Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lazy Days

Just so you know, there’s an outside chance I might be lazy. Not shiftless. Not slothful. Not a deadbeat. Lazy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I go to work every day. I work hard and try and put in an honest day’s effort. Even when I write these columns, I do it on my lunch breaks. So, I’m not saying I’m a bad employee. And, when I go home, I work on the house and the yard. I play with my kids. I set the table and do the dishes. I’ve given baths, changed diapers and read stories during potty time. I’m always good for giving my wife a backrub or foot rub. So, I’m not saying that I’m a bad father or husband. But, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my desire to sit on the couch and watch sports ranks pretty high up on my relaxation schedule. In fact, I’d probably say it’s number two, right in between 1) Spending time with my family; and 3) Eating a perfectly cooked (medium rare) steak dinner.

However, through various recent events, it has come to my attention that I could use some exercise. I don’t consider myself extremely overweight, but, like much of America, I would apparently feel much better if I would only lose a few pounds. At the same time, I’ve also been told I need to find some ways to relax and decompress – do something so the stress of life doesn’t become a burning hole in my stomach lining. The problem I’ve come to is that those two objectives – exercise and stress management – are polar opposites in my mind. It is my contention that exercise – or, more specifically, the demands to be in better shape and the “routines” necessary to do so – is spectacularly stress inducing.

I’ve never been one of those guys that likes to jog. When I’m feeling especially sluggish, I have never once had the thought, “I should go for a run. That will wake me right up.” In fact, I’ve not ever had that thought when feeling especially energetic, either. And, here’s why. I’m not a good runner. I never have been. First, and without getting too personal here, I just don’t like the jiggliness of it. Part of that may be my own fault in that I think I have a somewhat Mickelson-esque physique. When Phil claimed a few years ago that he wasn’t out of shape, but that his fat lining was on the outside of his muscles, the first thing I thought was, “Is that possible? If it is, you can sign me up for that one, too.”

Second, I don’t think I run right. It’s always fun for me at the beginning of fall – just as the weather starts getting nice here in Kansas. The temperatures drop out of the 90s and the humidity, though still oppressive, doesn’t feel quite like it’s going to choke you to death with poison steam. All of a sudden, the streets are filled with joggers. (A corollary to this is the Tour de France phenomenon of the last seven years. You could always tell when the tour had started because all of a sudden there were 15,000 bikers in spandex, aerodynamic helmets and “LiveStrong” bracelets peddling their way along every road and highway. As soon as Armstrong had claimed victory, the bikers started to fade away.) Anyway, back to the joggers. When I’m driving past them in my air conditioned mini-van, it is always easy to tell the “I’ve been jogging for 15 years and have .00002% body fat” joggers from the “I think I’ll take up jogging this fall” joggers. I definitely would qualify in this second group. My stride is too long. My arms are too close to my sides. I can’t get the breathing quite right, so my face becomes blotchy and red. I don’t look like I’m enjoying myself. In fact, I’d say I look like I’m running away from some Jason Vorhees-like youth camp horror fest and should probably be screaming, “NO! NO! He got everyone in the Woodchuck Cabin!” while I run.

Finally, I don’t feel happy when I run. As a general rule, I feel like I’m going to throw up. When I was in high school, I played football. Two-a-days in the Kansas August heat were never a pleasant experience. But, I would much rather have practiced morning and afternoon in full pads than participate in the annual “qualifying run”. If I remember correctly – and I freely admit that I may have blocked out some of the more embarrassing details – the rule was you had to qualify by position by running a half-mile in a certain amount of time. I think it was two times around the track in four minutes for backs and six minutes for linemen. Though I probably should have been on the line, I was under the seriously delusional impression that I would be a great full-back in our powerhouse wishbone offense. So, that meant I got to run based on the faster time. Now, I can happily and fairly confidently claim that I was never lapped in one of these qualifiers. And, I am even more certain that, after about a week of trying, I was able to get my time under the mandated mark. But never, not even once, did I say to myself, “That was great. I feel really good now.” No, generally my thought process was, “I wonder if I should try and make it to the locker room or just dry heave in the bushes by the fence.” It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pleasant. I experienced no euphoria. Further, I believed the so called “runner’s high” to be an elaborate lie because good runners think it’s funny when bad runners are pleading for oxygen and a bottle of Gatorade.

