Monthly Archives: April 2014

Friday musings

* I know the record for Wichita State’s baseball team is at .500 as the Shockers prepare for a three-game set with Southern Illinois at Eck Stadium this weekend. I know fans aren’t used to seeing this team battle just to stay afloat. I know Todd Butler is having a rough first year. But it’s not all that surprising, given the team’s injuries, suspensions related to NCAA clothing violations and lack of overall talent depth.

* Way, way to early to make any long-term judgements about Butler and his coaching staff. Let’s see how he recruits. He has 17 new players coming in for next season, he told me Thursday. There will be changes to this roster in the coming weeks and months.

* Even though the season has been difficult so far, Butler told me he’s having fun and that he’s determined to make Wichita State a college baseball powerhouse again. Of course that’s what he would say. But I believe he’s the right coach at the right time and that good results are coming soon. That said, the Shockers need to start producing more consistently in all facets of the game this season. This has been an underachieving team in many ways. It’s been surprising to see Garrett Bayliff and Tyler Baker struggle offensively, though both are showing signs of late of getting into a groove.

* I’ll be off work from The Eagle for three months starting next week, back at the start of August. I mention this for the two or three of you who might wonder where I am. I’m very much looking forward to the first season for League 42, our brand new baseball league for kids who, for a variety of factors, have rarely or never had the opportunity to play baseball. Our season begins Monday, April 28, at McAdams Park. I hope some of you will stop by as we play league games on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of June.

* The debut episode of Fargo on FX the other night was so good that I can’t stop thinking about it. I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that it has a chance to be even better than the highly-acclaimed movie of the same name. Billy Bob Thornton seems to have fallen into a dream role here and looks 100 percent capable of pulling it off. Of course, it’s only one episode. But to say this show is promising is a vast understatement.

* Gary Busey is is marketably weird, if you know what I mean. Most weird people aren’t marketable. Busey is. He’s lucky that way, I suppose.

* A little Cardinals update because I know you care. Adam Wainwright is a stud. So is Yadier Molina. I wish the Cardinals hit more home runs. I like Mike Adams as a hitter but he needs to hit 25 homers. I’m not sure why Allen Craig isn’t consistently hitting the ball harder. Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn have great ability, but I’m not sure about their mental approaches. Jon Jay is going to play more center field than Peter Bourjos based on what I’ve seen so far. Jhonny Peralta is a huge upgrade at shortstop. I’m not 100 percent sure about rookie second baseman Kolten Wong. Carlos Martinez will be a superstar pitcher someday soon. Michael Wacha might already be.

* I need a new personal laptop so that I can play Spades again online. I miss it.

* I’m going to start watching Game of Thrones next week on Netflix. It better be good.

* I love the sound of a lawnmower when I’m sitting in my basement office doing work. It gives me a good feeling. I think it has to do with the weather being warmer.

* Two very interesting basketball coaching job openings in the SEC at the moment. Tennessee and Missouri are two schools in that conference that could mount a challenge to Kentucky and Florida. But will they? These upcoming hires are huge.

* The Royals swept the Astros. Today, they return to MLB.

* I went decades without caring at all about the stock market’s performance. Now I check it daily. Part of that is because it’s so accessible because of my smart phone. But it’s also because I worry incessantly about the health of my 401k. And some of it, too, is because I’m Gary Busey-weird.

* I miss affiliated minor league baseball in Wichita more than ever. It’s ridiculous that this city isn’t affiliated with an MLB team and if I had a wish list of things I want in local sports, that would be at the top of the list. Along with a renovated Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. That place is in dire need of work. And I won’t stop being this drum until all of the funds in my 401k disappear and I’ve living under a bridge somewhere. With Gary Busey.

* How many tickets would Bruno Mars and Pharrell Williams sell at Intrust Bank Arena? They’re touring this summer and hitting Tulsa, Little Rock and Omaha – but not Wichita. I think that’s a shame. I would go see that show and I have to think it would fill the arena. Wouldn’t it? And if not, why not? I’m trying to understand how city musically. I know we love country music. Is that it? Are most other musical genres destined for Hartman Arena, the Orpheum and the Cotillion?

* How good is the television show Parenthood? We’ve watched it a few times over the years but haven’t been hooked. Not because it’s not excellent, but because there is just too much to watch. So I ask – what are we missing? My son and daughter-in-law rave about this show.

