Posted on: May 14, 2011 10:12 am
This isn't an easy blog for me to write or even title this week. One of the not so good things about getting older is the bad news we get about many of our childhood heroes and those we watched play, jealous they weren't on our hometown team. Harmon Killebrew was a player that falls into that category for me. The news that he was entering hospice with a cancer that was no longer treatable brought sadness to my heart. That news also made me thing of all the great accomplishments of his on the baseball field. He was a favorite of mine back in the 60's and early 70's. Even though he played for the Twins and I was an A's and Royals fan, I always admired his power and ability to drive in key runs in a game. Plus, Harmon looked like a everyday fan and not a well chiseled athlete, and that made me root for him even more (him and Mickey Lolich who often looked like he had downed a whole pizza or two before taking the mound, kind of like me at times in my life).
Then in 1975, my Royals signed him to a one year deal. He hit a few homers for us that year, but those were not the highlights I remember. What I remember is the warm summer night when Harmon stole not one but two bases. He stole second twice on what we all supposed were missed hit and runs. Pitchers had little concern about him stealing so keeping Killebrew close to the bag was not a priority. Whatever the reasons involved, it was truly a remarkable event to witness.
Fast forward a few years now. My family was visiting the Mall of America in the Twin Cities (Bloomington). As we were looking around I notices a stadium seat hanging on the wall out in the Camp Snoopy area. "Oh yeah," says the operator of the log ride, "That's where Harmon Killebrew's 500th homer landed and they kept the seat in the same location when they tore down Metropolitan Stadium and built this place." I thought that was really cool to see. I mean even if they missed by a few feet, it's still a great tribute to a superb hitter and hero in Minnesota.
It is always sad that eventually our heroes have to show they're mortal and fight the same diseases we do and show they are just like all of us. We know that in our minds, but our hearts want not to believe that fact. All I wish for now is that Harmon finds peace and solace in his final days. In his rememberances as he sleeps, may all his homers be long three run blasts and may every pitcher ignore him at first allowing him to steal bases at will. He'll always one of my all time favorites.
Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:40 am
When Bryan Bullington won his first victory as a major league pitcher Sunday against the Yankees, it was an event long, long overdue. The former overall 2002 first round pick of the Pirates had pitched okay in the minors, but injuries and a lack of opportunity to start in the majors had finally put Bryan on the mound starting for my all of a sudden starting pitching starved Royals. The 8 innings of shoutout ball preserved by Joakim Soria could have been lightning in a bottle, a once in a lifetime performance by a journeyman given one last chance in the majors by the team of last chances, the Royals. At 29, it was nice to see BB finals realize his potential, if even for one memorable start in front of a home crowd that seemed to be half Yankees fans. Also, the last time KC had beaten the Yanks 1-0, 1972. It was a performance long overdue by a Royals pitcher.
On closer inspection, this start may not have been a total fluke or anomaly however. 29 year old pitchers are in the prime of their careers most of the time. He hasn't been overused by any means (reference one Gil Meche) and had a very good start the time before, plus decent stats in AAA with the Omaha Royals. Maybe all he ever needed was an organization to hand him the ball every fifth day and have some confidence he'd do the job. Now two excellent starts may be putting delusions of grandeur in the minds of KC fans, desparately searching for positives in yet another season that somehow unraveled all too quickly and unmercifully. All Bryan deserves is an opportunity to show his stuff the rest of the season. With Kyle Davies being a big tease as a starter, Luke Hochevar and Gil Meche battling the injury bug, Brian Bannister overthinking every pitch instead of relying on instinct and movement, and Zack Greinke just having one of those years, we need a success story in the rotation. We also need someone to just outright pitch well consistently.
Maybe Bryan can become all of that. All us KC fans know is he'll get a chance to earn a rotation spot in 2011 if he pitches well the rest of the season. Good luck Bryan. May that lightning in a bottle from Sunday last you a few seasons.
Posted on: July 13, 2010 11:56 pm
Finding a unique view of George Steinbrenner on the day of his death is like trying to squeeze a 13" ball through a 10" hoop. You can try but it tends to be an exercise in frustration. Well, I'm a bit on the stubborn side so the attempt is going to be made here. Kansas City's involvement with George and the Yankees goes back a long way. Back to 1975 when it was apparent that both teams were very close to challenging for their divisions in the AL. As a Royals fan you could see George was going to do all he could to get NY back to a champion. As both teams battled each other through 4 ALCS, we in the Midwest viewed George as a fun to dislike villian, but a worthy opponent though a bit eccentric in his ways. The Bronx Zoo was entertaining to view yet frustrating to play. It was so sweet to finally get the monkey off our backs in 1980 and after our ALCS win, see George fire Dick Howser who we picked up the next year.
The 80's were good to the Yankees in the wins department, yet no playoffs came after the 1981 WS loss to the Dodgers. George was a madman. He was always trying to get back to the Series but something would always go wrong in the end, or the Tigers, Orioles, Red Sox, or Blue Jays would be too much in a given year for the Yanks. Then George got his second suspension of his career over the Dave Winfield incident (the first was over illegal campaign contributions to the '72 Nixon/Agnew ticket). Stepping away was the best thing to happen to NY. His front offices were able to draft well, make good trades, and sign free agents that made sense. Under Bob Watson the Yanks finally made it back to the postseason and won four WS in 6 years. As George takes over more control of the the team, they go through a drought of sorts (for them anyway) and the WS Championship eludes them until hank takes over the team and allows Brian Cashman to show why he's a very good GM w/o tons of interferrence from ownership.
After the strike of 1994, George did a great job of maximizing his revenues under the new agreement. Until that point, even teams like the Royals could match pace with the Yankees in players salaries. George's tremedous business accumen allowed NY to outspend smaller markets by a wide margin. He was only doing what seemed best for his team. Unfortunately for many smaller markets, ownership chose to play the poor us game rather than adapt and respond to the challenge. Was this selfish on George's part and maybe not the best thing overall for baseball, probably. I never looked at Steinbrenner with the same fun villian view after that. However, he did what he needed to do for his team and that had to be respected. I wish he would have offered the limited revenue sharing option a bit earlier or offered up some other concessions in other areas in the owners control to help ease the transition to the big money era in baseball. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and what happened is past now.
In the end, George was well, George. His lazer focus was wanting his team to be the best in baseball and through good or bad you knew his decisions were based on achieving that. We didn't always like the results out here in the Midwest. It was more fun when we were equals and George failed to realize that the whole sport would have been better off with his team having more than just Boston as a big rival. The big picture was never George's strength. Making the Yankees #1 any way possible was where Geprge's heart was and the NY fans will always be grateful for that. In the Heartland, we'll always see GS with respect but much differently.
Posted on: May 24, 2010 2:17 am
Edited on: May 24, 2010 3:59 am
Finally, after weeks of hard work I get a Sunday off for some fun. Take my son and a friend of his to St. Louis to see the Cardinals and Angels. We're sitting there in the infamous heat and humidity of Busch Stadium, enjoying the game when something comes across the scoreboard that made me look twice, and then a third time. Jose Lima dies of heart attack at age of 37. Lima, gone? My mind instantly started thinking about several things involving Jose.
The first was his 1999 radio appearances on the Jim Rome Show. Back then I did listen to Jim whenever possible because I thought the show was humorous. I finally quit listening when his show yielded to Entercom corporate pressure and switched stations here in KC, going from the hometown owned one to the new, large corporate owned one. Never listened to the show ever again, but that's getting off the subject. Lima Time was funny. Of course it is easy to be outgoing when you're going 16-8 and 21-10 in successive years. He was a favorite of the listeners and you could tell by the way he went about the segments with Jim that life was good in Jose's world, and a very fun place to be.
After his career cooled off some, he found himself in KC as a Royal to start the 2003 season. The Royals got off to a tremendous start that year, and Jose Lima had seemed to reinvent himself as a pitcher, getting off to a very hot start. Even when he was injured, later in the year, he was a good clubhouse presence and somehow, I still believe if he would have stayed healthy, his 8-3 record might have been 17-7 and that might have been the difference to avoid the late season swoon that cost them a 7 game division lead at the All-Star break. He was on the local sports news all the time. You would see video of him at charity golf events, a loud shirt, straw style Caribbean hat, and a big old stogie being his trademark look. Many of us in KC would have loved to see Allard Baird keep Jose, but somehow he slipped away to the Dodgers for 2004. Helped them to the playoffs and, ouch, pitched a masterpiece against the Cardinals in the playoffs to get them a long awaited playoff victory (Cards still won the series though).
Jose came back to KC for 2005. 5-16 with a near 7 ERA didn't keep him from being exuberant, at least to the fans. It was obvious that he just had lost something out on the mound though. He did eat up some innings and kept going out to the mound and kept attempting to find the stuff that used to baffle so many batters. It never came for the most part. He kind of slipped away form the mind of many Royals fans after that, until today.
Many things will be written about Jose. Some good and some will expound on his faults. Jose I'm sure had his faults and no doubt there are those who will bring those out. But this blog isn't written to do that. I write to remember happier moments. The fans screaming Lima...Lima when he brought home a victory for the home team. Thanks Jose for reminding us all that Baseball is a game, and even players should have fun. Thank you for Lima Time.
Posted on: May 21, 2010 4:04 am
Edited on: May 21, 2010 11:17 pm
As we travel the rocky road that us mortals call life, often we run into situations where something doesn't appear to be what it seems to be. A friend who turns out not ot be a friend. Tiger Woods appearing to be be dedicated husband when he obviously was not. Those sort of items. Then, there is the ownership of the Kansas City Royals. David Glass is an owner reviled by many large market and hometown fans as what's wrong with small markets. Greedy ownership that pockets cash and doesn't spend money on his team. Won't go out and spend money and buy players to make the team good. True, the Royals have not been successful on the field for 15 years now, save for the 2003 season. But as Paul Harvey always said, now for the rest of the story, for the rest of this tale is one that few fans in baseball understand.
Lack of local investors would make it difficult for KC to get an NBA or NHL team
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
He has a friend who sometimes e-mails pictures from Lakers games with friendly taunts attached, like, just thought you’d like to see where I am, except this is not a game you win against Brett. He’s in Italy now and sent that friend a picture from Florence, Michelangelo’s statue of David up close. Touché.
This is all a way of reminding you that it’s good to be George Brett, because his world is like that On Demand button on your cable remote — save his desire for Kansas City to land an NHL or NBA team.
“No one stepped up in the past,” he says. “So for someone to step forward in the future, that means there’s gotta be someone new in town. And I don’t know anybody new in town with the deep pockets to do that.”
Brett is more than an observer here. He’s a potential participant, saying publicly for the first time that his family was contacted about joining a potential ownership group for an NHL team in Kansas City.
But he tried this once before, and a failed attempt at buying the Royals means he’s appropriately skeptical of a local group ever surfacing. He knows better than anybody why these little talks never produce anything substantial.
This all comes up during another week filled with reports about one team being in trouble, another team looking to move, and the natural progression to, Hey look! There’s the new team for the Sprint Center!
The future of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes continues to swish back and forth in a negotiation that could move the team to Canada or keep it in Arizona if the city of Glendale can help meet payroll. The NBA’s Pacers are asking Indianapolis to help with operating expenses, or else all options are on the table.
In all, more than a half-dozen NHL or NBA franchises may be up for sale or looking to move, and these are the times that bring to mind the burning confidence of AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke’s in landing a team for the Sprint Center.
Except the same major obstacle exists now that did when Leiweke and others campaigned for public funding: no local owner.
Kansas City is bigger and has a better arena than Oklahoma City, for instance, but the Thunder plays five hours south of here because Clay Bennett is a rich Oklahoman who bought an NBA team and moved it.
Who’s our Clay Bennett?
“No, just not interested,” says Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “We have never looked at sports teams.”
This is how it is with all of Kansas City’s super-rich families. This is how it’s always been, part of why the Chiefs and Royals operate under out-of-town ownership.
Hall says the foundation’s interests are in “the overall health of Kansas City” and that the family “doesn’t see sports franchises as part of that strategy or vision.”
The Blochs, Stowers and Wards have traditionally operated in much the same way. Julia Irene Kauffman serves on the Royals’ board of directors, but has never indicated a desire to get into ownership.
None of this is meant as criticism. These families give to Kansas City in many other ways. The most obvious is the nearing completion of the $400 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, funded generously by the Kauffman family.
That’s great for the local arts scene, but a zero for Kansas City’s chances at an NHL or NBA team.
What it means is that any movement will need to come from an existing or purchasing owner wanting to relocate. The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings could be an emerging possibility, and are owned by AEG.
But even then, our hopes are reliant on something like an out-of-town savior, with presumably no vested interest in Kansas City.
Brett says he and his family will continue to listen to potential investors, but there’s a reason nothing’s come of it yet.
“To get a franchise here,” Brett says, “really, that would be extremely difficult.”
He talks for a few more minutes before excusing himself to get back to his vacation. He’s in Italy, you remember, waiting on the dinner being prepared for him. Yes, George Brett can make many things happen in this world.
But he needs help with this one.
So, the article very nicely points out that KC is indeed an unusual place when it comes to people rich enough to be sports owners. There are many in town who have done very well. Lot of folks arond KC with 50-100M in assets. We just lack the super rich, thats all. Without one of them, there is no NHL, no NBA, and no one local, with area ties and interest, to purchase the team from Mr. Glass and keep the royals in town.
Posted on: March 11, 2010 3:24 am
* Provided the other 29 MLB teams all suffer crushing injuries to their entire 40 man rosters. This claim is made for entertainment and attention grabbing purposes only and in no way represents CBS Sports or in any way signifies one D2Moo is ready for a professional mental evaluation although those who know him have suggested psychological help has been needed for years.
Now I have fully grabbed your attention, this blog is about my hometown team, the much maligned Kansas City Royals. To be a Royals fan the last 15 years has been in simple words, hard as hell. But this is 2010. Zack Greinke is coming off a wonderful year and an AL Cy Young. Billy Butler improved at the plate and in the field to be an above average major leaguer. There are some positives for this year. Positive we haven't seen for some time in this town. So here is a quick rundown of the team.
Always have to start with pitching. Zack Greinke and Gil Meche are a very good #1 and #2 starting combo. If Trey can keep from letting Gil go out and throw 120 pitches in consecutive starts, he should be healthy and ready for this year. Zack is, well, phenomenal. He shouldn't miss a beat this year. He could actually have a higher ERA and still be a big winner if the team plays defense behind him and he gets even a 1/2 run a game better support from the offense this year. Luke Hochevar should be one more year improved as well, although it may be 2011 before we see him break out into the pitcher he can be. Anyone who can have an 80 pitch complete game in this day and age has potential like crazy. Brian Bannister should be #4 in the rotation. He is a thinking n=mans pitcher who shouldn't over think his pitch selection. When he just pitches, he does fine. would like to see Robinson Tejada get the last spot. Kyle Davies to me is a better suited pitcher for the bullpen. The starting rotation should get them deep into most ballgames. then the set up guys come into play. Juan Cruz is the key for me. He has to put up better numbers. Kyle Farnsworth is trying for a starting role. If that makes him a better reliever, fine. He should never pitch in the 8th ever again in my opinion. Fine early though. He's best suited for a situational 6th and 7th inning role. Joakim Soria has the back of the pen sewn down. He has multiple pitches, multiple speeds, and a track record of success. He has converted 89 of 99 save opportunities in the last three years here. One last bullpen man of note is Edgar Osuna. A rule five pick (like Soria was) he has a nice arm and so far looks decent in the spring. too early to tell, but he may have a role in the pen. In conclusion, the key to any 2010 Royals success will depend on how reliable the set up men are. If they can get the game to Joakim with the team ahead, it could be a good year.
The rest of the team will be better defensively this year. David DeJesus returns, having committed zero errors in 2009. Now he has outfield help with Rick Ankiel, Scott Posednik, and Brian Anderson getting most of starts. Posednik is the weak link here, but he is still miles ahead of Jose Guillen in RF. The infield is better defensively with Josh Fields and Chris Getz playing. Butler is the only sure bet as the first baseman. All the other positions are still up in the air as of right now. Jason Kendall will catch. Better defensively than Buck and Olivo, but doesn't hit with as much power. Doesn't whiff as often either I believe.
The offense couldn't be worse than last year. On second though, yes it could. Butler will be fine. If Ankiel can get back to .275 with some pop in his swing and Jose Guillen plays it straight and is motivated in a contract year, the offense might score enough most nights. Alberto Callyspo, if not traded, has a sweet swing. Too bad a iron glove will keep him from seeing more action.
So to sum up this mess of mine, the Royals will go as far as pitching and defense will take them. They'll have to because the team may not be proficient in the run scoring department. It would be nice to see the team have all career good years instead of everyone having career poor years.
Record in 2010: 80-82. Finish in 3rd or 4th depending on the White Sox. Division will be decent this year, even with the Twins Joe Nathan probably out for the season. The Royals, they'll make just enough progress to tease us fans. Decent pitching and above average defense will prove in 2010 that the old Meatloaf tune "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" is true in KC.
Posted on: January 12, 2010 1:09 am
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens wrote those famous words 150 years ago about London and Paris. Those two cities were only 213 miles apart but they might have been worlds apart in Dickens' day. In 2010, there are two baseball cities in the same state 234 miles apart as the crow flies (BTW, do crows really fly in a straight line?), but might as well be a universe apart. These teams are my two favorite teams.
The Kansas City Royals are my hometown team. I have followed them from their first game to today. I have been to Kaufman/Royals stadium about 250+ times. The other team is the Saint Louis Cardinals. I have followed them since 1967, getting hooked by listening to Jack Buck and Harry Caray on KFEQ from St. Joseph and KMOX from St. Louis. The Royals play in the best ballpark from the 70's. A pastoral setting easy to get to by car, but far from a downtown that is beginning to wake up. The Cardinals play in on of the best new retro ballparks, fan friendly and on the southern end of a busy downtown. Polar opposites yet both seem to fit each cities personalities.
What makes these two teams far apart in today's baseball. It doesn't seem that long ago that KC was a premier franchise in the AL. STL, except for a nasty run in the 70's has always been a class orgainization, committed to winning. One thing is management. the Royals have tried to do well on a shoestring but the formula has yet to work. The Cards have spent some money, but usually wisely. The payrolls are about 30 million apart, but STL seems to get more value for their cash spent.
On field management has a lot to do with the gulf. Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan are the type of baseball men who can maximize the talent they have to work with. KC has been a revolving door for managers since Dick Howser had to retire due to a brain tumor. Stability at manager can attract players form other orgainzations and is a blessing for roolkies who are groomed in the minors to know what to expect from the major lrague club's manager.
Finally, the whole Cardinals organization expects to win, from the owner down to the fans. That winning attitude is a strong motivator to stay on top of the NL Central. That used to be the case in KC but now us Royals fans just hope we can win more games than the dismal year before. Signs are beginning to change with Zack Greinke becoming a great pitcher. Fans expect Zack to pitch well and win. Hey, it's a start.
Some folks think I'm strange to be a fan of both teams. As explained above, the fanship for both go back to youth. Maybe soon, things will turn around and I can once more see both teams in the post season.
Posted on: January 7, 2010 12:02 pm
After struggling with three drafts in Word on this subject, I finally decided to just wing it and compose on the fly on this topic. It is an important topic and one that radically divides major league fans. The inequality in payrolls has been debated ad nauseum on Sportsline and across the baseball media.
I know this has gone long. There is much I haven’t been able to cover here. All I wish for is for all sides to sit down and hammer out a system that rewards well run teams with an opportunity to win in the post season no matter what city the team is located in. Then, if your team blows, you know it is because of poor management and not that someone can simply outspend you.