I'd like to share with you some terrible news... I'm dying.
Now, before we start planning a lowering of flags and funerals and whatnot, let me clarify. We're ALL dying. From the moment we're born, our bodies are attacked by gamma radiation and disease and pollution. While life expectancy has grown over the past decades, we all fall in the end.
Some fall way too early and some outlast generations well past 100. There is no secret recipe, there is only endurance, as much clean livin' as you can muster and perseverance.
There are many to whom longevity of life is less important than the quality of the time spent on this planet. Those are the folks you see cliff-diving and surfing and driving race cars. We have a long tradition of triumphing the “devil may care” lot. Paul Walker, a popular actor in the “Fast and Furious” series is a good example, as his life ended in a fiery car crash last week. Fans across the globe heralded Walker's life, saying he went out on his terms.
But sometimes there's not an immediate tit-for-tat. Sometimes, damage is done to your body that doesn't show up for years, but you get the benefit of the glory or the adrenaline rush or even the money.
Football has become one of those areas where men are paid a handsome sum to run into each other for sport. Until recently, the extent of the damage they did to themselves wasn't fully known. But now, a clearer picture is emerging - one that spells out the destruction football players are doing to their bodies and their minds. CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is the condition that is slowly eating away at a player's brain through constant brain traumas or concussions.
Those who have played football are finding that 10 or 20 years after they finish playing, their minds are turning into mush, or they’re getting Alzheimers-like symptoms and dementia. Some lash out in fury while others close off completely.
One weapon these football players have looked toward recently has been the lawsuit. Former Kansas City Chiefs and Missouri Tiger football players both recently filed lawsuits against their schools, employers and equipment manufacturers, stating they knew more than they let on and let these folks destroy their bodies. While the main questions of “What did they know and when did they know it” are important, it's also important to remember that these men willingly offered to play the sport at that high a level. Of course there was going to be some damage to your body.
But those players are the ones doing the damage to themselves. Should these brave men be allowed to get damages above what they earned, which includes salary and scholarships? That's for a jury to ultimately decide. However, it seems to me that these guys knew some level of what they were getting themselves into. Does that mean they needed to incur life-threatening injury? Well, in some cases, yes. Playing football is no different than cliff-diving or race car driving. You accept an inherent element of risk.
Dale Earnhardt accepted that risk as he died 15 years ago smashing into a wall, as did Paul Walker. A football player smashing into another player on a kickoff is no different.
In my opinion, while unfortunate and while we should continue to honor these warriors, it does not automatically mean that these men should receive any compensation over what they initially received for signing up for a hazardous job.
We're all dying. Some of us just find a faster way to get there, but those are the ones with the best stories.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly podcast called Rambling Morons and occasionally does some baseball-related shows on the radio. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
A CHRISTMAS STORY--SET IN 2013
One of my favorite traditions in the Kamler house is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree while watching the 1983 classic, "A Christmas Story." It's almost hard to believe that story came out 30 years ago and it was a movie that portrayed 1940's suburban life at Christmas.
I can't help but wonder what a 2013 Christmas Story might look like. In today's Hollywood environment, I'm sure I can't be the first person to think about a remake.
Let's start with the family themselves. The family would likely need to be a blended family with a father, probably played by Vince Vaughn, because he's in every movie, and a light-skinned African-American woman. Let's say it's Halle Berry. The two children would probably be adopted, a kid from Zimbabwe and his sister, "Ralphie," the movie's key character would be a charming, quick-witted Asian kid --all to better reflect America.
The father would have just lost his job, but looking to win a "major award" as he is a web-developer looking to rebuild the failing Obamacare website. “Be careful,” he would say to his oddly beautiful wife, “the website... it's Fra-Gee-Lay...”
Because the family saw Santa in early November, the key scene to the movie would be the family fighting crowds at a Wal-Mart on the morning of Black Friday. The cute little Ralphie keeps saying how she wants her favorite toy for Christmas. "I want an official Apple 32 gig iPad with retina display and a bluetooth keyboard."
Throughout the movie, Ralphie and her friends would be bullied by the evil Scott Farkas via a series of hateful Twitter replies and Facebook posts. Ralphie would still double-dog dare her friend Bella to stick her tongue to a flagpole, but instead of simply calling the fire department, Bella would sue Ralphie's family for child endangerment and the video would go viral on YouTube. Bella's new-found fame would land her a reality show deal on Bravo.
Throughout the movie, characters would constantly caution Ralphie against getting the iPad she so desperately wants because, “you'll just watch porn on it.” Sure enough, Christmas morning, when the family has finished opening all of the gifts, one wrapped present remains. Ralphie checks behind the La-Z-Boy and there is a brand new silver iPad. Within minutes, Ralphie has downloaded a virus that sends pop-ups and pornography to all of the computers in the house. This causes Ralphie to utter FUDGE at the top of her lungs. Only she didn't say 'fudge.' Because children are no longer beaten in 2013, Ralphie just goes on with her day. Her mother would put soap in her mouth, but Ralphie has a strictly gluten-free diet and the soap might've been prepared in facility that contains gluten and nuts.
The core message of the movie would remain the same, however. No matter how much drama and strife could happen to a family at Christmas time, no matter how many challenges a family faces, remember that Chinese restaurants are always open on Christmas.
(Our man Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly podcast called Rambling Morons, and does some other stuff we won’t talk about right now. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
CORPORATE AMERICA WANTS YOUR YAMS
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you, but I love food. And, by extension, I love Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. I even like the idea behind yams, even though I don't eat them. Thanksgiving gives me an opportunity to still be thankful for yams. What a wonderful time.
Thanksgiving means 12 straight hours of eating until you need to put on sweatpants - and then finish off the pie. Oh, and there's 10 straight hours of football, too. What an American holiday. It's the perfect holiday to even allow a little family drama or arguments. Who cares what Uncle Larry wants to argue with Aunt Esther about? You've got football on in the other room.
The latest crisis, however, has nothing to do with pie or the Detroit Lions or even dear, sweet Aunt Esther and her slightly racist jokes. No, this crisis is an enemy to us all.
Corporate America. Corporate America wants to take away mashed potatoes and stuffing and sweat pants and Uncle Larry's dentures slipping when he bites into the green bean casserole. Corporate America wants to make Thanksgiving a day that Americans shop bargains at Wal-Mart and Target and Kohls. Corporate America wants to destroy Thanksgiving.
Forget Black Friday - which used to mean stores opening at 6 a.m. on Friday, allowing early birds to get some deals, but those of us nursing honey baked ham babies to sleep in. It started slowly, in the shadow of 9/11, for America. Stores said they needed a few more hours of retail volume, so they started opening at 4 a.m., then 2 a.m. and then midnight. Mothers and daughters - looking to make sure they got a deal on that precious doorbuster nightgown for 30% off - willingly adjusted their schedules. Men began to wait in line starting hours before midnight outside the Best Buys in the hope they could get $100 off on that 50” plasma television.
So, much like the tryptophan coma that slowly paralyzes you following a third plateful of turkey, Corporate America continues to seep across the time barrier and now, into Thanksgiving. Stores like K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sears and even OfficeMax have all announced they will open some portion of Thanksgiving night. OfficeMax? Really? In case you really need a ream of paper to watch the Dallas Cowboys or fart in your grandpa's vinyl covered couch?
Many have expressed outrage on Facebook and social media, but not enough to stop the slow crawl which could ultimately destroy Thanksgiving. What if Thanksgiving just becomes “Black Thursday”? (And no, I'm not referring to that joke Aunt Esther tells all the time.) Where people eat turkey for breakfast and then head out to the stores, which now open at noon? It's coming, people.
Corporate America wants to take away your Thanksgiving and replace it with economics. On whatever grounds you can stand on - whether they be something sappy like spending time with family, or something selfish like making sure you have that Friday leftover turkey sandwich that your grandmother can only make - the one with the Wonder bread--we must put a stop to it.
Corporate America, leave my Thanksgiving alone. Well, you can take the yams. But leave the rest alone.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly podcast called Rambling Morons. Reach him through his website at ramblingmorons.com)
A TWEETER ON THE GRASSY KNOLL
RT: @CNNBRK: BREAKING ALERT: (DALLAS) AN UNKNOWN SNIPER FIRED THREE SHOTS AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY. PERHAPS FATALLY SHOT. #KENNEDY
That's what the world would've read had President Kennedy been traveling in Dallas this week instead of in 1963. Instead, that text rattled off of a UPI Teletype machine in newsrooms across the country. The bulletin was also signaled by five bells on the teletype machine indicating an alert.
Both of my parents heard about the Kennedy shooting through transistor radios, both smuggled into their separate classrooms at different schools. My mother was actually the rule breaker who first heard her music interrupted by the news. She went to the front of the class and told one of her Sisters, who then told the rest of her high school.
In the present day, today's high school seniors are likely to be sneaking a look at their iPhones and seeing the news about Kennedy, or Pearl Harbor or the Shuttle Challenger disaster on Twitter.
And the pace at which news travels is incredibly swift. Hours after 9/11 even, people hadn't heard the news. I walked into a conference room at 10:30 at my work and informed a room full of about 30 people about the plane into the towers that happened nearly two hours prior. Today, it would've been around the globe in seconds.
Think back to how people heard of the Pearl Harbor bombing, huddled around a radio and in special edition newspapers. Now, It's extremely likely that you'll hear about the next major event from a news outlet like CNN on Twitter (@cnnbrk) or a local name like Eric Burke of Fox 4 (@fox4eb). I heard about the Michael Jackson death from Channel 9's Kris Ketz, also on Twitter (@KrisKetzKMBC) and knew several hours before it hit televised news outlets. I 've even seen our own esteemed editor Ivan Foley (@ivanfoley) break a scoop or two through his Twitter channel.
And who knows how we'll hear of the next world-wide news event? Maybe as a pop-up alert on our Google Glasses. Or maybe our shoes will vibrate as the Microsoft Windows Sneakers tell us to not head downtown because of a gas mane break. And those solutions are only a year or two away. How will we receive news in 10 or 20 years? My guess is that our NSA issued “identification chips” will also alert us when news happens in our government-issued living space. You'll be sitting at your working cubicle and suddenly, your right arm will go numb. Across the imprint in your electronic eye socket will read “ATTENTION: CHANCELLOR BUSH JR. JR. JR. HAD POTATO THROWN AT HIM. CONTINUE YOUR WORKING.” (Because guns will be outlawed, you see.)
Or maybe we'll just read about it in the newspaper. #NotLikely
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE SQUEAKY WHEEL IS SEEN, NOT HEARD
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Isn't that the old saying? Seems like we've been ingrained to complain - or at least speak up - when our needs aren't being met. Our first method of communication was crying when we were hungry or when our diapers were filled with poo. But then we become youngsters and it becomes “be seen and not heard.” So right off the bat, those two rules seem to cancel each other out. No wonder we are confused. When is the right time to complain? When it the right time to shut up? Here, for the great readers of this column, is a quick primer.
If you are a “professional autograph collector” and you accost our city's most well known athlete at a baggage terminal where he thereby says he's going to kill you.
NO - That is not a time to complain. Don't go on the news. Go back to your mother's basement.
If you live on one of the most valuable and beautiful pieces of property in the Northland, Riss Lake, and the QuikTrip corporation wants to build a gas station in your back yard.
YES - This seems a perfect reason to complain. Life simply runs too fast for you. Complaining might slow it down. You passed an ordinance to allow you to drive golf carts because your cars were too fast, for example. Absolutely. You may complain about them dropping all that roller meat goodness in your neighborhood.
If you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan who is disappointed in the lack of offense the Chiefs have displayed so far.
NO - Shut up. The team is undefeated. NINE AND OH. Hasn't happened since 2003. Zip it. And don't start throwing out “I told ya so's” when they do lose. Probably this week to Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts.
If you're a handsome newspaper columnist who is unable to pay your newspaper bill to some corporate-owned publication that made you wait on hold for an hour and blamed it on a Typhoon half a world away.
YES - Companies run on one thing -- Money -- and lots of it. Complaining that you can't pay your bill only brings light to their ineptitude so they can fix it or fold. Or both.
If you are a frequent traveler to the KCI Airport and you enjoy the swift and speedy entry and exit from the airport, but are torn by calls for a reorganization to a single terminal. Should you complain?
NO - Leave the damn thing as it is. As we've seen recently at LAX, a single security point only makes a human bottleneck for some idiot with an assault rifle. There's nothing wrong with the airport the way it is. Pipe down.
If you're a professional football player and you see one of your teammates being bullied by another teammate. Do you complain?
YES - Bullying is bullying. And it's not okay. Especially if that kid plays the tuba and has a bit of a weight problem but uses writing and humor to deflect the sadness inside... so much darkness... so much sadne..... oh wait... um... YES. Tell a grown up.
You're at The Landmark Christmas Party and see the Editor in Chief mingling with the other guests. You've really been chapped at him for something he wrote. Do you complain?
YES - Absolutely. Go right up to him and engage him in your complaint. Just leave the columnists' table alone.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
LEAVE THE BOOING FOR HALLOWEEN
While watching my Missouri Tigers romp over Tennessee on Saturday, I pulled up the Twitter and noticed the following tweet during halftime from St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Dave Matter: “@Dave_Matter: US Soldiers taking their oath of enlistment at halftime. Oath mentions 'the president' Crowd boos.”
This now marks the second incident in the past few months where Missourians have been involved in some sort of presidential kerfuffle regarding expressing their displeasure with President Obama.
Now, other folks in attendance were quick to mention that the strongest booing came from a group of Tennessee fans, but let's dismiss most of that and talk about the choice these folks made. You booed. You booed “the president.” You booed “the president” in front of a group of National Guard recruits about to become soldiers. You booed “the president” in front of a group of soldiers who will likely go fight to protect your right to boo.
What a bunch of idiots.
Let me say that I have absolutely no problem with being displeased with the performance of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Get in line. I'll lead the parade. I don't even have much of a problem with exercising your freedom of speech at a football game. Hey, most of us are a couple of pops into the day at these games and we are all very much free with our language. My problems are that you're disrespecting the office of the president and you're doubly dumb enough to do it in front of brave kids who will be taking orders from the man who holds the office of the president - regardless of whom that person is.
This wasn't just one or two guys. This was a group of fans that booed during the line “I do solemnly swear that ... I will uphold the orders of the President of the United States ... so help me God.” It was at this point that a number of fans booed loudly enough for at least three sportswriters to hear it in the press box.
Nice job, morons. What did you think that was going to prove? Did the country get any better because you booed? Did you have a sense of accomplishment to boo in the country that allowed you to get all liquored up and spend an autumn afternoon in the sun watching football, where you freely traveled between states to attend the game and where you weren't immediately imprisoned for acting like an idiot?
I can give a slight pass to the knucklehead rodeo clown in the Obama mask. That was, at least, a poor attempt at humor or parody. These booin' boneheads not only disrespected the office of the president, but they disrespected those kids going off to fight a war or clean up whatever natural disaster might hit their house. But really, Missourians are looking like a bunch of president-bashing, inbred, howl at the moon, a-holes right about now. And the country is STILL in the toilet.
There are approximately one million other, better ways to fix the country other than booing kids going off to war. Farting in the wind is one. Crapping in a bag and lighting it on fire at the base of the Statue of Liberty would be like 900,000th on the list - but still booing National Guardsmen and Guardswomen?? Classless. Tasteless. And this is from a guy who just typed “farting in the wind.”
