|Coming Home to Win the Crown!|
The odds makers picked the Royals to end up in fourth place in the American League Central Division.
Those same prognosticators predict the Blue Jays would win the American League Championship.Wednesday's game showed the series is not yet over. The Royals have two more shots at capturing the American League Championship.
A lot of people across the country are waking up to what the people of Kansas City have known for a while. The Royals are a team on its way up. Enjoy the ride. If all goes well, you will witness some excellent baseball into early November.
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Last April voters in Raytown made sweeping changes in the make-up of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. As with all elections, many promises were made by the eventual victors of those contests to represent the community on the City Council.
Now there is evidence that slowly, but surely, the Board is beginning to fulfill some of those promises.
The city budget, just approved by the Board of Aldermen, spells out some of those changes. A more immediate change is a decision on how residential streets are to be repaired in Raytown.
LIGHT AGGREGATE SEAL: The people have spoken and it appears City Hall is beginning to listen. Residential street maintenance has been a sore spot with voters for many years. The high numbered of complaints over the use of light aggregate seal was amplified when the new City Council took charge in April.
The old process used “expanded shale”. As many Raytown homeowners and drivers can attest, the “expanded shale” has drawbacks. It does not adhere well to the street, which causes it to flake, leaving a problem with dust, and, in some cases, loose particles that can damage windshields and the finish on cars. In winter, snowplows frequently dislodged the sealant, leaving bare sections of old, cracked asphalt open to the elements.
This year the process is being changed to a superior product commonly known as “diamond seal”. The diamond seal process uses a granite aggregate in place of the expanded shale. The process gives an improved seal to the street and is a better visual appearance.
Sources in the Public Works Department say the process also has a superior method of repair of damaged areas in old asphalt. The old process using the expanded shale, merely covered the damaged asphalt. This frequently left an impression of the damaged area with a coating of sealant over it. The process left an uneven surface that did not improve the street surface. It actually locked the problem in place.
In the diamond seal process, the damaged areas in asphalt are repaired with larger aggregate and then twice sealed with the final granite topping.
The new process is expected to add an additional eight years to the life of a residential street. It is not as strong or as permanent as asphalt, which typically lasts three times longer. But it is definitely a step in the right direction.
STREET LIGHTS: Proponents of an effective street lighting program were disappointed last year when $50,000 for street lights was not spent as budgeted. I am sorry to report the new budget does not have any funding for street lights. The lack of attention to solving the problem of poorly lit streets is disheartening. Increased street light will make our residential streets safer and is an effective deterrent to crime. It is surprising to learn Board members did not insist on fixing the problem. There is talk of a plan to increase the number of street lights in Raytown. Sounds good, but talk is cheap. It would be better to actually see some new street lights in place.
SUPER SPLASH: Super Splash is expected be closed down next year, pending direction from the Raytown Park Board. The Board of Aldermen have made it very clear they will not continue to underwrite the $150,000.00 cost needed to keep the venue open.
SALES TAX SPLIT PARKS/STORM SEWER PROJECTS: One of the most contentious debates on the Board this year has been a promised split of sales tax revenue between parks and storm sewer projects. Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black discovered the Park Department has been receiving 100% of the funding from sales tax revenue for the past five years. In 2010 voters were promised in the ballot language the tax would be split between Park Board and Storm Sewer Projects.
The Board has deferred a final decision on the split until the Park Board makes its decision on Super Splash.
ANNUAL RAYTOWN CLEAN-UP DAY: Board member Jason Greene proposed a renewal of the Annual Raytown Clean-up Day. The Annual Clean Up Day was a regular Raytown Event, usually held in the Spring, until former administration under then Mayor David Bower cut its funding.
According to Greene, the Board did not include funding for the event in this year’s budget. He intends to bring the item forward before next Spring to fund the popular event.
If there is ever a biography is written about Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere it would be appropriate to name it “The Mouth That Roared”.