* I finally saw Frozen this week with my granddaughter, Airyn. What a fantastic movie. She’s seen it five times now and was singing along with the songs.

* It doesn’t sound like Transcendence is a very good movie. And it doesn’t sound like Johnny Depp is a very good actor anymore. I fear he’s gotten weird, and not marketably so. Perhaps he needs to talk to Gary Busey.

* See you soon, everybody. Have a great weekend.

 

NBA playoff time, finally

 

Basketball season – at least the NBA version – begins for me this weekend.

As I tell anyone who wants to know, I pay little to no attention to the NBA’s regular season. And I would like for someone – anyone – to tell me what I missed.

I’m waiting.

But the playoffs? Now that’s excitement.

Can John Wall and the Washington Wizards make a playoff push?

Can John Wall and the Washington Wizards make a playoff push?

I’m interested in every first-round series in both the Eastern and Western conferences, for varying reasons. I can’t wait for Saturday, when four series begins (the other four start Sunday).

I always pick a couple of off-the-wall teams to follow in the playoffs, hoping that eventually the Miami Heat win a third straight championship. I’m a Heat guy and a LeBron lover. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I always welcome LeBron back with open arms. And we’ve been on good terms for a while now after his ESPN debacle a few years ago.

My two quirky teams this year are the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors, both in the Eastern Conference.

Washington and Toronto are not the first two teams you think of when you think about NBA success stories.

The Wizards were 117-377 from 2008-09 through 2012-13, but this season improved 15 games to 44-38 under second-year coach Randy Wittman.

I’m looking forward to seeing the young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal go up against the Chicago Bulls in the first round. It’s one of the best young guard tandems in the league.

Washington hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004-05, and before that it was 1981-82. The Wizards have been a forgotten franchise, revived to life by Wittman and some deft draft picks.

Wall averages 19.8 points and 8.8 assists per game; Beal averages 17.1 points. Center Marcin Gortat (you know him, right?) averages 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds. I’m interested in this team, though I haven’t seen them play a second this season.

Ditto for Toronto, which made a 14-game jump this season from last to 48-34 and earned the No. 3 seed in the East. The Raptors will take on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. I’m a little bit of a Nets guy, but I’m pulling for Toronto in this series.

The Raptors, like Washington, have an exciting backcourt duo in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who combine to average 40.6 points, 11.4 assists and nine rebounds per game.

Impressive.

The Western Conference playoffs are loaded with Dallas, the No. 8 seed, sporting a 49-33 record. Poor Phoenix couldn’t even get into the playoffs despite a 48-34 mark.

The Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series against Golden State is can’t miss television. First, the two teams hate one another. Second, the Clippers are being picked by many experts to win the NBA championship, kind of like many were picking Denver to make a run at least to the Finals last season.

But Golden State beat the Nuggets in six games in a first-round series.

The Portland-Houston series, a battle of 4 vs 5, might be the best first-round series of all.

I’m telling you, they’re all interesting. There’s something to watch in all eight first-round matchups.

How will Indiana (which meets Atlanta) and Miami (which faces Charlotte) play? Both teams have had a difficult time of it down the stretch of the regular season and the Heat, the one team I do pay some attention to during the regular season, has looked beaten up and exhausted.

Those pesky Memphis Grizzlies are back to battle Oklahoma City in the first round. That’s hardly a pushover for the Thunder.

And what about these potential conference-semifinal clashes: Indiana vs. Chicago/Washington; Miami vs. Toronto/Brooklyn; San Antonio vs. Portland/Houston; Oklahoma City vs. LAC/Golden State.

Good stuff and worth waiting for. The playoffs are finally here.

 

Big summer music tours mostly bypass Wichita

I was interested yesterday when Rolling Stone magazine listed online the 40 biggest summer music tours in America.

Three are coming to Intrust Bank Arena: Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder, May 14; James Taylor, June 20;

The latest version of Foreigner is one of the few rock acts set to perform at Wichita's Intrust Bank Arena this summer.

The latest version of Foreigner is one of the few rock acts set to perform at Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena this summer.

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper, July 12.

Three out of 40. That’s an .075 batting average, much worse than what most big league pitchers hit.

