Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Complete and Utter Meche

The returns are in. Many a pundit has sounded off. One of the most mind-blowing free agent signings in recent memory has folks talking. Here's what some of them have to say:

"The Meche deal probably will not be remembered as the worst of this off-season, but at the moment it's the No. 1 candidate." --Rob Neyer,

"I think if you wait to get good before you add pieces like Gil Meche, you never get good." --Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

"But they can't win if they don't try, and mostly over the last two decades, they haven't tried, haven't spent the kind of money they needed to spend to give themselves a chance. They've got the money now, in this lucrative era for baseball, and the Royals' options are to spend it or keep it. Kansas City has chosen to spend its money. The Royals have chosen to try." --Buster Olney,

"Look, we could have gone out and spent 4 to 6 million dollars on a fourth or fifth starter. That's how much those guys cost now. But we didn't want to do that. We look at Gil Meche, and we think he's a guy who could be ready to take off and become an upper-echelon pitcher. He has dominant stuff. He has tremendous makeup. And he wants to be here. To me, it was a no-brainer." --Moore

"To give a very average pitcher who has never thrown 200 innings a season $11 million a year is pure madness." --Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star

"5.40" --Projected ERA for Gil Meche in 2007 courtesy of Nate Silver, Baseball Prospectus

"I don’t think there’s a whole lot of evidence that 'statement' signings eventually lead to enhanced credibility in dealing with future free agents." --Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus

"They've committed $55 million—a magic number in the history of Stupid Free Agent Tricks—to a pitcher with no track record of being anything better than a #4 starter, who’s never been healthy for three straight years, who has been incredibly protected pitching in Safeco Field in front of good defenses." --Sheehan


So, that's what the experts say. But what you really want to know is what some anonymous fan in Kansas City has to say. Personally, I think this is one of the worst pick-ups since Datsun was making trucks. I think this could end up as bad as the Mark Davis acquisition in 1990. Of course, Davis was the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner; Gil Meche finished with the third most walks allowed in the American League despite pitching only 186 innings.

What I can't seem to wrap my mind around is the contention that just because David Glass has loosened the purse-strings, they should start spending money like there's a tree full of it just beyond the left-field fence. There are plenty of opportunities to spend money and spend it wisely and, in fact, Dayton Moore has taken advantage of a number of those opportunities. He's added another minor league team in order to increase the odds of developing cheap, in-house talent. Only one other team in the major leagues has as many minor league affiliates. The Royals are opening an academy in the Dominican Republic in 2007 and making international scouting a larger priority. And Moore has been constantly finding ways to add young pitching prospects in hopes of bolstering a system that has produced nearly zero bonafide major league pitchers in over a decade.

I had been heartened by those moves, moves that looked to strengthen the long-term success of the franchise. But this signing does nothing but evoke the old idiom "penny wise and pound foolish". I understand the fact that Moore doesn't expect the fans to have to endure any more 100-loss seasons. I respect the fact that he wants to create a culture where top-notch free agents want to play. But I really believe that money would have been better spent on long-term contract extensions for young players in the future. Or more talented free agents who will be available in the next couple of years. Nobody expects this team to win 90 games next year or even the year after that. Why not stock-pile money and cheap young talent until the time comes when it makes sense to overspend for top-notch talent instead of mediocre, high-risk talent?

All of the folks who keep whining about how the system is unfair and that we can never compete if we don't spend money should take this as the first example in what I've been preaching for years now:


And signing an injury-prone, middle-of-the-road pitcher to a 5-year, $55 million contract does not bring to mind the wisdom of Solomon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hope Takes A Beating

Once upon a time, there was this thing called Hope that lived in the KU football program. It used to frolick in the fields, thinking of Bowl Games of yesteryear and good times to come.

Then one day, Hope took a road trip to Toledo. Hope got smacked upside the head. Hope took another roadie to Nebraska. In Lincoln, Hope received a punch in the stomach. Getting tired of the welcomes it was receiving in foreign lands, Hope decided to come home. Unfortunately, some Aggies were waiting there to trip Hope and Hope landed on its face. But Hope picked itself back up in order to meet with some Cowboys. It was a pleasant encounter for a while. Then the Cowboys decided to push Hope over and kick Hope in the ribs. Hope was feeling pretty sore and insecure and decided that a little time away might cure what was ailing it. So away to Waco went poor Hope, looking for a fresh start. All Hope got was a reminder of the previous mistreatments as Bears mauled it and send it back home.

Will Hope be able to frolick and play any more this year? Only if Hope toughens up and starts winning some freaking football games.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Know What I Like

I like trotting out to the infield, getting the feel of my cleats in the dirt. I like taking the slow, rolling warm-up toss from the first baseman and slinging it right back. I like pounding the leather of my glove, readying it for its future occupant. I like the ever-so-slight taste of dirt in my mouth. I like looking at the other team's third base coach, who seems to have an easy-going, "We shouldn't have a problem scoring on these guys" look on his face. I like knowing that smug look won't last long.

I like the butterflies in my stomach as my pitcher winds up to make the pitch. I like the tension in my legs as I take a step forward into a half-squat, anticipating the pitch being hit to me at third base. I like the split-second of time that elapses between my recognition that the ball has been hit and the realization that the ball has been hit at me. I like watching the ball bound toward my glove and find a temporary resting place. I like feeling the seams underneath my fingers as the ball rolls off of them on its way to first base. I like seeing the umpire cock his arm into a right angle: "OUT!"

I like sitting in the dugout, waiting for my turn to bat, clapping and shouting "Let's go!" and "Come on!" to my teammate in the batter's box. I like selecting just the right bat and taking practice swings in the on deck circle. I like taking both right-handed and left-handed swings, imagining that the other team is getting nervous trying to decide which way I'm going to come up to bat. I like high five-ing my teammate as he walks past me after scoring a run.

I like stepping into the batter's box, eyeing home plate and fixing myself just the right distance from the both the plate and the catcher. I like looking back at the catcher as he sets up and the umpire as he gets ready to crouch. I like surveying the outfield, looking for the one gap in the defense that I'm going to exploit. I like looking at the pitcher who mistakenly thinks he can get me out. I like the tingle in my hands as the pitcher goes into his motion.

I like the non-feeling of hitting the ball squarely on the sweet spot of the bat, a feeling that would seem jolting and violent, but turns out to be completely missing. I like seeing the ball arc into the gap that I had picked out just seconds earlier. I like seeing the outfielders converge and run towards the outfield wall as the ball skips past them and just keeps rolling.

I like the feeling of my legs pumping, trying to make my body move at maximum speed. I like putting my head down in complete concentration on swinging my arms and alternating my legs. I like hearing the opposing team's bench collectively moan as I round first base. I like hearing my teammates yelling "Run! Run! All the way!" I like knowing that the third base coach will be frantically waving me around even before I've looked up to see him doing exactly that. I like knowing that I'm running as fast as I possibly can and I don't even have to break stride in order to hit the inside corner of the second base bag. I like the growing feeling of urgency as I rush past third base, knowing that relay throws are madly trying to catch up to me. I like the feeling of my legs turning to rubber, yet still charging as hard as can be for the last few strides to home plate.

I like seeing the eyes of the catcher and umpire tracking the ball as it hurtles toward its final destination. I like the feeling of hard earth hitting my leg as I slide past the catcher and his desperate attempt to tag me out. I like the cloud of dust that arises and the hazy figure of the umpire stretching his arms out wide, signaling what I knew to be true before I had even reached first base: "SAFE!"

I like the feeling of being out of breath, panting out "Thank You"s to my teammates who push out congratulatory knuckles to be bumped. I like sitting back down in the dugout, eager for it to start all over again.

I like baseball.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Football Fiasco

I had a vested interest in three football games this weekend: David's on Friday night, KU on Saturday afternoon and the Chiefs on Sunday. Coincidentally, all three games wound up with the same outcome: a blowout loss.

Usually, David's games are on Saturday afternoons. But this past week was an exception. His team (named the Fighting Irish, for some strange reason) plays their games on a field at the Derrick Thomas Academy in KCMO. The field is very nice and the atmosphere is competitive, but not out of control. A fairly typical suburban youth athletic event.

But this night was different.

The Fighting Irish were pitted against the home team, the team from the Derrick Thomas Academy. And it looked like a scene out of "Friday Light Nights", without all the Texas rednecks. This team of 6th through 8th graders had a marching band, cheerleaders and a flag squad. The atmosphere was raucous, which was cool, but totally distracting to Dave and his teammates. Of course, that wouldn't have made a bit of difference, anyway; the DTA team had a significant edge in athleticism. Being that they play flag football, there's a pronounced emphasis on speed and quickness. And these teams were at opposite ends of that spectrum. The kids from DTA looked like waterbugs skitting about the field, spinning and juking and breaking away from their pursuers. And the band dutifully played the SportsCenter theme each time they scored a touchdown, which was at least seven times (I can't remember as I lost count). And as if they needed more of an advantage, the band would only play during the Fighting Irish's offensive possessions. Dave's team couldn't hear a thing. Throughout the game and well after, David and his teammates all had a glazed-over look on their faces. It was rough.

On Saturday, I traveled to Lawrence to witness what I was confident would be a victory for the Jayhawks. And the first half lent credence to my thoughts with KU up 17-0 at halftime. Oklahoma State turned the ball over four times and was making one stupid decision after another. KU didn't seem to be taking advantage of every opportunity, but there was no reason to think this wouldn't be a blow-out win in the Jayhawks' favor.

Then came the second half.

KU's secondary was torched for three passing touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters. KU's offense could barely get into field goal range until they inserted freshman Jake Sharp at running back and gave fullback Brandon McAnderson a couple carries. And after that, it was essentially garbage time as OSU tacked on two more scores. At least it was a pleasant afternoon weather- and company-wise.

