Monthly Archives: June 2014

Where did the day go?

I got engrossed in writing my column for the Russell County News that I lost track of time. It’s now after 2 p.m., and I wanted to get across town and be at Buffalo Wild Wings by 3. Oh well, 3:30 isn’t bad.

France scored two goals late to beat Nigeria 2-0 at the World Cup. Germany and Algeria are next at 3. We are now less than 25 hours until the USA-Belgium epic.

Sleep. Write. Sleep. Write.

I would not recommend what I did earlier today. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. to use the bathroom, then I decided to hammer out most of the column I had to write for the newspapers this week. I went back to bed just before 5, and I did not fully wake up until 10. The good news was (a) most of the column was already done and (b) Mondays during the summer are nowhere near as hectic as they are during the school year, so I was in good shape.

During the school year, Monday is when the results from weekend athletic events pour into my e-mail. I wish I could have them on Saturday or Sunday to get a head start, but I have to take what I can get. Fortunately, now that the Russell County News is only once per week instead of twice, Mondays aren’t nearly as bad. Only one of the six papers, the Osborne County Farmer, has a Monday deadline, and I can usually knock that out by noon. When I’m at home on Mondays, I’ll usually write for the four papers which are due Tuesday: Ellis Review, Phillips County News, Plainville Times and Smith County Pioneer. If I’m in Kansas City, I get lazy and go to Buffalo Wild Wings, although if this happens during the year, I’m going to try to get work done and not leave the hotel until after 2:30.

France and Nigeria are scoreless at the World Cup through 68 minutes. It will be hard to top the two matches yesterday.

Adios, Mexico

I was right, I could not avoid the wings today at Buffalo Wild Wings. But I limited myself to just a small order (10-12) with no other food. I ended up giving my lovely waitress, Alexandra, a hefty tip ($8,85), since she had not waited on me since December.

People who are poor tippers anger me to no end. I see reports of  LeBron James leaving a $15 on a $500 check and I dislike him even more than I do for his collusion with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh when he signed with the Heat. If I were making .001% of what LeBron makes, I would be sure to leave at least a Benjamin or two at a nice restaurant. If it’s a place like Buffalo Wild Wings, I’d tip at least a $20, maybe a $50. I try to do what I can on my limited funds, because I know I could never be a restaurant worker. I’m too clumsy and I’m too shy. What’s an extra five bucks?

It was packed to the gills and beyond at B-Dubs when I arrived at 1. I figured it would be, since the Netherlands and Mexico kicked off their World Cup match at 11, and the Royals wrapped up their series with the Angels beginning at 1:10.

Mexico scored early in the second half, and it appeared that one goal would hold up for El Tri (the Mexicans’ nickname, based upon their flag’s vertical green, white and red stripes) until the Dutch scored in the 88th minute.

Certainly, the match would be going into extra time, but in stoppage time–the time added on by the referee after the 90th minute (45th in the first half) elapses, Mexico’s Rafael Marquez was given a yellow card for taking down Arjen Robben in the “box” (the area directly in front of the goal), and the Portuguese referee awarded the Dutch a penalty kick.

Robben’s kick was easy, since Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa dived the wrong way. Ochoa was masterful in a scoreless draw vs. Brazil in group play, but this is one he’ll be burdened with for a long time.

The Dutch will next play Costa Rica, which won a shootout over Greece.

The Royals won 5-4 on Omar Infante’s single in the bottom of the ninth. My favorite MLB team, the Brewers, lost 10-4 to Colorado, but hey, they won the first six over Colorado in the season series and are 18 games over .500.

Less than 48 hours now until the most anticipated futbol match in the history of the United States of America.

As for me, it was another very good day. Got to see Liz and a lot of my friends who work at Buffalo Wild Wings and did exceedingly well at Buzztime Trivia. “Exceedingly well” because I had plenty of strong competition throughout the day and I turned back all comers. Tomorrow night at 7 is the weekly quiz of the current events in sports, a game I dominate at this particular B-Dubs. As in all 10 high scores from the last 12 months are mine.

I’ve got a column to write for the newspapers I work for. I’ve got lots Nto write about, and it’s a shame not all of it can get in.

Buffalo Wild (No Wings)

For only the second time in the 500 visits or so I have made to Buffalo Wild Wings in my lifetime, I did not order wings.

