By Danny Clinkscale
I was listening to The Program today and a man called in and was looking to talk about the
Chiefs even though the setup to the show was about the Royals. That was fine since any topic is germane
when it is local. But he prefaced his comment about the Chiefs by saying that he was going to switch up the
conversation. What he said next really caught my ear, and I think is a window into the power of the
NFL, and what perennial losing has done to the baseball mentality in this town.
by Danny Clinkscale
Yes, this will be personal. Forgive me.
A previously carefree 8-year old boy died yesterday at the Boston Marathon as he waited to greet his father who was completing the race. His mother and sister were also injured, but that is not something that he will be able to worry about now.
The tragedy that struck the Marathon came on a special day in the place where I grew up. It also involved one of the great avocations of my life – some would say obsessions, probably rightly so. So this tragedy, more than most, resonates with me. It's impossible to have true empathy for all the tragedies we hear about on a daily basis in the world. After all, this is just another ordinary day of the week in the Middle East. But when things strike close to home, and involve people whose passion is for running, or helping others through running, it strikes harder.
I was a carefree 8-year-old boy years ago when, on an April morning in my hometown of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, I went down to the Town Square on Patriots Day to enjoy my day off from school. The Marathon starts there. It wasn't nearly as big an event as it is now, but it was big. Kind of like a county fair feel, in an almost stereotypical small town, New England setting. The runners gathered to start, and I worked my way down to right alongside the front group on the grass off the side of the street.
The gun went off, and off I went, too. It's straight downhill out of Hopkinton, and my sturdy little 8-year old legs were churning. I don't know how far I ran, maybe a half-mile at most. I hadn't planned it, I just started running with some of the best athletes in the world. Idyllic.
More than twenty years later, I had become an avid runner. It hadn't started until my middle twenties, but it clicked in fast. I was running eight miles a day, and on Sundays I usually went on a long run, 12 or 13 miles. For somebody who would end up running every single day for over 19 years, I never ran many races. A few here or there, but I ran because I loved it, and I knew I was going to run on any particular day, and it didn't have to be in a race.
But one Monday I turned to my girlfriend after I ran, and I said "I'm gonna run to my parents’ house Saturday". That was a little over 25 miles away. I lived in Milford, Mass. My parents lived in Framingham. About thirteen miles in, I tooka right at the park in Hopkinton, and headed downhill out of town on the same Boston Marathon route that the 8-yearold boy had run.
I stayed on the Marathon route for about nine miles before I turned off to go to my parents’ house. Running that far in under three hours, with a big chunk of it on the Marathon route, scratched any marathon itch that I had. I never have run a real one, have never cared to. But that memory is so strong in me every year when I watch the real BOSTON Marathon.
Usually that's just a joy. The Patriots Day Red Sox game spilling into the Marathon finish. Thousands of happy Bostonians mingling on a special day in The Hub. My wife went to school for a year right there, long before I even met her. I went to Fenway Park dozens of times, even after I left the Red Sox team of my youth as a fan. I havespent many precious hours and shed many tears at the Kennedy Musueum, which was an ancillary part of the dayyesterday that turned horrifically tragic before my eyes as we broadcast Between the Lines.
I checked in with my sister this morning. We have no friends or family, thankfully, that have been affected by this tragedy, at least that I know of at this moment. One of the first people I contacted was my sixth grade teacher, one of the most influential people in my life. She was my teacher the year that Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed. I became quite a bit less carefree after that. It has been a blessing that we have reconnected in the last several years. This is the first year in the last five that her husband has not run the Marathon, the first year that she was not at the finish line. Enough said.
My thoughts and hopes are with all of the killed and injured and all those affected by that. My praise is with the courageous people who saved lives and eased pain. Boston will be OK. Just like New York after 9/11, it will show resolve and tenacity, and a lot of great things will probably come out of this in the end.
But not for that little boy. He wanted to make his Dad's day when he crossed the finish line. But some misguided cretin had another idea. He's probably a tortured soul who wants others to feel the same way. Shame on him.Not only did this act damage a great day for thousands and thousands of people, a reflection of so much that is good about our country, it casts a pall on the event in the future. Runners will come back, the party spirit will eventually return. But no one will ever forget.
And I won't forget that 8-year old boy. Next week, I am going to New York to cover the NFL draft. I'm still an exercise nut, but I don't/can't run as much as I used to. But I love running in cities. The hubub, the excitement, the faces of people of all shapes, sizes, and races hustling to their daily activities...it's exhilirating.
I'm not carefree like I was when I was an 8-year-old boy, but my life is pretty darn good. I have a beautiful wife, greatkids, wonderful co-workers, and I am in a profession that I chose when I was a boy.
And when I am running the streets of New York next week, I will damn well treasure the fact that I am alive to do it.
By Danny Clinkscale
It is sports greatest relentless drumbeat, and one that Kansas City Royals have not been able to tap their toes to, or clap their hands for often at all in the last 20 years.
By Danny Clinkscale
We start dancing tonight.
Since the flavor of the moment is the Harlem Shake, I'm sure we will see plenty of that rather delightfully silly semi-choreography as we follow the bouncing ball toward Atlanta. There are probably three distinctly different levels of expectation for the local teams as we get started.
It doesn't really matter what year it is, how the season went, what the injury situation is, etcetera... at Kansas the Final Four is always the bar that is set, and really sometimes beyond. For this year I do feel that Kansas fans would "settle" for just that. If they don't, then their level of spoilage has reached the ludicrous point. At the outset of the season there was no way that people thought of this squad was a title contender. Last years team was a surprise and they lost two players to the NBA off of that squad.
