Code Blue: A Guide to Who is Voting for the Royals

Apparently sportswriters across the country are in a snit about the number of Royals players currently leading the returns of the All-Star Game voting. They believe nefarious behavior is to blame, perhaps a high-level hacking scheme ala Target (and the other 9,000 companies and entities that have endured hacks the past few years) generated by someone with a strong desire for KC to represent. Like maybe a KC Royals fan or two, for instance.

News flash: I’m sure what they suggest is an entirely plausible scenario but also a far less probable one. I believe that people like me and the people I actually know—in real life—may be the ones responsible.

Exhibit A: These are Royals T-shirts I have purchased in the past 6 months—FOR MYSELF.
Royals tshirts 2
I now have a total of 7, one for each day of the week, including 1 long-sleeved one for cooler weather that I bought during the World Series last fall right before temps here plummeted and that I duly noted in this post. Guess how many Royals T-shirts I owned before last October? Correct answer: Zero.

Exhibit B: Within the past 8 months, I have given a number of gifts bearing the Royals logo for Christmas and birthdays, including the Royals ballpoint pens I distributed around my office when they won the pennant last fall. Because that’s what writing program directors do when their team wins after 29 years of habitual losses.

Royals pen

Exhibit C: My teenage daughter requested and received this on her birthday.


We did have an unseasonably cool start to summer, so she has worn it quite a bit in the past month. Now that the heat and humidity have arrived, she wears it around the house while bitterly complaining about how cold the air-conditioning makes her feel.

Exhibit D: On Senior Skip Day, a Monday in April, my daughter’s class wanted to attend a Royals game just as the previous senior class did. My daughter was bewildered to learn the game was sold out and there were absolutely no tickets to be had…on a Monday afternoon. I pointed out that on a Monday afternoon in April of last year, the 2014 senior class likely had choice seats at a significantly discounted rate since they would have been among just a handful of people attending.

Exhibit D: My husband is a Cardinals fan as he was St. Louis born and raised. However, on Mother’s Day this year, he surprised me with this:


In addition, he is VOLUNTARILY watching some Royals games and helpfully explaining unusual technical elements of the game as they arise, like the “balk” incident during last night’s game against the Bo Sox (slang for Boston Red Sox for non-baseball readers). He is, at best, a closet fan; we can not really be sure who he cast his All-Star ballot for, so please don’t include him in any estimates. And don’t disclose any of this to his family, most of whom still reside in St. Louis.

Exhibit E: Speaking of St. Louis, my husband and I attended a birthday party there in May for my cousin, a priest and native Kansas Citian, who had recently relocated and was turning 80. He made his own fashion statement by sporting celebratory Royals gear. Lots of friends and family from KC traveled there and, predictably, most of his presents were Royals polo shirts except for the lone Cards shirt given him by his niece who lives in St. Louis. Being a priest, he was terribly polite, but we all know he will never wear it.


Exhibit F: I just sent a birthday gift to my brother who lives in California. You know him on this blog as “Mark,” gift-giver extraordinaire and arranger of my grandmother’s birthday celebration at a Royals game over a decade ago which I covered last October in a tribute post to my grandmother titled Ageless and Timeless: Baseball’s Most Ardent and Lesser Known Fans. I sent him a powder blue Royals t-shirt with a crown image.

It reminded me of one he sported in his youth and later gifted my kids when it no longer fit him. The design is reminiscent of a previous iteration of their logo. Mark, by the way, is casting his votes from the west coast where he and his significant other hosted a barbecue EVERY GAME of the World Series even though they were the only Royals fans in attendance. To further honor the Royals, they turned the water blue in their bird bath/fountain in their front yard just as is done to celebrate the Royals via the plethora of fountains all over KC, aka the City of Fountains.

Exhibit G: Yesterday, I had a phone conversation with a dear friend and former colleague about the All-Star hoo-ha. Why this constitutes evidence is that she is a college English teacher and has had virtually no knowledge of or interest in the Royals in the 23 years I have known her—until, that is, last fall. We met back in 1992 when she directed the Writing Center and I directed the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at a local college. We spent countless hours in our shared office talking of rhetoric and composition and every literary genre imaginable, except that of baseball lit.  The clincher is this: yesterday she cited as her source on this topic an article in Sports Illustrated. OMG. She read an article in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED! (Are you starting to grasp the magnitude of the shift in the fan base here???)

