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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.

Game with No Name, Ford Has Game

May 09, 2014 -- 5:59pm

By Kevin Kietzman

My friends have started a new game to keep them interested in Royals baseball.
The game has no name, but they are searching.  It has nothing to do with whether the Royals win or lose and the starting pitcher is irrelevent.  In fact, no players' names even need to be discussed before each game and if you want to put a couple peanuts in, we can play for that.  Now granted, I run with some guys that would have action on whether an old lady can cross the street before the light turns red so you know there's nothing all that creative or unique about this game.  But some of the numbers are quite amazing.  The most common number is four.  And it's not whether or not the Royals score four runs tonight at win.
My friends love to set an over/under on how many Royals hitters will get a hit in a given game.  And amazingly, they really don't care who's pitching for the other team.  There are much bigger factors like whether or not Moose is still in the lineup or Omar Infante needs a day off after a night game.  Surprisingly, the number is pretty much the same even if it's a National League opponent and the Royals starting pitcher is hitting.
Forget moundball, will the Royals have more or less than four guys get a hit tonight?  Wow, so it's really this bad?

The Chiefs have taken Auburn defensive end Dee Ford in the first round of the NFL Draft and I'm actually OK with it.  I've been saying for a month the Chiefs should take Brandin Cooks, wide receiver from Oregon State of the best playmaking defensive player left on the board.  I don't like safeties, middle linebackers or nose tackles as playmakers.  Or any offensive player that ever plays with his hand on the ground.  But I do like pass rushers that can blow up a play and make a difference.  Maybe Dee Ford is just that.  I loved the Justin Houston pick a few years ago and see this one the same way.  For me, it doesn't matter where you draft a guy.  It's whether you draft a guy that can win a game or two.  It's reasonable to believe Dee Ford will impact more games for the Chiefs in a positive way than half the guys picked last night.  At least one of the quarterbacks in the first round will be a total bust.  All the offensive lineman combined won't win a game for a team.  That's almost a third of the field.  So draft a smart, skilled, fast playmaker and teach him the ropes.  The only drawback is they picked a position they already have talent but that seems to be the Reid/Dorsey way.  Draft a player where you have a very, very good player and a year from now say goodbye to that player.  Sorry Tamba, been nice to know ya.
Had lunch at a KC landmark burger shack today with Todd Leabo called GrandStand Burgers.  It's at Antioch and Merriam Drive and it's not far from where I grew up.  And I had NEVER been there.
It's amazing, everything it's cracked up to be.  It's totally cramped inside and you can't sit at a table and eat but the counter ladies couldn't be friendlier.  You can get a burger at a sit down restaurant faster but nobody cares.  Everyone there is there to live a little, have a great time and soak up some sun at the loooooong outdoor table.  You will talk to strangers and oddly, you will love doing so.  Nobody talks about the weather.  It starts by talking about the best burgers you ever had, moves into who the Chiefs drafted and ends talking about your favorite movie of all time.  And the burgers were sensational at a great price.
Go fast.... they'd love to see you at GrandStand.

Excitement Around Ventura in '14

Mar 18, 2014 -- 1:43pm

By Kevin Kietzman

In a city caught up in hoops hysteria, something really important took place with the Royals way earlier than anyone expected.
The Royals are notorious for dragging out a lot of their big decisions until very late in spring training and leaving options on the table.  Sometimes they wait because that's what they always do but a lot of years it's because they're throwing darts trying to guess what is the best thing to do.  Maybe those days are over.
Yordano Ventura has been named to the starting rotation and will actually occupy the third spot.  Boom.  We have a winner and more importantly, we have a sign that greatness is near.  Ventura has now done what Danny Duffy couldn't do.  Or Luke Hochevar or Aaron Crow or a host of other big name Royals prospects that have never lead up to their hype.  And Ventura has done it with ease.  He destroyed the A's last week and wiped up the Rangers last night in Surprise, AZ.  It's high scoring, hitter friendly Cactus League baseball, except when Yordy is on the bump.  He's so far ahead of Zach Greinke at this point in his career that all I can think of right now is a comparison to Bret Saberhagen.  Saberhagen was a World Series MVP at age 21 so that's not going to happen for Ventura but this guy is a freak and he's the "ace in waiting" the Royals have been looking for to replace James Shields next year.  This is no dart throw.  Not in 2014.
Yordano Ventura can become the talk of baseball this year.  Hey, it happens somewhere every year, why not here?  They have to remind him not to throw 100 miles an hour on every pitch to conserve energy.  Not to hit his spots better, to conserve energy.  This kid has it all and 95 miles an hour is normally just fine.  I'm thrilled this is finally happening.  It seems like it has been a long time since anyone young in a Royals uniform has actually won a battle convincingly and was not given a shot based on draft position.  This could get good.
The downside to the Cactus League so far?  Well, there really isn't one.  The Royals, as a team, are leading the league in hitting and Mike Moustakas is around .450 and driving in runs all over the place.  I'm not nearly as giddy about the offensive numbers as I am about Ventura because we've seen the Royals hit in Arizona before.  Including Moose.  So I'll believe the bats when I see them in Detroit against Verlander.
But for now, the Royals have taken a huge step toward excellence in pitching this year.  They will count on young Yordana Ventura to pitch 200 innings of low ERA baseball this year and be what Ervin Santana was in 2013.  Play ball!

