Forty-two years I've lived in Kansas City. That's 42 Summers, Autumns, Falls and Winters.
Screw this. I don't want to see winter number 43. This one has done it. I'm done. I'm finished. This winter just won't end. I want to see green grass. I want to see baseball being played in my backyard. I want to see the SUMMER Olympics.
I don't want to see snow plows and Facebook photos of people's car thermometers reading -2 degrees and I certainly don't want to see any more news reporters sticking rulers in the ground telling you how much snow you got.
It's March. Let's go.
If I have to watch my son and my wife watch the same reruns of TV shows on the same couch one more night, I might scream. I want to walk the dog without putting on 45 minutes of clothes. I want to eat ice cream non-ironically.
But no. For the foreseeable future, we are stuck with forecasts of 23 inches of snow (that turns into 3”?? WTH??) and we're stuck with sleet and sub-zero temperatures. We are stuck with morning radio hosts telling us that it's colder here than in Nome, Alaska. And most of all, I'm stuck driving my wife's stupid ice skate car.
When it snows, Kara, bless her heart, can't drive in the snow. She tried it a few months ago and $300 and a new front end alignment later, we decided that I would drive the ice skate while she drove my giant, gas guzzling, American-made SUV.
So, for three or four days after a snow, I have to wedge my fat butt into her little car filled with empty water bottles and power bar wrappers and change all the presets to sports talk and drive to work.
Meanwhile, she is wrapped in the comfort and luxury of my car, all the while changing the rear view mirror and moving the seat around. Then I must drive that little curling puck out of a neighborhood that is literally the last on the list to be plowed by the city. It really is a recipe for destruction.
I want to be able to get out of bed in the morning instead of feel the vitamin D leaking out of my body with each gray, cloudy, sunless day.
I want sundresses to come back. Is that so much to ask? Sundress season?
Oh sure, there have been a few signs that Spring is near. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, the NFL Combine and even the opening of Spring Training.
But I spent all day Sunday on the couch watching BBC America because my back was out from shoveling my driveway. My knees hit the steering wheel in my wife's car and I would absolutely murder someone for a properly grilled steak.
Forty-one winters. . . I have almost survived 42. Almost. Please get here soon, Spring.
(Chris Kamler is the editor of ramblingmorons.com and also the station director for the sports station at kansascity.ourcityradio.com)
Last week, I had a chance to go to a pitching clinic for elite high school pitchers. These pitchers aren't just your normal, garden variety varsity kids - these kids will be drafted by MLB teams or play at Division I NCAA programs. These are the cream of the crop.
I was invited there by an organization that wanted to help coach them on the soft skills of baseball. I was there to conduct mock media interviews. My challenge was simple - get an honest answer.
These kids were good. Many of them had already learned the art of the non-answer. “I faced a really tough opponent out there,” one told me. “Preparation and believing in yourself is key,” another told me.
Athlete interviews are among the worst interviews and rank right there among coaches interviews and politicians interviews. And there's a simple reason why - people are so starved for true honesty, we devour it and usually crush it.
So we settle for non-answers and platitudes. These kids reminded me of the scene in the movie Bull Durham where Crash Davis is coaching “Nuke” LaLoosh on how to answer the media. He instructed him to be charming, but never give a straight answer. So, we get “I'm playing it one game at a time” from our athletes and our coaches.
When we do get honesty, like a Jim Boeheim meltdown or a Hal McRae blow up, they are replayed on SportsCenter over and over again.
Just once I'd love to hear an athlete answer a question with “Well, I got in a huge fight with my girlfriend before the game after she found out I haven't left my wife yet. That was really going through my mind when I missed those free throws. Honestly, I just had a good cry at halftime.” The Internet might explode if that were to happen.
But then again, maybe honesty isn't always the best policy. Take Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Here he comes out and admits that he smokes a little crack. No big deal. Just a little crack and he drinks a lot. And that sometimes impairs his ability to govern. Okay. Maybe too much honesty isn't always best.
