Posted on: May 14, 2011 10:12 am

Thanks Harmon!

This isn't an easy blog for me to write or even title this week.  One of the not so good things about getting older is the bad news we get about many of our childhood heroes and those we watched play, jealous they weren't on our hometown team.  Harmon Killebrew was a player that falls into that category for me.  The news that he was entering hospice with a cancer that was no longer treatable brought sadness to my heart.  That news also made me thing of all the great accomplishments of his on the baseball field.  He was a favorite of mine back in the 60's and early 70's.  Even though he played for the Twins and I was an A's and Royals fan, I always admired his power and ability to drive in key runs in a game.  Plus, Harmon looked like a everyday fan and not a well chiseled athlete, and that made me root for him even more (him and Mickey Lolich who often looked like he had downed a whole pizza or two before taking the mound, kind of like me at times in my life).  

Then in 1975, my Royals signed him to a one year deal.  He hit a few homers for us that year, but those were not the highlights I remember.  What I remember is the warm summer night when Harmon stole not one but two bases.  He stole second twice on what we all supposed were missed hit and runs.  Pitchers had little concern about him stealing so keeping Killebrew close to the bag was not a priority.  Whatever the reasons involved, it was truly a remarkable event to witness.

Fast forward a few years now.  My family was visiting the Mall of America in the Twin Cities (Bloomington).  As we were looking around I notices a stadium seat hanging on the wall out in the Camp Snoopy area.  "Oh yeah," says the operator of the log ride, "That's where Harmon Killebrew's 500th homer landed and they kept the seat in the same location when they tore down Metropolitan Stadium and built this place."  I thought that was really cool to see.  I mean even if they missed by a few feet, it's still a great tribute to a superb hitter and hero in Minnesota.

It is always sad that eventually our heroes have to show they're mortal and fight the same diseases we do and show they are just like all of us.  We know that in our minds, but our hearts want not to believe that fact.  All I wish for now is that Harmon finds peace and solace in his final days.  In his rememberances as he sleeps, may all his homers be long three run blasts and may every pitcher ignore him at first allowing him to steal bases at will.  He'll always one of my all time favorites.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:46 am
Edited on: September 21, 2010 1:47 am

A Good Weekend For My Teams

Sometimes, life just treats you right.  Now I know that sports are not supposed to be the end all of our existences, and many of us know that for a fact.  Yet sports provide us some spice, some variety to the everyday business of living.  This weekend was one of those weekends where things just seemed to go right for once.

First, my alma mater, the NW Missouri State Bearcats bounced back form the Championship hangover with a very convincing win in Omaha against the always tough Mavericks of Neb. Omaha (UNO).  The 58-23 win was a good way to bounce back.  Also helps for future reference that Josh Baker, a D-1 transfer from Delaware (due to medical problems)  had 3 TD catches.  He'll be important in a drive for another berth in the D2 playoffs.

My Royals avoided the cellar in the Central with a win Sunday over the Indians.  Okay, it's not Earth shattering but hey, you take all the positives one can get in a forgettable 2010 season for them.  Still, it's a good sign if your team isn't last in their division.

The Chiefs went to 2-0 with a squeaker over the Browns.  WHOOHOO.  A 2-0 start is just fine and dandy with this fan.  Beats 0-2 for sure and at least for a second week, we lead the AFC West.  Defense looks way better than last years and special teams are very good too.  Hopefully the offense gets untracked soon.  For now though, the Sunday win is a needed balm to the souls of beleagered and bewildered Chiefs fans who have had little to cheer about since mid 2007.

And to top off the weekend, Clint Bowyer from Emporia, Kansas.....90 miles down I-35 from KC, won the opening race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase by going by an out of gas Tony Stewart and winning the Sylvania 300 in New Hampshire.  For years there were no local drivers to root for in NASCAR.  Now with Clint, Jamie McMurray (who finished well too) and Carl Edwards all from the area (area in the Mid-West meaning if it is within 3 hours) to cheer for, it is fun to follow them and actually see them win races.  His victory moved him all the way from 12th to 2nd in the standings.  It will be fun to see all of them race here at home in 2 weeks.

