Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jolly thoughts for a cold dark morning with steam rising on the ponds and ducks in the water-- Not!

Bah Humbug.

No, this is not a Christmas rant. I've got no gripe with Christmas this morning. My gripe is with morning.

Morning, I hate you.

Especially in winter, I hate you. I hate waking up in the dark, stumbling around in the dark to get the coffee pot fired up. Looking for my shoes, rubbing my eyes red, the taste of elephant hooves in my throat, and not even getting to dip a fishing rod in the water as a reward.

Ah, morning. A rod in the water, hot coffee in the Thermos, the promise of crappie for lunch. Dream on.

Ducks leave wide sparkling wakes on the big pond off Highway 45. Steam rises and the sun is barely above the horizon. Yes, but no joy for me. I left my camera at home and I don't have time to fish. Drive on by, big boy.

Instead, I have a final exam to give. Which these days means presiding over a room of 30 people who feel exactly as I do about morning; me feeling their angry eyes for interrupting their progression to the credential they believe they need to have a decent life. As a tiny reward, I'll show them "Who's On First" from "Naughty Nineties," knowing they could find it themselves on You Tube any time they wanted, anyway.

Some mornings I feel useless. I feel like life has passed me on the highway and decided not to take a picture.

A few minutes later, I'm sitting in a coffee shop with fake logs in the fireplace, unlit, watching the sun come up over Taco Bell and the early arriving employee who unlocks the door then sucks down one last cigarette in the cold air on the sidewalk outside. Man, what those gloves must smell like after a few of those morning heaters! A chubby carpenter works his way into a pair of brown quilted coveralls. He’s got a cranberry colored awning to fix this morning.

It's just 8:15 but the Taco 12-Pack is back and we've got to get ready.

And I'm ready for another day of murder, abuse and mayhem in the early years of the new century. Child abuse is much in the news these days -- and the accused are the he-men of the big time sports world. Funny thing about child abuse, in the 1800s it didn't officially exist. The first case was brought by the ASPCA. That's right, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The first case required an 11-year-old girl to be declared an animal for the court to hear the case.

Then child abuse kind of went away until an article in a respected medical journal in the 1960s declared it a disease. It was everywhere for a while, then it kind of went away again.

And now it is back with a vengeance. Priests and coaches have made it news this time. And, do not take me wrong, it should be. I just wish I wasn't here to witness it. I just wish I could have gotten in and out of this life without knowing such a thing existed. Without watching it endlessly crawl across the bottom of the television screen while I'm trying to lose myself in a basketball game.

Selfish, eh? I stand accused.

Well, it will be one of those days if I turn on a television or read a newspaper over somebody's shoulder or click on a newspaper Web page. Nothing but static. Stomach turning crawls, bright faced talkers bringing horrific news and all the brain killer static of modern life. The Republicans will be after Obama -- they remind us of our first and second wives who could find something objectionable in everything we did. And murders in bucolic Kansas City will be reported. Dead bodies discovered. Road rage pile ups. Some favorite food found unhealthy. Tony will be busting out the exclamation points and big healthy mostly uncovered breasts. Otherwise, meanness and stupidity will be everywhere.

Have a good day, sir. Would you like a bag for all that stuff?

--Lofflin, just a bit out of sorts. Be glad yours is not the next paper I grade...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Frank White story from I-70; Warning! Reading this will only make you madder...

“It was twenty years ago today

Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play…”

By John Lofflin
Published 9/31/10

It was 20 years ago yesterday Frank White last ranged across the dirt of a major league infield as the second baseman of the Kansas City Royals. You can imagine him, the consummate glovesmith, waiting on the first pitch from Kevin Appier to Luis Polonia, opening and closing the broad pocket of his light brown Rawlings mitt, silently thinking through the calculus of Polonia’s tendencies versus the grass and dirt between home and his cleats.

It was Sept. 30, 1990, and the Royals were finishing an unremarkable season in Anaheim, Calif. Appier had 11 wins against 8 loses and with a victory that California afternoon would finish the season 12 and 8, George Brett was hitting .328 when the game ended, and Bo Jackson broke a 1-1 tie on a 3-1 count in the bottom of the ninth with a pinch hit blast into the right field seats.

But Frank White was hitting just .216 that afternoon, last in John Wathan’s batting order. And, it was White who watched from the dugout while Bo Jackson walked to the plate in his stead with no outs in the ninth. Whether he knew it or not, this would be the last time Frank White’s name would be written anywhere in a major league lineup. But it would not be the last time he suited up, nor the last time he calculated the possibilities of bat, ball and infield dirt, even if he sat behind a microphone two decades later to do it.

Twenty-one years spent as a player on the field, counting three years in the minors, and 20 years as a major league coach, minor league manager and teacher-announcer. That’s a lifetime in baseball… and at the highest level.

It’s almost always a mistake to judge a ballplayer by his last game, even if Frank was the pivot man in two double-plays during that tense pitcher’s duel in California. The last game tells you little about an 18-year career. Every sixty-two year old softball player knows the feeling of coming to bat for the last time in late September praying for a crisp line drive double to take into the snowy nights, but grounding out instead. After all, Babe Ruth struck out in his last at-bat.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Frank White out, Royals bare hand another slow roller to third and throw the ball into the stands

Frank White is out as a home team broadcaster, according to the Kansas City Star this morning.

Just when you thought it was impossible for the brain trust to handle home town public relations worse, they manage to blow the lid off the curve.

Frank White was the ONLY reason to watch a Kansas City Royals broadcast. Why? Well, you might actually learn something about the game. Or, you might actually hear somebody in this tight-assed organization dare to criticize a player or management of this lousy ballclub. Denny Matthews wasn't afraid and neither was Frank. Denny usually communicated his feelings by the dead air he left after some homer comment from one of his sidekicks. Frank just came out and said it.

You had to love it when Frank, after watching another Sports Center inspired attempt at bare hand fielding, quietly asked why the fielder, or his sidekick, thought Mr. Rawlings made ball gloves. Of course, this was coming from a eight-time Gold Glove winner, so what would he know?

On second thought, the brain trust is right. Frank shouldn't be sitting up there in the broadcast booth. The fact is, Frank White should be sitting in the dugout next spring managing the competitive team the Royals are finally putting on the field. That's where he should be.


Sam Mellinger did a good piece this morning that will only make you madder.

What I'd like to see next, but won't, I'm only dreaming, is Frank White's next visit to Kauffman Stadium be in another uniform as the manager of a ball club he deserves. I'm with Frank White -- done with the Royals.