But we've got to work to find a happy medium. My goal with those kids was to try to get an honest answer.
“Where are you committing to play college?”
“Well, I've got a lot of great choices out there and I hope to make the best decision when the time is right.”
“You buried a few curveballs there, was it a mental or mechanical issue?”
“I just got to keep working and keep grinding and those things will take care of themselves.”
“You seemed to lose focus during the middle innings there. What was going on?”
“Well, you see, I had a missed call from my girlfriend. And we had a huge fight last night. I think she's going to take that internship in Paris and I just love her so much... <sobbing>”
Okay... maybe we all have more to work on. But let's hope we can find a happy medium between TMI and honesty.
(Chris is the editor of ramblingmorons.com and also the station director for the sports station at kansascity.ourcityradio.com)
CURLING--THE SPORT OF KINGS
Like most of you, I've spent the past week watching the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. Every two years, I say I'm not going to watch and then I am sucked in. It's not the ice dancing or the moguls or even the hockey. I can't get enough of curling.
I tend to be drawn to sports that I think that I, if not for a series of fitness choices on my part, could play at a high level. This doesn't leave me with a very large list. In fact, the list is only occupied by curling and competitive wing eating on Coney Island.
What's not to love about curling? It's shuffleboard...on ice... paired with housework. And it also looks like the kind of sport that's made for drinking beer while you do it. Oh, sure, you won't see the Olympic athletes drinking but I'll bet wherever curling is really popular, they have plenty of beer. Just like bowling and darts.
Of course I admire those athletes who do the speed skating and the triple salchow (yes, I had to look up how to spell it - why don't they just spell it SOW COW?) And it's always amusing to watch Bob Costas's eyes turn 14 shades of red, then pink, then purple. But my heart belongs to curling for the next two weeks.
The best part about it is that I don't know any of the rules! I could quote chapter and verse of the obstruction rule in the rules of Major League Baseball, or what constitutes a football move in the NFL. But I have absolutely no idea what a point is, what the strategy is or the level of skill behind curling - I just... can't... stop... watching.
So here, to the best of my ability, are the rules of Olympic Curling:
1) You get 10 innings and inside of those innings you get eight or nine or maybe 10 stones.
2) You take turns sliding your “stones” down the length of a sheet of ice to the bullseye thing at the end. Much like shuffleboard, you have to chug a beer if you get it in the center.
3) You can knock out the other team's stones, which is kind of a dick thing to do. You don't see ski jumping being interrupted by teams throwing rotten eggs at the skiers in mid-flight. But maybe that's why I like curling.
4) The sweeping. You have two people with brooms that look like lint brushes who will sweep the ice in front of the oncoming stone. These brooms either speed the stone up or slow the stone down or make the stone curl. I honestly have no idea. Oh, and the captain of the team SCREAMS at the top of his or her lungs “SWEEEEEEEEEEEEP!” It's intoxicating.
5) The team with the stone closest to the center of the bullseye wins... something... a point, maybe? Two points? A years supply of Turtle Wax? No clue. But they win, and then move onto the next inning.
That's it. That's curling. Try to not spend three hours on your couch watching it screaming at the television, “DAMMIT NORWAY!!! YOU DIDN'T SWEEP NOW YOUR STONE IS BLOCKED!!!!!” It starts to sound like you're getting a very painful prostate exam after a while.
So, thank you, curling. It's nice to see you every four years. Just think, in two years, I get to watch Olympic Trampoline. (Real sport.)
(Chris is the editor of ramblingmorons.com and also the station director for the sports station at kansascity.ourcityradio.com)
There are days that the stupid rains down like the snow on a February morning here in Missouri. Last week, there was a blizzard.
