A Fan's Notes

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The Kansas City Chiefs are off to a championship-caliber start. But their prospects, and the future of football itself, may depend on whether the game can be made safer — for players to play, and for fans to watch with a clear conscience. Commentator Victor Wishna elaborates in the September edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

Hey, don’t look now — and it’s only been two games — but the Chiefs are Super Bowl favorites.

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The term “fan” first entered the sports lexicon as shorthand for “fanatic” — and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. But as commentator Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes,” when done responsibly, there’s no shame in getting carried away. It’s all part of the game.

So, how’s everybody’s summer?

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As the Major League Baseball season enters the stretch run to fall, this is shaping up to be the summer of slam: Baseballs are flying out of the park at a record pace. But nowhere is this power surge more noticeable than right here in Kansas City. Commentator Victor Wishna explains, in this mid-season edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

The sound ... is unmistakable.

Crack. “High fly ball! Deep left field! Gone!”

KC Roller Warriors

On movie screens everywhere, the latest superhero sensation wields a sword, a shield and a magical golden lasso. The only thing missing from Wonder Woman’s arsenal might just be a pair of roller skates. Wait—what? Commentator Victor Wishna explains, in this latest edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

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Sports fans in Kansas City and beyond are generally a forward-thinking bunch — “There’s always next year,” goes the rallying cry. But what keeps fans coming back for more is a healthy sense of history and, as commentator Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes,” an occasional blast from the past. 

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The Kansas City Royals are off to a rough start. But what can fans do about it? What should they do? Simply wait it out? Well … yeah. Sorta. Commentator Victor Wishna explains, in this April edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

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From biblical birthrights to the Belmont Stakes, people have always been obsessed with finishing first. Racing is the most fundamental form of sporting competition and, for better and for worse, a part of human nature. Commentator Victor Wishna elaborates in “A Fan’s Notes.”

You may not even know about it, but there is an earth-moving event happening right downtown. More than 3,000 tons of dirt is being hauled in to the Sprint Center, dumped on the floor, and bulldozed into a twisting track of moguls, ramps and jumps.

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This Sunday, the NFL playoffs return to Kansas City for the first time since 2011, and the Chiefs have a chance to go further than they’ve gone in a generation. But as commentator Victor Wishna explains in this month’s edition of 'A Fan’s Notes,' that’s not all that’s on the line.

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If your body could talk to you about your health, what would it say? Today, we learn about the inner-workings of the human body. Then, we discover what yearbooks, newspapers and personal letters say about the world young women from the Kansas City area lived in, years before suffrage.

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First, a forensic psychologist who spent years communicating with Dennis Rader reveals what drove the serial murderer to kill 10 people in and around Wichita, Kansas. Then, two of Kansas City's best-known jazz performers talk about their latest album, how they met, and the area jazz scene.

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As you’re out doing your holiday shopping this month, you certainly don’t want to forget your favorite sports fans — a team hat, a scarf, a jersey, maybe even some season tickets. Yet as commentator Victor Wishna details in this edition of 'A Fan’s Notes,' his own wish list is a little longer than that.

Well, it’s that time of year again. By which I mean, the time of year when there isn’t much time left in the year. It’s a time when everyone, it seems, is making lists — best-ofs, in-memoriams, resolutions — and, you know, checking them twice.

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Having returned in March from 340 consecutive days aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Scott Kelly reflects on the mission, the science, and the unconventional life he carried out there. Then, Victor Wishna contemplates uncertainty and sports fandom in times of turmoil.

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In these heady weeks of, well, transition… perhaps you’ve found yourself asking, “What happens next?” Sports fans know there's no such thing as a sure thing. And, as Victor Wishna explains in 'A Fan's Notes,' that's the point.

Uncertainty. It’s a word you might be hearing a lot right now. And whether you’re jubilant or traumatized or just bewildered, you’re probably feeling it, too. Can’t think why.

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Football season… baseball season… none is as seemingly endless as election season. This one has been particularly nasty, brutish and long—and now, as Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes,” it’s bullied its way into the sports headlines, too.

First, with more than 5,000 "honor killings" occurring around the world every year, violence against women is a widespread problem with no single solution. Then, we hear both sides of upcoming ballot initiatives that propose a new public safety tax in Johnson County, and a new levy in Kansas City, Missouri, that would fund a light rail network. Finally, the most recent installment of A Fan's Notes.

