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.

Royals Show Why Bulletin Board Material Doesn’t Apply

Put that up on your bulletin board. Yeah, read it out loud. Get fired up over it. Baloney! Bulletin board material in sports is so passé, so yesteryear, so weak.

Through the years I’ve read where players were fired up because of what the opponents were saying. But you seldom, if ever, read how so many times a fiery, victorious response never came true. Just way over-hyped sports embellishment.

You think the Orioles can’t read. Could that be a reason they didn’t respond with an all-out assault on the Royals after KC outfielder Jarrod Dyson nailed them cold. Did his words not have meaning? Or is the simple truth he was right and they couldn’t do a darn thing about it.

Don’t give me this bulletin-board-material-is-inspirational nonsense any more. If players need an anecdotal incident to carry them on to victory, you can brand them with one word: losers.

After Game 2, a reporter asked Dyson if he thought the series would return to Baltimore. “No sir, I don’t. And I don’t think they think that, either.”

Two games later the Royals became American League champions by sweeping the Orioles and gaining a spot in the World Series. Oh, the Orioles went home, okay. As losers. The Royals swept them out of the ALCS, winning 8-6, 6-4, 2-1 and 2-1 — the last one Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium when they scored the two runs on an infield single, a hit batsman, a fielder’s choice and an error. Not a ball out of the infield.

The Royals were magnificent with their pitching and defense. You could count on the usual defensive suspects — Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. The pitching? Geez. What great pitching, especially from the bullpen trinity of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera. They closed down the Orioles once again on Wednesday.

Cain, despite going 0 for 3 Wednesday, was named the ALCS Most Valuable Player. And why not! He is 12 for 34 in the post season for a .353 average while making fabulous catch after fabulous catch. Against the Orioles in the ALCS, he went 8 for 15, including 4 for 5 in the second game.

The Royals have gone 8-0 in the post season. The reason? Well, look at the scores and you’ll see that Oakland, Los Angeles and Baltimore scored just 26 runs as the Royals limited them three times with just one run, once with two and once with three.

The hitting? Oh for a clutch hitter. Wednesday, they stranded 14 runners.

The Orioles showed their disrespect in the final game. In the bottom of the fifth with two out and a runner at second, the Orioles intentionally walked Hosmer, batting .458 in the post season, to get to the designated hitter, the designated hitter. And Billy Butler obliged the move by routinely grounding to short for the out. Okay, you can reason that the move was made to match a right-handed pitcher to a right-handed batter. But, the designated hitter!

Then in the bottom of the eighth, Butler led off with a double — led off with no one on, of course. Two outs later with pinch runner Terrence Gore on third after a fielder’s choice, the Orioles intentionally walked Omar Infante — Omar Infante batting, .207 in the post season. Yeah, they wanted a piece of Moustakas, left-hander against left-hander. Of course it worked. Moustakas, .241 in the post season, popped to second.

Too negative, right. Okay, okay. You want to hear more about the Dyson saga, developing after he said the O’s would head back to Baltimore in short fashion. Well, Dyson was inserted as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning of the third game and had to dive back to the base on a pickoff attempt. He was safe, but came up rubbing his shoulder. He believes O’s third baseman Ryan Flaherty deliberately put a knee down on him. Why? Dyson thinks maybe it had something to do with what he had said.

Ah, just a part of baseball, huh.

Just as kibitzing and second-guessing keep the stories in motion.

In July, I was in Boston after the All-Star break and the Royals were in town. They lost four straight. Oh the blasphemy that followed. You must have joined many others to forecast that the season was over. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

However, I couldn’t get over what Manager Ned Yost did in the game I attended on July 18 in Fenway Park.

I know, I know. I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t help myself. Going into the sixth inning, the Royals led 4-1. Then KC starter James Shields gave up a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts. With one out, Stephen Drew smacked a ground-rule double to right. Shields then struck out David Ross. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was hitting .225, was due up. Shields had thrown 111 pitches but Bradley already had struck out and grounded out to first so it seemed logical for Shields, a strong arm, to face him again.

