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.

Amazing!

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.

Are You Ready for Some Baseball!

You fired up for the Royals playoffs against Baltimore? If not, you are some sort of recluse, some sort of anti-sports person, some sort of dissident citizen. Get with it. You gotta believe.

Oh, many of you certainly have the feeling. Indeed. I mentioned how the Royals are winning in spite of the fallacious Ned Yost as manager and found that hell has no fury like a true, blue fan who will shoot down any negative thoughts.

“Hey, pardner, Yost has them in the playoffs. Only four major league managers can make that statement. Huh, what do you think of that!”

Taking another sip on a gin and tonic, I shot back, “I don’t think much of it. The guy makes too many mistakes and he handles pitching so horribly. They do, indeed, win despite his mistakes.”

“Yeah, well, let me tell you, mister, he has done one whale of a job sticking up for his team, keeping them positive. You gotta know that they swept the Angels, the team with the best regular season record in all of baseball and a team that can score a lot of runs.”

I saw I wasn’t going to win this argument, but I managed to get in my same ol’ dig: “They win, even with him as manager.” So there.

Yost manages a team that is constantly playing 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 games. Close decisons highlight every move he makes and subjects it to scrutiny. Bullpen moves become more important because there is no room for error. With a team that lacks timely hitting, the manager is looked upon to manufacture ways to score. And when he doesn’t, he’s open for the second-guesses.

Those darts and daggers took a toll on him when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. He came off as aloof and cynical and the Brewers fired him in 2008 with just two weeks to go before the team was set to play in the post-season.

He’s in the post-season now and he’s sure enjoying it all.

Keep this in mind: He’s a Manager of the Year candidate. The Royals are young and he has put them in this position. Hmmm, no one is clamoring for him to get a contract extension.

Those errors keep coming back to haunt his management skills. In my short-lived debate with the Yost fan, I could have gone back to the September 30 game against Oakland, one where the Royals rallied to take a one-game wild card playoff 9-8 victory in 12 innings despite Yost’s screw-up on a pitching change.

In the sixth inning, he took out starter James Shields with a 3-2 lead. Shields had allowed a leadoff single to Oakland’s Sam Fuld, followed by a walk to Josh Donaldson, compelling Yost to make a pitching change.

Shields, who had thrown 88 pitches, made 34 starts during the regular season and the fewest pitches he threw in one of those games was 95.

Brandon Moss was the next batter up. Moss had clouted a two-run homer off Shields in the first inning. In previous games, however, Shields had held the A’s designated hitter to a .214 average with no extra-base hits in 14 plate appearances. Yost obviously felt his team had a better chance with a fresh arm, one that could throw 100 mph and blow Moss away.

So he called on Yordano Ventura, a 23-year-old rookie who had pitched as a starter in 33 of his 34 career appearances for the Royals. He fell behind 2 and 0, then grooved a fastball and Moss crushed a three-run homer, giving the A’s a 6-3 lead.

But the Royals came back and won.

And they kept on winning.

Slap-hitting, infield-hitting and base-stealing usually don’t produce playoff type teams. But the Royals have great pitching, especially in the bullpen, and that has propelled them into post-season play. With speed and defense, well, here they are.

Interestingly, though, the Royals have gone long ball to win in the playoffs — Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas showing power, finally. And Camden Yard offers shorter fences to get that job done.

Although the Royals have defied baseball logic with their style of play getting them into the playoffs, history and stat study say they need to keep up the power display to win at this level. As Earl Weaver, the late and great manager of the Orioles, often said, “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals and three-run homers.” He eschewed sacrifice bunts to bring up his power.

You did notice his emphasis on pitching, too. And he was wont to say: “Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same — pitching.” He also came up with: “Momentum? Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”

And that’s a question Yost must answer: Who will follow Shields in the order? Including tonight’s game, Shields will start three of the team’s first five postseason games — he has eight playoff starts in his career.

Left-hander Danny Duffy has pitched well against the Orioles. He’s got stuff that can nettle the O’s power line-up. Ventura can bring heat. But will Yost go with Jason Vargas, who has more experience? Shields is 1-1 vs. the Orioles and Duffy, with that 1-0 victory in May, is 1-0. Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera are formidable coming out of the bullpen so you would think KC can keep the run output at a minimum.

The Orioles have a solid bullpen, too, with a regular season ERA of 3.10.

Lots of questions for this one. Did you expect KC and Baltimore to be going this far? Baltimore came into the season with 40-1 odds to win the World Series while Kansas City was at 50-1.

Each team was able to earn a sweep over a difficult opponent in the ALDS round. The Royals knocked off the Angels and the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers, despite facing three Cy Young Award winners in a row — Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price.

The Royals pitching will get a test, for sure, with power hitters Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz tough outs. Almost every Oriole who steps up to the plate has power. With a couple of men on base, remember what Weaver said about three-run homers.

The Royals, with only a few real power threats — not one player with more than 20 homers — have to rely on speed and timely hitting to get onto the scoreboard. However, clutch hitting hasn’t been a strong suit. They usually need 10 hits to score 3 runs.