I like to bring Marzett’s bleu cheese dressing with me. I like the taste (my mother does, too) over the dressing B-Dubs uses, so I carry a jar with me and pour it into a bowl to dip the wings in. I didn’t have my blue cheese dressing with me yesterday, fearing it might spoil in my car’s trunk while I was at the Royals game. With the rain pouring down as I got on I-70 from Kauffman Stadium, I opted to head straight to B-Dubs north of the Missouri River rather than go all the way back to Overland Park to the Marriott, retrieve the bleu cheese, then make a 45-minute drive (it usually takes 30 to 35 minutes on a dry day) to the north. If I would have gone back to the room, I probably would have crashed and found myself waking up at 7:30 or so.

Casey probably did a double take when the prime rib phily came up for my table. She’s so used to me always getting wings. I’ve surprised her the last couple of days.

The other time I did not order wings at B-Dubs was in 2005 when I was in Hattiesburg, Miss., for a baseball game involving my employer at the time, Delgado Community College. I got the naked tenders and a salad, because I was really into eating healthy. Yes, you would not believe, but from the time I got out of the hospital in December 2004 after my bout with pneumonia and a collapsed lung through August 2006, I really ate healthy. I was big on salads, grilled chicken and fish, and I loathed fast food. But one incident one day sent me into a deep, deep depression, and I hit the junk food hard. Hint: these people were mentioned in an earlier post n this blog.

I don’t think I can avoid wings today.

Silent Sunday morning

I can’t remember the last time I came back to a hotel room or my house and didn’t turn the TV on, but I didn’t. Fell asleep about midnight and didn’t really get going until 10. Ready for another day.

Today’s FIFA World Cup fare is Netherlands vs. Mexico and Costa Rica vs. Greece. The Dutch played very well in the group stage in winning all three matches, and they are on the short list of favorites to win it all, and they may be the second favorite behind Germany after Brazil came so close to being knocked out yesterday vs. Chile. The other match features two nice stories, but the loser figures to be the sacrificial lamb for the Dutch in the quarterfinals. Most Americans are rooting hard for Mexico and Costa Rica, since they are part of the same futbol confederation (CONCACAF) as the USA.

Brazil needed penalty kicks to oust Chile yesterday. The match was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, and neither side scored in the 30 minutes of extra time. In the shootout, each team gets five kicks; if it’s tied after those five kicks are alternated, then it goes to sudden death, with each team alternating. Every member of the team who is on the pitch when extra time ends–including the goalkeepers–must attempt a kick before someone else can go again. The host country won the shootout 3-2, but in the books, it goes down as a 1-1 draw.

The shootout was not adopted in the World Cup finals tournament until 1978, and not needed until 1982. Before 1978, if a match in a knockout stage was tied, the winner would be decided by drawing lots, as in random chance. If the championship match ended up tied after extra time, it would be replayed in its entirety. Fortunately, the championship matches which went to extra time before 1978 all ended in extra time. Two championships, 1994 IBrazil over Italy) and 2006 (Italy over France) were determined by “PKs”.

In the other match Saturday, Colombia knocked out Uruguay 2-0. Good. Uruguay deserved to go after the disgusting actions of Luis Suarez. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock the past week, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Cheillini on the shoulder during the final group match Tuesday. Italy, which was down to 10 men due to a red card against Claudio Marchisio, lost 2-1 and was sent packing, while the South American side moved on, much to the delight of the crowd. FIFA reacted swifty and severely (not severely enough in my opinion) by banning Suarez from Uruguay’s next nine competitive international matches and from all matches for four months. Suarez plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League, the world’s most prestigious club league, so he’ll miss the first 12 matches for that side when the EPL season begins next month.

I believe Suarez should have been banned through the 2018 World Cup for that dastardly action. Biting not only is beyond gross, it is outright dangerous. It can communicate numerous diseases. I also am of the opinion Mike Tyson got off way too easy when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997. He should have been out of boxing for life for that one.

Mother Freaking Nature

Exactly 12 hours after I left the Overland Park Marriott, I am back. Not after an adventurous Saturday.

The first sign that today was going to be off the wall was when I totally forgot I was supposed to meet Jack Krier outside Gate C of Kauffman Stadium at 10:45 to get the tickets. I was talking to my dad on the phone, and I didn’t leave my car until almost 11. Too late.

