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KCUR 89.3 covers community-related topics about sports in the Kansas City region. Do you have a story idea? E-mail News Director Maria Carter, maria@kcur.org.

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.

  

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Royals learned Thursday the extent of the injury to All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon.

It’s labeled a “two-plus groin strain,” which means Alex Gordon is out for at least eight weeks.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

For years, many Kansas City Royals fans have called themselves "Gordo Nation" after All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon.

Well, Gordo Nation is in mourning.

Take this tweet from Wednesday night — after the popular player left a game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a groin injury — as evidence:

Four Kansas City Royals will be American League starters at next week’s All-Star game in Cincinnati, the best in franchise history.

Salvador Perez will be the starting catcher. Alcides Escobar will make his first All-Star appearance as the starting shortstop. Lorenzo Cain, also a first-timer, will man right field while Alex Gordon will handle left in his first start.

Gordon said last year’s World Series appearance and this year’s success command attention.

Kansas City Power & Light

In Kansas City, the U.S. women’s soccer team had its most visible display of support Tuesday night during their semifinal match against Germany. The match was shown live in the outdoor courtyard area of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

But before Tuesday’s match, there were already signs of strong Kansas City support. Since the women’s World Cup started, there have been ongoing discussions of an outdoor gathering in the Power & Light District — something like the many celebrations the district organized during the men's World Cup last year.

Wikimedia --CC

You might not be as aware as you were when the FIFA World Cup commenced in June last year — but we're in the midst of another World Cup: the FIFA Women's World Cup.

The U.S. women's team defeated China Friday 1-0, and they take on Germany Tuesday in Montreal.

This year's U.S. team boasts four women with Kansas City connections. All the women play for FC Kansas City, Kansas City's professional National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) team. Here is a little more about them so you can get on the bandwagon and root for our hometown women.

Wikimedia --CC

An Olathe Northwest High School graduate was a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Sacramento Kings selected Willie Cauley-Stein with their sixth overall pick in the draft.

Cauley-Stein grew up in Spearville, Kansas, located outside Dodge City, then transferred in high school to Olathe Northwest.

Cauley-Stein departs the University of Kentucky after three years.

Wikimedia Commons--CC

It was a milestone night for Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost after beating Milwaukee, 3-2, Thursday.

Ned Yost surpassed Whitey Herzog for most wins by a Royals manager, his 411th victory since taking over in 2010.

“It’s nice, but I don’t really look at it as an individual achievement,” Yost said. “First of all, I don’t feel like I’m in the same class as Whitey Herzog and Dick Howser. Two, this is an organizational achievement.”

The chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals expressed disbelief and embarrassment about a hacking scandal that has invited scrutiny onto the baseball club.

But while the Cardinals’ managing partner says the controversy will dent his team’s image in the short term, he doesn’t believe that the actions of “roguish” individuals would permanently scar the club.

In the latest balloting for the July 14 All-Star game in Cincinnati, the Kansas City Royals lead the voting this week at eight positions.

The trend from Royals fans indicate that online votes for their favorite players won’t let up. But Royals fans are making their presence felt in more ways than just All-Star balloting — the blue wave hit Busch Stadium in St. Louis last weekend. 

Whitney Findley, a Royals fan who lives in Lee’s Summit, saw familiar friends in no time at all across the street from the stadium.

UMKC Runner Courtney Frerichs Takes Second At Nationals

Jun 13, 2015
UMKC Athletics

Courtney Frerichs finished in second place in the steeplechase at the NCAA Track and Field Championships Saturday in Eugene, Oregon.

A native of Nixa, Missouri, Frerichs capped a strong season with a personal best time of 9:331.36 at the national championship meet. Fellow Missouri-native Colleen Quigley of Florida State finished two seconds ahead to take the title. 

Kathleen Kunkler / KCUR

Joe Posnanski is a little jealous.

The longtime Kansas City Star sports writer, who currently writes for NBC Sportsworld, had lunch with some former colleagues while he was in Kansas City last week promoting his latest book.

When the conversation turned to the Royals, he expressed some frustration.

A Fan's Notes: Old Glory

Jun 12, 2015

“Take the crown”…“Win the cup”…“Raise the trophy.” Sometimes the sports fan’s ultimate dream—a championship—does come true. But old trophies can lose their shine, and even the thrill of victory has a statute of limitations, as Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes.”

By now you’ve probably heard: The Chiefs won the Super Bowl!

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The College World Series will be underway this weekend in Omaha. That is where Brandon Finnegan, the Kansas City Royals' top draft choice last year, started a historical run.   

 

He became the first player in baseball history to play in the College World Series and Major League Baseball’s World Series in the same year.

File: Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Courtney Frerichs can run faster than you.

Already one of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s most-decorated athletes, she’ll represent UMKC in the steeplechase on Thursday in the semifinals of the NCAA Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Entering the field as one of three favorites, Frerichs hopes to become UMKC’s first-ever national champion and to bring the title back to Kansas City.

