Chiefs, Cats Favored, KU Picked to Lose Big

Chiefs fans gotta love their team. And why not! Oh, it’s more than just loyalty or wins and losses. You see, the Chiefs are 6-1 against the spread. Show me the money.

The New York Jets will be in town Sunday after a 43-23 drubbing at home last week against Buffalo. Quarterback Geno Smith was pulled in favor of Michael Vick. Smith threw three first-quarter interceptions and recorded just five yards passing.

It was the seventh straight SU loss for the Jets, who are just 1-7 SU in their last eight games on the road. They are 2-6 ATS.

After starting the season with two losses, the Chiefs have gone 4-1 SU and 6-0 ATS. Yet keep this in mind: The Chiefs have struggled against the Jets with just two SU wins in their last seven meetings.

Odds Shark Computer prediction handicapping models show a a 26-17 Chiefs victory.

The Chiefs are averaging 25 points while the Jets rank 30th in defense, giving up 29 a game.

The schedule looks decent for the Chiefs, who could make some hay in the next four games — vs. Jets, at Buffalo, vs. Seattle and at Oakland.

Unfortunately, if you like the Chiefs, you need to take a long, hard look at laying 9½ points. Well, maybe not too hard. I’m ready to lay the points for $22.

Denver at New England. Oh, so you want to analyze the game through the quarterbacks. You’re right, two of the best are going at it. Can Tom Brady get more out of his Patriots? Or will Peyton Manning clean up with his multitude of terrific receivers? This is a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.  The Broncos have lost the last two seasons in Foxborough with Manning at quarterback, and they haven’t beaten the Patriots on the road in more than eight years. That’s obviously something to consider. And I am. Go with the Patriots getting 3 for $22.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh. This one has all the earmarks of being a dandy. Steeler Ben Roethlisberger spent a week politely answering questions about Colt Andrew Luck, saying all the right things to anyone who asked about how impressed he was with the rising Indy star. Then he went out and set franchise records with 522 yards passing and six touchdowns while picking up his 100th victory in his 150th start as Pittsburgh whipped the Colts 51-34. So why are the Ravens favored by 1? Hmm. I don’t know, but I do know that I won’t bet the game. As a funsy, I’ll go with the Steelers.

NFL $33 Bet. Arizona +4 at Dallas.

NFL $22 Bets. Cleveland -6½ vs. Tampa, Cincy -11 vs. Jacksonville.

NFL $11 Bets. San Diego +1½ at Miami, Philadelphia -2 at Houston, San Francisco -10 vs. St. Louis, Seattle -15 vs. Oakland, Indy -3 at Giants.

NFL Picks But No Bets. *Carolina +3 vs. New Orleans, Minnesota -1 vs. Washington.

Big 12 Games Saturday

  • Oklahoma State at Kansas State
  • Kansas at Baylor
  • TCU at West Virginia
  • Texas at Texas Tech
  • Oklahoma at Iowa State

Oklahoma State is 4-1 SU its last five meetings with Kansas State, but the Wildcats are 4-1 against the spread in that time.

The Wildcats are undefeated and no doubt would like to keep sole possession of the conference lead.

They are 3-1 ATS in conference play while Okie State is 1-4.

The Cowboys played well in their opening loss to Florida State, but they haven’t played well of late, losing at TCU 42-9 and at home to West Virginia 34-10. Oklahoma State trailed the Mountaineers by only a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter — and was outgained for the game by only 12 yards.

The Wildcats have won four games in a row SU and five in a row ATS after shutting out Texas last week 23-0. Quarterback Jake Waters has gone four games without throwing an interception. The Wildcats have outgained five of seven opponents this season and outrushed five of seven of them by an average of 79 yards a game.

Handicappers believe the Cowboys are in a down season and they say the smart money should go with the better team in this spot, giving the points, no matter the spread. K-State is -14½.

The Odds Shark computer shows the Cats winning 29-23.

Interesting. I think I’ll take the Cats for $11, laying the points.

So what do you think about KU, huh? The Jayhawks are getting 36 points. Just think, if they managed to score just 14 then the Bears would have to score 50 just to push. The answer is: Take the Bears for $11.

TCU now has the highest-scoring offense in the country. The Horned Frogs’ 82-27 home victory over Texas Tech last Saturday came with a cost: They scored so many points that they burned through their season supply of fireworks. Drew Martin, TCU’s assistant AD for marketing and licensing, said Monday he was working with the school’s game-day pyrotechnician to determine just how big a fireworks order the school needs to place for its final two home games. Does it seem right to run up that many points on a conference rival? Maybe there’s an issue there but there was no need to go that big. So what happens with the Horned Frogs at West Virginia? Lots and lots of points again? Probably. I’ll stick with the Horned Frogs giving 5½ for $11.

Will Texas continue the ravaging of the Red Raiders? Probably. The Longhorns have some physical specimens on defense. They should cover the 15½ points, so bet $22.

The Cyclones have enough talent to cover at home against OU so take the 16½ for $11.

Nationally, there are some big games and the biggest probably is Auburn at Ole Miss. Can the Rebels come back from their loss last week to LSU? Handicappers say yes, even going with a computer score of 34-30. I disagree. The Tigers will win in Oxford so take the 2 points for $22.

College $33 Bet.  Mississippi State -10½ vs. Arkansas.

College $22 Bets. *Florida State -4 at Louisville, Penn State -3½ vs. Maryland, BYU -4 at Middle Tennessee.

College $11 Bets. Notre Dame -14 at Navy, East Carolina -7 at Temple, Wisconsin -11 at Rutgers, Georgia -13 vs. Florida, Arizona +6½ at UCLA.

The Stats

  • Big 12. Last week, +19. To date, +$74.
  • National College. Last week, -$28. To date, +$6.
  • All Colleges. Last week, -$9. To date, +$80.
  • Last week, -$22. To date -$17.
  • NFL Picks. Last week, 8-7-0. To date, 62-57-1.
  • Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$31. To date, +$63.

Good Deed Produces Series Entry to Watch One Terrific Lefty

Alex Virgo is a baker at Einstein Bros Bagels in Crown Center and he noticed a customer had left his IPad behind. He picked it up and diligently took it to customer service.

As Alex was getting off work, he recognized the customer as he retraced his movements in search of the IPad. Alex approached the man and offered to show him to customer service. On the way, Alex noticed the man was wearing a lanyard indicating he had something to do with the World Series.

“Do you work at the stadium?” Alex asked innocently.

With that, the man introduced himself and told him of his new job.

Rob Manfred, he said. The new major league baseball commissioner. Yes, that Rob Manfred, the one elected baseball’s 10th commissioner in August succeeding Bud Selig. The one given a mandate to recapture young fans and speed play in an era that has seen competition increase and attention spans shrink.

Alex told Manfred that he and his roommate, Joseph Bobbitt, were great fans, watching every game. That prompted Manfred to ask if they were going to Tuesday night’s game and Alex replied, “No, we’re way too poor to go.”