It's not that I disagree with your right to do it. It's that I vehemently disagree with your choice to do it. That tells me all I'd ever want to know about you. Leave the “boos” to Halloween.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for 810varsity.com and The Landmark. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
IN THE BEGINNING
Conflict. Contradiction and controversy. And every time you re-read it, you pick something new out that can guide your path, or doom you to failure.
Just this week, for instance, total chaos in the world began because of some thinly defined ideals written, chapter and verse in The Book.
On one hand, you've got two men laying with one another - which is strictly prohibited - yet, when it was deemed an unholy act, arguments and chaos reigned down.
Perhaps there's never been a book that has elicited more controversy, or spilled more blood, or caused more arguments than the Rules of Baseball. Except, maybe the Bible. Or the Koran. Or the United States tax code. Or those brochures the Jehovah’s Witnesses hand out.
As a baseball umpire for 25 years, I would begin every season with the ritual reading of the Rules of Baseball. A book of less than 100 pages - yet they cause of millions of arguments - including one this past week in Game 3 of the World Series. By now, you've likely seen the play where Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction allowing the St. Louis Cardinals to win the game by awarding the winning run, defeating the Boston Red Sox. The root of this evil was the Rules of Baseball - specifically one rule, Rule 2.00 which reads, simply that, “OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.” Simple enough, right?
Well, not exactly. You see, the Rules of Baseball are much like any famed text and why would you only use 15 words, when you can use a whole lot more and be more confusing. There's a second rule that tries to add more definition to the definition. It's Rule 7.06 and attempts to clarify by writing two more addendums to the rule. That rule gives another example and clarifies whether it's a dead ball or a delayed dead ball so that everyone should have the clearest picture of what obstruction is. Got it? Well, you shouldn't. Because there's another rule that softens the first rule. It's rule 7.09 part (i) in which it says this:
“Obstruction” by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way, but of course such “right of way” is not a license to, for example, intentionally trip a runner even though fielding the ball.”
So, to sum up. Here's a rule. Here's an example of when the rule should very clearly be applied. Now, don't apply this rule unless you really, really need to. Got it?
The Rules of Baseball are filled with these types of paradoxical circle-jerks and that's the essence of the continuing battle between those that “know” the rules and those that “think” they know the rules. That doesn't even mention the “spirit of the rule” which is unwritten and mostly word of mouth.
Baseball is great, isn't it?
I'm sure glad the Bible is written much more clearly.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for 810varsity.com and The Landmark. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
YOU CAN'T DO THAT
It's the 21st Century now, and just like the short-lived Cosby Show spinoff told us, it's now A Different World. I get it. Maybe somewhere along the way the world passed us by and the rules changed. I mean, we drink water out of bottles now and all the kids play inside to get exercise on their video consoles. The world is different now, man. McDonald’s had to state the obvious when they put “This coffee is hot” on their cups, so maybe we need to take a step back.
Some of us still seem confused. Maybe they never got the memos on what is appropriate and inappropriate in this new century. Consider this a public service announcement on the way to a new day.
Here's a couple of easy ones about living online: Assume anyone you talk to is a 13 year old boy and treat it as such. Now, let's also state here that it means that you SHOULDN'T try to entice everyone you meet for sex. Thirteen year old boys - off limits. Got it?
Here's another one that might seem obvious, but apparently requires you to read it in black and white: Don't shove dead bodies in boxes. I mean, it's happened to all of us, right? You've helped your girlfriend/prostitute/random stranger OD on heroin/crack/random garage liquid and now you've got a dead body on your hands.
Hey, we're not all Walter White and you can't make it down to the UPS store to ship it to Texas. But under no circumstances do you shove that body in a box and dump it in a random truck stop/lake/Arrowhead stadium dumpster. Just don't do it. This is one of those times that you find a grown up and let them figure it out.
So let's look at a recent event and apply some of the same “you probably should know this already, but” type of logic. This whole Maryville rape case. Fellas, I know you're seniors. Seniors ARE AWESOME!! Kings of the world. But here's some realities that you might not have learned from your parents, you can't rape people. Got it? Rape = bad. Now, repeat after me... Do Not Rape. It's actually pretty simple when you get down to it. When you're playing video games with your friends, you're not raping, right? When you go to the malt shop with the gang (they still have malt shops, right?) you're not raping. So why do you need to be raping at a party? No raping. Got it? But what if you're a little drunk? Okay, here's one more thing - no drinking. Drinking and raping - don't do it.
Now parents, let's go over a few things for you, because you're clearly not teaching your kids to grow up and be adults who don't drink, rape, porn it up and shove people in boxes. This rule is pretty simple. Do your jobs. Your jobs are to teach values of life, teach what's wrong and what's right and talk with your kids. This isn't something that you can just post to their Facebook pages. You probably managed to grow up without murdering and raping, what did your parents do? Do that. Except the cardinal rule of parenting which you can never forget... don't smack your kids. And you sure as hell don't do it in a Wal-Mart.
For most of you, this is probably just repetition, but maybe a little reinforcement. I fully expect to see less raping, child porn and dead body box-stuffing stories in the pages of The Landmark. After that, we'll work on prostitute hiring and meth making.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
99 PROBLEMS BUT THE SHUTDOWN AIN'T ONE
Having kids is great. At least I think so, because you get to teach them stuff. And it doesn't even have to be 100% correct as long as you get most of it right. It's likely stuff they'll forget anyway, like when Christopher Columbus found America, which happened to be right where the Native Americans left it. Or how a bill becomes a law. Or how they make the television programming schedules. Really important stuff.
The other cool thing about having kids is that they can ask questions themselves. Really good questions. Like this one I got from my son on Saturday. “Dad, why is the government shut down?”
Um... So we got out his laptop and read a few articles. Those articles referenced the friction between the two party system and the Republicans intention to defund Obamacare and the Health Care Affordability Act. And after a good 20 minutes of reading and talking and discussing, we simply couldn't explain it, either.
And then it dawned on me. Did we even notice? So I took my kid around the house. Here's our BBQ grill where we made lunch. Did the government shutdown affect it? Nope. Here's Mommy doing laundry. Any impact there? Nope. Here's our groceries that I bought this morning, without the help of the government.
Oh sure, there are services that the government provides, like funding to repair the roads I drove on to the grocery store and subsidies to make sure there wasn't a riot at the Hy-Vee. But I couldn't think of a single day-to-day item of ours that is affected by the government shutdown.
Sure, monuments are closed, and a good deal of people are laid off, which affects the economy as a whole. But those are as near and dear to me as when Christopher Columbus landed on Plymouth Rock. (Like I said, some of the details are a little fuzzy.)
Then I pulled out a paycheck stub for my son to see. And I also made a circle on a sheet of paper. I started slowly blackening in the percentage of money I give to the government every two weeks until the circle looked like a very open-mouthed Pac-Man. And we just sat there and couldn't explain what any of that money was for.
I did caveat that and say that a percentage went toward protecting us from other countries, and that's a good thing because we'd be making our pie charts in Russian or Korean or whatever language Iran speaks.
Then he asked me what Obamacare was and I got a headache and had to eat some ice cream.
The point to this little civics lesson is that I'm probably a horrible American for not knowing how the government shutdown affects me. Or maybe I'm just the kind of American that couldn’t care less how long the government is shut down.
And, maybe by the time my son is teaching these fuzzy lessons to his children, he can look back on how the government has changed for the better, since it was shut down for the Fall of 2013.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810Varsity.com. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
A FEW SECONDS
For a few seconds on Friday night, two high school football teams became one. For a few seconds on Friday night, under the threat of rain and thundershowers, school spirit, mascots and conference rivalries meant nothing. For a few seconds, children were merely children in a field. And for a few seconds on Friday night, everyone thought of Dre.
A few hours earlier, another child, Andre Maloney stood on a similar field nearby and suffered a sudden, catastrophic and immediate stroke. A stroke is the loss of blood flow to the brain - for only a few seconds - which is what happened to Andre.
Andre Maloney played football for Shawnee Mission West High School and played at the highest level. West was part of the Class 6A Kansas State Champion team last year and had already committed to the University of Kansas to play football for them next spring. By all accounts, and I mean ALL accounts, Maloney was the right kind of high school athlete - smart, funny, natural leader and gifted athletically. And now that is all gone-- in just a few seconds.
News of his Thursday stroke leaving him in a “vegetative state” and his death minutes before kickoff Friday night spread through the Park Hill District Stadium press box. Several members of the media and members of the activities staff were huddled around an iPad as they read on Twitter that the family had chosen to end his treatment and let him pass away.
A few seconds later, every member of the Park Hill South and Lee's Summit West football teams met at midfield, joined hands forming a circle and had an emotional moment of silence for Maloney - whom most had never met, but who was respected by all in attendance. “We always like to have a little perspective,” Park Hill South head coach Mark Simcox said. “We're playing high school football and there are more important things around us.” Coach Simcox spoke briefly with West's head coach Royce Boehm before the contest about Maloney's condition and agreed to the solemn moment of silence.
Coach Boehm echoed that perspective, “When something tragic happens, especially on the football field, it brings reality to the field. We thought the best thing we could do is join both groups together.”
A few seconds later, the game kicked off and the players on that field tackled and ran and scored touchdowns - all of which Dre loved to do. A few seconds after the game, those same kids will likely focus back on their tackling and their homeroom quizzes and chasing girls and everything else seventeen year olds need to focus on.
But for a few seconds on Friday, under the hashtag #PrayForDre, a moment was etched forever.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810Varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
This column space is typically my place to whine and complain about the current state of the world. There's always too many issues to complain about and too few adult hotels in downtown Parkville to make it all better, it seems.
But this week's column is going to be different. Because I'm finally living in the right time and caught something at the right stage. I just finished watching Breaking Bad in three weeks and was able to watch the season finale live so that I can sit a the cool kids “I watched the Breaking Bad finale” table.
But this is more than just participating in a television event. You have to understand the technology that went into this. Let's start with the Netflix service, which allowed me to watch every episode of a show that had been on for five years. It started a month ago with one hour of television and then three weeks, 12 bags of Cheetos and only a few washings of underpants later, I'm caught up.
Let's also look at the ways in which I watched episodes. I watched them in a traditional sense on my television (hooked up to a box called a Roku), I watched them on my iPad and I watched them on my iPhone when I probably should have been doing something constructive like watching my son's baseball game or paying attention to which lane I was in on the road.
I then was able to participate in obnoxious Twitter conversations with other people who watch Breaking Bad such as, “OMG!! I can't believe <insert good guy> just blew <bad guy> head off!! #BreakingBad” Before I started watching the show myself, I would just be annoyed with these types of comments, now, I can share in annoying others! It was like being invited to sit at the “cool kids'” table in Middle School.
Suddenly I WAS somebody! I was a Breaking Bad watcher!!
I could share in the same inside jokes about “blue meth” and “getting run over by an Aztec” and know what I was talking about. Much to the constant annoyance of my friends and family. It's almost as annoying as your friends and family that constantly drone on about their iPhones, or their Toyota Prius.
The downside is that Breaking Bad ended last weekend. The season finale wrapped, and everybody who needed to die did. What also died was my chance at being “cool.” I need that back. I need to find that next TV series or gadget that I can tweet about and write newspaper columns about to give me that fix again. Maybe I could be one of those folks that takes a stand on abortion or gun control. Nah, I said I wanted the “cool kids'” table, not the “bow tie wearing, gunna get pink bellie'd” table. I suppose I could be one of those Chiefs fans that dress in all spandex and put fake arrows in your head. But that's not “cool” that's more “sad and depressing.”
I know, I can be one of those exercise nuts that's always talking about my caloric intake, or my BMI, or my squats or how healthy my recent bowel movement was. I suppose that also means giving up pizza though, so let's stick a pin in that one.
I suppose I'll just need to find another television program to veg out on. There's plenty left to choose from: The Wire, House of Cards or Mad Men. Or, I suppose I could spend more time with my family.
Naaah. The Wire it is.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
QUIKTRIP KINDNESS IN THE MIDST OF VIOLENCE
Author’s Note: I get no subsidies from QuikTrip, it's just a store I frequent. However, if my including them significantly in this article does grant me some stipend, please send payment in all Hot Dogs and Cherry Root Beers c/o The Landmark.
So I'm in the local QT the other day, pumping gas and I looked over at a man reading the newspaper. The front page told a story of a man who stuffed a woman into a box and left her to die. Or maybe he (allegedly) caused her death and then shoved her in a box. Either way. There was a dead woman in a box. The man flipped below the fold and there was a story of a Missouri man who helped shoot up a shopping mall in Kenya.
We've all grown so numb to these stories that I didn't give them a second thought. I finished pumping my gas and walked into the store to pay. While I was walking in, a man in a blue jumpsuit held the door open for me. I thanked him. He said “you're welcome.” I walked over to get myself a soda and waited patiently in line. Two people queued up behind me and also waited patiently. I prepared my hot dog with the necessary sauerkraut and dijon mustard, but stopped to allow a man to reach over me to get a packet of ketchup. We exchanged pleasantries about how Ketchup was winning the hot dot races at Kauffman Stadium.
Then, the man at the counter next to me left his wallet in his car and didn't have the $3 for a hot dog. The man behind him laid down $3 and paid for this man's meal.
I stop at that QuikTrip about three times a week. Not once have I seen a rude exchange. I've never seen a terse word. Furthermore, I've seen the best in social behavior. Holding open doors and telling people you're welcome. The clerks are always fast making change and everybody seems to have a smile on their face - even though they are in a hurry to get in and out. But it never escalates to even the level of rude.
Then it dawned on me. The man who stuffed that woman in a box had probably shopped at a QuikTrip (or a Pour Boys or a Casey’s.) The man who shot up the mall in Kenya might've pumped gas right next to me. He might've held the door open for me, or vice versa.
What makes a man who is pumping gas and holding open doors stuff a dead woman in a box? Where have we gone as a society that we can murder and maim while days earlier thanking someone for handing you a ketchup packet?
Now this isn't to say that everyone you meet getting gas will kill or rob or rape. Only a very small percentage ever will. But it does change your thought process when you're waiting for the tank to hit 16 gallons.
The famed poet and educator at the turn of the 20th Century Julia Carney wrote a poem called “Little Things.” In it, she wrote, “Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, Make our Earth an Eden like the heaven above.” She probably also forgot to write “And try not to stuff dead people into boxes.”
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810Varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
PUTTING THE AWESOME IN ADHD
As I write this, I have the Chiefs game on the television. I also have two monitors on my computer and in one window, I have an episode of Breaking Bad since I'm trying to get caught up before the finale. I've also got a window showing me the current weather radar and this Google Docs window open. Additionally, my phone is blinking, which means I've got a work e-mail on my phone I need to check up on. I've also got a pop-up that alerts me whenever someone has replied to me on Twitter.
My wife simply doesn't understand how I get anything done. I tell her that it's easier for me to work when I'm immersed in items for my senses. I know exactly what the down and distance is in the game. I know exactly what Walt is up to on my TV show and I am clever as ever on Twitter. Even this article I'm writing is pretty great too, in my humble opinion.