Because he is good at making a lot of noise. Unfortunately, his extreme partisanship and a practiced style that continually draws the wrong conclusion is nothing more than a lot noise.
My comments may sound harsh. But after reading what Mr. Aziere wrote in a letter to the Raytown Times, there is little left to say.
Consider the following:
AZIERE WROTE: “There has been discussion over abandoning the 350 Highway Project that will add a sidewalk and bike trail.”
Aziere’s remark is correct . . . to a point. It is also misleading. If we are talking of a true bike trail and walking sidewalk, it conjures up an image of an idyllic image of a winding structure, quietly making its way through the woods to its destination.
The reality is the sidewalk and bike trail would actually be joined to the south side of the east bound lane of 350 Highway.
How many people want to stroll or ride a bike within inches of a two lane highway backed up with vehicles to the city limit close to one mile long in rush hour traffic? Breathing in the exhaust fumes spewing from the queued up cars and trucks does not sound like a good idea to me.
There is a word for just such a waste of tax dollars. It is called boondoggle.
I looked it up for Mr. Aziere. It means … “an activity or project that is unnecessary and wasteful of time or money, especially one undertaken for personal or political gain”.
AZIERE WROTE: “They preferred to rent equipment rather than purchasing,”
This is one of my favorites. It is typical Mouth That Roared style. The reader will note that Aziere’s quote is not complete. It ends with a comma. That is because in mid-sentence he abandons his thought and then continues, “and slowed down the rental contract to house the police.”
The “rent equipment rather than purchasing” is in reference to the rental agreement of skid loader for the Public Works Department. Alderman Mark Moore investigated the option of renting vs. purchasing and mathematically proved it was cheaper to rent in this case because maintenance costs were covered under the rental agreement.
Moore’s background is in business. Mr. Aziere’s background appears to be in hyperbole.
AZIERE WROTE: “The [Board] has been in office six months and slowed down the rental contract to house the police department during the city’s renovation project. The delay resulted in the loss of that contract.”
Board members and the city’s legal staff concurred the rental contract was flawed. A new contract, which saved the city money, for the rental space at 7001 Blue Ridge Boulevard was approved by the Board and renovations for the Police Department are progressing.
Aziere voting contrary to earlier votes and public statements is not new. In 2010 he sponsored adding ballot language to a question before the voters which promised revenue raised from the park sales tax would be used to fund parks and storm sewer projects. Despite the specificity of the ballot language the Parks Department has received one hundred percent of the funds since the voters approved the tax in 2010.
Aziere is in the unique position of criticizing the Board for following his lead in 2010, which, ironically, he now opposes!
He is like the guy who calls down the thunder and lightning to make rain and then complains because he is getting wet!
AZIERE WROTE: “. . . it cost the Park Department approximately $2,400 a day to operate SuperSplash.”
Alderman Aziere only tells part of the story. The rest of the story is that SuperSplash is an economic black hole. It would be more accurate to say SuperSplash costs the taxpayers an average of $175,000 annually to keep it in operation. That is because attendance is so low the water park does not come close to paying its bills. By the way the $175,000 figure comes from the following statistic, it equals $1,400,000.00 dollars in the past eight years. Alderman Jason Greene received the statistics directly from Park Board personnel.
Please spare me the doubletalk about water parks are not supposed to create revenue. Tell that fairy tale to the operators of Oceans of Fun, Schlitterbaum and Coco Keys. Why not check with Lee’s Summit and see if that city underwrites its water park or if it makes its own way. I doubt you will find six figure deficits swimming in red ink each year.
Face reality. Raytown’s average median age is 55 years old. How many 55 year old Raytowners are going throw themselves down a waterslide for fun?
Which leads to another question. Where are those who use Super Splash coming from? If they are from out of town it means Raytown taxpayers are underwriting activities for out-of-towners. Super Splash is a graphic example of a lose/lose situation.
THE MOUTH THAT ROARED is all about noise, extreme political bias and misleading blather that leaves most people scratching their heads. Aziere is part of a minority on the Board who apparently believe that good government is based on obstruction of the majority.
