Anticipation, Second Guesses … Baseball Season Must Be Near

Do you feel it? It’s in the air. Oh surely you’re  getting a little edgy, a little antsy.

No, your rich uncle didn’t die and the reading of the will is tomorrow. No, your wife isn’t piling up a dozen oysters on the half shell for your indulgence this evening. No, a smooth putting stroke with precision accuracy didn’t magically appear.

It’s baseball, silly. Can’t you just inhale the vapors of America’s national past-time. You should, even though the frost delays your tee time, the chill wind brings tears to your eyes and hot soup is replacing a trip to the barbie.

The Royals will not only compete in the World Series this season, they will win it. Huh, you doubt that. Oh ye of little faith. Well, the road to the baseball throne room begins on February 19 when the pitchers and catchers report to the Royals camp in Surprise, Arizona. The full squad is due on February 24. The first exhibition game will be March 4 against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. The regular season will start  April 6 against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

In the meantime, rack your brains, go over the stats and analyze the positions. Oh, and of course, continue to second-guess whether you would have sent Alex Gordon home against the San Francisco Giants. Is that too long ago for you to consider? Oh my no.

With the Giants clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game, Gordon slapped a sinking liner. Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco misplayed it—badly. The ball skipped past Blanco all the way to the wall, where left fielder Juan Perez tried and failed to pick it up, then recovered and heaved it back toward the infield. After all those mistakes, it seemed like a disappointment when Gordon stopped at third, just 90 feet away from tying the game. A collision at home plate, dust flying, umpire signaling, fans gawking. That’s the way you end a series.

Or do you? The game just would have been tied. Oh well.

Two outs. Send him home. Maybe something good would happen. Nope, didn’t happen. Instead, Salvador Perez fouled out weakly to third and the second-guessing began: Should Gordon have tried to make it home?

Pundits, experts, analysts jumped into the fray after the game and most said that Gordon would have been out by a mile. That certainly seems true given how long it took him to make it to third base. But it’s worth noting that the Royals left fielder wasn’t running as hard as he possibly could out of the box.

If Gordon had tried to stretch his hit, he would have been rounding the bag as the throw hit relay man Brandon Crawford in shallow left. A decent throw would have cut him down, right. Maybe. Out and the World Series would be over. Maybe Crawford’s hypothetical toss home was off line. Yeah, the Royals tie the game and Kansas City goes crazy. It didn’t happen.

Gordon did reach third base with two outs and a 3-2 San Francisco lead. The situation did bother the Giants. Should Madison Bumgarner remain as pitcher to face Perez? Bumgarner was relieving after a couple of days of rest. However, he had shut down the Royals, retiring 14 straight at one point.

Dick Tidrow, San Francisco Giants vice president of player personnel, thought about the reports his scouts filed before the series. Sports Illustrated wrote, “Two defining characteristics stood out. The first was that the Kansas City hitters were crushing pitches on the outer half of the plate. Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Perez … they all were diving into pitches with full-blown confidence. You had to pitch them inside.”

This worried the Giants because two of their starters, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson, no longer threw with the kind of velocity needed to pound hitters inside.

“The second characteristic,” SI wrote, “was that the Royals were eager to play the hero. They brimmed with such youthful confidence that they would expand the strike zone to get a hit rather than take their walks and leave it up to the next hitter.”

Bumgarner’s fastball and cutter inside could be effective. He had such precise control of his fastball that he could place it just above the strike zone. He threw six fastballs to Perez — every one to a target so high that catcher Buster Posey rose from his crouch to reach them. Perez swung at all but two, the last one resulting in a foul-out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

So, in spring training maybe the coaches will discuss coming out of the batter’s box with aggression. Too often last season you watched as Royals batters sauntered out of the box after putting bat on ball. You gotta go all-out.

And please learn the strike zone.

Oh, that is so important for them to do this season. The left-handers need to pick up the sweeping curve balls. Yeah, it brings to mind the old cliché, swatting at flies. The Royals really do need to work on picking up the breaking ball.

There is much to talk about in spring training. How about the Billy Butler deal? Yeah, interesting. He signed a three-year $30 million contract with Oakland. Hmm, the A’s must think Butler will rebound from what was an off-year for the first baseman-designated hitter.

Were you glad to see him go? Hey, the guy can hit.

Consider this. To replace Butler, the Royals signed Kendrys Morales to a two-year $17 million contract. Hmm — Butler $10 million a year, Morales $8.5 million. Could the Royals not have worked out something with Butler, who says he loves Kansas City? Obviously, friction existed between Royals brass and Butler. There can be no other explanation. Look, Morales hit just .218 with eight home runs and 42 RBI with Minnesota and Seattle. Go figure.

The Royals need a power-hitting outfielder so they signed Alex Rios to a one-year $9.5 million deal. He hit only 4 home runs and batted .280 last season. The Texas Rangers declined Rios’ option for 2015. He can handle right field defensively. But is he the answer for power?

So many questions. Will Mike Moustakas really hit? Can Eric Hosmer become a star first baseman? Will Gordon become a leader and a consistent hitter? Can Christian Colon dislodge Omar Infante at second?

Oh yes, the pitching. What’s all this talk about James Shields? Teams don’t want to pay him free agent money. No way. He’s on the downside of his career. Why would the Royals think of him? Maybe they’re concerned about the pitchers they brought in, like Edinson Volquez, who was 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA last season with Pittsburgh. The Royals signed him to a two-year $20 million deal.

Then there’s right-hander Kris Medlen, one of Atlanta’s best starters. But he had Tommy John surgery for the second time last spring and the Braves didn’t keep him. The Royals decided to take a chance and signed him to a two-year deal that contains a mutual option for the 2017 season. He received an $8.5 million guarantee. He’ll earn $2 million in 2015 and $5.5 million 2016.

He may see action later in the season as the arm heals. In the meantime, the Royals will go with a five-man rotation, the three V’s — Volquez, Jason Vargas and Yorduno Ventura — and Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie. With maturity, Ventura and Duffy could develop into top-level starters.

The bullpen? No problem. The terrific triumvirate of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland are back.

