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Being So Completely Wrong

Jan 26, 2016 -- 1:05pm

By TJ Carpenter


In sports talk radio we are all wrong from time to time. Earlier this season I said Peyton Manning would never play another down of NFL football. He is about to play in the Super Bowl. So… I was wrong on that one.

Earlier this year I made wagers with Kevin Kietzman and one of my producers Charlie Karlen that Kansas wouldn’t win a game in football. They were both so totally wrong for thinking KU football would win a game.

CBS officiating expert Mike Carey is wrong almost every time he speaks on television. It’s actually impressive how consistently wrong he is. It’s becoming a kind of performance art to some extent. He’s Elmer Fudd with a microphone.

I had an epiphany on wrongness. It’s awesome and hilarious and you have to own it.

People will crush you on social media for being wrong. One of my favorite things during CBS broadcasts has become listening to Mike Carey in wonderment as he says the exact opposite and wrong thing as a replay challenge unfolds and ultimately makes the right call and makes Mike Carey look like a doofus. Let’s be clear. I LOVE THIS. It is one of the funniest things in sports on television right now. And yet, people are complaining about Mike Carey. Just people will complain about me when I’m wrong or about any other host on 810 when they’re wrong.

Enjoy it. I do.

No one’s predictions are going to be 100% accurate all the time. We have to embrace that and enjoy the wrongness. Because when it’s big and public and embarrassing, it’s also enormously entertaining.

That’s why we are going to do a “Bracket of Wrongness” on the show. So far, we have the following in no particular order. We need to seed this tournament and need suggestions. So feel free to email me, tj@810whb.com or just send your suggestions to my twitter account @TJCarpenterWHB. It can be anything. Left Shark is on the list. Left Shark didn’t make a prediction, but his failure was epic and amazing… Left Shark was SO wrong! Let’s all enjoy and revel in the failure of one another!














The Royals Won't Go All In on Gordon Out of Fear, Not Frugality

Dec 16, 2015 -- 9:17am

By @TJCarpenterWHB


I’ve heard it said the Royals CAN’T go all in on Alex Gordon. Can’t is a word that implies limitations. The Royals aren’t limited by anything regarding Alex Gordon. The Royals are making more money than at any point in their franchise’s history. YOU the fans are giving them more money - buying more tickets, spending more money at the ballpark, buying more merchandise, watching more games on television - than ever before.


So what’s stopping them? Because it isn’t money: at least not with Alex Gordon.


I’ll tell you what it is: fear.


The Royals are afraid of failure. The Royals are afraid of paying a player and then that player not producing to the level of expectation his contract creates amongst the fanbase…. and then fans will LEAVE, and they won’t spend money on tickets or jerseys AND THEY WON’T LIKE US ANYMORE!


Give me a break. The Royals are haunted by 30 years of darkness, still! Dayton Moore may still understand that the market changes, prices increase in baseball, players hold all the negotiating power in free agency and the Royals should be competitive in free agency at the level Alex Gordon is currently floating out there. The billionaire owner may be telling him, “trust me, I know how to handle this, I ran Wal-Mart… this is when we cash in.”


Jerry Crasnick had previously floated the numbers $75-80 million over five years out there. TAKE IT! If it’s 80-85. TAKE IT. 85-90? You’re getting into a gray area, do some haggling, but you can make it work. 90-100… This is where it gets to be out of your realm…. He’s not worth that. You could pay it, but he isn’t worth it. If Alex Gordon signs a contract worth anything less than $90 million dollars over five years, that’s on Kansas City, and the Royals did themselves a great disservice.


You may say, “17 mil is too much a year!” But remember, $17 mil in 2015 isn’t $17 mil in 2020. It could look a lot more like 10-12 depending on how much the baseball landscape and American economic landscape changes in general. The years are non-negotiable. The Royals have to understand this is the price of doing business.


What is more, Alex Gordon is WORTH more to Kansas City than he is to any other market. He sells jerseys here, he has Gordo-Nation, he is a focal point. The market isn’t saturated with personalities. His play on the field is even worth more due to the fact he’s been here so long, he understands the park and his teammates. There is confidence and success in regularity. Consistency is a cornerstone in any successful franchise in all sports. He’s better in Kansas City and for Kansas City than he will be in any other market. Do you think Alex Gordon will get the reception, love and patience in L.A. he gets in Kansas City? Do you think he can play the way he has played his career in Kansas City in a foreign, unfamiliar place? Doubtful.