So overall, not a bad weekend.  Add Mizzou's victory and it was a sports weekend that was indeed, a very good one for my teams.
Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:40 am

Lightning In A Bottle

When Bryan Bullington won his first victory as a major league pitcher Sunday against the Yankees, it was an event long, long overdue.  The former overall 2002 first round pick of the Pirates had pitched okay in the minors, but injuries and a lack of opportunity to start in the majors had finally put Bryan on the mound starting for my all of a sudden starting pitching starved Royals.  The 8 innings of shoutout ball preserved by Joakim Soria could have been lightning in a bottle, a once in a lifetime performance by a journeyman given one last chance in the majors by the team of last chances, the Royals.  At 29, it was nice to see BB finals realize his potential, if even for one memorable start in front of a home crowd that seemed to be half Yankees fans. Also, the last time KC had beaten the Yanks 1-0, 1972.  It was a performance long overdue by a Royals pitcher. 

On closer inspection, this start may not have been a total fluke or anomaly however.  29 year old pitchers are in the prime of their careers most of the time.  He hasn't been overused by any means (reference one Gil Meche) and had a very good start the time before, plus decent stats in AAA with the Omaha Royals.  Maybe all he ever needed was an organization to hand him the ball every fifth day and have some confidence he'd do the job.  Now two excellent starts may be putting delusions of grandeur in the minds of KC fans, desparately searching for positives in yet another season that somehow unraveled all too quickly and unmercifully.  All Bryan deserves is an opportunity to show his stuff the rest of the season.  With Kyle Davies being a big tease as a starter, Luke Hochevar and Gil Meche battling the injury bug, Brian Bannister overthinking every pitch instead of relying on instinct and movement, and Zack Greinke just having one of those years, we need a success story in the rotation.  We also need someone to just outright pitch well consistently. 

Maybe Bryan can become all of that.  All us KC fans know is he'll get a chance to earn a rotation spot in 2011 if he pitches well the rest of the season.  Good luck Bryan.  May that lightning in a bottle from Sunday last you a few seasons. 
Posted on: July 13, 2010 11:56 pm

Remembering Steinbrenner from the Heartland

Finding a unique view of George Steinbrenner on the day of his death is like trying to squeeze a 13" ball through a 10" hoop.  You can try but it tends to be an exercise in frustration.  Well, I'm a bit on the stubborn side so the attempt is going to be made here.  Kansas City's involvement with George and the Yankees goes back a long way.  Back to 1975 when it was apparent that both teams were very close to challenging for their divisions in the AL.  As a Royals fan you could see George was going to do all he could to get NY back to a champion.  As both teams battled each other through 4 ALCS, we in the Midwest viewed George as a fun to dislike villian, but a worthy opponent though a bit eccentric in his ways.  The Bronx Zoo was entertaining to view yet frustrating to play.  It was so sweet to finally get the monkey off our backs in 1980 and after our ALCS win, see George fire Dick Howser who we picked up the next year.

The 80's were good to the Yankees in the wins department, yet no playoffs came after the 1981 WS loss to the Dodgers.  George was a madman.  He was always trying to get back to the Series but something would always go wrong in the end, or the Tigers, Orioles, Red Sox, or Blue Jays would be too much in a given year for the Yanks.  Then George got his second suspension of his career over the Dave Winfield incident (the first was over illegal campaign contributions to the '72 Nixon/Agnew ticket).  Stepping away was the best thing to happen to NY.  His front offices were able to draft well, make good trades, and sign free agents that made sense.  Under Bob Watson the Yanks finally made it back to the postseason and won four WS in 6 years.  As George takes over more control of the the team, they go through a drought of sorts (for them anyway) and the WS Championship eludes them until hank takes over the team and allows Brian Cashman to show why he's a very good GM w/o tons of interferrence from ownership.

After the strike of 1994, George did a great job of maximizing his revenues under the new agreement.  Until that point, even teams like the Royals could match pace with the Yankees in players salaries.  George's tremedous business accumen allowed NY to outspend smaller markets by a wide margin.  He was only doing what seemed best for his team.  Unfortunately for many smaller markets, ownership chose to play the poor us game rather than adapt and respond to the challenge.  Was this selfish on George's part and maybe not the best thing overall for baseball, probably.  I never looked at Steinbrenner with the same fun villian view after that.  However, he did what he needed to do for his team and that had to be respected.  I wish he would have offered the limited revenue sharing option a bit earlier or offered up some other concessions in other areas in the owners control to help ease the transition to the big money era in baseball.  Hindsight is 20/20 though, and what happened is past now.