There is intrigue. Can Luke Hochevar and Brandon Finnegan boost the staff? Hochevar missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring. The Royals must believe he can contribute this year because they signed him to a two-year $10 million deal. Finnegan, the first player to participate in a College World Series (with TCU) and an MLB World Series in the same year, threw well at the end of last season and could get more time.

Was it just a fortunate set of circumstances that allowed the Royals to reach the World Series last year or do they really have talent, enough so that they can get there this season?

Hate Mongers Wasting Their Time on Obama

Who is this guy, the one who calls himself “bernardpliers?” Yeah, the one who says President Obama haters have wasted a decade with their diatribes.

Well, uh, his profile on Daily Kos describes him as a former male underwear model currently living in an abandoned Nike missile silo outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, and subsisting on expired Y2K rations.

There is a tool called Bernard pliers. But what’s the deal with this guy. He sure puts the screws to conservatives. His satirical profile belies a key insight into the hate Obama phenomenon.

As for the haters, he wrote: “Pretty soon Obama will be gone and you will have to face up to the fact that you will have lost a whole decade of your life passing around conspiracy theories and whipping yourself into a frenzy of hatred.  All of you lost friends, severed relationships with family members, and some of you even lost your job or your marriage due to your unhinged behavior.

“You lost that decade wailing about Obama the gay Communist Muslim narcissist dictator who was going to let the UN invade America and various hoaxes like ‘death panels,’ birth certificates, Iraq’s WMDs, and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ (remember how you wasted two years of your life over that?).

He said the haters kept waiting for Obama to be impeached and they wanted the GOP to do something about it, adding, “But they never did because your favorite stories were hoaxes, and the GOP can’t impeach or win the White House based on hoaxes. No doubt you were waiting for someone, anyone,  in the White House to be indicted or arrested, like all those people under Nixon and Reagan and Bush, but no dice.”

Many will never recover from this experience, he said, noting, “Physically, your health is no doubt worse for having lost a decade watching television and whipping yourself into a frenzy of hatred. Your ability to reason is probably permanently damaged, and nobody really wants to listen to your opinions anyway.”

Some haters, he believes, no doubt suffered financially from all the time they wasted hating Obama, then he wrote, “But some of you have actually done very, very well under his ‘anticapitalist,’ ‘communist,’ ‘dictatorship.’ You do know that the economy usually does much better under Democrats, right? And that the best four years of job creation in the last 50 years was under Jimmy Carter, right?

“The next two years would be a good chance to start making amends to your families and trying to rebuild relations with people in your life.  Yes we know there’s another election in 2016 and you’ll be falling down the next rabbit hole of insanity, but try to leave your families with a few memories of you acting like a normal human being.

“And the next time there is a GOP president, just remember that there will be fatal embassy attacks under the GOP president, just like the dozens of fatal embassy attacks that occurred under previous Republican presidents.  Except Democrats won’t be working themselves into a frenzy of conspiracy theories when it happens, they won’t be cheerleading for the terrorists, and they won’t be trying to overthrow the US government every time something happens.”

Obama haters. Yep, lots of them. Just check out the internet. Or go over some of the emails sent to you. Listen to right wing-nuts vilify him. Watch ‘em laugh at another crass joke targeting Obama.

Why do they hate him so? You are kidding, right! Look at the color of his skin. Oh, they don’t hate him because he’s black. Sure they don’t. Just his policies. A difference in opinion most of the time simply produces an argument. Obama haters spew venom.

Is it just race? Of course ideology plays a role.

Two days after he was re-elected, a fourth-grade boy asked Obama at a town hall meeting in New Orleans:  “Why do people hate you? They’re supposed to love you. And God is love.”

The question startled the President.

“First of all,” he told the boy, “I did get elected President, so not everybody hates me. What is true is if you were watching TV lately, it seems like everybody’s just getting mad all the time. And, you know, I think that you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt. Some of it is just what’s called politics where, you know, once one party wins, then the other party kind of gets – feels like it needs to poke you a little bit to keep you on your toes.”

The phenomenon of hate causes some pundits to scratch their heads and wonder why there’s this hate.

Christopher Matthews closed his show on MSNBC one evening: “Let me finish tonight with something that’s been bothering me. Why do people hate this president so much?”

Many Democrats say simply it’s all about race. Jay Rockefeller, the former Democratic senator from West Virginia, Bennie Thompson, Democratic U.S. representative from Mississippi, and Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida, have all said racism is the driving force behind Republican resistance to the President.

Simple incidents reflect the racist tone of many. For example, a protestor waved a Confederate flag outside the White House gates — nothing dramatic but a reflection of bigoted sensitivities.

Robert Smith, a San Francisco State University political scientist who wrote a book reflecting on the role racism plays with the President, said, “There’s a perception that Obama’s major achievement is a transfer from middle-income white people to low-income minorities. Obama’s race and his Ivy League background and the sense of his elitism, all of those come together to make his case the worst we’ve seen.”

The hate mongers certainly don’t see their fight against Obama as a waste of time. It’s part of their agenda. Senator Mitch McConnell set the hatred tone with his mocking of Obama just after he was elected President for the first time:  The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

And then things got nasty.

Is The Star No Longer Bright?

I love my Kansas City Star. It’s my fix in the morning. News, editorials, sports and the NY Times crossword puzzle. I gotta have ‘em.

Like an addict without access, I withdraw when I don’t get my paper. There for awhile, I thought I was going to have to go cold turkey because my service was deteriorating. I paced and I pondered. I couldn’t talk to a person at the Star I could understand to help me with my problems. Here’s the Star, a community product, outsourcing its customer relations to a foreign country. It makes no sense.

I find that others have the same problems. So what gives?

My carrier service is fine now, but I cringe if I lose this carrier. He’s been marvelous.

Circulation problems, it’s the situation with most daily newspapers.

Look, okay, okay. I heard the argument. No one reads anymore. That argument. Hell, if they had better service and utilized tried and true journalistic principles, they just might have a chance to return to the good ol’ days. You say no chance. Okay. But every time I hear about a newsy item I ask where the person came up with it. The answer invariably is the newspaper.

On the other hand, I listen to many friends tell of woes on how they didn’t get their papers in the morning and couldn’t get hold of anyone to settle the problem. It’s frustrating.

