KU basketball's national championship in 2008 notwithstanding, the Kansas City sports-scene has been deprived of glory for quite some time. From the almosts and should-have-beens for the '90s Chiefs to the punchline buffoonery of the 2000s Royals, this generation of fans in Kansas City has seen just about everything there is to see ... except, of course, the team(s) they love winning it all.
Well, 'tis the season, right? I present to you:
The Blatantly obvious/past-due/painfully true Kansas City sports-fan's Christmas wish-list.
An NBA or NHL team to anchor the Sprint Center. The Sprint Center opened in October of 2007 as part of an overhaul to Kansas City's now-popular downtown Power & Light district. AEG, the managing partner on the project, finagled a sweetheart deal from the city's taxpayers without having to offer a full-on guarantee there'd one day be a professional team to call it home. Some say KC's population and poor economy deem it unsuited to support another professional sports franchise. Most, however, are eager to find out.
Bill Cowher to be the Chiefs next head coach. It won't happen. Let's just throw that out there. First of all, Cowher would want too much control, and unless Clark Hunt is about to drop a bombshell and fire Pioli (which, if it meant snagging Cowher, I'd pull the trigger on), it's basically impossible. Also, Romeo Crennel is a big, fat 1-0 (no pun intended) so far as interim coach, and it looks like he's going to make the decision for Pioli an easy one. Still, this is a wish-list, and my wish here is for the Chiefs to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the very near-future. I'm not sure anyone on the planet is capable of making that happen quicker than Cowher.
Sporting KC to just keep doing what they're doing. This franchise knows a little something about promoting its product. From the sweet new navy and baby-blue color theme, to the awesome, state-of-the-art Livingstrong Sporting Park, to the cool-ass name (Sporting KC ... who does that?!), Sporting has become one of the hottest tickets in town. And, you'll love this — ownership (unlike what we've come to know from the Chiefs and Royals) isn't out of touch with their fan base. In fact, after a rough start to the season in 2011, a member of the team's ownership group, Rob Heinemann, personally called into Kevin Keitzman's afternoon sports-talk show on 810 WHB to apologize to fans for the performance on the field, and commit to righting the ship. Sporting promptly caught fire and climbed all the way into first place before a loss in the Eastern Conference Finals ended their season. Folks, I haven't been this fired-up for an upcoming soccer season since ... well, never. I believe that we will win!
The Royals to have a 40-plus home run hitter ... ever. This thing is long overdue. The Royals record for home runs in a season is 36 by Steve Balboni in 1985. Jermaine Dye came close with 35 in 2000. Then-general manager Allard Baird was so impressed, he traded him the next year. Maybe Eric Hosmer can do it. Billy Butler? Alex Gordon maybe? They say prospect Wil Myers will hit 40 multiple times in his career. Of course, they also said Juan Gonzalez would be a major contributor for the 2004 Royals, but I tell ya, I can't honestly recall actually seeing him in a Royals uniform. Hmm. Anyway. Just somebody, please. Do it already.
The Chiefs to draft a franchise quarterback ... amirite? If this list was prioritized, other than the obvious (winning the Super Bowl, World Series, etc), this one would almost-certainly be listed first. The Chiefs haven't drafted a quarterback in the first-round since Todd Blackledge in 1983, and that year the team passed on future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Dan Marino to get him. Now, in then-team president Jack Steadman's defense, Kelly and Marino haven't won any Super Bowls, either. Of course, they played in a combined five Super Bowls, which is five more than the Chiefs have competed in since 1970. King Carl selected Matt Blundin in the second-round of the '92 draft, but was never given an opportunity after the trade for Joe Montana prior to the '93 season, which just so happens to be the last time the team won a playoff game (I'm looking at you, Scott Pioli). This NFL is a quarterback-driven league like never before, and the 2012 draft will be like Christmas for teams who need one. The Chiefs should be first in line. #RGIII4KC
The Royals to sign free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. This is a biggie for me, and I'll tell you why. Mission 2012 is just about complete. Next April, this town is gonna go bananas for baseball and fill The K to see the young and exciting Royals compete. It'll be fun, no doubt. The addition of Roy Oswalt would solidify the legitimacy of the Royals' chances. ESPN experts would jump on the bandwagon and start referring to the team as the sexy sleeper for 2012 (much like many "experts" did with the Chiefs prior to 2010). The word out there is Oswalt is injury-prone and is only looking for a one-year deal. Enter the Royals, who are looking for a veteran starter with ace-stuff who can fill a need temporarily before the likes of Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Chris Dwyer and co. are ready to contribute. It's a no-brainer and a home run for GM Dayton Moore. And the icing on the cake is it'd help us forget he really did indeed re-sign Yuniesky Betancourt (no joke).
The Border War rivalry to return ... soon. First, I'd like to say, even though it wasn't the outcome I'd hoped for, I'm just truly grateful the conference-realignment talk is over. It was dragging me down, man. Anyway, Mizzou splitting to the SEC may be the single-worst blow to the Kansas City sports-scene ever. It sucks, really. And by all accounts, it ain't coming back anytime soon. My prediction is college sports will eventually get a major overhaul and come away with power conferences, reuniting KU and MU. Regardless of how it happens, though, it needs to happen. KU needs it (though they're too bitter to admit it right now). Mizzou needs it (though they're too prideful to beg at this point). But most of all, Kansas City needs it. Shame on everyone involved for letting this tragedy occur.
The Chiefs to ride Crennel and Kyle Orton to the playoffs. Isn't there something dirty about riding a would-be 8-8 team to the playoffs? You know what, forget that. Who cares? The Chiefs have redefined the whole roller-coaster talk when it comes to describing a given team's up-and-down season. Remember when Matt Cassel threw that screen-pass pick in week 3 in San Diego? Doesn't that feel like a decade ago? Certain Vegas odds-makers have the Chiefs' chances at winning the AFC West at five-percent. I'll take it! If the Broncos lose at Buffalo Saturday, the Chargers lose at least one of their two remaining games (vs. Detroit, vs. Oakland) and the Chiefs win-out (vs. Oakland, at Denver), then the Chiefs are in, my friend. Simple as that. Makes for one hell of a Christmas weekend.
Happy holidays from The KC Eye. Here's to a very Merry Christmas ... and at least a couple of my wishes coming true.