But nothing new. Since Intrust Bank Arena opened in 2010, the building has featured a slew of top country music acts. Other musical genres, though, have been under-served.

I am appreciative of being able to see my favorite band, the Eagles, at IBA a couple of times, most recently last fall. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Intrust Bank Arena. And there have been notable big acts outside of country music to appear at Wichita’s downtown venue such as Billy Joel and Elton John.

It’s just that I feel like I expected more. But having gone back and compiled a list of the musical acts that have performed at IBA since its opening, I suppose maybe I’m being unfair.

Country music headline acts at Intrust Bank Arena – George Straight (3), Taylor Swift (2), Zac Brown Band (2), Carrie Underwood (2), Rascal Flatts (2), Brad Paisley (2), Reba McIntyre (2), Jason Aldean (2), Tim McGraw (2), Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., Miranda Lambert, Rodney Carrington, Brooks and Dunn, Sugarland, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antelbellum. That’s a total of 30 headlining country acts in the four years the arena has been open.

Non-country music headline acts at IBA – Eagles (2), Kid Rock (2), Nickelback (2), Elton John and Billy Joel, John Mayer, Daughtry, Bon Jobi, Shinedown with Three Days Grace, Aerosmith, Barry Manilow, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Avenged Sevenfold, James Taylor, Rush, Dave Matthews Band. That’s a total of 21 non-country acts, not including the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which has already made four appearances at IBA.

Anyway, I would like to see more rock and roll acts at the big house. That’s just me.

And here is the Rolling Stone list of 40 top summer tours. I’ve noted some of the nearby venues some of these artists will be appearing.

Aerosmith and Slash

Damon Albarn

Arcade Fire

Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne – Oklahoma City, Kansas City.

Beck

Boston and Cheap Trick – Kansas City, Rogers, Ark.

Jimmy Buffett

Cher and Cyndi Lauper – Lincoln, Kansas City, Des Moines.

Devo

Fall Out Boy and Paramore – Oklahoma City.

Peter Frampton and Doobie Brothers – Lincoln

Barry Gibb

Goo Goo Dolls/Daughty/Plain White T’s – Des Moines

Billy Joel

Jack Johnson/Amos Lee

Journey/Steve Miller Band/Tower of Power – Kansas City

Kiss and Def Leppard – Des Moines, Tulsa

Lady Gaga

Linkin Park/30 Seconds to Mars/AFI

Dave Matthews Band – Tulsa

Bruno Mars/Pharrell Williams – Tulsa, Little Rock, Omaha

The Monkees – Kansas City

Morrissey – Lincoln

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper – Wichita, Tulsa, Des Moines, Omaha, Oklahoma City

Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden

Outkast

Katy Perry – Kansas City, Lincoln, Tulsa

Phish

Queen with Adam Lambert

REO Speedwagon/Chicago – Kansas City

Lionel Richie and Cee Lo

Romeo Santos

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Rod Stewart and Santana – Lincoln, Kansas City

Styx/Foreigner/Don Felder – Wichita, Oklahoma City, Kansas City

James Taylor – Wichita, Lincoln

Tegan and Sara

Justin Timberlake – Kansas City

Under the Sun with Sugar Ray, Blues Traveler, Smash Mouth, Uncle Kracker – Omaha, Kansas City

ZZ Top and Jeff Beck – Oklahoma City, Kansas City

 

 

Lists, lists, lists

Five things I’m looking forward to during some extended time off from the Eagle starting next week

5. Playing some golf.

4. Watching Game of Thrones from Season 1.

3. Watching many, many St. Louis Cardinals games.

2. Taking a driving trip with my wife.

1. Watching kids play baseball in League 42

10 favorite Woody Allen movies

10. Manhattan Murder Mystery

9. Manhattan

8. The Purple Rose of Cairo

7. Match Point

6. Crimes and Misdemeanors

5. Midnight in Paris

4. Zelig

Blue Jasmine is my all-time favorite Woody Allen movie.

Blue Jasmine is my all-time favorite Woody Allen movie.