Content is becoming a problem, too. Sports fans know that the Star scoreboard page no longer runs NBA box scores. Now get this: there are reports that the paper will not carry baseball box scores. Say it isn’t so. Can you believe that. A major league season without the local daily newspaper running game box scores. Unreal.

Sports fans may recall that the Sporting News, once the bible of baseball devotees, stopped publishing baseball boxes in 1992. The paper had run them since its founding in 1886. So what happened? Take a look at the product now. It’s nothing more than a yuppie mag with cutesy little shorts and overplayed graphics and a trite feature or two. The paper used to have respected journalists from throughout the country contribute free-lance articles. The perspective on the national front provided insight to what was happening in sports. But no more poring over the heart of baseball — a box score.

If the Star is concerned about space, cut down on those too-damn-long sports columns. Be more selective in what stories are run because many of them have so little news value.

Are we, as readers, to expect that more cuts are coming? One of my old newspaper buddies believes the Star is going to a three-times-a-week publishing format, similar to what the New Orleans Times-Picayune did. He points to the small papers on Mondays and the fact that the editorial pages were cut in half.

Kansas City is a sprawl and that creates problems, from coverage zones to carrier efficiency. There simply are more people spread out to please.

For example in the 1960s, the Star didn’t have to cover so many high schools. The sports desk focused on the Interscholastic, Pony Express, Sunflower, EKL and Sunflower leagues. Now they must cover upwards of 75 schools. Of course, that creates problems. And the Star doesn’t handle them all that well. League round-ups, better use of technology and standings would help.

Better coverage of news that affect its readers would help, too. School news. Everyday news. Hard news. And not just a convenience store robbery either. For example, a wreck occurs on Interstate 435 and backs up traffic for, say, an hour. People would like to know that in the morning paper. Something like that affects so many people so why not an item on why. Yet you pick up the paper and nothing.

But I could go on and on about the lack of sound news judgment.

Newspapers face so many problems not even related to gathering daily news.

I recall the problems I had as managing editor in satisfying real estate and car enterprises. Several times, I had to fend off realtors when we ran a hard news story unfavorable to the housing market. Threats to drop advertising went to the publisher. He fretted over the loss of revenue, rightly so. The realtors spent a lot of money at the paper. But newspapers need to keep business threats out of editorial decisions. So it was a big problem.

The Star has handled that well with its special sections on real estate and cars. Those supplements are handled by other departments, not the editorial rooms. Those sections may look like news but they are nothing more than fluff and puff. The headlines should give them away. Like: Country living at a good price or Downtown lofts selling fast. A news story may not reflect what the realtors are saying.

I would love to sit down and talk to the Star honchos. Maybe they have problems I don’t even know. However, I was in the profession too long not to understand what is going on, for the most part. That’s not being boastful; it’s just my experience coming out.

Newspapers forever have done a poor job of educating its readers, from how the paper is produced to how it makes editorial decisions. Too often the paper’s leaders come off as aloof and condescending. Take how the Star handles all the layoffs they have made. You can’t get much out of  management. They simply say they’re a business and they want to keep the personnel changes private.

These are the same people digging into the lives of so many others to tell a story. That borders on arrogance.

Newspapers used to be about what directly affected you. Births, marriages, deaths. Now the papers charge a lot of money to run that kind of news. Just when I reach an age that I could identify with the events that happened 40 years ago, the paper stopped running the 40 Years Ago Column. No bridge column either. The little things that make a paper so essential have given way to manufactured stories.

I can say these things because I will forever be a newspaper reader. I love my paper.

New Iowa Senator Stars in ‘The Political Anatomy of a Castration’

Oh the dastardly liberal media. Those nattering nabobs of negativism, as Spiro Agnew was wont to say.

What a bunch of baloney! Liberal, my keister. There’s so much conservative press out there that you would think the Koch Brothers are in charge of the nation’s journalism. Oh, gosh, they are. Did you read about how much they plan to invest in the 2016 election! Staggering! The media will get a lot of that money.

And the conservatives have a new media darling. If you enjoy reading about the castration of pigs or you have a general hate for Obama, you surely know the name of Joni Ernst. Well, she’s the new Republican senator from Iowa who delivered one of a thousand GOP responses to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

She’s the one that in her address called for cuts in government spending and described how her views grew out of her own “simple” upbringing, one in which her family diligently watched every scarce penny, to the point where she owned only one pair of shoes.

Oh these people. These nattering nabobs of conservatism. They pass around fallacious words like Tom Brady throws deflated footballs.

An investigation of public records by the Washington D.C.-based District Sentinel online news site showed that between 1995 and 2009, Ernst’s family received nearly a half-million dollars in government handouts, payments targeted toward subsidizing farms with taxpayer funds.

If she plays her cards right, she can frolic through government office like Vicki Hartzler, the Missouri U.S. Representative who lives near Kansas City. Yeah, she’s the one with the family that has taken thousands of dollars in farm subsidies and bellows about how the government needs to stop spending our tax money.

And you know what? Not a mainstream media outlet, not a one, mentioned the subsidy the Ernst family received. Yeah, this watchdog liberal media sat at their computers and typed up tear-jerking prose about her having just one pair of shoes.

According to Media Matters for America, no major media outlets made mention of her family’s willingness to benefit from government spending at the same time that Joni was calling on the Republican Congress to cut wasteful spending.

CNN, for example, highlighted Ernst’s “hardscrabble upbringing,” while NBC News told how the 44-year-old Ernst “brushed aside the President’s call for higher taxes on the wealthy, vowing that Republicans would cut wasteful spending and propose meaningful tax reforms.”

The Wall Street Journal even criticized Joni for not rallying the cause for more cuts to wasteful spending, noting that her outspoken opposition to “federal government subsidies” was a big factor in earning her election to the Senate.

But neither the Journal nor any of the other major media outlets made note of the fact that Joni’s family would benefit from exactly such “federal government subsidies.”

Oh you probably heard neither Obama’s nor Joni’s speech. Well, okay. But to those who did, she said, “I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.”

Did I then hear drums and fifes in the background as she patronizingly said, “But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet. Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.”

Gag me. I wonder if she ever ate sandwiches with bacon grease subbing for meat?

