Gregorian Chants

Columnist Vahe Gregorian offers musings about the sports scene in and around Kansas City.

Language no barrier between Royals, new leadoff man Nori Aoki

Editor’s note: With Star columnist Vahe Gregorian on vacation this week, here’s a look back at a recent column he wrote on Norichika Aoki, the outfielder the Royals acquired via an offseason trade with the Brewers.

Like most major-league clubhouses, the Royals’ is a melting pot. Their roster features players from 16 states and 10 men from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

But those seemingly disconnected pieces actually have a certain commonality.

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BY VAHE GREGORIAN. April 10

Friday Five: Royals’ fresh start, Ned’s dissection, busted bracket, lugubrious video

So the Royals are 0-2, which evidently dooms this season even before their home opener Friday at Kauffman Stadium since they’ve never started a season 0-2 and mustered a playoff berth.

That’s a preposterous premise, of course, and not just because the Royals have started their seasons any number of ways and not made the playoffs.

Friday remains very much a moment to celebrate a fresh start and the sense of anticipation and energy earned by a franchise that is coming off its best season in 24 years and appears improved overall.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. April 4

Being there as Kim Anderson fulfilled his vision was special

Chances are you never saw the 1985 movie “Vision Quest.”

I remember it well, partly because I saw it a few days after I’d quit my first job back in Philadelphia … and my roommate got laid off a day later … and one day we needed a diversion from looking for jobs all day.

So we want to a matinee, since it was all we could afford. We were the only two people in the theater when the film started.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. April 1

Vahe's Friday Five: Avoiding a Royals' pre-June swoon and more

Every Friday, Star sports columnist Vahe Gregorian takes on five topics on his blog:

1. This is my first full spring in Kansas City, but from what I can tell optimism bubbling over the Royals is at a near-peak of the last generation or so. Concerns about Omar Infante’s arm notwithstanding, it seems justified.

The Royals seem to have spackled in some of their most glaring needs with Infante and Nori Aoki, figure to have much the same strong pitching now accented by phenom Yordano Ventura and should again have one of the best defenses in the game.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. March 28

Friday Five: Of busted brackets, Kansas coaches and eating elephants

Unless you’re a Wichita State fan, it’s hard not to root for Cal Poly today to make history by becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Much of the appeal of March Madness, after all, is the possibility of the underdog winning, and the Mustangs represent about the ultimate version of that.

With the exception of what amount to play-in games, no team with a losing record has won an NCAA tourney game since Bradley in 1955. That year, the Braves received a berth with a 7-19 record to fill out the bracket. The rule that enabled that oddity was changed the next year.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. March 21

‘Mr. K-State’ Ernie Barrett seeks revenge against Kentucky, 63 years later

Mere moments after Kansas State’s first NCAA Tournament opponent was announced Sunday, Ernie Barrett, aka “Mr. K-State,” called K-State coach Bruce Weber and rendered a plea 63 years in the making.

“This is a chance to get even with them,” Barrett on Tuesday recalled telling Weber.

This is less about a grudge than it is a void to Barrett, 84, who led the Jack Gardner-coached 1950-51 Kansas State team to the NCAA title game against Kentucky … only for K-State to fall as Barrett was stifled because of a shoulder injury.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. March 18

Breaking from tradition, NCAA tells Jayhawks, Wildcats and Shockers to meet us in St. Louis

Leave it to the Division I men’s basketball committee to conjure up something nobody else can or will: bringing Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State together under one roof.

As unveiled Sunday evening, the trio will converge at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for games on Friday with the tantalizing possibility that the Midwest Region’s top-seeded Shockers will meet the ninth-seeded Wildcats on Sunday.

K-State first will have to get by eighth-seeded Kentucky (and Olathe Northwest’s Willie Cauley-Stein), a less-certain prospect than Wichita State beating the 16th-seeded winner of the Cal Poly-Texas Southern matchup on Wednesday in Dayton. Since the tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no No. 1 seed has lost to a No. 16.

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By VAHE GREGORIAN. March 16

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About the Blog

Vahe Gregorian joined The Star on June 3 after 25 years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he covered nine Olympic Games, about 20 Final Fours and some 20 college football national title games and Mizzou football and basketball. His experiences also include covering the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Kentucky Derby.

Contact Vahe

Email: vgregorian@kcstar.com
Phone: 816-234-4868
Twitter: @vgregorian