Yost decided to bring in lefthander Scott Downs, 38-year-old Scott Downs, Chicago White Sox reject Scott Downs.

Naturally, Boston Manager John Farrell inserted a right-handed pinch-hitter.

What follows are words of inanity. Absolutely no logic.

I picked up Yost’s quote later from wire services and the internet. He said, “We had enough runs to win if I’d managed the pitching right. I should have stuck with Shields. I just outsmarted myself.”

Oh, right, right, the pinch-hitter. Well, Jonny Gomes blasted a home run into the center-field bleachers. The Sox led 5-4 — and that was the winning score.

“I gambled and lost,” Yost said. “They’ve pinch-hit one time in the last three games in the seventh inning, a bunch in the eighth and ninth. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do it in the sixth, so I gambled right there. Bad decision.”

Indeed. But that’s not all that should have been pointed out. He still had an option. He could have countered the right-handed hitter by taking out Downs and inserting a right-hander from the bullpen. This was a rested staff, coming off the All-Star break. Let them pitch. A simple decision. Make the move.

Just like I pleaded during the post season for him to get the players moving on the base paths with steals and hit-and-runs. Yes, they stole seven bases against Oakland and four against the Angels. But only one stolen base in the four games against the O’s. You need to remind other teams that you have speed before you make speed kill.

See, there I went again. Negative.

Look, this town is now bananas over the Royals. Bars, liquor stores, Royal gear — man, everything is hot, hot, hot. And well it should be. After a 29-year wait to get back into the World Series, well, it’s like the sign at the game said: It’s Christmas in October.

The first game of the Series will be Tuesday night at The K against San Francisco. The Giants negated a KC-St. Louis replay of the 1985 World Series by beating the Cardinals 6-3 Thursday night to win the NLCS series.

Tough Bets But Go With Chiefs and Cats

Everywhere you look, the odds stack up against the KC Chiefs. They’re battling second-banana pro team in town, San Diego is playing mighty fine, they’re on the road, they had to think about how they screwed up the San Francisco game all through their bye week and they surely must hang their heads in thinking back to the season-opening loss to Tennessee.

If you wish to take the 4 points with Chiefs, you gotta at least be conservative in the amount you put down.

You want more negatives? The Chiefs are 1-5 in their last six games coming off a bye week. San Diego is 6-0 straight up and 5-1 ATS in its last six games at home. Also, they’re 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS in the their last four games vs. the Chiefs. The Chargers are scoring 27 points a game while giving up just 15. Odds Shark’s handicapping computer results predict a 34-30 victory for the Chargers. Hmm, right on the spread.

Coach Andy Reid is going to have be a lot sharper in his sideline coaching to pull off this one. He made some real boners in the play-calling and overall direction in the loss to the 49ers. The Chargers are a better team than San Fran and you would need a lot of wishful thinking to believe that they won’t be ready for KC while looking ahead to the Denver game.

Oh well, I like the 4 points despite my power rating showing the Chargers as a 10-point winner. Take KC for $11.

Cincy at Indy. This is a potentially good matchup. The Bengals are coming off a tie — yep, a tie, 37-all with Carolina. And they didn’t cover. The Colts have covered 5 of their 6 games and are 2-1 as home favorites. The Bengals are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine games as road dogs. In the tie last Sunday, the Bengals racked up 513 yards, 320 yards passing and 193 rushing. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton chewed up the defense with 284 yards and 107 rushing. The Colts lead the NFL in total offense and scoring. Their defense, 20th overall last season, ranks 13th this year. I think the Colts have it going this season, despite opening with two losses. Lay the 3 for $22.

NY Giants at Dallas. The Giants are 4-1 both straight up and against the spread the last five times they’ve traveled to Dallas. Are the Cowboys the best team in the NFL? They’ve won five in a row, going 4-1 ATS in the process, and just beat the defending Super Bowl champions on their home field. Dallas spotted Seattle the first 10 points last Sunday and then rallied for a 30-23 victory as an 8-point dog. The Cowboys, led by DeMarco Murray’s 115 yards on 29 carries, out-rushed Seattle 162 yards to 80. Dallas is giving 6½, so what do you think? Can Eli Manning keep the Giants ahead with his passing? I don’t think so. The Cowboys are hot. What to do! Ah, bet $22 on the Cowboys.

