By Danny Clinkscale
For years Kansas City Royals yearned for meaningful September baseball. We finally got that last year, right down to the last day of the season. But in year two of the Royals return to glory, the Royals 2015 excellence means that when September 1st comes tomorrow, we return to meaningless September baseball...of the most glorious kind.
No, there won't be fingernail biting tension of a big series with the Tigers or Indians. Actually the month begins with a series with the Tigers, with the four time defending champions spiralling towards last place. So like all of the rest of the games until October 4th, the Royals will provide entertainment and evaluate their roster with the only important thing on their minds October 8th and the American League Division Series.
With the Toronto Blue Jays rampaging along having won 24 of 29 games in the last month, we could have had some drama for best record in the American League, but the Royals refused to cool off themselves, going 19-11 to make sure that Toronto is still six games back with just 32 to go. So again rendering the remainder of the regular season a virtual dress rehearsal.
For some it's important. Ned Yost has announced that Ben Zobrist will replace Omar Infante when Alex Gordon returns, but Infante has been given a stay of execution with Rios currently sick. Bad timing for Rios, who had finally started to hit. But the pitching side is where the real decisions are to be made. Good news has come in the form of Yordano Ventura's blistering performance the past four starts, seemingly cementing him a spot in the rotation along with Jonny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. There is a bit of mystery in the fourth spot, seemingly a coin flip currently.
The bullpen actually provides a little controversy, something there has been precious little of in 2015, especially since the series of dustups early in the season. Greg Holland has been shaky, mediocre, and has had a cranky arm for months now, while Wade Davis has been almost numbingly brilliant. Yet currently Holland is the closer. The Royals have shown great improvement in choosing performance over loyalty in the past year. Here's hoping this works again in this case.
So at least we are down to five weeks before the real excitement begins. For now Royals game are kind of like a hit Broadway show when they are at home, and your favorite TV show when they are on the road. You get entertained, there is no real downside, and most of the time smiles and laughs are provided in large doses. Save your fingernails, your lucky Royals bobblehead, and your alarm clock for those October nights......when the real fun begins.
By Danny Clinkscale
Taking a cue from Soren Petro...todays blog consists of an email sent to a KU fan complaining about our discussion about the Kansas streak of 10 (probably 11 now) straight league titles....
Here is how I responded.......
Clearly you like to cherry pick things to come up with some pathetic "we get no respect" statement.
Over and over, from guests to hosts, we have hailed the remarkable consistency of K.U. and how amazing the streak is...also pointing to the fact that even other top dog programs like Kentucky, Florida, Ohio State, UCLA, Syracuse and more actually miss the tournament, let alone win their league. And Kansas has the best NCAA streak (25) by six years.
That doesn't change the fact that no other top league has this happen. In the same span, the Big 10 has had 7 teams win or share the title, 5 different schools winning outright.....ACC 6 and 5....Previous Big East..9 and 5....SEC 4 and 4...Pac 12...5 and 5. All of those conferences have had multiple Final Four appearances in the span.....but in the run for KU, only KU has made the Final Four from the Big 12.
Kansas has proved out of conference and in the tournament that they are consistently excellent, and nobody is arguing that, but it's just factual to point out that it is virtually certain that Kansas would not have come close to 10 titles in another league.
This discussion is never really about Kansas, it's about the others. Inevitability is wonderful for KU, but is not exciting competitively. I hope Kansas wins 20 in a row, but it will carry more weight if the next ten come against opposition that is consistently excellent. That clearly has not been the case. Texas gave it a go for a few years, and maybe now Iowa State gives it a run. But for now it's Groundhog Day in the Big 12.
By Danny Clinkscale
For a whole lot of America, and here in Kansas City, the Royals Cinderella run to the seventh game of the World Series was the greatest story you can imagine. But unfortunately, if you look at it without Royal Blue glasses, it was clearly the October of Madison Bumgarner. As I look back on a wildly crazy month, of 14-18 hour work days (about the best work days you can imagine), I'll give you a little baseball, a little behind the scenes, and maybe something you would never imagine would be memorable.
By Danny Clinkscale
We are about to enter one of the business and most exciting fortnights in Kansas City sports ever. That of course is barring a Royals collapse. So with The Chase for the Sprint Cut at Kansas Speedway, Monday Night Football, and post season baseball for the first time in a generation, it would be easy to forget about college football. So it's a good time to assess where our area programs are at, heading into the conference season for MU and KU, and for K-State, one more non-con against UTEP this Saturday, and then off they go in the Big 12 the rest of the way.
By Danny Clinkscale
The intricate dynamics of a major league baseball clubhouse are on display right now with the Kansas City Royals, and how some of the moves that have caused changes, and perhaps some angst among the ranks pan out, could be a key to this important season.
“For Cub and Country” is what the scarves and the signs say around town when the United States plays in the World Cup, an indication of enthusiasm for the club that people support here, obviously Sporting KC, and for the U.S. national team.
That slogan will be on prominent display again Sunday at the Power and Light district and elsewhere as they United States takes on Portugal in their second match of the Cup. Enthusiasm should be even on a higher pitch than it was on Monday, when in reasonably miraculous fashion, the U.S. beat Ghana 2-1. Basically from the time that Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute until John Brooks scored the winner from Graham Zusi in the 86th minute, Ghana completely had the run of play. No problem, just a reason for greater celebration when the U.S. got the winner.
Even though Portugal got trashed by Germany, the U.S. will have to play much better against Ronaldo and his mates Sunday, and they will probably have to take a different tack as well with Josey Altidore out with a bad hamstring.
Many of you are at this point not reading this, or starting to say why do I care. You are a dwindling number. Here in Kansas City on Monday, the red hot Royals were starting a series for first place with the Tigers, and more people watched the soccer match than the baseball game. Of course, this isn’t just about a soccer match, it certainly is in part because it is the U.S. I’m sure there are more than a few folks who watched who never watch any other soccer. But that number no doubt is shrinking as well.
Having a vantage point from the stage and watching the party at the P and L was fabulous fun, and I wouldn’t miss it Sunday for the world. As you gathered from my last blog, my enthusiasm for the beautiful game has increased about ten fold in the last four years, and watching the great quality of play in this World Cup is only accelerating it.
I am familiar with many of the players now from all countries from watching the top leagues around the world, and the national pride and enthusiasm is infectious. Just like in the Olympics, there are many things off the field of competition that can be criticized very rightly. But I really get the luxury of just watching the games.
One of the very best things about the Cup is that none of the games overlap. They are all stand alone. It creates a special feeling for each one.
I was very much looking forward to the World Cup going in, and it is far exceeding even my own high expectations. I’m can’t say how glad I am that it lasts so long.