3. Hannah and Her Sisters

2. Annie Hall

1. Blue Jasmine

Five topics I’ve considered for a book

5. Fiction about a professional sports serial killer (I have a dark side).

4. Burial places for Major League Baseball icons. My concept is more interesting than the brief description.

3. Stories about League 42, which I’ll be doing on my League 42 blog starting next week at league42.org.

2. Spending my life in newspapers and mostly at one newspaper.

1. My childhood friends and how we’ve remained in contact for so many years.

10 great childhood memories

10. Going to a North-Derby high school basketball game in Derby when I was 5. The game was televised on Channel 10 and it was played on a Saturday afternoon. Riney Lochmann was a star at North at the time and Derby was led by Stan Pulliam and the Gaskin brothers.

9. Riding my fancy bicycle with its high handlebars up and down North Baltimore Street while popping wheelies.

8. My mother’s cooking.

7. Spending so much time with my dad at games.

6. Playing two-on-two basketball with one of those aforementioned life-long friends, Doug Baber. In our memories, we were unbeaten as a two-on-two powerhouse.

5. Hanging out with my older friend, Steve Woolson, who lived across the street and taught me a lot of things.

4. Neighborhood baseball games at Pleasantview Elementary. We just showed up around noon and there were always plenty of guys to play a pick-up game that lasted for a couple of hours. And it happened almost every day during the summer.

3. Playing basketball by myself in my backyard. I pretended I was the Wichita State team, or a pro team. But mostly, I was the Shockers. And I spent hours upon hours playing games while doing my own broadcast of the game.

2. Playing army with my friends in the neighborhood. It was intense and exciting and we discovered so many awesome hiding places.

1. The music of my youth. I had a small turntable and hundreds of records and I could spend hours listening and singing along and memorizing words to songs.

Five television shows I didn’t miss as a kid

5. The Lucy Show

4. Bonanza

3. Gunsmoke

2. All in the Family

1. The Andy Griffith Show

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Marshall to Tennessee? Forget about it

Gregg Marshall will not coach basketball at Wichita State forever. That, I guarantee.

And I come almost as close to guaranteeing that the Tennessee job, which came open today when Cuonzo Martin took the head-coaching job at California, will not entice Marshall to leave WSU.

Not hard to believe Tennessee would have interest in hiring Gregg Marshall now that Cuonzo Martin has left for Tennessee. But it is hard to believe the interest would be mutual.

Not hard to believe Tennessee would have interest in hiring Gregg Marshall now that Cuonzo Martin has left for California. But it is hard to believe the interest would be mutual.

The Vols would be silly if they don’t kick Marshall’s tires, so to speak. And when they do, they’ll notice that they’re full of air with plenty of tread.

I’m not sure the tire analogy works, but I know Marshall is happy at Wichita State, where he made close to $2 million this season, almost $700,000 more than Martin made at Tennessee.

Would you leave a team that returns Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter to go to Knoxville, where there are a lot of unknowns and a shaky administration that seemed to never embrace Martin?

Marshall has made the coaching job at Wichita State a great one. And his bosses have wisely upped the ante to keep him. He’s rewarded in a way no Shocker coach could have ever dreamed of previously. Back-to-back seasons that produced the team’s first Final Four appearance in 48 years and the best unbeaten regular-season run in the history of college basketball have led to numerous Coach of the Year awards for Marshall.

It’s hard to imagine he could do better at more than a handful of schools in the country. And Tennessee isn’t one of them.

Marshall might have taken a look at the Vols two or three years ago. I can’t imagine he would now. He and Martin, who left Missouri State to go to Tennessee three years ago, became friends when they coached against one another in the Missouri Valley Conference. You can bet Marshall noticed how the Tennessee administration or fan base never seemed to warm to Martin.

We were talking in the office a little bit ago about just how many college basketball jobs would appeal to Marshall. It’s an interesting question and it’s a list that has diminished in the past couple of years.

If Tennessee, which has an arena that seats close to 22,000 people, doesn’t appeal to Marshall, then what school would?

Let’s take the iconic programs like Indiana, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA off the table. Those jobs would appeal to almost every coach, though Marshall did fend off overtures from UCLA during the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Are there any other jobs out there that might entice Marshall?

I think Missouri would be a possibility. That’s always been a gold mine, in my opinion. It’s a school with tremendous resources that has never produced to the level of those resources. And it’s a fan base that would embrace Marshall and vice versa.

But Missouri has a coach – at least for now. Frank Haith, though, will be on a definite hot seat next season and if the Tigers don’t win, and win big, he could be in trouble.

