Warning: array_slice() expects parameter 1 to be array, boolean given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Warning: key() expects parameter 1 to be array, null given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Tag Archive: Kansas City Royals

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 5 — A surprise in Surprise. First published March 10, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

A surprise in Surprise

A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz (any old day). ~Humphrey Bogart

Hello Kansas City.

There is a surprise in Surprise, Arizona, and it is your Kansas City Royals and their breathtakingly beautiful spring training stadium.

If you have not been there dear readers, go if you can. Add it to your bucket list. It is that good, and I do not say this lightly.

I was in the land of the Cactus League this week visiting relatives and used the opportunity to take in as much of the spring training atmosphere as I could.

We watched the Kansas City Royals play a little ball and in the process discovered the joys of spring baseball training.

In the Phoenix metro area, there are 10 spring training ballparks shared by 15 Cactus League teams, and that means there is a lot of ball to see.

Besides, it is March and if one travels to Phoenix in March, it is written somewhere that one must see some spring ball.

We did our best to oblige.

Our plan, our personal baseball trifecta, was to see three games in three days.

On Day One, the Giants versus Mariners; on Day Two, the Royals versus Diamondbacks; and on Day Three, the Angels versus Rangers.

On Day One, we struck gold at the Scottsdale Stadium as we watched the world-champion Giants defeat the Mariners while Tim Lincecum pitched. We had no idea he would be pitching when we bought the tickets online. They don’t tell you these things in the spring. You may remember that Lincecum is the two-time Cy Young Award winner with a 25-mil contract who blew out the Rangers in last year’s World Series.

Skipping to Day Three, we watched the Angels beat the American League champion Rangers at the Tempe Diablo Stadium in a game that was mostly defense, a rarity in spring ball. Most of the games have more home runs than base hits, along with a high number of errors. But hey, it’s pre-season, and no one cares.

But let us go back to Day Two and the team we came to see—our Kansas City Royals.

My expectations were not high as we drove along Bell Road after eating lunch at the highly acclaimed In–N-Out Burgers in Peoria, Arizona, not far from the Billy Parker Field in the Surprise Recreation Campus.

As a Midwesterner, I didn’t know much if anything about In-N-Out burgers. We don’t have them because this small franchise of less than 300 stores serves only the western part of the country. Suffice to say In-N-Out is a fast food chain with a “loyal customer base”, a.k.a. California cult that loves animal-style burger and fries.

I’m in.

I learned quickly that nothing tops lunch at In–N-Out.

Nothing; therefore, after that high point we were intent only on enjoying the day soaking up sun at the ballpark. That would be enough.

We were about to be surprised, however, and I never saw it coming.

Here is some of what surprised me, besides In-N-Out:

Before we were out of the car in Surprise (very near Sun City), the picturesque Surprise Stadium, some say the best ballpark in the Valley, left us speechless. The Royals share it with the Texas Rangers, but this day, the stadium belonged to the Royals. The stadium alone is worth the trip.

We were surprised when the Sundancers (Sun City greeters) welcomed us as though we were their long-lost cousins from Pittsburg. In fact, one of them thought we were from PA due to the fact we looked like we were “from the north”. She said she can always tell Northerners because they are wearing shorts and tee shirts on what the Valley folks consider to be a cool day in March.

Pittsburgh and K.C. are in the north? That surprised me.

Seats galore, so take your pick. That surprised me. We found perfect ones right behind the Royals dugout and cheered loudly for each batter, whose name we never heard before, as if it were a Little League game.

Autographs and close-up pictures with the players–easy as pie to obtain. Granted, we never heard of them, but it’s spring ball. Did I mention that already?

Furthermore, I was surprised at the lack of formality in the ballparks, the absence of vendors hawking the crowd, little music or announcing and players wearing jerseys with no names on the back. It is sandlot ball, pure and simple, and I loved it.

Dear readers, there is so much more to tell about spring baseball in the desert that I have to stop now and write about it in part two. So stay tuned next week for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.

By the way, spring ball confirmed something I long suspected: “There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” ~Al Gallagher, 1971.

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 6 — Spring fever, baseball and trying to focus. First published March 17, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Spring fever, baseball and trying to focus

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache,you want it so!” ~Mark Twain

Last week about this time, I was soaking up the desert sun while watching the Kansas City Royals play spring ball in Surprise, Arizona. Today, I am sweeping slush from the driveway and watching the snow melt.

It does just fairly make your heart ache.

Since, I promised to write some more this week about spring baseball, I will. However, I have such a bad case of spring fever right now or whatever it is that I want, it is difficult to focus on or even remember last week.

I am far more smitten with the idea of anything associated with the month of March. Crocuses and daffodils pushing up through the snow, the frogs in my backyard pond singing their mid-March “spring is here” song, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and green grass.

But I will try to remember.

Here are some things I didn’t tell you about in last week’s column about spring ball in the Cactus League. There I discovered curious surprises in Surprise, some of which left me puzzled.

* For example, I realized that I knew the words to all the songs played at the Royals game. Such as Dizzy, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and 59th Street Bridge Song. Could this have anything to do with the fact that Sun City is just across the road, I wondered?

