Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fighting fatigue

I’m a tired puppy. I felt myself dozing off during the first round of wrestling this morning. We had a 30-minute break between 11:50 and 12:20. The first thing I’m doing when I get back to the appropriately named Sleep Inn Norton is SLEEP. If I can wake up early enough I might be able to make it to KC for the Super Bowl blowout.

This has been such a disjointed week. Next week will be more normal, with basketball Tuesday and Friday and wrestling Thursday and Saturday.

Road weary

If it’s the last Saturday of January, it must mean I’m covering a wrestling tournament.

Indeed, I’m in Oberlin for the fourth annual Western Kansas Tournament of Champions, bringing together schools from the MId-Continent and Northwest Kansas Leagues. Each league held its own tournament on this weekend through 2011, but due to declining numbers all around both leagues, the decision was made for a combined tournament starting in 2012.

Please pardon me if I’m a bit exhausted. I’ve traveled over 400 miles in the past 24-plus hours, bringing my parents home from Kansas City, driving to Norton to stay last night, and then on to Oberlin this morning. Thankfully, I was able to get some sleep when I got back to Russell yesterday afternoon. Staying in Norton was also a good move, because it allowed me to sleep later and still arrive in plenty of time.

Wrestling is about to start. I’m going back to Norton to stay tonight and then heading south and east tomorrow. I’ve been asked by many at Buffalo Wild Wings, both employees and guests, to come for the Super Bowl, but if the weather is bad, I’m staying in Russell. Even if the weather is okay, I might not have the stamina to make that long drive again.

Departure upcoming

My time in Kansas City, at least for this trip, is down to no more than 12 hours. I’m going to leave Buffalo Wild Wings, where I’ve been since 3 p.m., and go back to the hotel in a few minutes. I’m hoping to pick up my parents and be on the road back to Russell no later than 10 a.m., hopefully earlier.

Liz and Brittany are working tonight at Buffalo Wild Wings. I knew Brittany was because she told me Tuesday, but I didn’t know about Lisa. This is Lisa’s last Thursday night. She’s going to be working mornings and afternoons before she starts her job with the state of Kansas later this year.

I don’t know when I’m getting back. I’m hoping it will be for Super Bowl Sunday, but my long trip to Oberlin Saturday plus the iffy weather may not make that possible. Besides, the crowd will be quite large. I only have one open weekend in February, and that’s Valentine’s Day, a day I might be better off spending away from crowds. I know I will probably be in Beloit for basketball Friday the 13th. The last time I drove straight from Beloit to Kansas City, I was very fortunate not to strike a deer which crossed I-70 between Chapman and Junction City.

The only other out I can see is coming in on Monday and leaving Tuesday at noon to go to my basketball game. I’ll have to figure it out. In either case, Salina will do just fine in a pinch.

Right now, I can’t worry about that. I’ve got to get my parents home and get myself to Norton so I can get a good night’s sleep tomorrow. First, I have to sleep tonight.

KC finale (for now)

Less than 24 hours from now, I will be back in Russell and resuming my life as a small-town sportswriter, which is very good news.

My father just got released from KU Medical Center, a day earlier than planned. He and my mother are relaxing at the hotel near the hospital. My father needs the rest, because as is usual when you’re in a hospital, he got awakened at all hours of the night. I’ll never forget that happening to me when I was in the hospital in 2004 for pneumonia.

The trip to Overland Park last night was much needed. I stopped at The Cheesecake Factory for two slices of Kahlua cheesecake. I ate one last night and I’ll eat the other tonight, or I’ll take it back to Russell and refrigerate it for when I get back to Oberlin. I don’t think it would keep long enough for the drive to Norton tomorrow evening.

I got lost this morning leaving KU Med. I went east on 39th Street and ended up in Westport, the historic district on the Missouri side south of downtown. I finally made my way to Main Street, then to Ward Parkway. I got lost trying to find Shawnee Mission Parkway to return to Kansas, but fortunately, I ran into State Line Road, which took me to SMP. From there, I found Metcalf and went south to Bed Bath and Beyond, where I picked up another Tervis glass (Arizona Cardinals), plus some New Orleans food and drink I haven’t found in ages. I got some more Abita beer at Lukas Liquor for Liz, since she enjoyed it so much when I boutht it for her birthday.

I had to take a nap this afternoon in my hotel room. I was dead tired. I’m now back at Buffalo Wild Wings in Zona Rosa with Tori at the bar. Brittany is supposed to work tonight, so I’m waiting for her.

Super Bowl factoid: Today is the 20th anniversary of the only Super Bowl to be contested on January 29. It may be the worst Super Bowl ever. If not, it is second or third worst.

