KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Royals manager Ned Yost pleaded with fans on Wednesday to show up for their remaining home games, one night after Alex Gordon’s walk-off homer gave Kansas City a dramatic win over Minnesota that was seen by just 13,847 at Kauffman Stadium.
Yost briefly mentioned the attendance in his postgame remarks, and expanded on his thoughts when he was asked a follow-up question about so many empty seats during a pennant race.
“We’ve been working hard to try to make our fans happy and make our fans proud of us for a lot of years,” Yost said, “and we’d like them to enjoy a night like that.”
Some took Yost’s comments out of context – they thought they were a dig at fans who have suffered for 29 years without a playoff appearance. But the skipper said Wednesday that he wasn’t being critical of fans, rather he was simply asking them to join in the fun.
The Royals entered Wednesday with a 1 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.
“The reason I do this job, there’s two reasons: One is I’ve been to the World Series six times. I know that feeling. I know the excitement. I know what goes along with it,” Yost said. “And one of my main things is I want these players to experience that, because it’s very, very important. And the opportunities to do it are far and few between.
“And the other thing is I want the fans to experienced that,” he said. “It’s a special time. It’s been a long time since our fans have been able to enjoy a playoff run.”
The Royals won 86 games last year, their best mark since 1989, but were never really in the division race. They were eliminated from wild-card contention with a week left in the season.
“To win a division, it’s one of the toughest things to do in sports, and you don’t know when this opportunity is going to come again,” Yost said. “I just think it’s extremely important that our fans get the opportunity to come out and enjoy this with us.”
It wasn’t just Yost who noticed the empty seats, though. Gordon also mentioned how light the crowd was one night after 31,758 turned out to see the Yankees – and shortstop Derek Jeter’s last scheduled appearance in Kansas City.
“It wasn’t the best,” Gordon said, “but I think they’ve been pretty great all year long. I think they were a little tired after the Jeter night and cheering for him all night and putting a lot into that game. They took a night off and hopefully they’ll come back out tomorrow.”
There were several reasons for the paltry crowd. The Royals were playing the last-place Twins, a team that lacks star power.
The game was being played on Tuesday, traditionally a poor night for attendance. And school is back in session, which means many families are unwilling to show up for a game that might not end until late in the evening.
“I know there’s a lot of reasons for it,” Yost said. “There’s economic reasons. You can watch the game on TV. There’s a lot of reasons for it. But again, we’ve worked really hard to get in this position, and I just don’t know when we’re going to get in this position again. It could be for the next five years. It could be the next six years. But enjoy it while you can.”
The reality is more fans have been enjoying it than any point in the past two decades.
The Royals had drawn 1,476,908 fans through Tuesday night’s game, an increase of more than 100,000 over a year ago. That’s an average of 23,443 per contest, which would give the club about 1.9 million fans for the season – the best single-season mark since 1993.
On top of that, the Royals have been breaking records for local TV ratings all summer.
“You go back and talk to people about the ’85 year when they won the World Series, they remember that, and they’ve been longing for that, and it’s been a long time ago. And they remember it for the rest of their lives,” Yost said. “If we do want we want to do, these kids jumping up and down on the Jumbotron, they’re going to remember it for the rest of their lives, too.”
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Michael Sam is about to get one last chance to show the St. Louis Rams why he belongs on their 53-man roster.
For him – and everyone else on NFL roster bubbles – a preseason finale is anything but meaningless.
Sam and the Rams visit the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, the last exhibition for both clubs and the last opportunity for players to state their cases before teams pare down their rosters to the NFL-mandated 53 by Saturday afternoon.
“I will be playing a lot more,” Sam told the Rams’ web site in a videotaped interview.
And that means he will have plenty of snaps to make one last impression. Starters are typically held out of preseason finales in most cases to avoid injury issues, and it’s a virtual certainty that the Rams and Dolphins will be giving many of their first-stringers the night off.
So for those not assured of spots on the team, opportunity knocks. For the Dolphins, the biggest chance might be the one that’ll be presented to running back Daniel Thomas, who hasn’t appeared yet in the preseason because of a hamstring issue.
Thomas will play Thursday, and his spot on Miami’s 53 is hardly assured.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Thomas said.
He’s not alone.
Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wouldn’t say how many spots on that 53-man roster are locked up going into Thursday night – and wouldn’t divulge how many starters will sit, either, but it’s a safe bet that quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be getting the night off.
“We’re still making decisions on who’s going to be the final members of this team,” Philbin said. “It’s an opportunity for these guys to show us what they’re capable of doing in that game setting. . We’ll have one more opportunity for that and they need to take advantage of it.”
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford wouldn’t have played for St. Louis in this game, either. Now he won’t be playing for the entire season, with another tear to the ACL in his left knee ending the 2014 campaign before it could officially start.
Shaun Hill is now the Rams’ starter, and it’s not clear how much work St. Louis will want him to get Thursday, if any.
“He’s disappointed for Sam,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “That’s where his heart’s at right now because he knows how hard he worked.”