The Orioles made it to the playoffs without three key players. Third baseman Manny Machado suffered a partly torn ligament in his right knee on August 11 and underwent season-ending surgery. First baseman Chris Davis is still serving time on his 25-game suspension for using amphetamines and probably won’t be named to the ALCS roster. All-Star catcher Matt Wieters underwent season-ending  Tommy John surgery after injuring his arm in May.

Lots of questions but the answers will start to come when the two teams meet tonight in the ALCS opener at Camden Yards. The Royals are 4-3 vs. the Orioles this year.

Will Yost help his backers win or lose the debate on his ability?

Chiefs, Cats Idle So Do You Bet KU Game?

The Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas State Wildcats are off this week. Can you get up for Kansas? Geez, hope not.

Some big, big games and some eh, so-what games in the Big 12 this week.

  • Oklahoma State at KU
  • Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas
  • West Virginia at Texas Tech
  • TCU at Baylor
  • Toledo at Iowa State

While mulling over your bet on Okie State, you might give some thought to the KU football program overall. Just who can they get to come to coach? Clint Bowen is the interim coach, but is he head coach material? Who in the heck can KU hire to replace Charlie Weis? Would a really good head football coach want to come to a basketball school? After all, TV ads already are surfacing about Late Night at the Phog — all about basketball. The football team has six more weeks of action and they’re pushing basketball.

Do you believe all that stuff about 49er Coach Jim Harbaugh contemplating a move to KU because of friction with the San Fran brass? I don’t. So what if his wife is from Olathe. What bearing would that have? C’mon.

The only way out for KU in the coaching department is to hire a fired-up, idealistic assistant who has lofty dreams. And then get lucky. The big question: who? No one had an idea during a gab session. Would anyone really want the job there. After all, as noted, this is a basketball school.

Okay, back to betting. You hate to give up three touchdowns in the spread on the road. But that is what the Cowboys are doing in Lawrence. Quite frankly, they haven’t shown a lot of power so far this season. But they have enough to handle the Jayhawks.

A victory would give the Cowboys their fifth straight over the Jayhawks and their 10th in the last 11 series meetings. It also would be the Cowboys’ sixth straight over the Jayhawks in Lawrence. KU hasn’t beaten Okie State in Memorial Stadium since 1994. So is it any wonder that I will lay the 20 for $22 on the Cowboys.

Two Big 12 games are biggies. Of course, Texas and OU are always huge but don’t overlook the TCU-Baylor game.

The Longhorns beat the Sooners 36-20 as 13½-point underdogs last season. They will get  an Oklahoma team in a potential letdown spot after the Sooners lost last week  at TCU. Or you can take the other side and made the point that the Sooners will work hard to bounce back.  The Sooners are 3-1 ATS in the last four meetings with Texas and 7-2 vs. the line in their last nine overall. The Longhorns are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as underdogs. They have struggled to move the ball with sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Just too many points to lay in a rivalry game. Take the Longhorns for $11, getting 14½.

Man, was quarterback Trevone Boykin great in the 37-33 upset over OU. You thought maybe the Horned Frog defense would withstand the Sooner assault but the offense, well, just superb. Baylor’s offense has struggled so far and I look for it to continue this week. However, some think the Bears have taken early hibernation and will wake up for this one. I think Bear quarterback Bryce Petty is still nursing his back injury. The Horned Frogs will continue their strong play. Take the 8½ for $11.

Footballs should fill the air in the West Virginia-Texas Tech game and I think the Mountaineers will fill it more often so lay the 3 for $11. Iowa State is out of the conference this week and the Cyclones will face a lot of pressure to keep the conference prestige up. They will. Lay the 2½ for $11.

National College $22 Bet. Georgia -3 at Missouri.

National College $11 Bets. Fresno State -10 at UNLV, Georgia Tech -4 vs. Duke, Auburn -3 at Mississippi State, Arkansas -10½ vs. Alabama, Notre Dame -17 vs. North Carolina, Mississippi +2 vs. Texas A&M, Colorado State -2 at Nevada.

A lot of good games In the NFL this week but not any of them really stand out for me. I’m concerned that I’ve picked all favorites to bet. That’s scary and wrong. Oh well.

NFL $33 Bet. San Diego -7 at Oakland.

NFL $22 Bets. Indy -3 at Houston, Denver -8 at NY Jets, Green Bay -3½ at Miami, Baltimore -3 at Tampa, San Francisco -3½ at St. Louis.

NFL $11 Bets. Tennessee -6 vs. Jacksonville, New England -3 at Buffalo, Arizona -3½ vs. Washington.

NFL PICKS BUT NO BETS. Pittsburgh +2 at Cleveland, Atlanta -3 vs. Chicago, Detroit -1½ at Minnesota, Cincy -7 vs. Carolina, Seattle -8 vs. Dallas, Philadelphia -3 vs. NY Giants.