Manfred asked if Alex could wait a little while before leaving work and Alex nodded. He returned shortly after with two Series tickets for Game 7.

Whoa, Game 7. That meant the Royals would have to win Game 6. Joseph’s grandmother, Joyce Murray, said the two were on cloud nine, pulling for the Royals.

And, by golly, they did win, regally, 10-0.

Wonderful story, but alas, these vignettes don’t always have a happy ending. Joseph and Alex got their chance to go to the game but the Royals lost mainly because a pitching machine named Madison Bumgarner made them look as if they were batting with wet noodles.

However, a great experience for the young men and a  wonderful event for the residents of Kansas City.

Bumgarner, my gosh. He started two games in the Series and won both and then Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, entered the game as a reliever in the fifth inning and shut down the Royals. Obviously, the Giants loved the outing as their 3-2 lead in the fourth inning stood up for the rest of the game. They are World Champions. He’s the MVP.

This left-hander, this 25-year-old was simply phenomenal in the Series. He pitched 21 innings, allowed 9 hits and just 1 run — a late homer by Salvador Perez in Game 1 — walked just 1 and struck out 17. You saw history out there, folks.

You would think a team like the Royals would be able to score more than 1 run after seeing a pitcher, any pitcher, for 21 innings. But it wasn’t so.

The fifth inning began like just possibly, maybe, the Royals could get something going against Bumgarner. Omar Infante led off with a single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar. However, Nori Aoki lined out to left and Lorenzo Cain struck out.

Bumgarner had retired 14 in a row when Alex Gordon came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Gordon singled to left center and Gregor Blanco misplayed it with the ball going all the way to wall. Could Gordon make it all the way home? Nope. He stopped at third. Perez ended it all with a foul pop-out near third.

The Royals managed to get the lead-off batter on in four straight innings, from the second through the fifth, but scored runs in only the second. They couldn’t manufacture anything the way the Giants did in scoring their first 2 runs — both on sacrifice flies.

No hit and run plays, no attempted steals for the speedy Royals who lost two rallies by hitting into double plays in the third and fourth innings.

The double play in the third inning turned the game. Until Gordon’s dash to third base in the ninth, the Royals were helpless at the plate. Anyway, in the third, Cain singled to right. Hosmer, up next, lashed a grounder to the right of second baseman Joe Panik, who dove, stretching to the fullest to snag the ball. While on the ground he flipped the ball from his glove in a back-handed motion to second where shortstop Brandon Crawford wheeled and threw to first. Close play. The umpire waved safe as Hosmer slid head-first into the bag.

Oh, oh. Challenge. And the folks in New York who do these things reversed the call. Two outs. The throne room remained empty of the Royals.

Hunter Pence, whose wild eyes would befit any haunted house this Halloween, batted .444 in the Series, and Pablo Sandoval, a free agent-to-be playing perhaps his last game for the Giants, finished at .429 following a three-hit night.

Alex and Joseph got a chance to see Game 7 after the Royals put on their usual show Tuesday night. You know the one. Yeah, where for some reason they erupt in an explosion of hits in one inning. They scored 7 runs in the second inning, feeding off success. Everybody did the locomotion.

The victory was well worth it for me because the Royals’ effort against Yusmeiro Petit quieted the Fox broadcast crew. They had Petit as the grand master of pitching, extolling his past performances. Well, the Royals scored 2 runs off him with 3 hits in ⅔ of an inning.

At one stage of the game, I wondered why Manager Ned Yost was leaving the dugout. Oh, he was headed to the TV to see how close pitcher Yordano Ventura was coming to the plate — he wasn’t getting the calls from the umpire. However, Ventura pitched seven innings of shut-out ball.

The victory sent ticket prices even higher. A friend said he was sitting in a seat Tuesday night that cost $350. The man sitting next to him checked with the secondary ticket sellers and those seats were costing $1,500 for Game 7.

Loyal Royal fans thought this could be another 1985 when KC beat St. Louis in the World Series. But it didn’t happen.

Since 1982,  home teams down 3-2 in the Series came back to win the championship 8 times out of 10. Make that 8 of 11 now.

Unholy Economic Alliance Strapping Kansas

Grover Norquist and Arthur Laffer just love Governor Sam Brownback. Norquist has never seen a tax cut he didn’t like. Laffer is the mouthpiece for supply-side economics. No state income tax and trickle-down economics — how are they working out for Brownback and Kansans?

Not so hot. Even some Republicans rail against the policies of the Kansas governor. National TV shows parody the economic inadequacies.

During a meeting earlier this month in Overland Park, members of Republicans for Kansas Values, a group of lawmakers past and present, assailed the state’s increasing deficits, depleted trust funds and lowered credit rating. Who received the blame? Brownback. And these Republicans are doing something about it — they’re coming out against him.

Norquist and Laffer have gone on national TV and extolled Brownback’s slash and bash economic policies. Brownback won the governorship in 2010 and put into a place what he termed a real-life experiment in a conservative framework. Everyone should know that trickle-down economics simply is a failed theory.

Wars, infrastructure, regulation, education all cost money. As an example of poor management, President George W. Bush allowed two wars to go on without raising taxes to fight them. You need revenue and Norquist’s draconian tax concept erroneously and foolishly overlooks the funding to operate the essentials of government

Brownback goes before the public and brags about his far-right plans, from economics to social issues. He drastically cut income taxes, a major source of funding for schools and infrastructure; declined federal dollars to expand Medicaid; and railed against reproductive rights, same-sex marriage and undocumented immigrants.

Eliot Nelson, writing in the Huffington Post, focused on the national scene, pointing out that “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” recently skewered Brownback in a five-minute feature titled “Laboratories of Fiscal Disaster.”

The Comedy Central satirical news show played clips of Brownback on MSNBC in 2012 touting his plan to sharply reduce income tax cuts as “a real live experiment.”

“You know how some political ideas sound great in theory and you think, man, if only we could test these theories on a giant experiment involving millions of people’s lives. Eh, turns out Kansas,” quipped host Jon Stewart as he introduced the segment.

John Milburn, spokesman for the Brownback campaign, called the report “liberal” and said it reeked of “condescending, smug arrogance.” He also noted that several individuals interviewed were active supporters of Brownback’s challenger, Democrat Paul Davis. The GOP campaign mantra assiduously hammers on the theme of taxes and the “L” word. Unfortunately, the ploy too often works.

When moderate Republicans in the Legislature tried to rein in his fiscal agenda, Brownback and conservative groups like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity orchestrated a purge, spending lavishly on the moderates’ 2012 primary challengers. Brownback triumphed, however.

Ron Worley, representative of the 30th District, was one of the victims of that conservative cleansing. After the loss, I talked to Worley and he lamented that the Brownback machine would mount a campaign against him, given that he has been a long-time Republican. He just couldn’t buck the Tea Party type manipulation. He tried again this year, but lost.

In an internet report, Wint Winter Jr., a former state senator and founder of Republicans for Kansas Values, said, “This is sort of the Koch brothers’ playground.” Billionaire right-wingers Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, which is based in Kansas.