Brent Flanders / Flickr--CC

Of all Sporting Kansas City’s season ticket holders, there are eight times more Johnson County residents than Wyandotte County residents — even though Sporting Park sits in Wyandotte County's largest city, Kansas City, Kansas.

In the breakdown of Sporting KC’s season ticket holders, fans with Wyandotte County addresses account for only 4.5 percent, which ranks fourth among the counties in Kansas City’s metropolitan area.

Walter Byers, the former NCAA boss who grew up in Kansas City, died at his ranch in Kansas Tuesday. He was 93.

Byers attended Westport High School. Before he was the executive director of the NCAA, he had a brief career as a sportswriter.

When the NCAA was headquartered in Kansas City, Byers molded it into the big-time structure it is today. But when Byers retired, he turned his back on college athletics.

“When I quit after 41 years, sportwriting and the NCAA, I took it cold turkey,” said Byers in 1994. “I felt that’s the only way you get over the withdrawal pains.”

Fantasy sports used to be the province of stat geeks, the kind who made a hobby of analyzing every last box score. But today, it’s a mega-industry unto itself that’s only gaining momentum, from the stadium to the statehouse. Commentator Victor Wishna explains in  “A Fan’s Notes.”

We sports fans love sports because they are at once games of skill and games of chance. Lacing a line drive past a diving third-basemen—that’s skill. But then, the wind pushes it just foul. Such are the chances.

But what if, you know, you’re just pretending?

Katie Brady / Flickr--CC

Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, is in its fifth season as the home of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. For the money spent on what is regarded as one of the best soccer venues in the country, very little so far has been invested in Wyandotte County for youth soccer.

But changes are taking place.

The NFL Draft takes place Thursday night, and a Kansas City area high school graduate was projected to be among the early picks. That is, until the news came out this week about Shane Ray being pulled over on I-70 and cited for marijuana possession.

Ray, a defensive lineman from Bishop Miege High School, was honored two weeks ago by the Kansas City Sports Commission for his three-year career at the University of Missouri. At that time, he was asked about the NFL Draft.

Frank Morris / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in April 2015.    

Remember last year, when the Kansas City Royals were the underdog darlings of baseball? The team’s winning again this season, but it’s been a bit ugly.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

After five decades of hostility, President Obama is moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. There’s a place in Kansas City, though, where the two countries already seem very close: Kauffman Stadium.

Kendrys Morales, the Royals’ new hitting star is from Cuba, and across Major League Baseball the number of Cuban players is on the rise. But those players reached the U.S. as refugees, and some worry that warming relations with Cuba may actually crimp the supply of baseball talent from Cuba.

John Spertus / KCUR

A Kansas City-Oakland rivalry conjures up the thought of the Chiefs vs. the Raiders in the National Football League — but nothing in Major League Baseball. At least until this weekend.

The Raider’s withering performance on the football field in recent years hardly stirs up the glorious memories of the classic matchups against the Chiefs that dates back to the old days of the AFL in the 1960s — no matter how much the Chiefs attempt to manufacture a menacing growl.

Michael Zupon / Flickr--CC

Two Kansas City Royals players, their manager and two coaches were kicked out of Sunday's series finale against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

When it was all said and done, the Royals won the game, 4-2, and the series.

A’s starting pitcher Scott Kazmir says they left town angry.

“It leaves a bad taste in our mouth. It really does,” said Kazmir.

But Kazmir started the day by hitting Lorenzo Cain.

“I definitely didn’t like it,” said Cain.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Former Kansas City Royals All-Star Billy Butler is back at Kauffman Stadium Friday — but in a different uniform.

He's in his first season with the Oakland Athletics and getting used to wearing the green and gold uniform colors of his new team.

"Yeah, it's one of those things. It's my locker. I just knew what to put on," said Butler. "Yeah, it's different. I put on a royal blue shirt on this morning. I didn't realize I actually put a royal blue shirt on."

  

  The last time the Oakland A’s came to town, the result was one of the wildest come-from-behind victories in Kansas City sports history. Tonight’s rematch at the K marks an historic comeback of another sort, at least for one longtime fan favorite. Commentator Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes.”

In the history of Kauffman Stadium, only a handful of men have stepped up to the plate more often than William Raymond Butler, Jr. His 2,422 appearances include seven home openers, one All-Star debut, and, of course, the bottom-of-the-ninth in Game Seven of the World Series. Tonight, he’ll be there again for the first time since. And, for the first time ever, this home plate won’t be home.

The Royals have started this year with the same intensity that electrified the city in October. It’s as if they don’t realize the season ever ended. Which makes it even harder to believe that Billy Butler, the man known as “Country Breakfast,” is now an Oakland Athletic. It’ll be tough to see him in that green-and-gold, only in part because no one looks good in those colors. The A’s will come in here looking to avenge their Wild-Card humiliation. But for Butler and fans, the sure-to-be-bittersweet reunion calls for a warmer brand of payback.

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