Now, I am fully aware that there are other ways to get in shape. I could join a gym or buy one of the thousands of workout machines advertised on late-night television. I could actually inflate the tires on my bike. I could join a rec-league basketball group or just do push-up and sit-ups in the living room. But, like it or not, running is the most cost effective, easiest and most proven way to get your heart rate up for the requisite 30 minutes a day three times a week. All the science proves it out – a good aerobic workout is best achieved through an activity like running. (By the way, it takes a crack research staff like mine to come up with a nugget like “all the science proves it out”. No actual scientific studies were quoted in the writing of this column.) The nearest gym is still 20 miles away from our house and a good treadmill or elliptical machine is going to cost me at least $500. So, in my view, my options have been narrowed. If I’m serious about getting healthy, then I have to get up off the couch and become a “jogger”.

So, that leaves me with the stress issue. My wife asked me the other day if there was something I would like to start doing that would help me to relieve some of the stress in my life – a hobby I would like to take up. As I thought about the possibilities, I became fairly certain that all the great hobbies out there require one thing that I don’t have in abundant supply: money. I’d love to play video games as a hobby, but at $150 for an older system and well over $200 for the new ones coming out later this year, plus $40 to $60 for the good games, this doesn’t seem practical. I used to love collecting baseball cards when I was a kid, but that was back when you could buy 3 packs for a dollar and the coolest “inserts” were the Diamond Kings in every pack of Donruss trading cards. Man, I loved those things. Now, you can spend $4.99 for a pack of six cards with the advertised chance of finding a piece of Curt Schilling’s blood stained sock or Sammy Sosa’s corked bat. But, just like the old days, what you usually end up with is a checklist, three Todd Walker’s, a Mike Piazza and a piece of Alan Embree’s game worn sanitary socks. The payoff isn’t what is used to be with baseball cards.

The conclusion I came to was that the relaxing activity I truly love the most is kicking back on the couch with a 32 oz. fountain drink and a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and watching a game – specifically afternoon baseball, college football or the National Football League. I’d even settle for basketball, golf or NASCAR and probably be fine. (The one exception for me is the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team. It is impossible for me to relax while watching the Jayhawks. I get more and more wound up with each missed shot and turnover. I’m not happy until they’re 30 points ahead with under a minute to go. I think we all have that one team that just keeps us worked up until the end and the Jayhawks are mine.) Anyway, this is the relaxing activity I would choose. That’s what I enjoy doing. And, truly, is there anything quite like really getting into a good game? I’ll take a pitcher’s duel or a slugfest. I enjoy an offensive explosion as much as a defensive dogfight. The excitement that builds as a runner gets to scoring position or a drive moves inside the red zone is electric. In fact, if my wife is sitting next to me on the couch and my children are playing nearby, I’m in hog heaven. In my mind, nothing can be more relaxing. If I could get that kind of opportunity three times a week, there’d be no stopping my ability to bleed the stress from my life.