In the end, George was well, George.  His lazer focus was wanting his team to be the best in baseball and through good or bad you knew his decisions were based on achieving that.  We didn't always like the results out here in the Midwest.  It was more fun when we were equals and George failed to realize that the whole sport would have been better off with his team having more than just Boston as a big rival.  The big picture was never George's strength.  Making the Yankees #1 any way possible was where Geprge's heart was and the NY fans will always be grateful for that.  In the Heartland, we'll always see GS with respect but much differently.
Posted on: May 24, 2010 2:17 am
Edited on: May 24, 2010 3:59 am

What Time Was It? It Was Always Lima Time!

Finally, after weeks of hard work I get a Sunday off for some fun.  Take my son and a friend of his to St. Louis to see the Cardinals and Angels.  We're sitting there in the infamous heat and humidity of Busch Stadium, enjoying the game when something comes across the scoreboard that made me look twice, and then a third time.  Jose Lima dies of heart attack at age of 37.  Lima, gone?  My mind instantly started thinking about several things involving Jose.

The first was his 1999 radio appearances on the Jim Rome Show.  Back then I did listen to Jim whenever possible because I thought the show was humorous.  I finally quit listening when his show yielded to Entercom corporate pressure and switched stations here in KC, going from the hometown owned one to the new, large corporate owned one.  Never listened to the show ever again, but that's getting off the subject.  Lima Time was funny.  Of course it is easy to be outgoing when you're going 16-8 and 21-10 in successive years.  He was a favorite of the listeners and you could tell by the way he went about the segments with Jim that life was good in Jose's world, and a very fun place to be.

After his career cooled off some, he found himself in KC as a Royal to start the 2003 season. The Royals got off to a tremendous start that year, and Jose Lima had seemed to reinvent himself as a pitcher, getting off to a very hot start.  Even when he was injured, later in the year, he was a good clubhouse presence and somehow, I still believe if he would have stayed healthy, his 8-3 record might have been 17-7 and that might have been the difference to avoid the late season swoon that cost them a 7 game division lead at the All-Star break.  He was on the local sports news all the time.  You would see video of him at charity golf events, a loud shirt, straw style Caribbean hat, and a big old stogie being his trademark look.  Many of us in KC would have loved to see Allard Baird keep Jose, but somehow he slipped away to the Dodgers for 2004.  Helped them to the playoffs and, ouch, pitched a masterpiece against the Cardinals in the playoffs to get them a long awaited playoff victory (Cards still won the series though).

Jose came back to KC for 2005.  5-16 with a near 7 ERA didn't keep him from being exuberant, at least to the fans.  It was obvious that he just had lost something out on the mound though.  He did eat up some innings and kept going out to the mound and kept attempting to find the stuff that used to baffle so many batters.  It never came for the most part.  He kind of slipped away form the mind of many Royals fans after that, until today.

Many things will be written about Jose.  Some good and some will expound on his faults.  Jose I'm sure had his faults and no doubt there are those who will bring those out.  But this blog isn't written to do that.  I write to remember happier moments.  The fans screaming Lima...Lima when he brought home a victory for the home team.  Thanks Jose for reminding us all that Baseball is a game, and even players should have fun.  Thank you for Lima Time.
Posted on: March 11, 2010 3:24 am

The Royals Will Win the 2010 World Series*

*  Provided the other 29 MLB teams all suffer crushing injuries to their entire 40 man rosters.  This claim is made for entertainment and attention grabbing purposes only and in no way represents CBS Sports or in any way signifies one D2Moo is ready for a professional mental evaluation although those who know him have suggested psychological help has been needed for years.

Now I have fully grabbed your attention, this blog is about my hometown team, the much maligned Kansas City Royals.  To be a Royals fan the last 15 years has been in simple words, hard as hell.  But this is 2010.  Zack Greinke is coming off a wonderful year and an AL Cy Young.  Billy Butler improved at the plate and in the field to be an above average major leaguer.  There are some positives for this year.  Positive we haven't seen for some time in this town.  So here is a quick rundown of the team.

