Monthly Archives: September 2014

Two Mondays in one

I am tormented yet again today. I am doubting myself. I don’t know why I bother going on sometimes.

I had a very bad night last night. I got upset at something I probably should not have when Lisa Toebben posted a picture of herself with Brittany Davidson and their significant others from Saturday night while celebrating Brittany’s birthday. I ran out of Buffalo Wild Wings in a huff without saying goodbye, broke down and cried after checking in to the Courtyard Briarcliff, and then couldn’t get it out of my head even after a trip to The Cheesecake Factory, a stop at QuikTrip in Merriam, and then a return to Buffalo Wild Wings to talk things out with Elizabeth Psesnski and Tori Weber.

Today got off to a horrendous start. I could not get going in the morning, largely because I exhausted myself last night by crying myself out. I fell behind with my work, and then I seriously could not decide whether or not I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Braidey Howe told me she was working, so I figured I would go and see what was going on.

About the only good thing from the first part of today was the tiramisu cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. I still have two slices of Kahlua in the refrigerator. I thought about eating a slice tonight, but I now have other plans for that.

At first I was very apprehensive when I got to Buffalo Wild Wings at 2:40. I said on Facebook I was scared, but Tori tried to tell me I was seriously overthinking and everything would be okay. I hoped she was wright. I had my doubts.

Fortunately, Tori was right. Lisa came in at 4 and everything was fine. She understood why I was upset about not going out besides going to Buffalo Wild Wings, but reminded me I have so much to be thankful for. I do. Lisa is too good a friend to ever hurt me, as are Liz, Tori, Brittany and a lot of the others I’ve met through the years at Buffalo Wild Wings.

It turned out to be a pretty good night. I posted my second highest score all-time on Buzztime’s The Pulse, 29,170, which should get me #1 in the nation for the fifth consecutive week. The food was outstanding. I made the right call with the blackened chicken breast instead of just grilled.

I just played my last round of trivia. Time to work until I leave for the hotel. Taco Bell is a possibility. At least I have the hotel room for another night in case I need it past noon. I’m going to have to go to Buffalo Wild Wings for 11 to give Lisa the Kahlua cheesecake. Maybe Brittany will show up and she can take the other piece.


Down the hole

I got down on myself again tonight for no reason. This vicious cycle has got to stop.

i thought I was doing better, but here I went back down the hole.

Lisa Toebben posted a picture to her Facebook account which showed her and her boyfriend Jeff with Brittany Davidson and her fiance Zach celebrating Brittany’s birthday Saturday. It reminded me that I don’t have any such pictures, I don’t have any friends like that, and I have never had that in my life.

I began to cry. Elizabeth Psenski saw me and told me I needed to stop, but I was still very upset. I got out of Buffalo Wild Wings, sneaking out without anyone noticing. I was not only upset at the picture–not with LIsa for posting it, but just because it reminded me of how lonely I have been throughout my life–but I was upset that nobody had come by my table for over two hours since Lisa left.

I checked in at the Courtyard Briarcliff and cried. And cried. I suddenly remembered just how miserable I was in high school in college-alone, bullied, never doing anything, save for my days with LSU’s baseball team. If you’ve ever visited my Facebook profile, you’ll notice no pictures of me with friends. It’s all me by myself or pictures I’ve taken.

I don’t begrudge LIsa posting the pictures. She should be proud of her friendship with Brittany. But I would just like a few pictures with friends, and I would li

As much as I’ve enjoyed everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings, I would like to do something elsewhere. I want to go out other than going to Buffalo Wild Wings all the time. Hotel rooms get lonely.

Tuesday at The K

The Royals’ bid to win the American League Central division championship just died in Detroit, where the TIgers wrapped up a 3-0 victory over Minnesota. Kansas City will have to settle for the first wild card and a meeting with either Oakland or Seattle Tuesday at 7 p.m.

It will be the first postseason game in Kansas City since Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, and the first for the Royals since that night, a span of 10,564 days without playoff baseball for the franchise. The national media will begin its descent upon Kansas City later tonight and continue throughout tomorrow when the Royals work out at Kauffman Stadium. It would have been convenient for the media to drive across I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis for the NL Wild Card game, but it looks like they will be hopping flights from KCI to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. Good luck with that. Or I guess those media members will be flying to Anaheim in advance of the wild card game’s winner facing the Angels in the division series.

