Tag Archives: Kansas City Royals

Another glorious NYC Marathon Sunday, viewed up close. The Jets are nosediving, and a 52-49 NFL game? Sure. And all hail the Kansas City Royals, world champs.

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Lots of wonderful things I’ve discovered about living in NYC for the past four years.

One of my top three favorites, though, is the first Sunday in November. As I’ve written about here the past three years, Marathon Sunday is the best. Fifty thousand runners, of all shapes, stripes, creed, color and age, pushing their bodies 26.2 miles through all five boroughs.

In 2013 we moved to an apartment right under the 59th Street bridge, along 1st Avenue, which is a perfect spot to get up close and watch the runners fly by. With the weather perfect and my excitement heightened by showing this fabulous spectacle to my little boy for the first time (he was momentarily excited and wide-eyed, but after 10 minutes he got a little cranky), I happily stood along the barricades at 61st and 1st for a few hours.

Some thoughts from a wonderful day of watching athletic accomplishment:

— One thing that always surprises me about this throng of runners all barreling down the street: You never see a collision, or any bumping at all. I think in 2.5 hours of watching Sunday I maybe saw one time where a runner almost ran into another one.

— Highlight for me Sunday was seeing my awesome friend Christine, running her first marathon, spot me before I spotted her. I had my wife and all the strangers around me looking out for her (she had told me what she’d be wearing, I told her where we’d be, and I was tracking her race on the fabulous NYC Marathon app), and then all of a sudden she started streaming toward me. We hugged, I told her how great she was doing, she screamed “This is so hard!” and then kept running.

It was great.

— Love the high-fiving of strangers. Love screaming out the name of people with their name on their shirt, then them looking around like “who knows me here?”

— The costumes were, as usual, stellar. I saw quite a few Batmans, several Wonder Womans, lots of people wearing their country’s flags, and even a guy dressed in full FDNY firefighter gear, carrying a fire extinguisher to boot. That dude had to be committed to that costume to wear it for 26 miles.
My favorite, though, had to be the dude wearing an Eiffel Tower replica, with two people trailing him, one who was barefoot. I was speechless at that one.

— Always great signs from fans along the course. Two favorites from Sunday: 1., attached to a picture of a male underwear model, the words “Hey girl, I’m waiting for you at the finish line,” and “If Britney Spears could survive 2007, you can survive 26.2 miles.”

— Finally, every year I say the same thing, after watching the joy and agony of the runners: I’m gonna do this one day. I haven’t run so much since the little guy was born, but before his arrival I did a 10k and could run 6 miles at a time. I’ll get there one day.
But watching is almost as much fun.

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**Next up, never a good sign as a Jets fan when Geno Smith comes into the game in the first quarter. What a miserable performance by my team, really getting blown out from the start by the suddenly decent Oakland Raiders. Looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick may be out awhile, which means we get more of Geno, which means the Jets’ once-promising season may get real shitty, real fast.

— The Giants scored 49 points Sunday. Eli Manning threw SIX touchdown passes. And they lost.
That was one of the most bizarre NFL games I’ve seen. Literally neither defense could make a stop, until the Giants got a defensive touchdown to go up 49-42.
What a pathetic display of defense. How do you feel good if you’re the Saints after that?

— Are the Vikings the best team no one is talking about? They’re 5-2, they’ve got a terrific young quarterback, and a good defense. And yet nobody’s considering them as a contender.

— This is not NFL-related, but again college football had me screaming at the referees Saturday night. Check out this nutso game-winning touchdown by Miami over Duke, using eight laterals, that absolutely should not have counted. Clear runner down at :26, and brutal block in the back at :39. Yes I’m a biased Duke fan, but this thing went to instant replay and they still got it all wrong! So, so awful.

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**Finally, this World Series, man … it’s been fabulous.  Sunday night, Matt Harvey pitches the game of his life, just a few months after Mets fans were questioning his heart and desire. Guy throws eight shutout innings in a game his team must have, and still can’t get the win.
The Royals’ aggressive baserunning, a bad throw by Lucas Duda, and extra innings again. What an incredible, battle-back, scrappy team Kansas City is. I mean, they are never, ever, ever, out of a game. Such great defense, such smart baseball they play.

They are worthy World Series champs. Once the game got tied Sunday, I had no doubt K.C. would win. What an amazing turnaround story that franchise is.

As for the Mets, they had a hell of a season. Much better than anyone expected. You hope they’ll be back.

Terrific series. The best team won. (And poor Daniel Murphy can now go find a hole and hide for a few months).

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“This is How I Leave You” pretty good flick, but could’ve been better. An incredible PSA about Syrian suffering. And the baseball playoffs get off to an incredible start

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With a fantastic cast and some legit funny moments in the trailer, I figured “This is How I Leave You” would at least be good for a few laughs. Best-case scenario, it’d be great, a real pleasant surprise.

And at times, this movie was really, really good, and had me and the wife chuckling pretty hard.
It was almost a great movie, except it had two major flaws: Everything that happened in the last 30 minutes was totally implausible, and a movie about a dysfunctional family reuniting after a loved one’s death had already been made recently, and it was much better. “August: Osage County” was the film “This is How I Leave You” wanted to be, it seemed, but couldn’t quite get there.

Still, it had a lot of good moments. Jason Bateman, as the seemingly-normal brother of the Altman clan, was excellent; Tina Fey, in a strange role for her was also great, as was Adam Driver and the criminally-underused Connie Britton (I love me some Mrs. Coach).

The movie just relied on way too many leaps of faith (really? A whole Little League team is in the emergency room at that time near the end when the cursing and the brawling begins?), and the story went in too many directions at once, like it didn’t trust the main storyline too much.