Maybe Kansans are listening to Winter’s group. A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Davis ahead, 52 percent to 45 percent. It was the second straight poll showing Davis above the magical 50 percent barrier against Brownback.

The Davis campaign has relied on a backlash to Brownback’s budget cuts. Many Kansas Republicans still identify with no-fuss moderates like President Dwight Eisenhower and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.

“Kansas Republicans are let-the-dog-out, bring-in-the-milk kinds of people,” Winter said in a Huffington Post story. “Don’t give us flash, don’t give us extremes.”

According to the Post, the taint of Brownback’s low approval ratings is hampering the statewide campaigns of other Republicans like two-term Senator Pat Roberts and Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Sheila Frahm, a former state Senate majority leader and lieutenant governor, said in the Post story,  “I’m a traditional, fiscally conservative Republican, and my party has left me and has pushed far, far to the right. The ‘experiment,’ as the governor has called it, has not worked. And now you have this rebellion.”

The Daily Show’s correspondent, Jessica Williams, went to Kansas for the feature and said,  “In 2010 former senator and fetus whisperer Sam Brownback was elected governor of Kansas and he had a dream … a boring white guy dream.”

Martin Dickinson, a tax law professor at the University of Kansas, told Williams that the state took in $680 million less in the first full year of the Brownback tax plan, which cut income taxes and eliminated the tax for business owners with sole proprietorships.

“That’s a lot of money in Kansas,” he said.

The show cited a Kansas City Star article saying Kansas trailed the nation in job growth. “Just because we got a tax cut didn’t mean we had to hire more people. We put that money in our pocket,” said Pat Ross, a Douglas County farmer who said he voted for Brownback in 2010. “Why hire people that you don’t need?”

The satirical feature hammered Brownback on the impact of the tax cuts to education and transportation funding, both talking points for the Davis campaign.

“The segment highlights some very serious realities in Kansas … three credit downgrades and (a projected) billion-dollar budget deficit are no laughing matter,” said Chris Pumpelly, the Davis campaign’s spokesman.

The moderates and Brownback dissenters are offering facts during the campaign. Why don’t Kansans listen and read?

Maybe it is ignorance keeping the likes of Roberts, Kobach and Brownback in the picture. How else can you explain why so many would vote against their own best interests. Can they not see the failures of the Brownback plan? Could it be a simple case of ideology? The Koch brothers are pitching in with a lot of money to air the fallacious and mendacious Brownback ads. Do they sway that many Kansans?

Many Kansas newspapers remain staunchly conservative and Republican. Editorials are already coming out in favor of their right-wing brethren. They do a disservice to the state.

I recall the Republican leadership of Bill Avery, for one, and his strong commitment to his Republican partisanship. But he was a good and fair person with concern for all of Kansans. His dedication to education, for example, was exemplary.

Will Kansas residents be ignorant and vote these right-wing plutocrats into office?

Old News Makes New Sports Notes

Let us count the ways for the Chiefs. They harassed St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis, sacking him seven times and hitting him 14 times. They wore down the Ram defense, starting slow but finishing strong in holding onto the ball 11 minutes longer the Rams. The special teams, from a 99-yard kickoff return to three punts inside the 20 — and two field goals — were terrific. And the Governor’s Cup belongs to the Chiefs, now 4-3.

The 34-7 victory Sunday at Arrowhead was truly remarkable.

Jamaal Charles, doing what he usually does, scored twice, ran 13 times for 73 yards and caught 4 passes for 44 more. The Rams zeroed in on him, smothering him early. But, as usual, he stayed with the program and was solid in the late stages.

The Chiefs had only 14 yards rushing in the first half but wound up with 143 for the game.

Knile Davis returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown. Cairo Santos added a pair of field goals, including a career-best 53-yarder right before halftime.

Alex Smith was 24 of 28 for 226 yards passing, with completions to eight different receivers.

The Rams started strong, going 65 yards on their opening drive for a touchdown. Davis was sharp. But that early success turned sour as the Chiefs became very aggressive and limited the Rams to just 200 yards total offense.

The Rams seemed to be angry about something, oftentimes taking extra shots at the Chiefs. That cost them as they ran up eight penalties for 68 yards.

——

Kansas State remained undefeated at the top of the Big 12 Conference after smothering Texas 23-0 Saturday in Manhattan.

Matthew McCrane kicked three field goals, and DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones each ran for a touchdown. Jake Waters, playing with a shoulder injury, threw for 224 yards and Tyler Lockett had eight catches for 103 yards to climb another notch in the school record books.

The shutout was the first by the Wildcats (4-0, 6-1) since beating Kent State 37-0 three years ago, and the first in conference play since routing Iowa State 45-0 on November 8, 2003.

“It means a great, great deal,” K-State Coach Bill Snyder told reporters after the game. “It just doesn’t happen in this day and age.”

The Longhorns were last shut out by Oklahoma on October 9, 2004.

Tyrone Swoopes was just 13 of 25 for 106 yards for the Longhorns (3-5, 2-3). This came just one week after they put up 524 yards in a 48-45 victory over Iowa State.

While Snyder was happy with the shutout he was certainly displeased with the execution of the offense.

Stefan Scrafield, writing for the Dallas Morning News said: A quick look at the box score might lead to you to believe that Kansas State wasn’t necessarily THAT much better than Texas, but just more opportunistic. Don’t be fooled. Kansas State’s defense was absolutely dominant, preventing the Longhorn offense from establishing any rhythm. Offensively, the Wildcats kept things simple, playing the mistake-free, hard-nosed brand of pigskin Bill Snyder’s teams have become known for. In the fourth quarter Kansas State began to pile it on, but they dominated the game right from the opening kick.

——

Andrew Wiggins’ selection as the No. 1 NBA draft pick was very much a wager on potential. If Wiggins develops offensively and becomes more assertive in half court situations — among other “if” propositions — he could develop into the best player in this class, so says Sports Illustrusted.

As Kansas coach Bill Self told SI this summer, “I think that he’s going to continue to get better and better, and I think his ceiling is ridiculously high.”

SI noted that Wiggins would need some time to find his bearings. His thin frame may hamper him early on against stronger defenders, and his jump shot is still coming around. Even so, Wiggins has the athletic tools to be a lockdown defender right away, SI added.

——

Marcus Smart, the former Oklahoma State standout, is trying to break into Boston’s starting lineup. SI had a scouting report on him and it said he was a relentless defender with a frame (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) that would earn high marks at the NFL combine. He should earn minutes on the merits of his perimeter hounding alone.

SI said Boston was building for the long haul, and Smart could be a centerpiece of the team’s next playoff team.

——

Coach Roy Williams laments the sad state of North Carolina athletics after a 131-page report spearheaded by independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein was released. The report showed that half of the more than 3,100 students taking classes and earning artificially high grades in non-existent African and Afro-American Studies classes were athletes.