So, here lies the rub. If I take one afternoon for the game, it will take me three days of jogging to even it out. So, it’s a wash. If I take the time to enjoy the sports, my weight goes up and my stress backs off. If I go for a jog, my stress jumps up but my overall physical health improves. The happy medium doesn’t exist. What should I do? If I go with the program for greater sports enjoyment, I end up adopting the uncomfortably large look of KU football coach Mark Mangino. On top of that, let’s be serious. There’s too much going on every Saturday for me to take three hours and watch a game. We’ve got activities, we’ve got shopping, we’ve got lawns to mow and rooms to paint and children to tire out. It’s just not going to happen. So, I guess it’s time for me to bite the bullet. Like Jimmy Chitwood joining his Hoosiers teammates, I think it’s time for me to start jogging. It can be done. It’s not the end of the world. My father and three sisters are all accomplished joggers. My mom walks on a regular basis. My younger brother has a gym membership. I can join them in their quest for a thinner waistline, rock hard abs and buns of steel. I can get my cholesterol below 200! My only hope is that the runner’s high is not a myth and that, someday, somehow, I will reach the point when I am jogging with a smile on my face and not the pained expression of someone running for his life. But, just to be safe, if you’re ever in Eastern Kansas and see me standing on the side of the road with my hands on my head and big, bright red blotches on my cheeks, please don’t laugh, honk or flash your lights. I’ll be okay. I’m just trying to decide if I can make it back to the house or if I need to start looking for a bush before the dry heaves begin.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Royal Nightmare

To steal a sentiment from Gerald Ford, our national nightmare continues. Sure, the current Royals’ losing streak may not qualify as national since I’m pretty sure much of the country has forgotten that the Royals actually play major league baseball. However, Wednesday’s loss to the Mariners was so atrocious, it actually led the 10 p.m. SportsCenter. The low-light? Mariners on all the bases in the eighth, Mike MacDougal on the mound, a ground ball back pitcher. With the runner on third racing home and MacDougal a mere 45 feet from the plate, it seems like an easy force. Except that the Royals were involved. MacDougal launches the ball 15 feet over the catcher’s head, and another run scores. Granted, the game had been decided much earlier on an Adrian Beltre grand slam. But, it just goes to prove that even when the wheels have fallen off and the engine is on fire, the muffler can still fall off. The losing streak now stands at 18 losses. That is as amazing as it is horrific. With six and a half weeks left in the season, I really can’t see them winning more than about 10 more games. To finish out August, they’ve got the wild card leading Oakland A’s, the world champion Red Sox, the $200 Million Yankees and the division rival Minnesota Twins. All four of those clubs have something to play for – besides their own pride, which the Royals apparently jettisoned several weeks ago.

So, hypothetically, if the Royals are able to grab ten wins between now and October 2 – the end of the regular season, their final record will be 48-114, barely enough wins to avoid being the worst team in American League history – the 2003 Detroit Tigers managed by Mr. Buddy Bell. That team lost 119 games. I’ve played on and coached some really bad teams in my life. I don’t mean to brag, but I once coached a team of 14 year-olds in Utah that were so unmotivated, we went four straight games while only able to put eight kids on the field. Amazingly, we went 1-3 over those four games – even with the automatic out in the 9th spot of our batting order. My point is, it takes some doing to develop this level of futility over a two and a half week period. We’re like the smallest kid in the kickball game. When you see the Royals on the schedule, you bring in the infield and start yelling, “Easy out!”

So, what’s the problem here in Kansas City? What vile forces have united to crush this group of ball players? Has a devastating fungus spread through the clubhouse buffet? Are the players all home sick and ready for their six months off? Did someone put Icy Hot in their jock straps making it too difficult to concentrate? Nope. In my humble opinion, it comes down to one evil word that is all too common in sports today: apathy. For the most part, no one around here cares anymore. No one. The ownership? Not on your life. With one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball, the Glass family is not worried about a thing. Management? I don’t think so. Allard Baird will get another job in a heartbeat simply by saying he couldn’t do anything in Kansas City because the ownership wouldn’t spend any money. And, no one really expected Buddy Bell to be able to make things right this year. He gets a do-over in 2006. The players care, right? It doesn’t seem that way. Don’t they even want to try and sell their skills to another team in some upcoming free agent market? Of course not. You save that kind of effort for a walk year, not with three years of major league service left before arbitration. Most of these guys know that there aren’t any better players behind them in the minor leagues anyway, so what’s the point. They aren’t going anywhere. And, so, we watch the losses mount up and pray for a merciful end to the season – like a freak Jackson County monsoon wiping Kaufman Stadium off the map, but leaving Arrowhead intact.