That’s one of the few jobs out there I can think of that potentially could interest Marshall, who could be the second coming of Norm Stewart in Columbia. He has that kind of personalty, that kind of charisma.

For now, though, Marshall isn’t going anywhere and the Shockers are set up for another tremendous season in 2014-15.

 

Picking on the Royals

As you know, I like to find fault with the Kansas City Royals. It’s a hobby and because the Royals provide so much ammunition, I can’t see myself giving it up soon.

There’s just so much.

Today, I’m not going to rap on the Royals for their 4-7 start. I’m not going to mention their .239 team

Emilio Bonifacio is off to a quick start with the Chicago Cubs this season.

Emilio Bonifacio is off to a quick start with the Chicago Cubs this season.

batting average or the fact that only one player, Alex Gordon, has driven in more than four runs.

I’m not even going to discuss the team’s abysmal power so far – just one home run. I’m not going to point out that Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer – so important to the team’s offensive success – have combined for no homers, seven RBIs and are batting well below .200 as a group.

Nope, I’m not going to mention any of that.

Instead, I’m going to focus on three players: current Royals left-hander Bruce Chen and former Royals utility player Emilio Bonifacio (now with the Chicago Cubs) and left-handed pitcher Will Smith (currently with the Milwaukee Brewers).

And what I’m about to point out is another example of the kind of mismanagement that has plagued the Royals for many years. And it’s a reason why I’m suspect when it comes to Kansas City mounting a challenge in the American League Central this season.

Last season, on Aug. 14, the Royals picked up utility player Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash.

Bonifacio was in the midst of an off season in Toronto after a couple of productive seasons with the Marlins, one of which (2012) was cut short because of an injury.

Bonifacio is a speedy player and a decent defender. He isn’t a bad hitter, either, and he gave the Royals exactly what they were looking for. In 42 games with KC, he batted .285 and stole 16 bases. He looked like he might even be more than just a short-term answer at second base.

But on Feb. 10 of this year, the Royals placed Bonifacio on waivers for the purpose of giving him an unconditional release. That was just nine days after the Royals and Bonifacio had agreed on a one-year, $3.5 million deal to avoid arbitration.

But losing that contract allowed the Royals to bring back the veteran Chen for $3 million. Because when you think your team might be in the hunt for its first postseason in 29 years, there’s nothing like pinching pennies.

Anyway, the Royals went out and signed Omar Infante, who previously had played for Detroit, to a four-year, $30.25 million contract, even though, at 32, Infante is four years older than Bonifacio.

OK, so the Royals have Chen and Infante but don’t have Bonifacio, who signed with the Chicago Cubs.

The Royals also had Smith, a young left-hander with promise as a starter, long reliever, left-handed specialist or late-inning reliever. In other words, Smith has a versatile bullpen arm.

In 33.1 innings with Kansas City last season, Smith allowed only 24 hits and seven walks while striking out 43.

But Smith was the bait the Royals used in a trade for Milwaukee right fielder Nori Aoki, who is in the final year of a three-year deal that pays him about $1.6 million per season.

Smith, who makes the big-league minimum of $502,000, has appeared in seven games for the Brewers so far this season and hasn’t given up a run. He’s struck out nine in 6.1 innings and has helped solidify Milwaukee’s bullpen.

My point here is that the Royals are spending a lot more to have Chen, Infante and Aoki on their roster than they would have spent by having Bonifacio and Smith.

Oh, by the way, Bonifacio is off to a torrid start with the Cubs, batting .392 with seven stolen bases.

With an apparent choice of Bonifacio or Chen, the Royals took the veteran pitcher. Chen has undoubtedly given Kansas City some good productive, but he’s nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter and long man out of the bullpen.

Bonifacio has a history of top-of-the-order production and it’s not like the Royals had to break the bank to keep him. He’s not going to continue to hit .392, but he could hit .290 and steal 40 bases.

And Smith is a better version of Chen. He’s much younger, he throws a lot harder and he has a lot more promise. The Royals picked him up in 2010 from the Angels for Sean O’Sullivan and Alberto Callaspo. He’s probably going to have a nice career.

The point is: I don’t understand what the Royals are thinking. Infante is fine, but is he worth four years and more than $30 million. And does Aoki really plug the hole at the top of the order?