Turns out Jack left his cell phone back at his new house in Warsaw, Missouri, which is almost two hours south-southeast of Kansas City. So I couldn’t reach him. And I didn’t get in touch with his wife, Kathy, until 12:30.

I finally got into the stadium just as the first inning ended. Jack and I watched the second, third and fourth innings, and then the heavens opened up.

Oh man. The end of the fourth inning was the worst possible time for it to begin raining. The game was not official, so if it kept raining and the field became unplayable, the game would have to start over. Nobody in their right mind wants that, unless you’re the team that’s losing, which the Royals were, as the Angels were up 2-0.

The game was delayed for 45 minutes, and then it appeared the tarp might be pulled, but instead, all the grounds crew did was re-line the batter’s boxes and catcher’s box at home plate.

Keeping the tarp on was the right move, for a heavier band of rain came in at 4:15. Had the tarp been pulled at 3:15, they may have been able to play the fifth and maybe the sixth, but the field would have been drenched. Then again, once the game got to the fifth, it would have been official and they may have just said heck with it and declared the Angels the winner.

During the wait, I had to break down and buy the overpriced concessions, simply because I had not eaten all day. Cost $10 for a bratwurst, but boy, it was good. If it were $7, I might have bought another. I can buy a five-pack of the same brats at a Hy-Vee in Kansas City for $4.99. Pay another $2,49 for buns, $2.49 for mustard and $2 for a can of sauerkraut, and I’m set.

Jack and I waited an hour and half, but with the heavy rain bearing down, we opted to exit. Sure enough, just as I pulled out of the parking lot and turned onto Blue Ridge Cutoff, it began to pour. It took me a good 40 minutes to get to Buffalo Wild Wings, raining all the way. I was sure not to go over 55 to 60 and keep good traction on the slick highways. Too many people, however, were still speeding as if it were dry.

Buffalo Wild Wings was good tonight, even though my dear friend Liz had already gotten off work. I did get to see some of the ladies who I had not in a while, including Brittany and Kinisha. By 8:30, I felt myself drifting, so I figured I’d call it a night and recharge for Sunday.

The Royals game resumed at 6:30 while I was at B-Dubs. The Angels went up 6-0 in the sixth and coasted home 6-2. Rubber match between the teams tomorrow at 1:10. I’ll be watching from table 162 at B-Dubs Zona Rosa.

PS–Sorry I did not post at the game or at B-Dubs. Just not practical on my iPhone, and it was almost drained at the Royals game. I have a power pack which doesn’t need to be plugged in, but I didn’t want to take it into the stadium due to security.

Iffy proposition

I’m going to try to make this short. I have to leave the Marriott in less than 20 minutes and get on my way to Kauffman Stadium for today’s game between the Royals and Angels. As I was getting in the shower, I realized the crowds will be huge for when the gates open at 11, since they are giving away James Shields bobblehead dolls to the first 10,000.

If you don’t understand just how much fans love those bobblehead dolls, I’ll have to explain it later. All the bobbleheads I had were lost to Hurricane Katrina.

Baseball, however, may not be played today. There is a line of very heavy rain located between Russell and Salina, and it is steadily marching to the east. According to the National Weather Service, there is an 80 percent chance of rain through the day, and there could be an inch and a half or more by midnight. Ouch.

If this were a high school or college game, it might be called off before it even starts. However, Major League Baseball has instructed teams and umpires to do all they can to get a scheduled game in, except if the field floods or there is lightning.

The problem is, this is the Angels’ only visit to Kansas City this season, and the Royals have already made their trip to Anaheim. The only option would be a doubleheader tomorrow, but either doubleheader option would be frowned upon. The first, to play one game at 1:10 and the second at 6:10, would not sit well with the Angels because they’re trying to get out of town, but at least they’re only flying to Chicago to play Monday at 7:10 and not flying back to southern California. The second, to play a traditional doubleheader, would cost the Royals ticket revenue.

The worst would be to start the game and have it delayed for a long time and/or have it called before it becomes an official game, which is five innings (4 1/2 if the home team is ahead). Having a game called before it becomes official is a disaster, because under the rules, it must be replayed in its entirety. The only provision for a suspended game comes into effect (a) if the game reaches five innings, and (b) it is tied. Not to mention a team wastes its pitching in a game which is delayed and/or aborted.