Sunday came with the Chiefs being my last shot at redemption for local pigskin squads. I should have known something was wrong when I needed to count on the Chiefs to improve my fortunes.

They made the defending Super Bowl champs look like defending Super Bowl champs, even though Pittsburgh had a shiny 1-3 record heading into the matchup. The only highlight of the game was the The Best Tackle Of The Year. Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu intercepted a pass in the 3rd quarter and was streaking towards yet another touchdown. But Larry Johnson never gave up and lunged to make a tackle. Johnson could only grab Polamalu's hair, but he dragged him down, nonetheless, to save another score. Unfortunately, Johnson pulled him back to his feet by his hair after the play and was assessed an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. It was still pretty cool, though.

So the weekend was not a keeper when it came to football. Oh, well; KU basketball season is just around the corner...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Breaking News

City considers banning "Thinking Arby's" in cars

Roeland Park, KS -- City officials in Roeland Park, KS have proposed a groundbreaking ban within their city limits. In a move similar to the ban on using a cell phone while driving in New York, drivers in Roeland Park would face a fine of up to $100 dollars if caught "Thinking Arby's".

The proposal has been made in response to the current national advertising campaign by the fast food roast beef chain. Television advertisements show various people completely unaware of unusual or catastrophic events happening around them, all the while a "thought balloon" hovers above their head and a voice-over says, "I'm thinking Arby's."

Mayor Steve Petrehn is concerned for the welfare of his town's residents. "Imagine the consequences this could have on the citizens of our great town if people are allowed to drive their vehicles completely distracted by the mouth-watering goodness of an Arby's Regular Roast Beef Sandwich, topped with zesty Horsey Sauce."

Yet, others in the community have reservations over what some have called "thought legislation". Ron Milner, a Roeland Park resident for over 35 years, doesn't think the government needs to intervene in the personal freedoms of those it represents. "They're already making me put on my seat belt -- now the government is going to tell me I can't daydream about curly fries and a jug of sweet tea? Why don't we put our resources towards something useful, like drilling for oil in the old Indian Mission?"

The proposal has not been well received by Arby's officials. Judith McPheeters, General Manager of the Arby's franchise in neighboring Mission, KS, says the ban on "Thinking Arby's" could have a devastating effect on her business. "All of a sudden, you would have people who have a clear desire to purchase a delicious Arby's Market Fresh Southwest Chicken Wrap suddenly fearing the possibility of being pulled over and fined. Most of our potential customers will find it far easier to just visit the McDonald's across the street. They may have their "Snack Wrap", but let me tell you, it is most decidedly not Market Fresh."

And while there is still time before the issue is put before the Roeland Park City Council, Roeland Park resident Bill Chumley may sum up things best:

"I'm not sure what the big deal is. When was the last time you went to Arby's?"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Daft Draft Philosophy

The Royals have escaped both the praises and criticisms of my keyboard for some time now. They have been playing reasonably well over the second half of the season, but not well enough to really get excited about. The only thing I have been really paying attention to is the fact that, despite their recent successes, they still had a lock on the first pick in the draft next year.

Well, due to the flailing about of the supposedly up and coming Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Royals no longer have dibs on the top pick.

Shouldn't that be a good thing? Shouldn't finishing without the worst record in baseball be something to strive for?

Normally, I would say yes. But two reasons make me disagree this year.

First, the record we finish with this year is virtually meaningless. Sure, pride factors in at some point, but pride hasn't helped the other four iterations of 100-loss Royals teams from escaping such a lowly designation.

Some good things have happened this year. Mark Teahen appears to have put it all together and will be one of our better hitters for the next few years. Ryan Shealy has been allowed to show why he was regarded so highly as a prospect in the Rockies' system. David DeJesus has put together another very solid year as a leadoff man.

A solid core of youngsters has been incubating in Wichita. Wrangler third baseman Alex Gordon won Texas League MVP and was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. Right fielder Billy Butler won the Texas Leauge batting title and contributed to the USA Olympic qualifying team. Outfielders Mitch Maier and Chris Lubanski had solid campaigns. Zack Greinke got back on track to being one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in the game. Billy Buckner and Tyler Lumsden added solid performances in the Wichita starting rotation. And last year's number one pick, Luke Hochevar, ended up making some starts in AA in his first professional season.

All of these things add much more to the pride of the Royals organization than the title of "Worst Record in Baseball" can subtract.

Secondly, and more importantly, the opportunity to make the number one pick is significant. In his 11-part study of baseball's amateur draft, Rany Jazayerli from Baseball Prospectus gives us this piece of evidence:

"Draft Rule #1: The greatest difference in value between consecutive draft picks is the difference between the first and second picks in a draft. The typical #1 overall pick is worth more than 46 WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) in the first 15 years of his career; no other draft slot comes within even 10 wins of that total. Just as importantly, the benefits of the #1 overall pick do not extend to the #2 pick; in fact, historically, the #2 pick has been worth slightly less than the #3 and #4 picks, and from that point random variation kicks in and strongly influences the downward progression for the rest of the first round."

Unfortunately, some disturbing comments emanated from the Royals' scouting director Deric Ladnier today:

“Actually, I’d rather pick third next season, rather than first. Picking third would mean we really had a strong finish. I’d trade major-league wins for draft leverage any day.”

Now, I like to see the Royals win as much as the next guy. But a few extra wins in this forgettable season is not worth dropping two spots on draft day. It's not even close. I understand that the Royals' front office can't come out and condone tanking the rest of the season just to secure their draft position. And the players (most of them, anyway) are competitors and don't want to lose. Not to mention the fact that they get paid to win ball games. But the Royals really have something cooking right now and to be able to add another top-notch talent in the form of a #1 pick will only strengthen their growing youth movement.

Here's hoping the big club loses just enough to ensure yet another impact player gets on board.


The past few mornings have been chilly. What does this mean? That the carefree days of Summer are over and the god-awful cold of Winter is not far away.

Some people enjoy Winter. I understand that viewpoint about as well as I understand quantum physics. What is the least bit enjoyable about cold weather? Certainly not these things:

* The "Gray Slab" of clouds that hangs over this town 75% of the winter
* The fact that it never snows during the Christmas season
* January, February and March
* Scraping the frost off your windshield in the morning
* Going outside to scrape off the frost on your windshield in the morning
* Going outside in the morning
* Going outside
* Staying inside but not being able to stay warm without setting the thermostat to "Melt Polar Ice Caps"
* The Chiefs' annual collapse
* Decline in laundry efficiency (no shorts, short sleeves; more pants, more sleeves more fabric, more quarters for the dryer)

I can find some positive things about cooler weather, though, such as:

* Breaking out long-sleeve t-shirts and sweatshirts
* Turning off the a/c at home and sleeping with the windows open
* The idea of cozying up to that special someone on a chilly night (though it's been a long time since reality trumped fantasy on this one)
* The leaves changing color
* The climate in my office will now be closer to Earth's and less like Pluto's
* Hot chocolate, hot chai, hot buttered rum and the fact that it's the only time of year I can drink coffee
* New, Fall TV season
* KU basketball just around the corner

Honestly, that's about as good as it gets. There are far more reasons to despise the cold weather, but we have to take advantage of the seemingly short Fall season before we get to Winter. Otherwise, the despair just gets stretched out over a couple of extra months. But I hold on to one thing that makes Winter even the least bit bearable: Without it, I would really take Summer for granted. Sure, I would love for it to be 80 degrees and sunny all the time, but I think I wouldn't appreciate it as much if I didn't have three or four or five months to pine for it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Real-Life Dillema

As a follow up to the Crocodile Hunter post, I have another interactive post. This time you, the reader, can directly intervene in my life. Sound like fun? Keep reading...

Over the past few months, I've been seriously considering going back to school to get my degree. Obviously, this is not a decision to be made lightly. Particularly, since there are risks involved. Maybe not stingray-barb-through-the-heart kind of risks, but risks nonetheless.

Coincidentally, it sort of comes down to a decision between the relatively comfortable life I've presently carved out for myself or an attempt at following some passion. But, of course, it isn't even quite that easy.

To start, let's go over what I have. I have a good job working with wonderful people in a division that is making lots of money in a company that is the very definition of stable. I have a 401k plan, excellent health insurance and a manageable, though not overwhelming, salary. I have time to sit at my desk and write essays about my favorite sports teams or the choice between wadding and folding or whether I should even continue to sit at this desk. One other benefit that adds a wrinkle to this situation: tuition reimbursement.

Additionally, I also have a parent with health issues that lives 5,000 miles away. And a monthly child support payment to make. And the looming fact that I'll have one child attending college in six years, with another on his heels.

Something else I have is a reasonable amount of free time at home to read, research interesting topics and write. And someone's unsecured wireless network from which to "borrow" broadband internet access.

Now, what don't I have? I don't have a college degree. I don't have a plethora of options in which to advance upwardly in my company, and if I did, I'm not sure if I would even want to. I don't have the occupational flexibility to be able to move somewhere else in the country and be reasonably assured of finding a job. While I like my job, I don't have a passion for doing it.

Additionally, I don't have a car payment. Or a high car insurance payment. Or a cable bill. My electricity bill is low and I don't have to pay for natural gas, water or trash pickup. Not to mention all the other miscellaneous expenses that come with living in a house rather than an apartment. I don't have a car that feeds on gas like Mark Mangino feeds on hoagies; my car will run for two weeks on $25 worth of gasoline. The only debt I have will be completely paid off in about eight months. For the most part, I don't have many expenses. This is advantageous when thinking about living the college life.