The Rams could also go out and swing a trade, but Fisher was adamant this week that Hill has the job.
“We’re sticking with this,” Fisher said. “There’s no doubt about that. . There’s no doubt that he’s our guy.”
Sam doesn’t have that same assurance.
The NFL’s first openly gay player is battling for a spot on St. Louis’ defensive line, which just happens to be a position where the Rams are extremely deep. Sam has shown some flashes of great potential – his sacks of Johnny Manziel against Cleveland last week maybe foremost among them – but knows those plays alone won’t win him a job.
“I’ve got to get better every week,” Sam said.
Such is the mantra for bubble guys. If they don’t get better this week, they might be looking for work next week.
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (AP) — Authorities say a tour bus bringing the Kansas City Chiefs to their Wisconsin hotel before Thursday night’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers was involved in an accident.
The Outagamie (awt-ah-GAY’-mee) County sheriff’s office says it was escorting the Chiefs’ buses from the airport to the hotel Wednesday afternoon when a vehicle entered the intersection and collided with one of the five buses.
Two adults and three children were in the vehicle that struck the bus. One of the children had a minor cut to the head and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
No one on the Chiefs’ bus was hurt. Police are investigating.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina briefly detained and questioned a man who flew a drone with a camera mounted on it over a stadium during an NFL preseason game.
Area news media outlets report that the drone was spotted during the Aug. 17 game between the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Federal Aviation Administration limits aircraft use near major sporting events, and prohibits unmanned aircraft at sites designated as “Class B” venues, which includes Bank of America Stadium.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department spokesman Rob Tufano did not say what explanation the drone operator gave for using the prohibited aircraft. He said information obtained during questioning was turned over to the FAA, which has jurisdiction in such matters.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Markus Golden isn’t a conventional team captain. The senior defensive end transferred to Missouri from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College two years ago, and has zero career starts with the Tigers.
He’s not without experience, though.
Golden backed up NFL draft picks Michael Sam and Kony Ealy last season, yet managed to record 55 tackles – including 13 for loss – and 6.5 sacks. He’s set to start in No. 24 Missouri’s opener Saturday against South Dakota State, and says he doesn’t feel any pressure in taking over.
“Oh, no, not at all,” Golden said. “Why would I be worried about filling any shoes? I’m the same person. I’m sticking to the same role I had last year, which was being myself out there and playing hard every play.”
Golden highlights a defensive line that features three seniors and a junior atop the depth chart despite losing its star power from a year ago. Tackles Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent have 34 combined starts while end Shane Ray played as a reserve in all 14 games last season. Sophomore tackles Harold Brantley and Josh Augusta are also expected to receive playing time.
Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said each of the four tackles is capable of starting, and that as long as the team figures out a rotation for them, there is no drawback to having reserves who can fill in at a moment’s notice.
“It keeps everybody on their toes,” he said. “Just because they know that you can’t look back. You’ve always got to look forward. So I think it helps our team compete.”
But there’s no doubt the presence of Sam and Ealy will be missed, as the Tigers led the Southeastern Conference last year with 41 sacks and 108 tackles for loss. Hoch expanded on their contributions to the team, saying Sam and Ealy not only excelled on the field but also motivated teammates on the sidelines.
Golden is aiming to replicate those actions, preaching to younger players that as long as they put forth the effort on the field, they’ll eventually become a first-stringer. He thinks his split playing time with Sam challenged both players to raise the bar a notch.
“Just in terms of an emotional leader on defense, I don’t know if we’ve had a guy like him since (current Atlanta Falcons player) Sean Weatherspoon,” Kuligowski said. “Just in terms of a guy who has that personality, is well-liked and has that energy about him.”
Since Weatherspoon’s final season in 2009, Missouri has featured several prominent defensive linemen, including Sam, Ealy, Aldon Smith and Sheldon Richardson, so Kuligowski’s praise carries some weight. But Golden refuses to reminisce, choosing to focus on South Dakota State instead.
The Jackrabbits play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the Championship Subdivision, and feature a pair of veteran offensive players who can pose problems for opposing defensive lines.
Quarterback Austin Sumner already holds school records in completions (631), attempts (1,085) and passing yards (7,824), and needs six more touchdowns to match Ryan Berry at 56. Running back Zach Zenner last year became the second FCS player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in two separate seasons.
“You feel like you have the go-to guy at every one of the positions,” coach John Stiegelmeier told his school’s website. “But also the confidence they give the other members of the team, just because they’ve done it, they’ve worked hard. They’re no different than you are. There’s a double whammy with their presence.”
Whatever happens, Golden can’t wait to get started.
“That’s the best thing about football,” he said. “Every year’s a new year.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Don’t expect to see starting quarterbacks Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers take snaps. Do expect to see running backs Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy wearing baseball caps on the sideline.
With roster decisions looming, the preseason game between Kansas City and Green Bay on Thursday night at Lambeau Field belongs to the backups, rookies and undrafted free agents. It’s time for the longshots and hopefuls to make a good impression if they want to stick around.
That means the game is a test for the Chiefs’ No. 3 running back job between Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight, or perhaps it will settle the Packers backup quarterback battle between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.