San Fran at Denver. You gotta like the prospects for excitement for this one.  The game will be on “Sunday Night Football,” and some pundits believe this could be a preview of the 2015 Super Bowl. The 49ers no doubt have Peyton Manning in their sights. They have won three straight games by stopping the other team’s quarterback. They rank second in the NFL, allowing just 207.3 passing yards per game. During their winning streak, the 49ers have held opposing quarterbacks to a 50.8 completion percentage, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Niner quarterback Colin Kaepernick will also have to deal with a top defense. So? The Broncos are just 1-2 this season as home favorites. The 49ers are 2-1 as road dogs. Maybe it’s the euphoria from secondary marijuana smoke or mile high madness that influence Bronco fans, but I like the 49ers getting the 6½ points. But just a little. $11.

NFL $22 Bets. Cleveland -5½ at Jacksonville, Houston +3½ at Pittsburgh, Washington -5½ vs. Tennessee, Arizona -3½ at Oakland, Buffalo -5½ vs. Minnesota.

NFL $11 Bets. Chicago -3 vs. Miami, Seattle -7 at St. Louis.

NFL Picks But No Bets. NY Jets +9½ at New England, Green Bay -7 vs. Carolina, Baltimore -7 vs. Atlanta, Detroit -3 vs. New Orleans.

The true Big 12 Conference test has arrived for Kansas State — on the road vs. Oklahoma.

Since Kansas State beat OU 35-7 in the 2003 Big 12 Championship game, the Cats have lost six of seven meetings — and going 3-4 against the spread. The Odds Shark computer picks Saturday’s game, 39-24, OU.

The Wildcats are 3-0 against the spread in their last three games after beating Texas Tech 45-13 two weeks ago, covering as two-touchdown favorites.

The Sooners recovered last Saturday from a loss to TCU two weeks ago to beat Texas 31-26 in the Red River Shootout. Oklahoma had an off day offensively, picking up only 232 yards, but returned both a kickoff and an interception for touchdowns.

Kansas State is 12-1 ATS the last 13 times as a road dog.

That sounds like a good factoid. I think the Cats will keep the OU offense in a bind and the running game will come alive in a big victory and a cover. A lot of money coming in says the Cats are the ones. They opened as 12-point dogs and the spread has been bet down to 8. The Cats win outright, so bet $33.

What is it with KU? The Jayhawks have covered in three of their last four games. Are teams simply feeling sorry for them? After all, despite the cover edge, they have lost three of their last four games straight up. There’s some push to make interim coach Clint Bowen the head guy. Without a productive offense, it’s difficult to measure Bowen’s talents. More important, how are you going to bet the Jayhawks against Texas Tech? Well, what I think is the Red Raiders will pass the Jayhawks silly in Lubbock and cover the 14½. And I’ll just bet $22 that they do.

What appears to be a pretty darn good game is shaping up in Fort Worth. We should know a lot more about Oklahoma State and TCU — both have performed in an enigmatic fashion. TCU, the defensive team, is scoring 45.8 points a game. The Cowboys are 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference but they have quite frankly looked unimpressive. Okay, okay, they were pretty good against Florida State, although losing  37-31. But then last week at KU, they won just 27-20. Yikes, TCU is just 2-7 ATS in its last nine home games against conference foes. Confused. The Horned Frogs have covered their last seven games going back to last season. Tough call. Take the 9 points for $11.

In a couple of other Big 12 games, I will go with $22 each on Baylor -8½ at West Virginia and Iowa State +12½ at Texas.

A big national game is on tap with No. 5 Notre Dame traveling to No. 2 Florida State. Irish quarterback Everett Golson would like to show that he’s in the caliber of Seminole Jameis Winston. Go with the Seminoles to cover the 12 for $11.

National College $11 Bets. Virginia Tech -1 at Pitt, Marshall -21½ at Florida International, N. Illinois -13 vs. Miami O., Minnesota -12½ vs. Purdue, Arkansas +3½ vs. Georgia, Alabama -11½ vs. Texas A&M, Nebraska -7 at Northwestern, Michigan State -14½ at Indiana.

