Sounds Good: Gaslight Anthem@Bottleneck, Dan Hicks@Knuckleheads, The Sluts, Rev Gusto@Barnyard, O.A.R.@Crossroads

I know this is a music post, but I also cover soccer for those of you following along…

Last night, Sporting KC got sweet revenge, beating down Philly 2-0 after being on the receiving end of a 4-0 curb-stomp just a couple weeks back.  The win puts KC into the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup finals, which will be held at LIVESTRONG.  Get your tickets now, because this will be one of the all-time best atmospheres in a stadium that is known for great atmospheres.  And I assure you, this will be a sellout.  I mean, the last seven games have been sellouts, but this will be a SUPER SELLOUT.

Scary, right?

Back to the music.  A couple of picks for shows that are taking place tonight, so act quickly KCC music junkies…

Thursday, July 12th

The Gaslight Anthem at the Bottleneck in Lawrence

Really looking forward to this show.  Last time the Anthem boys came through town, which was a couple years ago I think, they headlined the Midland.  After touring mostly Europe for a few years they decided to get back to the small club shows.  Which is great for me and everyone else that loves live music.  Smaller the better, right?
 
The Gaslight Anthem is most often compared to Bruce Springsteen, and though I can hear the resemblance with the gritty storytelling lyrics and straight forward Americana rock, the reference may be due in large part to the fact that these guys hail from New Brunswick, New Jersey.  But they are also heavily influenced by Joe Strummer and The Replacements, and seem to share their same working class ethos.

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at Knuckleheads in KC

Dan Hicks is still doing his thing.  But exactly what is his thing?  Pop?  Folk?  Country?  I always related him a little bit to Jimmy Buffet for his easy-going demeanor and tongue-in-cheek musical style.

But don’t take my word, let the man himself tell you: 

“My music is kind of a blending. We have acoustic instruments. It starts out with kind of a folk music sound, and we add a jazz beat and solos and singing. We have the two girls that sing, and jazz violin, and all that, so it’s kind of light in nature, it’s not loud. And, it’s sort of, in a way, kinda carefree. Most of the songs are, I wouldn’t say funny, but kinda maybe a little humorous. We all like jazz, so we like to play in a jazzy way, with a swing sound you know, so I call it “folk swing”. There are a lot of original tunes that I’ve been writing through the years, so that has its personal touch on it.”

Friday, July 13th

Rev Gusto, The Sluts at Barnyard Beer in Lawrence

I believe this is the first real rock show at the Barnyard, which normally caters to the down-home folkster and bluegrass crowd.  Either way, the beer will be flowing.  I recommend the Golden to beat the summer heat.  Also, say hi to Mike and Heath while you’re there, two of the friendliest local brewmeisters you’ll ever meet.  They’re always happy to tell you about their beer, their bar, and just plain old shoot the shit.  

They’re branching out this weekend with a couple of local bands on the rise.  Rev Gusto is out of KC and plays a mix of garage rock mixed with a folk-punk type deal.  And the Sluts are a Lawrence act that is making some major noise, literally.  Last fall, iheartlocalmusic.com said, “The Sluts are everything I could ask for in a rock band. They’re screamy, noisy and completely unapologetic. I got the feeling that they didn’t really care what you thought of their band. They’re here to be loud and amazing, and that’s all that matters.”

Sounds cool, right?

Saturday, July 14th

O.A.R. and Rebelution at Crossroads KC

That Was a Crazy Game of Poker, unfortunately, is what always comes to mind when I think of O.A.R.  But the fact of the matter is that they have a lot more to offer than the the “You say ahh, I say uhh” frat anthem rock that song always brings to mind.  In fact, they’ve recently released a single in support of Team USA for the London Olympics, featuring rapper B.o.B.  and their last album, released in 2011 hit number 12 on the Billboard charts.   Their shows are always high energy, jammy affairs, that feature a fun loving and feel good vibe.  Perfect for a hot Saturday night.

Rebelution is a cool-ass reggae-ish band, that Sporting KC soccer star Graham Zusi lists as one of his favs.  Their tight grooves and socially conscious lyrics evoke a bit of Marley and a bit of Ben Harper – in fact they toured with Harper last year, hitting up the Crossroads for one of the best shows of the summer.

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Donnelly: Beach House at Liberty Hall, July 10, 2012

I rolled into Liberty Hall at about 9:05, which provided the perfect amount of time to get a Free State Beer before the show started. 

Beach House went on around 9:15, and Liberty Hall—although not at its 1000 person capacity- was pretty packed. And surprisingly, the audience was more versatile than I expected…not just a bunch of hipsters.

The band opened the show with Wild, the second song off their latest album, Bloom.

Although singer/pianist Victoria Legrand does have a strong, full voice, it wasn’t until the third song, Norway, from their 2010 album, Teen Dream, that the band really took command of the audience.

In fact, the girl behind me didn’t make it that long. I overheard her friend ask how she liked it and she replied, “I mean, I’m not into it. It sounds just like the album—all of their sounds are prerecorded and being played from a synthesizer right there on stage.”

Now, this wasn’t 100% true, but it was clear in many instances.

I mean, the band is described as a "dream-pop duo" so I guess you’d kind of expect some sort of synthetic and pre-recorded sounds.  And a lot of their songs do sound surprisingly similar, though still interesting for the most part.   
 

For the rest of the show, the band weaved in and out of their most recent albums, playing songs from each. Fans seemed to appreciate the older songs, like Used to Be and Take Care.

Guitarist Alex Scally did an amazing job, too, controlling some beats with pedals while simultaneously playing his Stratocaster. It was easy to miss that subtlety, though, and become distracted by the strategically choreographed lights and Legrand’s ever-moving, long mane of hair which she couldn’t seem to keep out of her face.

But they did have witty stage banter, telling the mesmerized audience: “It’s ok if you want to dance, we won’t tell your judgey friends.”

Hey, all my judgey friends were already there to witness my awkward swaying, so

The band ended their show with a 2-song encore, where they immediately re-entered the stage and played 10 Mile Stereo and Irene, one of my favorite songs of the night that left the audience with the droning lyrics, “It’s a strange paradise,” repeating in their minds.