The 2005 Royals have taken the drama of losing to an all-time team sport low. They are pathetic to watch. They find amazing ways to lose games, committing blunders and errors that boggle the mind. They don’t run out ground balls, they don’t back up the play, and they don’t seem all that upset when the game is over. With a couple of exceptions, most notably David DeJesus, they seem to be watching to see who will be the next to throw the ball into the stands, to miss the cut-off man, to tap meekly to second on a 3-0 pitch out of the zone. It’s like they know the loss is coming, they just don’t have any willingness, motivation or ability to stop it. They’ve resigned themselves to going down as the worst Royals team in history and, if they’re not careful, the worst American League team of all time. They’re like Tea Leoni and her dad standing on the beach at the end of Deep Impact, waiting for the massive tidal wave to wash over them. And all of this makes me want to throw up.

See, I watch the Royals whenever I can. I stay up for the SportsCenter highlights, invariably squeezed between the Devil Rays and Rockies games – which come right after clips from the World’s Strongest Man competition. I check the box score each morning. I would actually watch more games if not for the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times their games have actually been televised. I would go to the park more, except I have three young kids and a mid-range salary that make gas, parking, tickets and snacks a little more than I can bear. But, I’m a fan. I haven’t given them up for dead and turned all of my attention to the Chiefs – hoping to hear what Dick Vermeil says about who will be the back-up long-snapper (My money is on Jared Allen). I still want the Royals to win, but I think the apathy is rubbing off and most of the fans just don’t care anymore.

This past weekend was a great opportunity to turn around the final two months of the season. Members of the 1985 World Championship team were here to celebrate that awesome achievement. Bret Saberhagen was inducted into the Royals’ Hall of Fame. Sports Radio 810 held a big bash for the former players and fans could go to the tent and chat it up with George Brett or Mark Gubicza. The elements were all there. Let’s rally this thing and go into 2006 with a little momentum. The problem? There’s that word again – apathy. The current players, the management, the ownership – even the fans – just didn’t seem to care. It must kill the great former-Royals like Brett, Frank White and Hal McRae to see what has happened here in Kansas City. They are powerless to stop it, but it must just gnaw at them to see this group of players that are beaten before they step on the field. From the late 70s to the mid 90s, Kansas City was all about baseball. You can still see the remnants of that at Kaufman stadium, with statues and banners of the greats all around the ballpark. When I was eight, I tried to implement the submarine delivery like The Quiz. I always wanted to play with a toothpick in my mouth like U.L. Washington. When uniforms were handed out, it was a fight to see who would wear Brett’s number 5. We wanted to run like Wilson, field like White, crush the ball like Balboni. When Bo Jackson came to the plate in the 90s, it seemed the entire city stopped to watch.

Don’t today’s players want that? Don’t they want to be revered in a city where they’ve spent their entire career? Don’t they want the statues around the ball park and the retro jerseys with their names on them? It appears the answer from today’s players is one collective shrug. It seems that each of these guys would simply prefer to get that check in the bank, get the season over with, get another year of service, play hard in the final year of the contract, and get the “you’re set for life” contract from one of the high roller teams looking for a fourth outfielder or utility infielder. Even at the major league minimum, these guys make six times the annual salary of the average worker here in Kansas City. I don’t want to get into all the injustices of the pay scale. We’ve put a price on our entertainment in this country and it is obviously lucrative. What bugs me is this: When you’re making ten times more a day than I am, don’t you feel even slightly obligated to try? Where’s the accountability here?