Oh, that’s right. She grew up with pigs. Joni knows bacon. She knows pigs. She castrated them. Wonder if she ever ate any pig nuts. Hey, she’s probably one of the guys, huh. Another plate of mountain oysters, folks. Well, she now she’s probably yelling, “More bread sticks, wine for my friends.” She’s with the affluent now.

I guess the Congressmen will remain affluent — and virile. The way she talked during her campaign, it sounded as if she was going back to Washington and castrate every last man in order to squeeze the blood out of government.

I wonder about this, though. Here she is railing against government and she and her families receive federal dollars.. She’s getting $175,000 a year salary serving in the House and morefederal money as a lieutenant colonel — and the family is getting government subsidies.

Oh yeah, she’s a military person. Atten-hut. Eyes right, of course. She’s an officer in the logistics branch and commands the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Camp Dodge, the largest battalion in the Iowa Army National Guard. As of 2014, she had served 21 years between the Army Reserve and the National Guard. She spent 14 months in Kuwait in 2003-2004 as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Politically, she served in the Iowa Senate from 2011 to 2014.

Joni  considers herself to be a “defender of traditional marriage.” But as the Daily Kos asked, how does she feel about traditional divorce?

Well, let’s see. She married an older divorced man she met as a student at Iowa State. Her mother and father are divorced.

Joni and Gail Ernst have a daughter, Libby, and Gail has two daughters by a previous marriage. They live in Red Oak. Gail, a retired command sergeant major in the Army Rangers, reportedly has worked as a market president at US Bank in Red Oak and as airport manager of the city airport.

During the Senate campaign, she had to take time out to scold her husband who called Hillary Clinton a “lying hag” and Janet Napolitano a “traitorous skank.” Ah yes, just your typical right wing-nut rhetoric. Please don’t laugh when you hear a wing nut chastise a Democrat for a perceived crude statement.

Which  is worse, however, crude or sociological pabulum? Her address followed just what she campaigned on. One ad showed hert castrating a pig as she declared that because her family learned to live within their means, the federal government should do the same.

The District Sentinel investigation showed that Ernst’s father, Richard Culver, received $38,395 in taxpayer handouts, almost all of which went to corn subsidies. The Iowa senator’s uncle, Dallas Culver, made out even better, soaking up almost $370,000 in federal agriculture subsidies. The total subsidies enjoyed by members of Joni Ersnt’s family came in upwards of $460,000.

Ernst failed to mention her own family’s reliance on government assistance in her speech touting the virtues of self-reliance.

And these bleeding-heart main-stream media folks let all that subsidy revelation pass right on by.

Conservatives Bash Socialism Even With Its Low Standing

Conservatives throw around the term “socialism” like a ball player cusses a called third strike.

Socialism is defined as a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. Conservatives connect socialism with Marxism and denigrate any and all who may espouse the theories.

With that in mind, Gene Debs, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World and five times the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America, gains no praise from right wing-nuts. In fact, history pays little heed to Debs despite the present conservative views when socialism is the topic.

Howard Zinn, historian and playwright and professor emeritus of political science at Boston University, wrote in his book, “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress,” that today, as capitalism, “the free market” and “private enterprise” are being hailed as triumphant in the world, it is a good time to remember Debs and to rekindle the idea of socialism.

As a progressive, I know that many detractors use “socialist” to describe most any liberal and they do it with a pejorative accent. After all, many Americans identified the Red Scare as socialism run amok. The Cold War lingered as the United States bashed communism. And innocent people felt the consequences.

Zinn wrote, “To see the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a sign of failure of socialism is to mistake the monstrous tyranny created by Stalin for the vision of an egalitarian and democratic society that has inspired enormous numbers of people all over the world. Indeed, the removal of the Soviet Union as the false surrogate for the idea of socialism creates a great opportunity. We can now reintroduce genuine socialism to a world feeling the sickness of capitalism: its nationalist hatreds, its perpetual warfare, riches for a small number of people in a small number of countries, and hunger, homelessness, and insecurity for everyone else.”

Oh but the barriers to the uses of socialism. Conservatives brand President Obama as a socialist — his advocacy for the Affordable Care Act really stirs them up. Of course, the charge is false as private insurance companies actually sell the policies. But no matter to the wing-nuts — vilify him with the perceived malignancy.

Zinn believes the country needs to increase the awareness of the growing disparities in income and wealth. He said public opinion surveys showed that many Americans agreed on what should be the fundamental elements of a decent society: guaranteed food, housing, medical care, democratic control of corporate power and equal rights for all.

Socialism has little standing in actual implementation and participation.

Bernie Sanders rates as the highest socialist in office — he’s a U.S. Senator from Vermont. He describes himself as a democratic socialist. He caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments, but because he does not belong to a formal political party, he appears as an independent on the ballot.

During the 2013 fight over the government shutdown, Sanders said, “The real issue here, if you look at the Koch Brothers’ agenda, is: look at what many of the extreme right-wing people believe. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veteran’s Administration, they want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA, you don’t have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore, Department of Energy gone, Department of Education gone. That is the agenda. And many people don’t understand that the Koch Brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the Tea Party and two other ancillary organizations to push this agenda.”

Socialist groups are few with one estimate that only 15 registered political parties with explicit socialist platforms exist — ranging from the Socialist Party USA to the Democratic Socialists of America. These parties have achieved little success in political campaigns.

There are some success stories in American socialism — besides Sanders.  The New York Working Families Party remains a powerful force in state politics, with a platform highlighting socialist issues including wages, public-option health care and affordable housing.

Historically, Debs probably ranks as the premier socialist. Early in his political career, he was a member of the Democratic Party. He was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana General Assembly in 1884. After working with several smaller unions, Debs was instrumental in the founding of the American Railway Union, one of the nation’s first industrial unions.

After workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company organized a wildcat strike over pay cuts in the summer of 1894, Debs signed many into the ARU. He instigated what became the nationwide Pullman Strike. To keep the mail running, President Grover Cleveland used the Army to break the strike. As a leader of the ARU, Debs was convicted of federal charges for defying a court injunction against the strike and served six months in prison.

And so many in the U.S. criticize other countries for political imprisonment.

