Friday, April 24, 2009

Tony Gonzales : Kansas City Folk Hero

The entire Kansas City metro area is at DEFCON 5. Suicide watch is on, pharmacies are running out of Xanax. Sports shops look like Old West ghost towns. Citizens are walking around aimlessly with a cold, lifeless stare in their eyes, as if they're extras in a George Romero movie. Things have gotten so bad that people were actually seen in the Power and Light District wearing untucked shirts. My god, the apocalypse. What has happened to my fair city?

Of course. Tony Gonzales has been traded. And the inevitable has begun; Chiefs fans are starting to question Lord Scott Pioli and his Patriot ways. How dare he run the most beloved athlete in KC out of town! The Chiefs might as well pack it in for 09-10. Hell, the 2nd round pick we got for him is for next year's draft anyways. Isn't ironic that a Patriot seems to show no loyalty at all? Might as well pay attention to the Royals.

Except, you know, that this was the RIGHT move. Actually, it was the right move last year, where King Carl put the amount of butts in the seat as a priority over number of wins. Where Gonzo would have warranted multiple draft picks. Where the youth movement could have started a year earlier. But we couldn't let go of Tony G. So when the win total plummeted down to two, we ran Carl out and cried for a GM that would make the necessary sacrifices to build a winner.

Well guess what Chiefs fans, that man is Scott Pioli, and he is doing what's necessary. Letting go of Gonzales, bring in Matt Cassel, and probably trading down on Saturday is what needs to be done. he has no sympathetic loyalties to this team, and that is a good thing. Tony didn't want to be here, as he expressed numerous times. He, like most Kansas City sports fans, doesn't want to wait for a team that is rebuilding. He wants to win now. And he doesn't care if it's in a Chiefs jersey or not. Gonzo is just like every other athlete, not some saintly super-performer who catches touchdowns by day, and saves babies from burning buildings at night. He is no more loyal than anybody else.

When it comes down to it, Gonzales and Pioli only care about one thing; winning. And the only way either of them was going to get what they want was to part ways. This is how it works. Throughout the entire Peterson Era, there was nothing but bitching about how the Chiefs never went over that hump. Well, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, which is what Pioli is doing now. And look, the fans are bitching about that now. You can't have it both ways.

I wish Tony Gonzales all the best with Atlanta. I'm sad to see him go, but it had to be done. Hopefully Chiefs fans can start to realize this and understand that it's going to be a rocky road to the top, but man, it's worth it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Angels and Devils

The early 2009 MLB season has been plagued with deaths. Harry Kalas passing away swept sadness over the league and fans. Upon hearing Mark Fidrych's death, there was a collective "hmm, that's too bad, that guy was awesome". But the loudest responses were those of anger geared towards Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man who crashed into and killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart.

Outside of the Los Angeles area and of deep baseball circles, nobody knew who the hell Adenhart was. But the outrage over his death makes you think that he was some kind of sports icon. Don't get me wrong, the whole scene was and is tragic and unfortunate. What I can't understand is, well, why anybody cares.

What seems to get everybody hot under the collar is that Gallo was drunk behind the wheel. And drunk driving is so unforgivable that Gallo's family has had to move upon receiving death threats. All you have to do is look at some of the comments from ESPN readers.

If this Family had done a better job or raising this kid....he wouldn't have grown up to be such a screw up murdering idiot.

he's a drunk scum bag

He should be the one dead

I hope he burns for this, period.

And on and on. Which is funny (though not funny ha-ha), considering this is coming from fans of a league that approved Coors Field and Busch Stadium. Where beer flows more than any other sport. You can't watch a baseball game without seeing roughly 2,000 Bud Light commercials. Many parks have beer gardens. Beer, beer, beer. Drink, drink, drink. Have a safe ride home.

Now I know, promoting drinking doesn't promote drinking and driving. I'm not saying it does. But sports is alcohol-fueled entertainment, and any crime that involves booze probably shouldn't be further demonized by sports fans of all people. Adenhart's death was horrible, and Gallo will get what's coming to him through the justice system. Just stop acting like this was a bigger tragedy than every other drunk-driving death in this country just because it hit our little world. Before that fateful night, nobody knew who Adenhart was, and it's unfortunate that his legacy will be one that is fueled by hate by the sport's own drunken fans.