Open Letter About KU, Show

Mar 12, 2014 -- 10:10am

By Kevin Kietzman

It's been a bad couple weeks for KU basketball and my inbox and Twitter are stuffed with more than I can handle.  So here's an open letter to all those I can't respond to and any fans of any other teams in the past or future that will be upset with our work on Between the Lines:
First let me say that I greatly appreciate anyone that listens to the show, it's been an honor to do this going on 17 years.  Over the years, we have angered the Chiefs, Royals, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri fans equally.  We were the first to report the drug dealing scandal in the locker room at Arrowhead.  I was the guy that confronted Gunther Cunningham about his two point conversion chart, proving it was wrong and it was changed.  I challenged Scott Pioli about his position on quarterbacks and created quite a stir.  He was fired months later.
We've beaten a drum constantly about David Glass never moving to Kansas City as he promised and putting his son, clearly in over his head, in charge of the Royals.  Kansas has had a volatile football coach banned from his own son's high school football games and an FBI ticket scandal that''s landed employees in prison.  We got clobbered by fans for reporting these things and providing edgy commentary.  I was the guy that made fun of Kansas State President Jon Wefald when he made some comments about the University of Texas and tried to take them back saying he didn't know the internet would reach all the way to Texas.  Bill Snyder famously called our studio control room years ago when I was reporting a story that he had not given his Big 12 Title rings to his players months after they won, because he wasn't happy with the way they were performing.  I first reported the rift between Frank Martin and AD John Currie's compliance staff and weeks later he left KSU for South Carolina.
And Mizzou, well, they haven't been real happy with my stance on the SEC and they hate it when I say they don't play Kansas anymore because they chose to leave.  We played the Ricky Clemons tapes on the air.  And we reported, way back in 1999 that Norm Stewart was out at Mizzou and fans and other media outlets were saying our report was just an April Fool's joke.
This is why I cannot, and will not, take any e-mail or Tweet seriously that accuses me or our show of bias.  We have years of proof on our side.  Currently, Kansas fans are mad at us because Bill Self put his foot in his mouth.  I didn't do it for him and he's normally great in the media and great at handling this stuff.  But the Joel Embiid injury situation has been an uncharacteristic fiasco.  The contradictions in all of this continue today as Self, just hours after saying he wouldn't have any further comment, talked to KU.sports.com's Tom Keegan about the timeline of all that went down with Embiid.  As much as I love Tom Keegan, and Bill Self for that matter, I was left asking even more questions.  "Why" is always the best question and it's even more unclear today.  Why, if the diagnosis didn't change Monday, did Embiid's playing status change?
Bill Self told ESPN mid morning Monday that he was "100 percent" certain Embiid would play in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tourney or next week in the first round of the NCAA's.  The second opinion was a "precaution" and there won't be any change.  Ten hours later, KU basketball announces Embiid is out for Kansas City AND the first round of the NCAA's?  Set aside for a moment that this is KU and think of it as Mizzou.  Or KSU or OSU or anyone else.  Wouldn't you think that something actually changed by visiting the second doctor?  I sure think that and most people do.
But the lifeline of college basketball is recruiting and the last thing Kansas wants, whether as fact or the mere appearance of such, is for potential recruits and families to think KU botched something with a stress fracture in the back of the number one pick in the draft.  I'd be in damage control mode, too.
And finally, no matter who your team is or what the issue is, know this.  If you reach out to me in any way accusing me of an agenda or bias, I will laugh inside and you will have just complimented me on doing my job extremely well.  It's worked for nearly 17 years so pack your lunch.  I've got at least 17 more left if I choose.
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