In prison, Debs read the works of Karl Marx and learned about socialism. Upon his release, he launched his career as the nation’s most prominent Socialist in the first decades of the 20th century. He ran as the Socialist Party’s candidate for the presidency in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920. His best showing came in 1912 when he received 6 percent of the popular vote.

Debs was noted for his oratory. However, his speech denouncing American participation in World War I led to his second arrest in 1918. He was convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 and sentenced to a term of 10 years. He ran for President in 1920 from his jail cell. President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence in December 1921. Debs died in 1926.

Politically, socialism has failed to elevate many individuals. But the ideology reaches far and wide in the betterment of the working man.

So, Indeed, Why Do We Have Wars?

My wife’s aunt, Phyllis Miller, sent a belated home-made Christmas card that carried a poignant message about peace on Earth and good will toward all.

She lives in Boston after growing up in Kansas. She wrote:

“The thing that stands out this Christmas is the 100-year anniversary of the Christmas truce during WWI when British and German soldiers stopped killing each other and celebrated Christmas. It always makes me weep.

“So why do we have wars? Ordinary people don’t want to fight and die. Remember long ago when kings led their troops into battle? At least they put themselves in the same danger as their troops. Now the people who plan the wars never fight them. And they profit from them. Smedley Butler was a general who became disillusioned with war. ‘War is a racket. A few profit — the many pay.’ There is not much money to be made from peace. Peace costs no more than a smile, a friendly greeting, a hug, a kiss. Wars cost us the future.

“The earth is groaning under the onslaught of war. Weapons are destroying future generations as well as the immediate casualties. Soldiers return home with wounds that will not heal, whether visible or invisible. Are we still fighting over oil? Oil is destroying the earth. Are we still fighting to gain control of uranium deposits? Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy are destroying the earth. Are we still destroying communities to extract every bit of fossil fuel in the ground? Our communities are being poisoned, our children being sickened.

“I don’t want to pass on to my grandchildren a polluted planet with storms that wreak havoc and weather that causes floods in places and drought in others. I want them to have clean air to breathe. I want them to have healthy soil in which to plant seeds for the future. I want them to have water that is clean and clear to drink, to swim in, to support the amazing creatures that live in it. I want to stand on a windy hill or a windy beach and know the wind is turning windmills that are providing clean energy. I want to feel the sun on my back and know that solar panels are generating energy. I want the earth to be there for picnics, for barefeet running through the grass, for swimming, for leaves rustling in the breeze.

“I want to wish you a peaceful New Year.”

Well, I can answer why we have wars. Power, for one. Natural resources, for another. Instead of working out peaceful means to create answers to our needs, we go to war.

In contemporary history, Japan and Germany needed oil so they chose to invade other countries instead of dealing with them. World War I was not a war to end all wars, of course. Japan and Germany saw to that and World War II erupted. Of course, power mad leaders with skewed ideologies also play a role in the turmoil of war.

The United States is still fighting over oil. Is the military involvement in the Mideast all about protecting Israel, about teaching democracy or about claiming oil?

With all the neo-cons and oil barons breast-beating about the need for troops to maintain vigilance in the Mideast, it’s easy to favor the third choice.

War remains high on the list of many in America. All you have to do is read editorialists Bill Kristol and David Brooks to get the message. Breast-beating rates high marks with these folks. If you want neo-con policy that we prefer to punch someone’s lights out instead of mediating, listen to the world view of John Bolton.

Here’s a sampling of those with neo-conservatism in their political veins: Fred Barnes, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, David Frum, Frank Gaffney, New Gingrich and Donald Rumsfeld.

The neo-cons believe American greatness is measured by the willingness of the people to be a great power, through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement. Other nations’ problems invariably become America’s problems because history and fate have designated America the world’s top authority. So they believe.

While critics say the U.S. can’t afford to be the world’s policeman, neo-cons not only say that America can but must monitor the world. If not, America no longer will exist.

Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe neo-conservative columnist, wrote: “Our world needs a policeman. And whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job.”

While more closely classified a Tea Party advocate, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, champions the neo-conservative view. Rubio believes the world’s top cop should be flashing its sheriff’s badge more forcefully throughout the world. Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, said, “Rubio is the great neo-conservative hope, the champion of a foreign policy that boldly goes abroad in search of monsters to destroy. His maiden Senate speech was a paean to national greatness, whose peroration invoked John F. Kennedy and insisted that America remain the ‘watchman on the wall of world freedom.'”

Neo-conservative supporters certainly flashed their badges in the Mideast. They lied, they coerced, they cajoled and the U.S. went into the Mideast with their eyes wide shut. What did the Iraq War accomplish? How about death, injuries, turmoil and destruction.

Will voters remember that when the 2016 election rolls around. Don’t know. The populace seems so malleable, so gullible. Despite the gains with the Obama administration, voters in the mid-term voted against their own best interests and pushed the Republicans into many leadership roles, from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate, to state legislatures to governorships.

Will the neo-conservative credo move full speed ahead? Pray for the world if it does.

As Phyllis asks why we have war, all progressives should prepare for a battle at the ballot box. Or else peace on Earth will be nothing more than a vacuous phrase.

The Star Says No to NBA; What Do You Say?

The Kansas City Star no longer runs the NBA box scores on the agate page. You probably don’t care either.

But I wonder where all the hype has gone about the Sprint Center bringing in an NBA franchise to keep the coffers full. Excuse my laugh.

This just isn’t an NBA town. This is a college town. Book it.

Oh, fans had fun with the Kansas City Steers in the early 1960s as members of the American Basketball League. Mike Cleary was the general manager. When the ABL folded in 1963, five Steers players, including Bill Bridges and Larry Staverman, transitioned to the NBA.

Mostly foolishness followed as the Cincinnati Royals moved to the area in 1972 and the team changed the name to Kings and split time between Omaha and Kansas City. That arrangement stood until 1975 when Kemper Arena opened. The Kings had played in the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium and Omaha Civic Auditorium.

The team had a real superstar in Nate Archibald, who led the NBA in scoring and assists.

Others included Tom Van Arsdale, Johnny Green, Matt Guokas, Toby Kimball and Jimmy Walker.