Always have to start with pitching.  Zack Greinke and Gil Meche are a very good #1 and #2 starting combo.  If Trey can keep from letting Gil go out and throw 120 pitches in consecutive starts, he should be healthy and ready for this year.  Zack is, well, phenomenal.  He shouldn't miss a beat this year.  He could actually have a higher ERA and still be a big winner if the team plays defense behind him and he gets even a 1/2 run a game better support from the offense this year.  Luke Hochevar should be one more year improved as well, although it may be 2011 before we see him break out into the pitcher he can be.  Anyone who can have an 80 pitch complete game in this day and age has potential like crazy.  Brian Bannister should be #4 in the rotation.  He is a thinking n=mans pitcher who shouldn't over think his pitch selection.  When he just pitches, he does fine.   would like to see Robinson Tejada get the last spot.  Kyle Davies to me is a better suited pitcher for the bullpen.  The starting rotation should get them deep into most ballgames.   then the set up guys come into play.  Juan Cruz is the key for me.  He has to put up better numbers.  Kyle Farnsworth is trying for a starting role.  If that makes him a better reliever, fine.  He should never pitch in the 8th ever again in my opinion.  Fine early though.  He's best suited for a situational 6th and 7th inning role.  Joakim Soria has the back of the pen sewn down.  He has multiple pitches, multiple speeds, and a track record of success.  He has converted 89 of 99 save opportunities in the last three years here.  One last bullpen man of note is Edgar Osuna.  A rule five pick (like Soria was) he has a nice arm and so far looks decent in the spring.  too early to tell, but he may have a role in the pen.  In conclusion, the key to any 2010 Royals success will depend on how reliable the set up men are.  If they can get the game to Joakim with the team ahead, it could be a good year.

The rest of the team will be better defensively this year.  David DeJesus returns, having committed zero errors in 2009.  Now he has outfield help with Rick Ankiel, Scott Posednik, and Brian Anderson getting most of starts.  Posednik is the weak link here, but he is still miles ahead of Jose Guillen in RF.  The infield is better defensively with Josh Fields and Chris Getz playing.  Butler is the only sure bet as the first baseman.  All the other positions are still up in the air as of right now.  Jason Kendall will catch.  Better defensively than Buck and Olivo, but doesn't hit with as much power.  Doesn't whiff as often either I believe.  

The offense couldn't be worse than last year.   On second though, yes it could.  Butler will be fine.  If Ankiel can get back to .275 with some pop in his swing and Jose Guillen plays it straight and is motivated in a contract year, the offense might score enough most nights.  Alberto Callyspo, if not traded, has a sweet swing.  Too bad a iron glove will keep him from seeing more action.

So to sum up this mess of mine, the Royals will go as far as pitching and defense will take them.  They'll have to because the team may not be proficient in the run scoring department.  It would be nice to see the team have all career good years instead of everyone having career poor years.  

Record in 2010: 80-82.  Finish in 3rd or 4th depending on the White Sox.  Division will be decent this year, even with the Twins Joe Nathan probably out for the season.  The Royals, they'll make just enough progress to tease us fans.  Decent pitching and above average defense will prove in 2010 that the old Meatloaf tune "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" is true in KC.

Posted on: January 7, 2010 12:02 pm

Please Everyone, Baseball Needs Compromise

After struggling with three drafts in Word on this subject, I finally decided to just wing it and compose on the fly on this topic.  It is an important topic and one that radically divides major league fans.  The inequality in payrolls has been debated ad nauseum on Sportsline and across the baseball media. 

The large revenue teams and their fans feel they did compromise with limited revenue sharing.  They think small revenue owners are just lining their pockets with cash, they're cheap, and won't spend the money on their teams.  That think a cap is unnecessary and kind of like how things are now.  Their teams have an opportunity for post season success if their front offices are not inept. 

Small and some mid-revenue team fans think the large revenue teams have their heads in the sand.  They want a system where their teams, if run well, have a chance at post season glory.  They hate watching good players leave a city because another team can pay their heroes more money.  They want fairness.  They want a slaary cap like in the NBA and the pre 2010 NFL.  Fans don't want to see their teams' owners be forced to spend big chunks of their personal wealth to keep up with other teams and their much greater revenues.  That's because many of those owners simply will not bankrupt themselves to do that, the Jerry Coangelo led Arizona Diamondbacks maybe being the exception.