According to research by the Raleigh News & Observer, after the scam started in 1993, former Coach Dean Smith’s players had 54 enrollments in four seasons prior to his retirement. In three seasons, coach Bill Guthridge had 17 enrollments in paper classes. Matt Doherty had 42 in three seasons.

In Williams’ first eight years his players had 167 enrollments.

The report finds it believable that neither basketball coach Roy Williams nor then-football coach Butch Davis knew the extent of the AFAM scam.

But that begs the issue: If Williams didn’t know, why didn’t he?

All the media attention makes North Carolina look like a basketball and football factory. And paints Williams as a coach looked the other way while his teams won.

——

It appears Clay Custer will have to sit as a sub in at least the early going of Iowa State basketball season because of a size concern — he’s 6 feet and 175 pounds..

The former Blue Valley Northwest standout — he was named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year — will be looked upon to act as relief for the loaded backcourt of Monte Morris, Naz Long, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Matt Thomas.  Iowa State insiders say it will be interesting to see how such a prolific winner and scorer translates his game to the most competitive conference in college basketball.

It has been years since famed Iowa high school stars Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison joined Williams at Kansas, but, as one Iowa Stater said, it feels good to steal one back.

Royals Head Home Under A Giant Shadow

The Royals managed just 4 hits and struck out 8 times. And folks will yell, scream and holler that the pitching cost them.

Yes, yes, Giant lefthander Madison Bumgarner continued his post-season mastery, posting his second victory over the Royals in the World Series as the Royals fell 5-0 Sunday. After losing two of three games in San Francisco, the Royals will return home for Game 6, trailing 3-2. Yordano Ventura is the probable starter for the Royals while Jake Peavy is expected to go for the Giants.

Bumgarner, going the full nine innings, had an easy time of it — half of the Royals regular position players in the starting lineup batted from the left side. An example of his domination came in the second inning after Salvador Perez singled. Bumgarner struck out the next three batters, Mike Moustakas, Omar Infante and Jarrod Dyson.

Look, Royals starter James Shields gave up just 2 runs through 6 innings. Yost stuck by Shields by allowing him to bat in the fifth inning after Infante’s double. He struck out — as did Dyson just before him. Yost left his pinch-hitters in the dugout and the Royals continued to trail 2-0.

Anyway, Shields set up the touted bullpen to do its duty. But Manager Ned Yost deviated from the usual plan and left Kelvin Herrera in to pitch the eighth  and the Giants took advantage of the extension. They knocked out Herrera and socked it to Wade Davis, who usually comes in at the top of the inning. He gave up a two-RBI double to Juan Perez, a .170 hitter for the season. The Giants scored three runs in the eighth, certainly providing insurance, especially with the Royals so inept at the plate.

The Giants had 12 hits in the game, 11 of them singles — several ground balls finding holes in the infield. The Royals weren’t extra sharp defensively either, except for a superb catch in deep right center by Lorenzo Cain. Shortstop Alcides Escobar failed to come up with a couple of hard-hit grounders and Dyson, inserted into the lineup for his defense, mishandled a bloop single to assure a run scored from second.

I didn’t yell quite so much at the TV in chastising the decisions by Yost, except in the fifth inning. I was just frustrated with the lack of hitting. In the Series, the Royals, besides the 7-2 victory, have scored 1, 3, 4 and 0 runs. No one should be surprised. They seldom scored more than 4 throughout the season. But they often got great pitching.

Oh, by the way, Yost finally inserted Billy Butler into the lineup as a pinch-hitter, in the eighth inning — he struck out.

Why do I remain so negative with the Royals in the Series? I cringe at the decisions made by Yost.

The Fox production of the games certainly doesn’t help my disposition. Which is more annoying … the lack of clutch hitting by the Royals or the incessant chatter of Fox broadcasters Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci? Those guys almost made me forget I had a cold beer on the TV tray. Then those irritating dugout interviews while the action is going on. And the insipid questions and observations by field reporters Erin Andrews and Ken Rosenthal. Andrews is nice to look at, but baseball journalism is food for thought, not eye candy.

And then you had the whole media fawning over Yost after the Royals went up 2 games to 1.

Saturday’s headline on the Star’s jump page of a Sam Mellinger column analyzing Yost read: Royals manager has gone from dunce to genius. Yep, that’s what it said. Mellinger did kind of lean that way, too.

Well, Yost is the manager of a team in the World Series so it’s difficult to argue against him. But many of us stick by: the Royals win despite Yost.

The Royals took Friday’s game in San Francisco 3-2 as starter Jeremy Guthrie picked up the victory with the aid of four hitless innings by four relievers. The victory gave them the 2-1 edge in the Series.

There’s a sequence in Friday’s game that reflects the theory that the Royals win despite Yost. In the seventh inning, after two outs, Dyson singled. This should have developed into the Royals adding insurance on their 3-2 lead. For instance, Dyson possibly could steal. Due up was Herrera, who had a shaky sixth inning. Herrera had never made a big-league plate appearance.

Good time to send Butler to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Wrong. Yost stayed with Herrera, who looked as if he had never been at bat in the major leagues. Dyson stuck to first and Herrera struck out.

Yep, Butler stayed on the bench, the same Butler who Yost described as his high-leverage pinch hitter.

There’s more.  If left-hander Brandon Finnegan was going to enter in the seventh inning — which he did — then why wasn’t he brought on to face the left-swinging Brandon Belt after the right-handed Herrera walked Hunter Pence to start the bottom half of the inning? Hey, Belt struck out, then he brought in Finnegan. And he retired the next two batters. A managerial genius at work.

So here’s the explanation after that game: Including the postseason, we’re now 70-4 when leading after six innings, 77-1 when leading after seven, and 84-1 when leading after eight. I know what I’m doing. So there.

A reporter asked Yost after the game how he would have felt if the Royals had lost the game after such tactics. His reply: “I didn’t lose the game, so I don’t think about that stuff.”

Yost conceded Saturday’s game as the Giants poured it on 11-4. He left Finnegan out there on the mound while the Giants pounded away, running a 4-4 tie to 7-4 in the sixth inning. Yost stuck with Finnegan in the seventh and he gave up a single and a walk before getting relief as the Giants went on to score 4 more runs and really put the game away.

Besides Yost’s questionable pitching decisions in the game, think once again about his moves on offense. He brags about the speed of the team. Well, with the game tied 4-4 in the sixth, Dyson led off with a single. A steal, maybe, goodie. In came Nori Aoki to bat for Danny Duffy. This was Aoki’s first Series appearance in San Francisco. Maybe take a pitch or two to allow Dyson to steal second. Or what about a hit and run. Use that speed, huh. Nope. Dyson stayed put until Aoki grounded to first that resulted in a double play and killed any chance for a rally.

The failure at bat gave the Fox announcers more chances to brag on Giant pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. They had him right up there in Cy Young accolades, Hall of Famer maybe. See the flick of his wrist and how he hides the ball, they kept saying. Point made. He was darn good against the Royals, allowing two hits and no runs in three innings. But ease up on the praise, huh. He’s a reliever with a career ERA of 4.75. Okay, okay, he ran his postseason relief totals to 12 innings, yielding 4 hits and no runs. In nine games as a reliever from July 7 to the end of the season, he allowed no runs and 2 hits in 16⅓ innings.