I love working like this. For as long as I can remember, I've worked this way. I had the radio on while I worked on homework when I was a kid. I even listen to the radio when I'm mowing the lawn. I just need noise. My brother is the complete opposite. He's what you'd call (and he'd call himself) a true redneck. He lives off of Platte Purchase and spends time on his porch watching the sunset, sipping a beer. He could go hours without any interaction with anything. No cell phone. No internet. No television. No radio. Nothing. And he loves it. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Recently, I've been told that bombarding your mind with sensory overload is a negative. It could lead to or be caused by something called “attention deficit disorder.” My mother was recently diagnosed with “Adult attention deficit disorder” when for years we thought she was just “scattered” or “busy.” She's treating it as a negative, but we've always appreciated her ability to be able to make cupcakes while sewing up a torn shirt while cleaning the bathroom. Seemed fairly productive to me.
For me, maybe I'm ADHD. Maybe I'm scattered. Maybe I can't carry on a conversation without checking my phone. But what if that message on your phone was important? What if there was a score in the football game over your shoulder? Wouldn't you want to know about that?
I'm not alone. People are even starting to book “off the grid” vacations designed to unplug their scattered lifestyles for a week or two. This would terrify me. How on earth would you find out what the score to the Royals game is. Or if there was a major news event. Or if somebody said a funny joke on Twitter.
Screw all that. I'm embracing who I am and what I can get accomplished when I have all my stuff going. In fact, in addition to the Chiefs game, Twitter, Breaking Bad and this article, I'm going to pull up the radio call of the Royals game and fire up... oh look the Chiefs just scored.
Ha ha. That was pretty funny, @awsumninja82. Aw man, I can't believe Ned Yost left Guthrie in like that. Holy crap. I can't believe Jesse did that to Walt! Oh boy, it's going to rain.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah. This article is pretty great.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @thefakened and sometimes even as @chriskamler. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
ONE YEAR AGO
One year ago this week, I almost died.
If you aren't familiar with my "accident" last year, I broke my neck while surfing.
Because, when you look at my six-foot 290 frame, you immediately think to yourself, "surfer."
I was surfing too close to the shore and caught a powerful wave that drilled me into the beach like a nail into a board. I became immediately paralyzed from the neck down, unable to move in four feet of water. If my friends hadn't been close by, I'd have surely drowned. So much for the professional surfing tour. The ambulance driver said I did pretty well for my first time surfing. Except for, yanno, the ambulance ride and the five days in the hospital.
It turned out to be the last time I'll surf, but in the past year, my life has changed in some major ways, while it has also stayed pretty much the same.
Once I recovered, which took about three months, I decided to change some things. It's hard to describe in words, but nearly turning out the lights really helped me focus.
I've never been a terribly spiritual guy, and I still am not. But you do begin to think about what you'd like to accomplish in your life until you no longer have a life.
So, I started doing rather than thinking about doing. And I stopped taking no for an answer. After a while, I started seeing results.
This past year, I've seen/done some amazing things:
•I saw a Royals game from the press box.
•I had a show on the radio.
•I stayed out of the crime blotter of The Landmark.
•I started producing and reporting on High School Football for WHB 810.
•I watched Kevin Kietzman hug Greg Hall.
•I changed jobs to one that made me happy and challenged.
•I listened to my son learn "Let it Be" on the piano and taught him about The Beatles.
These things probably seem insignificant to you, yet none of them would've happened if I drowned in that Ocean. You hear it all the time but commonly dismiss it, “You Only Live Once” or YOLO if you're a Kardashian.
Until I was laying in that hospital bed, it never meant anything to me. I was happy and content just letting the next day pass you by as easily as the one before. But then you start to think of what you'd still like to do, but lack the motivation or the inspiration for.
It's as simple as signing up for your first 5K, or send your first e-mail asking to do something. Sometimes it leads to something, sometimes it's a restraining order from a Kardashian.
What are you looking to do but lacking the inspiration for?
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
WE CAN TWERK IT OUT
Holy cow, did you see Miley Cyrus the other night? What the hell is happening to our children, and our entertainers?
If you missed it, or if you've been living under a rock, or if you don't have the Internet (why?), then let me recap. Miley Cyrus was on the MTV Music Awards a couple weeks back and she did one of the most lurid, sexually suggestive dances I've ever seen. This was society's little girl from the Hannah Montana Disney show. To see her up there gyrating around was flat filthy.
The things she did to a foam finger, folks. Well, let's just say it had me reaching for my channel changer. And then later for my keyboard after I watched it a couple of times online. And then later that night on the news. And then when I saw it on my coworker's computer. And those few times on Twitter when I saw it again.
This is the beginning of the end, people. This is where society turns the corner and travels due south into that hot place with all the demons. And it's not just me that thinks so. Check out these quotes:
“...[kind of music] is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.” See? Miley is negative and destructive.
Or how about this one: “Obviously, [she] reinforces everything absurd and offensive.”
EVERYTHING OFFENSIVE, PEOPLE.
“Beside the liquor and the drugs which always seem to accompany such an event, the thing that distresses me even more, is the spiritual corruption that can be involved.”
Quite simply, this type of music is the beginning of juvenile delinquency and the end of society as we know it.
These are smart intelligent people who agree with me about Miley... or Hannah... or... wait...
That first quote was by the great Frank Sinatra about Elvis Presley in 1950. Wait a second. Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll? Of course, before he was the King, he was the Devil following his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show that refused to show his “hip thrusts.”
The second quote was by Steven Morrissey, you simply know him as Morrisey, of The Smiths, and he was talking about Madonna. You see, Madonna was Miley Cyrus before Miley Cyrus. And Elvis was Miley before Madonna.
That final quote was from the Reverend in the movie Footloose. I just liked the quote.
So, to recap, as much as you want to agree with me about Miley Cyrus being the end of culture and society, you're about 70 years too late, at least. You missed out on the righteous indignation movement about the time you snuck out of your bedroom window, or you listened to your first Beatles album (they were arrested for DRUGS once!), or that one time you danced super close with a boy.
Miley is but the latest in a long, long, LONG line of exhibitionists that include Lady Gaga, and David Bowie, and Elvis, and Madonna and John Lennon. They don't give two craps what you think about the performance. Their goal was for you to watch and talk about the performance.
As if it wasn't apparent from her dance, I'd say Hannah Montana is all grown up now.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
There is a great debate brewing among Royals fans about the Garth Brooks song “Friends in Low Places” that's used in the sixth inning of home Royals games.
There is a growing sentiment that the song should go away. The Royals, clearly, want the song to stay, saying it's a tradition at Kauffman Stadium.
This tradition was brewed out of marketing efforts when the stadium was remodeled. Team officials were looking for a “song” to be like “Sweet Caroline” which is used at Boston's Fenway Park. They settled on the Brooks diddy after Brooks visited spring training one year. He produced several videos in 2004 for the team and they began a partnership with his charity.
But traditions cannot be made in a conference room. And the fans never did seem to get why a family sport like baseball would make a tradition out of drinking whiskey and wine and commiserating your alcoholism with your other alcoholic friends.
Traditions in sports must be made organically. The slapping of the “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” sign at Notre Dame. The Lambeau Leap in Green Bay. Even the student section at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. All examples of organically created traditions that are among the best in sports.
Formula One racing is steeped in tradition with the Brickyard in Indianapolis. But once you slap a “MILK” ad on the milk being drunk by the winner of the Indy 500, you lose that innocence and you lose the tradition.
And even when corporations make up traditions, like “buying” the “Discount Double-Check” from Aaron Rodgers, it still will never rise to the level of a true tradition. You have to let these things grow on their own.
Kauffman and Arrowhead have plenty of outstanding traditions without trying to grow them in a test tube. The smell and the smoke of BBQ rising in the sunrise on a fall afternoon in the Arrowhead parking lot is among the greatest sensations in the world.
The “Let's Go Royals” chant, while not terribly creative, is emotional when a game is on the line. Even the spirit of Sporting KC's Cauldron is something that needs to be witnessed to be appreciated.
So, let's get rid of Garth at The K. Let's let the fans come up with something better.
Our own tradition. Something more Kansas City.
Maybe what we come up with will be even better than where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases your blues away. You'll be okay.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He is Park Hill and Park Hill South sports reporter for The Landmark and 810Varsity.com. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
THE RIGHT TO FREE 'SPEACH' ON FACEBOOK
By now you've seen it, heard it, watched it and probably participated in a water cooler conversation about it. The Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown has been a hot topic across the Midwest and the country this past week.
You should already know the particulars. A rodeo clown dressed in a President Obama mask made some sort of comments during the rodeo portion of the Missouri State Fair. Many were offended. Many came to this clown's aid.
First of all, it's a sad day when we can no longer look to our nation's rodeo clowns to put the proper perspective and tenor on political discourse in this country. And what does this say about our State Fairs? Can reasonable people not congregate over butter cows and red funnel cakes and poke fun at our leaders?
Luckily, there is still one place we can all go, as States United and discuss like reasoned Americans.
That place... is Facebook.
The Missouri State Fair page on Facebook, to be exact. Go ahead and check it out. I know at first, it might look like a dumpster fire of the lowest breed of human going after each other like political cock fighting. But you would be wrong. This is America at its finest.
But don't take my word for it. Take the words of patriot Bill Benoit, Facebook user, who proudly says (all quotes are SIC, by the way): who proudly says (all quotes are SIC, by the way): “Missouri State Fair your a disgrace.”
Tony Hathcock follows that up with “Boycott the fair!” But just when you think it might be time to pile on the State Fair for banning the Obama Clown, the “friends” of the Obama Clown (named Tuffy. Yeah. Seriously. His name is Tuffy) come to his aid. I give you the words of Carla Castronova, “must be great fun to take away a man's ability to feed his family and fire him for NOTHING.”
So true, Carla. What kind of state would allow this injustice? Well, Missouri, apparently, and you've lost at least one visitor if Jarred Smith makes good on his promise, “why didn't you arrest him right on the spot. You could have kicked the hole martial law bit, I thought the first amendment was the RIGHT TO FREE SPEACH not the right to speak what we say is alright. I would Never visit MO again if you are an example of the states residence.”
Wow. Harsh words indeed. But the harshest indictment leveled on Facebook about Tuffy the Obama Clown came from Hillary Perez, whom, at press time, we were unable to confirm this person's whereabouts. But wherever he is, he's pissed.
“you are a bunch of freaks. when did this go from a democracy to a monarchy. when did freedom of speech vanish. you are all a bunch of black supremest loveing bigiots. i am embarassed to call missouri my home state. i am ashamed to have attended the fair in thd past an and im ashamed how communist missouri has become.”
Regardless of what happens to Tuffy, or what happens to the State Fair, let's all try to learn a lesson from Mr. (or Mrs., honestly I couldn't tell from the profile) Perez: please don't let missouri turn into a communist black supremest loveing monarchy.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
COCKTAILS AT THE SILVER SCREEN
For some reason this summer, I've gone to a lot of movies. I've had to travel some for business, so I'd catch a flick here or there, and then there've been quite a few good ones my family and I have wanted to see. So we've spent quite a bit of time at the biggest movie house in Platte County, the AMC Barrywoods 24 off of Barry Road.
It's a nice movie theater, but after a movie or two, you really start to notice the Star Trek Enterprise-sized hole being burned in your wallet. It's bad enough that tickets are $10 or more for each movie. (My son, conveniently, doesn't qualify for the “kids” tickets anymore.) And then, of COURSE you have to get the popcorn and the sodas, conveniently delivered in their own gasoline-sized trucks that just back up toward you and pour gallons into your mouth. Add to that the Junior Mints and you're well past the $40 limit.
But recently, there's been another installation into the AMC. Perhaps you've seen it. It's a mini-sized bar just past where you get your tickets. That's right. If you still had any money left, you could order a $10 martini or a $12 vodka tonic.
I realize that more and more people stay home to watch movies on their own quadra-sonic 5D televisions. But who is the target audience for this? The mom with three young kids in tow who all want to see “Planes”, but not before Mommy does a body shot of tequila? Maybe Dad, he's taking his two kids to see the new Tom Cruise movie (seriously, save your money on this one, trust me) but just can't make it past the opening credits before he has to duck out to down an ice cold Budweiser?
Hey, listen. I get it. You can't be a “functional alcoholic” without the “fun” and sometimes that means going out to see the latest Katherine Heigl rom-com, but my guess is that you're well past buying $15 frozen margaritas and simply carry a pull of Seagrams in that flask tucked in your sock.
I suppose AMC is just making wads of money off of this endeavor. Maybe it will catch on. Heading to COSTCO? Don't forget the bar where you can do peppermint schnapps shots. It's in the same isle as the gallon of mayonnaise. Or maybe the microbrewery inside the Jiffy Lube. Gotta lubricate that liver while you're lubricating your chassis, after all! And when, oh when, will this invention come to city council meetings?
“Mister Speaker, I address you this evening to say... SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS!! EVERYBODY!!!! I yield back the balance of my time.”
Well, I sure hope the AMC Movie Theater Bar idea is successful because I know that I might not make it through the next Tom Cruise movie without a Long Island Iced Tea.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
WILL WORK FOR PLATTE
You hear the politicians all talking about “creating jobs” and I recognize there's a lot of funny business in those promises. But last week, Cerner announced they were buying the old Bannister Mall and bringing 15,000 jobs with them. (Disclaimer: I work for Cerner.) That's 15,000 jobs being created in Jackson County. My current office is in the new Cerner towers in Wyandotte County near the Kansas Speedway - where an estimated 4,000 new jobs are being created. That's in addition to the World Headquarters campus in Clay County in North Kansas City.
So... where's Platte County in this technology boom?
A quick search of “largest employers” in Wyandotte County reveals that General Motors and KU Med are their largest employers. In Clay County, it's Cerner and Ford. In Jackson County, it's the City of Kansas City.
And in Platte County... it's Tyco Security and the Harley Plant. Both employ less than 1,000 workers. Where's the jobs, Platte County? That airport remodel might never happen. All these jobs seem to be steering clear of the airport or Platte City, or Parkville. For decades, TWA was a key player and now, many of those buildings sit empty in the Airworld area.
My former employer, Lifetouch, off of Ambassador, sells school photos and school yearbooks. Selling paper in a digital age tells you they're not expanding any time soon.
Is everybody okay with Platte County just sitting this round of job creation out? Can't Casey's General Store start hiring some new felons to make pizza or pump gas or something?
Let's get creative, people. For all the bellyaching and lawsuits, Tracy's mayor WAS trying to generate jobs when she hired her relative to fix that sign. That's just the kind of out-of- the box thinking we need here.
There never seems to be enough TSA agents at the airport. Let's work with the Platte City Police Department to get some of their surveillance officers second jobs at the airport.
Heck, even the Chiefs are avoiding Platte County by playing their games in Jackson County and holding their training camp in Buchanan County. Even a recent Landmark staff outing took our hard-earned money to an establishment called “Uncle D's Sports Bar.” Why not make Uncle D's a franchise and put one in Platte City? Imagine the opportunities for growth it could create for alcohol-related treatment locations.
We all know the parks department in Platte County has a ton of money. How about hiring some of the Chiefs who get cut to mow lawns at Platte Ridge Park? At least they'd be quick.
For every problem, there are dozens of solutions. We just need some smart-minded folks here in Platte County to come up with some ideas, otherwise the rest of us are going to use Platte County as drive-through country on our way to cooler places we work.
Or... better yet... let's just get a bunch of politicians to SAY they're creating jobs in Platte County!