So what are the solutions?  How do we bridge this expanse?  Can it be done?  Will I stop asking questions?

Yes, I think it can be done.  It can be done because we all love baseball.  We enjoy a well pitched game, a timely hit, and a great play in the outfield.  Emerald fields, warm days, and arguing over strategy are part in parcel of the experience whether you are a Yankees, Cardinals, or Royals fan.  We have a common interest there.  I have thought of some ideas short of a salary cap that the game could implement.  Some will require some sacrifice on all parties, including the players association.  Their help maybe the hardest part of this deal.  Some of these suggestions you all have seen before.  A couple may be new.  Then I will end this with a hypothetical situation that very few folks anywhere would want to see.

1.  Cap on bonuses and pay for draftees.  All teams can benefit from that.

2.  World draft.  In the end, if you don't like the team that drafted you, tough.  It is a earned privilege to play baseball, not a right.  Maybe a Japanese star would like Pittsburgh.  Maybe he would end up enjoying the town he gave it a chance.  Heck, they might even become Steelers and Penguins season ticket holders.  As a compromise though, a team would have a three year window to sign the draftee.  Two years for Japanese major league players.

3.  Push back free agency one year.  I know the players will whine about that one, but raising the minimum salary some might offset this.  This would allow the better run smaller revenue and the mid-revenue teams to keep their players just a bit longer before their free agency.

4.  Fund to help smaller markets sign their own players.  Have to be a drafted player, or one traded for before year two in the majors.  Only type A free agents qualify, Carlos Beltran with the Royals mid-decade or the Twins Joe Mauer today.  Up to 5 million a year in aid.  If two players fit the category, up to 3 million per player.  Maximum of two.  The league could do this out of TV revenue and money from fines (if the fine money is not already going to charity).

5.  Smaller revenue owners may have to kick in a little extra cash.  Not whopping amounts mind you, but if you are worth 800 million, adding 10 million to your payroll out of pocket, if not being done already, would help.  That amount won’t kill your net worth.  Having to fork over 60 million a year or more would hurt the old net worth a lot.  It's not like these owners are sitting on a pile of cash.  Much of those nets are in stocks, land, businesses, and other assets.  Disposing of a lot of them at once could affect others who have nothing to do with baseball.

Any other ideas like how to change arbitration would be welcome.  The idea is to be creative in a workable way and see what we all can come up with in order to help every team have an opportunity for success.  That opportunity will have to be earned by good management though, and not just handed to anyone.

A last point.  We as fans need to begin thinking of baseball as one entity with 30 franchises, not 30 individual businesses with no tie to each other than some common rules.  It is not the last bastion of free enterprise.  MLB grants the franchise rights.  MLB distributes national TV money to teams.  All 30 teams deal with one union, not 30 different ones.

Now for the senario that should scare every fan in every market.  Well, except two.

Two very rich individuals, who just sold highly successful business for mucho dinero, decide to buy their hometown teams, say the Twins and Astros.  Each man (or woman) sets aside 10 billion dollars to run the team, If they can earn 4% on the 10B, they would have 400M for salaries, using the normal revenue streams to run day to day operations and improve facilities and the minor league operations.  If the Yankees have revenues of 275-280M, how are they going to compete,  The one problem that they haven't had to face since before the 1994 strike is some owner spending more money than them in payroll.  Many of the newer fans here do not realize that under Ewing Kauffman, the Royals were usually either the leader or top five in payroll.  There was a big difference between kicking 6-7 million of his own cash and kicking in 100M of your own cash to be top five.  Another problem large market teams haven’t had to face was not being able to resign their own players brought up through their systems.  Imagine if Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera had signed contracts with the Astros because the Yankees couldn’t afford to pay the 47.5 million a year over 6 years each was offered by that wealthy owner.  Compromise involves placing yourself in the position of the hunted rather than the hunter sometimes. 


I know this has gone long.  There is much I haven’t been able to cover here.  All I wish for is for all sides to sit down and hammer out a system that rewards well run teams with an opportunity to win in the post season no matter what city the team is located in.  Then, if your team blows, you know it is because of poor management and not that someone can simply outspend you.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com