The Stats

  • Big 12. Last week, +$8. To date, +$60.
  • National College. Last week, +$6. To date, +$39.
  • All Colleges. Last week, +$14. To date, +$99.
  • Last week, +$34. To date +$56.
  • NFL Picks. Last week, 8-7-0. To date, 47-42-1.
  • Grand Total Bets. Last week, +$48. To date, +$155.

Republican Gaffes But Do They Matter?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes money the old-fashioned way — he inherits it.

The long-time Kentucky politician joins other Republicans in recent gaffes that poignantly point to a perverse yet inane set of GOP policies and beliefs.

McConnell didn’t deny that he was rich but what got to him in the debate with Democrat candidate Alison Lundgren Grimes was just how he made his money. He felt insulted by the Kentucky secretary of state’s charge that he had earned his wealth using his position as senator. Outraged, McConnell clarified for debate viewers how he became a millionaire: He and his wife inherited the money.

The exchange between McConnell and Grimes came when moderator Bill Goodman, host of the program “Kentucky Tonight,” asked the two candidates whether they believed the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour was a living wage.

McConnell replied that the minimum wage was mainly an entry-level wage. He argued that raising it to $10.10 an hour — as many progressives would like — could lead to destroying jobs for young people. However, numerous economists say the raise would help workers and the economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of workers who would benefit from a higher minimum wage are older than 20. As noted often among numerous press reports, unmarried women with children, young married couples and older women work the minimum wage jobs in an attempt to support families.

Whatever the moneyed set want is what McConnell wants. With all the millions being poured into the McConnell campaign coffer, all the gaffes in the world won’t make any difference. He’s a winner.

However, Grimes is trying. During the debate, she said the country needed to increase the minimum wage so that it was a living wage, noting that $7.25 an hour didn’t allow a family of four to rise above poverty level.

She followed that up by saying that McConnell simply didn’t care about the interests of low-income Kentucky residents. “He’s gotten rich while consistently voting to keep Kentucky poor, and we can’t have a senator like that any longer,” she said.

An internet story reported this exchange:

McConnell then jumped in to defend his honor:

McConnell: I can’t let that stand. She’s been given four Pinocchios for that as well.

Grimes: So you’re not a multimillionaire?

McConnell: To claim that I got rich at public expense — she knows that that’s a result of an inheritance that my wife got when her mother passed away.

Representative Paul Ryan, Republican-Wisconsin, has been nailed for numerous misstatements and half-truths during his congressional maneuvers and campaigns for office. He kept up the bad stuff the other day.

Not a scientist, he certainly tried to sound like one. In a debate with his Democratic challenger, Rob Zerban, he said the planet had faced climate change forever and humans’ pollution might not be to blame for shifts.

Ryan, favored to win re-election to his seat representing GOP-leaning southern Wisconsin, faced off against the Wisconsin businessman in a forum that touched on world events, domestic politics and the economy. One of the sharpest differences came when the moderator asked each candidate whether he thought human activity was to blame for changes to the planet’s climate.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Ryan said. “I don’t think science does, either.”

Ryan also said that efforts to combat climate change were costly and unproven, a popular position among Republicans. They are bucking what more than 90 percent of scientists involved in that kind of research are saying.

Zerban said climate change was serious and man-made. Now there’s an opportunity for Americans to invest in renewable energy that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists blame for climate change, he added.

“These severe weather events have local consequences,” Zerban said.

Just hours before the debate began, the Pentagon released a report that rising sea levels and other effects of climate change would pose major challenges for America’s military. U.S. military officials have long warned that changes in climate patterns, resulting in increased severe weather events and coastal flooding, will have a broad and costly impact on the Defense Department’s ability to protect the nation.

Ryan has previously questioned the climate scientists’ research and data and during the forum said that the high costs associated with proposals to fight climate change ignored that the planet had undergone climate change forever.

With that bit of unscientific bravado aside, here’s a scary story concocted by Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican-California. He told Fox News that border agents recently apprehended 10 Islamic State fighters in Texas.

