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Kansas City & Playing Small Ball: Why We Write

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Last night the Chiefs beat the New York Jets 35 to 9. Kansas City may be unusual in that it's big on football and fine arts, and sometimes they mix. I began writing a poem the morning of the 2020 Super Bowl, in an attempt to capture the excitement of our entire city. Being a native resident of Kansas City and a loyal sports fan, the emotions from the Royals’ championship baseball runs in 2014 and ’15 came flooding back when Kansas City had a chance at Super Bowl LIV. I wanted to immortalize this new special time for the enthusiastic fans here in Chiefs Kingdom. The poem below chronicles that day and the celebration that followed. I was inspired by the style of a legendary poem in our region, “Casey at the Bat,” written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I wanted to put the audience right into the action!

How did I decide to write? I was one of the last people you might expect to become a writer. I hadn’t been the kind of student that wanted to read anything for fun other than the sports page or comics. When people talk about a book that changed their life, it’s usually a literary classic or something that had an inspirational message, right? Some people insist on early childhood books like “The Little Engine That Could." My story is different. A very short twenty years ago, I was two or three years out of college and I had not picked up a book to read in ten years. Then one day, I picked up a book I purchased for a mere $5 that changed my opinion about reading and led me back to being a writer as well. When I sat down to read this book with a Major League baseball coach on the book jacket, I distinctly remember not knowing what to expect (I know, don’t judge a book by its cover).

From the moment I picked it up, I literally could not put it down. “ZIM: A Baseball Life,” by Bill Madden shares stories about Don Zimmer, a baseball lifer who spent over 53 years in the game. I finished it in just over a week which, at that time, was a HUGE accomplishment for me.

To my amazement, reading a book about a baseball coach’s memories of the game became instrumental in reviving my interest in the written word, the stories those words tell, and most importantly, learning.

“To my amazement, reading a book about a baseball coach’s memories of the game became instrumental in reviving my interest in the written word, the stories those words tell, and most importantly, learning.”

Without “ZIM: A Baseball Life,” I may have never rediscovered how important writing is to me. I may not have had the idea to write commercials for my business. I may have never written the poem I want to share with you today. No matter what inspires you to read or write, the point is, “Just do it.” You will probably gain something far more than just the one story. You will learn how to tell your own story. What you write today, your story, could inspire someone else, and so on down the line.

It has certainly been a different year for the entire world with the global pandemic changing how we all coexist and navigate through our days. It’s also different for writers, so many of us have taken the time at home to write more about the world around us. We also have taken the time (because we now seem to have a bit more) to think about why we really should write-but haven’t. The sports world has also been forced to alter what was once familiar to what is now becoming unusual: Rule changes, shortened seasons, paper-cut-out-fans in the stadiums.

However, in Kansas City, our home team entered this season as the reigning and defending Super Bowl Champions for the first time in 50 years. Chiefs football continues to be a legacy in our town starting the 2020 campaign very strong and with high optimism. The Chiefs have always been so important to Kansas Citians, but now football is exciting for almost everybody. Our quarterback and field general, Patrick Mahomes, has become a national phenomenon and has established himself as a leader on the field while becoming a supporter of our fine city. I asked the team at Flying Ketchup Press why they wanted to talk about the Chiefs on their blog for writers.

It makes us happy to see our team show the kind of attitude we want to be known for. Mahomes is one of the most beloved sports figures anywhere. But he wears it humbly and that is just so Kansas City. When the Royals went to the World Series playing “small ball” baseball was suddenly about having fun, making a team, being a family again. Patrick Mahomes stayed with that idea in football too. He does things that no one has ever seen before and it is just fun to watch.

"That is why they call it magic. The Chiefs, they work hard, play wonderful football, and give back to our community. We think the creatives in KC are the same. The writers and artists: they work so hard, but many are undiscovered. They need more places to play ball! That’s why we are here at Flying Ketchup Press to help writers and creatives catch up. We can't deny that doing something the Kansas City way, with a sense of humor and a lot of heart, goes a long way." ~ Dr. Alice Hixson, advising editor.

Today my writing is based on pure inspiration. If you haven’t written in a long time. Why not try my method?

  1. First Down: Try not to force it. Take an idea or topic then start jotting down any initial thoughts.

  2. Second Down: Let your process begin as a sporadic collection of ideas that are devoid of cohesion; a big bowl of jumbled alphabet soup that follows no structure or guidelines other than having each idea separated by a single line space.

