By Kevin Kietzman
By Kevin Kietzman
By Kevin Kietzman
Ok, I'll admit it. I like to tell stories to my friends about some of things I've seen celebrities do in Lake Tahoe at the American Century Championship.
Understand, as celebrity seekers go, I'm way down at the bottom of the list. Taking pictures, getting autographs and hanging out with famous people is not my thing and it was never a reason for me to get into this business. Heck, most people that know me will say that just hanging out with any people other than family or close friends isn't my thing. I don't know what it is but I never really feel comfortable in social settings and I have always been that way. Didn't like the dances in school, never joined a fraternity and have always had trouble figuring out which fork to use when I sit down at one of those charity banquet dinners. I've never gone to a high school reunion. I'm pretty sure the reason I'm terrible at sports trivia and have a hard time meeting and interviewing people that never played in our area is I just don't care enough about what they did to remember much of it. I'm extremely local in my sports focus and it has served me well in my career, but it makes for some shaky moments in Lake Tahoe.
Going to Tahoe is a dream assignment. It's simply beautiful and I love golf and casinos and my wife gets to tag along. And there are celebrities everywhere helping American Century raise some money for charity and putting on a good show for the fans. I never really seek out any of the celebrity stuff except from 2-6pm when I'm on the air but somehow it always finds you in Lake Tahoe.
Several years back, I'm playing blackjack with my wife at 11:30 or so and it really does slow down in Lake Tahoe at this time, even in the casinos. This isn't Vegas. Anyway, guy sits down at third base and says, 'do you mind if I play?' Everyone says, sure. I'm a little freaked out as nobody at the table is playing more than $25 a hand and this dude has a stack of $1000 chips in his hand. His game in high stakes has ended and he's just looking for a little fun with some nice folks and picked us out. "Hey, Kansas City!" he says, remembering he had been on our radio show earlier that day. I greet him back, so does my wife. We're thrilled he's picked our table to play a little. But we're also worried our fun little game may get serious. It's billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's first time in Tahoe and he's not golfing, he's doing charity work for soldiers and their families. He wasn't that well known then and he just seems like a guy ready for another cocktail and some cards.
The other two players and the dealer have no clue who he is when he chucks a $1000 chip on the table and asks for change and turns around to see if there's a cocktail waitress nearby. In seconds, Cuban has ten $100 chips in front of him and tucks the other really big ones in his pocket. He grabs a couple of the $100 chips and tosses them out and again asks for change. "Green please," the billionaire says, "looks like a $25 game. Let's crush her!"
Cuban proceeds to play $25 a hand and have a great time with us for about an hour. As I recall, he inquired about limo service and if there were any late night establishments he could visit for even more fun. The dealer wasn't impressed and told the man there's really nothing like that in Tahoe. I say, "just fuel up the jet, you'll be in Vegas in 30 minutes" and I promise nobody had any clue that was a possibility except Cuban, me and my wife. It was pretty funny. A little later when he went the bathroom, I let the dealer and pit boss know who he was and said something to the effect of, "good behavior could get you a nice tip, bad service and he may buy this place and fire you." Cuban had fun and tipped the dealer a couple hundred bucks even though he didn't win or lose much of anything.
Another year, our company President Chad Boeger had a moment to remember. He likes getting pictures of celebrities and pictures with them. I'm certain the day will come that I wish I had done the same thing all these years and could put together scrapbooks of all the cool things I've been able to do and see, but I just haven't done it.
Anyway, Chad is in the hotel lobby bar and he spots Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz. It's been rumored they have a fling going but nobody has confirmed it and there have been no pictures of them together yet in People magazine or on TMZ. I don't know why they expected any sort of privacy but the happy couple are clearly fond of one another and very close sharing a drink. Chad starts snapping some pictures and I'm thinking he could make a few bucks selling them off. I know, I'm terrible. Chad didn't know it but the couple had private security that "approached" Chad and "convinced" him to delete the photos and get lost. I will leave the rest of the details to your imagination as this is Chad's story, not mine.