Matters turned sour when Archibald was traded and Phil Johnson took over as coach from Bob Cousy. After Johnson was fired, Staverman took over. Cotton Fitzsimmons moved in and the team won the Midwest Division in 1978-79 with rookie point guard Phil Ford. Other players in that time frame included Otis Birdsong, Scott Wedman and Sam Lacy.

Bad luck and bad policy dogged the Kings. The roof fell in at Kemper Arena after a severe storm and the team had to play in the auditorium. After the 1979-80 season, the team was sold for just $11 million to a group in Sacramento and the franchise moved there.

Would you really want an NBA team here now. The average single ticket price for a Sacramento Kings game runs $45. Would you really want to buy season tickets for the NBA at that range of cost, not including parking and refreshments!

And going to the game not sure who was going to play, either from an injury or simply resting.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Each team plays 82 games to cut half of the teams involved in the regular season for the playoffs. Do you think you get your money’s worth in the regular season? Baloney. No way.

Then there’s the one-and-done crowd. These kids — really and truly kids — are not ready for the NBA, from a physical, from a talent, from a social standpoint.

Do you really think Michael Beasley was ready to jump from Kansas State to the NBA. Read his rap sheet and that should tell you. Sure, sure, he signed for millions. Wonder how much money remains in his billfold. He’s out of the NBA now. He’s playing for the Shanghai Sharks in China. The team is owned by Yao Ming, the former Houston Rockets Star.

Beasley, 25, was the No. 2 pick in the NBA 2008 draft and had slipped from there to a journeyman trying to secure a minimum salary league contract. If he can develop discipline and sharpen his talents, he could be taken by an NBA team. And he’s doing quite well with the Sharks; in 31 games, he’s averaging 29.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2 steals.

Details of his contract were unavailable. However, some of the Americans there are making a lot of money. Stephon Marbury, the bad boy of the Knicks, is earning $2 million a season with the Beijing Ducks.

He’s more known there than most of the players in the NBA are in the United States. Do you really know all the players in the NBA? Really? The stars don’t stay long enough in college to build a true reputation. It’s difficult enough to like NBA style of basketball but then when you simply can’t identify with the players, you can lose interest in a hurry.

No question NBA players are the best athletes in the world. Don’t even try to argue that. Most everyone of them is long and lean with superior hand-eye and muscular coordination. Just look at what they can do and you marvel at their exploits. Yes, you may wonder about their fundamentals. They can dunk but can the dribble and pass.

It’s difficult to pick out a favorite team this year because so many players either rest or are injured; most teams are not at full complement. But you can be sure there are some truly bad teams.

Minnesota 7-34, New York 7-36 and Philadelphia 8-34 are abominable. The Lakers 12-31, Boston  13-26, Utah 14-28, Indiana 15-29, Orlando 15-30 and Sacramento 16-26 are between abominable and terrible. And a bunch of so-so teams. Atlanta 35-8 and Golden State 34-6 are playing well after so many seasons of mediocrity.

LaBron James’ return to Cleveland after leaving Miami drew considerable hype before the season. The Cavaliers added veterans Kevin Love, from Minnesota, and Mike Miller, from Memphis, to go with point guard Kyrie Irving, in his third year out of Duke. But injuries and chemistry seem to have diminished their perceived drive to the top. The Cavaliers are wishy-washy with a 23-20 record.

Without James, Miami is six games below .500. Dwayne Wade is averaging 21.8  points but he has missed 10 games because injuries. Chris Bosh is averaging  21.3 points but he, too, has missed action, not playing in 8 games. The Heat lack depth and criticism continues to snipe at the guard play of former Kansas hero Mario Chalmers.

Betting the NBA is a true crapshoot. Talk to old-time gamblers and they will tell you they have laid off the NBA, saying it’s no fun watching the last quarter and wondering whether the trailing team will take advantage of the other team sending starters to bench and picking up a backdoor cover. Plus, you never really know if the coach is going to rest a player or if players are psychologically out of it or looking forward to another game or how many of them are injured.

There are some trends.

  • Atlanta 31-10-2 against the spread.
  • Brooklyn 1-5 as a home dog.
  • Cleveland 16-25-1 ATS.
  • Dallas 6-12-1 as home favorite.
  • Detroit 2-10 as home favorite.
  • Golden State 29-11 ATS.
  • Indiana 1-5 as home dog.
  • Milwaukee 29-12 ATS 16-5 as a road dog.
  • Orlando 18-8 as a road dog.
  • Philadelphia 15-26-1 ATS.
  • Sacramento 4-10 as a home favorite.

Whether you bet or watch the NBA, you get lots of chances. The season runs into summer.

 

 

Obama Speaks Positively While Republicans Sit on Their Hands

There they were, even before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, pillorying him, mocking him, criticizing him. Then when he actually provided the speech Tuesday night, offering a critique on the middle class economy, they held their version of a sit-down strike in the hallowed chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • Raise the minimum raise. Sat on their hands.
  • Assure women with equal pay and raise the minimum wage. Sat on their hands
  • Increased manufacturing jobs by 800,000. Sat on their hands.
  • Grew the economy and created jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Sat on their hands.
  • Insured more people than ever before. Sat on their hands.
  • Eased the grip of foreign oil on the country. Sat on their hands.

Early in the speech, he provided a powerful statement: “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”

His speech was progressive and profound, especially late when he referred to the quality and value of life, from racial equality to immigration.

Three times he provided zingers.

  1. He said, “I have no more campaigns to run.”

Attempting to proceed to the next sentence, he stopped for a moment, hearing the Republican applause of derision of his statement.

He glanced at the Republicans and with resolve, retorted, “I know because I won both of them.”

The Democratic lawmakers howled with support.

  1. Obama pushed for more infrastructure support from Congress, emphasizing the need for modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet.

“So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” he said. “Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline is being sold by Republicans and a few Democrats as a jobs and economic bill in Congress. Republicans say it would provide thousands of jobs, yet most observers say the end result will show a work force of maybe 35 people. Also, the bill would allow TransCanada to avoid liability on any spill. It’s just bad for the environment. Obama said he would veto the bill if it passed both houses.