Let's start with the bill introduced in the Missouri Legislature to make the “High 5” the official greeting of the State of Missouri. Congratulations, Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, D-Berkeley. It takes a lot to get elected to the state legislature. It takes money. It takes intelligence and it also takes stones. But for you to spend your precious few years serving the people, offering to help them with funding for homes and businesses and roads and official greetings, well, you are a special, special man. (Note: Don't ever Google “Missouri Handshake.” Don't do it. I warned you. You have been warned.)
Nominee number two goes to Cynthia Newsome of KSHB TV-41 here in Kansas City for striking while the iron is hot. Late last week, parents were on edge when they were notified that Linden West Elementary School in Clay County was in lockdown. The lockdown was due to a man who had refused to surrender to police nearby the school and was a precaution. Newsome, the anchor of the 41 Action News 5 p.m. newscast, sent out the following tweet, “Linden West Elem on N. Wyandotte on lockdown after shots fired nearby. Tweet me if your child goes to Linden.”
Stay classy, Cynthia. How's about you let parents locate their parents and maybe help by tweeting them information instead of trolling for good bait for your newscast? This is now the second example in the past few months of reporters and journalists taking to Twitter effectively ambulance chasing for stories. Reporting comes from “to report” and not “to leach.”
Fittingly, she sent out this tweet later in the day clearing up the matter, but also raising one additional question. (sic) “Linden West students in Gladstone are reunited with their parents after a shooting and school lickdown.”
Finally, our third nominee is a group of folks associated with a basketball game played in Texas Tech against Oklahoma State. In that game, a fan said something that caught the attention of Oklahoma State player Marcus Smart. Smart alleged it was a racial comment, the fan denied it was racial. Anyway, Smart immediately confronted the fan and pushed him. Both the fan and the player were in the wrong, but this set off a firestorm of debate across the country about race. Naturally, my Twitter feed was filled with Kansas fans and Missouri fans hating on each other. Because anything can set those two fan bases off.
The only thing worse about ambulance chasing while reporting is reporting hearsay or something incorrectly. Enter the Twitter feed of WDAF Fox 4 in Kansas City. Nobody from Fox 4 was in Lubbock, Tx. and therefore didn't report on this event, however they still tweeted the following: “We haven't done the total CSI type analysis, but it appears this is what TTech superfan Jeff Orr says to Marcus Smart: “go back to -----”.” (Dashes added by Fox 4)
As Deadspin.com accurately pointed out, KC is 700 miles from Lubbock and Fox 4 did no interviews of anyone at the venue. They just guessed and it was then picked up as factual news by other outlets across the country. But nonetheless, Fox 4 is now credited with reporting something the man may or may not have said.
This all brings to light the dangerous power the media has in the Twitter age. One false move and you can easily insult worried parents or confuse idiot fans. But, you can rest assured that we'll be giving you a Missouri Handshake on the way down.
(Chris is the editor of ramblingmorons.com and also the station director for the sports station at kansascity.ourcityradio.com)
We have crossed into dangerous times. No, it's not because of nuclear proliferation by North Korea or climate change. It's because my Mom was excited to
Bruno Mars was supposed to belong to the young people. Halftime shows are supposed to belong to the young people. The older folks are supposed to complain about how the music is too loud and “why can't they have that wonderful young boy Frankie Avalon singing at halftime?”
Now it's over. Our relationship is broken now. Beyond repair.
And it's not just me. Moms are ruining America. Samsung made a claim earlier in the year that only old people own iPhones now. Mom's ruined the iPhone. Think of your friend. Now what kind of phone does he or her have? Is it an iPhone? Are they an old person? Case made.
The latest proof is that Princeton University researchers recently published a study predicting that Facebook will lose 80% of its user base over the next three years? Why? That's right. Moms have ruined Facebook.
Facebook used to be the place to go for college kids to pick up other college kids. Then it became the coolest place to post pictures of your drunken Friday nights. Do you remember when your Mom friended you on Facebook? It's probably right up there with the day the Space Shuttle crashed or the day you found out about Santa Claus. It's a moment you never forget. Forever changed.