Most importantly, I'm not sure I have a real passion. Sure, I really like to write and seem to be moderately skilled. But I don't have the longing to do it as much as I have/had the longing to play baseball for a living. Writing about baseball is fun, but it doesn't hold a candle to actually playing. Of course, playing baseball for a living isn't a realistic plan, but it doesn't diminish the feeling in my gut about wanting to do it. What bothers me is that I don't have that same feeling in my gut about writing. Or anything else, for that matter. But maybe that's just the way it is; you start doing something you like and go from there.

So, what to do from here? Mull over the scenarios.

Do I stay at my low-risk, low-reward job that allows me to write and do other things in my free time as a hobby that may or may not go anywhere OR go to school to acquire skills and a degree that allow me to either move up in my current company or make a living somewhere (almost anywhere) else while writing full-time.

Do I go back to school and, as an additional benefit, give my children a good example to follow OR do I stay where I'm at and continue to lead a content life in which I'm able to give my kids the attention that they need?

If I don't go to school, do I continue to write merely as a hobby and creative outlet OR do I make a concerted effort to try to get something published?

If I do go to school, should I go part-time while keeping my current job and benefits (such as tuition reimbursement) and complete my degree in who-knows-how-long OR should I quit my job and concentrate on school full-time, forsaking health insurance and trips to Hawaii along the way?

I've been praying about this and will continue to do so. What makes it hard is that I feel like I can honor God no matter what decision I make. Maybe that should make it easier. I don't know. Feel free to chime in or spout off. Or feel free to just sit back and think about how this might apply to your life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Talk

Saturday was the big day.

I had finally carved out some time (and cojones) to have "The Talk" with Dave. I had two tickets to the KU football game, accomodations for Samantha and a 45-minute car ride each way from Lawrence in which I would have a literally captive audience.

The only thing I didn't have: A way to start off the conversation.

I had been mulling/agonizing/hashing over what material I was going to cover and how I was going to cover it for most of the summer. I had a decent idea of what the message was going to be, but I asked God to help me make it intelligible. And for a way to break the ice.

Thankfully, I remembered that two years ago David had a couple of girls calling the house wanting to talk to him/harass him. That was my in.

First, I asked him if he had seen kids from the schools he had previously attended. Then, I asked him if those girls who used to call him now went to his new school. He said that they did but that he didn't really talk to them.

"So, with all these kids and a bigger school, I bet there are a lot more good looking girls wandering the halls, eh?"

He smiled a sheepish grin and managed to utter a barely audible "Yeah."

I told him that I noticed the fact that he was now looking at the girls who jogged by just like I did. Again, he begrudgingly agreed, though he added,

"I don't look all the time but you turn and look at every one, Dad!"

It was my turn to sheepishly agree.

I told him that it was okay to glance but not stare. Then, I asked him if girls were less disgusting now than they used to be. He replied with another "Yeah" accompanied by some gazing out the window at the passing fields.

The next 10 minutes was a blur of conversation about Sex Ed class, puberty, what to do if a girl asks you to do something you aren't comfortable doing, love, lust and masturbation, all sprinkled with about five or ten entreaties to make sure he knows that he can talk to me about any of those situations. There were nervous giggles, honest exchanges and some horrified glances but we managed to somehow make it through one of the most uncomfortable conversations you can have in life.

I came away relieved that the whole ordeal was over and assured that he understood that he could come to me with any question or crisis. I think he came away glad that the whole ordeal was over and assured that he would soon be in Memorial Stadium thinking about football and eating a bbq brisket sandwich.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Croc Questions

The recent untimely death of Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter", brought up an interesting thought. Is it okay that he died while doing something he was totally passionate about even though it left his wife and child without a husband and father, respectively?

There are quality arguments from each point of view. My first thought when I heard about it was that it was about time: when you put yourself in a position to risk death enough times, statistically, your chances of surviving those chances dwindles with each occassion.

My mind is just inundated with a number of questions:

What he did affected a lot of people. Was that impact enough to put his life and family at risk? Will the number of people he touched due to his passion outweigh the major impact to his family? Will the fact that he followed his passion (even unto death) have a positive or negative on his family? Would it have been possible for him to scale back on the dangerous activities he pursued in order to minimize the risk to himself and his family? Or would scaling back on his activities have reduced his impact on the world at large? Which impact is more important? If his passion isn't inherently immoral, is it acceptable to pursue? Is it immoral to pursue a passion to the degree that it puts his life at stake in the face of leaving his family alone? To compare, is it okay for a soldier to risk his life for his country even though he has a family that counts on him? Is it any different for Steve Irwin to pursue his lifestyle even though he has a family that counts on him? Is the honor of serving your country more important than the educational and entertainment value Irwin brought to the world?

Personally, I don't have an issue with him pursuing his passion. God gives you certain abilities that you should maximize to honor Him and better the world. And he did, quite successfully, as a single guy with no familial attachments. He continued this lifestyle even after getting married and committing himself to another person. And he continued this lifestyle even after he and his wife had children. My thinking is that you can justify those risks as a single individual who has no one depending on you financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. And I think you can justify those risks once you're married, considering your wife is on the same page with you. I have a harder time justifying that risk once you have children. Each child deserves a chance at growing up with the love, support and guidance of both parents. I suppose if both the husband and wife agree that the risk is worthwhile, it is up to them to make the ultimate judgement about what is right for their family. But, to me, it just doesn't seem right to continue a high-risk lifestyle once there's the chance that someone could lose out so drastically.

It seems to me that Steve Irwin had plenty of opportunity to impact the world-at-large with his nearly insane passion for the animal kingdom. Could he not have scaled back his risk (and, admittedly, the impact of his broadcasts) for the overall sake of his wife and children? He could have still followed his passion, be it at a lesser degree, and still given his family a significant chance of keeping their patriarch. According to Wikipedia:

"Irwin was as enthusiastic about his family as he was about his work. He once described his daughter Bindi as 'the reason he was put on the Earth'.His wife once said, 'The only thing that could ever keep him away from the animals he loves are the people he loves even more.'"

I'm just not convinced that the Irwin children will be just as well off knowing their dad died while doing something he was passionate about rather than having him around to share his slightly less dangerous experiences, wisdom and knowledge with his them. It all just seems like a failed experiment in risk management. An experiment in which the Irwin family unnecessarily loses.

What do you think?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Part Two: The Eternal Debate

The toilet seat
A sordid place
From which to choose
The bum or face

In continuing yesterday's scatological theme, today we visit the age-old question of whether to throw up or rapidly move the bowels.

If your stomach is in turmoil and you want to alleviate that feeling, you have to make a decision. Do you bend down and curl up next to the most reviled fixture in the house or plant your fanny firmly atop it?

To me, the decision is easy: keep your mouth shut.

Is there a more unnatural bodily function than having food and beverage you previously enjoyed reverse its course? Well, yes there is. Having that same food and beverage manage to take a detour through your nose. This may not happen every time, but the possibility is always there. I suppose the benefit to choosing this path is that you can expedite your misery more quickly. But I don't see how it can be remotely worthwhile. Your stomach cramps and you can't breathe momentarily; you have remnants that find their way onto your face; you can't get the taste out of your mouth or the smell out of your nose. Even the terms to describe the function sound icky and painful: yack, barf, retch, blow chunks, puke, heave, spew, vomit.

Conversely, the names for diarrhea sound almost comical: runs, Montezuma's revenge, backdoor trots, loose stool, blow mud, Aztec two-step. While the descriptions sound humorous, the act seems much more civil. In general, this is a function that is performed quite often. Most folks sit on the pot at least once per day. Some even look forward to this time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a chance to drop trow and collect one's thoughts. The only difference in this situation is that the results can sometimes be explosive. But at least it's completely contained. Splash-back, you say? Definitely a risk, but no more so than vomiting. And, sure, the odor can be offensive, but it's a temporary affliction, not one that parks itself within your sinuses. Plus, it gives you a chance to refine your wadding skills.

The clincher for me is this: which body part would you rather have nearest the toilet, your rear-end or your face? Even the most anal retentive housekeeper has to admit that the toilet is not a place you would prefer to be within nose-reach of. Yet, people have been known to camp out on the cool, unsanitary tiles 'round the latrine all night, if need be. And the ladies sometimes require an assistant to hold back their hair. All of this is unnecessary if you just keep your head above your heels.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Eternal Debate

To fold or to wad, that is the question.

Or, perhaps, to vomit or to defecate.

Two ongoing debates that deserve to be heard. Whether you want to read about them or not is up to you.

Let's tackle the first question, to fold or to wad. "Fold or wad what?" you may be asking. Toilet paper, of course. Most people can agree that they don't want to complete their business only to look down and see evidence of their most recent product on their hand. That's where this debate starts. Which is the better way to make sure the fudge remains in the bowl?

One of the first things "Folders" will tell you is that by neatly folding the t.p., you can make multiple passes while neatly tucking away each subsequent swipe. They'll tell you that this is both civilized and efficient. They'll also inform you that it lessens the probability of a clog. They'll tear down the technique of the "Wadder", saying that making multiple wipes with the wad is both unpredicatable and dangerous. "A waste of resources!" bellows the Folder. They will claim that if you use that much toilet paper, you're sure to stop up the fixtures.

So, how do the Wadders respond? First, the highly important issue of keeping an adequate "buffer zone" should be addressed. Popular Wadder comments: "I want plenty of material between my fingers and my bum." "I don't need to know my backside like the back of my hand." "If there's a slip-up, that wad will keep me safe while your fold will betray you." They will denounce the claims that wadding is inefficient. And even if it is, isn't that like collateral damage, acceptable losses in the midst of war? And are the Folders' hands too frail to use a plunger in the case of an occassional clog? Again, that's the price you pay for keeping a brown-free hand.

Is there any common ground these two factions can agree on? Maybe one. The sweet, sweet sensation that pulses through your veins when you realize you've made the perfect poo: a look at the fold/wad only to find the lilly-white goodness of unsoiled paper staring back in your face.