  1. In pointing to the need for higher wages, Obama said Congress should pass a law that assured that women were paid the same as men for doing the same work.

He said, “Really. It’s 2015. It’s time.” Zing.

He didn’t stop there: “And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.” Zing

Throughout the address he tried to deflect the Republican slings and arrows that have come his way.

“At every step,” he said, “we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.

“So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”

Republicans responded negatively to speech excerpts on Obama’s plans for limited tax reform released earlier in the week. They want to protect the one-percenters.

Obama said, “As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.”

He pushed for the political process to close loopholes that send profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America — make it attractive for companies to bring jobs home.

Recently elected Iowa Senator Joni Ernst provided one of at least five Republican responses. Was she picked simply to trivialize the State of the Union address? Where was the GOP hierarchy? What is their plan? Sometime they need to lead. Anyway, she provided a vacuous, unspecific speech delivered in a boring monotone, interjecting the usual Republican platitudes and talking points.

Obama spent a third of his speech on defense and foreign affairs.

He said the question was not whether America would lead in the world, but how. He took on the neo-conservative ideology with: “When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world.”

Were senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham listening? They breast-beat at any perceived military venture and they’ve looked silly in their bluster.

Obama said, “I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building.”

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for its reaction to Russian aggression, especially in the Ukraine and the President responded Tuesday night: “Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

“That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

Obama also touched on Cuba, Iran, Gitmo and immigration

Another topic that roils Republicans is climate change. Obama answered that, too: “And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

He continued, “I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.”

He said those were reasons his administration had worked diligently to combat climate change, from was the country used it to ways to produced it.

He believes there’s much good in the country, but noted racial strife and political divisions exist. “I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.”

 

Missouri Stores Could Prosper With a Kansas Sin Tax

Ever since Carrie Nation put the axe to liquor joints, Kansas has been in a turmoil on what to do about booze.

And if things aren’t going well with state budgets, well, politicians fall back on that old standby, the sin tax. Anyone who can recite the Kansas motto, ad astra per aspera, knows the state is suffering under the inept leadership of Governor Sam Brownback. With the state paddling up a river of red, he now wants to increase cigarette taxes and liquor taxes.  That would add $1.50 to a pack of cigarettes — the tax is now 79 cents — and 8 to 12 percent on a bottle of booze.

You talk about wrangling and snarling. The state already has so many factions in booze politics that the volatility resembles a Republican debate trying to stay on track.

Don’t drink, say evangelists. No, grocers, you can’t sell hard liquor. The state, at last count, has 13 dry counties, so be careful when you say you have figured out the booze questions.

Now, you do know that Brownback wants to increase business for the state. Heh, heh. Liquor store owners just across the state line all along Missouri are chortling like salesmen just closing a huge deal. Many Kansans already come to Missouri to shop for their booze because it’s cheaper, flat and simple. Raising the price of a 1.75 liter of Makers Mark another $6 surely will send those who desire fine bourbon to a Missouri store when they get the chance. Friends and relatives living in Missouri may even drop off a bottle or two on a trip to Lawrence, Topeka or Manhattan.

You start talking about volume purchases and you are talking some nice savings.

There was a time when Kansas’ archaic liquor laws caused the feds to crack down on Johnson County residents buying booze at a Plaza liquor store and hightailing it back home. No, no, no. Naughty, naughty. No more avoiding the tax payments. Yeah, buy booze and get stopped by the feds. That made for fun and games.

Could that happen again? Hmmm. Good question. Would Brownback push for such a restraint? He just might, being the evangelist he is. Sure don’t want anyone shopping over in Missouri, especially for demon rum.

Do you recall the old days of Kansas liquor laws? From bootlegging, to brown bags, to club cards to drinks only while dining. How hypocritical. How puritanical.

I coached the Topeka American Legion Post No. 1 baseball team back in the 1970s. The fraternal clubs flourished in the dry days and they sponsored baseball teams with few problems in raising funds. But then the state began cracking down on liquor laws and slot machines. We had to find new ways to support the team from a financial standpoint.

Kansas certainly isn’t as bad as it used to be in its liquor law enforcement but even now the state laws are among the strictest in the country.

Kansas had statewide prohibition from 1881 to 1948, longer than any other state, and continued to prohibit general on-premises liquor sales until 1987. Kansas is one of eight states that still hasn’t ratified the 21st Amendment, which ended nationwide prohibition in 1933. The other states are Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

In 1948, Kansas voters approved an amendment to the Constitution authorizing the legislature to regulate, license and tax the manufacture and sale of liquor and the possession and transportation of liquor. The amendment also regarded the open saloon as forever prohibited. This meant that package liquor sales could be authorized and regulated, and that the prohibition of sale by the drink in public places continued.

After the 1948 Amendment, the Legislature enacted the Liquor Control Act, which authorized off-premises sale in counties which had approved the 1948 Amendment, subject to a system of regulating, licensing and taxing those sales. The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control was created to enforce the law.

The regulations confused many and daunted few. Get a card for this club. Or, here, you can get a card with a one-time membership fee. No, you don’t need to BYOB.

In the 1970s, Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller renewed the enforcement of Kansas’s prohibition, even raiding Amtrak trains trains traveling through Kansas to stop illegal liquor sales. He also forced airlines to stop serving liquor while traveling through Kansas airspace.

Kansas has been the brunt of jokes for many reasons. His zealous enforcement provided plenty of cartoon material throughout the country.

In 1986, the electorate voted to repeal the prohibition on open saloons in Kansas, effective January 1, 1987. But silliness persisted.  The sale of liquor on Sundays was prohibited, except in restaurants deriving more than 30 percent of their profits from food.

Grocery stores were prohibited from selling any liquor besides 3.2 beer. That remains. And it’s now a fight among the lobbyists from the grocers and the liquor store owners.

Ain’t this fun.

