Could it be?
Could it actually be spring in our spot on the map?
Yep — for about two weeks, then we will wake up one morning and it will be 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity. Welcome to the Midwest.
Anyway, with all the sunshine the past few days, coupled with the Platte County, West Platte, North Platte, Park Hill and Park Hill South high school nines swinging into their respective district tournaments this weekend, my baseball fever has spiked considerably.
I’m so feverish I’m not going to allow Royals manager Ned Yost to cool me off, no matter how much of a buzz-kill he delivered during Monday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday as I write this and it will be Wednesday or Thursday before anybody reads this and the Royals may be on their way to a three-game sweep at Baltimore for all I know, but I can’t help it. I have to get this off my chest.
There is no way in heck Yost should have pulled Royals starting pitcher James Shields from Monday’s game and bought in closer Greg Holland to preserve a 1-0 lead in the ninth.
And I don’t say that because Holland blew the save and the Royals ultimately lost in 11 innings. My irritation has nothing to do with Holland, who was nails for nine straight outings before his meltdown Monday.
And it’s not about the Royals anemic offense, which scored three runs or less for the 16th time already this season. Heck yes, everybody knows they should have scored more than one run.
And it’s not about second baseman Chris Getz’s inability to make a play on a two-out grounder in the ninth that could have — maybe should have — been ballgame. Getz is on the team for one reason and one reason only — to play defense. It would not have been an easy play by no means, but one he should have made.
No, my irritation stems from this: Shields is the Royals’ undisputed ace. They traded away the minor- league player of the year and a handful of other prospects to get him. He threw more than 110 pitches in 16 starts in Tampa last season. He had only thrown 102 pitches in eight innings Monday. He had struck out nine and given up only two hits and one of those should have been an out. He was dominant.
His nickname is Big Game James, for cryin’ out loud.
Finishing games like Monday’s is why Shields is here.
Apparently, Yost must think that the same rules apply to Shields as those which govern the usage of the Royals usual assortment of non-ace starters, such as Bruce Chen or Luis Mendoza. Apparently he thinks Holland’s closer status rivals that of Mariano Rivera and that he gets the nod in the ninth regardless of who is on the mound.
Stevie Wonder could see that Shields was the Royals best chance to complete a 1-0 win Monday. But not Yost, who compounded knowledgeable fans’ frustration in his post-game interview when he acted offended that anyone would even question the move.
Yost is the best manager the Royals have had the last decade or so (which, of course, isn’t saying a lot.) But he certainly tests that assertion when he makes mind-numbing moves like Monday’s. By my count, that’s about four or five already this season, like the fifth game of the year when Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who combined for seven hits and four RBI the game before, were sent to the bench because of a “tough lefthander.” Neither one of them has done much since.
SALUTE TO FIREFIGHTERS I was going to mention this last week when we had the attention-grabbing picture of a Platte City house fire on our front page, but I ran out of room.
So, I’m glad to give the volunteer firefighters of Central Platte a shout-out this week.
Last Saturday, I saw many Central Platte firefighters on duty at Warrior Dash on a cool, muddy day, keeping watch over all the adventure-seekers.
Nine hours later I saw many of those same firefighters battling the afore-mentioned blaze. I was only there for about 30 minutes or so, but many of those firefighters were there for four hours. They were cold, wet and tired, I’m sure. And they each got paid $13 for their trouble.
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU, MA Even though I’m 50, I still remember like it was yesterday all the time you gave me some money whenever the chime of the ice cream truck bell rang through the neighborhood.
I remember how you could soothe my troubles before I even knew I was troubled.
I remember you dropping me off for my first day of school and me crying like... well, a five-year-old and then feeling like a 10-year-old when you picked me up.
I remember you at my birthdays, my high school and college graduations and my wedding and the births of my kids and...
Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday to my Mom and my wife, too, and all you mothers out there.
Thanks for reading.
Lee Stubbs is owner/editor of The Citizen. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.