Celebrity sightings while eating at a restaurant in Tahoe are too numerous to remember but one of our first encounters has stayed with us for over a decade. We sat right next to John Elway's table one night a long time ago at a place called Riva Grill. It's wonderful and it's right on the water. We had a large group and we were all Chiefs fans. For the most part, our table was just starstruck but I think deep down each of us wanted to give him a hard time for beating up on the Chiefs all those years. I think if we see him like that this year, words will be said. But not then. Elway was just so cool and had such a presence and the whole place had such a great feel, we've eaten at the same place every single year. Haven't seen Elway at dinner since and that's probably a good thing now that he has Peyton Manning.
Here's a short list of Tahoe celebrities as I see them:
Worst interview- Marshall Faulk
Best interview- Al Michaels
Most attractive- Angie Harmon (according to me)
Kyle Boller (according to wife)
Best concert- John Mellencamp
Worst concert- Kelly Pickler
Best speaker- John O'Hurley
Worst speaker- Bob Dylan
Nicest person- Herm Edwards
Rudest person- Michael Jordan
Funniest comic- Frank Caliendo
Not as funny- Seth Myers
Most popular- Charles Barkley
Least popular- Dan Driessen
Best practice golfer- Mike Shanahan
Worst practice golfer- Kevin Nealon
Regular guy- Billy Joe Tolliver
Irregular guy- Rick Nueheisal
Most surprisingly there- Dan Quayle
Surprisingly not there- George Brett
My dream golf match- Me and Billy Joe Tolliver against Barkley and Jordan for every penny I have or can borrow!
Our coverage of the celebs playing golf kicks off Wednesday on Between the Lines, here's to new memories.
By Kevin Kietzman
When I see executives in sports miss out on things that everyone misses out on, it's pretty hard to place blame on poor decision making leading to a losing record. For example, every team in baseball missed out on Albert Pujols in the draft 12 times. I just can't get too worked up that the Royals didn't know better and pretty much believe Pujols changed drastically after being drafted and became a total surprise to the Cardinals. These things happen all the time. Royals closer Greg Holland may be the lone All Star this year from Kansas City and Dayton Moore found him in the 10th round. In fact, it's Dayton Moore's best draft pick with the Royals and it's not even close as his high selections have all become laborious projects. But nobody at any of the 30 teams thought Holland was going to be this good or he would have been off the board the first day.
What I will never figure out is how smart, educated, experienced executives (at least in Kansas City) continue to miss the simplest of concepts in their respective sports.
We watched former Chiefs GM and now NBC Sports analyst Scott Pioli's career unravel because he didn't hold the position of quarterback in the same high regard as his fellow GM's. Shocking, considering the success he was able to share in with Tom Brady carrying the load in New England. Apparantly he just got bogged down in the old 53 man approach to football that is outdated and almost irrelevant in today's NFL.
Right after Pioli received the boot we watched Dayton Moore do absolutely nothing to improve a lifeless Royals offense. I loved his pitching moves this past off season and to many, it felt like the Royals were really getting aggressive to make a real run at the post season. But while pitching is the currency of baseball, it's not the only thing in baseball. Teams that have hitters that don't get on base very often and don't hit the long ball have no chance of beating good teams in the long run, even if their pitching is outstanding. Meet the 2013 Royals. I spent three months last winter warning Royals fans that teams that just "hope" to get better offensively almost never do. Staying the same is going backwards. Use whatever term you like but the fact remains Dayton Moore missed the most obvious thing in the world about his team. Sure, he's loyal to his draft picks and I"m sure he's spent hours convincing owner David Glass that all these guys are going to be really, really good offensive players. But there still is no reason to believe this will improve significantly and we're just a couple months away from Moore and company devising a new game plan to score runs.
And it's something even George Brett can't fix.
It's taken forever for Alex Gordon and Billy Butler to be productive Major League hitters and if you don't follow any other team, you probably think they are stars. But they have one All Star Game appearance between them. One. That's not good enough and there is no reason to believe either will become an elite offensive player. It certainly looks like the best we could ever hope for out of Moustakas and/or Hosmer is similar production and it's questionable if either will be that good. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Alcides Escobar is regressing, Sal Perez is a great catcher but hits with no real power and every outfielder on the roster except Gordon fits into the "fourth outfielder" category. Holy smokes, Dayton, what were you seeing to think these guys were ready to bust out? Have you looked at how Chris Davis and Mike Trout swing it? There's nobody like that here and there won't be for years unless you trade your whole pitching staff for one hitter.