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a baseball-related radio show every Wednesday on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
THE GOLDEN RULE
Remember the “Golden Rule”? It goes something like, “do unto others, as you'd have done to you.” Calling it the “Golden” rule means that it should supersede all other rules or choices you can make in your life. We teach it to our children, we struggle to practice it ourselves. It becomes all the more difficult when you hear the story of Great Grandmother Sharon Snyder.
That's what happened to Snyder, Court Clerk in the Jackson County Courthouse. (Full Disclosure: Ms. Snyder is a family friend and has been for 30 years.) In 1984, Robert Nelson was convicted of rape and sentenced to 50 years in prison. At the time, DNA testing didn't exist and Nelson maintained his innocence. According to the Associated Press story, “In August 2009, Nelson filed a motion seeking DNA testing that had not been available at his trial 25 years earlier, but Jackson County Circuit Judge David Byrn denied the request. Two years later Nelson asked the judge to reconsider, but again Byrn rejected the motion because it fell short of what was required under the statute Nelson had cited.”
Robert Nelson did not have any representation. Sitting alone in a prison cell, he was simply submitting these requests on his own volition, confident in his own innocence. Nelson, an intelligent and quiet man, continued to file requests, but his family privately thought he was near to giving up hope. Nelson's requests were twice denied by Judge Byrn, while others from other inmates were granted.
The laws concerning DNA testing have changed considerably in the past 5-10 years. Snyder was aware of an additional court filing that might've helped the Nelson case so she got in contact with Nelson's sister and provided her a court document showing another judge upheld the same court motion. This was a public document, but one that Nelson knew of from his prison cell. “I was just trying to help [Nelson and his sister] down the right path,” Sharon said while heading out on a rainy Monday to pick up her two great grandchildren.
Armed with this new information, provided by Snyder, Nelson got a new attorney, a new hearing and got his DNA tested. The Kansas City Police Crime Lab determined that his DNA was not used during the rape and cleared Nelson. Nelson walked out of prison last month a free man. “You're my angel,” Nelson told Snyder after he had been freed. Snyder, in self-deprecating humor told him, “Oh no, you've got the wrong person. I'm no angel!” Days later, however, Snyder would be fired.
In the true spirit of “no good deed goes unpunished,” Snyder was fired on June 28 because she disobeyed ethics rules in the Jackson County Courthouse against providing legal advice to people. She was fired by Jackson County Circuit Judge David Byrn five days following Nelson's release. This is the same judge who had twice denied the DNA request even though there was precedent to allow it. When I asked Snyder if, in her 34 years of service to Jackson County, if she'd ever seen anyone else fired for breaking the same rule, she told me, simply, “No.”
I keep coming back to the Golden Rule. Do unto others. Regardless of the consequences. Sharon was just doing something kind for a person who needed some help. Justice should be blind, but not completely uncaring. And considering the judge might've been shown up here by being “overruled” by a 70 year old court clerk, it's not surprising people consider our justice system broken.
The Snyder story is poised for national attention. Comments on KSHB's Facebook page number in the hundreds and she's gotten calls from as far away as the San Francisco Chronicle. She said she is “humbled” by the entire experience and that she has been contacted by former colleagues, attorneys and friends since the episode became public. “All this support has helped validate what I did. I feel what I did was right. If I had it to do all over to do, I'd do it the same way.”
Sharon Snyder is 70 years old. She is a great-grandmother. She has served the county of Jackson for 34 years, and she helped free an innocent man. Regardless of what the county and courthouse politics thinks of her, she should sleep well knowing that she upheld the Golden Rule.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
CALL ME, MAYBE
Remember the old cartoon where a man sits behind the desk and above him is a sign that says “COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT”? Imagine an actual job where you are the complaint department. Imagine that your job is to field complaints from the Kansas City sports fan bases for the Royals and the Chiefs. The same fan bases who have been persecuted for decades by terrible play and terrible ownership. Would you want that job? A few men have and have lived to tell about it.
I'm referring to the post-game radio host whose job it is to field calls from fans after a game - win or lose. “The callers think the season is over after the first loss of the year,” says Soren Petro, former post-game host for KMBZ and WHB and current mid-day host of The Program on 810 AM WHB. “Unfortunately the Royals have backed this attitude up by making sure they are out of the race by the All Star break.” Petro hosted through some of the leanest years of Royals baseball and had to deal with fans angry and elated after wins and losses.
Another man who has escaped the ire of the angry, drunk fan is Robert Ford. He did pre-game and post-game for 610 Sports for the past several years until he was called up to the big leagues of radio and is now the play-by-play voice of the Houston Astros. “I can tell when the season is over by the lack of callers. Good luck getting phone calls on a Sunday in September when the game isn't on television and everyone's paying attention to the Chiefs. During my time in KC, the Royals stopped being relevant once Chiefs training camp started.”
And then you have the drunk callers. Those fellas (or ladies) who've been in the bag since the third inning and who are professional coaches since they were cut by their high school freshman team. Ford recalls a couple of his favorites. “Like the guy who said that the Royals haven't been truthful with their fans ever since they hid the fact that George Brett had hemorrhoids. Or the guy who had his wife/girlfriend call in and, as soon as I took the call, took the phone away from her to tell me how lousy I was.”
So why even have the post-game show? One reason. Money. “The pre/post game shows are the only place the local station gets to sell commercials,” Petro explains.
"They might get one or two 30 second spots in the game, but that's it. So the only way to make back the money the station is paying to the Royals is to sell spots on the pre/post-game shows.”
It's also a great way to get known, as is evidenced by Robert Ford's next job in baseball with the Astros.
“I love doing post-game. It's fun,” says Danny Parkins, host of The Drive on 610 Sports. “The callers are hilarious.” Robert Ford also made his own fun. “I remember a guy who called in every night as either Don or Jack; I never took Don/Jack's calls because he was horrible on the air, but he would stay on hold the entire show.”
So, the next time you're driving back from a Chiefs or Royals game, listen into the post-game show on the radio, call in if you'd like - but remember, these guys are just hard workin' fellas who have no affiliation with the clubs they report on. And if they keep you on hold for two hours, change your name from Don or Jack.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THERE'S SUM TING WONG WITH JOURNALISM
Public esteem is a term that effectively means you either “like” something or you “don't like” something. Like pornography, you know it when you see it. Babies = Like. Criminals = Don't Like. The Pew Research Center has been keeping track of things America likes and doesn't like for decades now and they recently published their list of professions that Americans hold in high regard and those they don't.
Unsurprisingly, those in the military and teachers were at the top of the list. Also without shocking anyone, lawyers and CEO's were at the bottom. But coming in third from bottom? Journalists. That means that people literally hate journalists.
The study didn't give any additional information other than the profession of Journalism ranked just ahead that of lawyer in “Public Esteem.” Ouch. Hey, Billy Bob America, why do you hate journalists?
Oh, sure, it's been a tough decade for journalists, broadcasters, reporters and anchors. Newspapers are being bought up by media corporations and then the life is being squeezed out of them through layoffs and other penny-pinching. But that's the fault of CEO's. CNN spent much of the Boston Bombings reading Twitter. But in CNN's defense, Twitter was really funny that night. And just last week, a San Francisco television station actually reported that the South Koreans who crashed a Boeing 777 airliner at SFO last week were named (clearly erroneously) “Captain Sum Ting Wong”; “Ho Lee Fuk”; and “Bang Ding Ow.” Yeah. That really happened.
But why hate journalists? If anything, journalism should be looked at with reverence, like the dying art of glass-blowing. You usually see glass blowers at a Renaissance Fair or something. “Come on down to the Ren Fest, ladies and gentlemen. We've got an authentic Radio Reporter, complete with cassette recorder and manual typewriter!!” You'd get at least as many people to come out to see that as might buy a copy of The Kansas City Star.
And most “journalists” just reprint other people's press releases anyway.
Our esteemed editor, Ivan Foley, certainly no stranger to what a “journalist” should be, tweeted the following quote out a couple weeks ago, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.”? George Orwell” Foley probably can identify with a little bit of both. And, I suppose in some people's minds in Platte County, would rank well below lawyers if we were to ask them.
Oh sure, there are those in the media beyond reproach. Ryan Kath at Channel 41 and Russ Ptacek from KC who is now chasing down bad Taxicab services and rotten food in Washington D.C. These are reporters. Michael Mahoney at Channel 9. Bill Grady at KMBZ 980. Even a number of sports reporters here in town have done a great job of being Journalists.
I've gotten to know Eric Burke from Fox 4 a little bit through Twitter. He's another one I would put in high regard. When I asked him what made a great reporter, he replied that a reporter should always be fair and he'd “rather be second and right rather than first and wrong” with a story. It seems, however, that other journalists don't share his values and the public has noticed.
So, thank you Pew group for showing us where journalists rank in the minds of America. For me, I usually get most of my news from the HBO series “The Newsroom” anyway. But I'd totally rank journalists ahead of lawyers. Even if it's just barely.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
COME FLY WITH ME
I sometimes fight with my wife. These fights will usually be about something benign, like who is taking our son to his friend's house, or what we'll be having for dinner. But every once in awhile, we get into a really good one - and 99 times out of 100, they're about money. The last one we had was about buying a new desk for her scrapbooking room.
The argument went something like, “we don't have the money for a scrapbooking table. That folding table you have up there works just fine” and then finally her reply, “we're getting a scrapbooking table.”
So we got the scrapbooking table.
I was reminded of this when I read the latest pleas from City Planners about KCI 2.0. The new configuration of KCI would be a single-terminal layout with more parking, and easier management from a security standpoint. Detractors point out that it's a crap-ton of money and that the existing airport works fine, even though it's a little outdated.
Guess what. Kansas City is getting a new airport.
I had lost my fight the second my wife got it in her mind for a new scrapbooking table. She included me in the argument only as a matter of courtesy. I just had the sense to cut bait because I'm old and have been married to her for 14 years.
Opponents to this plan should make similar accommodations. You can line up all of the reasons we don't need a new airport, and they would all be good ones. The costs would be significant as well as would the impact to the airport during the construction. But fella, you might as well save your breath and move onto streetcars. Oh wait, you lost that argument also. Well, then just move onto building a new arena to replace Kemper. Nope. You lost that one also. Come to think of it, you opponents have a pretty poor record opposing pet projects of city planners. You have about the same record as me against my wife.
You can argue out of principal. You can argue out of a call for fiscal responsibility. You can argue and say that lines will get longer with a single terminal configuration and that you'd lose some of the folksy charm of the existing three-terminal system. You can argue and say that without a hub airline, there's not much reason to upgrade the airport and with the high prices of fuel, that air travel is falling. Go ahead. Make all those arguments. Check back in with me in a couple years when they break ground on KCI 2.0. I'll wait.
This one just isn't in the cards for you to block. And if you did oppose it on sheer principle, proponents would just remind you that it won't increase taxes (it will be paid for by people who use the airport) and that it would actually be economically good for Platte County, home of Kansas City International Airport.
But at the end of the day, the mayor is for it. The city council is for it and the airport is for it. Mix that all together and you've got the equivalent of my wife, standing in the doorway, putting her foot down saying “we WILL build a new airport.”
You can either fight the tide or steer into it. Your choice. But history tells me that you'll save a lot of time, air and effort if you just go with it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
A FINE LINE BETWEEN CRAZY AND STUPID
The late Steve Jobs had a great quote, “Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
He could have easily been talking about being an MMA fighter. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been following the participants of the Epic Fight Night which was held last weekend at the KCI Expo Center in Platte County. The event featured 12 fights and 24 fighters. Each one with a career on the upswing, or on a downward path. There were over 1,000 folks who paid between $25 and $100 admission to the event - all wanting to see what the MMA has to offer.
During the night, the crowd saw punches, kicks, blood, tears and a dislocated ankle featuring a foot turned the wrong way. Seems sufficiently crazy to me. I spoke with one of the fighters not participating in the event who was selling t-shirts outside the ring. I asked him why he does it. He told me that he has had problems with violence in his youth, and that MMA provides him an outlet to let out his aggression. Others have told me they find it a way to make some money. Even more find it a great way to beat the crap out of someone.
But, man... you couldn't pay me enough to get into one of those rings.
MMA is the fastest rising sport in the country with a fan base that is nearing that of the National Hockey League. What's more, according to Yahoo News, more than three million children under the age of 13 are taking MMA classes.
The fans in attendance at the KCI Expo center were certainly on board as well. Heath Thomas, who sat next to me at ringside, said he just likes to see people get beat up. Also, he happens to be dating one of the “ring girls” whose job it is to strut the round cards between rounds wearing as little as possible. Add to that the terminology including “pile driver,” “rear naked choke,” “superman,” and “guillotine” certainly lends itself to those looking for colorful adjectives.
For me, I know just a little too much about the lingering effects of concussions and spinal damage to be too interested in seeing people volunteer for that type of thing. Although, I was impressed with the level of sportsmanship displayed by all the fighters. They are actually encouraged not to hit a defenseless fighter and at the end of every fight, the competitors embraced giving each other congratulations.
For me, baseball seems to be more my summer sport where you can eat hot dogs, sit in the sun and watch a game with next to no contact. For a growing minority, however, the blood, sweat and destruction of MMA seems to be their speed.
There's a fine line between crazy and stupid. I'll be over here on this side, thank you very much.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball-themed radio show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
I'll pick up my discussion about privacy on the Internet in a later column. Proving Ivan Foley is wrong takes more than just a few paragraphs.
One thing this whole NSA Privacy that has struck a chord with me is the plight of Edward Snowden. If you don't know his name, then you know his deeds. Edward Snowden was a systems administrator working for the National Security Agency as a contractor. He was the one that blew the whistle on the NSA acquiring private records of personal data. Whether you think Snowden's actions were positive or treasonous, it brings to light a couple of key things about systems administrators.
One of those is that Mr. and Mrs. America don't know what systems administrators do. Do you? I happen to be a systems administrator and the first question I get from people when I tell them my job is “what is that?” So, I give them this definition, “I make the blinky lights blink so you can get your email and surf the Internet.”
While that's a fairly low-level definition of what it is that SE's do. The next question I always get is, “So, you can read my email?”
Well, first off. Yeah, I guess. Part of administering servers is having full access to them. Occasionally, that means that we'd need to access files, folders, etc. That doesn't mean that we can just pull up somebody's email like we're reading the Sunday paper, but yeah, occasionally, email and personal files can be accessed through proper channels given the right level of access.
I don't know another profession where the first question about what they do is something negative. If you meet a nurse, is your first question, “So, have you injected cyanide into someone?” Or if you meet a fireman you ask, “Have you set any fires lately?”
Part of this is that people who manage networks for companies and governments are a rare breed and nobody really knows what they do. People like me who have these jobs usually like it that way. We talk to computers because we often don't like talking to people. But these folks are not inherently evil. There's probably the same percentage of evilness in the systems administrator profession as there is in police officers or airline pilots or QuikTrip counter folks. Do you ask your QuikTrip guy, “So, do you pocket some of the $20's when I pay for my gas?”
Wrongdoers are wrongdoers-regardless of their profession. Luckily, they are in the minority.
I do know of a couple of instances where people in my position have been fired for tapping into data they shouldn't have. But that's because there are rules against it. Same as for any other profession. Edward Snowden was asked to do something illegal - and he called his bosses on it. For that, he should be applauded, even though he might spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo Bay.
It will be individuals like Snowden that help protect citizens from government abuse - not the dismantling of the technology they support.