The Royals have been getting priced out of these negotiations and conversations the same way a country club “prices out” the riff-raff. The rich don’t want to mingle with the “dirty poors” so they go to restaurants and clubs that are too expensive for them. It works. It feels like baseball saw the Royals gain some status and collectively said, “we need to make sure the Royals can’t afford to be this competitive regularly,” and so they use the primary tool at their disposal: money. The Royals aren’t used to spending this kind of money in free agency. They’ve never signed a contract worth more than $56 million.


People bring up a modern example of why signing a blockbuster contract is a bad idea; the Minnesota Twins and Joe Mauer. 1. Joe Mauer is a catcher, who are notorious for breaking down early in their career. 2. Minnesota wasn’t coming off a World Series win. 3. They were actually pouring money into a new stadium at the time in addition to signing the contract. The Royals are potentially re-signing a left fielder in peak physical condition, coming off a World Series win and have a great ballpark with no plans to build a new one.


We’ve been tricked into thinking the Royals are being cautious financially because it’s the wise thing to do, that there must be some flaw with Alex Gordon, rather than a flaw with their philosophy. Dayton Moore deserves a lot of the benefit of the doubt. Since trading Jonathan Sanchez for Jeremy Guthrie in 2012, he’s yet to make a bad decision. But that doesn’t mean the next decision will be right, it just means the likelihood of it being right is higher than the likelihood of it being wrong. Also, he could just be hampered by a cheap owner. If the Royals won’t significantly increase their payroll after winning the World Series, they never will. If the Royals won’t sign a reasonable major contract for Alex Gordon, who’s more valuable to Kansas City than he is to any other city, they’ll never sign a major contract.


At least, not as long as they have David Glass as an owner. Here’s to hoping Dayton Moore continues to be great at shopping on a budget, and giving all the money the team makes back to the guy who says he “pours every penny back into the team,” David Glass.



Dec 01, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By TJ Carpenter


What the Kansas City Royals did this year was nothing short of amazing. They were relentless and unkillable. You would look down the list of stats to represent the Royals run through the postseason and World Series and just laugh. It was borderline unbelievable; we witnessed a team that embodied all the things we believed baseball was supposed to be growing up. It was amazing watching them play as a team. No one player stood out as a hero, rather every player played their own essential role in comeback after comeback, win after win. Now that season is over and attention has immediately turned to the other side of the parking lot, which hasn’t looked great by comparison the last couple of seasons. The Royals exercised their demons, but now can the Chiefs do the same? They may have already started.


Do you realize the Chiefs haven’t lost since the Royals won the world series? They also haven’t committed a turnover. Alex Smith is the first quarterback to lead an offense to five straight games without a turnover since Alex Smith in 2011. The 49ers went 4-1 in those games. The Chiefs have been dominating teams over the last five games, not because the play of any one player has been dominant. Alex Smith’s numbers have actually been pedestrian as they have always been. Smith was 19-30 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. That’s solid, not dominant. Spencer Ware has been very good with 234 yards and four touchdowns over his last two games. That’s solid, not dominant.


ESPN Stats and Info puts together its Football Power Index or FPI every week. It is essentially a predictor for each unit on the field. The Chiefs rank 5th this week in the NFL, with good not great ratings on offense and defense. The real kicker is in fact, the kicker. The Chiefs are crushing the rest of the league in the special teams category with a 1.1 rating. The number may not mean anything to you, but by comparison the next closest team in the category is Baltimore with a 0.8 rating. No other team is higher than a 0.5 and over half the league is actually in the negative.


This is of course two-fold: Cairo Santos leads the league in made field goals at 26. Dustin Colquitt is second in the league on kicks inside the 20. The Chiefs average starting field position is 2nd in the league only to New England and the Chiefs are only one of 4 teams whose average starting field position is at the 30 or better; Carolina, Cincinnati and New England being the other three. The Chiefs are also third in the league in defensive starting field position, behind only New England and Cincinnati. The Chiefs are also second in the league in interceptions per drive.


What does all this mean? Much like understanding what made the Royals “unkillable” we must suspend conventional notions of what causes success in the league to understand how and why the Chiefs seem to be “unkillable” right now as well. The Royals embraced the notion that contact was more important than power on offense, it’s why the rallies kept happening in the postseason over and over. Create as many opportunities for play as possible and you will win out in the end and most teams will beat themselves with mistakes. The pressure as we all saw, was overwhelming. The Chiefs have embraced this same notion. Create as many opportunities to score ANY points as you can, limit the number of opportunities of your opponents. Important to this notion of opportunities is limiting negative plays. An elite quarterback like Tom Brady can convert a 3rd and 18 because he’s elite. The key for the Chiefs is never having to deal with 3rd and 18. Don’t let your limitations beat you. Alex Smith picking up 4 yards on 2nd down to make 3rd down more manageable is crucial. Also crucial is the offensive line not committing penalties.

