Monday, December 05, 2011

The Junk Drawer

So much to do, so little time.*

*Please note: For the author's purposes, items in the "much to do" category include watching shows on the MLB Network that would put even casual baseball fans to sleep, watching clips of live footage from Ben Folds concerts on YouTube, tracking down some tree sap that is apparently extra special on Skyrim, wondering why so many bugs die in my basement, and watching the handle fall off of my oven door. Yes, I'm swamped.

With all that's gone on in the world of sports lately, there's certainly plenty to write about. Alas, certain topics certainly deserve due diligence, rather than something hastily tossed together with a few cheap jokes mixed in. (AKA, The Writings' Special.) Thus, we won't touch on K-State football and the team's bowl bid in this Writing, other than to say that the match up with Arkansas has the potential to be the best bowl game of the year.

We won't yet dive into the fact that bowls are, in reality, a bit of a joke anyway, other than to say that the way college football determines a champion has to be something that Russian judges everywhere applaud.

We certainly will not yet dive into the ridiculous nature of the entire BCS, as my computer should not be subjected to keystrokes that pointed and angry on a Monday.

Instead, we'll do a bit to empty out the junk drawer, touching on topics that need some attention, but - due to important time constraints detailed above* - have not garnered any recently from The Writings.

*If there's a hotline for addiction to video games that happen to embellish Scandinavian accents to a near comical extent, please pass the number my way.

- The Chiefs -
If I ever have less confidence in a quarterback than I do in Tyler Palko, I'm going to personally call the head coach and ask him to consider kneeling the ball every single play. Yes, he's that bad. It's a shame, too. As his story is one of those great underdog pieces that local media could beat into the ground until it popped up through an anthill on the other side of the globe. He was undrafted. He's played all over. He was even cut by a team in a league whose acronym half the country would probably mistake for a cable television channel. He had something, though; something coaches saw and appreciated enough to consider him good enough to be a quarterback in a league that contains some of the greatest athletes on the planet... I wish I knew what that something was, as Palko does not seem to have a clue.

While Palko has been busy trying to decipher which team he is supposed to throw the ball to, the Chiefs' defense has been playing strikingly well. Despite the fact that they've been without safety/best-defensive-player-on-the-team Eric Berry since the season opener, the Chiefs held the Pittsburgh Steelers to just 13 points two weeks ago and then allowed just a lonely field goal* to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. With Tamba Hali attacking quarterbacks and Derrick Johnson making plays all over the field, the Chiefs defense has looked like a playoff-caliber unit recently.

*Fact: Lonely field goals often try to mask depression. If you know a lonely field goal, please encourage it to seek help.

Alas, then there's that whole offensive problem. With starter Matt Cassell out for the season, the Chiefs seemingly tried to address the issue at quarterback by recently signing Kyle Orton, who was cut by Denver once Tim Tebow began his quest for global domination. (Heaven help us.) Orton saw his first action as a Chief on Sunday, entering the game in the second quarter and flinging a pass on flea-flicker (hand-off to running back, who pitches back to the QB*). The pass fell incomplete and Orton fell to the ground paying an odd amount of attention to his finger. Turns out he dislocated it on the play and did not return to the game. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Chiefs!

*Aptly named play? I've never seen a football leave someone itching for days.

Palko returned after Orton's extensive playing time, avoiding handing the football - in a nicely wrapped gift basket - to the Bears, and even had the luck of every Irishman who has ever lived smile upon him when he threw a hail-mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half. The Chiefs scored 10 points to the Bears' three, earning a victory in a game that they probably had no business winning.

What does it mean?

I assume it means we'll see more Palko... Does anyone have Todd Haley's phone number?

- The Royals -
On the player acquisition side of things, I love what the Royals have done so far this off-season. They traded outfield Melky Cabrera who, coming of a career-year, will never be valued higher by opposing team, and landed Jonathan Sanchez - a starting pitcher with immense talent (he threw a no-hitter in 2009) in return. They brought back starter Bruce Chen who (oddly, considering his mediocre career prior to arriving in KC) has been the team's most consistent pitcher over the last two seasons. Just last week they signed relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton, who was a multiple-time All-Star for the Dodgers before suffering an injury. The Broxton signing further boosts an already-strong bullpen, giving the Royals flexibility and possibly the opportunity to deal strength for weakness (e.g., relief pitching for starters). The lineup is young and potentially dangerous meaning that the Royals bandwagon I've been attempting to steer for 20 years might finally pick up a few passengers.

Alas, those passengers will not be impressed by the PR side of the KC ball club. The Royals managed to turn genuine excitement into outright hatred when they recently fired 8-time Gold Glove-winner Frank White from his position as television color analyst. Whether the move was justified or not is not my call. I have virtually no knowledge of the situation, other than what I've heard on the radio, read on Twitter and in a Sam Mellinger column. I have no clue who made the decision. I don't know why the broadcast producer Kevin Shank was also fired. I don't even know if play-by-play man Ryan Lebfevre will now be forced to chuckle at his own jokes. What I do know is that KC botch the announcement of it all. If you're canning a team legend, you ought to be prepared for backlash. Offer to move him to a different position with the team. Release information that supports the decision. Show up on Frank White's doorstep with a box of chocolates and a stereo playing "Why Can't We Be Friends." Hand out puppies downtown the day after the news breaks. Whatever you do, just don't (allegedly) tell the guy he's jobless because he offered constructive criticism of the team on occasion during his time in the job* and then let the situation fester. The man is a team legend. His number is retired and is plastered on the team's Hall of Fame. He even has an annual team award that bears his name. Unless he's involved in something truly scandalous in nature, he should not just be told goodbye and good luck. Fans could be outraged.

*I watched many, many, many of those games. There was plenty to be critical of. They want the guy to lie?

... Oh, wait. Too late. Fans are ticked. Your move, Royals. (I'm not sure whether or not it's too late for the puppy thing to work.)

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