After that, you started to get posts about making sure you eat your vegetables, and questions about who that blonde was in the picture from last weekend. It stopped being fun. So everybody went to Twitter. Mom is headed there next. Now people are ejecting off of Facebook faster than the Denver Broncos chance to win the Super Bowl.
It's not Mom's fault. She doesn't mean to buzzkill the party. She's only looking out for you. And it's not the first time. Remember your first boy-girl party when you were 14? Remember when she brought out the pictures of you in the bath tub? Remember your graduation party when she showed the video of you after you got your wisdom teeth pulled out and couldn't say “potato for an hour?” These things are adorable to Mom, but they're humiliating to you.
Moms even ruined blue jeans. Blue jeans used to be worn by James Dean and Elvis. Now “mom jeans” are an actual thing worn by Michelle Obama and... your mom.
Now Mom is going after Facebook and Bruno Mars. Something must be done. The line must be drawn here. You can have Bruno Mars, but leave me Daft Punk and Twitter.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts baseball-themed radio shows. More importantly, he hosts the YouTube hit that is the Rambling Morons videocast. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.”
There's a new billionaire out there, folks, and it's a 44-year-old woman. Her name is Sheryl Sandberg and she joins the roster of 1,426 billionaires worldwide, according to CNN.com. Only 138 of those are females.
Sandberg made her billion by becoming the chief operating officer of a little company called Facebook. Before that, she worked for another startup called Google. Both companies were born out of meager beginnings, by dreamers.
Dreaming is a tricky thing. For every one dream that becomes a reality of any success, thousands of dreams fail to net any substantial value. America prides herself on being a country that fosters dreamers. Land of the free. Home of the brave. McDonalds, Apple and Coca-Cola were all born by dreamers right here in America. But so was Paul Silvio's Pizza and Lemonhead's Attic.
Those two companies are, sadly, not common household names. Paul Silvio's was a pizza shop that gave me one of my first jobs. It was a small pizza place just off the I-35 ramp at Parvin Road. I was their first driver. The pizza was, simply, the best you've ever eaten. Light years ahead of Pizza Hut or Domino's, our primary competition. But we were the little guy, and never seemed to take hold in the neighborhood. It also didn't help that the owner went to jail for a short time, but I digress.
Paul Silvio's Pizza was a dream, and a damn good one. It just didn't take. Pizza Hut was the same dream, with different circumstances. This Sunday, when you'll be sitting down watching the Super Bowl, you'll likely be eating Pizza Hut and not Paul Silvios.
Lemonhead's Attic was an eBay business I started in the early 2000's. The company was named after my favorite candy, Lemonheads. And the idea was that I'd sell stuff from my house and also the “buy crap low, sell crap high” philosophy. Predictably, this company didn't take off and make me rich contrary, to the three books on eBay selling I read that made the respective authors rich. One guy bought pool tables because he knew a guy that sold pool tables, then sold them for a profit on eBay. Why couldn't I replicate the same success selling DVD's of Star Trek The Next Generation?
So, why was Lemonhead's Attic not the next Facebook? Why is Sheryl Sandberg a billionaire and Paul Silvio out of business? The truth of the matter is that most of it's luck. Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett put their pants on the same way we do--by hiring servants to put them on for us--or something like that. There's not much different. Sure, they might have a little higher IQ, or been born into some pretty fortunate families, but the point of all of this is that I'm not going to stop trying to find that brass ring. I might not be a billionaire at age 44 like Mrs. Sandberg, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to quit.
First order of business... order some pizza.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts basseball-related radio shows and the Rambling Morons podcast that you can find on YouTube. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
I HEAR THAT TRAIN A COMIN'
It takes a lot to surprise me. And I'm not just talking about the occasional sports upset or getting a large fry when you ordered a medium kind of surprise. I mean genuine surprise. But this weekend it happened.