No one player has stood out with dominating performances on either side of the ball. But, each individual player has played an essential role in the success of the Chiefs the last five games. Like the rest of us,it would appear the Chiefs were paying close attention to the Royals Championship run. The same principles applied by the Royals seem to be helping the Chiefs win right now as well. There is a lot of season left, and of course there will be setbacks and the league will adjust to what the Chiefs are doing. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this year the Chiefs exercised their own demons, just as the Royals did. More importantly, they’ll do it in almost the exact same way.

What Does Mizzou Stand For?

Nov 10, 2015 -- 4:49pm

By TJ Carpenter



Until the football team got involved none of us knew University of Missouri grad student Jonathan Butler hadn’t eaten in a week. Few of us, if any in Kansas City knew racial tensions had been brewing and getting hotter over the previous few weeks and months, until the football team got involved. Gary Pinkel didn’t know much if anything, at least he didn’t care to know, about the demands of Concerned Student 1950.


Scariest of all may be, a lot of us may have not wanted to know. This is political, it is racial, it is a river that meanders through the territories of white privilege, hypocrisy, violent protest, hate crimes, the power of sports, just plain downright privilege and victim culture. It is an airshow disaster of political controversy. Mizzou brass seemed to be apathetic toward the protests, but Mizzou faculty and students joined in. Mizzou alum seemed split, as did outsiders. There wasn’t really even a clear message of what the protests were exactly against or for. It was hard to see what Mizzou stands for. And for someone who just recently realized this was happening is incredibly confusing.


I encourage anyone who hasn’t read up on this specific issue, background of Jonathan Butler, the history of racist activity around Mizzou’s campus, and what attempts to discuss issues by Tim Wolfe resulted in to do so. Because feeling lost on an issue because you know nothing is worse than feeling lost on an issue because you know everything. If we as a society are guilty of anything, it’s ignorance.


Writing this as a white man, I can acknowledge I have advantages I’ve lived with my entire life that probably won’t change and I can’t really do anything about it. My white privilege isn’t something I can transfer. When they stamped my butt with white privilege after I came out of the womb the fine print said, “non-transferrable.”


The systems we all live in, that oppress some and prop up others, sometimes because of race but also because of gender, religion and wealth, are a byproduct of our history as a nation and as a planet. We must become more educated on these issues, challenge one another, but most importantly, we must listen to one another’s viewpoints. Everyone wanted to talk and no one wanted to listen at Mizzou. I have always believed I am better at talking because I am better at listening.


Tim Wolfe didn’t know anything about what was important to the protesters on campus, which is why his tone-deaf approach through this entire process was an abject failure. He was forced to resign because he let things get to the point they did. Concerned Student 1950 has been criticized and muted by many because their message has been malicious and aggressive, while failing to acknowledge that there is an enormous difference between systemic oppression in America and systemic oppression throughout history even though their rhetoric in opposition to it is the same. Apartheid South Africa was systemic oppression, Nazi Germany was systemic oppression. America has a great many things that could be deemed systemic oppression, no doubt, but we are a far cry from government sanctioned racism. We’ve evolved, but I hate to disappoint you, humanity doesn’t evolve that quickly. We still have problems in this country when it comes to how we talk to one another and more importantly how we listen to one another.


I’m not the first to say it, white America does a terrible job of seeing things from a different viewpoint, and to look inward, I am constantly striving to do a better job at understanding what part it is I can and should play in all of this. The best thing I can think of is this, listen. I can listen. And my advice would be the same to anyone who is trying to get a better grasp on these issues. It is my advice to someone who thinks they ALREADY KNOW THESE ISSUES backwards and forwards, listen.


The plight of minorities in this country is real, the complete ignorance of that plight by a lot of america is REAL. Should they be blamed for that ignorance? If Gary Pinkel doesn’t want to do anything but coach football, and avoid any sort of social activism as he did today on these airwaves, should he be twitter-shamed for that? My personal opinion is that if he has an opinion, because he knows the issue and took a stand he should express that opinion. But that isn’t what he did, because he clearly didn’t know the issue. He just knew, something was important to his players, players good, support good, support players, and that’s as far as his football brain computed it.