Whoa. Back to Yost. Let’s not forget the roster move before the Series. The Royals made only one switch from the American League Championship Series roster.  Yost explained the decision to add infielder Jayson Nix and drop second baseman Christian Colon from the 25-man roster: “We’re more apt to probably double-switch in some spots and, quite frankly, I like Nix’s defense a little better at third.” Never mind that he is a career .212 hitter.

He double-switched okay — and Nix struck out Saturday and flied out Sunday. And he played second.

Go figure.

From Royals to ACA, Illig Can Navigate the Information Highway

If Royals owner David Glass wanted to talk about selling the team, Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig said he would sit down and listen.

Just before saying that, he gave a resounding “no” when I asked him if he would be interested in buying the Royals. With what is happening now — the Royals in the World Series — he intimated that the team wouldn’t be on the market. And if it were, the price would be sky high.

Glass paid $96 million in 2000 to become the sole owner of the Royals. The value has soared to more than $500 million. Illig smiled at the figure, suggesting that would be quite a price to pay. Add the fact that the Royals are in the Series and you know the value will go up — the big market LA Dodgers sold for $2 billion in 2012.

This exchange with Illig came during and after last Monday’s 40 Years Ago Column Club meeting at the Brio. Illig was the guest speaker. I’ve met a lot of powerful people in my time and Illig ranks up there as one of the most dynamic, intelligent, mesmerizing, personable, forward-thinking persons in my book. Of course, my observation is one of many. He’s a world-wide figure of renown.

I asked the question about buying the Royals after he discussed global meetings among professional soccer owners. Cerner is a principle owner of Sporting Kansas City, a Major League Soccer team, and Illig mentioned that he usually was the only representative at the league meeting with just one professional franchise. So I asked him if he would like to become a multiple owner. That’s when I received that first no.

I interjected that Glass was an absentee owner and that usually didn’t sit well with fans and many civic leaders. Illig shook his head, thought a few seconds and responded, well yes and no, noting, “I think he’s done a good job. I know how difficult it is to run a sports franchise.”

The soccer team has been successful, as well as Cerner, a multi-billion dollar world-wide business that supplies health care information technology solutions,  services, devices and hardware. With corporate headquarters in North Kansas City, Cerner has plans to expand the size of its Three Trails office campus in south Kansas City. Cerner now employs 16,000 worldwide, including 10,000 in four office campuses throughout the Kansas City area.

The company was founded by Illig, Neal L. Patterson and Paul N. Gorup in 1979.

Illig, who went to Shawnee Mission East, is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in accounting and business administration. He wants more business action for Kansas City, from new companies to qualified employees. He said the company was looking at innovative ways to develop more business, pointing out Cerner would spend $650 million next year to research and develop prediction and prevention health care formulas. Of course, the costs of medicine and related care are skyrocketing and he believes Cerner’s approach will attack the problem.

How has the Affordable Care Act impacted Cerner’s business? He shot back, “ACA was a gift to Cerner. Every health care entity wants to get into more information and they’ll buy in.”

He also pointed out the program is working and despite its critics, costs are going down. It’s here to stay and will improve dramatically in the coming five years, he noted, as ACA reaches its goals.

He doesn’t see government as a road block to getting things done, singling out the Food and Drug Administration, for example, in protecting blood supplies and pill production.

After Illig’s luncheon talk, Jim Murray, a friend of mine, and I headed for the bar at Brio’s and ordered two Jameson’s on the rocks. As we sipped and enjoyed, we noticed Illig striding down the stairs and heading our way. He wore a blue suit with an open-throated collar dress shirt. He had a ready smile and his full head of salt and pepper hair was neatly in place. “Terrific job,” I said.

He stopped, slipped in between Jim and me and began to discuss the items he had brought up earlier.

A battler of nay-saying and inaction, he backs an Enterprise KC, one that will go out and find jobs and companies. Jim and I looked at each other when he took on the KC Chamber of Commerce. He said the chamber went after jobs and firms in a passive manner, noting, “We need a full-contact plan.” He believes the chamber should be more aggressive and open-minded., indicating it makes mistakes by being so politically centered and becoming derisive in the process. In other words, the focus should be growing and developing more business solutions.

He switched gears and sternly chastised the city for not being any fun. Fun, of course, being the eyes of the beholder. The city needs to create fun to help keep the good young people here instead of going to places like Chicago and to attract others from throughout the country. Young professionals can enjoy making $200,000, he said, but they can make that in salary and have fun, too, in other places. He wants to form a group of people to set up a platform to guide a program to create this fun. He said gray-haired men don’t have the answers for the young people to do just that.

He lamented the shortage of computer-trained young people. He blames the institutions of higher learning for that, saying that they seemed more interested in saving their precious liberal arts curricula instead of producing good students to help the country advance in business.

I asked him if he had talked to Leo Morton, the chancellor at UMKC, and another pretty dynamic guy. Yes, of course, Illig shot back. Morton, he said, is trying to procure funds to set up more classes to train students in computer science and work. But he has been unsuccessful so far because school administrators don’t want to give up liberal arts funding to pay for computer-related classes, plus legislators have been tight with budgets.

He had criticism for bankers and lawyers, too, ones who make money off businesses like Cerner but don’t put back the effort to develop more constant and consistent programs for business expansion.

He’s certainly not a negative person; he just wants to keep Kansas City active and viable. He said he didn’t like hiring 1,800 people in India to do out-sourced work but that Cerner had no other alternative with the lack of qualified computer-related candidates at home. Cerner is expanding at home but he foresees a time when it must go elsewhere. No threat. Just reality.

He talked politics, he talked sports, he talked business. And his knowledge in all was impressive.

During our conversation, two guys walked by and said to Illig, “Still here, huh.”

“I’m just watching these guys have dessert,” he retorted. Witty, too.

After a half hour or so, he said he had to run. I told him that we sure appreciated his stopping by. He said, “I enjoyed it. You are fun guys.”

Hey, our new best friend.

No Interstate 70 World Series But You Got the Chiefs and Rams and Much More

So, you didn’t get the Interstate 70 World Series between Kansas City and St. Louis. Will the NFL matchup do between the Chiefs and Rams?

The Chiefs are playing a strange game these days. They win games they aren’t tabbed to win and lose games they shouldn’t lose.

Which begs the question: How will they do against the Rams, which beat Seattle 28-26 last week? Great question. I think the Chiefs will do just fine.

Although the Chiefs do strange things during a game, they have enough on either side of the ball to take care of the Rams. Jeff Fisher does a terrific job of coaching the Rams but he will be going up against Andy Reid’s X’s and O’s and I like what Reid draws up.

The Rams are going after only their third victory in their last eight road games. They gambled on an unconventional playbook in beating Seattle at home — trick plays and all. The Chiefs have won three of their last four games straight up, all as underdogs.