Shock face! The Department of Homeland Security described this as “categorically false.”

Some may wonder why so many believe that the Republicans do wage war against women. Read this.

A Republican state lawmaker wrote in a recent blog that Representative Ann McLane Kuster, Democrat-New Hampsire, would likely lose her re-election race in November because she was “ugly as sin” and “looks matter in politics.”

The New Hampshire post, Miscellany Blue, reported that New Hampshire Republican state representative Steve Vaillancourt compared Kuster to a drag queen and said she would probably lose to Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia, who is “truly attractive.”

He based his rationale on new polling that he said showed “an attractive candidate can have as much as a seven to ten point advantage over a less attractive (or even an unattractive) candidate.”

“Let’s be honest,” Vaillancourt wrote. “Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin. If looks really matter and if this race is at all close, give a decided edge to Marilinda Garcia.”

Emily’s List, a progressive women’s PAC that has endorsed Kuster, was taken aback and responded: “This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings.”

The election is fast-approaching and these types of stories and tidbits should make a difference in which candidate to choose. What is sad is that these Republicans do and say things like this all the time. Yet, they get by with them. Well, at least folks vote for them or back them or support them in some fashion. Rush Limbaugh has made a fortune with this kind of tripe.


Watson Finds Trouble With Verbal Shots

It has been awhile now. But with all the talk-talk about Tom Watson’s captaincy in the Ryder Cup, his pleas long ago to the KC Star and subsequent events seem to be appropriate to bring up now.

Watson felt golf in general and his performances in particular weren’t getting enough publicity in what he considered his local newspaper, the Star. So he went to legendary Star journalist Joe McGuff and pleaded his case. Ever since, the Star has blessed Watson as the anointed one and given him a lot of ink.

I have thought his push for more exposure over-shadowed Jim Colbert, who did much for Kansas City golf and performed well on both PGA tours.

Nonetheless, Watson has brought considerable fame to the area with his many national and international golfing exploits. He also has put in a lot of effort to help the Kansas City golf scene. The biggest probably is the Watson Challenge tournament that gathers the best golfers in the Metro area for a three-day event that produces funds for the First Tee of Great Kansas City Scholarship Foundation.

He has done much to bring prestige and good tidings to the community.

However, he hasn’t come out with high marks after the Europeans defeated the Americans 16½-11½ in the recent Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scottland.

The Sports Illustrated story by Alan Shipnuck in the October 6 issue excoriated Watson: “The Americans’ approach to leadership must fundamentally change. Watson made little effort to get to know his charges or do any team building beyond a few get-off-my-lawn speeches. He was remote and disengaged figure in the run-up to the Cup, and once the competition began, he had little understanding of how his players were feeling, physically or emotionally.”

Criticism increased when he left Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson off both Saturday sessions. SI said Mickelson vented his frustration on Sunday night in a team press conference, saying, “Nobody here was in any decision.”

Watson issued an apology in what was deemed an “open letter” by the PGA of America. He said he took complete and full responsibility for his communication, adding, “I regret that my words may have made the players feel that I didn’t appreciate their commitment and dedication to winning the Ryder Cup.”

Then he added, “But in the end, the facts are that the other team played better.”

As for Mickelson’s comments, Watson said, “I completely understand his reaction in the moment.” He added that he had an open and candid conversation with him “and it ended with a better understanding of each other’s perspectives. Phil’s heart and intentions for our team’s success have always been in the right place. Phil is a great player, has great passion and I admire what he’s done for golf.”

Mickelson subtly criticized Watson immediately after the American loss, suggesting a longing for the leadership style of victorious 2008 captain Paul Azinger. Mickelson later lamented that no player was involved in any playing decision over the course of the week, a dig at Watson for not taking cues from him charges about who should play when, especially over the course of the first two days of the three-day competition.

A later report put Watson in a worse light, citing four sources in reporting his curmudgeonly actions on the night before the American defeat was secured at Gleneagles. Watson reportedly told his American team they “stink” at foursomes, the alternate-shot format that put the U.S. in a deep hole that proved insurmountable the next day.