But at least now you know what a systems administrator does. You know, he's the guy that reads your email.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball-themed radio show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
HAPPY SPYING, GOVERNMENT
Listen closely... Because the government has been for a while now.
I understand, to a certain degree, the privacy crowd that is up in arms about the recent revelations (recent meaning it just became popularized, but it's been widely known since 2006) that the NSA is reading electronic communications and possibly mining data from online providers such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Nobody likes to be spied on and there is an a jump to “This is the start of 1984” reaction that has been made by many already.
Online privacy is something of a misnomer. One the one hand, you've Suzie Sweetcorn posting her pictures of her Friday night activities, selfies at that Vegas hotel and her recent night out with Ted Longshaft. On the other hand, you've got the U.S. government all too willing to aggregate that data along with phone calls made by Suzie to Ted with about a billion other pieces of information.
Suzie is understandably pissed. “How dare the government listen into my private phone calls?” What Suzie is unaware of, however, is that she's no better.
Prior to going out with Mr. Longshaft, Suzie did a little spying of her own. She looked up Ted's Facebook profile and did a quick “reference check” on his profile pictures. Suzie also did a quick Google search and found a couple online articles talking about Ted's work with homeless youths in his spare time and that he also likes Nickelback.
Isn't that snooping into someone's online profile? Where's the ACLU? Who's sticking up for Ted Longshaft?
I understand to a degree the fear of abuse by the government and possible impropriety. But we have laws that make that activity illegal. Shouldn't technology be allowed to grow for the betterment of society? I realize that sentence is usually the start of a science fiction novel, but look at the technological advancements that are part of a network that exposes us to “spying.”
Before Suzie's date, she looked up the address to the restaurant on Google Maps, which has street-by-street instructions beamed to her phone by live GPS satellites which also provide pings to cell phones. Those cell phone pings are also used by law enforcement in the case of kidnappings and rescues. Do you think that network is really only used for passive engagement?
Ted checked the review of the restaurant on Yahoo, which reportedly has also been partnering with the government to allow PRISM to aggregate user data on searchable terms such as “how to make a bomb.”
“There needs to be a balance, a presumption of innocence and a respect for privacy. These are important cornerstones to what America is supposed to be about,” Editor Ivan Foley wrote in his Between The Lines column last week. Frankly, I think those ideals are naive. This is data that the majority of Americans are giving freely of themselves and why shouldn't that be archived and mined to help catch bad guys - a small percentage of which are offering clues to their intentions?
As long as there are safeguards to combat abuse, I say happy spying, government. I hope you enjoy Suzie's Pinterest boards about wedding dresses and Nickelback playlists from Ted.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He has hosted baseball-themed radio shows on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
When you look up the word “Platte” you'll learn that its origins derive from the Otoe Indians and that the word means “flat water.” Platte County is named after the Platte River that originates in Nebraska and travels though its namesake county and city in Missouri.
So, I looked on the Internet and found a number of facts about the origins of “Platte.” What many people don't know is that the word Platte has been around for generations prior to those Native Americans and that “Platte” has a number of meanings that have had historians arguing for decades.
For instance, did you know that “Platte City” means “watches over”? This seems eerie given the controversies stemming from surveillance cameras being placed by the city's police department.
Here's something else you didn't know. “Platte County” means “shares burden” and comes from the Latin “pays much in taxes.” Designers of the county must've been aware of this and that's why the high tax rates seem to call Platte County home.
The study of the history of words and phrases has always fascinated me so I dug a little deeper and found even more meanings for the noun “Platte.” In fact, Platte has been used as a noun, proper noun and even a verb and adjective.
It would be proper to yell “PLATTE!!!!” if, for instance, you're tearing down a church and it begins to go the wrong direction on to a neighbor's house - just as you would for an errant golf shot or when you wake up in the front yard following a night of heavy drinking.
It would also have been appropriate for the construction site foreman's buddies to tell the foreman, “You really Platted that up by letting that church fall on that house.”
Platte is a word you can use for just about any occasion. You can use the Platte County Landmark if your pet bird Platte's in his cage. You can watch the Royals Platte out at Kauffman Stadium during the summer months. You can even Platte though Parkville in your golf cart if you are so inclined.
The City of Platte Woods not far from Parkville even has a little known definition for its sleepy little down. “Platte Woods” means “Speed Trap on the way to the movies.”
I encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and look up the origins of the cities you live in. You might be surprised to learn that Parkville means “Frowns upon nookie,” and Tracy stands for “Beware the broken sign.”
There's a whole science to it. Take a few minutes to study it yourself and try not to Platte it up. And thank you for reading the Platte County Landmark. All the credit goes to Ivan Foley for including as much Platte as he can week after week.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @chriskamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show on the radio at ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WORDS MEAN THINGS
When I was in college, I listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh. (No, I didn't have a lot of friends. Thanks for asking.) One of the things he used to say nearly daily was that “words mean things.” His point, as I understood it, was that you have to listen to the words that people say and hold them accountable for saying it.
That's not what he meant and it is also an example of the point he was trying to make.
His point was that often there is meaning beyond just the spoken word and that certain phrases or keywords stand for much deeper meanings.
Back when I was in college, during the height of my adolescent experience, Rush helped me learn that words don't actually mean what exactly what they mean. When a politician comes out against “immigration” one side might make that mean it's an anti-Latino agenda. Others might say it is simply a way of controlling population growth for a country that is out of money to pay for the people already here. The “words” have simply been compressed down. But it takes several years of studying to read through these.
Here's a few examples from the news:
•When Ivan Foley puts this headline in The Landmark: The Landmark Begins 149th Year of Continuous Publication - it really means “I haven't slept in 8 years and I'm pretty sure the Platte City Police Department has my office bathroom bugged. Help. Help Me.”
•When a Presidential Candidate says “I didn't inhale” it means “I get high all the time.”
•When a young, spry, college-aged Chris Kamler says “I didn't inhale” it means “I listen to Rush Limbaugh a lot and wouldn't know a blunt if you dropped it in my coffee.”
•When the sports page has a headline of “Struggling Royals Drop A Tough One in Texas” it really is trying to say “Why the hell are you still watching this team? Seriously, go smoke some dope with your roommate's hippie friends.”
The skill extends into your daily lives.
•When you are offered a “Free All Expenses Paid 3-Day Trip to Las Vegas.” it really means “You're buying a timeshare. We won't accept no for an answer. You're BUYING a timeshare.”
•If the smartphone you're looking at purchasing says “Great for business” it really means, “It's not the cool phone that you can watch Netflix on.”
•When your real estate agent says it's “a good neighborhood with highly-rated schools” it really means “our schools rank highest in free and reduced lunches and your neighbor will probably steal from you.”
•If someone is offering you a stock tip and labels it “a bargain” it really means “Hey, you look like a sucker, how about you pour some money into my cousin's porn company.”
•If your friends offer you Sporting KC soccer tickets they're really saying “you look like you voted for Obama, wanna get high later?
Don't expect to learn all of this overnight. I mean, I spent countless nights in my dorm room, alone, mastering this skill. It has made me a smarter citizen and able to read through a lot of words.
Thanks, Rush. But would a night getting high with some hippies really killed me?
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter at @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball show Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
STUBBORN VS STOIC
When does being decisive and sticking to your plan cross the line into being bull-headed and stubborn?
You see it in nearly every walk of life--a person will make a decision or plan to go a certain way, that way will be wrong, but will continue to pursue that path for a certain amount of time. Call it stubborn, hard-headed or just stupid--or call it stoic and methodical.
Let's take driving, for instance. You plot your course to Grandma's house and head out on the road and point your car North. After about 20 minutes, you realize that you're actually heading South. Do you a) immediately turn around? b) stop and ask for directions? c) keep driving until your direction is more clear?
My wife would pick a), however, I would usually pick c). This is a root cause of a number of arguments in my house.
You see different scales of the same problem throughout life. Let's take politics. Let's say you're a President decides to go to war with a country, let's call that country “Kamleristan.” Much planning goes into the decision and you pull the trigger and go to war. Almost immediately, the war goes badly. Lots of casualties right off the bat and you're just sending folks into a buzzsaw.
Do you... a) Shut the whole thing down and end the war with no equivocations? b) Rework your plan, make different goals that may or may not end the war or extend it but they will be based on new data and plans? c) Dig in. Put the hammer down and dig deeper into the mess?
In history, we've seen all three versions of these answers between Vietnam, Desert Storm and the War Against Terror. In many ways, you've seen all of these answers be correct depending on your point of view - and in many ways, they have all been wrong.
These are horribly simplified examples, of course. A million tiny details likely make up the decisions of this scale.
The point of all this was to relate a baseball story. Right now, the Royals are circling the drain in the worst way. All signs are pointing downward. They're pitching worse, they're not hitting and they are making costly defensive mistakes. Ned Yost's reaction, outwardly at least, is to dig in and stay the course. His decision to continue to play Mike Moustakas is particularly frustrating. Moustakas is well under the “Mendoza Line” of .200 - batting nearly .175 as of Sunday. Yost has said during a recent media tour that he has all the confidence in the world in Moose, and all those struggling. His solution is to lock arms with his men and march into the storm. There is a certain grace in this prideful act. But there is also the rough fact that he's walking these guys into an inferno of fail.
There are a million ways to face adversity. My wife would tell you to just throw up your hands and go the other direction. President Bush might tell you to hunker down and “stay the course.”
Ned Yost needs to come up with some magical option that pulls this team out of its current nosedive while maintaining his face with his team. But most Royals fans (along with my wife) are still going to call him “bull headed.”
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @ChrisKamler. He hosts a weekly baseball Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
A THREE STAR, NOT TWO OR FOUR STAR, KIND OF GUY
The best part of traveling is the hotels. No offense to Disney World, or Six Flags or Grandma's house in Oklahoma City. I enjoy traveling for the hotels.
It wasn't always this way. When we were young, my Dad used to put us up in a shoddy collection of motels, RV Parks (we never had an RV, mind you) and log cabins. These were hotels only in the purest sense of the term. They took your money and provided you a bed. If you left alive was never a concern. These were places that you had to walk on a narrow sidewalk, usually on the second floor, to find the one ice machine (that was working) and fill up that little tiny bucket of ice, which promptly melted by the time you got back to the room.
These were different times, of course, and Dad merely stopped when the sun fell and found the closest VACANCY sign. More often or not, Norman Bates would have envied these dives.
Today, my trips are much more structured. One of the fun parts of having a tiny bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder is planning out where you will stay. There's nothing quite like un-checking the TWO STARS box to filter out those places that Dad used to find. That usually filters out the Super 8's and the Motel 6's and for the most part, that leaves me with Holiday Inn's, Ramada's and an occasional Hilton or Marriott, if the rates are low that weekend.
With the help of modern technology, I can find the hotels that give me exactly what I want. Internet and free breakfast. Some families might search for a swimming pool, or pet-friendly, or close to attractions. I'll drive an extra 20 minutes if it's got free internet and those crappy rubber scrambled eggs and those tiny boxes of Corn Flakes as long as I don't have to pay extra for it. (This is the part of my Dad's personality that I DID retain.)
I'm a three-star guy. I don't ask for much. But I know my limits. This past weekend, I was in Omaha and found that just about every hotel room was booked for a state high school track meet. So I had to go higher and stay in a four-star hotel.
I hated it. First of all, there was this jacked up code I had to put in to get on the Internet. Then, when I checked in, I asked, “What time's breakfast?” and the lady handed me a menu. A MENU?? $8 for a bowl of Frosted Flakes? What is this, Beverly Hills 90210? I guess people that can afford $150 a night for a hotel room can also afford $25 for a crappy breakfast.
The last straw was when I sat down on my bed and they didn't have a guide near the TV to tell me what channel was ESPN. So that meant every time I turned on the TV, I had to sift through 42 commercials, 6 MTV Teen Pregnancy shows and 19 Weather Channels to finally find it. By the time I got back the next day, I'd forgotten what channel ESPN was and had to start all over again.
Part of growing up is realizing what lane you're in. Me? I'm in the tiny box of corn flakes, free wireless internet, no poodles next door, ESPN is channel 22 kind of guy.
(Chris Kamler, formerly known as @TheFakeNed, has changed his Twitter handle to @ChrisKamler. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show each Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
DOUCHEBAGS, LIKE TYSON, FAMOUS FOR BEING FAMOUS
Just when you think you've seen it all, you see something else.
Let's turn on the Wayback Machine and dial it back to 1991. Operation Desert Storm began in Iraq that January night - back when CNN was still a reputable news source. The Kansas City Royals were only six years removed from their first World Championship and were looking to add a second under skipper John Wathan, shortstop Kurt Stillwell and left fielder Kirk Gibson. And Saturday morning television featured such programs as Back to the Future: The Animated Series and Super Mario World.
It was a simpler time. If you'll also recall, it was 1991 when professional boxer, and heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson was arrested for raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington. Tyson was found guilty in 1992 and went on to serve three years of a six year sentence in the Plainfield Correctional Facility in Indiana.
Since 1991, a lot has changed in the world. Reality television has become popular. The Royals are still looking for their second World Championship and Saturday morning cartoons are all but a thing of the past, being replaced by the Cartoon Network. The world in many ways became a much colder place after 9/11 and entertainment has, arguably, never been more un-entertaining.
Since Mike Tyson pinned Desiree Washington down on an Indianapolis hotel bed and raped her as she pleaded for him to stop, Tyson has returned to boxing. He has also completely rehabilitated his image to the point of exceeding his fame that he had in the 1980's when he pummeled all those who would come before him including Michael Spinks. In the past 10 years, Tyson has lived off of his name, appearing in movies like The Hangover Series, and How I Met Your Mother. “Famous for being famous.”
Tyson, who still has issues with rage (he said in a 2003 interview with Fox News on whether he raped Washington, “I really wish I did now. But now I really do want to rape her”) will star in an animated series, Mike Tyson Mysteries.
Here's a brief thumbnail of the series:
In the new animated comedy series Mike Tyson Mysteries, Mike Tyson is taking the fight from the boxing ring to the streets… by solving mysteries! Armed with a magical tattoo on his face and a trusty associate by his side — a talking pigeon — if you have a problem that needs solving, Iron Mike is in your corner. The series incorporates live-action appearances featuring Mighty Mike himself, and the gloves come off as the former heavyweight champ and his fowl-mouthed partner gear up for weekly adventures as they put unsolved mysteries — like how to defeat a super computer at chess or why a famous author/werewolf can't finish his novel — down for the count.
It's got a parrot! Admittedly, it's on the adult-themed “Adult Swim” which is the after-hours portion of Cartoon Network, but I'm still stumped at how this convicted felon just keeps getting nine more lives.
Tyson joins a long line of those who are “Famous for being famous” like the Kardashians and Paris Hilton. Television (and the world) would be better off if it didn't have them on it.
Mike Tyson is a douchebag. He deserves an animated cartoon just about as much as I do. Except I didn't rape anyone. Maybe if I had made poorer choices back in 1991, I'd find myself living in Vegas starring in movies and cartoons, too!
(Chris Kamler, formerly known as @TheFakeNed, has changed his Twitter handle to @ChrisKamler. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show each Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT POLICE ARE IN YOUR MIND
Two weeks ago, Jason Collins, a player for the NBA Washington Wizards, announced that he was gay. This news was met with a flourish of praise for Collins' courage as well as more than a few jeers from those who don't agree with his lifestyle.