Tune in next time for the age old argument between those who would rather blow chunks and those who would rather blow mud.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Stroll of Consciousness

I left my apartment at a little past 5:00pm. I had my iPod Shuffle on and I was ready to go. The following is a stream of consciousness tale of my 3-mile walk today:

"Stepping Stone" by the Monkees. Sweet. I love this song. Definitely a good song to start out on.

I should walk on the left side of the parking lot so that I can see cars coming at me. I don't want one of the maniacs that comes blazing through my lot to drill me.

There aren't any cars at Chacko's. I sort of know the folks that own that place. They go to Jacob's Well. I hope they're doing well.

Rush hour traffic on Johnson Drive. I'll let this first wave pass and then cross. One of these days I'm going to get killed in my one-man effort to remind drivers that pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way.

I don't see the kid I went to grade school with at Hickory Grove working in Mack Hardware. I still can't remember his name. I wonder if he recognizes me whenever I walk past the hardware store. I wonder how often people come by and steal bags of peat moss that they display on the sidewalk. It'd be pretty tough to catch someone. Maybe they have cameras.

The USA Today paper machine is empty. That's unusual. Maybe I should stop by Town Topic on my way back and get some dinner.

There are two women up ahead leaving the veterinarian. I wonder if I'll catch up to them before they get into their cars. Nope. One gets in her car. The other is still up ahead, though. I might catch up to her by the time I reach Mr. Goodcents. Wait; she's gone. She was walking fast. I wonder if she was creeped out by me following behind her. Or maybe she just turned onto Horton. Oh; there she goes on Horton. I'm glad I didn't catch up to her. It may have been awkward.

One of these days I'm going to get nailed by the door at Mr. Goodcents. Someone's going to pop out with their sandwich in hand and drill me as I walk past. No such luck today. No one sitting on the little patio, either. Must be too hot.

I take a look at the line of cars waiting at the red light on Lamar. Some look at me. Some don't. I wonder what they're thinking.

There are a couple of kids up ahead. I wonder if I'll catch up to them. One kid's carrying a wooden stake. He just dropped it in someone's driveway. People wonder how weird crap ends up in their yard; this would explain one such incident.

Ooh; just caught a whiff of R. J.'s Bob-B-Que. Yummy.

One kid turned onto 58th Street. The other kid realized the first had turned and quickly followed. I didn't catch up to them. I'm glad.

I wonder if people driving by see me tapping my leg to the beat of a song or move my hand as if I was strumming a guitar and think I'm a lunatic. Tough; I can't help myself.

Here comes a women toward me with a dog, no, make that two dogs. I'll get over into the lawn to give them room. Oh, man; there's a sprinkler going in that lawn. I wonder if I'll make it past the sprinkler lawn before I meet the dog woman. Yep, just made it past. I nod and say hello to the woman and pet the dog nearest me on the head when it makes a move to sniff me. Nothing like warm dog smell on your hand for the next 2.5 miles.

My shin splints are kicking in pretty good. This is a good time to learn how to deal pain. It's certainly not debilitating, so the more I get used to it, the easier it will be to tolerate in the future. Hiller said he could walk forever. I think I could, too, if I had the right size shoes on. These shin splints will be less painful once I get past 53rd Street.

Here comes a dude jogging. He's wearing a royal blue Royals shirt. You have to respect that. I nod and he nods in return.

I haven't been in the best mood today. I wonder if people who see my face think I look pissed off. I should probably try not to look like a jerk.

I'm walking past 56th Street. I wonder if I'll see Nave. I wonder if he'll call to see if I want to watch the late Royals game tonight.

They're still working on the new driveway at the house across the street from where I grew up. They tore down the basketball goal that I learned to shoot on as a kid. That kind of sucks. Life moves on, I guess. Just look at the crappy sea green vinyl siding on my parents' old house. At least our neighbor's yard looks nice.

That car is coming up fast to the red light at Lamar and 55th. One of these days I'm going to get nailed by someone not paying attention when I cross the street.

There are a couple of kids trying to do skateboard tricks in their driveway. There's an older guy going inside from his front porch next door to them. I wonder if the guy has any concern for the kids as a strange dude (me) walks past them. Apparently not, as he hasn't reappeared from his house.

There are no cars parked in the driveway that leads up to the curve in the sidewalk that goes around the tree. That's unusual.

There's Chad's old house.

I wonder if I'll see Foster or his parents coming down Lamar. Probably not; they usually don't have a reason to come south on Lamar. I wonder if I'll see Jeff's truck at my aunt's old house once I walk past it. I'll stop in and give a hand if he's there.

I'm looking forward to 53rd Street and heading down hill for a bit.

There's a rabbit in someone's lawn.

I'm at 53rd Street and in no immediate danger of being run over. The buzz of the street light relatively loud. It's downhill from here. I better look back over my shoulder to make sure no one is running or biking behind me. One time I had to walk up a steep hill in someone's lawn to give a girl on a bike some space. She actually thanked me verbally. I thought that was cool. Doesn't look like I'll need to worry about it this time, though.

Here's the street that Rushton Elementary is on. That wooden fence reminds me of the one I used to kick boards out of as a kid. Cars parked on the street means there must be little kid baseball practice at the school. One car has an MU license plate on it. Loser. There's only one team practicing today and they're pretty young. The dads aren't even using gloves to play catch with them. I'm always amazed at the skills we can teach little kids. I enjoyed helping coach David's baseball team. I hope an errant throw doesn't nail me in the back of the head as I walk past.

There's that yard where the guy was using an electric trimmer on Saturday morning at 7:30am. How freaking inconsiderate. Doesn't he realize that Saturday morning may be the one morning someone gets to sleep in? This couldn't have waited a couple hours? If I was living in this neighborhood I'd be seriously pissed.

I'm cutting across the circle drive of Rushton. I hope I don't get nailed by a car inexplicably pulling through this lot at 5:30 in the evening. I made it across safely. There's a school janitor leaving for the day. There's another car pulling in to the back parking lot. I wonder what she's doing here?

Can I cut across the 90 degree angle in the street here? Nope; a car is coming. I'll cut it, but not by so much.

I hope all this traffic clears before I have to cross to the other side of 51st Street. I don't like having to stop once I get a decent pace going. Good; no stopping.

There's the house that Eric who worked at my parent's baseball card and comic shop grew up in. I should tell Chad about him for his summer project. And I should make an effort to see if Duane Cunningham's business is still up and running.

That guy in that car looked kind of like Kenny Carpenter. I wonder if it was him. He was a Marine, I think. I remember enjoying keeping tabs on him when his Guard unit was deployed to Iraq a year or so ago. I wonder how Aaron is doing over there right now. He's an Army guy. I just finished reading about a first hand account from a Marine in Viet Nam. Those guys went through some unbelievable stuff.

There's a Saturn. It's blue, not maroon. Janna's Saturn is maroon. I wonder if I'll see her on my walk today. I'm fairly surprised I haven't ever seen her on any of the numerous walks I've taken past her neighborhood.

Will I be able to cut the intersection at 51st and Nall catty corner? Traffic is pulling up to the four-way stop. I'll have to slow my pace if I want to cut across. No dice; too slow. I'll start crossing Nall and then cut across 51st. Whoops! I better let that car go first.

Jeff's not at his place (gotta remember it's not my aunt's house anymore).

There's a guy up ahead walking his dog. I wonder if I'll catch up to him. He stopped and his dog is sitting obediently at his side. That's odd. What's he waiting for? Oh; he was waiting for traffic to pass so he could cross the street and pick up a pamphlet about that house that's for sale. Good; I didn't want to have to pass him. Now he's crossing back to my side of the street right behind me. I hope my pace is quicker than his. I don't want someone tailing me for blocks on end.

Ugh. I can hear him beside me, but I can't see him out of my peripheral vision. He must be keeping a decent pace. How annoying.

I wonder if I'll see Matt when I pass his house. That was odd that I finally saw him this weekend on the one walk I took at 7:30 in the morning. I doubt I'll see him this time.

That guy is still behind me. I hope he turns soon. There's that house with the two dogs. I wonder if they'll bark at the guy with the dog behind me. It looks like they're not outside right now.

There's always some sort of liquid draining from that house's driveway. It's not even making it a hundred yards down the street before it's evaporating. That seems like an awful lot of water to evaporate that quickly.

That guy's gone. He and his dog must have turned at 53rd Street. Good. I don't have to concern myself with him anymore.

There's a girl up ahead. Which way will she turn? Oh; she's heading south on Nall. Wait; now she's heading west on 55th Street. She's got a dog, too. I wonder if I'll catch up to her. I'm pretty sure I will.

Matt's car isn't in front of his house. He's probably not home from work yet. I didn't figure I'd run into him again so soon.

There's another person up ahead. I can't tell if it's a boy or girl as they come around the fence and shrubbery. Hey! It's Janna! She points at me in a state of surprise. I return the double point.

She says,

"Hey! What are you doing on my sidewalk?"

Buh duh, buh duh, buh duh, think of something witty to say, dumbass.

"Just getting a little exercise."

Nice work, bonehead.

She says,

"Man, what happened to that nice weather we had yesterday?"

"Yeah, I don't know." She was just walking. I wonder if she normally walks or runs? She's in good shape. I wonder if she walks or runs right after work? "It's a little warmer today."

"Yeah, and I think it's supposed to get pretty hot this week."

I say,

"Yeah, I was just thinking the other day about how hot it was every week when we played ultimate last summer. It was probably good once I got used to it. It'll shed a few pounds of this flab I'm carrying."

"Yeah, you'll end up losing five pounds of water weight alone."

"Yeah, it's kind of like wrestling."

Brilliant observation and even more brilliant turn of phrase. I'm a smart guy; why am I totally going blank in this conversation? Don't I have anything interesting to talk about besides the weather? She caught me by surprise; that's why I don't have anything interesting to say. I wonder if she's thinking the same thing?