Odds Shark computer prediction handicapping shows the Chiefs winning 27-18.

The Chiefs are 13th in the NFL in scoring, 23.7, while the Rams are 31st in defense, giving up 29.3 points a game. When the Rams are on the road, opponents are rushing for 151 yards a game. Jamaal Charles may be smiling in looking over those figures.

Be alert. The Chiefs are 0-1 as home favorites while St. Louis is 2-0 as a road dog.

Are you willing to give up more than a touchdown to take the Chiefs? I am. Bet $22 and lay 6½.

San Diego at Denver.  The Broncos will try to extend their winning streak to four games when they host the Chargers in a Thursday Night Football game. The Broncos have not lost since dropping their Super Bowl rematch with Seattle 26-20 in overtime during Week 3, but they are just 6-19-1 against the spread in their last 26 home games against divisional opponents. The Chargers have covered the spread in three of the last four meetings with Denver, including a 27-20 road victory as 10-point underdogs in Week 15 of last season. San Diego Coach Mike McCoy knows his old team well after serving as the Broncos offensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012. Even though the Chargers lost at Denver in the playoffs last year, they played tough before falling 24-17 — they covered as 8-point road underdogs. San Diego is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games away from home against AFC West opponents and 6-0 vs. the line in its last six as road dogs. Sounds good to me. But I’m a little concerned after the Chiefs defeated the Chargers last week. Bet $11 and take the 7½.

Indy at Pittsburgh. There’s usually a team that breaks out with a streak of covers in the NFL. The Colts seem to be that team, going 6-1 ATS. They have won five straight outright after losing the first two games with the recent streak showing a point differential of 165 to 75. The most productive quarterback in the league is Andrew Luck, who leads the NFL in passing yards and is tied with Peyton Manning for the lead in passing touchdowns. The Steelers are coming off a short week, having beaten Houston 30-23 on Monday Night Football. The Colts have to give only 3 points and I like that. Bet $33 on Indy.

NFL $33 Bets. New England -6½ vs. Chicago, Miami -5 at Jacksonville.

NFL $22 Bets. NY Jets -3 vs. Buffalo, Baltimore +1 at Cincy, Green Bay +1½ at New Orleans.

NFL $11 Bets. Tampa -3 vs. Minnesota, Carolina +4½ vs. Seattle, Houston +2 at Tennessee, Arizona -2½ vs. Philadelphia, Dallas -9½ vs. Washington.

NFL Picks But No Bets. Detroit +4 at Atlanta, Cleveland -7 vs. Oakland.

Kansas State sits on top of the Big 12 Conference. Can the Cats handle the pressure as the lone team in first place? I think so.

Sure, they face vaunted Texas but have the Longhorns lost their confident presence on the field? Good question. I think they have. A lot of Texas athletes but the Cats’ offense should be able to move the ball while there’s a question whether Texas has an offense.

The Texas ground game is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. The offense has produced just 23 or less points in six of the last 10 regular season games. Tyrone Swoopes is completing 61 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and five interceptions, and has thrown at least one pick in three straight games.

Defenses have been loading up on Cat receiver Tyler Locket, who has only 35 catches for 485 yards and 4 touchdowns. Teammate Curry Sexton has more receptions, 36, for 412 yards.

The Longhorns are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games in October. The Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games and 36-16-1 ATS in their last 53 conference games. The Longhorns are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings at Kansas State.

The Cats must give 10 points but I think they will cover. Go easy, bet $11.

Kansas has an off-date to prepare for a Nov. 1 game at Baylor.

Offensive guru Dana Halgorsen returns to Oklahoma State where he was the offensive coordinator and he would sure like to keep his Mountaineer offense at a bang-up rate, 584 yards a game, second in the Big 12. The Cowboys have been disappointing to say the least. Go with the Mountaineers getting 2½ points for $22.

In the other Big 12 game, it seems as if TCU’s giving 22½ points is too much. Yes, the Horned Frogs are playing well but if the Red Raiders would get hot with their passing, the game could be closer. Take Techie for $11.

National College $22 Bets. Mississippi State -13½ at Kentucky, Ole Miss -3½ at LSU, UCLA -13 at Colorado, Nebraska -17½ vs. Rutgers.

National College $11 Bets. South Alabama -14 vs. Troy, South Carolina +17½ at Auburn, Northern Illinois -20 at Eastern Michigan, Minnesota -6½ at Illinois, Mizzou -20 vs. Vandy, Michigan State -16½ vs. Michigan, Ohio State -13 at Penn State.

The Stats

  • Big 12. Last week, -$5. To date, +$55.
  • National College. Last week, -$5. To date, +$34.
  • All Colleges. Last week, -$10. To date, +$89.
  • Last week, -$51. To date +$5.
  • NFL Picks. Last week, 7-8-0. To date, 54-50-1.
  • Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$61. To date, +$94.

GOP Fans Hyperbole of Ebola Outbreak

Ebola hysteria has taken over the news media, especially cable news.

More than 3,000 children are shot and killed each year but you don’t see that story run 24/7.

A rare virus — enterovirus D68 — is infecting more than 500 children throughout the U.S. and sending them to hospitals with severe respiratory infections and breathing problems. The virus was also detected in the bodies of five children who died. You don’t see that story 24/7.

Please, please, keep this in mind: Health officials have repeatedly stated — and the White House has reminded the public — that the only way to contract Ebola is to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has already begun showing symptoms.

Ebola has become a cause célèbre for Republicans in their campaign to skewer the Obama administration. They’re fanning the flames of hyperbole. To what lengths will these people go to taint Obama! They hate him that much. Their loathing will push this country back to war, recession and plutocracy.

They simply don’t trust science. They can’t stand facts, like the obvious pollution causes of climate change. Maybe they failed science classes in school and are taking it out on scientists now.

Look, Ebola is a frightening, terrible disease. Death by Ebola creates morbid pictures of hemorrhaging and the rending of flesh. It is scary.

The death of 3,000 children by gun shots is scary, too. Where is the Republican push to round up guns?

Compare that 3,000 number to this one: at least 17 cases of Ebola have been treated in Europe and the United States. Most of those involve health and aid workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were transported back to their home country for treatment. Look twice at the numbers.

Certainly, we should be concerned about Ebola. Of course. But we have trained and expert people taking care of business.

They would have performed better if congressional Republicans hadn’t cut health care budgets.

A Republican Party hell-bent on proving government can’t work by starving it has taken its toll on the National Institute of Health. The institute’s head, Dr. Francis Collins, told the Huffington Post: “NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.’ Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory. We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference.”

Funding for the NIH since 2004 has been stagnant; $28.03 billion in FY2004, and $29.31 billion last year. That represents a 23 percent loss of purchasing power. As Collins insinuated, the research has been hobbled by Republicans indiscriminately slashing budgets to try to get more tax cuts to the rich.

There is no private investment in funding an Ebola vaccine, so it must come from government.

At least 40 members of Congress — including some Democrats — have gone on record seeking a travel ban from West Africa, spurning the advice of the nation’s top health officials who testified that such an action would be counterproductive.

Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had testified to Congress that it was possible someone could arrive in the United States and become sick with Ebola. He said then, however, that the disease could be controlled. The idea is that in order to effectively stop Ebola from spreading, medical authorities have to be able to trace back a person’s movements and contacts. That becomes difficult if people are hiding their movements to circumvent the ban, making it much more likely that other people can become infected unknowingly.

The doctors have also warned that cutting off travel to the region could make it harder to move medical workers and relief supplies to and from the area, exacerbating the outbreak and creating an even larger pool of infected people capable of spreading the virus internationally.

The focus should be on West Africa, where the outbreak is most prevalent. Go to the source to mitigate the spread.

Ebola was discovered in 1976 and was once thought to originate in gorillas, because human outbreaks began after people ate gorilla meat. Scientists now believe that bats are the natural reservoir for the virus, and that apes and humans catch it from eating food that bats have drooled or defecated on, or by coming in contact with surfaces covered in infected bat droppings and then touching their eyes or mouths.

The current outbreak seems to have started in a village in Guinea, where bat hunting is common, according to Doctors Without Borders.

The Ebola virus infection is systemic, meaning that it attacks every organ and tissue of the human body except the bones and skeletal muscles. The Ebola virus attacks connective tissue, multiplying rapidly in collagen. The tissue is basically digested by this virus. The virus causes small blood clots to form in the bloodstream of the patient; the blood thickens and the blood flow slows down. Blood clots get stuck into blood vessels forming red spots on the patient skin. These grow in size as the disease progress. Also, blood clots do not allow a proper blood supply to many organs such as the liver, brain, lungs, kidneys, intestines, breast tissue, testicles, etc. Spontaneous bleeding then occurs from body orifices and gaps in the skin and rips can suddenly appear. Death is caused by huge loss of blood, renal failure, or shock.

With the hysteria come hoaxes. Last week, a man in a surgical mask boarded a bus in Los Angeles, leaned into the driver and said, “Don’t mess with me, I have Ebola.” He and his female companion got off the bus a few minutes later, and authorities are still searching for them. The driver was taken to the hospital and released in good health.

An online search for news articles with the words “LA Ebola bus” returned more than 44 million results. By comparison, a search for “enterovirus” returned only slightly more than 1.2 million.

People should put proportionality to the Ebola scare,

Put Series Analysis Aside, Play Ball!

Look at all that long hair. Those San Francisco elitists. Long hair, quiche Lorraine, fancy neck mufflers. Kansas City may not have Lombard Street but the fountains, parks and gardens can match anything those supercilious West Coasters indulge themselves with.

Bring ‘em on. It’s World Series time.

San Francisco vs. Cowtown, USA. The blue collar Royals vs. the hip Giants. Two wildcard teams going at it.

Some of the TV big shots are already griping about the small market syndrome — where will all the viewers come from now that KC represents the American League in the Series and it’s neither Boston nor New York nor Detroit. So sad, too bad.

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:07 tonight. A bonkers crowd awaits with glee. It has been 29 years since the Royals last played in a World Series when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Some fans were looking for another Interstate 70 matchup but the Giants took care of that by flipping the Cards 4 games to 1 in the NCLS.

The Royals have won eight post-season games without a loss, sending the Orioles home with an ALCS sweep. Of course, pitching and defense carried the Royals.

So what about the Giants? Well, the Royals swept them in three games during an early August series.

  • August 8. The Royals won 4-2 with Billy Butler slamming a two-run homer in the first inning. The Giants had 12 hits but scored only twice; right fielder Nori Aoki threw out Hunter Pence and Joaquin Arias at the plate, both in the third inning.
  • August 9. The Royals won 5-0 with James Shields, the Game1 starter in the Series, throwing a four-hitter. The Royals scored four runs in the seventh.
  • August 10. The Royals won 7-4 with the help of a four-run first inning. KC stole seven bases in the game, including three each by Aoki and Jarrod Dyson.

What a difference in the KC atmosphere today than it was, say, midway through the season. Winning can do wonders for the psyche. Ned Yost couldn’t manage. Clutch hitters were strangers in the lineup. Grousing replaced cheering. But down the stretch they came. What a run! Instead of roses, the players celebrated with champagne sprays. It really is amazing how the attitude reversed into this euphoria.

You gotta be light in the head to pay for these Series tickets. The average price on the secondary market for a Game One ticket is costing around $1,500. Just getting in the door for Game One with a standing-room-only ticket is averaging $895 on the secondary market. If you’re on a budget, the cheapest tickets listed are going for about $645. If you want to sit a few rows behind the Royals dugout, well, that will cost you, are you ready, $4,500.

Of course, as the game draws closer, you may see wildly fluctuating prices. But just know that the tickets are very costly.

Some folks say they just like to go to the parking lot and tailgate — simply be close to the action. Fine. Prime parking lot M could cost you $800 in the secondary market. In outlying areas, you can pay anywhere from $70 to $200. And, of course, the cost goes up the nearer you park to the stadium. Face value? Today’s KC Star story said you could park for $25.

I got a call from a guy who asked if he could borrow a few bucks to go to the game. He was kidding, I think. It certainly is a rich man’s Series.

Season ticket holders and those who bought package deals for next season have been able to buy tickets at face value. Some examples of one seat costs: Crown Club $420, field box $225, outfield box $275, loge $200 and HyVee area $100.

I’ll watch the games on television — the fridge is close for a cold one. I will turn the sound way down, depending on the announcers. Oh, the heck with that. You gotta go with the crowd noise to get into the game.

What a Series this should be. Pay very little attention to what happened in early August. Pay very little attention to what happened in the ALCS. New parameters. New outlooks. New situations. Can just pitching and defense carry the Royals?

How will Butler handle sitting out a game when the Royals head to the National League venue? How will the Royals adapt to an unfamiliar stadium? They will play at AT&T Park in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. The Giants have played there since 2000.

Secondary tickets there for the Series are costing 30 percent less than in KC.

So, how does the Series shape up? Many similarities, like terrific bullpens, lack of power hitting, good fielding.

When analyzing the matchups, baseball insiders are focusing on the pitchers, Giant Madison Bumgarner vs. Shields. They’re scheduled to face each other tonight.

Bumgarner, named the NLCS MVP, has allowed only  five earned runs in 31⅔  innings and could pitch in two, possibly three games, this Series. A big plus for Bumgarner is his strong showing on the road. He went 26⅔ consecutive scoreless innings on the road during the NLCS against St. Louis. The Giants will need him to be strong because the Royals have home-field advantage.

Shields hasn’t fared so well in the post season, posting ERAs of 7.20 vs. Oakland, 3.00 vs. Los Angeles and 7.20 vs. Baltimore.

The emphasis may be on the starters but the bullpens may actually be the keys. KC’s bullpen has recorded a 0.96 ERA since the start of the ALDS. The Giants bullpen has posted a 2.00 ERA in the postseason, but they don’t have the caliber of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Those three helped the Royals go 65-4 in the regular season with the lead after the sixth inning.