One interesting wrinkle to the story was from those who were upset that the news was announced at all. I got into an interesting conversation on Twitter with Brian Kubicki, my peer here at The Landmark's Award-Winning Opinion Page.
To briefly recap the conversation, a couple of knucklehead athletes had begun to tweet their displeasure of Jason Collins' announcement. My tweet was tongue in cheek, but held an air of truth, “Pro Tip: Homophobic professional athletes should probably just take the day off of twitter. Go golf. Go for a walk.”
Mr. Kubicki, who is admittedly much more intelligent than I am, retorted, “Why is questioning the relevance of a person's expression of sexual activity an indication of fear of said activity?”
Brian was confused by my use of the word “homophobic” and thought that any dissention of Collins' announcement should be considered “homophobic.” It shouldn't, and you can read the entire conversation on our twitter feeds @TheFakeNed and @BKParallax.
This raised a key concern of mine, however. Through the course of the conversation, and reading some of Brian's columns, he makes mention of the “Political Correctness Police.” I guess I'm confused as to who the PC Police are. Do they run around arresting people for political correctness? Are they brought before a court of law? Do they eat doughnuts?
Or, perhaps, Brian's definition of “political correctness” is different from mine. His seems to be a cold, dark lifestyle where everyone is forced to march to the same cadence devoid of color. And when ideas or announcements are made, they are brought before this “Political Correctness Police.”
The whole idea seems silly. Political Correctness, to me, seems to be a way to have an open conversation about issues and then let a community decide what the best course of action is.
Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay was just that. The lede in the SI article, written by Collins, read, simply, “I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.” That's it. Yet, Brian apparently feels this is but a springboard for the “Political Correctness Police” to break into your house and take away Apple Pie.
What's wrong with the discussion? There's a ton of key things to talk about here and advance agendas and let others die out by natural selection. You've got the oppression of minorities of all types; bullying in sports; courageousness in making difficult announcements and even gay rights. It seems that others on this page may feel that even having these conversations means that this “PC Police” department has already won and that debate and discussion shouldn't ever happen.
Kinda sad, really. Because debate and discussion is what this country was founded on. And doughnuts.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball themed radio show each Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT
Friday, April 26 was an anniversary that had little fanfare for the Kansas City Royals. Oh sure, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day by all players wearing the number “42”, they celebrate Memorial Day by wearing flags woven into their logos, they even celebrate Mother's Day by using pink bats. But April 26 is a date that goes unmentioned.
Not anymore. I hereby decree April 26 as National Bitch And Moan Day. It is because April 26, 1993 was the day that then-Royals Manager Hal McRae flipped his nuggets after being asked whether he considered pinch-hitting George Brett for Keith Miller in the 7th inning of an eventual 5-3 loss against the Detroit Tigers. What followed was the undisputed, undefeated, mother of all meltdowns which included nearly a dozen f-bombs, a bottle of vodka, challenges to reporters' manhoods a challenge to place “that in your pipe and smoke it,” and an assault with a telephone. Classic, classic stuff.
Before the phrase “viral video,” existed this rant went multi-platinum viral. Alan Eskew, sportswriter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and the one hit by the phone--told me this week that he still sees the video come up a few times a year. (Eskew also humbly refuses media requests to talk about the incident, just as he did 20 years ago.)
Following the profanity-laced tirade, McRae reportedly challenged reporters, bottle of vodka in hand, to “be a man...” whatever that means. We've seen some that have come close, see Knight, Bob or Gundy, Mike, but McRae's is the Mona Lisa.
A rant of that quality, with that depth and texture, may never be seen again. In the age of social media, people have become more reserved and are starting to realize that everything is recorded and will likely go on YouTube in minutes. “I've never seen anything like it,” Royals pitcher Aaron Crow said. Catcher George Kottaras agreed and said that he liked the old managers like Lou Pinella and Ozzie Guillen, “because it meant that they were standing up for their players.”
But McRae's eclipsed them all. This wasn't just kicking dirt on an umpire or yelling at a reporter, McRae THREW A FRIGGIN' PHONE AND HIT A GUY.
The major reason McRae's rant will never be seen again is that leadership positions now come with their own handlers whose job it is to make sure that person isn't the next viral sensation. The Royals now have Mike Swanson, the vice president of media relations. He's worked for 17 different managers in more than two decades in baseball. “I tell all my managers they have 10 minutes after the game [before they meet the press]. Blow up at me, but don't take it out in front of them.” Swanson's advice is wise. Just last month, video captured Rutgers' Basketball Coach Mike Rice during a videotaped practice throwing basketballs at players and shouting racial slurs. Rice is no longer employed by Rutgers University.
But on April 26th every year, we should pause, get liquored up (allegedly) and all take a page from Hal McRae.
So. April 26 is the day to let it go. Tell your boss to get out of your office. Tell the guy on that dumb conference call to “stop asking me these stupid f----- questions.” Throw a phone at that idiot in accounting. Let out everything that's been building for the other 364 days of the year. This is your moment. Put that in your pipe... and smoke it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
NEWS BECAME INTERACTIVE, LESS FORMAL, WRONG
We have crossed over into the surreal. Last week, we all watched in horror as events too impossible for a summer movie blockbuster played out on our television screens, our radios and our computers. The images were indelible and heartbreaking.
While we all had seen events such as these play out before - September 11th, Columbine, Aurora, Colorado and countless others - this one was different.
This event was more... interactive. News delivery changed that Monday in New England. Breaking news was broken on Twitter and Reddit, and reporters were seen glued to their phones for updates. These updates were being given by embedded reporters who didn't have journalism degrees, but rather had Skype accounts and webcams.
Websites like Reddit and 4chan "croudsourced" efforts to find "guys with backpacks" and help determine those who murdered and maimed.
News became interactive and locally gathered and less formal.
Only... we all got it wrong.
Reddit and 4chan targeted a number of suspects that turned out not having anything to do with the bombing. The actual bombers never showed up on their witch hunt. Noise and speculation on Twitter had multiple undetonated bombs all over Boston. During the manhunt for those killers, residents of Watertown, Mass craned webcams and cellphones out windows as firefights rang up and down their streets. Many brought compelling video, but I couldn't help think of the danger these folks put themselves in. For 20 seconds of video. Is that worth your life?
Boston police repeatedly urged citizens across the globe to stop tweeting police scanner traffic which was being broadcast over websites and video feeds dedicated to listening in on police communications. We were listening to police telling their partners which direction they were going to close in on the suspects - and it's possible they were hearing that and adjusting their directions.
I don't know the answer here. Reporting is being deputized down to normal Tom, Dick and Harrys but they don't have the benefit of double-sourcing and editor oversight that "real" reporters do. But then again, most of the news coverage didn't follow their own rules anyway. Everyone will remember CNN's giant blunder saying that a "dark-skinned" suspect had been arrested - nearly 3 days before two white kids actually were taken into custody.
If we're all going to become reporters, we should at least do ourselves a favor and learn a little more about maintaining safety and how broadcasting raw data over a police scanner is a bad idea when it jeopardizes the lives of first responders. If we want to participate in the coverage of news, we need to get better at it.
As we now know, the way we get our news changed last Monday. And we have to get a little smarter because of it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
42 EDUCATES MORE
THAN IT ENTERTAINS
So, last week, I was three feet away from Han Solo. We were, of course, under strict orders to not mention “Indiana Jones” or “Star Wars.” So, I had to come up with something else to ask the man who famously returned an “I love you” from Princess Leia with “I know.”
Left with little else, I asked him about his new movie “42” in which he is unrecognizable as Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey. “It's an important film. It's an incredible story about a critical step that was taken in confronting the issue of inequality. It was a moment when, ultimately, we shined.” Unfortunately, I couldn't slip any other questions about what it was like to be frozen in Carbonite, or whether the Lost Ark really melted that guy's face.
It is Ford's portrayal of Rickey that I will take away from this film. His realistic portrayal with a voice filled with gravel. Rickey's true intentions to integrate baseball and bring Negroes into the game was less than altruistic, and Ford channeled Rickey in saying that his intentions were “To make money.”
But there were some other outstanding performances in this movie. Chadwick Boseman made a realistic Robinson and his on-screen chemistry with Nicole Beharie, who played Rachel Robinson, was surprising and honest. You could really understand the special love these two had with each other, who often felt it was them against the world.
I particularly liked the performances of two smaller roles in the movie, Alan Tudyk, who steals just about every movie he's in. He plays the racist manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ben Chapman. Tudyk has a pivotal scene where he shouts racial epithets at Robinson, causing him to nearly break. And John C. McGinley, who you'll recall from Scrubs and Office Space. He plays famed play-by-play man Red Barber and whose voice you hear throughout the baseball sequences in the film. He did a great job capturing the unique voice of Barber.
In summary, I'll echo what Jarrod Dyson told me after the movie, it felt a little flat as an entertainment movie. It felt, at times, more like a History Channel movie. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go see it, because you should. The performances alone easily put this movie into the top 3 baseball movies and an important piece of history.
It also helps set a tone for introspection on those of us who watched it. While Robinson's integration into Baseball helped lead the way for the Civil Rights Amendment, you need look only to your local Facebook pages to see that there is still ignorance and racism in this world and in our community. The next front for human rights may be in the area of sexual preference, and yet this year, we may see a “Gay Jackie Robinson” as there are growing rumors of someone coming out of the closet in the National Football League. No matter the avenue, it's important to recognize and honor the sacrifice of Jackie Robinson, so that no others will have to suffer the same fate.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THIS MIGHT BE A FUN YEAR TO BE A ROYALS FAN
Just got back from Opening Day at Kauffman today and have quite a few observations that won't fit in my “K Replay” article. (You ARE reading my K Replay inside The Landmark every week, right?).
Kauffman Stadium turned 40 years old this week. I also turned 40 this year. She looks a helluva lot better than I do. And it is the small changes, the little tweaks that have made her improve so much with age. One thing you'll notice are the huge TIDE ads missing from the giant wells in the upper deck. Those were tacky and simply unnecessary. There's a fine line between gaudy advertising and name recognition. I'm glad they're gone.
Kauffman Stadium remains my most favorite location on the planet. And it is the greatest gift I can pass along to my son. He and I went to Opening Day and to see him navigate the Kauffman crowd, enjoy the proper way to eat a hot dog (although we fight over ketchup or mustard) and show him the finer skills of checking out the hot ballpark girls without staring is something I'm most proud of.
The Crown Vision continues to be the most glorious piece of electronics I've ever seen. And the pregame festivities with the countdown, the fireworks off of the crown and the sound system are incredible. A team of about a dozen men and women come up with the content for this board and they do an incredible job.
I generally stay away from Kauffman beer since I don't want to take a second mortgage out on my house, but I did notice that there has been a change with the large sodas. We like to get the souvenir cups and those usually run $6 or $7. Well, this year, they are still $7, but they come with a sticker for a free refill on soda. This automatically will save us $20 each game.
On the downside, cellular service still is beyond terrible on games with more than 10,000 people there. I have AT&T service, and as soon as the first pitch happened, smartphone service went in the toilet. You can save me as much money as you want on Dr. Peppers, but if Daddy can't tweet, Daddy ain't comin' out to the game. Twitter has simply changed the way I (and many others) watch the game. We need it at all times. If that sounds co-dependent, it's because it is.
There was no B-2 Bomber flyover like there had been in years past. Blame Obama. That's the extent of my political commentary. Check the other 3 boxes on this page.
Turning to the product on the field, at least through seven games, you have to be impressed. Not necessarily because of the pitching, which has been inconsistent. Or the hitting, which has been inconsistent. Or even the defense and speed, which are improved, but inconsistent. It is how Ned Yost has managed to orchestrate these inconsistencies and clearly put forth a product with a “win now” mentality. He is learning to manage game-to-game rather than month-to-month like in years prior and you have to be impressed with the product so far.
The proof is in the pudding, but with such a beautiful stadium to play in, a re-energized fan base and a slogan that might actually match the team (#ComeToPlay), this might be a fun year to be a Royals fan.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
SILENCE FILLED WITH THE RIGHT TYPE OF NOISE
Every year, my son and I pick one weekend to go on a "Man-cation," with the added benefit of leaving my wife alone for a weekend that she doesn't have to cook and clean and do all of the other wonderful things that she does for us.
For my son and I, we look forward to this weekend every year as it is a great opportunity to bond, eat garbage, fart and make a few memories without repercussion. This year, we decided to be tourists in the St. Louis Area, see the Arch, walk around and just goof around.
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am constantly tapping away on my phone, and vacations are no different. This "quiet time" allows me to get caught up on articles, podcasts and just mindless Internet reading. I can catch up on a little work and still spend some great time with the kid.
But something odd happened this weekend - something shocking, really. My phone died. My lifeline to the outside world. The battery died around Saturday morning, my charger wouldn't work. My backup charger didn't work. It just wouldn't turn on.
After initial panic, I decided not to spend the rest of the weekend in the fetal position. We went on with our agenda of going to the St. Louis Science Center and seeing the Gateway Arch.
Initially, my surroundings were strange. I managed to make it to the Science Center without the aid of a GPS. We made it downtown by taking the subway without so much as a Foursquare Check-In.
When it was time to eat, we managed to find a nice restaurant - not by checking reviews on Yelp, but by walking around Lacledes Landing and checking out the menus outside the entrance.
And then... the most shocking thing on our vacation... the boy and I began to talk. And it wasn't just "Did you see this video on YouTube?" It was real talking. We talked about our dreams, our challenges and our lives. He asked questions about what he was like as a baby, and what he would be like when he grew up. And I told him stories about my successes and failures in life. We talked for hours - uninterrupted.
We have gone on a number of vacations like this in the past, and we will hopefully have dozens more before he reaches whatever age that he doesn't go on vacations with his father any longer. But one feature that will remain will be that they will be technology-free. You cannot appreciate the silence until that silence is filled with the right type of noise.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
DOES GOD HATE KC?
There's a tongue in cheek saying you'll find on message boards and twitter surrounding the Kansas City Royals. It's “God Hates KC.” The idea is that God has something to do with the miserable, decades-long run of futility by the Royals. After every loss, after every missed pop fly, after every off-season failed move, you'll see a hashtag, #GodHatesKC pop up.
While I cannot speak for God, my guess is that it's not in God's pay grade to care about a Major League Baseball franchise. But then I got to wondering... maybe it is?