This leaves the Toronto Blue Jays as the MLB team with the longest playoff drought, which extends back to Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, when Joe Carter hit a three-run home run off of the Phillies’ Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Canadian franchise to its second consecutive championship. I do not rank that home run anywhere among my top 10, or my top 25. First, it was in Game 6, not Game 7. Second, the Blue Jays were up 3 games to 2, so there was game 7 if Philadelphia won. Third, the Blue Jays were heavily favored. I’m sick of hearing how great Carter’s home run was. Bull.

Sorry Charlie

I found out just as I got on the Kansas Turnpike that Charlie Weis had been fired as football coach of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Good riddance.

The Weis hire was awful. KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger was looking for someone who was as close to Mark Mangino, who somehow coached the jayhawks to the Orange Bowl in 2007. He probably wanted to re-hire Mangino, but that would have opened Pandora’s Box of lawsuits because of the circumstances under which Mangino left.

I did not like Mangino. To put it kindly, he was a major butthole. He once told an African-American player he would “send him back to the hood to get shot with his homies”. How the heck did he stick around for EIGHT SEASONS? Mangino also played favorites, and if you weren’t one of his golden boys, you were pretty much screwed.

Not only is Weis a carbon copy of Mangino–a jerk, offensive minded and physically imposing–but Weis had the pedigree of mentoring Tom Brady with the Patriots when they won three Super Bowls in four seasons. Weis parlayed the success in New England into the head coaching job at his alma mater, Notre Dame, where he attended school but did not play football in the 1970s. He became the first Notre Dame alum to return as football coach since Hugh Devore in 1963. Three of the four coaches following Devore–Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz–won national championships in South Bend, and Weis was expected to get the Fighting Irish back to that level.

Weis fared well in his first two seasons at Notre Dame, although the Irish were humbled in BCS bowls by Ohio State and LSU. In his third season, Notre Dame plummeted to 3-9, and two years later, Weis was sent packing. He made one-year stops with the Chiefs and the Florida Gators before landing with the Jayhaws in December 2011.

It was a panic hire by Zenger, pure and simple. He felt he needed to get a tough guy, a disciplinarian, to follow Turner Gill, whom most felt was too soft. Zenger also was looking for a big name, and Weis fit that bill too.

Weis was just as bad as Gill in Lawrence. The Jayhawks were 1-11 in Weis’ first season of 2012, and it got little better, as KU was 3-9 in 2013, although it ended a 27-game losing streak in Big 12 Conference games to West Virginia.

This year, the Jayhawks have beaten two punching bags (SE Missouri and Central Michigan) and been mauled by Duke (41-3) and Texas (23-0).

At least Zenger is making a decisive move to get a jump on the other schools who may be in the market for a coach following the season. USC did this last year when Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin in late September and then took his time before hiring Steve Sarkisian away from Washington. Weis was not going to make it to year four, so why prolong the agony?

Clint Bowen is the interim coach, but he’s a stopgap. He should be retained as an assistant if he can get KU to play better, but they have got to get someone with name recognition, preferrably someone with ties to the Big 12.

If I’m Zenger, I go to Tuscaloosa and beg Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to come to Lawrence.

Then again, Zenger could have had Gus Malzahn, but instead, he let him get away for $750,000 to Arkansas State. That’s sad. Really sad. Now Malzahn is at Auburn, where he took the Tigers to the national championship game a year ago and could have them in the playoff this year. Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2010 when Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and the Tigers won the national championship. Instead of going with a known commodity in college, Zenger was blinded by Weis’ Super Bowl rings and Tom Brady’s resume.

KU fans should be worried if and when Bill Self retires. Hopefully, Zenger will not be in the athletic director’s chair when that day comes. I don’t have faith Zenger can make a successful hire to replace Weis, and if he has to replace Self, lord help Jayhawk Nation.

Should have slept

I should have gone to bed earlier last night if I wanted to leave Russell at 6 a.m. like I did this morning. I was feeling the fatigue from Junction City east, and that was with stops at Starbucks in Junction City and for gas and a restroom break in Topeka. I got to Buffalo Wild Wings almost an hour before opening so I could nap in my car.