It is indeed.

Set List:

Wild
Gila
Norway
Other People
Lazuli
Used to Be
Silver Soul
Equal Mind
The Hours
New Year
Zebra
Wishes
Take Care
Myth
10 Mile Stereo
Irene

 

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Hearne: Kansas City Got Shafted by Fox Sports All Star Coverage

Somebody done somebody wrong…

Like a lame country western song, Fox Sports hung Kansas city out to dry in its coverage of last night’s All Star Game. So says local PR guy extraordinaire Will Gregory.

"Here’s the pathetic thing," Gregory says. "Every single act Fox had at the stadium were country and western singers. And not even huge names – like B level American Idol singers. So it makes everybody across the country think we’re this hick town.  It just seemed like to me that they didn’t have any interest in portraying Kansas City as anything more than barbecue and country music. Why not go to some of our James beard nominated restaurants? We have three James Beard winners here and a fourth mulitple nominee and nobody said a thing about that."

Meaning KC blew it in putting its best foot forward on the national TV stage?

"I don’t know that Kansas City blew it, this city was electric and I think we were great hosts. I just think that Fox was lazy and mailed in the the basic barbecue and country music package," Gregory says. "I think the city was ready to show off but the television coverage was a let down. The television coverage of what we have to offer was dated at best and ill informed at worst. I don’t think that Fox had any interest in getting beyond the song, ‘Goin’ to Kansas City’ and video of ribs.

"You know the movie Goodfellas? There’s a scene where a guy gets out of prison and sees Joe Pesci at a bar but hasn’t seen him since Pesci was a kid. And he talks down to him so Joe says to the guy, ‘I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I don’t shine shoes anymore.’ And that’s what I think about Kansas City – we don’t shine shoes anymore.

"We’re not just about country western music and barbecue, we’ve grown up. We’ve got cutting edge tech companies and eclectic restaurants in every category. The editor of Savor magazine was on the  Today Show earlier this year and said that Kansas City was the place for food in 2012. And I don’t think he was talking about barbecue."

Gregory’s bottom line:

"Fox totally stereotyped Kansas City and I don’t think I’m alone in saying I’m tired of that. It’s like people playing the song, ‘Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City’ from the musical Oklahoma. It’s not the 1800s anymore. It’s time for people to wake up and see Kansas City for what it is today. Not for what it was in Oklahoma."

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Glazer: Order Up! A Serving of Crow for Remorseful Scribe

In today’s Kansas City Star Sam Mellinger wrote what might be his best piece as a sports journalist…

The headline: GLIMPSES OF GLORY FOR SUFFERING FANS.

Like a couple of the comment folks, he made me feel kinda bad for going all negative on our All Star game. I WAS WRONG. The game and event did matter. The fans here were excited. It made us feel more important and brought smiles to a frustrated fan base that loves sports.

Mellinger was dead bang right.

Who am I to put down such a fantastic effort by our city and its people? Hey I am proud to be from Kansas City. Even nut job Harley’s comments hit home, I was being a SCROOGE.

Yes, 18th and Vine is not much, we all know that. However to see thousands of people line up on the Plaza for an ALL  STAR PARADE midday on a weekday was awesome. The Plaza is second to none and the stadium looked fabulous on television. It really did.

Sam’s point was simple; WE LOVE OUR SPORTS TEAMS, GOOD OR BAD. WE LOVE OUR CITY.

We want people to appreciate our town and in many ways this event did just that.

Our fans do care. We did sell out all three events which some cities don’t. Who didn’t want an All Star ticket? It was nice to see families smiling at the stadium and we did get some great national press.

Sam pointed out how important the Royals were in the 80’s.

How he and his dad would turn around and watch the game even when they were not supposed to during a family meal. We all watched it. I did, anyway.

Maybe it’s because we love the Royals and Chiefs so damn much it hurts to see them be so bad for so long. They’ve been like that cheating girlfriend or wife. We just want them to come home and love us. Is that so bad?

I’m sorry now I was so down on this event and being a jerk.

Maybe I care too much and it gets me upset.

This All Star Game was a winner for this city and we are all better off for it being here.

Sam, you made me feel bad, great story.

Hey, maybe we’ll get another big event soon because this one was a such a winner.

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Mancow: Cow Chaws on Kansas City’s All Star Game Glory

I watch baseball only when I run out of sleeping pills…

The punks that came after my boyhood hero George Brett aren’t worth anyone’s time.

As for KC getting the All Star game, Chicagoans don’t even know a far off place called Kansas City exists. Sorry but nobody here cares. And baseball is yesterday’s news like apple pie. Americans now prefer creme brûlée.

Yes baseball is yesterday’s news in America. Kinda like … Uh … freedom.

 

Yes.

I loved the Royals. Then I realized they sucked!

Whenever I’m back there people BEG me to take their Royals tickets. They feel guilty wasting them yet they don’t want to go. Love George Brett still though. When I was a runt of a kid Freddy Patek was my hero.

Photo: Believe it or not, the woman standing next to Mancow is Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

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Katie: Vans Warped Tour 2012 @ Cricket Wireless Ampitheater

She came, she shot, they conquored…

 

Even the weather was cool for Monday’s Vans Warped Tour at Cricket Wireless Ampitheater. Eliciting this three sentence review of the event by KC Confidential lens-slinger Katie Grogan:

 

"soooooooooooo many shots. soooooooooooo many bands. sooooooooooo amazing. :)"

 

Bands pictured include (in order), Newfound Glory, Rise Against, Pierce the Veil, Memphis May Fire and Sleeping With Sirens

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Starbeams: KC Boos, Tom Cruise Divorce, Katy Perry’s Boobs & Donald Rumsfeld to Dole

Many national viewers were surprised to see Kansas City fans booing Robinson Cano at the Home Run Derby Monday.  What they don’t realize is, for 20 years Kauffman Stadium has had a monopoly on booing.

*******

The booing continued on the red carpet on the Country Club Plaza.  Unfortunately, Sacha Baron Cohen wasn’t able to attend the event.

