Monthly Archives: August 2012

Friday thoughts

As you know (or perhaps you don’t), Friday is kind of a potpourri day here on the  blog. If I think it, I write it. There’s very little editing process that goes on inside my head.

By the way, I hope you’ll all take time Sunday to fill out my 16th annual Reader Survey when it appears in the newspaper and online at kansas.com. I always have a lot of fun with the survey and it might or might not tell us something about what people are thinking about sports in Wichita and the surrounding communities.

You can do the survey online or be more old-fashioned in your survey-filling-out ways. Whatever works for you.

Now, on to other things.

  • I’m going to the West-South game tonight at Northwest as a fan. I’m really proud of my long-time friend, Weston Schartz, for returning to West, where he built one of the City League’s best programs during the late-1980s through the early 2000s. Schartz can coach and he’s decided to helping West, which has been really down for a decade, return to some of its previous glory.
  • If South Carolina is the No. 9 college football team in the country, then this country is in real trouble (football-wise, that is).
  • Mike Leach’s Washington State team scored six points in the coach’s debut last night against BYU. I watch some of the first half with much anticipation. It turned into a waste of time. Sports can do that to you, sometimes. You’ve got to be careful.
  • Is it really the last day of August? That’s a rhetorical question. I’m not losing it. So stop worrying.
  • I think we’ll go out to watch the Shocker volleyball team play Tennessee on Sunday afternoon. I used to think watching volleyball games was a waste of time, but I’ve come to enjoy the sport. And I admire what Chris Lamb has been able to do with the Wichita State program. It seems like people are starting to take him a bit for granted and I would advise you not to do that.
  • I see where “Paranormal 4″ is coming out on Oct. 19. I’m so, so there.
  • I’m looking forward to rolling into Lawrence on Saturday for my first college football game of the season. Even if the Jayhawks are playing the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Great nickname but not much of a team. If it’s a close game, I’ll be surprised. And dismayed for the Jayhawks, who should win this one by a margin of about four touchdowns.
  • What am I going to be looking for from the Jayhawks? Well, new quarterback Dayne Crist will be interesting. He’s going to play one season at Kansas in a season where the Jayhawks are everybody’s pick to finish last in the Big 12. I love that dynamic and I’m sure Crist, a transfer from Notre Dame where he was recruited by KU coach Charlie Weis, thinks he has something to prove.
  • KU’s defense, the worst in the country last season (look it up), has to be better. Has to be. Under new defensive coordinator Dave Campo, it will be better. But will it be good enough to keep Big 12 competitors from moving the football up and down the field? We’ll start to find out on Sept. 15 when the Jayhawks are at home against Big 12 newcomer TCU.
  • Some other Fall movies I’m looking forward to in the next couple of months: The Words, with Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons and Olivia Wilde; The Cold of the Night, with Bruce Willis, Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver; End of Watch, with Make Gyllenhaal; Trouble With the Curve, with Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman; Won’t Back Down, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter; Butter, with Jennifer Garner and my guy Ty Burrell from Modern Family; The Paperboy, with Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman; Argo, with Ben Afflect, the great Bryan Cranston and John Goodman; Seven Psychopaths, with Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson (how could this movie not be good?); Smashed, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul; Alex Cross, with Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox and Edward Burns; Killing Them Softly, with Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta; Cloud Atlas, with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, directed by the Wachowski siblings; and The Sessions, with John Hawkes, William H. Macy and Helen Hunt.
  • This season of St. Louis Cardinals baseball has taken its toll on me. It’s such an up and down team. I’d prefer following a club that wins 100-110 games every season. Is that doable?
  • I don’t really have a mood either way on the Penn State football team. I certainly don’t hold any of the current players or coaches accountable for the terrible things that happened in years past. But I’m not quite ready to be a Penn State fan, either. It’s going to take time for me to get the terrible taste of the Jerry Sandusky scandal out of my mouth. Until then, I’m neutral.
  • How are the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles doing it? Amazing stuff. And to those people who say it’s always the same teams in baseball, it isn’t.
  • Some college football predictions for Week One: Kansas State 45, Missouri State 10; Kansas 47, South Dakota State 14; Michigan State 24, Boise State 21; Notre Dame 35, Navy 20; Iowa State 31, Tulsa 21; Alabama 24, Michigan 13; Clemson 28, Auburn 24.
  • I will be shocked if replacement referees are working when the NFL regular season starts next week. Shocked. And disappointed, since the stated goal of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is to improve safety for players. Putting guys out there who shouldn’t be out there to call these games does not improve safety. It’s kind of like putting a 12-year-old behind the wheel of a Ferrari, isn’t it?
  • Thanks for reading. I’m enjoying doing the blog again.

Taking the fun out of fantasy

I know a lot of people play fantasy football. I know a lot of people have fun doing so.

Fantasy football is everywhere and everybody plays it.

But sometimes, maybe, we take it a little bit seriously. Can we agree on that?

When I was in doing the radio show this morning, the Queen of KFH (all of the other Entercom entities) showed me a multi-colored chart that one of the guys in her fantasy football league had put together before that league’s draft. I have never seen anything like it. And if this guy (whose name shall remain anonymous) doesn’t win the league, what does it say about the rest of the league?

Anyway, I thought you’d want to see the seriousness with which some people take fantasy football. As for myself, I pulled a few things off the Internet last night, but really haven’t had a chance to study them yet. I will, though. I will.

Without further ado, here’s what the guy in Cathy’s fantasy league is working from.

Protecting heads

Last night in Pittsburgh, the Pirates’ Josh Harrison knocked the math retention right out of St. Louis Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina on a close play at home plate.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina tries to remember who he is after being pummeled at home plate Tuesday night by the Pirates' Josh Harrison.

The ball and Harrison arrived at almost the same time and Molina, great defensive catcher he is, scooped up a short hop throw from Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran and put the tag on Harrison just as Harrison was putting a major hurt on Molina’s head.

The catcher’s head snapped back and he said after the game that he couldn’t remember much from that moment. He had to leave the game and I’m not sure whether he’s playing tonight in the rubber game of the series, but I doubt it.

Molina is arguably the most important Cardinal. And I’m not even sure it can be argued. He’s been the best defensive catcher in the game for a while now and his hitting has nearly caught up with those catching skills. The Cardinals don’t reach the playoffs this season unless Molina is reasonably healthy down the stretch during the final month.

While the NFL is doing everything it can to eliminate head injuries, or at least dramatically curtail them, Major League Baseball has not adopted a stiff penalty dealing with home plate collisions. And it doesn’t make any sense. There are such rules at most other levels of baseball and with good reason. Nobody wants to see a serious injury on a play at the plate. Yet it’s within the rules to do what Harrison did to Molina last night. And while St. Louis pitcher Jake Westbrook retaliated by hitting Harrison in the leg with a pitch later in the game, that punishment was minor.

MLB  needs to adopt a tougher policy for plays at the plate. As it stands, the catcher is able to block off the plate, leaving the approaching runner with little choice but to bowl over the catcher since it is nearly impossible to get to the plate any other way. Blocking the plate on such plays is one of the most important skills taught to catchers, and the argument has been made that if a catcher can make it impossible for a runner to get to the plate while running inside the base line, then a runner should have the right to go through the catcher.

I’m not sure you can eliminate home plate collisions without also eliminating a catcher’s right to block the plate. It seems to me like if one goes, the other has to go, too.

Is that fair to catchers? I’m sure many in the game would say that it isn’t. But again, we’re working to eliminate these scary and dangerous plays that sometimes result in terrible injuries. Both sides have to give a bit on this one.

As always, let me know your thoughts. And thanks for reading my blog.

 

My summer 2012

It’s good to be back. At my age, it’s good to be anywhere.

I think that’s an old Rodney Dangerfield or Henny Youngman joke, but I’m not to proud to confiscate humor, especially from funny people.

It’s been an interesting summer, I suppose. I’m looking forward to football season – high school, college and pro – because it gives me a sense of purpose and belonging. And I need to belong because I’m extremely unsure of myself.

Anyway, while the blog will certainly be more about sports than anything else, it’s always going to have some variety. I’m kicking off today with 10 Summer 2012 memories.