Geez, the city is just wild and crazy about all this.

Chiefs Bossy, Cats and Gorillas Escape, Jayhawks Lost

Maybe it is possible. Sure looks like it. Kansas City must be creating a little sports magic. We all know about how the Royals have soared into the World Series. Now, just look at the Chiefs. Sunday in San Diego, they overcame mistakes, controversial calls by officials and the inspirational swagger of Charger quarterback Philip Rivers to win, 23-20.

Meanwhile, in college action Saturday, Kansas State took over sole ownership of first place in the Big 12, Kansas remained winless in league play and Pittsburg State snapped Northwest Missouri State’s 21-straight victory streak. Unfortunately for the Kansas Jayhawks, they seem to be walking against traffic.

Ah, those Chiefs. If you watched this one on TV, you gotta be worn out. There were more twists and turns than at a Chubby Checker dance-off. Yeah, right, no sweat, because Coach Andy Reid had a 13-2 record after a bye week and the Chiefs were coming off one. Now he is 14-2.

Would it be proper to go up to Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey and apologize to him after you snarled and railed about getting rid of field goal kicker Ryan Succop. Yeah, no doubt. You should. You see, the kicker he brought in, Cairo Santos, bombed a 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to provide the winning margin. How’s that for being magical!

You want to mention a few more Chiefs positives, huh. Okay. Quarterback Alex Smith was 19 of 28 passing for 221 yards. Jamaal Charles scored twice and rushed 22 times for 95 yards. Hard yards. Very hard yards.

Now, let’s check on Dwayne Bowe. You know, of course, that a Chiefs receiver hasn’t caught a touchdown pass yet this season. Still haven’t. But Bowe made some big-time catches. Yep. He caught 5 passes for 84 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce really was clutch, making 4 grabs for 33 yards.

We’re not through with Bowe yet. Oh you receivers, dad gum. Bowe and Junior Hemingway dropped passes that stopped drives — just when they needed a big grab. And A.J. Jenkins broke loose on a pass play and seemed headed for a TD — in the clear — but for whatever reason he stepped out of bounds.

The officials sure seemed to have a bad day — on both sides. Reid thought the Chiefs felt the hose a few times, especially on a pass interference call against defensive back Jamell Fleming. Yeah, yeah, officials don’t beat you. But, man, they sure can create frustration.

Enough, enough of the negatives.

The Chiefs can get into the AFC playoff picture again with a 3-3 record.

I don’t recall listening to the CBS announcers, Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots, before Sunday but whatever critique you make, let it be known they pointed out a goodie. Chiefs pass rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali didn’t play either game last season against San Diego — both losses, 41-38 and 27-24. On Sunday, these two harassed Rivers something fierce. It showed in the statistics as he managed just 17 of 31 passes for 205 yards.

A lovely outing.

The same for Kansas State. Cat quarterback Jake Waters passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats beat Oklahoma 31-30 in Norman. They also defeated Oklahoma two years ago in Norman, where Coach Bob Stoops is tough to handle — this was only his sixth loss at home in his 16 years as coach at OU and only his third loss in 11 games vs. his former mentor, K-State Coach Bill Snyder.

The aches and pains will be difficult for either of these teams to overcome after this hard-hitting game but the Sooners have an off-date while the Wildcats must prepare to meet Texas at home. For awhile, the football field resembled a field hospital with players lying everywhere.

Waters suffered a shoulder injury on the opening play of the second half and went to the locker room for treatment but returned without missing a series. The injury came at the end of his 53-yard run that led to a 27-yard field goal by Matthew McCrane.

For OU, quarterback Trevor Knight, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Samaje Perine all left the field with injuries. Knight and Shepard returned to complete a big statistics day and Perine didn’t come back after the late-game injury. Knight, who had been erratic in early games, passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns and Shepard caught a school-tying record 15 passes for 197 yards.

Oklahoma outgained the Cats 533-385 but Snyder told reporters after the game that those were just numbers and they didn’t measure the fight in his players.

Heroes aplenty for K-State, now 3-0 in the conference and 5-1 overall.

Cornerback Danzel McDaniel had his first interception, returning it five yards for a touchdown. Knight attempted an out pattern at the goal line and McDaniel jumped the route for an easy score. Cornerback Morgan Burns struggled all day to keep up with Shepard, but he came up with a crucial interception in the end zone late in the third quarter to keep K-State up by seven points. The pick came off receiver Durron Neal on a reverse option pass. Travis Britz again displayed his knack for blocking kicks, swatting away Michael Hunnicutt’s extra point early in the fourth quarter to save what would have been the tying point. Glenn Gronkowski caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Waters, getting a big block from receiver Curry Sexton. Linebacker Jonathan Truman had a career-high 17 tackles.

Hunnicutt, OU’s all-time scoring leader, suffered a blocked extra point and two missed chip-shot field goals, including a 19-yarder late in the fourth quarter that would have given Oklahoma a 33-31 lead with 5:39 to go.

Those items caused some reporters to lead with K-State being lucky to win and that the Wildcats held off the Sooners. Instead, they could have pointed to the numerous positives for the Cats.

The Cats do have a lot more work to do. After Texas, they will be home to Oklahoma State, at TCU, at West Virginia, home to Kansas and at Baylor.

TCU and West Virginia are emerging as powerful offensive teams and the Horned Frogs re-discovered their defense Saturday, holding Oklahoma State without a touchdown in a 42-9 victory. West Virginia dumped previously undefeated Baylor 41-27.

KU will head to Waco to take on Baylor on Saturday.

Davis Webb threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns to lead Texas Tech to a 34-21 win over Kansas, snapping the Red Raiders’ eight-game Big 12 skid that dated to last season. The Jayhawks lost their fourth straight conference game and kept interim coach Clint Bowen in search of his first win.

Michael Cummings completed 20 of 32 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Jayhawks.

Senior Ben Heeney, one of the best if not the best linebacker in college, had a career-high 17 solo tackles. He’s on the Nagurski Award Watch List, Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, Butkus Award Watch List and Bednarik Award Watch List. He was born in Overland Park, but grew up in Hutchinson. He was an All-State high school player as a running back at Hutchinson High School, rushing for 2,083 yards and 39 touchdowns. Defensively, he recorded 143 career tackles, including 14 for loss, with four interceptions.

It only gets tougher for the Jayhawks with games at Baylor, home to Iowa State and TCU and on the road at Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Pittsburg State pounded No. 1 Northwest Missouri 35-17 in a homecoming game in front of a record-setting crowd of 11,002 at Bearcat Stadium. The Gorillas scored the first four touchdowns of the game and led 28-10 at halftime.

Four former Kansas City metro high school players played big roles in the Gorillas’ victory. Quarterback Anthony Abenoja (Blue Valley High) passed for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the first half — 318 yards for the game. Both Gavin Lutman (Ray-Pec) and Marquise Cushon (Raytown South) had 100-yards-plus receiving and a score. Deron Washington (Ray-Pec) returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown.