36 going on 26

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I may be 36, but I feel a lot younger.

“You’re as old as you feel.” Thank God for that because I feel 26 on my 36th birthday. Several of the dozens of birthday wishes on Facebook (how awesome is Facebook on your birthday?) referred to my happiness and how great a year No. 35 was.

It really was a wonderful year that included an engagement to a knockout, moving, starting my own family (pseudo-adopting three children) and losing 45 pounds. I can count the number of “bad” days on one hand.

A quick recap …

That’s me less than a year ago, and about 50 pounds ago.

JULY 2011: So long, Topeka. Hello, Overland Park. This is the month I moved in with Shana and the three kids. It could not have worked out any better. We also took a trip to St. Louis. I got hooked on running, jogging 1.5 miles a day in 100-degree temperatures (that was stupid, by the way). The middle son’s 12th birthday, complete with Legos.

The cover of my first magazine at work.

AUGUST 2011: My first work tailgate at Washburn. I discovered the gym by accident when a co-worker’s husband asked if I’d tag along. I’ve been back five days a week for nearly a year now. My weight went from 247 to 227 in a month. My first edition of The Ichabod hit mailboxes.

Caption necessary? Not really.

SEPTEMBER 2011: The eldest son’s 16th birthday. He spent the year being a, well, 16-year-old. We moved like Jagger at Winefest. Well, Shana did, anyway. I ran my first 5K at our Fun Run.

Haloween with the kids. Photo more or less sums up the household.

OCTOBER 2011: Halloween in Overland Park with the kids. I had my first fitness exam, scoring average or above in everything but flexibility (I still have the flexibility of rebar). My first single-parent day with the kids as Shana traveled to Houston for work.

She’s not a Tiger, but damn she looks good in black and gold.

NOVEMBER 2011: My dad’s 67th birthday. Still amazed at the shape he’s in at that age. My first Thanksgiving with the Curtises, plus one with Dad. I bought my first bling for Shana. She’s got bling on both ring fingers now. Early Christmas present was a trip to the last Missouri-Kansas football game at Arrowhead, now that KU is taking its 2-10 ball and running home. My first Missouri basketball game of the season at Sprint Center. What a ride the Tigers took us on last year!

With my newborn nephew.

DECEMBER 2011: Of course, the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure I’ve see a person cry that much out of happiness. Multiple Christmases: One in OP, one in Overbrook, two in Burlingame, one in Osage City. New addition to the family: third nephew Greyson. Second magazine out. Weight teetering in low 220s. Shana celebrates her 29th birthday for the 11th straight year. Draven, Sissy and Dan have birthdays.

Clearing Dad’s property.

JANUARY 2012: First New Year’s with my future wife and the kids. Fun trip to Columbia for Missouri-Texas A&M. Ramping up my miles running, weight dips below 220. Tristan, and Tricia turn 13 and 46 (30). Cutting wood with dad a few weeks after his scare in the hospital.

This is why you buy the right shoes.

FEBRUARY 2012: I run eight miles for the first time early in the month. Missouri rallies past choking Kansas. I break the 210 barrier, then develop a shin splint and can’t run. Second Valentine’s Day with Shana. Romeo and Juliet ballet.

Great moment. At least for a few days.

MARCH 2012: Back to running after a few weeks. Running five miles by the end of the month, thanks to fitted shoes. Kansas gets Kansas calls at home, bones Missouri out of the Big 12 title in Lawrence. Big 12 tourney title. Norfolk effing State. Ugh. Date Night at Brewhause. State tournament and lunch with some fine friends.

Myself and Coach Haith.

APRIL 2012: Royals season tickets! Wait, they still haven’t won a game we’ve been to. I’m writing this in July. Thank you, Kentucky. My third magazine is out. Chicago (pure awesomeness). Twelve hour days consistently on our web project at work. Meeting Frank Freakin’ Haith. Easter at the Curtises.

With my niece

MAY 2012: Family get-together with the Webbs. Rory eats 17 hamburgers. Memorial Day at Dave n’ Busters. More 12-hour days finishing up web project. New website launches at work (hallelujah). Looking at rings. I finally break 200 pounds.

Dad getting his biscuit and gravy on.

JUNE 2012: Buying the ring. Spontaneously proposing (so unlike me). Convincing her mother it’ll be OK. She’s more excited than we are about the wedding now. An awesome day with the best father in the universe. A Royals game with Dad (they lost, of course). Molly’s birthday.

