View Full Version : Other Sports KC Star: Booms and busts in the year in sports

12-28-2011, 12:09 AM
More than anything else, you might remember 2011 as the year the following question became not just debatable but fascinating:

Do the Chiefs or Royals have a better chance of winning next season?

Eric Hosmer plays on one side of the Truman Sports Complex, Barry Richardson the other, so even with the NFL’s demand for parity, this is a legitimate question that would’ve been hard to imagine 12 months ago.

This is the year that Todd Haley went from coach-of-the-year candidate to unemployed, Bill Self from coaching a surefire national title contender to a team he diagnosed with A.D.D., Missouri from “supporting” the Big 12 to smiling with the SEC, and some of the Royals’ best talent from Class AA Northwest Arkansas to the forefront of Kansas City’s sports scene.

A wild year, for sure. Here are the five biggest winners and five biggest losers:


5. Dayton Moore: Five years of jokes and worse evolved into the franchise’s first legitimate hope for long-term success in years. Some of his big-league acquisitions can be fairly criticized — last week’s signing of Yuniesky Betancourt unleashed a hilarious run of anger — but the Royals are the envy of every team building around payroll limitations.

Mission 2012 is here, finally, Moore just needing to tweak a few spots and find one or two more starting pitchers. Then hope.

4. Tamba Hali: The biggest bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Chiefs year. Hali finished last season as the AFC’s sacks leader, signed a $60 million contract over the summer, and has since proved worth every penny. This was the year Hali went from a national curiosity to genuine star.

Locally, it helps that he embodies everything Scott Pioli wants the Chiefs to be: hard-working, talented, humble, coachable, and dependable.

3. Bubba Starling: He went from promising prospect to folk hero, then got $7.5 million to play baseball for the hometown team he grew up rooting for. Not bad, huh?

Making it even better, he gets paid just before baseball’s new CBA puts strict limitations on what teams can pay draft picks. If he’d have been in next year’s draft instead of this one, for instance, it probably would’ve been worth a few million less.

Actually earning all that money will be the hard part, of course, but there is talk within the baseball industry that Starling can change the way baseball is watched locally and be the Royals’ most important player since George Brett.

That’s not entirely fair to put all that on a 19-year-old, of course. But it is reality.

2. Bill Snyder: The rascal did it again, didn’t he? Snyder became a coach-of-the-year candidate 22 years after first taking over K-State, and three years after returning to clean up Ron Prince’s mess.

K-State won 10 games and nearly a share of the Big 12 title, and it wasn’t with five-star recruits. The Wildcats won four consecutive games in which they were the underdog and got outgained, known from now on as the “Snyder special.”

There’s a legitimate argument for him as the area’s best coach of all-time.

1. Sporting Kansas City: No team, no athlete, no coach — nobody — made more of 2011 than the former niche franchise that built a gorgeous $200 million stadium and then filled it with nearly 18,000 fans per game.

Sporting ended up following our area’s tried-and-true habit of losing in the playoffs, but there is enough momentum here both with a young roster and growing fan base to believe this is more than a summer fling.


5. AEG: Or, maybe it’s the rest of us, for ever really believing AEG could follow through on what was effectively a promise to bring an NBA or NHL team to the Sprint Center.

At this point, the chances of that happening are somewhere between “zero” and “Tyler Palko makes the Pro Bowl.” Joke’s on us, though at least we keep the Big 12 tournament and get the occasional rocking concert.

4. Matt Cassel: Kansas City is woefully underrated when it comes to being hard on its quarterbacks, and Cassel went from the Pro Bowl in February to the whipping post in December.

Even if that Pro Bowl came with a virtual asterisk — he was an injury replacement, and finished 17th in passer rating — it’s been a significant fall. Cassel’s season ended after nine games because of a hand injury, and now the fan base is split on whether to go with Kyle Orton or draft a new quarterback.

What’s funny is that if Cassel — it says here he’s the Toyota Corolla of quarterbacks — could still play his way back into the good graces of Chiefs fans next year.

3. Lew Perkins: How often does a college football coach fail so badly he gets fired after just two seasons, and hardly anyone says it was too soon? Well, that’s what happened to Turner Gill — whom Perkins gave an ironclad, $10 million contract that made him one of the country’s highest-paid coaches.

Perkins is now running a consulting business where — and you can’t make this stuff up — he advises colleges making high-profile hires. For the right price, of course. Also, KU continues to sort through the ticket scandal that grew under Perkins’ watch and was put on by the people Perkins hired or promoted.

2. Todd Haley: Remember when he was a legitimate coach-of-the-year candidate? The triumphant leader of the surprise AFC West champions? Clean-shaven?

That was at the beginning of this year, and now, he doesn’t even have a job.

Haley has been portrayed as a victim in many circles, and some of what happened to him is unfair, but he was also complicit in failing to get along with his boss. Haley will almost certainly have another chance to be a head coach.

For his sake, hopefully it will be in a better fit, and he will learn from went wrong the last 12 months.

1. Dan Beebe: Honestly, this isn’t close. Beebe is the year’s biggest loser and even nuance grays how much power he actually had, history will remember him as the man in charge when the Big 12 got looted like a bad riot.

Beebe lost his job in one of about a thousand power plays pulled by various schools (this one in particular by Oklahoma), and now lives on in a parody Twitter account — which Beebe once told me he found “hilarious … honest.”

There’s something fitting about that.


12-28-2011, 01:03 AM
Anything that lists Dayton Moore as a winner cannot be taken seriously. Yeah, the royals look great, except for that whole pitching thing. Shits overrated.

Hammock Parties
12-28-2011, 01:06 AM
So DJ gets recognized nationally, but can't get local recognition.

Fucking KC Star.

12-28-2011, 01:07 AM
lol, article fail. The Royals will never, ever, never ever ever even get to take a sniff a .500, not in 2012, not in 2022 or any time in between.

Baby Lee
12-28-2011, 07:15 AM
What’s funny is that if Cassel — it says here he’s the Trabant of quarterbacks


12-28-2011, 08:33 AM
Who has the brighter future... the Chiefs or Royals?

That is a legit debate for the first time in forever.

12-28-2011, 08:47 AM
The Royals have a brighter future, too many question marks about injury and ability to draft on the Chiefs side. Now with Bowe looking like shit it's like, holy hell we need another WR again.

12-28-2011, 08:53 AM
Sporting KC topping lists all over the place. Like!

Pasta Giant Meatball
12-28-2011, 08:55 AM
lol, article fail. The Royals will never, ever, never ever ever even get to take a sniff a .500, not in 2012, not in 2022 or any time in between.

I'm not a Royals fan, but you are wrong.

Extra Point
12-28-2011, 10:07 AM
So DJ gets recognized nationally, but can't get local recognition.

****ing KC Star.

The Plaza needs to get TH and DJ to do a lights-out ceremony. /Okie Apparition