The Royals last winning season was 2003 - 10 years ago - under Tony Pena Jr. The past ten years have been miserable. This town has suffered through Brian Anderson and Emil Brown and Trey Hillman and Buddy Bell and Mike Sweeney's back problems and countless other examples of comical ineptness. #GodHatesKC
But this wasn't the beginning. You scroll back in time and be glad Twitter hadn't been around at the beginning of Major League Baseball in Kansas City. I'm reading a book called The Kansas City A's and the Wrong Half of the Yankees by Jeff Katz. It chronicles the first few years of Major League Baseball in this town and how the Kansas City A's were a mere MLB Farm Club to the New York Yankees. It tells how the Yankees controlled 1/4 of American League teams with the A's and could literally send players between the clubs at will with no oversight. #GodHatesKC
This led to the migration of those who could've been stars with KC on their cap. Instead they will forever be known as Yankees. Names such as Enos Slaughter, Bud Daley and Roger Maris. #GodHatesKC
Following the ownership reign of Arnold Johnson, the Kansas City club broke their ties (somewhat) with the Yankees and were under the control of Charlie 'O Finley. Finley was a classic meddler and controller. He undercut salaries. He was more flash than substance and he had a mean streak so infamous, he once cut Hawk Harrelson for calling him a “menace to baseball.” Hawk left thankfully and signed a deal with the Red Sox for more money. #GodHatesKC
Finley up and moved the team to Oakland and promptly won three consecutive championships. Those Kansas City teams had all the pieces with Reggie Jackson, Lew Krausse and Sal Bando - but the chemistry wasn't right and it took a move to Oakland for them to rattle off World Series in 1972-1974. #GodHatesKC
The City of Kansas City was awarded the Royals and you have to really step back and appreciate the decade of 1976 through 1985. Because it never happened before - and it may never happen again. Household names like Wilson, Howser, White and Brett gave way to Storm Davis and Avron Fogelman and Dan and David Glass. #GodHatesKC
It's beyond my scope to know what God does and doesn't hate. But my guess is that we'd better hope God has a hand in it - otherwise it's just a 60 year stretch of mostly dumb luck.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
SWING AND A MISS
What a terrible day this is in Platte County. I thought you people had a sense of adventure.
Just over a year after its opening, the Shangri La of Sexy Time, the Bed and Breakfast of Boom Boom, the Romantic Getaway Today Inn in downtown Parkville has closed its doors, turned off its cameras and swung its sex swings for the last time.
Such a shame. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.
Not only did Parkvillians (heavy emphasis on the VILLAINS) not rush the doors of this Sin Temple, but some asked their government to change the laws to discourage this type of business from being successful. The local city council looked into passing a law potentially discouraging this type of business, according to Valerie Verkamp‘s article in last week’s Landmark.
If it were up to the Parkville City Council, you all would’ve never seen Elvis’s ‘68 Comeback Special. Madonna would’ve only been the name of the Mother of Jesus. And the Internet would’ve only been for getting pictures of cats on Facebook.
Where’s your sense of fun and excitement?
It is those of you who shut this place down that probably needed it the most. I’ll say it. You all need to get LAID. And here was the Romantic Getaway Today Inn just offering it up. Instead you focused your energies on passing laws allowing go-carts on city streets. Really. They don’t make Cialis commercials featuring go-carts. That’s all I’m saying.
Well, I wish the best for Janet Byers, the former owner of the B,B&B (that’s Bootie, Bed and Breakfast.) You’re welcome to come down here to Clay County. We’re dying for some excitement since they closed down Diamond Joe’s in an event that many of us red-blooded men around here still call “Black Friday.”
The good news is that most of the real estate down here in Clay County already has plush red velvet carpeting on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling. We know how to get down near downtown.
And for Parkville... Good luck, folks. You might want to stay away from the magazine rack at the local convenience stores. I heard Taylor Swift is wearing a knee-high skirt on the cover of Teen Beat. Oh, the humanity!!
Go ahead and keep thinking that KY is just an old radio station. And that “staying in the penthouse in Parkville” actually just means staying on the top floor of an old hotel. Let’s just hope Parkville never gets the Internet up on 45 Highway... the town elders will not be pleased.
Maybe the town could have tried a little harder to help a local business. Healthy businesses lead towards higher tax revenue, which leads toward more improvements which lead to better roads and sidewalks which lead to a better environment for your unsexy go-carts.
You broke the circle of life. I hope you’re happy. I’d give you a round of applause, but it seems that all I’m left with is the sound of one hand... um... clapping.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE
I was talking with a friend recently about everything that's wrong with social networking today. I think it's great that folks seem to have embraced the idea of technology. Just a few years ago, I would never have dreamed of my mother sharing pictures of her grandchildren on Facebook. Or the Star's Royals beat writer, Bob Dutton, interacting with fans of the team on Twitter--most of whom are half his age.
These incredible platforms connect old college roommates, allow politicians to talk with their constituents and pass along messages of hope and peace and love every day. One of my friends is very sick with cancer and she has said how much the messages of support and hope mean to her in her struggle.
This openness and proclivity toward sharing comes with a price. In addition to reconnecting with an old friend so you can share recipes for oatmeal raisin cookies, it also means that the moron you sat behind in 8th grade biology wants to tell you about his a-hole girlfriend. Or that co-worker from a job you had five years ago can talk to you about how Obama was born in Switzerland and how the CIA is coming after your guns. Or how the guy that runs the pizza parlor that you like spams you every two hours to come down for a slice.
Everyone has gotten so used to sharing. But we haven't yet developed that internal mute button that you'd typically use in other social situations. In fact, rather than muting our comments, we seem to feel empowered to amplify them. If you were at a Starbucks with 20 folks there, would you just get up and ask everyone to look at this rash on your inner thigh? Well, why is it that I saw that post last Friday on Facebook?
I once saw a mother carry out a full-on domestic argument with her 17-year-old daughter--completely in the open--on Facebook. While I was grabbing popcorn and watching each status update, a part of me did feel really bad for them.
If you were at a car dealership, looking to buy a car, would you expect to hear a 15-minute monologue from the salesman about why socialized medicine is the wave of the future? So why put it on your Twitter?
Listen, I get it. This is new for many of us. Digital communication is different than physical interaction with people. It's much more anonymous and impersonal. Except it's not. It's very personal--but people forget that.
A fair rule of thumb I think we all could go by is to use the same manners and tone as you would at a cocktail party. This assumes you're at a normal cocktail party and not one of the I Hate Abortion cocktail party. There, I guess your tone would be different.
The golden rule certainly applies on social networking, just as it does in life. Status Update to others as you would want Status Updated to you.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show each Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
ATHLETES FOR CHANGE
Dennis Rodman went to North Korea and met with Kim Jong Un last week. They took in a basketball game and reportedly talked politics and culture. There were also reports they “partied” together with Rodman saying upon his return about Jong Un, “he's really pretty awesome.”
We traditionally think of our Ambassadors being professional, formally educated men and women, but I think this is great and can open up a tremendous opportunity for diplomacy moving forward.
Just think about the Palestinians and Israelis at war for decades. Traditional diplomacy hasn't worked. What about sending Albert Pujols? I mean... what could it hurt? He could take everyone to a Cricket match, or hit fastballs off of the sacred mosques and things are bound to get better.
Flare-ups with the Sunni/Shia Muslims? I can't think of anyone better to send over there than 2012 Pro Bowling Tour points leader Jason Belmonte. I can see the news reports, “Pro Bowler Strikes Out War.” It would be a political windfall.
After all, a lot of these professional athletes have tons of time on their hands between workouts and playing their half-year sports. All that time is being wasted NOT solving the world's problems. What does Eric Hosmer do in the offseason? I'll bet you don't even know. Well, for starters, he negotiated a framework agreement in the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and the Islamic militant group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
What's more, his corner infield mate Mike Moustakas helped with some State Department language for the Central American Free Trade Agreement that's up before Congress now. He added several key paragraphs about tariffs and how they should be calculated.
Professional athletes are commonly made fun of because of their intelligence. Former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw once was made fun of by Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson saying that he Bradshaw couldn't spell CAT if he spotted him the C and the A. What Henderson and millions of Americans didn't know at the time was that Bradshaw traveled during the off season to West Africa and was in secret negotiations over what would become the 1975 Treaty of Lagos. This treaty established the Economic Community of West African States. Bradshaw would later win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rodman is just the latest in a long string of peace workers whose “day” job is simply to dunk a basketball or hit a homerun. In fact, he's not even the first of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls to find themselves at the center of International Politics. The team commonly referred to as “the greatest NBA team of all-time” has featured three other “National Basketball Association” players turned into “Not Bad Ambassadors.” Who can forget the drama of Steve Kerr and Luc Longley traveling to India to set up the first nuclear testing program. And Michael Jordan once bought and sold the entire continent of Australia.
So let's raise a glass to these players as they set their lineups for the world stage. Let's hope more professional athletes spend their time negotiating peace between countries. The world would be a better place.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
SLY JAMES IS THE MAYOR OF TWITTER
If you walk walk into any bookstore and head into the section on “Business Management,” you'll find hundreds of titles ranging from “Top Dog” to “7 Habits.” Millions of words and billions of dollars - all in the pursuit of becoming a good manager, a good leader.
But for some, these skills and traits just come naturally. Exhibit A is what's going on in Kansas City, Missouri right now with The Honorable Mayor Sly James. James has had quite a week with the gas explosion at JJ's Restaurant mixed with two major winter storms. Kansas City has never been known as a city with a perfect infrastructure, so commanding these resources is no small feat. And commanding this massive infrastructure has crippled past mayors in Kansas City.
Mark Funkhouser, KC's previous mayor, might have been the smartest guy in the room, but couldn't lead his way out of a wet paper bag. Mayor Kay Barnes had a level of popularity, and brought the Power & Light District and Sprint Center to town, but many years later we're stuck paying the bill.
Leadership is a tricky thing, but it's a lot like the definition of pornography, you know it when you see it. And Mayor James has been exhibiting some incredible leadership - mainly through new technologies such as the always present iPad in his hands and his major method of communication with his constituency - Twitter.
James is approachable, he is witty, he is bold and, most of all, he is engaging. He responds to citizen questions, problems, praises and criticism - all in 140 characters.
Over the past week, James has tweeted out pictures of his command center, pictures of the Plaza Fire and gave constant updates on the status of snow plows. He has also organized fundraising meals with local restaurants for victims of the JJ's fire. Additionally, he's implored citizens to send in their random acts of kindness with a hashtag of #LoveKC.
To me, 95% of leadership is communication. At the end of the day, leaders do very little. They must tell what's being done. Mayor James has managed to bypass the stodgy city council meetings and speeches and get to the real issues with real citizens.
Sample tweets from the mayor:
“I sent in your request. Crews are on their way.”
“Folks new snow coming S-Mon. Remember, if you live on N/S street, park on West side. If you live on E/W street, park on North side.”
“Great that they got your street plowed!!”
These small tokens of communication weigh huge for folks who need these basic services from their city. At the end of the day, all I ever hope for my government is that someone is in control. Mayor James is doing an incredible job at the helm and I look forward to seeing what he's able to do in the future -- one hundred forty characters at a time.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly baseball show on ESPN 1510 AM Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE CASE FOR LEGALIZING SPORTS BETTING
This weekend, I completed my taxes and mailed them off. The most depressing part of it was the screen that tells you how your taxes have changed over time. I've been lucky enough over the past 5 years to make more money each year than the one before. Blessed, even. Which means that the “taxes over time” screen lights up like a pinball machine. Furthermore, like many of you, when I got my first paycheck of 2013, I definitely noticed that there was more in that FICA box.
You can argue if the government is investing that money wisely, and those arguments are better laid out by others on this editorial page. My issue is that we're asking more and more from Mr. and Mrs. America and we seem to be falling more and more in debt.
And during this tax preparation session, my mind began to wander, as it often does, so I clicked over to my online poker game and wasted a couple of hours winning a couple of bucks. And it's something that I do a few hours a week, putting thousands of “fake” dollars in play. All for “entertainment” purposes.
Why not legalize sports betting and online poker?
Listen, I've seen both sides of gambling, having worked at a local casino for 5 years and being a degenerate gambler, myself. But hear me out. Last year, Nevada casinos took in $2.6 Billion (with a B) dollars on sports betting last year. Just imagine if Missouri could get a small piece of that for something people are doing anyway from their phones or computers or bookies. All that money is currently going to offshore casinos and the US government makes a total of $0 on it.
In fact, they make even less because they spend time trying convict these people for something the public is demanding. Online poker is a $6 billion dollar industry and all of THAT money is going elsewhere also. Why not try to take a piece of that?
The government is beyond broke. Taxes are getting higher and higher. Making betting for entertainment purposes only seems inevitable. The key is to manage it and count the money.
Many in the government are looking this way. Jason Grill, Democrat and formerly of the Missouri House of Representatives, introduced a resolution to repeal the Federal Professional And Amateur Sports Promotion Act of 1992 (PASPA) which legalizes sports gambling in only four states. What about the other 46?
Grill's bill would repeal that act in Missouri and allow gambling to take place electronically and at the casinos here in Missouri. Grill reminds in the bill that over half of all Americans have some sort of action on the Super Bowl and March Madness between office pools, brackets and a $5 bet between friends. This bill would allow a host of other alternatives and between websites and physical casinos, the entertainment of placing a $20 bet would be massive. And the state gets a piece of all of it. Right now, we're leaving all of those chips on the table.
It's only a suggestion. But I'm getting awfully tired seeing that year-by-year graph get higher and higher on my taxes every year.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball-themed radio show Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
PREDICTIONS: YOST GETS FIRED; TEAM FINISHES 80-82
Spring Training is here. No more talk of rushing yards or zone defenses. Talk now turns to “How does he look?” and “How fast is he pitching?” and “Oh, he's put on some muscle.”
For the next several weeks, the buzz of Spring Training will mean very little. You can listen to radio hosts, and podcasters and read sportswriters who will empty gallons of ink and shred gigabytes of hard drive space and all of it -- ALL of it -- means nothing. Arguments on Twitter focus on the fight for the fifth starter. Arguments on Facebook focus on if Chris Getz has what it takes to take the starting second base position. But it will all, likely, be whizzing in the wind after a few more weeks.
The season won't be won in the marketing room either. The new slogan “Come to Play” means very little, too. Unless you're a player driving down from Omaha and actually need to use those as instructions.
The key to baseball is very simple. But it's impossible to single out. It has been said that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. And history proves that the heroes in baseball are most likely the underdogs and the never-heard-ofs. The Aaron Boone who has a nondescript career until he finds himself as a New York Yankee and hits one of the most historic home runs in the 11th inning of the 2003 ALCS to beat the hated Red Sox. Boone never again made much of an impact, but then again, he never had to.
Baseball is about screaming loud moments in a sea of quiet. Stories of Willie Aikens, a man who never made an All-Star Game and who would later be incarcerated for cocaine possession. Aikens hit two home runs in two games in the 1980 World Series, a series the Royals would lose, but not due to the lack of effort by Aikens, who was never again the same player. But only two players in MLB history have had multiple home run games in a World Series. The other being Chase Utley in the 2009 World Series. Something that names like Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson never did.
Success in baseball isn't in being the best, it's in being the most clutch. That's why George Brett's career was such an anomaly. Someone who consistently hit above .300, but was also at his most successful, when the game was on the line.
So during this Spring Training, don't pay attention to those who bark the loudest, or predict records, very little of that can be counted on. The success of this Royals club will likely be made in a weight room, or in a batting cage without the tens of thousands of fans looking on and cheering. Wins and losses in baseball are made in January, running hills in a sand dune, or doing that 1,000th sit-up. And you might not ever hear of the next hero for the team again, until that key moment on Opening Day, or game 163 when that key pitch or that key hit “Comes To Play.”
My prediction, that you should squarely ignore, is that the Royals will continue to struggle early and fire their manager by mid-May. The team will rebound due to Duffy and Paulino coming back at the All-Star Break and finish 80-82 and in second place in the division.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a weekly baseball-themed show on ESPN 1510 Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
A TWEETALONG WITH PLATTE CITY POLICE
Over the past several months, the Kansas City Police Department has allowed Twitter-enabled citizens do "ride alongs" with them and describe the action that goes on in the patrol cars. These have been dubbed "tweetalongs" and they serve to increase exposure for the men and women who put their lives on the line, as well as show some of the action that happens.
