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Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

When the Royals take the field for their do-or-die Game 5 Wednesday night, all eyes will be on the players. But during the game, there will be a largely invisible team at work behind-the-scenes doing everything they can to get the Kauffman Stadium crowd whipped into a frenzy.

You might not know the Royals’ Event Presentation and Production team, but you if you’ve been out to a game, you’ve seen their work. It’s a crew of nearly 60 people dedicated to pumping you up.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Just because Kansas City has seen this before, it’s not any less thrilling.

With their back against the wall, the Royals scored 5 in the eighth inning Monday and rallied to beat the Houston Astros 9-6.

The win prolongs the Royals’ season for another game. With the best-of-five American League Division Series tied at two games apiece, the Royals will host the do-or-die Game 5 at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

It’s do-or-die time for the Royals.

After dropping Game 3 Sunday, Kansas City can’t afford another loss in their best-of-five American League Division Series against the Houston Astros.

On the strength of solid starting pitching by ace Dallas Keuchel, the Astros held off the Royals 4-2 Sunday to claim a 2-1 series lead.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

After finding themselves in an early hole, the Royals rallied Friday night to take Game 2 of the American League Division Series and knot the best-of-five game series at one.

The win was a crucial victory for Kansas City, which risked traveling to Houston to face the Astros’ ace starting pitcher while staring at elimination. Now, it’s a race to two wins to move on to the American League Championship series.

First-baseman Eric Hosmer said the win would give the team some confidence.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

The Royals fell behind in the first inning and a punchless offense never allowed them to catch up.

In the end, Kansas City dropped the first game of the best-of-five American League Division Series at home to the Houston Astros, 5-2.

“It’s a five-game series,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “It’s not a death-sentence to lose Game 1.”

Royals starter Yordano Ventura surrendered two runs in the first inning and another one in the second, leaving the Royals to enter a 49-minute rain delay down 3-1. Ventura did not return after the showers.

Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

Despite finishing the regular season with the best record in the American League, the Royals aren’t the AL team most-likely to win the World Series, at least according to FiveThirtyEight, the statistical analysis sports blog headed by Nate Silver.

Sportswriter Neil Paine lists the Toronto Blue Jays as the team most-likely to take the title after crunching the numbers. Paine gives the Jays a 19 percent chance to end the season as winners.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Draped in fashion of Royal blue, caps bobbing up and down in a sea of fans, they lined up Grand Avenue and wrapped around 13th Street to squeeze into the noon rally at The Power & Light District Wednesday.

There was Royals swag and spirit, and the chance to get nostalgic with veterans of the 1985 Championship Royals team.

Outfielder and speedster Willie Wilson, five-time All Star second baseman Frank White, and starter Dennis Leanord were among those who shared stories about their careers and cheered on the 2015 team.

Harpers470 / Flickr--CC

Twenty years ago, a sports team captured the heart of Kansas City. This squad blazed through the regular season, earning the league's best record. As a result, it claimed home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Its postseason games would be played in front of enthusiastic, boisterous fans hungry for a title. 

Sound familiar? As Royals fans gear up for Thursday's postseason opener at Kauffman Stadium, some can't help but recall other times in the not-so-distant past when a Kansas City sporting franchise has not necessarily taken advantage of home-field advantage. 

After eliminating the New York Yankees in a Tuesday night wild card game, the Houston Astros travel to Kansas City to face the Royals on Thursday night.

The Astros blanked the Yankees, 3-0, so Houston tasted some champagne before leaving New York. And they’re coming for the entrée in Kansas City. That’s how veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes describes it.

“This is a whole different game,” said Gomes. “You think you go to a restaurant or other places, the appetizer is are normally the fastest part of the meal. Here, the appetizer is 162 games. The entrée is pretty quick.”

One night after Sporting Kansas City won the U.S. Open Cup, FC Kansas City captured the league championship in women’s professional soccer.

Amy Rodriguez scored in the 78th minute in FC Kansas City’s 1-0 win over the Seattle Reign. It was a rematch of last year’s championship match in the National Women’s Soccer League.

In all three years of the league’s existence, FC Kansas City has reached the title match and has won two straight titles.

Michael Zupon / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Royals pulled away in the late innings in their 10-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners Thursday.

The win was a key milestone for the ball club, as the Royals haven’t won a division title since they won the 1985 World Series.

Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain says it’s an important first step this season.

“We definitely set a goal to win our division this year,” Cain said. “We accomplished that. But our next goal is to get back to the World Series and hopefully win. We have a lot of unfinished business.”

Harpers470 / Flickr--CC


The Missouri Supreme Court has thrown out an age discrimination verdict in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs and sent the case back for a new trial.

The high court ruled that the trial court was wrong to exclude the testimony of more than 15 witnesses called by the plaintiff, former Chiefs maintenance manager Steven Cox, who sued the NFL team after he was fired in October 2010.

Cox, 61 years old at the time, was replaced by a 37-year-old.

A weekend homicide victim in Kansas City has been identified as Royce Jeffries, who played four years of college basketball at Oklahoma State University.

Jeffries played for Oklahoma State from 1986 to 1990, when Leonard Hamilton was the head coach.

Jeffries set a school record, since surpassed by two players, for the highest percentage of baskets made over his career at nearly 57 percent.

Jeffries was fatally shot while working as a security guard at a bar on 57th and Troost.

wikimedia commons

Sports fans understand inertia; after all, it’s Red Thursday, Blue October is just around the corner, and we’re not moving from the couch. But what about the teams we’re watching? How much does momentum matter? Commentator Victor Wishna propels us through the theories in this month’s edition of A Fan’s Notes.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry played his first regular season NFL game last weekend — just 10 months after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Other high profile professional athletes, such Mario Lemieux in hockey and Jon Lester in baseball, have recovered from lymphoma and resumed their careers. Berry’s quick comeback, he says, was completed through his will, and with the help of those closest to him.