Okay, time to run. Hopefully we’ll see nine innings. Not looking good.

Great Friday

I have lost count the number of times i’ve visited Buffalo Wild Wings at the Zona Rosa shopping development in Platte County over the last 14 months. It has to be north of 200.

Friday’s visit has to be one of the best.

It wasn’t the food, it wasn’t my great day playing Buzztime trivia, and it wasn’t that I got to spend over six hours with my dear friend Elizabeth Psenski (and her mom and her boyfriend, Sean Cash), but that came in a very close second.

Today’s visit did my heart good.

When you visit Buffalo Wild Wings, your receipt may have information about an online survey. If you are selected to take the survey and you complete it, you receive a code for a $5 discount on your next meal. I remember the days when it was six free traditional (bone-in) wings, but it was changed to the $5 discount in 2011, although it may have been earlier.

The last time I visited Kansas City two weeks ago, I got a boatload of surveys. I went there every day Monday through Friday, and I got five surveys, including two on the same day. I also was asked by another waitress who has become a friend, Lisa, to fill one out for her since a guest left their survey on the table and left.

There is a 14-day window in which you can redeem the $5 discount, and as it happened, I had three dated June 13, and today was the expiration date. I could only use one on myself, so I decided I would give two of them away.

Just after 7, two young ladies sat down in a booth near my table. I told Casey, who was handling both my table and theirs, that I wanted to use the survey for them. She went over and told them they were getting a discount, and the ladies were very grateful. There was a booth of three who came in a few minutes later I wanted to use the other survey on, but they were paying separate. I was willing to forfeit the survey I was going to use on myself and give them cash to make sure nobody was left out, but Casey said hold on to it.

Fortunately, just before I left, there was a table with just one person, and I asked Brittany to use it for her.

I’m not a saint. Far from it. But I have a moral compass. I wish I made more money to help out more people. If I could donate $5,000 to charity at the drop of a hat or buy three or four tables dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, I would.

Time for bed. Going to the Royals-Angels game this afternoon at 1:10 with my former boss, Jack Krier. This will be our second Royals game this month; Jack and his wife, Kathy, met me for a game vs the Indians on the 10th. To Jack’s dismay, the Royals won. Jack is a HUGE Indians fan.

Turf wars

Russell High School will have artificial turf on its football field.

The USD (Unified School District) 407 Board of Education today voted to approve a contract to lay down the new surface at Shaffer Field in time for the season opener September 5. A new track and improvements to the baseball diamond northeast of the football field were on the table, but due to an interpretation by the Kansas Association of School Boards, only the football field contract could be approved today.

The vote was razor thin, 4-3. I fully expected one of the board members, Raeleen Reinhardt, to vote no, because she has been a teacher in the Russell school district for a long time and she really doesn’t care for football, even though all three of her daughters played sports at RHS. Fortunately, board president Jerry Brown is a big sports booster, and he was key in pushing it through, as were superintendent David Couch, principal Larry Bernard and athletic director Sean Spoonts.

Russell has been a prolonged drought. Since I arrived in 2005, rainfall has been far below average, and there have been numerous occasions on which a water emergency has been declared by the city council, banning the use of all water for lawns, washing cars and anything else outdoors. Western Kansas–Russell to Colorado along I-70, and anything along and west of US 281–is semi-arid to begin with, and the drought has exacerbated maters. Green grass is next to impossible to find on the Shaffer Field gridiron, the field is as hard as a rock, and there are numerous holes, holes which are dangerous. If someone were to trip over a hole and blow out a knee or break an arm, they could have a legitimate case to sue the school district.

The turf will cost $860,000 to install. If the school district is spending at least $60,000 on field maintenance and the field will last 12 years, it will pay for itself.

I believe this is a win-win for all involved. Athletics are the public’s window to a school, since they aren’t allowed to roam the halls during a school day and sit in on algebra and chemistry classes. I doubt many in Russell have seen any other parts of Russell High School other than the athletic facilities, and this is the case I’m sure with many other schools. If the athletic facilities are first-rate, it will lead those in the community to have pride in their school, and in turn, it will be easier to convince voters to pass bond issues and support other improvements when they are needed.