In 2003, the District Court of Wyandotte County ruled that the ban on Sunday liquor sales was unconstitutional because it did not apply uniformly to all communities. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the ruling. Effective November 15, 2005, the Legislature amended the Liquor Control Act to permit cities and counties to allow Sunday liquor sales. Sales are prohibited on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Since June 2012, bars have been able to offer happy-hour specials after more than 25 years of being able to reduce prices only if they’d done so for the entire day. Liquor stores are able to offer unlimited free samples of beer, wine and liquor. And the growing business of microdistilleries is freed to produce up to 50,000 gallons of liquor a year, offer free samples and sell bottles of their product, much as microbreweries have done. Farm wineries are able to offer samples and sell their products at their farms and at special events. The state has defined Kansas wine: one that has at least 30 percent of ingredients grown in-state.

Kansas lifted the ban on the importation of alcohol from other states other than by a licensed distributor in 2009. Before this, it was illegal for private citizens to order beer, wine, or liquor from out of state breweries or wineries, including by telephone, internet and mail order.

But Kansas taxes no doubt will apply.

And that means more trips to Missouri, huh.

Wild, Wild Sports at Your Beck and Call

Can you believe it! Kansas State is in first place in the Big 12 Conference basketball race. Really, 4-1. All alone.

Sports action is just wild! baby. Wild, wild, wild!

It’s even that way on the Metro high school scene. Bishop Miege is on a roll. The Stags are 7-0 after beating St. Thomas Aquinas 52-45 Friday night in what is dubbed by many as the Catholic championship game.

I was there with three of my buddies. A couple of us were a little late after stopping by for pizza and libations and missed the whirlwind dunk by Miege freshman Bol Bol — he of 6-10, 150-pound frame. But one of the guys got there in time to see the junior varsity game and he said Bol Bol had basketball skills. He’s sitting out of the varsity games until February because of a transfer rule.

Anyway, as Bob Uecker would say, we were on the front row, and the action was fast and furious. One of the guys leaned over and said, “I can tell you this. We never moved like that.” Yeah, but that was in the era of laced basketballs, center jumps and peach baskets. Just kiddin’, honest.

But he was right, these kids are really something with their physicality. If they could just possess the discipline and fundamentals of past eras.

Lots of good talent in the Metro. Lots of good teams.

It’s just wild and crazy?

Just like yesterday’s NFL Conference Championship games.

Seattle’s comeback was wild and New England’s domination was crazy.

The Seahawks defeated Green Bay 28-22 in overtime. However, that simple statement just doesn’t do justice to what Seattle fans are calling a miracle finish.

Look, the Seahawks trailed 16-0 at halftime. They trailed 19-7 with less than 3 minutes left in the game. But quarterback Russell Wilson, who had struggled up to that point, put a drive together and he closed it out on a 1-yard run with 2:09 left and the Seahawks trailing 19-14.

Packers tight end Brandon Bostick couldn’t handle the ensuing onside kick and Seattle recovered. Marshawn Lynch sped and powered his way to a touchdown and Seattle added a two-point conversion at 1:25 that had desperation written all over it. Somehow Wilson, under duress, got the ball to Luke Wilson.

It was needed because gutty Green Bay countered with a drive that set up Mason Crosby’s 48-yard field goal. Tie. Overtime.

A set-up for an improbable finish. Wilson hit Jermaine Kerse for a 35-yard touchdown 3:19 into the overtime period to end the game. And Seattle fans who had left early kicked themselves. They were upset with the proceedings. After all, their team had turned the ball over five times — four of them off Wilson interceptions.

If you bet the game on the money line, you smiled and collected. If you took Seattle and laid the 7½ points, you tore up your ticket and wondered where the offense was earlier in the game.

Then there was the New England home-field 45-7 romp over Indianapolis. Wasn’t this the game that Andrew Luck was supposed to challenge Tom Brady as the premier quarterback in the NFL. If so, he needs to wait awhile. Brady was fabulous and Luck simply ran out.

Hell, the Colts didn’t even score in the second half.

Oh, there were reasons why Luck never got untracked. Yeah. Like fumbled punts, dropped passes, soft defense. Oh, go ahead. Count the ways.

But don’t tell me you knew all along that the Patriots would rout the Colts in this one.

So another Super Bowl is upon us. Get ready for the usual hype. And ponder whether the game will be a ho-hummer. Can Seattle defend its title? Well, that was sure phenomenal how they pulled together to claim victory yesterday. The second guessing of Packer decisions will fill a lot of punditry time and analysis of the Super Bowl will go on forever.

Wild and crazy, for sure.

One of my friends who went with me to the high school game, is still upset about the unsportsman-like decision by Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer who elected to go for a touchdown late in the rout of Oregon. Jim Murray, a former Miege and Mizzou football player, even wrote down his displeasure:

Ohio State is the best team in college football and the Buckeyes proved that decisively, defeating Oregon 42-20 in the College Football Playoff title game.

Meyer is acclaimed to be the best in his profession. But his in-your-face decision to run up the score in the final seconds was an unconscionable act. He displayed callous unsportsmanship and lack of respect for an Oregon team that played hard but was overwhelmed by the Buckeyes’ shear physical strength.

He could have and should have had his quarterback drop to a knee and let the clock run out. Instead, he delivered a kick in the ribs and a slap in the face against beaten, exhausted opponents all but helpless to stop this onslaught.

Too much is never enough for guys like Urban Meyer. No class.

He decided to stomp on the dead Ducks.

Wild, baby, wild!

Can you believe this Kansas State team! Body language in several non-conference games and in the league opener at Oklahoma State screamed unhappiness, dissatisfaction, indifference, rebellion. But here the Cats are, first place.

Kansas helped the Wildcat cause with an 86-81 loss at Iowa State. I don’t recall reading so many times in post-game press conference reports about how a player must play with his motor running. Coach Bill Self put that comparison in high gear, engaging his perception of Cliff Alexander’s lackluster play: “I think the big thing is you got to play with a motor.” Post-game stories revved up the quote.

Certainly a big Big Monday Game tonight with KU hosting Oklahoma.

So, which team in the Big 12 do you like now? Will K-State do an el foldo against the impending ranked teams? Will Texas and Oklahoma use their routs Saturday to propel themselves to the top? Is this the game that Iowa State needed to win it all? Did the blowout loss to Texas kill West Virginia? Will Oklahoma State and TCU just be spoilers? And, oh yes, will KU get its motor overhauled and running smoothly. Betcha Texas Tech pulls off a stunner before the season is over.

It’s going to be wild.