It brings us to the point: Mizzou stands for football, Gary Pinkel stands for football, America stands for football. For all its opinions and takes and debating and politicizing the one thing America seems to stand for above all else is football. If nothing else, we should learn from the events of the last few weeks at Mizzou: we all need to do a better job of listening and talking about issues, building relationships that can result in solving problems that affect everyone, especially those disadvantaged. It starts with leaders. That was Mizzou’s failing. It ends with leaders. That is certainly Mizzou’s failing. They bookended protests and concerns of students and a hunger strike with apathy and greed. Apathy because it wasn’t the overt systemic oppression and racism of Apartheid South Africa and greed because football was threatened. For that, I cannot defend the University of Missouri. It only reinforces the arguments, though made often times poorly, the protesters made. And a poorly argued good point is still a good point. Mizzou did nothing but reinforce that fact. Football and money is all Mizzou stands for. It seems to be the only thing we can all agree on.


A Royals Town

Oct 20, 2015 -- 2:35pm

By TJ Carpenter



There is no doubt the Royals own Kansas City right now. Everywhere you look, there are Royals flags on every car, Royals shirts on every man, woman child and dog - the town is painted Royal blue. In fact, if it weren’t for the Kansas City Royals, the town’s outlook on sports would be rather bleak. In particular, the Chiefs could learn a thing or two from their partners on the other side of the parking lot.


Kansas football is winless, Kansas State football just got whacked 55-0 by a so-so Sooners team, Missouri is in a rebuilding year, Sporting KC won the US Open Cup, but the outlook on winning MLS Cup may be the worst it has been in several years, and then there’s the Chiefs....


The Chiefs are 1-5. I asked Andy Reid how frustrating that is this week and he said, “Well, we’re sitting here and we’re 1-5. That’s real. And we’re not playing very well as a football team. I’m not saying it’s frustration – as a coach, you’re a problem solver and I have to solve the problems and get that done quick here. I still believe in my locker room, I believe in our coaches. We need to get over this hump here and figure out a way to play better football, consistently. That’s the challenge and that’s the way I approach it.”


That isn’t exactly what fans want to hear at this point. Bill Snyder wrote an apology note to Kansas State fans after the loss to Oklahoma, which is perhaps the most Bill-Snyder-thing ever. David Beaty doesn’t need to apologize because people expect the Jayhawks to be terrible. Gary Pinkel did what fans wanted, if albeit for different reasons, he benched is quarterback. Peter Vermes will openly and vocally criticize his own players and himself and officials, really anyone who he blames for their losses… and he’s usually on point with those criticisms. The fact remains, outside of Kauffman stadium, things aren’t great, but the message has at least has been on point from the leaders of these teams, except for Andy Reid and the Chiefs.


Kansas City is a passionate sports town; being loyal is a part of the city’s culture. Regardless of whether its passion for a winner, or passion for a loser, there’s no denying Kansas City is passionate about its teams. That passion is why fans call in and want Alex Smith benched and why fans try to vote Omar Infante into the All-Star game. The one thing that can kill a franchise is apathy. For 30 years, Royals fans beat their head against the wall of apathy, and it almost killed the fanbase. But they finally broke through and now, you can see what attention a winner will garner in this City. We’ve seen Ned Yost grow into being a good manager, not a perfect one, but fans will go to bat for him and his methods now more than ever. Fans will defend anyone in the Royal Blue and White, even Alex Rios. Kansas City is a Royals Town for now. That doesn’t mean it has to be JUST a Royals town. The same people who root for the Royals are the same people who root for the Chiefs. Plain and simple, Kansas City loves a winner. Not every town can say that. Tampa Bay had a winner in the Rays and still they had poor attendance numbers and little notoriety.


Kansas City is a great sports town because those cliche’d moments we see every time the Royals come back in a game, Salvy hits a homerun late, Wade Davis strikes out the side in a close game or Jarrod Dyson steals a base. The Royals are embraced as much now for how they win as the fact they are winning. They never quit, they believe in themselves and one another. It’s plain old confidence and swagger. They aren’t just simply a more talented team than their opponents. Look at the Blue Jays, they have plenty of talent, but the Royals could just as easily beat them on two fielders choices and 4 singles as they could with three home runs. The Royals are the greatest personification of every sports cliche Henry Grantland Rice ever wrote. They are a team writers glorify and mystify. A team that embodies the blue collar, down home, hard-working community it represents. And that’s why they are loved, not just cheered for.