My son and I embarked on our yearly “let's leave Mom the hell alone - she's getting that look in her eyes that she might murder us” weekend and we headed up to Chicago for a guys’ weekend. Trying to be thrifty, we booked travel via the MegaBus. If you've never ridden the MegaBus, think Southwest Airlines mixed with a cattle car and throw in a couple of unknown odors that just randomly waft by. And repeat for 11 hours.
The MegaBus is not something you enjoy, but rather something you survive-like marriage or an IRS audit or testicle surgery. Though that's not the surprising part.
We enjoyed our guys weekend, taking turns farting, eating junk food, visiting landmarks and walking around the Windy City checking out the prostitutes on the sidewalks. (It was about 15 degrees, so we only saw about a dozen.) And we spent three days living like men - in that we ordered room service and left the door open when we took a crap.
The surprising part of our journey was the commute home. About three minutes after we left the MegaBus, I decided that there was no way in hell we were going home that way. Short of walking, I found a cheap ticket on Amtrak. Neither of us had taken the train before but it was recommended by a friend and the odor couldn't possibly have been as bad as the bus.
So, on Sunday we headed down to Union Station in Chicago and boarded the train. Riding the rails, we called it, as the conductor looked at us funny. Additionally, he didn't seem pleased when I asked to blow his train whistle. But I digress.
What followed was the most relaxing journey I never expected. I fly Southwest Airlines a lot and I sometimes have to drive my wife's dinky car - so I know about being cramped. The seats on Amtrak are like walking onto a boat. They fully recline. They had leg rests. It was heavenly. Where has this been my whole life?
There was an electric plug for my iPad and a lounge car with booze for my liver. I was in heaven for seven hours. Along the way, however, I started to get pretty angry that my parents loaded the four children into the station wagon every summer during my youth to drive to California or Nebraska or Florida. All of those fights, all of those “accidents,” all of the threats to turn around and go home from the front seat. Those could've all been swept away by riding on the cloud that is Amtrak.
But Amtrak is constantly in the news saying that they are near bankrupt and continue to drop offerings around the county. I'll tell you, after one ride, I'm hooked. I'm a train rider now. But Amtrak is doing nothing to help their own cause. They're really missing out on their target demographic - fat guys.
Those seats are so comfortable, all they'd have to do is install WiFi and a television and you'd get five million fat guys traveling from KC to Chicago in no time.
But the surprising thing about it is how much my son enjoyed it. “This was awesome, Dad.” And that, at the end of the day, is what it's all about.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts baseball-themed radio shows. He also hosts The Rambling Morons podcast. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
CHEATERS ALWAYS WIN
I've gotten it all wrong.
Thank you, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Christie, Lance Armstrong, and a host of others for reminding me about a valuable life lesson... Throw out that “liar, liar, pants on fire” nursery rhyme and let's go with “cheaters always prosper.”
Lying is in. Cheating is the new black. I think I'm ready to learn from my mistakes in the past and finally embrace the dishonest lifestyle that will put me on top.
Alex Rodriguez continues to remind us that cheating always pays off. Oh sure, he's facing a little bit of trouble in the way of a 162 game suspension from baseball for taking steroids, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the $300 million he's made playing baseball over his career. All the while, denying he ever took any performance enhancing drugs even though evidence suggests the complete opposite. A-Rod even has folks coming out of the woodwork who admit to injecting him with things. No matter. Deny, deny, deny.
But Chris, you say that Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour De France titles. Yeah, but HE GOT TO HAVE SEX WITH SHERYL CROW. The man only had one testicle. Do you think he's going to bag a hottie like Sheryl Crow without some PED's? Another victory for cheating.