So, is Watson the above-reproach hero of Kansas City or is he a personality with foibles?

Well, his past reveals a man with foibles. But Kansas City fans seem, for the most part, to overlook the negatives and place him on a pedestal.  He could drink a few at the 19th hole. He could eye a little lovely. He could become involved in personal attacks. But we still admire you.

In 1990, he resigned from the Kansas City Country Club in protest after local businessman and civic leader, Henry Bloch, was denied membership. Watson believed the club denied Bloch because he was Jewish. Although Watson is not Jewish, his children and then-wife are. After Watson’s nationally-publicized protest, Bloch was offered a membership, which he accepted. Watson rejoined the club in 1995. Since that time the club has accepted several minority and Jewish members.

The circumstances of his divorce and subsequent remarriage border on Peyton Place script.

In 1997, Linda Watson, Tom’s wife of 25 years, left him. Two years later, Golf Digest reported that Watson’s long-time friend, David Wysong, said he saw the two growing apart and he blamed the golf profession for setting the split in motion. Nary a word has surfaced why his wife filed for divorce.

Watson, 20 months after his divorce, married Hilary Watson, the former wife of South African golfer Denis Watson. Funnies surface on how she didn’t have to change her name after marrying Tom.

Golf Digest reported that the divorce upset the children and the relationship with their father deteriorated. Watson simply won’t talk about the divorce.

He apparently quit drinking and just struggled with the divorce, focusing on his new life. However, he told Sports Illustrated, “I’m still struggling with the relationships being severely strained. I’ve never been one to intentionally hurt anybody. Never. I’m not the kind of person who gets my thrills out of making somebody feel bad. The role that I’ve put myself in, with my kids and my ex-wife, I live with it now.”

With his high profile, issues become pronounced. Watson played a role in CBS commentator Gary McCord’s being banned from Masters broadcasts. During the 1994 telecast, McCord made comments that Augusta officials  didn’t like — a couple of them: bikini wax greens and where-the-bodies-are-buried mounds. Watson wrote a letter the day after the broadcast to CBS producer Frank Chirkinian in which Watson called McCord “the Howard Stern of TV golf” and urged that McCord be fired: “Get rid of him, now.”

Then there’s the simmering feud between Watson and Gary Player, whose biography contains biting aspersions on Watson’s sportsmanship and honor. In the book, Player asserts that Watson should forfeit two majors won with Ram irons later discovered not to conform to USGA specifications regarding grooves. That was just one shot among several others.

Was Player attempting to discredit Watson in retaliation for an incident at a Skins Game competition in the early 80s in Arizona? Watson charged that Player had bent the rules by removing a ”rooted leaf” from behind his ball. Player renewed his claim that he violated no rules. He bent over and tugged gently at a yellowed blade of grass. ”Now, to have a guy standing over there 10 yards away, claiming to see that I just pulled that grass loose — well, it’s ridiculous,” Player said.

The Ryder Cup criticism will stay around for awhile. Watson will continue to find the limelight shines on the good and the bad.

The Triumvirate Enjoy View From Success

Who are these three guys with Cheshire Cat grins?

Are they Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? No, but they seem to have divine guidance. Are they the captains of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria? No, but they’re sailing along enjoying their exploration in new waters. Are they Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil? No, but they sure feel they’re doing things right. Are they the Three Wise Men? No, but they have proven to be pretty smart in making the right moves. Are they the Three Musketeers? No, but they are now all for one and one for all swashbucklers. Are they Tinkers to Evers to Chance? No, but they are making quite a play on the baseball scene.

Yep, owner David Glass, general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost are in the cat bird seat, chirping and singing lilting tunes.

Ol’ cheap-skate Glass said he put money into the team and it should show results. Yep, he’s right. Moore kept defending his plan for talent with the likes of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and they have come through big in the playoffs. And Yost, the now animated guy in the dugout, can tell his detractors to stick it because he has his team just two wins away from the World Series.

Yeah, you gotta believe.

Glass must be beaming like Wal-Mart family members counting their billions. By reaching the playoffs, the Royals will take in, what, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million. Figuring out just how much is like taking an old slide rule to compute logarithms.

