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Next Year Finally Year for Royals, Mom

Aug 26, 2015 -- 1:27pm

By Kevin Kietzman

I’m taking my mom to the Royals game tonight for her birthday and I’m sure there is nothing I could possibly give her that she would love more.  Not diamonds.  Not a trip to the beach. Not even a soundbar to help hear the games better from the tinny sounding little baby speakers in the HD TB I bought her a few years ago that she initially refused to accept.  You see, she didn’t need HD tv to enjoy the Royals games.  I’m pretty sure that’s when they were losing a lot and she still did crossword puzzles and talked on the phone during the games.


Not anymore.


Now she’s got a laptop she uses during games to look up stats and stuff (she didn’t want that either) and only takes calls from my oldest sister and they are only allowed to talk about the game.  Two years ago, my sister only knew the Royals as something mom and her brothers liked and she didn’t understand.  It was only good for her because it was easy gift giving at Christmas. Now… well… now sister Connie is all in.  She has a rich history of being “all in” on good looking 20-something guys.  First it was Elvis (before I was born), then the Beatles (the year I was born) and most recently one of those talent show winners named Michael Grimm.  Connie’s a “Grimmlin”.  Oh my.


Anyway, she’s found athletes now and instead of just having one CD to listen to and going to one concert a year, she has Eric Hosmer 175 times  year.  It’s really crazy how she’s fallen head over heels for these guys like my mom.  They see sports teams a lot differently than me and my brother but that’s another column for another day. To be inclusive, my other sister in Florida likes the Royals too, from a distance.  She actually (and illegally) downloaded a bunch of photos of all the players and put them into a pattern and made them into a blanket for mom.  Mom cranks the AC, gets under the blanket and watches the games with a  stuffed folding pillow of Slugger I got her.  You can’t make this up.


Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.  Connie is all in with mom and she’s going tonight, too.  Just like the World Series last year when I shot video of them celebrating a Royals score just as Omar Infante was going deep.  Yes, Infante.  We posted it last year and many of you loved it and noticed they both dressed exactly the same for the game.  I expect no less tonight, I mean, Johnny Cueto’s starting.  They are not afraid to make their own shirts or signs.


So what’s the big deal about tonight?  Well, mom can’t drive at night anymore and Connie doesn’t like to.  Connie and her husband live on a farm nearly an hour from mom’s house so their plan was to watch the  afternoon game tomorrow at mom’s house as they ditched the idea of going to the game because it could have been a little too hot and a little too sunny for mom.  NOW IT”S A SLEEPOVER!  I’m taking them tonight with no sun, no heat and no driving for them and then it’s a slumber party.  They’ll probably go to Johnny’s bbq for lunch tomorrow, check out one of a dozen new things being built in Mission and then watch the game together.  You see the Royals aren’t  just winning games, they are changing the way we live.  How we feel.  Who we are.


It’s only entertainment and I’ve never been one to look up to athletes or celebrities.  I had a dad and have a mom that have showed me the way every moment of my life, so it’s not about worship.  It’s about togetherness.  A bond.  Common ground the way only sports can bring us all together.  And that’s why I have been blessed and have loved every minute of 31 years of covering this team.  Even through the losing, I remembered the times going to games with dad.  And now I even fondly remember watching the Red Sox beat the Royals 11-3 only to hear mom say they’d win tomorrow.  “And mark my words, “ she would say.  “We’re going to be great next year, just you wait.”  Now we’re all living in mom’s “next year” and life is good.

Nelson, KC Sports Commission Deserve Raise!

May 29, 2015 -- 9:50am

By Kevin Kietzman

I don’t know exactly how “not for profit” organizations work but it’s time for Kathy Nelson to get a big, fat raise.


Nelson had gigantic shoes to fill when she replaced Kevin Gray as President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation and she officially shed the tag of successor this week.  Kansas City is host to the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship for four more years, a clean sweep over several other cities.


To put this accomplishment in perspective consider the hand Nelson was dealt.  Sure, she will tell you there are dozens of other people that were instrumental in putting this bid together, but it doesn’t tell the full story of what she has done.  First, the Big 12 gets in a huge fight and Missouri bolts for the SEC.  Missouri.  You know, where Sprint Center was built.