The Missouri Supreme Court is scheduled to announce some decisions Tuesday and one of them might involve the Kansas City Chiefs.

Steve Cox, a former maintenance manager at Arrowhead Stadium, is suing the Chiefs for age discrimination. The Missouri Supreme Court will decide on whether key evidence from the plaintiff’s side will be admissible.

“Any time that there’s a legal matter that you’re involved in you’re always concerned,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt last week. “I don’t specifically have concern over that issue though.”

The two Kansas City Royals players who came down with the chicken pox have rejoined their teammates.

Alex Rios and Kelvin Herrera made their first appearance at Kauffman Stadium since they were diagnosed a week earlier in Tampa.

They were cleared by the team’s doctors on Sunday and Royals manager Ned Yost had the option to use them.

“The outbreak wasn’t severe enough in terms of their bodies with a bunch of the little chicken pox things they have,” Rios didn’t play in last night’s game, but Yost used Kelvin Herrera in relief against Minnesota.

Courtesy photo / Kansas State University

Critics say the Kansas State University marching band put a Kansas Jayhawk in a compromised position during halftime of the Wildcats' season opener Saturday. (Decide for yourself here.)

The band performed a 'space'-themed show and at one point began playing music from Star Trek. One half of the band formed what looked like a Jayhawk; the other half formed what any Trekkie would recognize as the Starship Enterprise. Then, the two formations started coming towards each other, causing the uproar. / Flickr-CC

Fans of the NBA are mourning the death of Darryl Dawkins, the man known to many fans (and himself) as 'Chocolate Thunder.' Dawkins played 14 seasons in the NBA in the 1970s and 1980s, playing for Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit.

He died Thursday of an apparent heart attack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was 58.

Over the next two weeks, the best tennis players in the world will be in New York competing in the U.S. Open. The lion’s share of attention is focused on the USA’s Serena Williams as she attempts to complete the Grand Slam. She’s already armed this year with victories at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open.

But Americans will also be cheering on a rising star on the men’s side, and that Kansas high school grad has a renewed pep in his step.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

If Cincinnati baseball fans didn’t get enough of the Kansas City Royals during the All-Star game, they saw the full squad on Tuesday night.

Adding insult, the Royals have Johnny Cueto, one of the most popular Reds before he was traded to Kansas City.

Cueto faced the inevitable questions before his first game back. Here’s a sample: “How exciting is it for you to jump right into a pennant race? What’s your take on that league and pitching for the Royals? Is this emotional for you?”

The Kansas City Royals completed a homestand marked by milestones.

When the gates opened to the Royals’ first Sunday night game of the year at Kauffman Stadium this weekend, it gave the fans an opportunity to see their team pick up their 42nd victory at home this season. That’s how many home wins the Royals had in the 2014 regular season.

Newcomer Ben Zobrist, who scored the winning run in the tenth inning of the Royals’ 4-3 victory, noticed the energy.

With August at full burn, it might be hard to imagine that autumn or winter will ever come… unless you’re a diehard football fan, in which case one of the most important parts of the season—training camp—has already begun. Commentator Victor Wishna goes camping in this month’s edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

Instead of jetting off to desirable, sunny destinations like Arizona or Florida before the season begins, NFL teams sneak away on decidedly less glamorous excursions—if not to obscure rural locales, as most used to, then at least to the margins of their markets.

With his performance on Monday night, it didn’t take long for Kansas City Royals fans to embrace newcomer Johnny Cueto.

According to Johnny Cueto’s translator (Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol), the feelings were mutual.

Cueto loved the reception in his first game as a Royal at Kauffman Stadium. For the first time all year, manager Ned Yost didn’t need to summon a relief pitcher.

“You know you got an ace out there,” said Yost. “That’s a big confidence boost every time Johnny steps on the mound. They know they’ve got an outstanding chance of winning that game.”

In a tragic accident that has left a Kansas community in mourning, a bat boy hit in the head by a player taking practice swings Saturday has died of his injuries. Kaiser Carlile, 9, was a well-loved part of the Liberal Bee Jays, a summer league team for college players.

Photos of Carlile show him as a freckle-faced boy: hustling around the field, sitting in the dugout and talking with the players. But during his team's National Baseball Congress World Series game Saturday in Wichita, he was hit in the head by a bat as he ran past the on-deck circle after an out.

Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

The Kansas City Royals are enjoying a great baseball season this year.

Despite the last few games, the Royals still have the best record in their division, and they’re looking forward to another post-season run. Las Vegas was rating them a favorite to win the World Series — even before the team picked up pitcher Johnny Cueto and utility man Ben Zobrist

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry passed a physical on the first day of training camp in St. Joseph and that’s big news.

Eric Berry abruptly left the Chiefs in the middle of last season when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Nothing much has been said about Berry’s future since his treatments were completed in June.

But Chiefs coach Andy Reid was encouraged by Berry’s appearance when the five-year veteran reported to training camp.

David Slaughter / Flickr-CC

While the Kansas City Royals were in the midst of a 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon, a major trade was announced.

The Royals acquired Johnny Cueto, one of the best pitchers on the trade market. Cueto currently plays for the Cincinnati Reds.

In exchange for Cueto, the Royals sent three minor league left-handed pitchers (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed).

Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Kansas Citians have no shortage of players to root for in baseball’s All-Star game.

Of course, six Royals players are in Cincinnati, but other teams are sending Kansas City talent, too.

  At Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the Kansas City Royals will field four starters and as many as seven players altogether—all-time Royals records. Sure, it’s just an exhibition, but as “A Fan’s Notes” commentator Victor Wishna sees it, there’s a lot more on display.