She says,

"Well, I'm gonna keep going. Have a good week! I'll see you this weekend!"

"Yeah, you too! See you later!"

Wow. I'm a doofus. I should have asked her if she wanted to grab something to eat or something. Oh well; it was nice to see her. I wonder if I can catch up to that girl with the dog now? Not likely. She's got a couple of blocks head start now.

The sun is right in my eyes. Should I have worn a hat? Nah, it would have been hot on my head. Plus, I'm a tough guy; I can still look ahead without squinting that much. Look at me, Dude In The Passing Car; I'm looking in the direction of the sun and I'm not even really squinting!

Alright; I'm picking up the pace now. My legs feel good after that little pause to converse like a kid who just met Shaquille O'Neal or Derek Jeter. With these legs, I might catch up to that girl by the time she gets to St. Pius.

Who's that guy over on Maple? That's the guy with the dog who was tailing me before. Hah, hah, sucker; I'm blazing past you now. You'll never catch me.

Looks like the girl turned south on Woodson at St. Pius. No question I'll catch up to her now. Assuming she doesn't turn off somewhere.

No cars to worry about at Woodson and 55th Street. Good; I can cut over to the St. Pius sidewalk.

There she is in the field with her dog. She's walking back toward my direction now. I knew I'd catch up to her. I remember her now; I saw her a while back in nearly the same spot. She walked clear over toward the church rather than on the sidewalk. Now she's doing it again. Her dog sees me and is looking at me. I'm looking at the dog from a distance. I'll switch my glance from the dog to her and back again so as to appear friendly, but not stalker-ish. She passes and I say hello. She mouths something I can't hear over my iPod.

St. Pius's field still has a jumping pit after all these years. I'm amazed that it has lasted this long. How often does it get used? Is St. Pius some sort of long jumping haven? Is this the only event kids can participate in during Field Day?

I'm going downhill again. My legs feel good. The Doors are playing "Light My Fire".
There are two kids down the way playing on the sidewalk. They see me coming, yet they continue to dart on and off the sidewalk. Are they brave or just curious? Are their parents watching them to make sure some maniac doesn't walk along and steal them? This situation always makes me a little nervous. I want to be friendly to the kids but I don't want to seem overly interested in them should the parents be watching. What a jacked up world we live in. I can't even smile and say hello to some neighborhood kids without fearing the possibility of looking like a perv. No parents around. I say an emphatic "Hi!" to the little girl. She just stares. Before I can look at the little boy, he says hi. I turn and say "Hello!" and keep going.

I'm now entering the WT portion of Woodson. There always seems to be someone who enjoys the Blue Collar Comedy Team a little TOO much hanging around outside, drinking a can of beer and leering at the passersby. I intentionally look at everything but that guy.

It's amazing how infrequently your eyes focus in on any one thing when you're walking. If I think about it hard enough, I could probably make myself motion sick. And I never get motion sick.

There's a car approaching the stop sign at 58th Street. I don't have to worry about the timing of our intersecting paths as she just rolls through the stop sign. That's nice that I don't have to worry about that. It's kind of annoying that she just ran the stop sign, though. Well, how about that! She's pulling into the apartment complex parking lot that I'm about to cross. I wonder if she knows the person who lives in that second floor apartment that has all the junk on the balcony? I wonder if SHE'S the person who lives in that apartment? I don't think so; that balcony has looked pretty much the same for as long as I can remember.

The person pulling out of this next parking lot looks like they might not make the U-turn they're attempting and hit the sidewalk next to the building. Nope, they made it and now they're heading straight for me. I wonder if they see me? Even if they hit me, it won't be very hard; they aren't going very fast.

Will I make the light at Johnson Drive? Nope. This is usually the only place that I have to stop for any extended period of time on my walks. The light turns green for me and stops a bunch of traffic on Johnson Drive. I'm guessing a number of those people are ticked that they have to wait at this light just for me to cross. Sorry, suckers; there's not a button to push for pedestrians here. It's just your bad luck and bad timing arriving at this light at this particular time. One of these days, I'm going to be crossing Johnson Drive and someone is going to nail me from the farthest right lane because they didn't see me behind the car in the left lane and they're in too much of a hurry to stop at the brick crosswalk.

Looks like that eBay business is for sale. Who starts a bricks-and-mortar business based off eBay? That's counterintuitive.

The Keyhole smells like cheap beer and 30-year old beer-stained carpet, furniture and people. I need to get a beer there sometime.

The little used book store appears to be going out of business already. That's too bad. There's a book in the window by Garrison Keillor and one by Phil Keoghan. Weird.

I'm back in my apartment building's parking lot. Should I roll up the windows on my car? Yeah, I don't think I'll be going out later. Looks like the guy who lives below me is home. Man, I'm hot and sweaty. The young couple with the little boy has their screen door wide open and I can hear music. They're a sweet little family. I'm looking forward to cooling off and writing this strange look into my head. I think I'll watch a little TV first...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Speculative Hope

Hope has been restored to fans of the Kansas City Royals baseball organization.

Sort of.

Three events have occurred in the past week that have given the gluttons-for-punishment faithful a reason to open their sports page in the morning:

* General Manager Allard Baird was fired and replaced by Dayton Moore, formerly the Assistant GM to John Schuerholz in Atlanta.

* Zack Greinke makes his first rehab start for Double-A Wichita.

* The Royals draft Luke Hochevar #1 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft.

First, and most importantly, the Allard Baird Era has finally come to an end. His tenure may go down as one of the worst GM stints in history. His legacy is one of botched trades, misguided free agent signings and bungled drafts. As George Costanza would say, "I've got it all!"

But that's not the whole story. In the days and weeks leading up to the dismissal of Baird, more and more stories were leaked about how owner David Glass and his son, team president Dan Glass, entangled themselves in some of the baseball decisions. Tales of trades vetoed and draft picks scuttled due to money issues are just some of the ways in which Baird was supposedly (read: likely) handcuffed by ownership.

So, Baird being gone definitely feels like a step in the right direction, but is it really? Not if the Glass family continues to harass their general manager. But this is where things are starting to look up. According to new GM Dayton Moore, he was given every assurance that he would have full autonomy over baseball decisions. Now, we can only wait and see if this holds true, but it certainly sounds like the Glasses have come to the realization that running a Major League Baseball team is better left to folks who have experience in running Major League Baseball teams.

If things go according to plan, the Royals organization might end up following in the footsteps of two other teams who had similar situations. Everyone remembers what a nightmare it was to be an executive in the Yankees' front office back when George Steinbrenner thought he was Branch Rickey. Of course, once George realized that he was better off letting the qualified people he'd hired run the show, the Yankees reeled off a string of World Series wins and playoff appearances that left every other team salivating. And you can make a similar parallel to the Braves, circa Ted Turner Era. The Braves were nearly as bad in the 80's as the Royals are now, with some of the responsibility falling on Turner's over-inflated ego. Then he hired John Schuerholz away from the Royals and the Braves proceeded to win their division every year since. The Royals can only hope that the GM merry-go-round comes full circle with the hiring of Schuerholz's prodigy Moore.

The second event that should have got the blood flowing in Royals fans' veins was the recent rehab start for one-time phenom Zack Greinke. Greinke had missed the first 2+ months of the season with psychological problems. Those issues have apparently been ironed out and Zack made a solid, if not dominating, start for the Wichita Wranglers. This is good news as Greinke was supposed to be the anchor of this year's pitching staff (although, "anchor" in this case sounds more like a weight intended to keep something immobile rather than a stabilizing force). Not too long ago, one baseball analyst exclaimed, "I have seen the future of pitching and his name is Zack Greinke." When you have that sort of potential and the track record to back it up, it comes as a major blow when your team finds out that you may not be pitching for the next couple of months, or possibly, ever again. With Greinke back in the fold, that's one less rotation spot the Royals will have to fill with the likes of Joe Mays and his ilk. Of course, we can only hope that Greinke comes back as strong or stronger than his impressive performance in his rookie year.

Finally, the Royals bucked conventional wisdom and selected Luke Hochevar as the number one overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft. While most (including myself) were touting left-hander Andrew Miller as the obvious first choice, word spread that Miller's contract demands would be problematic. And while it looks like another pick on the cheap by the Royals, four other teams felt the same way and let Miller slide to #6 overall.

I think this is still a decent pick by the Royals. If you'll indulge me, allow me to pretend for a moment. Hochevar was considered a top five talent in last year's draft, a draft that was considered longer on talent than this year's. Let's pretend that instead of picking Alex Gordon (a junior at the University of Nebraska) with the #2 pick last year (when he had #1 talent), we picked Hochevar and Gordon stayed in school. Hochevar wouldn't have been thought of as a reach and the Royals would have been assured the best talent in the draft the next year. I realize that it's sort of convoluted logic, but the main idea is the same: we got the best possible player available last year and a player that last year was considered to be more talented than anyone in this year's draft.

The only concern one might have about selecting Hochevar would be in having to deal with his agent, the notorious Scott Boras. But the Royals certainly had the framework for a contract worked out before they drafted Hochevar or else they would have drafted someone else. Combine that with the fact that Hochevar might be a head-case (considering his hold-out and agent shuffling last year) and you have some real reasons to be concerned. But during his press conference and subsequent interviews, the phrases he kept repeating were, "I just want to pitch my tail off for the Kansas City Royals" and "I'm ready to put my nose to the grindstone" and "I'll work harder than anyone on the team."

Now, new GM Dayton Moore was not allowed to participate in either the Royals draft or the Braves due to conflict of interest. But you can bet your bottom dollar that he wasn't sitting on his front porch in Atlanta sipping mint juleps either. Word is that Moore didn't have Miller #1 on his draft board. Which implies that Moore at the very least sent some sort of telepathic signals to the Royals scouting department before the draft. This draft will be the first measurable data point in the Kansas City career of Dayton Moore. We can only hope that Luke Hochevar pans out and proves Moore right.