What if I worked for David Glass, not as a Royal, but as a manager of one of his Wal-Mart stores. But, here’s the thing. I stink at my job. I put up the wrong “Roll Back” price and have to sell a brand new HDTV flat screen television for $299 instead of $2999. I routinely yell at customers, turn my back on them, step in front of them and close my register just as they get to the front of the line. I pitch in with automotive, except, of the five oil changes I am asked to do, I forget to actually put new oil in four of the cars. How long could I possibly last? But, as a Kansas City Royal working for David Glass, if I put out a similar effort, I’m rewarded with another paycheck, another start, another chance to see my name in lights. And, if I even show a glimmer of hope (like the Wal-Mart manager remembering to put oil in all the cars for a month), I’m rewarded with a four-year, $11 Million guaranteed contract. I’m set for life. Now there’s no motivation for me to get oil in those cars because, no matter what, that money’s going to be in my account.

So what are the options? Do we send the entire team down to the minors? Do we pack it in and just forfeit the rest of the season? Do we cut everyone and bring up the guys in Triple A? Probably not. But, how about at least acting like you want to win? How about running out a ground ball, using two hands to catch a pop fly, laying off the 3-0 pitch? How about not so many smiles after a loss? How about a little anger when the bullpen breaks down? How about a little gratitude for the fact that some fans are still interested in what you’re doing? As for the guys running this catastrophe, it’s time for you to level with us. What’s your objective here in Kansas City – as much as you are considered here when you spend 95% of your time in Bentonville? Are you preparing to sell? Are you keeping the payroll low so that you can get the most profit when team changes hands? Are you just toying with us and have a master plan to be able to compete? Are you banking on structural changes to the league itself that will level the playing field? Or, do you just not care? Because that’s what it feels like. This once proud franchise has been tossed to the backseat of the car like an old cheeseburger wrapper. But the injustice of it all is this: Kansas City will support baseball – even low budget baseball – if the team were only slightly competitive. If we were a .500 ball club right now, The K would be nearly full every night. It would sell out every weekend. The city would be covered in powder blue. There’s still time to do it. Make a commitment to a quality product. Let the fans know what the plan is. Give us a reason to hope. But, if the Glass family can’t commit to that, then maybe it’s time for a parting of ways. Does that mean the Royals might move to Portland or Nashville or Las Vegas? Yep. But at this point, would anyone really notice?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Nobody Likes a Loser

I’m a simple, Kansas guy. I grew up in Kansas. After college in Utah and a brief and often mind-numbing two and a half year stint in West Texas, I returned with my young family to live in Kansas. I love it here. And, if there’s one thing I know about Kansans, it’s that we love our sports.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously like our counterparts on the East Coast. We don’t abandon our teams to the beach the moment the playoffs are out of reach like our friends in the West. But, in the last twenty years – the formative years of my development as a sports fan – sports in Kansas, and many other so called small markets, has gone into an incredible drought. Where are our champions? Where are our heroes? Are we satisfied just saying we root for a team and that’s enough? Well, I for one, am not satisfied. I want to cheer for a winner. I want to go to a parade. I want to see the banner drop. I want to be the guy waiting with my credit card for Sports Illustrated to offer that slick, black leather bound commemorative edition for my (FILL IN YOUR FAVORITE TEAM HERE).

Yet, here I sit, all but forgotten on the national sports landscape. In recent years, ESPN – the so called worldwide leader in sports – has developed into an over-hyped, East Coast Superstation. It’s no better than WGN’s promotion of the Cubs, White Sox and Bulls or TBS’ and America’s team – the Atlanta Braves. ESPN drank the proverbial East Coast kool-aid years ago and, like it or not, it shows on their broadcasts. Their focus is Boston and New York in baseball season, the all wise worlds of Bill Belichick and Andy Reid during the NFL. All college football is centered in Florida and college basketball doesn’t exist outside Tobacco Road. Even during the NBA season, the major sport with obvious superiority in the West, we’re inundated with the wacky moves of Isaiah Thomas and Danny Ainge, the absurd attitude of Allen Iverson or the off the wall quotes from Shaquille O’Neil. For me, this recent 50 states in 50 days was the breaking point with ESPN. Why? Because instead of coming to Lawrence or Manhattan or Wichita to profile sports in Kansas, the worldwide leader went to tiny WaKeeny for the Trego County Fair. After a night of rodeo jokes and pictures of tractors, it was easy to see how ESPN sees us in Kansas. “Hey, let’s poke some fun at the farmers and laugh about which kid raised the biggest hog!”