To review:

The Royals released Bonifacio so they could fit Chen into the budget.

They traded Smith, who is a better version of Chen and makes one-sixth of what Chen makes.

They spent big to bring in Infante, who may or may not be more productive than Bonifacio.

And in the Smith trade they landed Aoki to bat leadoff, where Bonifacio has excelled in the past.

In so doing, they spent $34.6 million when they could have retained Bonifacio and Smith for $4 million.

That’s the Royals for you.

 

 

 

 

Friday musings

* I still believe Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta will hit. They will hit, right? They’re not washed up. They can still sting the baseball. I believe this with all my heart.

* It’s hard seeing guys start the season in slumps. I know slumps are a part of the game, but to start the season in a 2-for-30 funk or something similar is brutal.

* I’m one of the coaches for a T-Ball team in League 42. We’re named the Panthers because I went to Derby High School and the co-coach, Randy Smith, went to Great Bend. And the kids were good with the name. We’ve had two practices now and they have been eventful.

* These kids haven’t even held a bat yet. We’ve been working on the proper throwing motion, how to catch grounders and which base is which. Last night, I think we made tremendous progress in teaching our 15 five- and six-year olds the locations of home plate, first base, second base and third base. Shortstop is a little iffy.

* One of our parents reached out to the coach of her son’s team today to explain that she and her family had just become homeless. We have tried to prepare for situations like this, but it’s eye-opening when it actually happens. She wrote in her message to the coach that she wants her two sons to still be on their teams in League 42 because “they love baseball.” We’ll do everything we can to make sure her sons continue to play.

* We have an unbelievable group of people involved in League 42. And our coaches are top notch. Many have coached at Westurban and at other high levels of youth baseball. Yet they want to be with these kids, 98 percent of whom are beginners, because they realize the importance of the mission. One of our coaches is giving up some time with his son’s traveling team to be involved with his League 42 team.

* I’m taking the plunge into the HBO series Game of Thrones. I’m starting at the beginning, thanks to Netflix. I’ve binge-watched two series in my life – Deadwood and The Wire. Will Game of Thrones be the third?

* I’m also getting back into Veep after not watching it much during its last season. And I tried the debut of Silicon Valley. It’s too early to tell on that one.

* I need to read more. I’ve been telling myself that for years, to no avail. Telling myself that I need to read more has absolutely no effect on me reading more.

* Did I use “effect” correctly there? Or should it have been “affect?” Does someone have an easy way to explain when to use one vs. when to use the other? I have not been able to get affect/effect figured out and I’ll be 60 years old soon. It’s embarrassing.

* I sure hope 24 is as good as it was during its first run. It’ll be a terrible thing if it isn’t. I’m looking forward to the debut of the series in early May.

* I have a column coming out on Korleone Young this weekend at Kansas.com and in The Eagle. I’ve had a couple of long conversations with Young, the former East High basketball star and can’t miss prospect who missed. He’s a really interesting guy. And a smart guy. I just hope he’s a real guy. And by that, I hope he follows through on everything he’s told me and others. Young has had an interesting life and insists that he’s intent on helping kids avoid some of the mistakes and pratfalls that he’s made.

* I’m going to write about Young every year for a while. One reason is because he’s a fascinating person with an interesting story. And another is because I want him to succeed in this second act of his life. I think he has a lot to offer this community and especially young and impressionable kids from the inner-city. He says he wants to be held accountable. He wants to prove himself. I’m hoping he does.

* I’m looking forward to spending some time on the patio at The Shamrock later today. It’ll be soothing.

* I sense a big change coming in college athletics soon. I’m not exactly sure what form it will take, but the amateurism that college sports used to espouse is dead as a door nail. Hypocrisy is running rampant. The NCAA’s grasp is loosening. Something big is about to happen.

* Dorial Green-Beckham has been dismissed from the Missouri football team. My respect for Gary Pinkel just grew.

* I have six phone books piled up in my office. Do people use phone books anymore? Wait, I just used one last week to contact a guy I know in town. His number was in the book. He answered his home phone. I felt like I was back in 1967.

* I miss 1967, by the way. And 1964.

* Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in both of those years. Good catch. But I miss those years for other reasons, too.