This is why the title of this column is "Speculative Hope". There are no assurances that any of these moves will pan out. If we look back at Allard Baird's career, we can find a number of transactions that looked reasonable at the time but ended up blowing up in his face. So while hope has been restored to Royals fans, there's still reason to be leery. It's like being a dog who has been abused by his owner. You get walloped enough times and you're going to cringe and scamper the next time he makes a move. And even if the owner has a miraculous turnaround and starts treating you nicely, it will still take a little time before you trust him enough to let him pet you. And Royals fans are due for a little petting.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Since my last post, the Royals have tanked every game and are back on track to be one of the worst of all time. Their poor performance elicited this comment from an anonymous reader:

"Why can't we have a discussion about how baseball as a professional sport is an absolute joke due to the fact there is no salary cap whatsoever (and don't even give me that crap about the luxury tax) and parity is non-existent. if they don't fix this, baseball can be in serious trouble, not only in KC but in many towns across the nation."

My reaction is this: Yes, the financial structure of Major League Baseball is a joke. It is a situation that desperately needs to be fixed. And there have been numerable suggestions on how to go about righting the ship.

For instance, I've seen proposals where both a salary cap and a salary *floor* are put into place. This would force teams to spend a minimum amount of money on salary while keeping teams from grossly outspending the competition. It would be a way to keep stingy owners from pocketing their revenue sharing money rather than re-investing it back into the team. But it would be tough to regulate. Spending $50 million on salaries doesn't mean your team is going to compete (see: Kansas City Royals, 2006). If you could regulate that a certain amount was spent on player development, competent front office personnel, etc., that might improve teams to a certain degree. But, as in the Royals' case, it doesn't matter how much or how little money you spend if the decisions on how to spend it are ill-informed or misguided.

Look at the Baltimore Orioles as an example. Peter Angelos has spent significantly more money than the Royals over the last several years (the Oriole's average payroll over the last decade was $66 million, ranking 9th highest overall in MLB) and what does he have to show for it? Only two playoff appearances in the last 10 years and a .475 overall winning percentage.

How about last year's Mariners? They went out and picked up two big ticket free agents. The result? A payroll of $88 million and 69 wins. Is that what the Royals should be striving for? I hope not.

We all know how successful the Rangers were after giving Alex Rodriquez his otherworldly contract. They averaged 72 wins per season and finished last in their division every year until they traded him to the Yankees.

Also, I don't buy the parity argument. Here is a list of the World Series winners since the latest Yankee dynasty ended in 2000:

2001: Arizona Diamondbacks
2002: Anaheim Angels
2003: Florida Marlins
2004: Boston Red Sox
2005: Chicago White Sox

That's five different winners in five years. And two of those teams hadn't won a championship since World War I.

Additionally, 17 *different* teams have made the playoffs in that same time frame. Over 50% of the teams in the majors have made it to the postseason at least once in the last five years. That sounds like parity to me. Or should we reconstruct the playoffs to look like the NHL or NBA where nearly everyone gets in every year? Maybe we should ask the 12 people who actually watch the NHL playoffs or the three dozen who get excited for the NBA playoffs.

My point is this: Yes, the system baseball has in place is flawed. Seriously, in fact. But teams that don't make smart decisions with meager payrolls shouldn't be expected to make smart decisions with increased payrolls.

I'm not sure exactly what the best solution is. The NFL has a "hard" cap, the NBA a "soft" cap. Each of those leagues is thriving. But so is MLB. Attendance has never been higher. Same with overall revenues. It's just certain teams within MLB that are barely treading water. Of course, the same could be said for Portland, Golden State, and Atlanta in the NBA. Or Detroit, Arizona and New Orleans in the NFL. Are those teams hampered by the system? Not likely. They're just poorly run organizations.

So, fix the system in baseball! I'm all for it! Unfortunately, it isn't going to help teams like the Royals until someone can manage them competently.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Halley's Ballclub

Uh, where did this come from?

After doing their best to challenge the all-time mark for futility in a season, the owner threatening wholesale changes throughout the organization and calling up one of their best prospects for no other reason than to rot on the bench, the Royals have done the unthinkable: They swept a 3-game series from the Cleveland Indians. Now, this may not be as impressive as last year's sweep of the Yankees, but we'll take what we can get. Usually, when a sentence contains the words "streak" and "Royals", there's a high probability that the words "extended" and "losing" are included as well. A three-game winning streak is as common as an Alex Gordon rookie card.

Does this mean the Royals are finally starting to figure things out? Absolutely not! Over the course of a 162-game season, even the worst of the worst manage to pull off the occasional miracle.

But we shouldn't shrug off this accomplishment, either. In fact, this time should be cherished. That's right; I said CHERISHED. Why on earth would I say that? Because there will be relatively few opportunities to revel in the Royals' success this year. This is quite possibly the hallmark of the season. Can you see this team sweeping another series against a quality team like Cleveland? I certainly wouldn't wager my next paycheck on that improbability.

But that's not the only reason to be excited about this juncture of the season. The fact that David Glass is finally looking to blow up one of the most inept and long-tenured front offices should bring at least a smug grin, if not a full-blown smile, to your face. I realize that the chances of competent front office personnel being hired by incompetent ownership are slim, but, as my favorite fortune cookie scroll told me, "Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." If you want better results, you have to change something.

So, rejoice Royals fans! Two good things are happening simultaneously. It's like seeing Halley's Comet: A rare and fleeting bright spot that won't come around again for a long time. Only, we get two viewings in one week!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I've been thinking for a while now about writing some reviews of my favorite movies. Not your run-of-the-mill Ebert & Roeper reviews, mind you, but reviews with a little more meat to them. At least, meat that's significant to me and quite possibly to you. I'm not real sure how I'm going to format these as of yet, so bear with me for this first one and I'll improve as I go.

One of my favorite love stories is "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". It's not your typical love story, which is why I like it so much. I rented it within the last year and I finally purchased it recently and added it to my DVD collection. And since it reminded me of my desire to start the movie review series, it gets the honor of being the first film reviewed.

So, as I said before, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is not your typical love story. In fact, it's quite odd. The basic premise is that Joel (played by Jim Carrey) meets and falls in love with Clementine (played by Kate Winslett of "Titanic" fame). As their relationship progresses, they become tired of and irritated with each other. Clementine decides to go to a company that provides a service wherein they can erase any and all memories of a specific person from your life.

Joel finds out that Clementine has had the procedure and, in a final act of frustration, decides to have Clementine erased from his memory as well. But, while he's in the middle of his brain alteration, he realizes that their relationship wasn't all that bad and wants to stop the procedure. Unfortunately for him, he is in a sort of coma-like state and is unable to "wake up" and tell anyone to stop the mindwashing.

Instead, he follows the advice of the Clementine that still resides in his head:

"What if you take me somewhere else, somewhere where I don't belong and we can hide there until morning?"

Thus, the pair travels through the unmapped areas of Joel's brain in an attempt to escape from the forces that are trying to wipe her completely free from his skull.

Again, strange and atypical.

At the same time, though, it is sweet and redeeming.

To see why, let's look a little deeper into who Joel and Clementine are. Joel is a quiet and introspective guy who prefers to live within his own world and finds it difficult to deal with those around him. He's not totally antisocial, but he seems to fear the process in which people open themselves up to one another, particularly when it comes to a relationship with a woman. His hair is unkempt and his clothing is colorless and drab.

Clementine, on the other hand, is colorful in nearly every way. When we first meet her, her hair is dyed bright blue and she's wearing an orange sweatshirt. She's outgoing and willing to share just about anything about herself with just about anyone. She's almost intimate to a fault.

When they first meet, their personalities shine through. Clementine is somewhat pushy and overbearing while Joel is doing his best to just survive this encounter with this stranger. But things change. Joel goes out on a limb and offers Clementine a ride home, an act he would never normally do. Then, when they arrive at her place, he accepts her invitation to come up for a drink. Again, totally against the grain. She makes him promise to call when he gets home. He does and they end up going out again. They end up walking out on a frozen pond with Joel once again warily waving off his insecurities, his journey out onto the ice an obvious metaphor for the mini risks he's been taking in the early stages of his relationship with Clementine.

That's one of the first things that I really appreciated about Joel's character: His ability to finally put his fear aside and act on his feelings. That's definitely something that I've struggled with and continue to try to improve in my life, so I find it reassuring in this instance that he finds that the risk is worth taking.

There are a couple of other lessons that are somewhat interrelated:

-- People are unusual and cause each other pain.
-- People make mistakes, but love overcomes them.
-- It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
-- Things are usually more complicated than they seem.

The first one is a message you don't often get in your run-of-the-mill Hollywood movie. It seems that you'll usually find some gorgeous person who falls for another gorgeous person and ends up going through some minor conflict or miscommunication but they end up with each other in the end. That's really not how life works. People are weird. Everyone has some idiosyncrasies. Often times, those idiosyncrasies cause other people to hurt.

But true love finds a way to overcome and accept those oddities, which is the second lesson. People screw up. All the time. And people get hurt by those screw-ups. But true love deals with those mistakes and moves on. True love is the effort that people put out to get past those unintentional (or sometimes even intentional) wrongs.

The third point is a ridiculous cliche. But one that has weight. As the characters in this film demonstrate, they would rather have both good and bad memories of a relationship than no memories at all. And, honestly, you learn more about yourself and others from the lousy memories than the blissful ones.