*******

Billy Butler is having a blast during his first All-Star appearance.  Mainly because Royal bacon blue hot dogs are free to the players.

*******

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have reached a settlement in their divorce.  Now the pressure is back on Robinson Cano and Royals fans.

*******

Watching Katy Perry‘s movie in 3D is amazing.  It’s like she takes her boobs and ties them around your neck.

*******

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will speak July 26 at the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence. The lone registered Republican in Douglas county is expected to attend.

 

Kelly Urich hosts the morning show on The Point 99.7 FM

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New Jack City: Cable TV War Erupts in Kansas City

So you woke up this morning, congratulations!

You turned on the coffeemaker, went to the bathroom and then turned on the TV for your morning fix of ABC-TV’s Good Morning America or whatever.

However if you’re a Time Warner Cable customer all you got—and are still getting at the time of this writing—is some Hallmark Channel movie fluff.

So you kicked your TV, threw the remote against the wall and bitched about the heartwarming family story being shown where GMA was to be.

What the hell is going on here?

Seems that negotiations between Time Warner and local affiliates KMBC-TV and KCWE-TV finally broke down and the the plug got pulled this morning at midnight.

Your alternatives?

Try and get the free, over the air broadcasts from the two stations. And customers of competing cable systems as well as subscribers to DirecTV and the Dish Network weren’t cut off.

To my way of thinking it’s really a game of chicken here.

Both the stations and TWC have too much to lose.

For the stations, they’re delivering their local newscasts to the metro MINUS the number one cable operator with the most home hookups in the market. Meaning that promised rating points to local advertisers can’t possible be delivered. Resulting in likely makegoods and/or cash backs.

For the cable company it’s a severe case of bad PR.

It’s one thing to lose the Speed Channel—but the local top rated ABC affiliate? That’s BAD NEWS!

If I were a gambling person I’d put my money on the possibility of both stations will be back on TWC by tonight’s prime time lineup.

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Glazer: Brett Reminds America of Way KC Was, All Star Game Disappoints

Hearne was correct and we all know it…

The 2012 All Star Game is for us. Just us. Few people came into town for the occasion and the events outside the stadium are for the most part not very well attended. The restaurants around town – with some exceptions – aren’t extra busy. And we got the city cleaned up and ready for…us. And maybe a few television cameras.

But hey, that’s OK. We did a great job. For us.

So did George Brett on ESPN last night. He stole the show.

Like many of you I’ve never thought of George as a great speaker, but last night he was just that. He made the Royals seem important. He made Kansas City seem like everyone’s home away from home and was humble in doing so.

He was the best man for the job.

He sat with the ESPN boys for quite a long run. In fact, we missed most of Prince Fielder‘s homers, because the spotlight was on Brett – Chris Berman couldn’t get enough George.

Brett talked about the glory days of the Royals. His days.

He made us remember how the stadium used to look when it was sold out on certain nights every week no matter what.  Back then we only held just over 30,000 fans, Brett reminded us but it was so electric. And about all of the ’70s playoff series with the hated Yankees. back when we couldn’t beat them until Brett jacked the winning home run off Goose Gosage to send KC to its first World Series in1980. ESPN showed all the Brett highlights – the big homer, the pine tar incident and his run at .400.

Berman was quick to note that Brett was baseball’s best hitter since Ted Williams.

George explained that he believed the Royals were finally on their way to the top again. Brett said our young players are awesome and it’s time.

Did he really believe that? Somewhat, but no.

Brett used KC bbq to distract Berman from his embarrassing comments about the Royals not being to a play off since 1985. Brett’s only answer was our baby back ribs are great. Berman ate them on the air and agreed.

Other than Robinson Cano, the captain of the American League team and a Yankee going 0 for 10 and coming in last, George was the big star of the night, even though he never suited up or hit the ball.

It was his team, his town.

Brett is THE FACE OF THE ROYALS to this day.

The game of baseball has changed and not for the better. There’s less offense and, since 2000, fewer American players. Today’s players are mostly Latino. The Star even pointed out how few blacks play in the pros anymore.

The reason: simple, money and time.

In Latin American countries there is no NFL or NBA, so a ball and bat still rule the day. It’s their only way out. Not so in America.

The game has lost too many young fans, they simply don’t care much about baseball. It’s that simple.

It’s more of a local sport now. Games are still well attended in some cities like KC, even with really bad teams. National TV ratings are falling every year and post season playoffs don’t draw on the tube anywhere much except the cities that have teams in the games. 

Baseball’s kinda a dying sport and that’s sad.

In Kansas City, Brett reminded us of how great our team once was and how important and proud the Royals made us feel.

But that’s long gone.

Yes, the Negro League museum pretends this will put their small exhibition hall on the map. It won’t, sorry.

Eighteenth and Vine is a sad joke and we all know that.

Remember, younger blacks don’t care about baseball and not many white people go down there to see Negro League stars they never heard of from 50 or 70 years ago.

The Star wrote a front page story today about the out of towners here for the All Star Game. Something like, "as people across the country FLOCK to Kansas City for the All Star Game."

Really? All what – 2,000 of ‘em?

I called some hotels like the Ambassador at 1111 Grand (brand new, nice redo, rooms $200 a night) and asked for a room from Sunday-Wed…they said OK. Can I get six rooms for the rest of my family? No problem. So PLEASE, enough with the out of towners there are none basically.

Brett is to the Royals what Len Dawson is to the Chiefs.

These two men represent our sports shinning moments of the last half century.

When President Bush came to town on a big swing, the two men sent to the airport to meet him on TV were Chiefs boss Carl Peterson and George Brett. That says it all.

Great job George, thanks for making us remember why our city – with all its faults – is still a great city to call home. It really is!

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Whinery: The Death of Privacy, Warrantless Mobil Phone Tracking Epidemic

The Right of the People to be Secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers and Effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon PROBABLE CAUSE by Oath
or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons to be seized…

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

A report released by the major mobile phone networks in the USA – a Country that still pretends to protect its citizen/subjects from unreasonable search and seizure – shows a shocking uptick in requests by law enforcement agencies for mobile phone data.