I am taking time out from trivia right now to write stories and to avoid Rondo. It isn’t worth the stress. Might as well let them enjoy it and then I can get back on it later. Besides, the good stuff doesn’t come until Countdown begins at 2 p.m. I’m not the biggest fan of the short game.

Lisa Toebben and Brittany Mathenia-Tucker are here right now. That makes me feel better. Elizabeth Psesnki isn’t, but not a big deal. I’m sure I’ll see her very soon, if not tomorrow, then soon enough.

Sunday before sunrise

Another early Sunday morning departure from Russell is imminent. I’m going back to Kansas City for a day at Buffalo Wild Wings of watching football and one big baseball game.

The NFL schedule is missing heavyweights today. The two teams who played in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks and Broncos, have a bye. So do two of the three remaining 3-0 teams, the Bengals and Cardinals. The Chiefs don’t play until tomorrow night. Hmmm.

The Royals are playing for a chance at a one-game playoff for the American League Central division championship. They must defeat the White Sox and the Tigers must lose to the Twins for it to happen, but hey, it’s still in play. So are playoffs for the NL Central (Cardinals lose, Pirates win) and the second AL wild card (Athletics lose, Mariners win).

I’m resigned to the fact next Sunday I’ll be in Russell due to the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. No way I’m fighting hotel rates that weekend. I’ll probably sneak over Monday to play The Pulse and then go to Smith Center the next day for the volleyball match there.

Time to jump in the shower and get rolling. Next blog post will be from you know where.

Wendy Wall, where are you?

Today is a painful day for me. It is a reminder of the bridges i have burned and the people I care about deeply who have exited my life, never to return.

Wendy Wall celebrates her 44th birthday today. If I knew where on earth she was, I would like to send her flowers. If she would connect with me on Facebook, I would certainly wish her happy birthday and leave a heartfelt message, much as i did for Brittany Davidson yesterday. If I had her cell phone number, I would have texted her at 12:01 a.m.

However, Wendy has forgotten me. And that hurts.

I first met Wendy in March 1997 at an NCAA women’s basketball tournament game at LSU. She had been brought in by Michael Bonnette, LSU’s media relations contact for the women’s basketball team, to help on press row, like I was doing. Strangely enough that night, Rebecca Borne was also there. Her dad, Dan, did the public address for the two games played the previous Saturday, since regular announcer Bill Franques was with the LSU baseball team at Georgia, but Bill returned Monday, although Dan was at the game Monday just in case.

Wendy was already married by time I met her. She is six years older than me and was taking graduate courses at the LSU Manship School of Journalism when she came to wok in the sports information office that fall. I really came to like her. She was genuine and truly nice, something I had not found in many women I met up until that point.

She was the media relations contact for softball during the 1998 season. I was busy with baseball during that time, but I would find a way to help her whenever I could.

I’ll never forget one day when I was driving back to Alex Box Stadium after making a run to get drinks for Bill and I at a convenience store near campus. I saw Wendy leaving the journalism building as I was turning onto North Stadium Drive, which runs between Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. I saw her and honked my horn. She turned around and smiled, and of course I drove her back to the athletic administration building instead of making her walk. She laughed at the giant drinks I had for Bill and myself.

There was another time where I had no idea where Wendy was one Wednesday morning. I knew she worked late the previous night because of a softball doubleheader. I couldn’t reach her at home or on her cell, and I told Michael I was worried. When I came back to the sports information office after a visit to the baseball office, Wendy was sitting in Michael’s office. I was flabbergasted. She thought the whole thing was really sweet that I was concerned about her.

Wendy left LSU in October 1998 to take a job in Houston, and her husband Sid found a great job too. My dad, my brother and I joined them for dinner one night in 2000 when we were in Houston to watch the Astros play the Royals. My dad took a real liking to her, too.

Wendy gave birth to son Davis in 2002. I heard from her near Christmas 2003, but I haven’t since. I’ve cried a number of times over it. I would give anything to see her. She’s a notch below Stacie Dauterive Seube, Toni LaRocca, Brenda LeBlanc and now Elizabeth Psenski and the ladies of Buffalo Wild Wings, but Wendy still means an awful lot to me.