The last message is a truth that goes largely unrecognized. There are many circumstances that play into how people interact with each other. Some are direct and some are VERY indirect. But it's unfair to judge a person or circumstance just by its outward appearance. There is usually a great deal going on behind the scenes that lends credence to what is actually happening. Just think about any regular situation in your own life. Then think about all the factors that have gone into why it has happened the way it has. Rarely do things occur in an isolated fashion.

So, there are my observations about "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. If you have seen it, I recommend seeing it again through the goggles of this review.

And now for a couple of random observations from the movie that I enjoyed, but didn't really fit into the theme of this essay:

Clementine had a collection of potatoes that she dressed in miniature human clothing. One was a nurse smoking a cigarette.

Random quote: "I'm making a birdhouse!"

Fantastic song that totally relates to the sweetness of this movie: "Somewhere Only We Know," by Keane.

Look for more reviews to come in the future. Until then, have fun!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Snack Attack

I officially started boycotting my snack machine yesterday. I had started to boycott it earlier when they upped the prices from $.85 to $1.00, but I caved in to the sweet satisfaction of the giant honey bun.

Then, last week, I went downstairs to get a snack and the stupid machine had a light on that indicated that it couldn't accept bills, only change. No matter that half the items in the machine are priced at exactly $1.00. So I went back upstairs to my office, got some change and went back down to purchase my morning sugar jag. But when I put the change in, the machine immediately spit it back out. I was not pleased.

I came back upstairs and perused the machines that are actually in our office. But, as is typical, the machines were nearly empty because the guy who stocks them rarely does his job.

The next day, I went back downstairs to see if circumstances had changed. Lo and behold, the machine was re-stocked, which must mean that the guy added some change so that the dollar bill slot would work. I looked down and that flipping light was still on. I futilely tried toget it to accept my dollar to no avail. Change was rejected just as ithad been before. My irritation level leapt at least 2 more degrees.

So, this morning my boss informs me that the machine downstairs works again. I asked him if there were any cinnamon rolls or honey buns (which were the target of my hunger last week). He replied in the negatory. That was the final straw. The machine was nearly fully stocked last week and nothing could be purchased. The guy finally fixes the change issue but switches out the only worthwhile inventory. So, I am now boycotting that machine forever. Just my little way of sticking it to the man.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I'm not sure how many folks actually visit the links on the right side of the page, but I've added one that I find to be absolutely outstanding:

This guy is a career New York waiter who writes about his daily experiences, both good and bad, in most excellent fashion. I highly recommend reading him. Especially if you get bored reading my drivel.



The Royals finally ended their 11-game losing streak last weekend with another streak: Two in a row over Cleveland. This also temporarily put to rest my intestinal aching about how bad this team is.

Over the course of the streak, I kept asking myself (and others) the same question: Why I should continue to follow this team. I mean, isn't this like the kid who touches the hot pan on the stove yet, for some unknown reason, touches it again even after finding out it's painfully hot? And then keeps touching it repeatedly for the next 15 years? Why on Earth would someone continue to subject themselves to such an utterly hopeless pursuit?

Maybe we should start at the beginning.

My first memories of being a Royals fan go back to 1980. I was six years old but I remember that the town was on fire because of George Brett's amazing run at .400. That and the fact that the Royals were on their way to yet another Western Division title. My grandma had a "George Brett for President" bumper sticker and she took my brother and me out to get a t-shirt with Brett on it. Unfortunately for us, all the Brett shirts were sold out and we had to settle for Hal McRae. But my allegiance had been cemented: I would be a Royals fan from then on.

I had run-ins with kids about who was better, Brett or Mike Schmidt. I would simulate Royals games by myself with my Whiffle ball and bat, writing up the lineup for the Royals and their opponent for the series and then throwing the ball up, hitting it and deciding what play had happened by where the ball had landed. I would listen to games on my grandparents' front porch with them. I remember listening to an exruciating Royals/Tigers ALCS game in 1984 in the car with Dad on the way to soccer practice.

Then the Royals made it back to the World Series. Against the hated Cardinals. And they weren't supposed to come within a mile of beating St. Louis. But that didn't phase me. I watched every game and stuck with them even after they went down 3-1 in the Series. And they did the improbable. Until then, the nearly impossible. They came back and won the World Series. And I remember going to bed that night thinking that my life would never be the same.

The Royals stayed competitive throughout my youth, never making it to the playoffs again, but always managing to be within striking distance. Little did I know back then that they were fading gradually, just like the skills of an aging ballplayer. The difference between a .300 batting average and a .280 batting average is about two hits per month. You don't really notice it as it's happening, but at the end of the season you look back and realize that you just missed a few opportunities. That's how it was with the Royals after 1985. They didn't appear discernably worse. And as each year passed, those little differences continued to add up until they were just a shell of the organization they once were.

Finally, Ewing Kauffman realized that he wasn't going to be around forever and then started to make rash decisions concerning personnel, trying to capture that championship glory one last time before he passed. Those decisions began a downward spiral that the team has yet to pull itself out of.

For a while, my allegiances were split. Will Clark and the San Francisco Giants had captured my fancy in the playoffs of 1987 and 1989 and Clark had become my favorite player. I was rooting for the Giants because I wanted his team to do well. But I never stopped rooting for the Royals. As bad as they got, I still derived a great amount of pleasure from listening to them on the radio as a companion to whatever it happened to be that I was doing.

The last gasp of respectability was breathed in 1994 when the Royals had made an impressive run, only to be lost forever to the strike. From then on it was a steady stream of mediocre players, mediocre seasons and mediocre expectations. They cycled through guys like Jeff King, Greg Gagne, Gary Gaetti, Jay Bell and Dean Palmer.

But toward the end of the '90s and the beginning of the new century, some talent started to trickle through. They had Johnny Damon and Mike Sweeney; they had "Dos Carlos", Carlos Febles and Carlos Beltran; they traded for a young Jermaine Dye. They were starting to score runs in bunches. Unfortunately, they employed one of the worst bullpens in major league history. Lead after lead was blown. Prime seasons for young players were being wasted. And then began the exodus of talent.

Johnny Damon was not willing to take less money from the Royals than he could get on the free market. So that forced the Royals to trade Damon and try to get some value out of him before he left via free agency. In the deal, the Royals picked up Roberto Hernandez, a washed up closer and Angel Berroa, a young shortstop who turned out to be a Rookie of the Year. The Royals had the same situation arise with Jermaine Dye. The bounty? Neifi Perez, an overrated shortstop from Colorado, who will go down as one of the worst offensive regulars in modern baseball history.

Predictably, the exact circumstances of the previous talent dumps came together one more time. Carlos Beltran was quickly becoming an elite player. And there was no way the Royals could afford to keep him around. But this time, the situation played out a little differently. The Royals started out the 2003 with a 9-0 record and rode that momentum to their first winning record in nearly a decade. I hadn't had so much fun during a Royals season since I was 11 years old. I bought a partial season ticket package the next year, thinking that I might get first shot at playoff tickets the next season. And the season started out spectacularly. Opening Day, Beltran hit an extra-inning, walk-off homerun to win. My spirits couldn't have been higher.

But the roller coaster had begun it's terrifying descent. The Royals wouldn't come close to duplicating their magic 2003 and, in fact, would lose 100 games for the second time in three years. On their way to accomplishing that dubious feat, they had to try to get some value out of pending free agent Beltran. The return on that trade has been numbingly similar. Three fringe major league players all trying to prove they were worth the enormous price given up for them. And not doing nearly enough to justify their roster spots.

And so now the Royals have carved out a niche all their own in Major League baseball. They've now lost 100 or more games in three of the last four years and are an even bet to make it four-for-five. More mediocre, overpriced talent has come and gone. More hopeful young talent is trying to peck its way out of its minor league shell. The Royals' management is doing everything within its incredibly limited talents to extract the most out of this team.

But the question remains: Why do I continue to root for this team?

It certainly doesn't have anything to do with success. One winning season in the last 11 years is tough to swallow. It's not because of the young talent we've developed; they spend their peak years in someone else's uniforms. Speaking of uniforms, could that be the reason? Am I, like Jerry Seinfeld quipped, "rooting for laundry"? It sure seems that way considering the constant flow of players from team to team. Plus, it's hard to cheer for players you know won't perform.
But one day, while whining about the Royals most recent plight, a friend of mine gave me the answer:

"Keep rooting for the Royals. They need fans like you."

It was a simple yet profound statement. I had never thought of it that way before. Normally, I'm thinking about how the Royals can best satisfy my needs for sporting entertainment. But the simple fact of the matter is that the Royals (or any other professional sports franchise, for that matter) wouldn't exist without fans like me. People who stick with their team through thick and thin are the lifeblood of a sports franchise. They are the ones who continue to buy the tickets, watch the games on TV, listen to the games on the radio. Fans like me are directly responsible for paying player salaries, landing TV contracts and selling advertisements. Without fans like me, the Royals are literally nothing.

So, I suppose I could become a free agent myself and solicit the services of another team to follow. But what would be the point? A fan and his team build a relationship over time, something that can't be duplicated in a bandwagon's ride for the latest flash in the pan. All the history I've built up with this team MEANS something. I've been with them through the ultimate highs and the absolute dregs. Sure, my history doesn't compare to a New Englander who waited his entire life to see the Sox finally win a World Series, but the Sox also didn't lose 400 games in four years, either. And wasn't it all the sweeter for that guy when they did win and his loyalty had finally paid off?

But maybe that's the point, after all. Does winning a championship mean that my dedication has suddenly become justified? I suppose it does in the short-term. But I think it might be more along the lines of the journey being more special than the destination. Sure, it's great to win it all, but you still remember all the fun and sorrow and laughs and stomach punches that you went through to get there. You can't get that sort of satisfaction jumping from team to team, casting loyalty and history to the side. You've got to stick with it, continuing to hope for the payoff in the end, but also savoring the little payoffs along the way.