And not surprisingly, most law enforcement agencies do not provide a proper warrant.

As Gomer Pyle might say, “Surprise, Surprise”

The New York Times reported that US Mobile Companies responded to an astounding 1.3 million requests – that they’ll admit to – from law enforcement agencies requesting user data.

You may ask, "Doesn’t my network protect my data?" However the phone companies now charge law enforcement for the data and are turning a PROFIT supplying it.

Do you think they care about the integrity of the 4th Amendment? Doubtful.

AT&T now fields over 700 such requests a day! Of which 30 are considered “emergency” and don’t require a warrant.

Now I went to Washburn in Topeka for Law School – not some hoity toity Ivy League School like Yale- but I still never saw the “emergency” exception in the 4th Amendment.

We are a Nation of LAWS and Government needs to follow them too.

I know, I know. When the Country is bankrupt it’s of the utmost importance to stop the drug trade. We would never want to do anything weird like tax and legalize a commodity that many Americans crave and that the Government could turn a profit on! 

That would be Common Sense.

Where is Tom Paine when you need him?

All of our rights are leaving this GREAT Nation because of the drug trade.

That’s the Government’s rationale for trashing the 4th Amendment and all our rights. We have to rid the streets of narcotics!

Whatever.

I know that drugs are VERY harmful- but are they worth losing our Country over? Shouldn’t addiction be treated as a public health issue and not a criminal justice issue?

Some of you may think that “terrorists” are the reason for all these requests.

Read the PATRIOT Act – it includes Meth Interdiction.

If terrorists are meth dealers – the MidWest must be worse than Baghdad…

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Leftridge: Hold Your Laughter, It’s Time for the Royals’ Midseason Awards

Even though baseball is an insignificant, dying sport patronized by fools and those without panache (according to my esteemed editor), it’s still a thing that happens for six months of the year so I figure we might as well talk about it.

And seeing as how we’re halfway through this ridiculous grind, I figured we’d do that ubiquitous “Midpoint Awards” thing that every other hack sportswriter trots out to kill inches between the fever that accompanies Spring Training, the realization that your team probably isn’t going to be in contention and the start of NFL training camps.

When you’re covering the Royals, God love ‘em, sometimes you’ve gotta dig.

But I say that half-heartedly. To write this season off as a waste is a terrible mistake. Despite some recent slippage, they’re still within (a somewhat) respectable distance of .500, something that hasn’t happened since 2003. Most of the position players we’re seeing on a daily basis are foundational blocks for the teams that are supposed to be winning championships down the line.

If you’re into growth and development, and watching kids—yes, kids—play with energy and cock-eyed optimism, is this ever the team for you.

But I digress. The reason we’re really here today is to hand out meaningless “awards” that the recipients will never see. So without further ado, I present you with the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence”  Royals Midway Awards. First up, the Most Pleasant Surprise Award.
 

MPSA:

At first glance, I thought this one would be a lock. I figured, “there’s only one young dude on this team crushing the ball with such ferocity that I’m convinced he’s actually a 30 year old, roided up Polish weightlifter and not a 23 year old ‘brah from the West Coast with a vicious brow that confirms his Greek heritage… that’s right, REX FUCKING HUDLER. No wait—I mean Mike Moustakas.” Turns out, however, that Alcides Escobar isn’t taking this award lying down. See, Escobar is having a fairly remarkable season in his own right; he’s hitting above his means by a good margin, playing that sterling defense that we’ve come to expect and is evening the odds on the Zack Greinke deal with each passing day (especially when Greinke is ejected after four pitches as he was in his last start because he spiked the ball on the mound. He was "mad at (myself)," he could be seen mumbling). 

But Mikey… OH, Mikey. This kid is just something special.

We KNEW Moustakas would be good. That was a given. I just don’t know that anyone thought it would happen this quickly, especially given last year’s struggles at the Major League level. But that’s why we don’t judge a career off of one half of a season, folks (Hosmer’s looking at you, Glaze).

The Moose is loose this year, and boy is that an exciting thing. He’s second on the team in homeruns, doubles and RBI, and leads the team in slugging percentage.

All while hitting around .275.

And flashing more leather than Harley at Buddies.

So unless Escobar discovers the cure for cancer (not saying it’s not impossible—just seems unlikely), Moustakas will likely take this award at year’s end as well. You know… if it were a real thing, or whatever.

 

Biggest Disappointment:

This one is tough, too, though not AS tough. Because only one of these individuals was brought into anchor a rotation that desperately needed a hero. One of these individuals pitched a no-hitter, struck out 11 in a post-season effort and has a World Series ring from a past-life.

And one of these is just a happy-go-luckster with a cannon arm, a pleasant demeanor and a penchant for buying fans beer.

Expectations for Jeff Francoeur’s 2012 season were tempered, at best. Oh sure, we were all encouraged by his inaugural campaign with the Royals and hoping for a repeat performance, chock full of laser beam throws from right field and timely homeruns, but the more realistic among us were prepared for a little regression, at least. Maybe not to THIS extent, but still.

Jonathan Sanchez, meanwhile, came over from the Giants with a pocketful of promise and (unreasonable, in hindsight) lofty expectations. He was a strikeout machine, a fiery competitor who’d won at the highest level. Though he probably wouldn’t be an ace anywhere else in the MLB, he could be an ace here, goddamnit.

And then he showed up, and he sucked. And he got injured, and missed some time, and then came back and picked up sucking right where he’d left off. Sucking to the tune of: 1 win, 5 losses. A 6.75 ERA. A WHIP (walks hits per inning pitched) of 1.94.

1.94.

Do you get how ATROCIOUS that is? That means, in the simplest terms, that Jonathan Sanchez allows almost TWO BASERUNNERS in every inning that he steps on the mound. That is inexcusable. He has walked 43 batters while striking out only 34. He is the ONLY Royals pitcher with an inverse strikeout to walk ratio.

I can’t believe he’s still here, frankly. I understand the investment, and the pride that does along with admitting that your primary offseason acquisition was a colossal failure, but HE HAS TO GO. YESTERDAY.
 