* Another question: why do the outfield billboards at Surprise advertise such things as urgent care, hospitals, rehab centers, lift chairs, scooters and $8.88 oil changes? No Hooters or sports bars advertised there. I think I just answered my own question.

* A puzzler: why did the Royals’ coaches leave the ballpark in the middle of the fifth inning? We were sitting close to the field in the first row behind the dugout and overheard one coach give an order to the others, “Come on boys, we’ve got work to do. Let’s go.”

And with that a herd of coaches quickly picked up their clipboards and walked past left field, let themselves into the bullpen and out through a rear exit, leaving the third-base coach Rodriguez alone to finish the game.

What’s up with this? Almost the same thing happened the following day when we were at the Angel’s game in Tempe. Most of their team packed up their duffels and left the stadium, again in the middle of the fifth. Only a skeleton crew of Angel players remained in the dugout waiting for their turn to bat.

* But back to Surprise where the players occasionally toss a ball to the kids in the crowd. Kids? There were only a few people under the age of 60. I wonder if that was because school-age kids were in school that day and the stadium sits next door to Sun City?

I think I said this already.

* Observation: in spring ball, mistakes happen. On one occasion, a Royals player sprinted excitedly from the dugout to substitute for the injured second baseman. As he reached second base, another player ran onto the field yelling, “Hey, not you. I’m the one supposed to go in.”

Mistakes were the order of the day for the public relations team as well as players.

Early in the game, the gargantuan scoreboard proudly announced that Willy Blumquist, formally of the Kansas City Royals, would be batting next for the Diamondbacks. The only problem was that the Diamondbacks public relations office apparently did not get a photo of Willy in a Diamondback uniform in time for the game. There was Willy on the Royals big screen proudly wearing his Royals uniform but batting for the D-backs.

Later in the game, the same thing happened when Juan Miranda, formerly of the New York Yankees, came up to bat for the Diamondbacks. The photo of Miranda on the scoreboard showed him in his former #46 Yankees uniform.

There were more examples of similar peculiar mistakes, but it’s spring ball after all, and details do not matter. Baseball is beautiful, it’s spring, and it’s the sound of a bat on a ball that makes our hearts sing.

I am going back next year.

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 8 — Are Kansas City sports making you crazy? First published September 22, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Are Kansas City sports making you crazy?

Sports is human life in microcosm.” – Howard Cosell

Is the sports world making you crazy right now? If you live anywhere around Kansas City, it probably is, even if you are not a big sports fan.

One thing is certain, do not write anything in ink about college football conferences, and you might need a big eraser for the Chiefs.

Perhaps, more than ever before, the stability of the world of sports in the Kansas City area is unpredictable, worrisome and uncertain at best, and that is about as similar to what happens in real life as one can get.

Victory, failure, loyalty, friends turning their backs, injury and pain, disappointment, happy surprises, unexpected success and dreams come true or shattered.

Yes, indeed, all human experiences and emotions are in sports, just as in real life, and they are all playing out front and center in Kansas City this fall.

Not everyone is a die-hard sports aficionado, granted, but it seems as though most people care a great deal about what happens to college football and certainly the Chiefs. Even non-fanatical fans are having plenty of ‘water-cooler’ talk about local sports these days.

Case in point. The day-to-day changes in college conference realignment are baffling to the average fan including conference names that are puzzling, such as: ACC, C-USA, MAC, MW, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC, PAC-12, Big XII, B1G (Big Ten) and Big East.

Furthermore, some conferences are creative with their math and actually have either more or less member schools than their names imply: Big XII has 10 but is shrinking, and the B1G (Big Ten) has 12. Apparently, the only conference that can count is the PAC-12.

More than a few ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’ are feeling mystified, bewildered and downright bamboozled.

Therefore, I decided to conduct my own unscientific survey to see what fans that are not particularly rabid think about the current state of affairs in the world of sports.

I limited my questions to two in the survey:

1. What do you think about college conference realignment that might leave some of our area teams virtually homeless, i.e. Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State?

2. And oh yes, of course, what do you think about the Kansas City Chiefs miserable beginning to the season?

Survey says:

–Big XII-Big East merger – NO!

–Could Mizzou share some of its 69 points from the Western Illinois game with the Chiefs?

–The Colts are the only hope Chiefs fans have to not be the worst team in football this year.

–Definition of leftovers: what is left of the Big XII and what is left of the Big East.

–Conference realignment: it’s like elementary school recess when the “non-cool” kids hope to be picked by the “cool” kids for kick ball.

–Season of the ACL, acronym now means: ‘Another Chief Lost’, not anterior cruciate ligament, since three Chiefs standouts tore their ACLs in a matter of a few weeks.

– A more hopeful definition of ACL—‘Andrew Chiefs Luck’. If Chiefs finish last, they could get Stanford star quarterback, Andrew Luck, so long as he doesn’t tear his ACL, too.

I give up. I am ready for spring baseball and the Cactus League.

My hope for a happy future for Kansas City sports rests with the Royals. Yes, the Royals.

On a recent perfectly gorgeous September night, I watched our Kansas City Royals beat Detroit soundly with excellent hitting, bring up an amazing new pitcher Mendoza from the minors, see Hosmer go 5 for 5 and a total of three team homeruns blasted out of the park in one game.

 

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby

Older posts «

» Newer posts