It was bad. Beyond bad. The Chargers, the AFC champion, got damn lucky to make it. They rallied from 21-6 down to beat Miami in the divisional round, then going to Pittsburgh and defeating a Steelers team which looked totally disinterested. It seems as if the Steelers felt they had done all they needed to do by crushing Cleveland (coached by Bill Belichick) the previous week.

The 49ers were back to being a juggernaut after failing to make the Super Bowl for four consecutive seasons, an eternity for the franchise in those days. Joe Montana was gone, and Steve Young finally had the starting quarterback job all to himself. He responded by posting the highest passer rating ever for a quarterback in a single season and winning the Most Valuable Player awards unanimously. Jerry Rice was still catching everything in sight. The defense was vastly improved, thanks to the free agent addition of Deion Sanders, who had labored for five seasons only mostly pitiful teams in Atlanta.

The 49ers didn’t look like world beaters in the first five weeks. They lost in week two at Kansas City, where Joe Montana quarterbacked the Chiefs to victory, and three weeks later, were eviscerated 40-8 at home by the Eagles. It got so bad for the 49ers that coach George Seifert pulled Young.

Instead of the season going south, the 49ers zoomed straight to the top.

They would not lose again until the regular season’s final week, when Seifert rested the starters in a meaningless game at Minnesota. The 49ers were unstoppable in the playoffs, routing a grossly outclassed Bears unit in the divisional round before releasing two years of pent-up frustration on the Cowboys, winning the NFC championship 38-28 in a game nowhere near as close as the final score.

Just hours after the Super Bowl matchup was set, the Las Vegas sports books made the 49ers anywhere from 13- to 18-point favorites. It should have been more. Way more. In fact, the Chargers should have been a larger underdog than Joe Namath’s Jets in Super Bowl III.

I knew the game would be awful before kickoff. Kathie Lee Gifford sang the national anthem. She was introduced by her husband, ABC Sports announcer Frank Gifford, and you could practically hear him drooling on the microphone as he introduced “my wife”.

Come to think of it, Kathie Lee was nowhere near the worst singer of the anthem at a Super Bowl. Not in the bottom 10. Christina Aguilera, of course, holds the bottom spot for botching the words before Super Bowl XLV, but I thought Alicia Keys’ version two years ago in New Orleans was pretty pitiful, too. And don’t get me started on Whitney Houston before Super Bowl XXV. I know so many people say it’s the greatest rendition of the national anthem ever, but I hate it. Just hate it. Every time someone plays it, I run to the restroom or otherwise cover my ears.

My favorite national anthem at a Super Bowl (at least those I watched)? Herb Alpert, Super Bowl XXII. Just a trumpet, no words. As for singers, Neil Diamond’s before Super Bowl XXI was great. Short and to the point.

As for the game, the Chargers should have called in a forfeit. It was butt ugly. The 49ers scored on a long touchdown pass from Young to Rice on the game’s third play, and the massacre in Miami was in full gear. FINAL: 49ers 49, Chargers 26.

I watched Super Bowl XXIX from my dilapidated dorm room at LSU. Fitting.

If I never see any highlights from Super Bowl XXIX again, it will be too soon. I try not to remember that game, or anything from 1995, which may have been the single worst year of my life.

Way on down south

I’m playing trivia right now at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Except this Buffalo Wild Wings is 28 miles south of the usual restaurant I’ve been frequenting.

I stayed at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Zona Rosa from 2 p.m. until 6:25. I don’t know what it was, but I broke down just after 5, then I was so drained I dozed off. I woke up to play one more round of Buzztime Countdown, but at 6:25, I figured it was time for a change of scenery.

I wanted to play SIX, the Wednesday and Thursday evening game which runs from 7 to 8 p.m. I had only 32 minutes to get from I-29 and Barry Road to 138th and Metcalf to the Buffalo Wild Wings at Corbin Park.

I got off of US 69 at 135th Street with five and a half minutes to spare, but then I got lost. First a wrong right turn. Then the left turn lane from Metcalf onto 137th was closed. I had to go down a block plus to the next turn signal, which overshot the restaurant. I pulled in at 6:59:30–at least according to my car radio clock–and dashed into the Buffalo Wild Wings.

Fortunately, I made it with a minute to spare before the first question was asked. Final score: 54,002, good enough to get me the top score at this location for the past 12 months. Now I hold that distinction in SIX at three Buffalo Wild Wings, two in the KC metro and Salina.

This is a very nice Buffalo Wild Wings. This is only my second visit here; my first was almost six years ago. The tables in the bar area face the big screens behind the bar, instead of turned diagonally at Zona Rosa. I’ve been told maybe I ought to keep myself and my money in Kansas when I go to KC. Got something to think about now.