Slightly Cy Young:

Boy howdy, is this a fucking tough one. It’s not going to a starter, that’s for sure. This starting rotation is worse than Hitler beating a baby seal to death with your grandmother’s prosthetic leg.

The decent, promising guys are done for the year, Bruce Chen is your ace with 5.22 ERA and a record of 7-8,  we’ve talked about Sanchez, and Vin Mazzaro is always a threat to start.

And even though the bullpen has been a bright-spot for the most part, I swear to God I saw a dude named Francisley Bueno pitching back in the St. Louis Cardinals series. I’m pretty sure that was all some elaborate prank perpetrated by Francoeur, actually. "Francisley Bueno" can’t be real, can he?

That said, Jonathan Broxton—he of the high-wire save—has been solid. A shaky, quivering mass of gelatin at times, but solid. Tim Collins, too.

And though Collins’ ERA is more than a full run higher that Broxton’s, he’s third on the team with 59 strikeouts. As a reliever. In 42 innings pitched. He’s also holding opponents to a .184 average, whereas Big Daddy Brox is sitting at a voluptuous .259.

So even though it may sound strange, I think Tim Collins, the elfin, savagely bearded reliever is your Cy Young. Sad, true.


MVP:

This one’s easy-peasy-one-two-threesy. Nobody has been more valuable to this team than young Master Willie Ray Butler. I’ve discussed his season at length in previous pieces as of late, so I won’t repeat myself. The bottom line is that he’s having a career year, and his numbers speak for themselves. At the midway point, he’s got 16 HR, 52 RBI, a .290 AVG and an OPS of .848. There’s a reason that he was a lock to represent KC in the All-Star Game and he’s having the best offensive season since Carlos Beltran in 2003.
 

So there it is: some obvious, and some not so obvious selections for our award winners at the midway point.

Tune in for part two when we can (hopefully) celebrate the first Royals player to hit 30 homeruns in a season since Jermaine Dye did it back in 2000! (now I’m going to go throw up a little)

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Hearne: Missing Local Newspaper TV Writer the Subject of Speculation

These kinds of stories are never easy to tell…

However as working members of the local media there’s little doubt that people such as Kansas City Star television and radio critic Aaron Barnhart live in glass houses. Remember KSHB weather wonk Gary Lezak‘s bout with the Big C several years back?

So it is that Barnhart’s unexplained absence since late last year has been the cause of much wonder and speculation by both readers and co-workers.

With the speculation centering unfortunately on Barnhart’s past history with cancer.

"It’s unfortunate, but apparently it’s his wish that nobody knows about it," says one Star staffer. "So unfortunately, maybe we’ll remain in the dark until we read his obituary or something, but I was told those were his wishes to HR."

Attempts to contact Barnhart via messages to his mostly dormant Facebook page went unanswered.

"I feel sorry for Aaron," says another former colleague. "I mean, if you’re not working, that’s not a good sign. I hope he’s okay."

For now the newspaper is still listing Barnhart as its telelvision writer on its website. However copy editor Sara Smith appears to be the one filling in for Barnhart on locally-written television stories with the heavier lifting falling to syndicated writers outside the newspaper.

That said, the Star‘s "Television" page still features extensive information about Barnhart, inviting readers to "get updates from Aaron" and claiming that "more than 7,000 readers are following Aaron right now."

However Barnhart’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been silent since January, and outside of a Don Harman suicide story December 1st, a minor news item the next day and a television year in review Christmas Day story Barnhart has been MIA at 18th and Grand.

It gets murkier.

"Why did tvbarn.com go away? no weekly newsletter either," reads one unanswered Facebook query to Barnhart in late June.

"Just a note from an old friend wishing you good health and my warmest regards, and hoping you’ll be up and about and writing soon," reads another posted in April.

Barnhart’s wife did post a pic of the couple recently with no explanation, including when it may have been taken.

"Nice to see you back," one commenter wrote. "Great picture," added another.

Seven months absence is a long time though and the Star is not known for dishing out paychecks for prolonged periods of ill health.

So people are wondering what’s going on and hoping for good news but, "Probably he’s pretty sick," adds another staffer.

Posted in Hearne_Christopher | Tagged | 8 Comments

Donnelly: Sporting Swelters to 0-0 Tie & Share of Division Lead

It was the most boring game of the season…

Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Houston took place in sweltering heat over the weekend at LIVESTRONG. 

First off, I was happy to see Jacob Peterson in the starting lineup. The scrappy winger has straight up earned it with two goals in four appearances. He brings a relentless energy that boss man Peter Vermes loves, so I’m actually a bit surprised it took Peterson this long to get some substantial minutes.  But I guess when you’re trying to justify the Bobby Convey deal you’ve got to play Bobby Convey a lot.

Plus Peterson is one of the few Sporting players that is not content with taking the path of least resistance and dumping through-balls into the corners for surging fullbacks to run onto and cross into the box. Instead, Peterson likes to face up his man, maybe try and find a foot or two of space, and fire a shot from in front of goal, something that I have criticized this team for not doing enough.    

Houston started out playing composed and intelligent ball, attempting to impose their style on the game. In the 15th minute they broke through on a long diagonal ball, but Jimmy Nielsen came up with a spectacular save diving low and to his right, and nearly held the close range effort.

Simply a world class save, no other way to say it.  

Shortly after that Kei Kamara was on the attack, turning an opposing defender inside out, dropping him to his knees twice before laying off a nice ball to an onrushing Paolo Nagamura who blasted the ball out of the stadium.  Seriously, I think it maybe went into the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot. 

Then the heat really set in on the players and things got a little slow for the next 10 minutes or so until second winds were caught. Hell, I needed to catch mine just sitting up in the press box.

In the 33rd minute my new favorite player Jacob Peterson did what few Sporting players have been able to this season, as I mentioned above.  He received a ball on top of the box, took a slight touch to his right and unleashed a hard and low strike that beat the keeper but not the post, ricocheting back into the box.  The Houston defense was able to clean up the mess, but those kinds of shots are what KC needs more of.

In the end, the ball never did find the back of the net, but KC seemed content enough with the one point for a draw, as it moved the squad into a tie for first in the Eastern Conference.