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Another NFL season kicked off last week, and the opening spectacle in Kansas City was most unprecedented, in more ways than one. Commentator Victor Wishna expounds on the situation in this month’s edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

If all you knew about Sunday’s win at Arrowhead was the final score, you’d think the Kansas City Chiefs had done exactly what they were supposed to do. After all, the six-point margin was just a half-point off the Vegas line, and with four straight victories over San Diego, beating the Chargers had become routine.

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It’s been a week since the Olympic flame was lit in Rio de Janeiro, and so far these Games have gone more or less as expected — for better and for worse. Amid all the storylines and golden moments, "A Fan’s Notes" commentator Victor Wishna muses on a larger, urgent meaning for all of us watching back home.

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Just think, for a moment, about how many great sports stories begin with an open field, or an empty stretch of asphalt. Maybe a cornfield. An old sandlot.

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The proud parents watched from the stands, as their little boy stepped up to the plate for the first time. Mom, nervously pressing her face into her hands. Dad, holding up his phone to record every second. So what if TV cameras were already capturing the moment from six different angles? So what if their little boy was 27 years old? They’d been to just about every one of his games—so what if this one happened to be at Kauffman Stadium?

Ah, rookies.

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Flipping through the channels this time of year, you might catch one of the 27 rounds of the NBA playoffs. But around here, basketball season pretty much ends with March Madness.

Or, maybe not.

This weekend, this city of the Royals and Chiefs, and once Monarchs and Kings, welcomes some new sports nobility to town: The Kansas City Majestics are the first professional women’s basketball team in 20 years to call KCMO home.

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Yes, the Royals are back, flashing the magic that made them World Series champs, Sporting KC’s cruising along at the top of the standings, and fans across Kansas City are feeling blue—in that good way that we’re almost used to by now.

Which is why I want to talk about Lester.

Who’s Lester? Exactly. But if you don’t know, then you’re missing the greatest underdog story in the history of sports.

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It’s hard to believe that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship — the main event of March Madness — was, for years, boringly sane, with all of eight teams. Filling out a bracket probably wasn’t that exciting when the second round was also the Final Four.

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As sports fans, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, and our team’s name over our hearts. We’ll sleep out for days to get tickets, travel hundreds of miles to watch exhibitions, spend thousands of dollars, quit jobs and skip weddings to be at the big game or tournament—without necessarily even getting inside. We’ll stand in freezing cold, blistering heat, pelting rain. We’ll paint our faces, shave our heads, don moose antlers … just to show how much we care.

Yes, it’s crazy. But is it love?

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Wow. That was some game against the Patriots, huh? Twenty-seven to nothing at halftime. Tom Brady benched with nearly a whole quarter left. And how about Jamaal Charles?

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The year is winding down, and if this wasn’t already one of the greatest years in local sports history, here come the re-energized Kansas City Chiefs. The Royals took the crown, but as commentator Victor Wishna explains in the latest edition of A Fan’s Notes, this might really be “our time.”

So. how ’bout them Chiefs? No, really — if you'd asked a month or so ago, most would’ve said, “Uh…what about ’em?”

A Fan's Notes: Ever After

Nov 13, 2015
Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Kansas City Royals claimed their first World Series title in 30 years. Yet the glory hasn’t faded, and fans like commentator Victor Wishna are proudly still basking in it—while also peeking toward the future. Here’s Victor with this championship edition of “A Fan’s Notes.”

After that final moment that we’d anticipated for so long…

“Strike three called! It’s over! They’ve done it. The Royals are World Series champions!”

After it was over...

After the last strike, the final out…

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It was a familiar scene on Wednesday: Once more, a team in ugly orange uniforms had come to the K for a series-deciding finale, and put up an early lead. But this time, the game, like Johnny Cueto, was nearly perfect. The Royals grounded the Houston Astros to claim their rightful place as hosts of the American League Championship Series, which starts tonight. The specter of last year’s heartbreak lingers, but its exorcism continues. 

Yet most of all, best of all, this is fun again.

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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.

A Fan's Notes: Let's Go Camping

Aug 12, 2015

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.

  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.

  

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