* I’m going to Salina and the Stiefel Theater on July 11 to see Three Dog Night. Their lead guys, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton, are in their early-70s. I’ve been a fan of the group since I was in the eighth grade. I’m only sorry original drummer Floyd Sneed is no longer with the band.

* I first saw Three Dog Night at what is now Koch Arena when I was in the ninth grade. I’m not sure how I got there, since I was too young to drive. Surely my parents didn’t take me because that would have just been pathetic. And I would have remembered that, surely. No, I’m sure I was there with friends.

* That might have been my first concert.

* I wish I had a running tally of every day in my life. A diary, I guess. Although I associate diaries with sappiness, for some reason. I would just like to be able to go back through my life and see what I did every day. I’ve seen stories about people who have photographic memories and can remembers things like that. I envy them.

* What did I do on Feb. 17, 1983? Heck if I know. But I had to do something.

* OK, enough of this nonsense. Have a great weekend, as always. Feel free to drop by McAdams Park this spring for some League 42 baseball. We’ll be playing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays with practices all day Saturday. It’s a blast.

 

Is Bill Self having fun?

Bill Self, I’ve noticed over the years, is a fun guy. He’s usually smiling and quick with a funny remark.

I imagine making close to $4 million a year to coach basketball at Kansas is good for his overall mood, too.

Kansas freshman Joel Embiid is off to the NBA after one season cut short.

Kansas freshman Joel Embiid is off to the NBA after one season cut short.

But I wonder if Self is enjoying his job as much as he should. I don’t know if he is or not. He well could be. But based on the happenings of the past couple of weeks, I do wonder.

First off, Self and KU have won 10 consecutive Big 12 championships. The Jayhawks and Self won the 2008 national championship. Kansas remains as one of the four or five best college basketball programs in the country. Self can pick the players he wants to recruit.

Life is good.

Or is it?

Kansas had two of the best freshmen in the country this season – Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Both are moving on to the NBA; Embiid made his intentions known Wednesday. Neither decision is a surprise and Self knew when he was recruiting them that this was a possibility.

Still, what does Self and KU have to show for one season of Wiggins and Embiid? A Big 12 championship, yes. Which is a great accomplishment. But the third-round exit from the NCAA Tournament after a loss to Stanford, a game in which Embiid did not play because of a back injury and Wiggins performed poorly, was a disappointing end to the season.

And now arguably the two best Jayhawks are moving on to most likely play for rebuilding teams in the NBA. They’ll be cashing big checks but probably not winning many games – at least for a while.

Meanwhile, Self has another outstanding recruiting class coming in, one that could get much better soon.

Already signed are 6-foot-9 power forward Cliff Alexander, from Chicago. He’s regarded as the top high school power forward in the country and it’s likely he’ll be a one-and-done Jayhawk.

Myles Turner, a 7-foot center from the Houston suburb of Bedford, Texas, is the only uncommitted 2014 McDonald’s All-American. He reportedly is still considering six schools, though Kansas and Texas appear to be frontrunners. And with Embiid’s decision to depart early, the Jayhawks have a spot for a starting center. Turner, too, is regarded as a likely short-timer wherever he plays college basketball.

KU’s third recruit is small forward Kelly Oubre, from Richmond, Texas, a Dallas suburb. He’s ranked by ESPN as the fourth-best high school small forward in the country.

Kansas, obviously, recruits at a stratospheric level. But when the Jayhawks get ousted early in the NCAA Tournament and those young stars either don’t play at all or don’t play well, the disappointment is profound.

I think there should be a rule in place that college basketball players have to spend two years in school before going to the NBA. It would improve the credibility of the college game and also help the NBA.

The argument is that players like Wiggins and Embiid have marketable skills now. They can get paid now. Why hold them back?

It’s a valid argument. I get it. I just don’t think one-and-done college players are good for the sport.

Remember the excitement about the KU recruiting class going into the 2013-14 season? It was palpable. But the two cornerstone recruits are leaving now, even though there is much unfinished business.

The NBA beckons, though, with all of its temptations. I wonder if those temptations will ever entice Self?