So, what’s my point? I’ll tell you. I’m tired of being ignored. I want a place for the common fan. Not the Red Sox bandwagoner. I want the fans who live and die with the Minnesota Twins or the Seattle Mariners. I’m not looking for the purple-clad Laker who wants to roll with Snoop Dogg. I want the guy who saves for a month to sit in the upper deck of the Delta Center and watch the Utah Jazz. How about the fan who looks past the current love affair with Vince Young at Texas and Matt Leinert at USC to see what Joe Tiller’s doing at Purdue or who Brian Brohm’s going to throw to at Louisville. I’ll take a Missouri Tiger scouring Quin Snyder’s recruiting visits over the Coack K-can-do-no-wrong Duke fans who assume the Final Four is their holy birthright. Sports should not be about entitlement. It should be about loyalty and dedication. We, as fans, have a vote in whether or not our teams succeed – but in the din of Jim Rome and Stuart Scott, we’ve forgotten how to make our voices heard. I’m mad. I’m mad at being an also-ran in the race to the title. I’m mad at big corporations that tell me my team can’t compete because we’re in a small market. I’m mad about that Mike Krzyzewski American Express commercial that should be counted as an in-home visit to every recruit in the nation.

So, here’s what you can expect from me. Each week, I’m going to post a column about big time sports from the small time perspective. I don’t have a crack research staff or an intern or well, anything more than me and my computer. But, I want my thoughts to be a sounding board for you. If you agree or if you disagree, chime in and let me know what you think. The comments section will always be open. Am I representative of fans in similar situations? We’ll find out. Can we have some fun? I think so. Will it make a difference? Only time will tell.

Now, certainly I don’t presume to believe that all of you carry the same sports allegiances as I do. But, since I’m the author of this column, let me tell you where I’m coming from. I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. That makes me a Jayhawk. If I’d been raised 100 miles west on I-70, I’d probably be a Wildcat or 100 miles north on I-29, I’d call myself a Husker. But, I’m a Jayhawk. I love the Jayhawks. And, of my favorite teams, the Jayhawks have been the closest in recent years to getting back to the promised land. Two final four trips that included a last second shot that could have won it all. But it wasn’t to be and, we Jayhawks are left with memories of Danny and the Miracles and 1988. Sure, we hope for the future and we declare our allegiance to Bill Self’s team, but each and every one of us at least let out that exasperated sigh last April as Roy Williams cut down the nets in Carolina blue.

For me, college basketball is really the peak of the mountain when speaking about the hardwood. Sure, I follow the NBA playoffs, but we haven’t had a team in this area since the Kings split for Sacramento in 1985. So, as a loyal Jayhawk, I follow Hinrich’s Bulls, Pierce’s Celtics and now Simien’s Heat. Each year, at the beginning of the NBA season, I tell myself that this is it. I’m going to really follow a team this year. I lived in Utah at the height of Stockton to Malone and in Boston when Reggie Lewis died. I’ve seen professional basketball at the old Boston Garden, at the Delta Center and in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. For the most part, NBA basketball is interesting. But, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t hold my attention for an entire season.

Major League Baseball seems to be a comedy of errors for me right now. I’ve long loved the Chicago Cubs – I even named my son after my favorite Cubs player of all time. I attribute this to the above mentioned WGN. I remember when my parents got cable – with the box on top of the TV and the “remote” with the wire trailing back to the box. All of a sudden, I found a major league team that played when I could stay up to watch – the Cubs at Wrigley with, at that time, no lights. I started watching. I received my indoctrination during the 1984 NLCS with the San Diego Padres. I couldn’t believe my favorite team – with the Penguin, Sarge, Sandberg, Sutcliffe and Bobby Drenier had lost. I’ll never forget Sparky Anderson – manager for the eventual world champion Detroit Tigers – with that smug look on his face when he commented on facing the Padres in the World Series. I just knew he was secretly thrilled that he didn’t have to face my Cubs.