"Look, you want to score," Vermes said after the game.  "But you can’t mistake performance for what the result is at the end of the game. Our performance was great."

Posted in Sporting_Kansas_City | Tagged | 2 Comments

Mancow: Cow Salutes Actor Ernest Borgnine, Dead @ 95

Actor Ernest Borgnine died at the ag ofe 95, great actor…

The television series MCHALE’S NAVY had a great cast along with Borgnine. Joe Flynn as Capt. Binghamton was great. Tim Conway as Lt Parker was very funny. I remember watching Borgnine water skiing behind a PT boat and drinking beer. He was also great as Fatso Judson in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. Everybody said he was one of the nicest guys in Hollywood and he was.

I think he has Hollywood’s record for the shortest marriage, which is totally understandable since he married Ethel Merman. With that grating voice of hers one can only surmise that Bognine must have been very drunk when he married her.

I loved him in:

THE DIRTY DOZEN
AIRWOLF
THE WILD BUNCH
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
DEVIL’S RAIN
ICE STATION ZEBRA
THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX
BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK

Those and many other tv shows and films.

So we lost two great actors recently, Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine.

I’ll never forget the day when Borgnine stood misty-eyed in my studio at State & Lake, looking across at the famed Chicago Theatre. I asked him what was wrong and he said he was missing his friend Irv Kupcinet who had interviewed him after the opening gala of "Marty" in front of the theatre.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged | 4 Comments

Glazer: Jeremy Renner Atop Hollywood’s ‘A List’ Candidate for ‘King of Sting’

Average film fans don’t know actor Jeremy Renner very well yet…

Even though he was nominated for best actor in the hit movie HURT LOCKER, nobody much saw him as the next new Hollywood god. Well, somebody sure noticed because Renner followed with smash hit THE TOWN with Ben Affleck and now he’s becoming the man in Hollywood.

Just over a year ago I had lunch at Warners/Malpaso with Rob Lorenz, the director who has agreed to do KING OF STING. Just after that meeting Rob did TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE starring Clint Eastwood (out this September).

Rob and I kicked around actors names for the two lead roles in KOS that Eric Eisner and I will produce and Rob mentioned Renner at that time. I had just seen the TOWN and loved it, but I thought Renner was too small for the role of Don Woodbeck, my older partner in the stings. Then Rob pointed out that Jeremy was about to be crowned king of Hollywood’s biggest films.

He was right.

I’d had my eye on the co-star of The TOWN, Jon Hamm for the role of Woodbeck.

Today Renner is the only A List superstar in the Hollywood tradition.

He’s the new lead in the Mission Impossible movies replacing Tom Cruise (age 50). He’s taking over the BOURNE series from Matt Damon, who oddly is the same age as Renner (41). He’s even one of The AVENGERS.

My God, Renner’s got it all.

Finally we have a new star replacing Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Cruise and Pitt replaced Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood who had replaced Paul Newman and Steve McQueen.

With so many bad movies and too many TENT POLE (big budget movies with no real plot or acting needed) the day of the movie star has been fading. Sure we’ve had some nice stars like Jason Stratham, Chris Pine and of course superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp. But nobody really quite had the star power of Cruise or Pitt – not quite.

And there really are no superstar female actors now.

What that really means is their name on the marquee equals big time butts in seats. In some movies Angelina Jolie is that female star, but for action movies only. Leo and Depp are huge stars, but it also depends on the movie type. Stars like Newman and McQueen meant box office gold for almost any picture they had their names on.

Leo in HOOVER or Depp in several oddball movies couldn’t draw on just their stardom.

Now Hollywood says Jeremy Renner is the MAN and it sure looks that way so far.

Hey Jeremy, if we get KING OF STING going after Lorenz next picture, well you get it. I’m glad to see Hollywood isn’t quite dead yet.

And yes, I am aware that Cruise, Pitt, Pine, Depp and crew will continue to do quite well. But Renner is the new HUGE thing that’s been missing for like a decade.

Posted in Craig_Glazer | Tagged | 14 Comments

Hearne: It’s Just Baseball, Take It or Leave It Boys & Grrrls

You don’t have to be a die hard sports junkie to have insights or opinions on sports…

A handful of comments section naysayers ripped me last week for suggesting that some locals – notably the sports media – were over-hyping this week’s All Star baseball game in Kansas City.

"Your opinion on baseball is as relevant as mine is on quantum physics," snarled Merle Tagladucci before hammering me for supposedly not knowing that the team that won got home field advantage in the World Series.

Sorry Merle, I do know that. But that’s supposed to matter to everyday Kansas Citians again why?

Look, there’s nothing wrong with hardcore sports buffs like Merle obsessing over baseball minutia. No more than there is people who obcess over stamp or comic book collecting. It’s the human condition.

We all have our dalliences.

However people here have a habit of getting snookered into falling for broad assertions about the amazing things that will come to pass and propel the local economy if we just do this. Or get that.

The Sprint Center was a sure bet to land KC a pro basketball or hockey team if only we’d build it. The Power & Light District would pay for itself. The Legends would be an economic bonanza for KCK.

With rare exception those assertions by politicians and the benefiting business interests went unchallenged.

And while – just like the All Star game there’s no doubt Kansas City has reaped some rewards from all three – there are no pro sports teams even talking about coming to Sprint, the P&L is a red ink machine that taxpayers must now subsidize and the developer of the Legends is heading towards foreclosure.

The point being, mindless cheerleading is not what Kansas City needs. Not entirely anyway.

And as for the laughable hyperbole of comparing the need for a degree in quantum physics to having an opinion about sports, please.

Check the headline atop Sam Mellinger‘s column on the All Star game in the Star‘s advertising special section:

"Game Isn’t What It Once Was," it reads. "We may never recapture passion of Midsummer Classic despite flawed World Series tie-in."

Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think Sam has a degree in quantum physics or baseball either…

Now go enjoy the game!

Posted in Hearne_Christopher | Tagged | 31 Comments

Donnelly: Sporting Kansas City Dominates MLS All Star Lineup

Yesterday Major League Soccer announced its 2012 All Star Starting XI… 

The All Star game is on July 25th in Philly and will pit the best in the MLS against EPL giant Chelsea.