To the naysayers, I’m sorry. I cannot agree with any of your complaints.

Then again, if Russell’s football team was a perennial playoff participant,there would be nowhere near the complaining. The Broncos have won four games in the last three seasons, haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006, and haven’t won a playoff game since 1979. Keep this in mind: Russell will have turf, and Beloit, which went to the Class 3A state championship game in 2013 and has won over 100 games under coach Greg Koenig since 2006, won’t.

The installation had better begin soon. When the clock strikes midnight in a few minutes, there will be all of 68 days until kickoff vs. Ellsworth.

Friday from afar

I have just stepped out of the shower in my Overland Park hotel room, and it’s already 20 minutes before noon. Actually, that’s not too far off for a Friday during the school year, since football and basketball games are at night, and unless I have a very long way to travel, I don’t leave Russell before 2 p.m., usually after 3. Track meets are different, since those always start at 3 on Fridays, except for state, which runs all day.

No futbol today. The World Cup traditionally takes a day off between the end of the group stage and the beginning of the knockout round. The round of 16 will be conducted Sunday through Tuesday, two matches each day. The quarterfinals are next Friday and Saturday, two per day, with one semifinal July 8 and the other July 9. The third-place match (which is totally useless) is July 12, with the championship match the next day. It used to be on a Saturday, but like The Open golf tournament and Wimbledon, playing on Sunday became more acceptable through the years, given the popularity of American football, namely the Super Bowl.

After getting hardly any sleep watching One Tree Hill Thursday morning, I needed to sleep in today. I tried to watch The Price Is Right at 10, but I dozed off and didn’t wake up until Drew Carey was signing off. I did stay awake long enough, though, to see one major gaffe and the one thing about TPIR which angers me.

First, a lady playing Swithcheroo lost a car. In case you aren’t familiar with TPIR, in Switcheroo, there are five numbered blocks which must be plugged into the prices of five prizes. Four of the numbers are the first number to a small prize valued at $99 or less. The fifth numbered block is the fourth number in the price of a car. The contestant gets 30 seconds to place the numbers, after which time the number of correct prices are displayed. He or she then gets another 30 seconds to make changes, and those prices which are correct are the prizes the contestant wins.

As it turned out, the lady had only one price right the first time. She made changes, and only one price was right. She won an ice cream maker. Turns out on the first try, she had the car right.

Second, I saw a lady bid one dollar more than the previous contestant on contestant’s row. That aggravates the hell out of me. I wish TPIR would adopt a rule where bids must be at least $50 apart. Just because someone goes last should not mean he or she gains a significant advantage. It’s been worse, though; I’ve seen three contestants bid one dollar more than the next down the line (for instance, $700, $701, $702, $703). What chicken crap.

I always watched TPIR on summer mornings during my youth. Thirty years ago, there were numerous game shows on the three networks, and my brother and I would always watch Press Your Luck and TPIR on CBS. My mother would occasionally watch them, but she was much more into talk shows back then, especially Donahue, who was still going strong and was the king in the mid-1980s, long before Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and others turned talk shows to total trash. My mother was also big on the ABC soaps All My Children and One Life to Live, so much so she would record them on our Betamax VCR. She was never a fan of General Hospital for some reason, but GH started before the other two and is the only ABC soap left on the air.

TPIR is one of only two game shows left on network TV; the other is the new Let’s Make A Deal, which also airs on CBS.  Family Feud airs in syndication, but interestingly, WAFB, the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge, airs the Feud back-to-back at 10 and 10:30, and then TPIR at 11, meaning The Young and the Restless doesn’t come on until 4 p.m., which angers many soap fans.  CBS tells its affiliates it would prefer that it air The Young and the Restless at 12:30 Eastern/11:30 Central for the proper lead-in to The Bold and the Beautiful, but most in the Central Time Zone air Y&R at 11, news at 12, and then B&B at 12:30, which is the case at least in Kansas City, New Orleans and Wichita, the CBS affiliates I’m most familiar with.

I’ve now got a couple of hours to kill. I was planning on getting to Buffalo Wild Wings other side of Kansas City at 3, but maybe I’ll go at 2. Then again, I can take my time driving there and take a more scenic route.