Jump ahead to politics--oh there's never any lying in politics. Let's look at the latest scandal, this one featuring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who denies any involvement with creating traffic jams on the George Washington bridge. A bridge named after, ironically enough, a man who could not tell a lie. What does Christie do? Denies any involvement in the face of mounting evidence that he caused the problem. Christie might be the next President, hell, he might be elected King or Pope or something. Brilliant move, Governor!
Just think what I can accomplish with a new slate--one where I'm dishonest. I could start taking performance enhancing drugs, which, for a newspaper columnist, is really just black coffee and Red Bull. But those are two things I don't currently drink. Doesn't matter. I'm heading for newspaper glory.
Maybe I should just start copying columns out of The Pitch and turning them in. Oh boy, let the money start rolling in! All those “good” manners and traits my parents taught me like never telling a lie and respecting others -- garbage. Daddy needs him some moolah!
I can start lying. Oh boy, this is going to be great. Sure, Mr. Editor, I fact checked every one of my quotes, like the one where the mayor said that all police cars will soon be equipped with a stun gun that shoots Skittles at pedestrians. Nope, got the quote myself. Just print it. BOOM. COME ON PULITZER!!
I suppose I could continue to tell the truth and be kind to my elders and make complete stops at traffic lights. Naaahhhh... Look out world, you've got one lyin', cheatin', dopin', druggin' newspaper columnist about to raise some hell in 2014--A-Rod style.
Now, can somebody get me Sheryl Crow's number? I need a date to the Newspaper Awards.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts some baseball-themed radio shows, as well as the Rambling Morons podcast, voted the Internet’s best podcast by The Landmark. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
Loserville. Welcome back to Loserville.
You thought winning a soccer trophy was the turning point? Nope. Kansas City, you are the pits.
It's our fault, really. Not the fault of the Chiefs defense, who gaked away a 28-point lead. This one is on us. We should've seen it coming. I mean, for goodness sakes, even our mascot spent the last two months in the hospital. Was it really any surprise that Jamaal Charles left the game injured five minutes in?
This one felt like a punch in the gut after about 25 kicks in the groin and dropped a city right back into the squalor that is Loserville: Population Kansas City and Cleveland. At least Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Every year we hope and we pray and we squint and we cheer and we invest money in shirts and hats - and what do we get out of it? A 28-point swing and a 45-44 loss to extend the Chiefs winless streak in the playoffs to 21 years. The last time the Chiefs won a playoff game, NBC's Friends was eight months away from airing its first episode and Joe Montana was the quarterback.
This one is on us. We absolutely should've seen it coming. Kansas City is the home of Andrews McMeal, the publisher of Peanuts. Peanuts is the famed comic strip by Charles Schultz and features a recurring gag where Lucy repeatedly convinces Charlie Brown to try to kick a football only to pull it away at the last second--over and over and over again. There is no more perfect metaphor for Kansas City sports fandom.
Kansas City tried to dye a frozen fountain at North Oak and Vivion to show its Chiefs pride prior to their first playoff appearance in a decade. The scene looked like something out of an episode of CSI or Dexter. Rivers of red dye painted the white ice unevenly, prompting the KC Parks Department to issue a statement saying it was the first time they tried it. Ya think? Well, at least we have that haunting reminder of failure to drive by every day until March when it thaws.
Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? If I offered you to be a Kansas City fan and repeatedly watch our teams puke in times of clutch for over 20 years, or, smack yourself in the face one time with a hammer and never be smacked again--wouldn't you take the hammer?
And yet, we'll line up again for tickets when they go on sale in a few months. We'll continue to buy Chiefs shirts as birthday presents and put Royals bumper stickers on our cars. We are Kansas City. We are Loserville.
At least we can put aside our pain over a 21-year playoff drought and focus on the upcoming Kansas City Royals season--a team with a 29-year playoff drought. I'm sure this will end up better. I can sense it.
I'm going to run out and buy my season tickets, right after I kick Lucy's football.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts baseball-themed radio shows. And he hosts the award-winning Rambling Morons podcast. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
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