  3. Third Down: Be reckless. Find a form of brainstorming that works for you. I believe that it’s therapeutic to reformulate words; to keep going for the goal line until you find you’ve written better than you originally intended.

  4. Fourth Down: Express your thoughts and ideas freely. Do not focus on the structure at first. Continue to woodshed them until you feel perfectly satisfied with how you articulated the right words for each idea.

  5. Half Time: Take fifteen to thirty minutes to revise or overwrite something every day such as simple one-line ideas, a short commercial, a book idea, or revise a scene or chapter from one of your books in various stages of completion.

  6. Practice: Never ever stop expanding your thoughts or exploring other ideas. Create or add to your collection of quotes, inspirational phrases, and commentaries.

I hope you enjoy my poem! Go Chiefs! ~ Dan Riggs

Mahomes’ Super Bowl Magic

Enthusiasm was high in Kansas City the morning of the big game;

every single person knew that later their town would not be the same.

It had been 50 years, half a century long, since we had come this far.

The Chiefs came close the previous year, yet the defense just wasn’t up to par.

Our 2019 team had ups and downs and boasted a lot of charm,

a new defense in place, yet our fate relied on Mahome’s magic right arm. With an arsenal of weapons our field general had by his side;

Tough backs and quick receivers led by a Cheetah running at full stride.

We reached the playoffs as we had many times in the past,

Patriot rivals from the year before had been vanquished at last.

We got to practice, we got to play, and do it all at our house;

only to find we would twice get behind but leave both teams scurrying like a mouse.

We had finally made it back after half a century long,

fervent fans all bursting with pride, “GO CHIEFS” as their song.

We had our jersey’s laid out and our favorite snacks ready to eat,

some heading to Power and Light, it was the 49er’s we would meet.

With the pre-game pageantry started and the game drawing near,

fanatics collectively held their breaths, wearing the latest Chiefs’ gear.

The waiting was over and the coin toss done;

we had four quarters, 60 minutes, and legions of fans united as one.

Our team looked great in traditional red and white;

The championship dreams of Chiefs Kingdom well within our sight.

With a three and out to start, our offense gave up the ball quick,

eerie familiarity made even the most faithful feel a bit sick.

The opposition employed razzle dazzle plays with confusion all around;

supplemented by handing the ball off and attacking from the ground.

Our Chiefs stormed back using Williams and Kelce to score 7 in a hurry,

Mahomes took a goal line play in himself crossing the end zone in a flurry.

The red and white got the ball back quick, marching down the field in a flash;

settling for a field goal from 31 yards out on the right side hash.

The score at the half was dead even and knotted tightly at ten;

Magic needed to happen from Mahomes’ arm, but how and when?

The second half started with Gould kicking the 9er’s up by three;

time was ticking fast when Watkins caught a pass and broke free.

Then the pocket broke down and the walls caved in;

Mahomes let it fly and the pass was picked off, much to our chagrin.

San Francisco went up by two scores and celebrated early;

Then another interception by our MVP left KC faithful surly.

All of a sudden when all hope seemed to be failing,

a magic 44-yard strike to Hill, from there, smooth sailing.

A penalty for 20 set up a Kelce score putting things within reach;

we witness Mahomes to Watkins– perfection you just can’t teach.

A splendid run from Williams followed as he barely crossed the goal;

The Chiefs surged ahead seizing momentum and went on a roll.

Coach Shannahan floundered; Garappolo threw up a wounded bird;

Williams broke free again making the 49er D’ look absolutely absurd.

With the game well in hand and just over a minute to play;

Fuller picked off a pass from Jimmy G to put the adversaries away.

The drought was over, and the time had expired;

Coach Reid had his victory, which is why he was hired.

Mahomes Magic had prevailed, the sea of red at Union Station looked pretty;

elation abound, there was another Super Bowl Championship in Kansas City!

Dan Riggs graduated from Missouri Western State College with an English and public relations degree and is a writer and public speaker. Dan worked for Barnes and Noble College Bookstoresafter graduating which helped foster his interest in writing as a hobby. He has worked in the retail automotive industry since 2007, exclusively for Ford Dealerships here in the Kansas City area. During his free time, he enjoys woodworking, spending time with his friends and family, and plays trumpet in his own 18-member Big Band. Dan was born and raised in the KC Metro area and currently resides in Olathe, KS with his wife, Kinsley (a librarian with JoCo Libraries), and daughter Lydia. Find more on his LinkedIn page or his business page on Youtube.

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