Major League Baseball Rule 45 stipulates that 15 percent of paid attendance receipts go directly to the Commissioner’s Office. The remaining 85 percent is distributed among the participating teams and the Players Pool, which is used to pay out contractual bonuses and incentives, as well as to cover additional salary and expense considerations. The current agreement calls for the Players Pool to receive 50 percent of the paid attendance receipts from wild card games, 60 percent from the first three divisional series games, and 60 percent from the first four championship series and World Series games. Under this format, participating playoff teams lay claim to any ticket revenue not paid to the Commissioner’s Office or the Players Pool – while the home team takes home the millions of dollars in ancillary revenues from concession, merchandise and parking that a playoff run generates. An MLB franchise can maximize the amount of revenue from a title run if both the league championship and World Series are won in seven games.

You got that? Well, let’s just say the post season produces megabucks for the Royals.

Look  at those ticket prices. Ticket Liquidators listed some prices for tonight’s game against Baltimore at Kauffman Stadium. Standing room only ran from $133 to $178. Field box 148, the one at the right-field foul pole, was the cheapest at $249. Field box seats along the right-field line ran as high as $549.

Money, money, money. Just like Abba, the Royals can sing cha-ching.

Hey, the money just could mean that the Royals will keep a player like pitcher James Shields.

The Royals are 6-0 in the playoffs and Shields has started three of those games. He hasn’t been as sharp in the post season and the stress of starting big-time games may be taking its toll. Whatever. Will the Royals want to pay him the big bucks to keep him for next season?

Bringing him back looked like a long shot but now it appears the Royals will make a run at him. Increased revenues can help change minds and they may be ready to sign him to a multi-year deal.

Shields, 32, is seen as slotting in just below younger aces Jon Lester and Max Scherzer in an exceptionally good starting pitching market this winter. Shields is the only pitcher in the American League to post at least 200 innings the last eight seasons.

Could Shields match the deals of Anibal Sanchez and C.J. Wilson, who received $80 million and $77.5 million, respectively, on five-year free-agent deals in recent seasons. Baseball insiders say Shields should be a $20-million-a-year pitcher. He’s already the highest paid Royal at $13 million.

Moore negotiated the trade for Shields so he of course likes him. Why not? He’s 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA. Moore received quite a bit of criticism for the trade with Tampa that sent top young outfield prospect Wil Myers plus pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi for Shields and right-hander pitcher Wade Davis.

The positive results help make Moore break out in that Cheshire Cat grin.

But that’s all talk-talk; the action is on the field and man is it something to behold for Royals fans.

The team is hotter than wasabi on a fiery shrimp roll. If the Royals win the home game against Baltimore tonight and Tuesday night, they will sweep their way into the Series. Yeah, and wipe away 29 years of frustration. Yeah, it’s been that long since the Royals won the World Series.

How are they doing it? Let me count the ways.

They won Saturday at Baltimore’s Camden Yards with Lorenzo Cain faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He had four hits, scored twice and drove in a run as the Royals won 6-4. Plus, he was fabulous in the field.

Alcides Escobar doubled in the go-ahead run Saturday in the ninth inning and Moustakas homered for the fourth time in five games

No team has ever lost a best-of-seven LCS after winning the first two games on the road.

The Royals won 8-6 in 10 innings on Friday night with a solo shot by Alex Gordon and a two-run blast by Moustakas putting the Royals ahead. Gordon received most of the attention for his homer but if Moustakas hadn’t come through, well, the Orioles scored a run in the bottom of the 10th and the game could have been extended with the tie. But it didn’t.

The KC Star headline in Saturday’s issue read: Missed opportunities are out of character for Royals. Not true. The Royals all through the season stranded runners without clutch efforts, needing 10 hits to score a couple of runs. However, sportswriter Blair Kerkhoff’s story actually said the blown opportunities were out of character for the playoffs. That’s better.

But the Royals sure blew opportunities Saturday, especially Gordon, who struck out four times leaving four runners stranded.

No matter now. Think ahead. Think positive. Former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie will start tonight for the Royals.