The Royals got hammered yesterday, 7-3. It was certainly disappointing but definitely not as bile-inducing as it could have been had I not come to this revelation: I need the Royals. And the Royals need me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spewing More Royals Invectives

Even the best part of being a baseball fan is getting ruined.

The truly great thing about following a baseball team is that on any given day your team can win a game. This means that even the lowly Royals can beat the vaunted Yankees or Red Sox or White Sox once in a series. Shoot, the Royals swept three games from the Yankees at home last year. That obviously has nothing to do with the actual skill level of either team; it just means that over the course of a 162-game season, even the losers have to win sometimes.

So, for a guy like me who continues to masochistically follow the Royals, every game is a clean slate. I can derive some amount of pleasure knowing that occasionally my guys will win a game. Sure, it won't happen often, but there is an inherent chance at the beginning of each fresh game.

That's why this season is already killing me.

It seems like time after time, whenever I tune into a game, the Royals are behind. Quickly. Like, in the first inning. So I decided to look it up and see if this was true. In the Royals 12 games this year, they have allowed their opponents to score first 10 times. The two times the Royals scored first? They ended up losing. They actually came from behind (somewhat miraculously) to win their only two games this year. In so doing, they've allowed the most runs in the American League. Oh, yeah; they've also scored the fewest runs in the American League, which means that's the chances of them staging some sort of comeback from an initial deficit are generally fairly poor.

And that's what stinks. These guys are so bad that my fresh slate looks like a teacher's chalkboard after a misbehaving child has done his after school penance. I usually don't even get the benefit of blind hope for more than one inning. The Royals have allowed themselves to get behind in the first inning six times.

So what do I have to hang on to with this team?

That's a question I continue to ask myself. And I haven't come up with a compelling answer yet.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Surely You Weren't Waiting For This

Okay, I'm skipping topics. The Royals have really cheesed me off. There has been an overflow of idiotic quotes from Royals players, managers and owners over the last couple of weeks.
Allow me to walk you through them, adding my own commentary.


Royals owner David Glass at the Welcome Home Luncheon April 4:

"It's hard to say how many games we'll win, but if character counts, we
win a lot."

Uh, Dave? The last time I checked, character doesn't win ballgames.
Good ballplayers win ballgames. Remember Babe Ruth? A big guy but not
a big character guy yet his teams won lots of championships. How about
Ty Cobb? The guy went into the stands to beat up fans. Oh yeah, his
teams also went to three World Series. Mickey Mantle? Liquor,
womanizing, victories. 1970's Oakland A's? Fights between teammates
in the clubhouse and three consecutive titles. The latest Yankee dynasty?
They may have been "character" guys but they were also All-Stars. So,
sure, character counts but unless it's accompanied by skill, it doesn't
win games.


During Spring Training, Royals Manager Buddy Bell insisted he put
little stock in those wins and losses:

"I pay attention to the way we play and this team was as good as any
ever been around," he said. "I think we're going to be a tough
team to play.
We have a lot of grinders on this team."

Now, I agree that Spring Training wins and losses don't indicate the
true skill level of a team. (For proof, check out the Royals' 17-10
record and Cactus League title this year.) But if Buddy Bell thinks
this team is as good as any he's ever seen, that means he's seen some
incredibly terrible teams. You can slap me silly and call me Shirley
if this team gets within 10 games of a .500 record this year.
At least he's bought in to the company line, though. At the risk of
sounding repetitive, GRINDERS DON'T WIN BALLGAMES. Just for fun, let's
make up an All-Grinder Team and see how it stacks up against a real
team. Craig Counsell, Joe McEwing, David Eckstein, Eric Byrnes, Emil
Brown, Brandon Inge, Doug Mientkiewicz, Neifi Perez, Kelly Stinnett,
Aaron Guiel, Jason Johnson, Mike Maroth, Todd Jones. Notice how many
of these players are either current or former Royals? I think this team
would lose 8 of 10 from last year's World Series winners, the Chicago
White Sox. But that's what we've been stockpiling here in Kansas City
for years. And this year isn't any different. How many
difference-makers/All-Stars do we have on this team? Mike Sweeney is
an All-Star caliber hitter--when healthy--and we all know how that's
turned out recently. Reggie Sanders is very good all-around player--when
healthy--and he's now 39 years old. David DeJesus is a good, young
player who could be an All-Star one day--if he's healthy. We can't
even keep the few impact players that we do have in the lineup day to day.
But, boy, these guys have character and can grind it out. They've been
grinding out 100-loss seasons like clockwork now.


Previously noted grinder and current Royals first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz says:

“Look at this room now,” Mientkiewicz said. “They brought in character
… Buddy said it best in one of our meetings: ‘When did hustling
become an
option?’ ”

Well, Doug, apparently it's NOT an option after witnessing Emil Brown
falling down in the outfield trying to field his position, Angel Berroa
and Mark Grudzielanek getting caught off base and Runelvys Hernandez
going on the DL because he couldn't fit through the locker room door.


Check out this excerpt from a recent Kansas City Star article:

Independence resident Robert Briggs said he voted for both stadium measures
Tuesday, but he said some of his co-workers voted against the roof. They said
the ballot language left open that the use tax could be used for other stadium
work, including paying off the renovation bonds."They perceived it as a slush
fund," he said. "People got cold feet. There was a lack of trust."

In an ongoing pursuit to submarine any efforts at making Kansas City a real-life "Big City", the Jackson County voters greenlighted the worst available plan to refurbish/replace the Truman Sports complex. In all their wisdom, they okayed over $500 million in taxpayer dollars to renovate both Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums. At the same time, they voted down the plan to add a rolling roof that would have been used by each of the stadiums and also would have guaranteed the city a Super Bowl in the next 10 years. In my opinion, they should have voted them both down or voted them both in. I figure that if you're going to waste a half billion taxpayer dollars to subsidize millionaire owners, you may as well go for the gusto. From my point of view, they should have voted down both proposals and called for a more fiscally sound plan (at the very least) or (ideally) a plan that called for the construction of a downtown baseball stadium and renovations to Arrowhead. For the first time in my lifetime, Kansas City has actually made some progressive moves regarding its nearly abandoned downtown. They approved the construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art arena in the hear of downtown, piggy-backing on the redevelopment of nearby H&R Block Entertainment District. All of this has built upon the momentum generated by the increasing hipness of the Crossroads District, the renovated Union Station and the burgeoning loft space available downtown. A downtown ballpark would have been a mutually beneficial situation for the city, the Royals and the fans. Instead, we're stuck with a 25-year lease on a sports complex that was ahead of its time 25 years ago and nearly outdated now. If Missouri is the "Show Me State", then they continue to show me how ignorant and ill-informed they can be.


Multiple quotes regarding the fans booing the Royals and, more specifically, team captain and all-around good guy, Mike Sweeney twice in the first two games of the season:

Off-season acquisition/first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz:

"We probably deserved it. That was not very entertaining. But getting on your
own team sends a bad message around the league. And when you boo your
franchise player, a guy who cares so much about this city and tries so've got to cut him a little slack."

Off-season acquistion/starting pitcher Joe Mays:

"Everybody here needs to relax, including the fans," Mays said. "Booing Mike
Sweeney, that's poor. That guy does tons of things around here. I understand he
makes some money, but he's human and he's not going to bat 1.000. The fans need
to back off some."

Hey, fellas: you might want to hold off on the criticism of the fans until you've been here for more than two games. Not to mention, didn't you have a clue as to what you were signing on for? This team has lost 400 games in the last four years. Were you expecting cascades of cheers to pour out from the stands after paying $20 to see you get swept by the Tigers? You want a little slack? How about the fact that ANYONE pays to see this team in person after the performances of the last decade. We should relax? What, into a comatose state that doesn't allow us to react at all? Because the only legitimate reactions to this team are boos.

Ironically, possibly the most boo-worthy player on the team, shorstop Angel Berroa, brought some perspective in commenting about the boos he received following another one of his seemingly endless supply of baserunning blunders:

“You’ve got to take it,” he shrugged. “It was a mistake.”

Thanks for taking a little reponsibility for your performance, Angel. Now, how long are we going to have to "take it" until we field a major league caliber team around here?


The Royals managed to blow a 3-run lead in Yankee Stadium the other day when manager Buddy Bell decided that sticking to arbitrary "roles" was more important than doing whatever is needed to win a ballgame:

“It was set up the way we wanted it,” manager Buddy Bell sighed, “and it just
got messed up.” “You set roles for people,” Bell said, “and I believe
we’ve got people in the right roles. He proved he could do the job for us last
year. He’s got it in him. We’ve got to stay with him.”Right-hander Elmer
Dessens preceded Sisco with two perfect innings, but Bell dismissed the
suggestion that Dessens should have remained in the game. One reason: The
Yankees were starting the inning with two left-handed hitters, Jason Giambi and
Hideki Matsui.“Again, you put guys in roles,” Bell said. “And you can’t pitch
Elmer every inning.”

Elmer Dessens was acquired in the off-season to fill the long relief spot in the bullpen. As a swingman who could both start and relieve, one might think that he would be well-suited to pitch multiple innings. In fact, he had made only 19 pitches in retiring the six hitters in his two innings of work. But rather than stick with the guy who was efficiently mowing people down, ol' Buddy decided that he needed to bring in Andy Sisco and preserve the integrity of his "role". Well, Sisco went on to pitch poorly and the 3-run lead turned into a 2-run loss to the Yankees. Do you know how many times the Royals have won in Yankee Stadium in the last five years? Zero. Thanks for blowing our one shot, Buddy. By the way, the Royals went on to get swept, keeping the streak alive.


Captain Sweeney commenting on the aforementioned blown win:

“It seems we’ve seen this story here in Yankee Stadium before. We get a
lead after we fight and fight and fight. And somehow…we find a way to lose the

I think that sums it up nicely.