Here in Platte County, things are a little bit slower, but that doesn't mean Platte City's Finest work any less hard. And those folks have had a rough last few months. I thought that the Platte City Police Department could use a similar PR boost, so I contacted the police chief and unfortunately, my requests were denied. But that's not going to stop me from providing a “virtual tweetalong” for the benefit of the Platte City Police. Here are some of the tweets from that night:
#PCTweetalong - PC Police stopping by Casey’s Gen Store. Just to check in. Got to see the "Murder free since 2013" sign.
Got to see the security camera room. Man, they have an excellent view of Foley's home. #Tweetalong
These officers are fantastic. They don't have a K-9 Unit here, but they did let me hold "Fluffy the Police Ferret." #PCTweetalong
RT: @PCPolice Janet Smith, your kid is blocking the television. Can you ask him to move? #Tweetalong
Went with officers down to Cabelas to stock up on more "Game Cameras." There's apparently someone dumping their egg shells in the dumpster. #Tweetalong #SmileUrOnCandidCamera
Asked cops how they're paying for the new cameras, both snickered and said "just add it to the radio system bill. What's a few more in taxes?" #Tweetalong
Patrol car stopped off Myers Drive to pull what the officers called the "Flaming Poo Bag" trick on house of D. Peck. We all laughed. #Tweetalong
Platte City Police checked in on the old man who carried a bunch of guns to a Platte City bank. The old man thanked the officers for their service at Pearl Harbor #Tweetalong
Speedtrap Time along 92 Highway. Only person caught was a high school principal rushing to a “rendezvous” near the airport. #Tweetalong
DWI test near the square. Man kept saying he was a newspaper editor and was “drinking on a deadline.” No ticket issued since man was pantsless riding a skateboard. #Tweetalong
RT: @ivanfoley Man, justpflb dodddged a bullet thar. Also: need pants.
I want to thank the police officers for allowing me to tweet from their patrol car. It was an enlightening experience and one that gave me a better appreciation for these men and women... and ferrets.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball related radio show Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
HEY IRAN, PARTY LIKE IT'S 1949
It was announced this week that Iran has sent its first monkey into space. The Iranian Ministry of Defense announced that a small grey monkey was strapped into a Kavoshgar rocket and blasted 75 miles into the air and landed safely to earth shortly thereafter.
Now, let's put aside the obvious fact that this now escalates Iran's status as a nuclear power. It should also remind the Western world that Iran is still approximately 60 years behind the rest of industrial society. No offense, Iran, but we were blasting Bubbles to the stars when you were still in diapers, mmmkay?
The first monkey in space was named Albert, a rhesus monkey, who rode 39 miles into the air and died of oxygen starvation during flight. That was June 11, 1948. The first US monkey to fly and live was June 14, 1949 and was Albert II. Well, when I say “live” I mean until he hit the ground because the parachutes didn't work. There were actually five Alberts and they all perished during flight and went to that big banana tree in the sky. But in September of 1951, Albert VI and a bunch of mice survived. (Well, he survived two hours. But still.)
These brave monkeys made their historic flights in the shadow of World War II, during the golden age of radio and the dawn of television. Russia flew monkeys in their space program during the '80's when hair was loud and during the age of Cyndi Lauper and when it was still called the WWF.
But welcome to the party, Iran. There's some dip over there from 1953. I don't think it's turned yet. It's made from a TANG base.
If we assume Iran is 50 to 60 years behind the time, what else have they yet to witness? When will Saturday Night Live come to Iran? Those wacky coneheads will crack them up. Just wait until they get reality television sometime in the mid 2040's. What will life be like for them the first time they see Survivor: Tehran or Iranian Idol?
There's a ton of technical inventions they've yet to witness. The dawn of computing. The Internet. Online porn. Wow. They have so much to look forward to. I envy them in a way. If I could go back in time and download my first naked picture (which took about two hours), I sure would.
And wait until 2064 when you guys get the iPhone. It will change your life. Well, your lives will already be changed because you'll be in your 90's, probably. But still. Check out the iPhone. There will probably be an app for Kenya or New Zealand to send a monkey to space by then.
Until then, Iran, keep up the solid work. Like Casey Casem used to say, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.” Well, of course you don't know who Casey Casem is. You will in about 30 years.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. And you can catch him hosting a baseball-themed radio show ever Wednesday at 4 p.m. on KCTE-1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
IT MATTERS A GREAT DEAL
Millions of words are being written this week by columnists, bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters about the two biggest sports stories in a decade. Mostly because they are sports stories only in the most ancillary sense. These stories, about Manti Te'o disappearing and/or dead and/or fake girlfriend alongside the stark confession from Lance Armstrong about his decades of deception, doping and dodging the truth.
While the two stories don't share actual facts, they both have made it to the pantheon of the white-hot glare of Viral Media. These are the "big" stories. Not just the ones that top SportsCenter, but the ones that top national news crawls and include names like "Oprah."
I remember the first time I was caught up in the all-consuming mass media machine on one of these stories. And it remains, for me, the biggest story ever -- It was the summer of 1995 and I was working nights at one of the local casinos. This left me all day to watch every second of the OJ Simpson case. To this day, I can still rattle off the names of random witnesses and remember the madhouse outside the courthouse daily. It didn't stop me from watching. And I certainly understand the fascination still today.
So, I'm not surprised that stories like the Armstrong and Te'o cases get the "wall to wall" coverage. I do tire of it a little bit, however. I have learned in the 25 years since OJ, that, while not all men are double-murderers, all men are flawed to their core.
I have admired athletes and celebrities only to see them fall to alcohol, or drugs, or countless other failings. I have looked up to people in my personal life that failed to maintain my admiration because of their antics. And if I see one more NRA post on my Facebook, I'm about to drop about a dozen clowns that won't shut up about it. But I digress.
Everybody has at least one fatal flaw. I am now absolutely convinced. For many, that flaw is suppressed deep down. For others, they wear it on their sleeve or fly it like a flag. But it remains the flaw that will be their undoing.
What I now watch for is how they choose to adapt. For Te'o, he appears to have steered directly into the lie and allow it to consume his personal truth. For Armstrong, hell, who knows how far down the rabbit hole he went. For OJ, he caught a lucky break, but then continued down the path to destruction and today he sits in a jail cell.
Many who are accused, or arrested, or just are caught choose to fight and defend in the face of the truth. In the face of their own weakness.
Just once, I'd like to see someone accept and adapt. Someone who goes to rehab and then doesn't celebrate their release by hitting a club. An abuser who doesn't say "I'm sorry" and then beat the snot out of the next girlfriend.
There's a line from an old episode of The West Wing that goes, "when the fall is all you have left, it matters a great deal." I suppose that's why people like watching the stars fall. Someday, I just want to see one rise again.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show on KCTE 1510 AM every Wednesday afternoon. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE FIRST STEP TOWARD RECOVERY
It begins about 8 p.m. every night. Just as I am whisking my kid off to his nightly bath. I give it a glance. Maybe shoot a witty update out there. Once he's done and I'm tucking him into bed, I'll just give it a brief once-over, just in case anyone has responded. As the child begins to fall fast asleep, I begin my nightly procedure.
I check Twitter first. Usually scan through about 200 tweets. It's important to stay up to date of any late-breaking news, like if a Kardashian is pregnant or a Kansas City Chief has yelled at a fan.
Following the Twitter update, I am usually done with my nightly “movement” and then put on my pajamas. Another quick check of Twitter, just in case anything has happened in the last few minutes.
Once I'm in bed, I break out the iPad, and then check if there's been any updates to Twitter in the time it took to move from the iPhone to the iPad. This step then frees me up to check Facebook for any updates since I left work a few hours ago. There's usually one in there from my wife that clues me in to whether she's in a good mood or not.
It's now 9:30, and I've been informed from a terse Facebook post that my wife has had a “frustrating!!!!!!!!” day at work, so a quick check of Twitter and I welcome her to bed. This is when she begins checking her Facebook and then playing 42 games of Words with Friends.
Disaster averted. She didn't want to “talk” about her day. Another check of Twitter. One more pass on Facebook.
By 9:45, I start in on Reddit. Reddit is tricky, because you're only one click away from a funny cat picture, and only three clicks away from murder crime scene pictures.
At 10:15, I've seen most of the crime scene photos so I give Twitter a quick checkup. After a few more passes, I realize I haven't yet written my column. That takes about 3 minutes, then I check Twitter again. Once more on Facebook. That friend I had in high school is having a bit of a meltdown tonight. I give it a “like” so I can keep tabs on it, and move back to Reddit. Oh, look a kitten who has climbed in the dishwasher. LOL!
By 10:45, that high school friend's daughter looks like she's going to get kicked out of boarding school. I give it the old “hang in there” just because I feel bad not saying anything. And then switch over to Twitter to give a “Can't believe my friend's daughter threw dog crap at the Dean's house #Awkward.”
It's now 11 pm. I wonder what's on Reddit. Wow. That crime scene is super gory. I better tell everybody on Twitter about this. Oh look, I got a couple replies to my dog crap post. So funny. Better read through all those. Yep. A check over on Facebook and that post has turned into a four-alarm dumpster fire. Looks like it will be providing joy for nights to come.
Twitter check. Nothing in the last couple minutes. Reddit? Nope. It's 11:30 now and sleep is starting to take hold of me. Reddit check? Not one additional LOLCat. I think it's finally time to turn off the iPad.
Maybe I have a bit of a social media problem. I can admit that. I guess the first step towards getting help is admitting....
Oh, crap! I haven't checked my Pinterest in a couple days!!
(Chris, aka @TheFakeNed, does a bunch of stuff when he isn’t writing a column or stalking social media outlets. He’s hosting another radio show Wednesdays on KCTE 1510 AM. He writes a blog at Ramblingmorons.com--and that’s where you can reach him)
THE FANS' VOICE IS GETTING STRONGER
For generations, the “fan” of a team has had some very minor duties - pay for admission and cheer for your team. In return, the expectation is that every team's ownership should take that money and invest it in a competitive club and/or spend it on hookers and booze. It's the owner's choice. Not the fans.
Thanks to one frustrated fan with a Twitter account and the power of social networks, the dynamics of the team owner/fan relationship may have permanently changed - at least here in Kansas City. That man is Marty McDonald and he is the one who opened @SaveOurChiefs, a Twitter account that through the course of this past football season has amassed over 95,000 followers on Twitter alone. Include their Facebook viewership and it immediately became a community that just this week saw 3.5 million hits on their Facebook page.
The movement began in a similar way that two guys at a bar would plan to open up that business they've been talking about. The thing is, however, this time, it worked. The account began raising money for banners, organizing blackouts and getting the attention of Chiefs ownership where it counted - in their wallet. The money they raised was more than enough to pay for planes to fly over Arrowhead and there was even some left over that will be donated to a local charity. All gained through grassroots efforts on blogs, Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.
McDonald also used transparency as to where the collected money was going - something important for online and somewhat anonymous projects such as this.
Best we can tell, it worked. Clark Hunt personally apologized to fans for the dumpster fire they were forced to witness this season and acted swiftly to hire new management and a new head coach in Andy Reid. McDonald was quoted in a KMBC story saying "I do have personal knowledge that the entire Hunt family saw the banners, they were embarrassed by them. They were frustrated.”
If this were a hostage negotiation, all demands were met. Except the big one left to be determined - winning. McDonald told me “For years, fans were only needed to support the team on game day. If you didn't like the product you didn't go to the game. Now, you don't go to the game but you can interact with team and like followers to make sure your voice is heard.”
It seems to me that this marks a sea change in the power and role of a sports fan. With social media comes organization. Just as it was for Arab Spring which was responsible for massive governmental reforms in the Middle East, those same philosophies are being used for smaller purposes. Safe Our Chiefs has managed to get the attention of an ownership that was believed to be bottom line focused and distant from the desire of the fans to win.
Will we see the same type of organization for Royals fans? For people tired of poor service at their favorite restaurant? For people fed up with high gas prices? McDonald told me his research indicated that “83% of sports fans use social media during a game.” The answer is “absolutely.” As people get more organized and familiar with the power of social media, the role of the consumer undergoes a tremendous paradigm shift. As long as it is captained by good stewards such as McDonald, I predict the era of the fan has begun.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He’ll be hosting another baseball-themed show on KCTE 1510. Contact him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL
Like many of you, I grew up with the Kansas City Star. But also like many of you, we likely grew up as less of a consumer of its content than our parents before us. For a point of reference, I can still remember getting both the Kansas City Times and the Star and my son has never picked up a paper at age 10, and does his current events homework on news.google.com.
I also am heavy consumer of online content which includes RSS feeds, news and sports apps on my phone and iPad in addition to whatever happens to be blinking on my computer at work or home. From time to time, though, I will still pick up a paper and remember back to when my father rushed home after work and read the entire Star cover to cover while watching the evening news. When I do read the paper, it’s 99% in online form.
Internet news has had a difficult time making any sort of money when much of that same content is offered free on blogs or a competitor’s website. Plus, the amount of news that Huffington Post or Tony’s Kansas City cranks out would fill five daily newspapers. Sum it all up and this means that the Kansas City Star is dying. You will see the final “Star” masthead roll off the presses in your lifetime.
This week, the Star took one more step toward its destiny. They erected a “paywall” they call Star+. It basically offers a couple of larger stories for free on their homepage, but if you want to read past the “front page” you need to pay a small fee. Some see this as the beginning of the end of not just the Kansas City Star, but the end of “free” journalism. The end of journalism then devolves to the end of government oversight, then the end of civilization in general.
I won’t go quite that far. I think it’s the beginning of the age of “hyper-local” news. If the KC Star would write MORE articles about Platte County and what’s going on in my neighborhood, I’ll give them my money. But if they won’t, I’ll get my national news from CNN and ESPN (which have had subtle and successful paywalls in place for years and can also offset those revenues through larger corporate advertising) and my local news from hyper-local journalists like this here Landmark. The Star is in the worst of all positions simply due to its size. Big enough that it is sinking to the bottom of the ocean, but not small enough to be ignored by the sharks. Unfortunately, this paywall means they’re filling their pockets with rocks in an effort to see how fast they can drown.
Furthermore, I see that Handsome Local Columnist X with a twitter account and a traditional subscriber model now has nearly the same level of influence as a Star Columnist X with a larger following but separated by a paywall. Regardless of whether he’s a better writer, more handsome and smells like flowers on a spring day. Good for Ned...er... Landmark Columnist X. Bad for The Star. I see it as a gross miscalculation. But if they were truly in a corner between closing the paper and making a last-ditch effort to balance the books, I guess one has to do what one has to do.
In the meantime, I encourage you to support the provider of news (and their advertisers) that best suits your needs and habits. If all you read is ESPN, sign up for their “Insider” account. If all you read is Tony’s KC Blog, then throw him a couple bucks. Same goes if you like the regional approach of the Kansas City Star. And if hyper-local news is your cup of tea... oversight of local school districts, city council meetings and high school sports, then consider buying a subscription (or two or three) to the Platte County Landmark. Maybe Ivan will take some of those dollars and improve the online offerings at plattecountylandmark.com - or maybe he’ll just use it to pay for other newspapers’ paywalls to keep up on the competition.
And you might also keep an eye out for when the last Kansas City Star rolls off the presses.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He'll soon be hosting a baseball-themed radio show on 1510 AM. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
For earlier columns, click here