Then the Big 12 reforms at 10 schools and starts to question everything it has always done.  Men’s tournament in KC?   Ok, well, maybe that’s not the best place.  The conference announces it wants to open the tourney up for competitive bids from places like Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Des Moines and Tulsa.  Those cities get excited and work hard and put together bids and on a rainy day in late May, they dial into a conference call and get the news.


The Big 12 is staying in Kansas City!


The conference office is headquartered in Dallas and the city, along with a company co-owned by Mark Cuban submits a bid.  Sorry, Mark, this tank isn’t big enough for any tiny Sharks like you.  You’ve been rejected.  Amazing work by everyone in Kansas City.


Now, we can’t ignore the impact of AEG the owner and operator of Sprint Center.  Without an NBA or NHL team, Sprint Center probably needs this event more than anyone and their leverage and impact in arena entertainment is far reaching.  They’re big time players.  But Kathy Nelson literally skipped lunch on Thursday, afraid she would have an upset stomach all afternoon waiting for the announcement.  In hindsight, she should have had a giant KC strip steak and taken the afternoon off for a job well done.

Breaking News: AFC Game Ball Details

Jan 21, 2015 -- 10:50am

By Kevin Kietzman


When the NFL found 11 of the 12 New England Patriots  game balls underinflated at half time of Sunday’s AFC Championship game, they were reinflated and  then confidentially  tested  again immediately after the game, a source familiar with the investigation told WHB. 


Each of the 12 Patriots balls conformed to standards approximately 5 minutes before kickoff but 11 were found to be about two pounds per square inch low at halftime.


The underinflated balls were reinflated to conform to league standards and put back in play for the second half.  Each ball was re-tested immediately after the game by a representative from the league office who reported the results to executives at the NFL.  All 12 footballs used by the Indianapolis Colts conformed to standards when tested.


The source told WHB it is highly improbable that so many of the Patriots footballs could lose so much air because of weather or playing conditions and the Colts balls did not.  But the source stopped short of saying they believed the Patriots doctored the balls.


By league rules, the footballs stay in the hands of the officials until about 5-7 minutes before kickoff when they are handed off to a ball person with each team.  Only then could the Patriots begin a process to deflate the footballs.  During the game, Indianapolis’ Mike Adams intercepted a pass from Tom Brady and turned the ball over to his team’s equipment manager, claiming the ball needed to be checked for  deflation.


The league is scheduled to release the findings of the investigation in the next two days.


In a 2011 radio interview with WEEI in Boston, Tom Brady admitted that he likes to throw footballs that are underinflated.

Mrs. Kietzman At The Ballpark

Oct 23, 2014 -- 11:55am

Mrs. Kietzman enjoyed a thrill-of-a-lifetime at Game 2 of the World Series, including watching Omar Infane's two-run homer in the pivotal sixth inning.


Chiefs Failing in Pass/Fail Course Called NFL

Sep 08, 2014 -- 10:48am

By Kevin Kietzman

If you don't beat the Tennessee Titans on your home field, who do you beat? 
It's a legitimate question after an awful season opener for the Chiefs, who looked a lot like the 2-14 team of two years ago.  And this is scary.  The dreadful season that led to the Chiefs having the top pick in the draft is still so close, so fresh, you know you're thinking its possible again.  I was a total believer the Chiefs were ok until Sunday.  Andy Reid, Alex Smith, and 11 wins made me completely overlook how the Chiefs won those games last year and gave me way too much confidence this bunch knows exactly what they are doing and that everything would be fine.  It's not fine.  The Chiefs are a mess that likely can't be fixed this year.
I mean, where do we start?
The head coach admitted his game plan and play calling were atrocious.  I agree.  The quarterback forced pass after pass to a terrible receiving corps and the line gave him little protection.  The best player on the Chiefs defense, linebacker Derrick Johnson, is likely out for the year with a ruptured achilles.  The cheap kicker pushed one and hooked one in his NFL debut while the Chiefs most accurate kicker of all time was perfect for the opponent.  Succop 14, Chiefs 10.  Straight down the middle.  Special teams were bland, the Chiefs looked slow and even when there was a little pass rush, Titans quarterback Jack Locker scrambled out with ease.  Jake Locker.
I'm not into calling for jobs especially early in a tenure and especially when a team had a turnaround like the Chiefs did last year.  But if I have one thing I'm watching more than anything else right now, it's the job GM John Dorsey and his scouting department are doing.  It doesn't look good for these guys who decided left tackle Eric Fisher was the best player out of some 200 players in the draft 16 months ago.  Most of the other draft choices from two years have done nothing, either, but Fisher is the poster boy for what's wrong.  As I watched team after good team play with athleticism, speed and creativity (see Denver, Seattle, San Francisco) in Week One, I'm left wondering why the Chiefs have so few players that really make a difference.  It's hard to ever criticize or complain about running back Jamaal Charles but he looked as bland and lifeless as the rest of this sad bunch yesterday.
It's a pass/fail league.  The Chiefs are failing.