The voters chose their new Board of Aldermen because they did not care for the heavy-handed ways of former Mayor David Bower and his cronies. It is that simple. The new Board is at least willing to listen. They have addressed some problems they inherited from the past.
Mr. Aziere has a reputation of attacking seatmates on the Board of Aldermen in a public manner. He does not do so in debate at meetings. Usually his bitterness is expressed through letters to the editor, and always after the fact. Readers saw this pattern of attack in his two stints on the Raytown Charter Commission in which he took a very minimalist role until the documents were approved.
Now that the David Bower era is over, he finds himself in the same minority position. No doubt Aziere will continue with his campaign of mis-information. I doubt we have heard the last from The Mouth that Roared.
In 2014 the Kansas City Royals fought their way into baseball’s fall classic championship by upsetting the Oakland Athletics in a one game play off. They won that contest with a come from behind five run seventh inning that took the baseball world by surprise.
From that point they rolled through the ALDS and the ALCS Championship series and faced the San Francisco Giants in seven games of the World Series before their run ended in defeat by the San Francisco in the final game of the Series.
Most everyone is in agreement about the Royals in 2014. The team that went to the seventh game in the World Series was not the same team that had battled their way through the 2014 season to get there.
They had re-invented themselves. Most notably, their hit and run production increased – especially in the area of home runs.
Now it is 2015 and they are doing it again!
In Game four of the American League Division Playoffs the Royals came from behind in a five run eighth inning to defeat the Houston Astros.
But the big difference this year, as shown in the last three games is not in run production. It is not in home run hitting. It is in the pitching.
A late addition to their roster, Johnny Cueto had performed poorly since being acquired by the Royals last July. In his start first start against the Houston Astros he pitched reasonably well. But the victory in that contest rightfully belongs to those relievers from the Royals bullpen who took over the pitching in the sixth inning.
In Game Five of the series, Cueto pitched eight innings of near perfect baseball. There is no doubt his performance that day led to the victory that propelled the Royals to the next round to face the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series.
Edinson Volquez got the call for the first game against Toronto, and he did not disappoint. Even the national media, which always seems to have a “tilt” towards Royal’s opponents, changed their tune after Volquez put down the first nine Blue Jays before one of them managed to get a hit in the fourth inning.
In 2014 the Royals went far by re-inventing their team when the playoffs started. On Saturday night, Volquez re-invented himself. Typically Voquez would pitch batters inside, trying to push them off the plate -- a good strategy against a power hitting team like the Blue Jays. But good hitters can and do adjust to inside pitching.
Volquez changed his game plan. He did not pitch just inside. He painted the corners. Very few of his pitches found the middle of the plate. . . . and, he increased his pitch speed
All arms are not created equal. With age and the wear and tear of pitching, velocity is the first “gift” a hardballer loses. Somehow Volquez managed to exceed his regular delivery speed. The ball coming across the plate at different angles with increased velocity increases the movement of curve balls and cutters. It was more than the Blue Jay hitters could handle.
In the second game of the American League Championship series, Yordano Ventura, pitched a good game until control problems got the better of him. Two consecutive walks led to a Toronto rally that added to the run total of the Blue Jays, giving Toronto a temporary three run lead.
The Royals bullpen sprang into action, Luke Hochaver slammed the door shut on the Blue Jays. Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis combined to keep the door closed for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Then there is the Royals unique way of scoring runs. Aptly named “small ball”, they do not rely on the homerun to win games. Their strength is in clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. In game two against Toronto, the Royals combined six base hits to score five runs. In the eighth inning they continued the small ball strategy which brought another run to pad their lead.
True, there are still up to five games left in the American League Championship Series. No doubt the Blue Jays, who are a very good team, will try just as hard to win. At the end of the series look for the Royals to grab the crown and move on to the World Series.
My prediction . . . the Royals in seven against the Jays.
Just you watch!
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