 

 

Lists, lists, lists

10 favorite Robert DeNiro movies

10. Mean Streets

9. The King of Comedy

8. Awakenings

7. Falling in Love

6. Raging Bull

5. The Deer Hunter

4. Cape Fear

3. The Godfather Part II

2. Goodfellas

1. Taxi Driver

Top 10 Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers, when applicable) songs

10. The Waiting

9. Love Is a Long Road

8. Jammin’ Me

7. Honey Bee

6. Free Fallin’

5. Running Down a Dream

4. Into the Great Wide Open

3. Refugee

2. Mary Jane’s Last Dance

1. You Wreck Me

What some of my favorite musicians from the 1970s are worth

(According to celebritynetworth.com)

Bruce Springsteen, $250 million

Don Henley, $200 million

Steven Tyler, $130 million

Stevie Nicks, $75 million

Tom Petty, $75 million

Neil Young, $65 million

Bob Seger, $45 million

Steve Miller, $40 million

David Crosby, $40 million

Eddie Money, $20 million

Stephen Stills, $20 million

Jackson Browne, $12 million

Favorite days of the week (in order)

Friday

Saturday

Thursday

Wednesday

Sunday

Tuesday

Monday

Five favorite high school memories

5. Graduating, I think. I’m almost 100 percent sure I graduated, although I have no proof.

4. Driving around Derby looking for something to do and almost always failing in that endeavor.

3. Playing high school baseball.

2. Parties. Way, way too many parties.

1. Not going to prom or homecoming. And it wasn’t because I couldn’t find a date, despite what you might hear.

 

 

The rampant hypocrisy in college athletics

Did you catch Shabazz Napier’s interview after he led Connecticut to college basketball’s national championship with a 60-54 win over Kentucky on Monday night.

Napier ripped into the NCAA for its one-year ban that kept UConn out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament

Connecticut senior point guard Shabazz Napier.

Connecticut senior point guard Shabazz Napier.

because the Huskies didn’t meet the NCAA’s academic standards.

Whenever the NCAA announces that it’s tightening the standards for classroom performance, the immediate reaction is to applaud. But after about two claps, the brain kicks in. And most rational people begin to recognize that the NCAA often contradicts itself when it addresses academics.

The NCAA Tournament is the prime example. Athletes are kept away from their campuses in some cases for the better part of three weeks in pursuit of a championship. America’s sports fans love it and pay millions upon millions of dollars in support.

Television ratings soar. The mood of the American people heightens, especially during that opening weekend of the tournament.

All the while, though, the student athletes, as the NCAA so proudly and mistakenly calls players, are thrust into a spotlight that has little or nothing to do with academics. Or with being a student.

The NCAA milks these players for every dime, yet has the audacity to ban a team from its very own money-making machine because the academics aren’t up to snuff.

This is why I prefer professional sports. I know what I’m getting. The players are being paid, no ifs, ands or buts. There’s no cheating because there’s no system to cheat.

We have college student athletes at Northwestern who are threatening to unionize. And as silly as that seems out of hand, it’s starting to make more and more sense to me.

Who watches out for these people? Is it the universities? The college presidents? The athletic directors? The coaches? The academic advisers? The NCAA?

Or are these student athletes forced to look out for themselves? They give and give and give and for what? The fame and notoriety of being a college athlete? The thrill of competition? Is that always enough?

I feel my attitude on all of this evolving. I also feel change coming. Something tells me college athletics are going to look a lot different, and soon.

The blatant pursuit of money at the cost of all else is turning me off.

Holding Final Fours in places like AT&T Stadium is an example. These teams play in their college arenas all season long and when it matters most they’re put inside these massive stadiums where good seats are impossible to find and for what? Money, that’s what? Gobs and gobs of green.

The players have a great time. They’re treated like kings. Except they’re not paid and they have to miss exorbitant amounts of classroom time.

Oh, and about that classroom time.

Do you think Andrew Wiggins is still going to class at Kansas? Or any of the other one-and-done players in college basketball? I’m curious. This isn’t an accusation; I really would like to know.

College athletics had a pure intent, I believe. But money has spoken. And as usual when money speaks, good intentions slowly but surely disappear into something more sinister.

Many, perhaps even most, Americans don’t care about any of that. They just want to see their team, their school, do well.

A growing number of people, though, are speaking out. The hypocrisy of college athletics is thick now, impossible to ignore. It’s everywhere and it has to stop.

Or maybe it doesn’t. Unfortunately, maybe it doesn’t.