Sporting KC is represented big time, with more players on the Starting XI than any other team.

That’s some major props to Sporting and its front office, considering KC doesn’t exactly get the national media coverage that some of the other teams do.

Kansas City has three players on the Starting XI – Jimmy Nielsen, Aurelien Collin and Graham Zusi.

My initial thoughts:

Jimmy Nielsen absolutely deserves this.  He’s been solid all year and has recorded shutouts in three of the last four league games. No problem at all with this pick.

Aurelien Collin is a little iffier. The Frenchman is certainly noticeable with his playing style and shaved head, and he’s had a decent enough year, racking up 3 goals from his defensive position. But to me Matt Besler is the more deserving defender.  Though not as visible, Besler does the little things that often go unnoticed.  His steady play allows Collin to be the wildman on the pitch.

The selection of Zusi, while not as much of a slam dunk as Nielsen, is more justifiable than Collin.  He’s earned an impressive 8 assists on the year – though to be fair he does take all of Sporting’s set pieces and corners.  He’s also been a solid contributor in the middle, showing a great work ethic and a nice touch, though not quite as nice as expected after he stormed his way to a fantastic second half of the 2011 season.

Zusi’s inclusion seems to be a combination of the carryover from his breakout performance last season and the fact that some soccer writers included him as a dark horse for the MVP prior to this season.

I think many would argue that Roger Espinoza is the more deserving of the Sporting midfielders, but I’m OK with Zusi’s inclusion on the Starting XI.

Really, just the fact that KC got 3 out of the 11 guys selected – which includes names like Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Chris Wondolowski, and London Donovan – is a big national recognition for Sporting as an organization.

Posted in Sporting_Kansas_City | Tagged | 6 Comments

New Jack City: What’s Next in Airline Travel—Pay Per Pee At 35,000 Feet?

With the latest hint by the airline industry being it will introduce yet another add-on fee, it’s always fun to check on Europe’s largest discount carrier RYANAIR to see what its brain trust is up to…

That’s because a bunch of today’s most irritating fees were originated by RYANAIR and made it across the pond and were adopted by America’s major airlines.

But before we go there, here’s what could become North America’s latest passenger squeeze play.

According to USA TODAY the newest gotcha could be a fee of up to $20 for the privilege to be among the first persons to exit the aircraft upon arrival at the gate.

Hey, an early exit could give passengers more time to make their connection. And frankly we’re already halfway there. Most airlines now offer early boarding—for a price.

So this would really just be a reversal of that process.

Back to RYANAIR, which already is passing along the merchant fees they’re being charged by credit card companies to passengers. They’ve just come up with another little add-on. The discount airline has increased the cost of a checked bag to 20 British Pounds—but only during the busy summer (vacation) season.

Why? Because they can.

And you’ll be relieved to know their controversial pee-for-pay possibility has raised its ugly head again.

So since RYANAIR always seems to be a step ahead in dehumanizing the flight experience with its breakthrough ways of nickel and diming customers to death, there’s a good chance some of our carriers will eventually adopt their latest schemes.

In its in-flight magazine, RYANAIR has just reintroduced the notion of toilet charges aboard their aircraft.

"By charging for the toilets, we are hoping to change passenger’s behavior so they will use the bathroom before and after the flight," the article states.

As silly as that may sound, the economics are all in the airline’s favor.

Take a typical Boeing 737 workhorse equipped with three toilets – one at the front of the plane and two in the rear.

By removing the toilets in the rear of the aircraft, the company could add at least six additional seats.

Allow me to do the math for you.

Say that jet makes eight legs per day. That’s 48 additional available seats. At an average of $175 per flight segment that would bring in an extra $8,400 per operating day, per plane.

And that’s not even counting a possible $1.50 fee for the actual use of the one remaining toilet. 

I know, I know. It all sounds pretty far-fetched, but can Standing Room service instead of Seating Only be far behind?

Leave it to RYANAIR to set the standard of future aviation for the world.

Welcome aboard.

Posted in Jack_Poessiger | Tagged | 28 Comments

Glazer: Bogus Ann-Margret Death Report Sparks ‘Bombshell’ Flashback for Scribe

I was planning on writing a story yesterday on Where have all the Hollywood Bombshells gone?

I’d just caught part of the movie Bye, Bye, Birdie with Ann-Margret before going to work. It was filmed in 1963 and co-starred Dick Van Dyke. Ann was about 22 at the time, but played a 16 year old high school girl in the movie.

And she was so sexy back then.

As I watched her move around I thought to myself, she’s still hot even by today’s standards. Then it came to me.

Why aren’t there more smoking hot, iconic female movie stars like her today?

There haven’t been for some time. You know, large breasted women (with real breasts) and bubble butts – girls who can move it – sing, dance, even act.

Next I was shocked to read, SHE WAS KILLED IN NEW ZEALAND.

The reports were thin. She fell, reportedly, 60 feet to her death off a cliff called the Kauri on July 7th. My immediate thought was maybe suicide. Ann was 71, her beauty gone, her career long over. Who knows?

Her career may surprise you. Ann-Margret was born in Sweden in 1941. Her folks came here to avoid the war. Once she took off in Hollywood, she was a huge star, really for most of her life. She did movies with all the big boys, including Elvis – with whom she had an off screen romance – as well as Eddie Fisher and finally husband 77 Sunset Strip star Roger Smith.

Margret was nominated for two Oscars and several Emmy Awards. Her career got quiet after her first nomination for starring with Jack Nicholson in CARNAL KNOWLEDGE. Boy did her chest grow for that one. She later made a big comeback with films like GRUMPY OLD MEN and more recently ANY GIVEN SUNDAY in 2000 as Cameron Diaz‘ mother. And who can forget TOMMY?

The past decade has been quiet for Ann, as she fell deeper into depression and booze, reports say. She even stumbled in and out of town in a poorly reviewed version of "Last Little Whorehouse in Texas" at Starlight in 2001.