Andy Griffith’s passing – Since Griffith died on July 3, I’ve been watching a steady flow of “The Andy

Sheriff Andy Griffith of Mayberry.

Griffith Show” repeats on TV Land and wherever else I can find them. I think it’s the best show in history for a number of reasons. One, there’s Don Knotts as Barney Fife. But what is underrated is the lesson “TAGS” can provide parents and fathers in particular. There are so many great episodes in which Andy imparts tremendous parenting and wisdom on his young son, Opie. I think Griffith provided a mass audience with some of the greatest parenting skills ever seen on television.

Cardinals baseball – As always, I’m watching a lot of games. And it’s fun that my wife, Debbie, watches with me. She can be a bit more vocal than I’d prefer, but for the most part we’re in wedded bliss as we watch the Cardinals together. Unless they lose. Then the bliss becomes something much less desirable and my wife sees a side of me that is best kept under wraps. So far it’s working, though.

My son’s engagement – I had my doubts as to whether Jeff would ever meet the right one, but he did and in October – the 20th to be precise – he and Shannon will be married in Arkansas City. Along with a great bride comes a great little girl, 6-year-old Airyn. So I’m about to be not only a father-in-law, but a grandfather-in-law. And my son is going to be a fantastic parent, although it wouldn’t hurt him to watch some of those Andy Griffith episodes once or twice.

Golf – The game is up and down, which is to be expected since I rarely practice. But if the key to becoming a better golfer is to spend hours on the practice range, I don’t know if I want to be a better golfer. I wish a better golf swing could be gained by osmosis. Wouldn’t that be great?

Concerts – We’ve only been to a couple, including Joe Walsh at the Stiefel Theater in Salina and Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Hartman Arena in Park City. Both shows were outstanding. I was particularly impressed by the vocals of CSN. Stephen Stills was as good as I hoped he would be and “Southern Cross” remains one of my all-time favorite songs. I guess I was surprised by how good David Crosby’s voice still sounds. Seems like the kid has been though a lot to maintain such high vocal ability.

Movies – Can’t say that I’ve been to many. I did see “Hunger Games,” which was good. But probably not good enough to make me want to read the books. I do like Jennifer Lawrence, though, and Woody Harrelson is just so good. But the best movie I saw this summer (maybe it was late spring) was “Bernie,” starring Jack Black. My attitude about Black going in was pretty gray. But I thought his performance was good enough for him to be nominated for an Oscar. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if he isn’t. I have definitely dropped the ball with my movie watching, though. I need to do better.

Television – With so many baseball games to watch – not to mention the Olympics and my addiction to “The Andy Griffith Show” – TV shows are not a priority. But we are deep into “Breaking Bad,” which has one more episode this season before winding it up with eight new episodes in 2013. And we did zip through the three seasons of the HBO series “Deadwood,” which was incredible. There were nights when we watched three and sometimes four episodes because we just couldn’t step away.

Doing radio – After nearly 12 years, I still enjoy being on “Sports Daily” with Bruce Haertl every morning on KFH. We have had a good run for a long time and I hope radio is always a part of what I do professionally. When I was in high school, all I ever wanted to do was be the play-by-play guy for the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s all. Well, that didn’t pan out, but being on sports-talk radio gives me a chance to do something different and something fun.

Our house – Last year, we added a screened-in patio and some landscaping. This year hasn’t been quite as busy, but we did get a couple of new garage doors (Yippee!!) and some exterior lighting. We’re also getting our house painted in late September/early October. And we’re kicking around the possibility of a bathroom remodeling. Probably need to win the lottery for that to happen.

Lawrence-Dumont Stadium – There is no other place in Wichita that gives me the same feeling of the old ballpark at the corner of Sycamore and Maple. I spent so much of my youth there and developed a big part of my deep love with baseball at that spot. After a few years of negligence toward the National Baseball Congress World Series, I got involved in that tournament again in 2012 and wrote several columns during the last week. And I’ve been to eight to 10 Wingnuts games this summer, more for the ballpark than anything else. L-D is one of Wichita’s most important landmarks. I hope it’s around forever.