Play ball.

NBA Playoffs = Kobe vs Lebron

Only two words matter in this year's NBA playoffs: Kobe and Lebron. It would take something magical for anything other than a Lakers vs Cavaliers Finals. With Boston out of the picture due to the loss of Kevin Garnett, and everybody in the West out due to lack of talent, the road is paved for a Cleveland/L.A. championship. So, what the hell are we supposed to watch until then?

There is absolutely nothing to look forward to this year. Maybe the Cavs/Celts series (if there is one) will be entertaining, but that's purely from a "what is going to happen?" standpoint. The reality points to something more like a five game series not has little to no drama at all.

So we must all wait for what we really want; the MVP race really determined on the court, the changing of the guard theme, the last chance for Cleveland to hold on to James, etc. It's just all to perfect. Much better than the weak attempt at dusting off the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, which hasn't really existed in decades. And anything is better than a Spurs/Team X series.

The thing I'm looking forward to the most is how the loser in the MVP race shows up. Will Kobe be pissed that everyone is crowning King James while he's still the best player in the NBA? Or will LeBron feel slighted that he hasn't been crowned anything yet, even if he's averaging nearly a triple-double? This is what intrigues me. It's almost as if whoever wins the MVP will be at a disadvantage.

This is what the 2009 NBA playoffs has to offer, and nothing more. The wait will be long, but there's a good chance that this time, it will be worth it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Twitter and sports: a match made in cyberspace

On its surface, Twitter brings nothing new to the table. The nucleus is based around a Facebook/Myspace status update, 140 characters or less, with little else going for it other than a background picture. It seems to offer nothing. Made famous by congressmen (so you know it can't be good), the site has been gaining speed based off the membership of one particular group of people; athletes.

If you have a David Byrne-esque questioning phase, first let me explain. Or better yet, let Twitter founder Biz Stone explain:

"I think the appeal there (with celebrities) is not only are they connecting with fans, but they're controlling their messaging. The tabloids aren't."

Granted, Stone there is referring to Demi Moore, not Dwight Howard. But the idea is interesting though. The most famous Twitterer, uh Tweeter, uh Tweet, whatever it's called, is Shaq. While most people will talk about The Big Shaqtus posting pictures of himself sleeping or shaving, the thing that struck me is instances where he'd give away tickets to fans via Twitter. The thought of someone as big as Shaq (status-wise, not literally) telling people "I'll be here, come get some tickets", is something completely different and somewhat fresh.

But where this really makes a difference is the "inside information" once so heavily guarded by the sports media is now open to the public. For example, where else could you have gotten word that on Tuesday night, Coco Crisp went out for some drinks with some friends and didn't get back to his hotel room until 6:00 am? It's the kind of thing we imagine beat writers and line-setters are privy to, and our exclusion is what lumps us together as fans. The "athletes-in-real-life" exposé is ours for the taking. Why read what some mid-life journalist's take on your favorite superstar is, when that same player can tell you himself?

Another subject brought on by Twitter, and more specifically the midnight conquests of lead-off men for the Royals, is that sports are turning back the clock. Upon telling the Crisp story (which I found interesting at the time for purely gambling purposes), the most common response was of positive nature. It reminded people of the good ol' days, when athletes played hard all day and partied harder at night. When they smoked and drank, not shot up in the locker room and wrote autobiographies in their thirties. Not to say Crisp is a throwback who can't say no to a drink or a line. And for all we know, athletes have never changed. But the coverage did, and with it, so did their image. But as Mr. Stone said, athletes get to write their own stories now, not Outside The Lines. And these stories hearken to the golden days of sports. Brett Favre isn't the average Joe-quarterback, but nearly every other QB in the league is. That's refreshing, and it makes sports in 2009 that much more watchable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

5 reasons why the Royals aren't this year's Rays

If there's one thing nearly every sports writer has in common, it's that they have all proclaimed the Royals to be this year's Tampa Bay Rays. Well, as a lifelong citizen of Kansas City, I can tell you that this year's Royals aren't going to sniff the success that the Rays had. It pains me to say it. But here are 5 sobering facts that point to the bottom side of .500:

1. Not even last year's Rays were last year's Rays.

The thing that made Tampa Bay's run so remarkable is that nobody saw it coming. They were picked either fourth or fifth in the AL East by just about everyone. The fact that these same people are already crowning the Royals as AL Central champs disqualifies them from being the surprise of 2009.