The point is this, the Royals are a great story, and for that reason, they own this City. But there is plenty of love and cheering in Kansas City to spread around. The Royals get all your attention because there isn’t anywhere else to give it that’s worth your time right now. That has to change. The Chiefs aren’t in a place where they can just be patient with some developmental players and eventually their belief in themselves will turn everything around. It’s something the Royals get, even Sporting and KU and K-State and Mizzou seem to get to a lesser extent that the Chiefs never have, and that is that Kansas City will support its own. Kansas City wants home grown players, players that learned how to win IN Kansas City. Alex Smith isn’t that guy, in fact, a lot of the biggest issues on the team come from players who are mercenaries, free agents brought in to solve some larger issue. Ben Grubbs has been a disappointment, Mike DeVito continues to struggle, Alex Smith though is the prime example of what Chiefs fans have been pulling their hair out about for more than 30 years: The Chiefs simply don’t develop and grow their own talent.

It’s more complicated than just drafting a quarterback in the first round, it’s having the confidence that in doing so will get you out of a 30-year rut. The Cincinnati Bengals have over 40 players on their roster they acquired through the draft. That’s home-grown success paying off. But you don’t have to look to another state, just look across the parking lot and you’ll see it’s a system that not only works, it works WONDERS in Kansas City. Until the Chiefs learn the hometown way and the hometown message have to line up, and take a look at the Royals and see, invest in yourself invest in your own, do things your own way, do things differently and the City will embrace you the way no one can be embraced, Kansas City will continue to be a Royals town, when it has the potential to be so much more.


Sep 03, 2015 -- 2:01pm

By @TJCarpenterWHB


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s credibility and authority took another hit today as Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension was overturned by a judge in court. Deflategate initially seemed like a bad joke, and spawned limitless actual bad jokes: Tom Brady deflated his balls and the NFL was going to pound him for it. The NFL spent a lot of money reinforcing its own narrative that Tom Brady and the Patriots, cheaters in the highest degree, repeat offenders, had to pay and pay heavily for putting another blemish on the sterling “SHIELD.”

So where did the NFL and Roger Goodell go wrong? This seemed like a layup for the league. They have the lawyers, they have the power, they have the collective bargaining agreement on their side, they even had public sentiment (outside of Boston) on their side. How did they screw this up?

What the NFL lacked, was evidence. What Roger Goodell seems to often lack are facts to back up his decisions. Why did Roger Goodell take so much heat over Ray Rice’s suspension? He didn’t have enough information; important information to make an informed, rational, and well-sourced decision. He didn’t have the video. When that video surfaced, it exposed the corner-cutting, one dimensional thinking of the league and its commissioner.

In Deflategate, the had plenty of incentive to make a decision, but what they didn’t have was evidence. At no point could they directly tie Tom Brady to a conspiracy to commit fraud against the game - and that’s if you even think deflating footballs at marginal levels “fraud against the game.”

Goodell and the league were arrogant and ignorant, which is a dangerous combination. They didn’t have enough information… they spent a lot of money on the Ted Wells report to dress up that lack of information as enough and then got called out on it. They thought they could plant fraudulent information in the press, mislead good reporters, and stick to the company line and their omnipotent power granted in the CBA and do whatever they wanted. They were wrong.

What Goodell did in one swift frontier justice style ruling against Tom Brady was abuse his power as the commissioner, undermine his own authority, expose the lopsided and unfair collective bargaining agreement AND make himself out to be a patsy for the owners - bad one at that.

In keeping with the initial ridiculousness and now ultimate seriousness of this controversy, I quote Tobey MaGuire’s Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Goodell undermined his own power by abusing it in the punishment. Had he not, and instead levied a 50 thousand dollar fine, we wouldn’t know what we know now and we wouldn’t have such depth of understanding of just how incompetent the NFL’s front office can be with its extraordinary power.

Ultimately, the NFL’s power over the players is going to remain an important issue, but not one that will derail the league’s ability to generate revenue and constant attention around its brand. The NFL still prints cash, still has the most addictive product in entertainment, still has the most popular show on four networks. It may not matter Roger Goodell always gets it wrong because he’s a one-dimensional thinker who doesn’t do his homework and is little more than living South Park caricature of himself. The NFL has seen unprecedented growth under his watch.

I just hope someone realizes sooner rather than later, that would be true of anyone in his position. If Roger Goodell, who has botched controversies over domestic abuse, integrity of the game, concussion lawsuits, player safety and owner-player relationships… nothing ever will.

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