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Last of the Lions

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain waves to the crowd at a midnight campaign rally in Prescott
Reuters photo

It’s no secret John McCain’s passing leaves a tremendous hole in American politics, whether it’s in his willingness to “cross the aisle” to fashion deals, vote his conscience rather than party mandates or put country above party.

The contrast between McCain and President Donald Trump’s behavior and decorum has been striking since before Trump was elected. While more politicians have trended towards the Trump model of governance — essentially win at all costs and the opponents are idiots — the body politic has at least paid lip service to the statesmen of yore, including former Kansas Senator Bob Dole and, now, the late John McCain. Those tributes came in hot and heavy after McCain’s death Saturday, and I’m guessing a significant percentage were actually genuine.

The political problem is McCain was literally the last of a dying breed, whether in Washington or in statehouses across the country, and his death only speeds our rocky, murky path towards a scorched-earth, zero-sum incivility that at some point soon will leave nobody standing.

McCain’s death also comes at an increasingly contentious time in the relationship between journalism and politicians. His loss further charges the atmosphere. It also continues to tilt the playing field so journalists are now losing more and more ground with the public.

The respect McCain had for journalism and its place in American society began being undermined by Trump before he took office, and Trump’s Fake News Phenomenon — especially with stories he does not agree with or are uncomfortable to him — has resonated with a lot of people nationwide.

Reasonable people realize we as journalists are not the enemy — of the country, state, city or any political body in this nation. It is our job to narrate and investigate, to show and tell, and in politics to hold all to the same standard regardless of our political views.

However, this cannot be categorized as a reasonable time anymore when it comes to the media and its role in politics. It didn’t have to be that way, but we as journalists didn’t help our own cause.

We in the media can best honor John McCain, and undercut the Trump Fake News train, by simply doing our job as it was intended. No agendas, no double standards. No stones unturned. Just the facts. That’s what we are charged with finding out. And that’s what you want to know.

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Kansas City Rolays shortstop Alcides Escobar channels his inner Rick Dempsey during a recent snow delay against Tampa Bay. Kansas City Star photo.
Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar channels his inner Rick Dempsey during a recent snow delay against Tampa Bay. The game was eventually postponed. Kansas City Star photo.

Also posted on IndySportsLegends.com.

I have already said this has been a messed-up spring when it comes to the weather. But a snow-out in early May is a little much.

That was the story Thursday as the Royals and Rays tried to end their three-game set at Kauffman Stadium. Believe me, they tried because Tampa Bay isn’t scheduled to come back to KC. So they swung — and missed. Mother Nature threw the teams a cold, wet fastball for the first couple innings before changing speeds with snow…and lots of it…before, after better than a two-hour delay, officials just gave up and postponed the game.

To make matters worse, the Royals were victimized by a second straight postponement with the forecast of cold, wet weather Friday as the White Sox rolled into town. (The Royals have had no luck gaining any sort of rhythm this season, largely due to the weather, but that’s not the purpose of this column.)

What the Royals, Rays and White Sox experienced over the past few days is notable, but only because it’s affecting the MLB season later than normal. However, perhaps this points up the need for baseball to change its scheduling priorities.

For whatever reason, baseball at the professional level has been bound and determined to start in either early April or late March. It’s tradition for longer than I can remember. However, put baseball up against the weather in March and April, and you run the risk of losing a significant amount of games because of rain and/or snow. And this isn’t just limited to the Upper Midwest. From Denver through Kansas City and Chicago east across Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Massachusetts, the risk of snow-outs is a legitimate concern for the first three or four weeks of the season.

And, if you look at it, this impacts some of America’s biggest media markets.

I understand it may be advisable to keep the April games. From a monetary standpoint, you could well get 1.5 to two full games worth of advertising in (I’m just speculating because that’s not my field of expertise), plus you definitely could receive up to two games worth of attendance, concessions and merchandise for the original and makeup date.

From the fan’s standpoint, though, it’s horrible. Only the hardy or the stupid — or the media — would sit through a game like what transpired Thursday in Kansas City. Judging from the visual attendance estimate, less than 4,000 people fit any of those categories at the K.

The most sensible option — which is probably why it hasn’t happened yet — is to minimize the number of Frost Belt games until May 1. Every team needs to have an opening series in April. I will grant you that. But minimize the number of series until the risk of wintry weather is, 2013 aside, just about gone. Then return the favor in September.

College teams from the Four Corners area to the Cumberland Gap and Shenandoah Valley have to make adjustments for the early third of every year, and mainly because the season in Sun Belt states opens in February. For a Nebraska or a Creighton or an Indiana or a Maine  to compete with Arizona or Texas or LSU or Florida, you have to get the early games in. And because of the weather, you have to go south to do that. At least until games start in April and end in Omaha in August.

This would not be ideal from a marketing vantage point. But it would be more enjoyable for fans and, more important for team officials, safer for their biggest investments — their players.

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Free Samples of a Sleep-Deprived Brain

...or what happens when family meets work meets severe weather meets baseball...