“It’s like any position. Matt and Scott aren’t just competing against each other,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “You have to keep your best players. They’re really competing against the other positions.”
Rosters must be trimmed to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon.
“This last game is important. The young men know that,” Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson said. “This will be interesting stuff.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid at one point apparently considered the Packers game an opportunity to give his reshuffled offensive line a little work. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, especially with left tackle Eric Fisher coming down with the flu this week.
So Thursday night will be the perfect chance for Reid to check out the backups from which he needs to draw to build needed depth.
“Yeah, well, there have been some good, there have been some bad,” Reid said about the offensive line’s ability to get push up front this preseason.
He is also looking for solid backups in the secondary, and a healthy body to become the top target at receiver.
Dwayne Bowe, who has a groin injury, is suspended for the opener after getting arrested last November. Junior Hemingway has an injured hip, so former practice squad player Frankie Hammond may use Thursday’s game as a chance to prove he can be a go-to guy.
Same goes in the backfield, where Gray and McKnight are looking to secure the third running back spot behind Charles and Knile Davis.
“I think they need the reps,” Charles said about the backups. “They need that experience. I think once they get that experience of being in the game and being part of a preseason playing against a first-team defense then they’ll get comfortable.”
Though they likely won’t be facing the Packers defensive starters much, if at all.
One exception might be at defensive tackle, where B.J. Raji went down with a season-ending biceps injury in last week’s win over the Raiders. Perhaps second-year player Josh Boyd gets a chance to boost his confidence in the middle. Undrafted free agent Mike Pennel has impressed in the preseason and could use Thursday to boost his case to part of the tackle rotation.
Another undrafted rookie, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott figures to get his most playing time yet this preseason. He has made a strong case with four sacks in the last two preseason games – including three in four fourth-quarter plays two weeks ago against St. Louis.
“And now it was rare, in the St. Louis game, what he did there. But he did, he followed up and got another sack this last week, so it will be interesting to watch to see how he does Thursday night,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Let’s see if he can follow it up with more production.”
The most intriguing competition of the night is for the Packers quarterback job. Flynn and Tolzien will likely split playing time by quarter.
In the end, McCarthy could keep both guys anyway. Flynn proved to be a worthy backup when he returned to Green Bay at midseason last year after Rodgers was sidelined with a collarbone injury.
Tolzien has shown enough potential that he could be signed by another club if he gets put on the practice squad.
“We’re going to make sure everybody has an opportunity against Kansas City to show what they’ve got,” he said.
(Hillcrest) – Willow Springs JV and Varsity volleyball played Wednesday at Hillcrest.
The Willow Springs JV team lost to Hillcrest 25-14, 26-24, 25-20, and the Varsity team lost 25-21 and 25-17.
The next match will be at home against Liberty on Thursday, August 28.
(Camdenton) – West Plains played an Ozark Conference soccer game at Camdenton Tuesday and won the game 1-0.
West Plains is now 2-0 on the season and will play again Thursday at Nixa.
(West Plains) – All area residents are invited to help Missouri State University-West Plains and the Grizzly Booster Club celebrate the new athletic seasons during the annual Grizzly Fall Picnic at 5 PM Wednesday, September 3, in the West Plains Civic Center Exhibit Hall.
A complimentary picnic meal will be served free of charge by Stacey Johnson, owner of the Fish Shack and the Pizza Shack.
Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker and Grizzly Cheer Team Coach Keena Simpson will be on hand to introduce the volleyball, basketball and cheer team members, respectively, and give previews of the upcoming seasons.
The event is being held prior to the 6 PM home volleyball match between the Grizzlies and Indian Hills Community College of Ottumwa, Iowa, in the West Plains Civic Center arena. The Fish Shack/The Pizza Shack is sponsoring the match, and admission will be free.
All Grizzly fans, not just Grizzly Booster Club members, are encouraged to attend the picnic and enjoy the festivities, organizers stress.
For more information about the picnic, the Grizzly Booster Club or the upcoming volleyball and basketball seasons, call 417-255-7255.
(West Plains) – The West Plains Schools Board of Education met for a special meeting on Tuesday, August 26, at 12PM in the Central Administration Office to discuss the possibility of the future of a swim team.
After the board heard from West Plains Athletic Director Greg Simpkins and West Plains High School Principal Jack Randolph, they unanimously approved a one year plan for a West Plains Zizzer Swim Club Team.
Ozark Radio News spoke with Coach Simpkins after the meeting to learn where the idea for a swim team came from:
Coach Simpkins shared what the school board meant when they approved a one year plan:
In his presentation to the school board, Simpkins included that during this one year plan phase there would be no cost to the school district and that money and funds would need to be raised for the team by the team. Coach Simpkins also shared the estimated expenses with the board including a $25 membership fee per swimmer to use the Civic Center pool facilities, around $35 for a uniform, and other expenses for transportation and tournaments that could cost each team member a total of $160-$200.
For more information on the swim team you can contact Coach Simpkins at 417-256-6150.