Still, it was a 2 1/2 star flick, so probably worth your time.

 

**Next up, with all the attention that the U.S. war on ISIS has been getting, its easy to forget just how miserable it has been for citizens of Syria the past five years.
Especially for children. Check out this remarkable PSA from an organization called The Syria Campaign. Hard to watch, and heartbreaking, but so well-done…

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**Finally, that was one of the most amazing baseball games I’ve ever seen Tuesday night.

The Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals went back and forth, with the Royals being down 7-3, improbably rallying to 7-7, and finally winning 9-8 in the 12th inning.

Kansas City and Oakland both in the playoffs got me thinking: One of the reasons baseball lost tons of fans in the 1990s and early 2000s, besides the glacial pace of the game and rampant steroid use, is that it seemed like the same teams were always winning and playing for the World Series.
It was the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Braves, the Cardinals… and everybody else. More money was spent by the major markets, and everyone else was playing for scraps.
But it’s been a long time since that was true; just about everyone has a shot to win in today’s MLB, and it’s one of the reasons the baseball playoffs are still exciting to me, even though I barely follow the sport for six months.
Look at who’s in the playoffs this year: Kansas City. Oakland. Pittsburgh. Baltimore. All teams that a few years ago were sad-sack losers, but who now have a chance to win it all.
It was awesome to see the K.C. fans get excited about their team being in the postseason for the first time since “Back to the Future” came out.
In baseball, everybody’s got a shot. And that’s great to see.

My annual tribute to the great Jim Murray, the best sportswriter who ever lived. Two very different-sized dogs happily play together. And the Royals are in first place (finally!)

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And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m happy for many reasons today, one being that both my first child and the U.S. Open tennis tournament will be arriving in the next few weeks (if the baby can hold off being born until after the U.S. Open, that’d be cool. Relax, I’m (mostly) kidding), that I’ve survived another year of life (I turn 39 on Sunday, and I’m already dreading the big Four-Oh), and that it’s time to celebrate Jim Murray again.

Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 16th anniversary of his passing, a little bit of Murray greatness. The man who once wrote “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart,” and “Elgin Baylor is as unstoppable as a woman’s tears” was truly a legend. So many hundreds of sportswriters (me included) tried to copy his style over the years, but it was like trying to sing like Sinatra, or paint like Picasso.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

**Next up, this cracked me up: A tiny dog and a giant dog spend about a minute scrapping lovingly, before finally giving up and embracing. Too funny. Little dogs always think they’re so tough.

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**And finally, the Kansas City Royals, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since “Back to The Future” was in movie theaters (1985), are in first place on Aug. 15. And I am really happy about that, because maybe it’s the Jets fan in me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for fans who’ve suffered mightily.
The Royals play in a small market for an owner who won’t spend money, and have been miserably awful for most of the past 30 years. I root for franchises like that because I know their fans have endured so much, that it’s so extra-special when the team starts to win.
And these Royals are legit good. They get great pitching, just enough hitting, and those powder-blue uniforms sure do look swell.

I really am pulling for them to make the playoffs; the baseball postseason is so much more fun when new teams make it. Just listen to fan named Joy Jackson Bess on Facebook:

“This is so much fun! Baseball is fun again and it’s tastes like a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot KC August day. We’ve been too thirsty for too long.”

Go, Royals, go.

Speed dating for writers. And a mascot whose wiener caused a lawsuit

While I anxiously await the incredible Olympic hockey semifinals today, and mourn the death of Boner Stabone, two stories today that made me smile and laugh.

First, and I think this is absolutely brilliant, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Minnesota chapter has created something called

“Freelance Love.” For $30, freelance writers get to come to Bloomington’s Park Plaza Hotel one night and they’re guaranteed five minutes each with a different editor from one of Minnesota’s newspapers, magazines or websites.

I love it. Speed dating for journalists! Just like in speed dating, you know within five minutes if you want this writer to work for you, and the writer gets five minutes to sell themselves, like an actor at an audition.

And hey, just like in speed dating, look at all these chances for rejection! Bound to be good for building character.

In these economic times, writers  need all the help we can get. I hope this idea catches on.

**And now, a sad story about wiener-throwing gone bad.

Meet Sluggerrr, the Kansas City Royals’ lion mascot. As the mascot for the woeful Royals, Sluggerrr’s job is harder than most. You know how hard it is to make people laugh when the home team is down 11-3 to Boston? It’s hard, lemme tell ya.

Anyway, poor Sluggerrr is now the subject of a nasty lawsuit. Seems that last Sept. 8, the lovable furry guy was shooting hot dogs out of his air gun (of course he was), when he put the gun down and started chucking the Oscar Mayers into the crowd.

Well, like most of the throws from Royals pitchers in the last decade, Sluggerrs toss went awry. It struck fan John Coomer in the eye, and in the suit Coomer alleges he suffered a detached retina, and other maladies.

There are so many great parts of this story, most of which my man Joe Posnanski covers in this blog post (scroll about halfway down).

But this has to be my absolute favorite part. The Royals are getting sued, in part, because the team “failed to adequately train its agents … in the proper method in which to throw hot dogs into the stands at Kauffman Stadium.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if that was part of the mascot training?

“OK Sluggerrr, you want to bend your elbow, then twist your knees, and throw that sucker at a 45-degree angle over your head!” Good, try it again. And again. Next, at 2 p.m. we have “patting kids on the head class, followed at 4 p.m. by “Making fun of Umpires: the Do’s and Don’ts.” Now go put your webbed feet up for a few minutes and relax.