But as we have grown very accustomed to, Bill Self has found a way to win a league title and get a number one seed. He even expressed surprise about that. This is no knock on K-State, but they have proudly trotted out the stat that this was their seventh straight twenty win season for the first time in the programs history, 29 wins the top number during the streak. A Kansas win in the first round of the NCAA's gives them 30 for the sixth time in the last seven years, and four straight. Just another dollop of Kansas math, as Self likes to call it. Lose players, win 30.
So expectations are always at the very upper echelon for the Jayhawks. I have always held to this credo. If you have a fine regular season, and at least reach the second weekend of the tournament, it is a successful year. Even for a one seed, a Sweet Sixteen matchup is ordinarily with a team that spent time in the top fifteen in the nation or higher at some point during the year. Losing a game like that is no shame, although I would imagine that falling to Michigan, or especially VCU, would be tabbed a disaster in Lawrence.
For Kansas State, I think that winning two games in Kansas City would be embraced by a fan base that base that has been slow to throw their arms around this team and their new coach Bruce Weber. The first conference title since 1977 has been tempered by three losses to Kansas, and thrashings at the hands of Gonzaga and Michigan. K-State has been a very businesslike team with no losses to lesser foes. Ah, but two wins also is probably a MUST to create satisfaction, since K-State gets to play in front of their fans, and either a third loss to Wisconsin in six years in the tourney, or falling to 12th seeded Mississippi, would be tough to swallow. Especially in person a week after suffering in the same building against Kansas.
Ah yes, then there is Missouri. Perhaps the most enigmatic of our local teams in recent memory, the Tigers have been a gigantic source of frustration for their fans. A top 15 national choice ended up not even drawing votes in the polls, and a team selected third ended up as the sixth seed for the tournament. But we saw all season clearly WHY those expectations were there. The Tigers were dominant at home, not only winning all of their games there, but ripping opponents apart on most nights. But the road was nightmarish, early on with ugly routs, and perhaps worse, after that a relentless drumbeat of blown opportunities. Most of those were fueled by braindead execution by Phil Pressey, who reflected perfectly the jarring Mizzou juxtaposition of obvious talent and wildly schizophrenic results.
Two wins would pretty much put that all to bed, since the second would victimize the number one seed in the tournament, Louisville, and would probably be fitting, because the other time Missouri played them they were run off the floor. However, drop the opener to Colorado State, and this would be one of the more disappointing seasons you could remember. It also would tag Frank Haith with a second straight first game exit, a huge blemish on what has been a pretty good start at MU. Your guess is as good as mine as to what we will see from the Tigers.
It's just nice to have three teams to follow, a fact that should not be taken for granted seeing as the entire state of Texas does not have a team in the Big Dance.
They have to Two-Step by themselves while everybody else improvises their own version of the Shake.
By Danny Clinkscale
It certainly has been a loss to the sports steam in this area to have Missouri playing their
By Danny Clinkscale
Now that we are buried in snow just a few days removed from
your truly wandering about in the desert with shorts and an 810 golf shirt
on, I thought it would be a perfect day to give some early spring training
thoughts on the Royals.
The one pervasive feeling that you got from the players, manager Ned Yost,
and GM Dayton Moore is that, yes, we talked the talk in the past, but now it's
time to stop talking and start walking the walk. For Yost, that seems to be reflected
in a perhaps even more ornery, no nonsense attitude. That attitude is perhaps
reflected again in the fact that he had gall bladder surgery and didn't miss a
day of work.
The players seem to have the realization that nobody is going to believe a
darn thing unless they perform and win more games. The players like James Shields
who have come from elsewhere are the exception to the rule that the Royals players
haven't played in a single major league game with a lot on the line. The closest that
the like of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakus and the like have under their belts is opening
day, since soon after that they have buried themselves well out of any pennant
It's arguable as to whether that is possible for this team. Yes, they have improved
their starting rotation almost exponentially, but two other teams that they have to get
past, the Tigers (Verlander and Scherzer), and White Sox (Peavy and Sale), definitely have
better one-two punches at the top than the Royals (Shields and Guthrie or Santana). You would
think that young position players like Hosmer and Moustakus would see the arc of their highly
touted careers start to turn upward. But other young players like Salvador Perez and
Alicedes Escobar have far exceeded expectations offensively. Was that a fluke?
The Royals also seem to be suffering from the loyalty, and/or stubborness of their
manager and front office regarding players like Luke Hochevar, Jeff Francoeur, and Chris
Getz. All quality "clubhouse guys", all suspect performers who seem VERY likely in my
mind after getting the vibe in Surprise, Arizona to start the year with starting
roles. Part of that seems to be driven by the manager's old timey baseball attitudes
concerning number two hitters, bunting, throwing arm over range, and other issues.
All that being said, I am currently optimistic about this Royals team. I have said often
that my prediction for wins is 84, and I feel like I have been conservative in that. However
this is the Kansas City Royals. There HAS to be a bit of "Show Me" for a franchise that
has one winning season in the last twenty years.
But after going to spring training, you are supposed to be optimistic. And why wouldn't
I want to bring a little snowy day warmth to you as we look forward to days in the summer where
we are sitting in the stands fanning ourselves with a program trying to keep cool.
I could go for some of that.