In fact, she was so irritated at the implication in said article, that KC fans were “stuffing the ballot box,” that she was heading to her parents home on the north side of the city to coach them on All Star Game voting. Please note she was not creating bogus email addresses, but, rather, within the parameters of the ancient art of rhetoric, simply trying to persuade other, less media-savvy folks to vote.

Exhibit H: I voted 35 times in the All Star Game voting even though it seemed shady and almost criminal to do so. I did it because Major League Baseball encouraged me to vote 35 times—no more, no less. Why 35?  I have no earthly idea. Honestly, it felt as if the ghost of Tom Pendergast was leaning over my shoulder every time I hit “send.” (See 20th century political machines.) I have lived faithfully by the one-person-one-vote mantra my whole life. And like most folks these days, I have way more than one email account. But I didn’t even bother to use the others because I already thought 35 votes somewhat excessive.

So I present my case. Everyday kind of people of all ages are voting for the Royals. People who never ever voted for anybody to be in an All Star Game are voting. People who waited 29 years for baseball worth getting excited about are also voting. People who were born 29 years ago are voting. Kids are voting. High schoolers are voting. 80-year-olds are voting. And if some crazed computer hackers are voting by manipulating the results, then locate and prosecute them. Nobody here wants to believe this MLB enterprise permits cheating. We’re having way too much fun ridnig Royals’ wave.

And Sports Illustrated, if you are so interested in the real voting story, come to Kansas City and talk to anybody you should happen upon. I guarantee within minutes you’ll find about a million people highly likely to have already cast their allotted 35 votes…for the Royals.

All of which begs the question: So who YOU votin’ for?


Life is But One Long Canoe Ride


Meet the man who has floated my boat for over 32 years. Today is his birthday and he is celebrating with a snowy day, the Super Bowl, a chili and chicken quesadilla dinner with a chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream chaser. Canoeing is in his blood and he is never happier than when he’s taking the Current River at full speed, though sometimes he’ll settle for a placid local lake as is pictured above.

Camping is also in his blood and so it was a pleasure to see him honored last night by the Boy Scouts in our region for his contributions to our son’s troop. My husband served that troop as camping coordinator throughout our son’s tenure, taking the troop spelunking and camping and canoeing every month of the year for upwards of 5 years. (Someday I will regale you with tales of the girls-weekends-out my daughter and I enjoyed during those halcyon scouting years.)

My husband stayed on with the troop long after our son achieved Eagle, mentoring the new young dads in the ways of orienteering and water safety and schooling them in the secrets of tasty camp cooking. So it is fitting that he be recognized for his efforts, though he and I would both assert that tremendous parental involvement and support made all the difference for all the kids all of that time.


This honor is well deserved and meaningful, but what really makes his day is hearing the scouts themselves or their parents tell stories of the great fun they had and how much they now enjoy the memories of crawling through a dark, muddy cave on their backs, cooking cherry cobbler in a dutch oven over an open fire, or flipping a canoe full of gear and living to tell about it.

Someone once asked me—before we had kids—if my husband had gone very far in scouting. I said, “Well, he became a park ranger; how much further can you go?” But now I know just how much further you can go: you can pay that scouting experience forward and far into the future simply by sharing it with others.

Boy Loves Dog Loves Boy

Here is how this works. Our son helped us select, name, and train our fourth Brittany, Phoebe. One night not so long ago, she fell asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home, her head resting on the coffee table next to his photograph. Alas, the genius of dogs.


Phoebe awaits the arrival of her buddy.

One Teacher, Thousands of Minds


When I was in junior high at my parish grade school, St. Peter’s, I walked home on warm-weather days with my good friend from up the block, Andrea. We chatted about mundane events of the day, caught up on vital social matters, and made plans for the next sleepover. About halfway home, we’d hit Edgevale Road, a side street that sliced through the grid of our neighborhood at an angle.

At that point, our conversation would turn to English class, and, more specifically, the short story we were reading in our literature anthology. We’d discuss the piece, kick around some ideas raised in the critical thinking questions which appeared at the end of each story, and try to decide which question we were going to select for our one-page responses.

Why would adolescents just let out of school talk voluntarily and excitedly about homework? Because they had an inspiring teacher like Mrs. Shirley Renaud, the 7th and 8th grade English teacher. Mrs. Renaud created a classroom environment like no other we had ever experienced: she allowed us to choose which critical thinking question to answer, she expected us to generate thoughtful and complete responses supported by evidence from the story, she highly valued originality in our ideas, she had us read our responses aloud in class so we could consider and discuss perspectives different from our own, and she gave us immediate feedback in class and later in writing when she collected our responses.

