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Tag Archive: sports

Apr 03

Ode to Opening Day When Any Team Can Win the Pennant

Dear Readers: This column was published back in the day when there was not much hope about the Kansas City Royals winning the Pennant, let alone the Division. That changed, as the photo below shows, with the Royals celebrating their big win in the 5th game of the 2015 World Series v. the Mets in New York.

Here then is a look back at one of my columns about the Kansas City Royals–Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) First published April 9, 2009, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

 

Royals win World Series 2015

Photo flashback: Royals win 2015 World Series 

“You always get a special kick on Opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio.

Brimming with optimism as I drove along the interstate, I tuned the dial to sports radio hoping to find a pleasurable experience listening to the Kansas City Royals on Home Opening Day 2009.

And truthfully, I found one, even though the “boys in blue” had already lost their season opener away at the Chicago White Sox.

Yes, each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series.

The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness,” author George Vecsey writes in A Year in the Sun (1989).

Thus, beating back my own disappointing memories, I decided to believe, really believe, in the home team despite its heart-breaking precedent and its past mediocrity.

The ghosts of failure would not haunt me this season, I vowed.

After all, it was Opening Day. They might win!

They did not.

However, these guys are pretty good, or so they say in Chicago.

The son who moved to the Chicago area called to say the local media there were highly respectful of the Royals and that they have some real talent on board this year. “The Sox won,” he reported.

The son who moved to Boston sent an iPhone photo from Opening Day at Fenway where the Boston Red Sox were playing Tampa Bay. “The Sox won,” the lucky duck texted.

So, should we rename our team Sox, I pondered? How about the Kansas City Royal Sox? Has a nice ring to it.

Not discouraged yet, I called the son who lives in Kansas City to tell him how great the Royals were in defeat. He quickly reminded me that I say this every Opening Day.

Baseball-almanac.com agrees, “Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can’t wait to hear those two magic words again, Play Ball!”

And if you will, those magic words, “We won!”

The late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster, summed up best our Opening Day dreams with his original on-air radio poem, titled “365”:

“When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.

In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.

They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the Pennant on Opening Day.”

 

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 2 — Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) First published April 9, 2009, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Ode to Opening Day when any team can win the Pennant (Go Royal Sox!) 

“You always get a special kick on Opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio.

Brimming with optimism as I drove along the interstate, I tuned the dial to sports radio hoping to find a pleasurable experience listening to the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day 2009.

And truthfully, I found one, even though the “boys in blue” lost their season opener away at the Chicago White Sox.

Yes, each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible, for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series.

The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

“There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness,” author George Vecsey writes in A Year in the Sun (1989).

Thus, beating back my own disappointing memories, I decided to believe, really believe, in the home team despite its heart-breaking precedent and its past mediocrity.

The ghosts of failure would not haunt me this season, I vowed.

After all, it was Opening Day. They might win!

They did not.

However, these guys are pretty good, or so they say in Chicago.

The son who moved to the Chicago area called to say the local media there were highly respectful of the Royals and that they have some real talent on board this year. “The Sox won,” he reported.

The son who moved to Boston sent an iPhone photo from Opening Day at Fenway where the Boston Red Sox were playing Tampa Bay. “The Sox won,” the lucky duck texted.

So, should we rename our team Sox, I pondered? How about the Kansas City Royal Sox? Has a nice ring to it.

Not discouraged yet, I called the son who lives in Kansas City to tell him how great the Royals were in defeat. He quickly reminded me that I say this every Opening Day.

Baseball-almanac.com agrees, “Regardless of the outcome, Opening Day still remains as the number one date in the hearts, minds (and on the calendars) of baseball fans everywhere. The official countdown begins after the last pitch of the World Series when we can’t wait to hear those two magic words again, Play Ball!”

And if you will, those magic words, “We won!”

The late Jack Buck, St. Louis Cardinals sportscaster, summed up best our Opening Day dreams with his original on-air radio poem, titled “365”:

“When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you’re more attached than you think.

In the frozen grip of winter
I’m sure you’ll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree. ?
The calendar flips on New Year’s Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows. ?
It’s time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can’t go, but there’s the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.

They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the Pennant on Opening Day.”

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

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