It's sad because the Royals pitch well enough and field well enough to win. But Dayton Moore's belief that everyone would just improve at the plate has kept the Royals from making real improvement this year. They just seem to be a team that's pesky enough to beat you 3-2 or 2-1 on some nights but could never really hang with the big boys of baseball.
By Kevin Kietzman
Kansas City was a better place to live this weekend and it wasn't the great weather or the bright spring foliage. No, our town had a nice shot of adrenaline from our local sports teams, not something you can normally say when the grass is green.
The stands at Sporting Park were buzzing Sunday afternoon as Claudio Bieler put Sporting up 1-0 at almost the exact same time Alex Gordon got his walkoff hit at Kauffman Stadium. Fans were all on their phones or huddled around some of the TV monitors that were actually showing baseball at a soccer game. It was a magical time as everyone just felt like winners and got caught up in the raucous thrill of a soccer goal while knowing the Royals just pulled a rabbit out of a hat. People that says sports don't matter don't understand people. There's nothing wrong with exciting, winning sporting events making you feel better about yourself, your friends or even your city. Goodness knows we could use a few more moments like that in this sports town. Royals in first place. Sporting with a dominant win almost certainly will be at least a playoff team. These are the good times, enjoy the ride.
So many of you have emailed, tweeted or called about how excited you are that the NFL Draft is so important and you're so thrilled the Chiefs picked up a steal in a late round or found that diamond in the rough in free agency. But ponder this draftnicks, the Chiefs are a rare team indeed. This football team, if healthy, can literally start 22 players (11 offense, 11 defense) that were all taken in the top 99 picks of the draft. Esentially, the Chiefs starting lineup would be all first three-round selections. I've said many times, with all the high draft picks on the offensive line, this team should set some sort of offensive records this year if you believe the line is the key to winning games. It shouldn't be close. The Chiefs have nine guys that line up on the offensive line of scrimmage that were taken in the third round or higher. NINE! That has to be some kind of record, doesn't it?
Another way to look at this is the amazing amount of first-round talent the Chiefs will put on the field now that even their quarterback was a first-round pick. Almost half the Chiefs starters this year will be first-round picks and it could have been more if they hadn't let Glenn Dorsey go to San Francisco. Even without Dorsey, The Chiefs will have nine first-round picks to start each game. Time to raise the bar, right?
I have yet to meet one person surprised that Ben McLemore's family and friends were receiving improper benefits from an agent. We talked about this on the air all winter about how this young man looked like a torn and distracted player thinking about his payday and not as focused on the here and now. Well, it's playing out like a primetime soap or something. Former AAU coach gets worked by a new guy who wants to be Ben's agent. Gives coach money. Flies Ben's cousin around the country and puts him up at lavish hotels. Cousin denies it but then there is the pesky little detail of an actual photo taken at said hotel. Ben gets a $500 birthday party at a bowling alley (by the way, when did bowling get that expensive?) and the agent pays for it.
It doesn't look like KU did much wrong here other than take a ridiculously risky player that couldnt qualify for a year and then allow that player to leave tickets for an agent wannabe. KU has always had trouble handling its complimentary ticket list and this is extremely embarrassing after the FBI found their real ticket scandal a few years ago and we started finding out tickets were being left for porn stars. I'm sorry, I hear people say this goes on everywhere and its just how it is. Why does it have to be? You can't even sift out prospective agents from a ticket list? That's bush league and after what this athletic department went through reorganizing everything in the ticket procedure, it should have been caught. The NCAA is traditionally very soft on KU and I'm guessing not much comes of it. But other programs have had to vacate wins and that could cost KU some position on the wins list and maybe even end their Big 12 titles streak. There is little doubt Ben McLemore was an ineligible player under NCAA guidelines.