2. The Rays had excellent pitching.

Tampa Bay was third in the majors with a team ERA of 3.82. KC was 22nd. Add the fact that Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar are starting this year in AAA, Kyle Farnsworth and Horacio Ramirez are key pitchers, and there's legitimate fears that neither Gil Meche, Zack Greinke or Joakim Soria will pitch as well as they did in 2008, then this year's pitching staff is shaping up to be worse than last year's.

3. Joe Maddon was the AL Manager of the Year

It takes a great skipper to turn the losing culture around. The jury is still out on Trey Hillman., though a verdict may come swiftly. One day into the 2009 season, Hillman's decision to leave right-handed Farnsworth in the game to face righty-killer Jim Thome - which turned into the game losing three-run homerun - has Kansas City up in flames already. He hasn't shown any signs of being able to successfully manage a game, not to mention he's done next to nothing in turning our young players into pros. Which brings us to...

4. The Rays' young talent was ready to play. Now.

Evan Longoria won AL Rookie of the Year. B.J. Upton is a star. David Price was the savior of the postseason. The Royals' young guns? Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have been busts thus far. Hochevar has been sent to Omaha. Only Zack Greinke has performed well, and he has the psyche of a bipolar teenager hooked on meth who has recently been dumped, so we'll see how long that lasts.

5. The 2008 Rays were the exception, not the rule.

We loved the story last year because of how strange it all was. Unlike other sports, professional baseball makes it harder for the down-and-out teams to rise to the top. Every year gives us the same old teams who throw money around like Pacman Jones, leaving the Royals of the world with only the hope of getting good prospects from mid-season trades. Good prospects who will in turn become trade bait. I don't expect a worst-to-first run to happen any time soon. And even if it does happen, all signs point away from Kauffman Stadium.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Patriot Games

The 21st century is a time of overexposure and excessiveness. If there is even an inkling of desire for anything from anybody, the powers that be will stop at nothing to recreate what is deemed as profitable. Scary Movie's success bred the likes of Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, and whatever parody suck fest Hollywood spurts out annually. Survivor's ratings fueled television networks to replace creative thinking with reality shows. But in the sports world, the success of the New England Patriots has created a copycat league, so much so that the mere mention that you've visited Boston on your resume makes you a hot commodity.

First it was Romeo and Charlie. The two "genius" coordinators who banked on the Patriots' winning ways by landing head coaching jobs themselves. Crennel has since been canned, and Weis is seemingly running the once proud Notre Dame program into its own hallowed ground. This should have been enough to deter the popularity of Belichick clones. However, Eric Mangini landed the Jets job after being The Hoodie's mentor. After one good season and one bad Sopranos cameo, Mangini was fired after crumbling Favre's last season.* All is well though, as Mangini has now replaced Crennel as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

And the train keeps rolling. The Chiefs hired Scott Pioli to save the franchise and build a Foxboro West at One Arrowhead Drive. Pioli's first move was to transplant Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City, starting the ball on his own mini-Patriots. And the Chiefs fans couldn't be more excited. Staying in the division, the Broncos fired Mike Shanahan for the uber-young Josh McDaniels, following the creed that if it's been under Belichick, it must be money. And what has Josh done in his very little time in the mountains? He has successfully run pro-bowler Jay Cutler out of town.

I'm completely, utterly, 100% on Cutler's side. He's proven to be a solid quarterback in the NFL. But McDaniels wanted more Patriots, less Broncos, and tried to get rid of Cutler to make room for his boy Matt Cassel. Cutler was upset, as he should have been. After a bunch of "he said, he said", conflicting reports and VH1-style drama, Denver shipped their franchise quarterback to Chicago.

Maybe it's time that the New England Experiment grinds to a halt. Season after season, the idea of recreating the Belichick dynasty has produced nothing. After all, the Patriots got to where they are by doing things differently from other teams, not copying them. We need a new model.
J Fish Sports © 2008. Design by :Yanku Templates Sponsored by: Tutorial87 Commentcute