If I had 10 ladies on a list I would give anything to see again, Stacie would be first. Toni second. Brenda third. Wendy would probably rank fourth, probably ahead of Tiffany Peperone and even Renetta Rogers.

I know we’re all supposed to go on with our lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t lament the relationships which have passed us by.

Nifty Norton

Today has been a near record day for page views on Foots Prints. Most of it I’m sure has come from a community of 3,300 about 115 miles northwest of Russell.

My first visit to Norton was for a 2005 football game vs. Ellis. I was asked to cover Ellis by Jack Krier because he felt they were getting shortchanged in our coverage at Main Street Media. I spent my first two weeks covering Osborne, then I covered Phillipsburg for the next two weeks, which included a game at Osborne. I agreed to go to Ellis’ game in week six of that season, which happened to be all the way at Norton.

The trip came three days after I totaled my Oldsmobile 88 on US 183 north of Hays after running into a deer. My grandfather and I went to buy a Pontiac Grand Prix the day before I was scheduled to go to Norton. Jack told me to take his Buick LeSabre on the trip.

I had been to Hill City three weeks before the trip to Norton, so I knew that part of the ride up US 283. However, I had not been on 283 north of US 24, and it was quite an experience. The part of the drive on 283 north of Kansas Highway 9 was quite fascinating….I had never seen so many irrigation machines before in my life in one location.

When I pulled into town, I noticed the football stadium on my right. Interesting place. It was like Osborne and Phillipsburg in the fact that it was not on the campus of the high school. I parked my car in the east end zone and brought my computer and camera to the press box.

I was allowed to keep my computer set up in one of the booths while I went to the field to take pictures. I noticed the stands on the visiting side were much closer to the sideline than the home side, something I had not seen before. In every other stadium I had been, both in Louisiana and Kansas, the stands on both sides were behind the track, if there was a track. At Norton, the visiting stands were in front of the track. I would find the same configuration at Ellis when I went there the next Friday.

The game itself was all Norton. The Bluejays scored first on a fumble return, and they would recover five en route to a 34-7 victory. By time I finished getting my gear together, the lights had just been turned off. Both schools had gotten on the bus to go to shower, Norton at the high school and Ellis at the east campus fronting 283.

The first person from Norton I met that night was DIck Boyd, the longtime writer for the Norton Telegram. Little did I know Dick and I would become good friends through the years.

The drive home was a little hairy. A fawn came across the road on K-9. Oh boy, is it going to be this way every time?

I didn’t return to Norton until the first Friday of January to cover a basketball doubleheader vs. Osborne. I was attempting to take pictures under the basket when I was asked to move by athletic director Larry Mills. I explained myself and Larry and I immediately got along, as I did with girls basketball coach Kevin Jilka.

I drove all the way back to Russell that night and then all the way back to Norton the next morning for the J.R. Durham wrestling tournament. I encountered Larry and Dick that day, as well as wrestling coach Bill Johnson.

I found out just how much I was liked by the people in Norton at the MCL basketball tournament later that month. Several people from Norton came up to me on press row to say hello, and one took a picture of me with her camera phone.

Strangely enough, after the 2005 game vs. Ellis, I didn’t get back to Travis Field for football until the Bluejays’ Class 3A semifinal vs. Wichita Collegiate. I’ve now covered the last two meetings with Smith Center in Norton, both won by the Bluejays.

Save for one incident in 2009, I’ve had nothing but great relations with everyone from Norton. Although Larry Mills has moved on, I have gotten along famously with Larry’s daughter Hannah Broeckelman, her husband Nathan, Boyd, Johnson, Peggy Cox, Fig Millan, Rick Green, superintendent Greg Mann and his daughter Klaire, principal Rudy Perez, Kevin and Janet Jilka, Doug Ray and his lovely daughter Amanda, Hayli Bozarth and her parents Marla and Curt, Laura Lee Baird and her parents Jim and Leslie, Jason Jones, Lucas Melvin, Dale Engelbert, George and Sue Rossi and their children Taylor, Kaylen and Treven, Logan, Kaenon and Landon Keiswetter, Whitney (Newell) Criqui, Karlie (Jones) Stroup and many, many others.

