Padres in game five. Kuntz was a reserve outfielder on that powerful Tigers team, which household names Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon and Kirk Gibson in the everyday lineup, plus a mighty pitching staff led by ace Jack Morris and shutdown closer Willie Hernandez, who came over from Philadelphia and won the 1984 American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.
I remember that 1984 Tigers team well. I recall Jack Morris throwing a no-hitter on the first Sautrday of April vs. the White Sox at old Comiskey Park. I remember the 35-5 start Detroit enjoyed and the fact they were never seriously threatened. The Tigers easily swept the Royals in three straight in the ALCS, then had little trouble with the Padres in the World Series. Had it not been for a three-run pinch hit home run by San Diego’s Kurt Bevacqua in game two, Detroit would have swept the Padres.
In the clinching game of the Series, San Diego trailed 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Gibson came to the plate with two on and two out. Padres manager Dick Williams ordered one of the great relievers of all-time, Goose Gossage, to intentionally walk Gibson. Gossgae told Williams no, that he wanted to pitch to Gibson.
Big mistake. Gibson crushed a Gossage fastball deep into the right field upper deck, and the TIgers had their first Series championship since 1968.
Unfortunately, Detroit fans did not know how to react to their first championship in 16 years. In the worst rioting in the Motor City since the 1967 civil rights riots, tens of millions of dollars of damage was undertaken by a bunch of thugs.