You win, genetics.

JULY 2012: I celebrate by shaving my head. Why? All that was left, as George Costanza said, were remnants of what was once a great society of hair.

I’m sure I left dozens of things out. It really was an amazing year. Bring on No. 36.

Repairing the Royals

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“It’s called a strike. Ever hear of that, Sanchez?”

Fire Ned Yost and Dayton Moore. I was going to write that Sunday after the Royals lost their third straight game to the mighty Minnesota Twins, wasting a golden opportunity to inch closer to .500 and pull within a couple of games of first place in the A.L. Central.

But I’m holding off on that for now. It would be nice if Yost realized the Royals aren’t in the National League. And it would be nice if Moore would stop trading our best players for piles of garbage.

For now, I don’t blame those two entirely. We all knew the rotation was going to be an issue, and it has lived up to those lofty expectations. Our Time is probably still at least a year away (if it ever is Our Time).

In the meantime, here’s what the Royals should do while they still have a pulse in the playoff race:

CUT JONATHAN SANCHEZ …

This should have been done weeks ago. It’s like watching an atomic bomb go off every five days. As if it’s not bad enough that he’s sucking at a historic rate (1-4, 6.80 ERA, 40 BBs, 32 Ks), he also clearly doesn’t care.

Kansas City has a talented, young, hungry team. It doesn’t need a giant waste of space and malcontent on the roster. Enough of the likes of Jose Guillen and Neifi Perez. I’d rather see Sluggerrrrrr pitch.

TRADE (OR PLATOON) JEFF FRANCOEUR …

He’s a great team leader, you say. He sucks, I retort. I don’t care how much of a vocal leader this guy is, at some point (and that point may already be here), the younger players are going to wonder why they should follow a guy whose slugging percentage is under .400.

Francoeur is a corner outfielder with the range of my keyboard and his projected numbers are 15 homers and 50 RBIs. That’s two months of work for Wil Myers at Omaha.

Wil Myers is the Roy Hobbs of AAA baseball, which is why he’s playing AAA baseball.

CALL UP WIL MYERS …

The Royals’ cheapness continues to know no bounds. To save service time, they haven’t promoted the best hitter in minor-league baseball. Never mind that their offense has been mediocre, that they need a right fielder who actually drives in runs and that they’re somehow in contention.

CALL UP ANYBODY FOR SANCHEZ …

You want to hold off on Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery (who sucks right know anyway), fine. But virtually every pitcher on Omaha’s roster right now is a better option than Sanchez. Hell, I’d rather see a monkey from Omaha’s world famous zoo pitch.

Nate Adcock, Doug Davis, Will Smith, Ryan Verdugo, Warren Buffett. I’ll take anybody in Nebraska over Sanchez.

Two more lineup changes and Ned Yost gets a Shamwow towel.

STOP CHANGING THE LINEUP …

I’m convinced Ned Yost has ADD (and at times a low IQ). Every night, the lineup changes, except for Francoeur and his .387 slugging percentage in the five hole.

Leave Alcides Escobar at No. 2 while he’s hot, leave Butler at No. 3, put Hosmer at No. 5 while he works out of his slump, which he appears to be doing.

At least Yost finally stopped moving Alex Gordon all over the place.

An ideal and healthy lineup: (7) Gordon, (8) Cain, (DH) Butler, (5) Moustakas, (3) Hosmer, (9) Myers, (2) Perez, (6) Escobar, (4) Giavotella/Getz.

STOP PLAYING AT HOME …

We have season tickets for every Sunday game at home. The Royals have not won a game we’ve been to. It’s July. Feel free to stay on the road for a long while.

STOP PLAYING ON WEEKENDS …

Back-to-back weekends, back-to-back crushing series against the Cardinals and Twins. Six losses in seven games, which wiped out Kansas City sweeps immediately before the series.

STOP BUNTING …

For the love of god and all things sacred and holy, please stop bunting every inning. There is no bonus for setting a major league record for attempted bunts.

STOP PLAYING YUNI SO MUCH …

Johnny Giavotella may have been struggling, but his range is better than that of a rake. Yuni Betancourt’s range is the width of a smartphone screen. Teams know this and hit the ball in that direction often (they merely hit it over the defense when Sanchez starts).

SELL THE TEAM …

We can dream, can’t we? Or David Glass could spend some of the luxury tax money he pockets every year and stop running the franchise like it’s a Walmart.