But Ann-Margret was part of the Bombshell Generation that held our attention in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Along with Marilyn Monroe, Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch, Ann led the way. All were Playboy centerfold types.

But no more.

The 80s saw the dawn of action tough gals like Sigourney Weaver (Alien) and my past girlfriend Sandahl Bergman (Conan). These ladies were attractive but not large breasted, bubble butt, hotties like Ann and Raquel.

In the 90s things went kinda wacky cute with leading ladies like Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. Even our big female star of the 2000s, Angelina Jolie doesn’t really have the body or the face of any of the bombshells I mentioned.

Sure Hollywood tried a little with Megan Fox and a one or two others. But it seems like today they all want more of the girl next door types. Oh, they take their clothes off but I don’t see any Ursula bodies, like we did in Dr. No with 007.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few that have come and gone.

Jessica Alba has the lower body, but not the upper.

More importantly these past bombshells, especially Ann-Margret and Marilyn Monroe, were huge super stars for years, not just a couple pictures like Megan Fox thus far.

In fact my vote goes to Megan as the only real hottie out there today.

I’ve always thought Angelina was overrated. Fox from her Transformers movies was on a roll, but lately she’s gone a bit quiet.

So yes, Ann-Margret’s name on top of the movie billboard brought in millions of moviegoers. They don’t make them like Ann Margret any more.

Posted in Craig_Glazer | Tagged | 9 Comments

Hearne: The 2012 Kansas City All Star Game, Too Much of a Good Thing?

In what feels like just a few short years (but is actually closer to a lifetime) Major League Baseball‘s gone from No. 1 on my list to not even on my list….

What’s more I suspect I’m not alone.

If my mother hadn’t given away my baseball card collection, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now writing this. I’d be jet skiing with Mitt Romney or wind surfing with John Kerry in Nantucket.

I was that into baseball…despite how bad the team here was. I even liked that silly mascot mule.

Then when the Royals got good – like pretty much everybody else here – I hopped on the bandwagon – but the passion was really never the same. And after the team fell out of bed, I completed the process of moving on in life.

Without baseball.

Look, I had the highest read column in the Star off and on for 16 years and batted to about every field imaginable; entertainment, politics, real estate, society, celebrity, business, the arts, radio, television…and sports.

But for the life of me, I can barely remember writing anything much about the Royals all those years.

They just didn’t matter much to me, nor to anyone else. Which rendered baseball a secondary sport here at best. I’d watch a couple playoff or World Series games. Maybe. And if George Brett or another baseball player who halfway mattered made an ass of themselves on the Plaza I’d write about it. Maybe.

Here’s a story I wanted to write but then sports editor Mike Fannin wouldn’t allow me to.

Several years ago I went to some boring baseball kickoff luncheon. The one that’s kind of a big deal to sports media types and other assorted jock sniffers. But trust me, it was boring.

Afterwords, I hooked up with a huddle of reporters shooting the shit with Royals star Mike Sweeney who was there with his brand new bride.

Newsflash!

Sweeney was off the "available" list and here was his new leading lady. I took a pic of the pair, made some small talk and left with the intention ofgivingreaders the news and a gander at the new Mrs. Sweeney.

No harm, no foul, piece of cake, right?

Wrong, Sweeney and the Royals prevailed on Fannin – who was pretty much always first in line to kiss sports management butt – to kill my tiny tidbit and photo. Sweeney wasn’t ready to show off his prized new possession

It was small, hick town journalism on Fannin’s part. You think any editor in Chicago, New York or LA would kill a story like that? A tidbit about a cleancut baseball star getting married in the off season and here’s what his wife looks like. But that’s the way things can work at the Star.

Sometimes it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know and Sweeney knew Fannin.

Anyway, baseball doesn’t do much for me any more, but if the team takes off, I’m sure I’ll lock arms with the rest of you fair weather fans and pretend I’ve been true blue just like Brandon.

Then I’ll probably care when some of player shoots up Westport like the ’90s Chiefs. I’ll probably care when somebody parties until the break of dawn, then strikes out and costs the team a playoff berth. I’ll care if one of them gets in a May – December affair with Madonna.

But I really won’t give two hoots about the All Star Game.

Not unless they decide to play it in Loose Park or something. It just doesn’t matter. Never did.

And anybody who doesn’t know the All Star game doesn’t matter probably doesn’t know anything about baseball.

That said, I’ve rained on enough parades lately; The Addams Family, Ted, Alamo Drafthouse‘s texting policy. I don’t want you guys to typecast me.

I even went to the last All Star game in KC.

My dad took me. It’s been a while, but I knew it didn’t matter then either. And we had lower level box seats right on third base. That’s back when George Brett was just a few years away from mattering – he wasn’t just some ex jock that had a few to many and mouthed off at a golf tournament.

Anyway, instead of bagging on next week’s All Star game, I’m gonna say, great for Kansas City!

Have at it, everybody. If you get a chance to catch the game live, do soby all means. If there’s nothing else on telelvison (or your DVR), go for it on the small screen. And don’t skip the ads, it’s here in KC, let’s support this baby all the way.

But for heaven’s sake, how much more of this over-the-top, phony cheerleading about what big a deal this game is must we endure?

It’s not like this is a actual reason to clean up Kansas City. We don’t need to pick up after ourselves because a few dozen TV cameras will be roving about and we don’t want to appear untidy.

We don’t need to paint the city streets and write phony headlines like, "Hoping for a Home Run" and "Jazz District Thrilled" to try and breath meaningfullness into a meaningless game that’s gonna be on national TV for a few short hours.

Who are we kidding?

This isn’t the sort of formal affair Kansas City needs to rent a tuxedo for. Nice slacks and a clean shirt will do fine. We don’t need to pretend this is like the 1964 World’s Fair in New York because frankly it’s not the 1964 Worlds Fair. Not even close.

Acting like this is a far bigger deal than it is makes us look like Podunk and Kansas City is not Podunk.

So go out, have a good time, do whatever it is you plan to do – and if some out of towner starts raving abou how cool it is that Kansas City got the All Star game, calmly look at him and say, "Who’s playing?’

Posted in Hearne_Christopher | Tagged | 32 Comments