But, when I actually wanted to witness major league baseball, I could always join the fans at Royals Stadium just across the state line. I’ve loved the Royals just as long as I’ve enjoyed the Cubs. I grew up listening to Denny Matthews talk about Larry Gura, Freddy Patek, Dan Quisenberry, Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Frank White and, the immortal George Brett. I used to lie in bed with my brother’s radio tuned to the games and listen as those early to mid-80s Royals teams fought with the mighty Yanks. We died against Tug McGraw and the Phillies and against Chris Chambliss and the Yankees. I remember Billy Martin and the pine tar game. And then, in 1985, the unbelievable came true. The I-70 series. The safe call at first base. Bret Saberhagen. A world championship. It was truly awesome. Just this weekend, a shell of that great organization will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of that title. Sure, there have been some great moments since then. In high school, I could buy a G.A. ticket and chat with Bo Jackson over the left field wall during pitching changes. Seeing Carlos Beltran play centerfield was a thing of beauty.

But, today’s Royals are a sad, pathetic joke to the rest of the sports world. David Glass should be ashamed of himself. I pray for his Ebenezer Scrooge moment when he is visited by Ewing Kaufman and told he will see three ghosts – The Ghost of Royals past (Dan Quisenberry) the ghost of Royals present (Mike Sweeney) and the ghost of Royals future (the Malouf brothers – owners of the Las Vegas Royals). Maybe then he will snap out of his money grubbing funk and realize that in the vast majority of the MLB kingdom, you don’t own a baseball team to turn a profit. You own a team to try and win. We understand that, but Wal-Mart’s billion dollar man just doesn’t get it.

So that brings me to football. I love football. It has truly become America’s game. On the college front, my Jayhawks really haven’t been a factor since the Glen Mason days – and even then we cheered for a 7-4 season like we’d won the national title. I actually attended Brigham Young University and I love the Cougars, too. I’d give anything to see them reinsert themselves into the national spotlight, but I believe there is an inherent conflict of interest between a church-owned and operated university and the bureaucratic mess that is college football. So, I cheer for the locals to make good. I root for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and K-State Wildcats to return to their powerhouse ways. I root for Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma team to win whenever they get a shot at the national title. And I root for the underdog whenever I can. If Boise State is 12-0, let them play for a title. I want a playoff. I want a real champion. I’m tired of old coaches and athletic directors making the decisions. That’s my college football pipe dream.

And, so I’ll conclude with the greatest, most powerful league in the country – the NFL. I am an unabashed, diehard, red and gold Chiefs fan. In the league of perpetual hope, I spend every July and August convinced my Chiefs could go 19-0 and win the Super Bowl. I’ve witnessed the lows – drafting Todd Blackledge, the Lin Elliot miss, the death of Derrick Thomas, the thug years with Bam Morris and Tammarick Vanover, the inability to stop the Colts one time. I’ve seen the highs – Marty’s bone-crushing defense, Montana’s comeback on Monday Night Football, 13-3 with Montana and Allen and again with Green, Holmes and Gonzalez. And, each year, I’m ready for more. Hope springs eternal at training camp. And, once again, I’m ready for some football.

So, that’s what you’re getting when you come to this page. Though we may sometimes roam into current events, politics, entertainment and the like, for the most part I want to write about sports. And sports with a little more common flair than what I see out there right now. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful columnists with excellent viewpoints – I never miss Peter King; I read everything Bill Simmons writes; Peter Gammons is the quintessential baseball writer; Jason Whitlock loves to stir the pot. Those are just a handful of the writers I seek out. If you have room in your reading list for a fans view, give me a try. My posts will go up about once a week on Thursday or Friday. And don’t forget to let me know what you think.