The Stats

  • Big 12. Last week, +$6. To date, +$52.
  • National College. Last week, -$16. To date, +$33.
  • All Colleges. Last week, -$10. To date, +$85.
  • Last week, -$21. To date -$22.
  • NFL Picks. Last week, 7-7-0. To date, 39-35-1.
  • Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$31. To date, +$107.

Beheadings, Ebola Hype Our Fears

Beheadings create a ghastly picture. No wonder we have a sense of revulsion over the barbarous acts in the Mideast. The thought of Ebola spreading throughout the world creates a picture of dread and panic.

Fear. Out and out fear.

Isis has committed at least three beheadings affecting us — two Americans one Britain. One case of Ebola is being treated in Omaha and another one in Dallas. Two cases confirmed in America.

The two scary topics are creating a pall, a malaise, a shroud during our everyday lives. Three beheadings and two cases of Ebola.

Just five circumstances and the country seems to have gone crazy, even to the point of cowering in terror. Cable news fills their 24/7 shows with screaming headlines in a breaking-news format.

Yet 3,000 children are killed every year in the United States and we seem to take that in stride, ambivalent to any action. Very little fear. Oh, an occasional story about a 2-year-old struck by a stray bullet while sleeping in a downstairs bedroom.

Why the scary reaction on one hand and the indifference on the other?

Most of these 3,000 children die of intentional assaults.

Where is the trepidation? Where is the call for remedies?

Ebola? Oh, Republican politicians are crying for President Obama to do more. Beheadings? Republican politicians are screaming that President Obama needs to wipe them out. And, somehow, all this is the fault of President Obama.

Am I minimizing the two threats? Well, in the case of Ebola, I asked one of my doctors yesterday if the country was over-reacting to the threat. He emphatically shook his head. He believes more people are walking around the country with Ebola than what we read or hear in the news. “People lie,” he said, noting that more people have traveled to places like Liberia than what is reported.

I would hate to go against the good doctor, but I would point out that lots of people will die this year from the flu. Even with the call for more vaccinations.

To contract Ebola, you must come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected with the virus and already symptomatic. Ebola doesn’t travel through the air.

A front-page story in the Washington Post said of the Ebola focus: “This is both a biological plague and a psychological one, and fear can spread even faster than the virus.”

David Kaplan of the American Counseling Association said, “People are feeling out of control. They had no control about whether Ebola comes to the United States.” For Americans, Kaplan said, there’s a cultural imperative to gain and maintain control of one’s own health and safety — an imperative that something like Ebola confounds. “We always like to feel in control of what we do,” he said. “That’s why people are often much more afraid of flying than of driving, even though it is much safer.”

Even if the threat of something like Ebola is minuscule or remote, hysterical media coverage, Kaplan argued, can lead us to “develop a cognitive bias that things occur more frequently than they actually do.”

“There’s a fascination with the drama of the disease,” said Priscilla Wald, author of “Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative” and a professor at Duke University. “Why are we so afraid of something like Ebola? You hear about liquefying organs. There’s the bleeding from the eyes.”

You see, fear. Think of that picture.

Just like in the beheadings.

Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent writing for the Huffington Post, asked how was it that even members of peace groups had now come to support U.S. bombing? One woman framed the issue like this: “I request that we discuss and examine why the videotaped beheading of a human being is understood to be more egregious than the explosion (almost totally invisible to the public) of a human being by a missile or bomb fired from a drone.”

She reasoned that people were being manipulated into believing that more U.S. bombing was the answer to such terroristic killings even when almost all military experts have admitted that it wouldn’t work and “there’s no military solution.”

Thousands killed in the bombings and three beheadings. Is it a fair comparison?

The gruesome beheadings were deliberately and dramatically videotaped to ensure that U.S. media brought the scenes into all U.S. living rooms whereas the drone bombings of citizens of foreign countries are almost never filmed nor covered at all by U.S. media, Rowley wrote. “Thus to the majority of Americans, drone killings seem sterile, sanitized and surgical.”

She believes the U.S. is being duped into a perpetual war, one that makes us less and less safe.

Three beheadings and two cases of Ebola.

Wonder what it would take for the country to really go after the gun toters? Probably won’t happen. Ever.

A New York Times story related the frustration of trying to cut down on the shooting deaths of children.

Fewer than 20 states have enacted laws to hold adults criminally liable if they fail to store guns safely, enabling children to access them.

Legislative and other efforts to promote the development of childproof weapons using “smart gun” technology have similarly stalled. Technical issues have been an obstacle, but so have NRA arguments that the problem is relatively insignificant and the technology unneeded.

Because of maneuvering in Congress by the gun lobby and its allies, firearms have also been exempted from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since its inception.

Even with a proper count, intentional shooting deaths of children — including gang shootings and murder-suicides by family members — far exceed accidental gun deaths. But accidents, more than the other firearm-related deaths, come with endless hypotheticals about what could have been done differently.

The country just doesn’t have the will to fixate on the problem.

Yet folks will fret and stew over the likes of beheadings and over-played disease stories. We seem ready to go to war where thousands of our troops will be endangered because of three beheadings. We seem to have trouble in dealing with proportionality.