Sports

He's Wichita's Cy Young winner

Zack Greinke winning the American League Cy Young Award did many things this week.

It was the most luminous of bright spots for the Royals, in an otherwise disappointing season.

It reminded longtime baseball fans of the rich, if not distant, history of the team that was model for expansion success in the 1970s and '80s.

It also was the greatest moment in Wichita Wrangler history.

In the nearly two decades the Wranglers played Double-A baseball at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, no player seemed to have higher expectations than Greinke before his arrival.

On his way to winning the Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2002 draft made his Wrangler debut in July 2003.

"All I keep hearing is how special he is," then-Wranglers manager Keith Bodie said at the time. "You keep hearing the same thing about a kid over and over, you tend to believe it."

The next season he was in the majors.

It wasn't Greinke's nine-game stint in the Air Capital in 2003 that was memorable, it was his longer stay in 2006.

The one after he left spring training after suffering from social anxiety disorder.

For a can't-miss prospect, that concept of going back to Double-A to work out one's problems might have been an insurmountable challenge.

Fortunately for Greinke and the Royals, Wichita turned out to be a great place for his return to baseball.

He played on a team loaded with talent — at least at the minor-league level — and those fans who showed up to watch the Wranglers (and that number was embarrassingly low) took ownership of Greinke's recovery.

After that point the Florida kid was one of ours. A Wichitan through and through.

Greinke's 2009 season fulfilled the promise of what minor-league baseball can be — watching prospects develop and prepare before they hit the biggest stage.

Unfortunately, unless Alex Gordon somehow turns into the Most Valuable Player in the AL, Greinke is likely our last Wrangler we can expect to do great things — another Johnny Damon World Series win isn't quite the same.

It's also the biggest reason I was bummed about the Wranglers leaving town for Northwest Arkansas.

The next Greinke isn't putting on a Wingnuts uniform.

No amount of free tickets and wacky promotions will make up for that.

Fortunately for baseball fans in Kansas, "our" Zack will be wearing powder blue for at least a few more years.

France is very, very sneaky — Plenty of championships get decided by bad calls — hello, 1985 World Series!

It's rare, however, a team can win a crucial game with the assistance of a couple of missed calls, and, how does one say... a little cheating.

The international soccer world was aflame this week — and really, that's not particularly news — after France won its World Cup qualifying playoff against Ireland when Thierry Henry set up the decisive goal with a clear handball.

For those of you unfamiliar with soccer, Henry is the "other" guy in those razor commercials with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

And as even my 4-year old nephew knows, you can't touch the ball with your hand in soccer. Well, that's a bit of hyperbole. I'm pretty sure my nephew knows that soccer games are two periods of running around surrounded by baggies of snacks and drink boxes.

Anyway, the goal wasn't thrown out and Henry admitted he intentionally hit the ball.

"I will be honest, it was a handball," he said. "But I'm not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That's a question you should ask him."

In another surprising development Ireland demanded a replay of the game, to which — shockingly — FIFA said, yeah, not so much.

If Americans think their sports leagues are subject to the whims of big money interests (which of course, is totally false, and congrats to the World Champion Yankees!), they should check out the rest of the world.

Was there any chance FIFA was going to bypass wealthy France, the 2006 World Cup finalist, for Ireland?

Why, that's crazy talk. Next thing you'll tell me is that the BCS somehow penalizes smaller schools.

Run 'n' Gun is The Eagle sports staff's weekly look at the offbeat side of sports

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