Need A Royals Run? Take A Road Trip!

Jun 30, 2014 -- 9:56am

By Kevin Kietzman

Looking for reasons to believe the Royals will make the post season?  Let's take a road trip.
The Royals start nine straight on the road beginning with a three-game series at Minnesota and it may just be time for the Royals to flex their muscle as baseball's best road warriors.  Kansas City is already an impressive 21-17 on the road and you won't believe how cushy  Royals road schedule is... the rest of the season.  That's right, we just reached the halfway mark of the season and the Royals have the 14th best record in baseball.  Good, not great.  But they are right in the race in the Central Division and the old saying of winning at home and playing even .500 on the road does not apply to this team.
Think about the odds of this... the Royals have the 14th best mark in the game but only have two series the rest of the season on the road against teams with better records.  Six games.  That's it.
Here's the math.  The next 15 road games the Royals play will be against lesser teams before taking on the Oakland A's the first week of August.  Then the Royals will have 15 more road games against lesser teams before playing in Detroit against the Tigers on September 8.  So the Royals have three road games out of their next 33 against a better team.  Amazing for a team that's only three games over .500.
So what kind of mark are we looking for in the second half?  Heck, the Royals are four games over already, many against better teams, so let's go ahead and double that number.  8 over anyone?  Ok, so the Royals pull that off with a ridiculously easy road schedule and that puts them at 46-35 on the road, 11 games over.  If the Royals just finish a measly 41-40 at home that puts them at 87-75 which is a game better than the 2013 total.  You would think any team capable of playing well on the road could heat it up a little at home.  Let's not get greedy here, how about a modest 44-37, they are under .500 at home after all.  Hit that mark and you hit the pyschological magic win total of 90.  And that likely gets the Royals into the post season.
So you can see where the Royals can truly fatten up... on the road beginning in Minnesota.

I was sitting at the pool yesterday and a couple about 20 feet away were watching the live scoring of the Royals on their phone.  They were hoping to listen, but MLB has so many rules about broadcast rights you have to be an MIT grad to figure it all out. So the old pitch by pitch on the smartphone had to do.
The wife is the one on the phone and the two are just chirping away while their kids splash in the water.  She says to her husband, I'm pretty sure I can get the World Cup game on here if you want to watch something. He says to her, "your updates on the Royals are just fine and if you ever catch me watching a soccer game at the pool, don't ever let me go to the pool again."  She laughed and made some crack about how she's really good at play by play.
Anyway, soccer still has a long, long way to go in this country.  Sports, at the core, are very local.  Sure, everyone wants Team USA to win and do well at the World Cup but how many people really care?  I mean, really care?  Will you trade a Royals loss Tuesday for a World Cup win?  How about the Chiefs season opener?  You wanna trade that loss for a win over Belgium?  And I"m not even going to ask a K-State fan or Missouri Fan if they will take a season opening football loss for a World Cup win.  I would get laughed at and may get punched.  Or a KU baskeball loss for a win?  No way.
So enjoy this awesome summer spectacle that is the World Cup.  Take a win if we can get it but let's all get real.  90% of us don't care nearly as much as we lead on.

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