I’ve been accepted by good people in every town I’ve visited, but as far as the number of people, Norton is far and away the winner.

The only negative: reaching WaKeeney and realizing I still have half the drive to go. The northbound drive is usually easier because I’m making it in daylight. With the southbound drive, I get the two-lane out of the way and can relaz once I get on I-70. I’ve seen more than my fair share of deer on 283, but I’m experienced enough to slow down and let them cross. Nothing last night coming back, thankfully.

MLB’s second act at its end

The 162nd game of the Major League Baseball season will be meaningful for four teams in particular, maybe more.

NOTE: the second act is the regular season. The first is spring training, the third is the postseason. At least I can spin it that way.

The Central divisions of both leagues are still in question. The Tigers in the American League and Cardinals in the National League each have a one-game lead, but both missed opportunities to close out today.

Detroit lost its second consecutive game at home to last place Minnesota, 6-1, while St. Louis fell in Phoenix to the Majors’ worst team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-2.

The Pirates came back from an early 3-0 deficit in Cincinnati and went to extra innings, but the Reds’ Todd Frazier launched a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to doom Pittsburgh, 10-6. The Pirates must win tomorrow and the Cardinals must lose to Arizona to force a one-game playoff Monday in St. Louis. Regardless of what happens, the Pirates will be no worse than a wild card and play the Giants in the one-game playoff.

The Royals almost came back, but left a runner stranded in the ninth as they lost to the White Sox in Chicago, 5-4. If the Royals and Tigers end up tied, the playoff is Monday in Detroit. The worst that can happen to the Royals is the wild card game is in Kansas City. It will be the first playoff game at Kauffman Stadium since October 27, 1985,, the night the Royals won the World Series by blowing away the Cardinals 11-0. Back then, the stadium was known as Royals Stadium, the playing surface was artificial–the hard stuff, not the rubbery faux grass you see today–the seats were hard red plastic, and there was no replay screen, although there was the original crown scoreboard in center field.

Oakland still has a hold on the second wild card, but just barely. If Seattle can oust the Angels tonight, it will come down to tomorrow. The Athletics would have to lose and the Mariners would have to win, but there would still be hope in the Pacific Northwest. Every eye in Seattle and Washington State would be watching the M’s, because the Seahawks have a bye tomorrow.

The Brewers FINALLY clinched a winning season tonight by beating the Cubs 2-1. Milwaukee was 73-58 on the morning of August 25, and it has gone 9-21 since. Ouch. Pittsburgh was six games out of first on that earlier date.

Football Saturday rewind

Today has been a wild ride in college football, hasn’t it? Arkansas looked like it would defeat Texas A&M, and then the Aggies somehow rise from the dead and win in overtime. Missouri recovers from its horrendous home loss to Indiana by going to South Carolina and defeating the Gamecocks, handing Steve Spurrier his second conference loss at home this season. Florida State falls behind North Carolina State by 10 in the third quarter but scores the next 28 to pull away.

Missouri’s loss to Indiana looks far worse now that Indiana was beaten badly at home by Maryland. I can’t stand Terrapins coach Randy Edsall, a real jerk who makes Nick Saban look like he runs a totally loose ship.

My alma mater looked terrible for most of the first quarter. LSU’s Anthony Jennings threw two interceptions vs. New Mexico State, but the Bayou Bengals finally got going behind second string quarterback Brandon Harris and did what was expected, winning 63-7. I’m worried, though. It has to get a lot better, or LSU could be in for some long Saturdays in the SEC, starting a week from tonight at Auburn.

Then again, there was also a lot of normalcy. Kansas State mauled UTEP, although Bill Snyder may have been concerned by the late touchdowns allowed by the defensive backups. Kansas got shut out by Texas at home.

The only football game left on TV is Oregon State-USC. Meh. I’ll check in from time to time, but largely I’m going to get ready for my next excursion to Kansas City to see my friends at Buffalo Wild Wings. Brittany Mathenia-Tucker and Lisa Toebben already said they were working tomorrow. YIppee!