A recent photo of Mrs. Renaud and me with my brother Mark.

A recent photo of Mrs. Renaud and me with my brother Mark.

This was the first time an adult had really paid much attention to what we thought about anything. She clearly respected our views as long as we could support them. And did we ever notice! We stepped up to the challenges she issued, took pride in our work, and strove to exceed her expectations, all the while developing confidence in ourselves and our ideas and a healthy respect for the ideas of others. She also taught us to plumb the depths of the literature we read, mining the language for clues about the story, the plot, the characters, and the images the author had presented. Her approach made us want to come back to class the next day to find out what everyone else had to say.

Those learning experiences in junior high forever changed how I operated in school and in life. I didn’t realize it until much later, but I took with me to high school, college, and graduate school the lessons Mrs. Renaud taught us about critical thinking, audience, multiple perspectives, feedback, critique, collaboration, discussion, originality, insight, evidence, support, and writing.

These lessons eventually informed my own teaching and powerfully influenced my interest in helping other teachers foster the same teaching and learning strategies in college classrooms through the Writing Across the Curriculum program I directed.

Most of my schoolmates didn’t end up in the field of education, but given their extraordinary successes in all kinds of industries and endeavors, it would appear that the early cultivation of critical thinking and communications skills more than paid off—in school, in work, and in life.

Such is the power of a single teacher on upwards of 1,000 minds over the years. And that conservative estimate doesn’t take into account her indirect impact on my students and the hundreds of instructors I trained. In faculty workshops, I would invite instructors to share the story of a previous writing experience and connect it to their path to teaching. I would then trace my own teaching and writing life back to Mrs. Renaud.

In 1972, we were just kids, after all, focused on navigating the complex whirl of the school cafeteria and negotiating terms for the next slumber party. Mrs. Renaud masterfully saw to it that our brain development far and away surpassed what our social psyches would have ever permitted. And for this, I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

And now for the obvious question: who was your Mrs. Renaud?

Comfort and Joy

About the joy…

When I was growing up, my dad put the magic in our Christmas. Every year, he hunted down items on our list with great tenacity and stayed up all night assembling complicated toys in service of us having the best Christmas ever. He would troop us to a city park where an enormous manger scene with live animals was created on a baseball infield temporarily converted to a cave, making quite an impression on wide-eyed children. We would take evening drives through the Plaza to see the lights. If it was enchanting and joyful, he located it and shared it with us. No one enjoyed giving to others more than my dad. He was a lover of joy.

He was also intrigued by how things work and, to that end, spent many hours tinkering and creating and inventing because he had that kind of mind. He always marveled at what others would create whether it was art or simply a well-designed utility.

A few years ago, my husband surprised me with an IPad for Christmas. This is a photo of me on Christmas Day showing it to my dad—he was 80. I believe it captures the utter joy he felt at seeing an invention that pushed the envelope and illustrates his tremendous capacity to be awed.


And here is the comfort part…

When reading a favorite blog this holiday season, Privilege, I shared this family memory in response to Lisa’s post about family gift-giving traditions:

Our gift-giving traditions never revolved around a single item; each person had their own gifting signature, if you will. Which is how my siblings and I, in adulthood, came to treasure my dad’s gigantic gift bag of emergency-preparedness accoutrements every year. Oh, he’d give us all money, of course, but he’d also spend hours combing hardware stores to put together just the right mix of things each of us might need in case of a car breakdown on a single lane highway in the wilderness during a 10-day blizzard or a flat-out nuclear holocaust. Think Harrison Ford in Mosquito Coast. For all of our private eye-rolling, what do you suppose we missed most last Christmas, our first without him? Yep, the flashlights and blankets and jumper cables and cans of windshield de-icer.  😉

Wishing you all much comfort and great joy this holiday season!

When Cows Go Rogue Instead of Home

Nothing I could add would increase your enjoyment of this video. Sometimes, this is just how things roll here in Flat Rock Creek.

For the record, I grocery shop a couple of blocks from this site at a store called—wait for it—the Hen House.



Passed Out Pup

Phoebe had her first official hunt yesterday. She performed well though only one bird showed up. She pointed a mouse and a rabbit. Well, we all have to start somewhere. And after we run ourselves ragged, we rest.