The Cheesecake Factory isn’t too far from here. That sounds so good.

Haven’t left yet

I’ve now been at Buffalo Wild Wings for 10 hours, nearly a record on a weekday. I had another order of 12 wings tonight, and now I can leave whenever I want, but I might get in another round or two of trivia, since I only have a five-minute drive back to the hotel.

I was miffed earlier this evening when someone turned off the music because I wanted to hear “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione. The instrumental was a top five hit for the Fluegelhorn player in 1978, but Generation X–myself included–knows him from the animated show King of the Hill, where he was the spokesman for Mega Lo Mart, the fictionalized version of Wal-Mart in Arlen, Texas. Mangione actually provided his own voice and played the fluegelhorn.

Raymie Lepetit, another of my favorite servers at BUffalo Wild Wings, saw me tonight and was overjoyed. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so it was another thing to go right.

I wont’ be leaving Kansas City until Friday morning. My father will be in the hospital until then.

Time wasting Tuesday

Nearly six and a half hours later, I am still at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’ve just shifted locations from the bar, where I kept Lisa company through her entire shift, to the dining room, where Rue will now be taking care of me until at least 8:30.

Poor Lisa had hardly any customers for the entire day, save for a salesman from Chicago who came for a little over an hour around noon. We discussed Chicago’s sports teams, mostly the Bears and their hiring of John Fox as coach.

When the salesman left, it was pretty much me and only a customer here and there, save for a rude couple who came in at 4.

I gave Lisa a little extra in my tip. She was appreciative.

Brittany came in at 4:30. I was overjoyed.

If my father were not in the hospital, I probably would be getting ready for Russell High’s basketball doubleheader at home vs. Hoisington. But since I’m not, I get a very rare January Tuesday in Kansas City. I cannot remember the last time I was here on a night where there were basketball games.

Haven’t heard from my parents recently. Hope everything is okay.

Done before noon

I stayed until almost 10 last night, playing through the final round of Buzztime Countdown for the evening. Tori didn’t have any customers at the bar besides me for the last 30 minutes I was there.

I finished fourth nationally in The Pulse last night, but missed first by less than 300 points. I have now finished in the top nine for 16 consecutive rounds, 15 of those in the top five.

My mother sent me a terse text saying my father came through the surgery alright. She doesn’t know how to text and I don’t expect her to learn. She doesn’t like to carry a cell phone in the first place. I’m sure they’ll call today at some point.

Ethan Hoyle got me hooked on Trivia Crack for the iPhone. He had me play a game for him on his phone, which I won, so I downloaded it myself. It will be a good diversion when I can’t get to Buffalo Wild Wings or another location to play trivia.

I did a little more writing in the wee hours, getting Plainville and Ellis out of the way. I fell asleep at 3:15 and didn’t fully get up until 7:45, but I had the bulk of my work done, so it didn’t take me long to finish.

By 10:45, I was showered and ready to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. Lisa is behind the bar this morning. She’s very happy to see me, and I was ecstatic to see her. She loved her birthday swag.

I just played my first round of Buzztime for the morning. Didn’t get the first one, but got the next six to finish with 6,261 out of 7,000 possible (the games from 11 to 2 are only seven questions).

Super Bowl factoid: only one Super Bowl has been held on January 27. Many call it the best Super Bowl ever played. I think it’s highly overrated.

Super Bowl XXV was the first of four conescutive trips to the championship game for the Buffalo Bills. Their opponent, the New York Giants, won Super Bowl XXV four years prior.

Most of the experts predicted the Bills would win. More than a few predicted a rout. Buffalo was fresh off a 51-3 destruction of the Raiders at home in the AFC championship game, while the Giants had to travel across the country for the NFC championship game, where they won an exhausting battle against the two-time champion 49ers, 15-13. Immediately after the game in San Francisco, the Giants flew straight to Tampa, since there was no week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

My 14-year old brain differed greatly from the experts. The Giants, even without starting quarterback Phil Simms, who suffered season-ending foot injury in a regular season loss to the Bills in December, had the better team. It was not close on defense. Even though Buffalo had the best defensive end in football in 1990, Bruce Smith, New York had far more talent on that side of the ball, led by Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Leonard Marshall. I also thought the Giants had a strong enough offensive line and ground attack to push the Bills around and keep Jim Kelly and Buffalo’s no-huddle offense off the field.

The Giants controlled the ball for 40 minutes, overcoming a 12-3 second quarter deficit. Buffalo had one last chance to win, but Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left sailed wide right, allowing New York to escape with a 20-19 victory.

There was another Super Bowl which was originally scheduled for January 27, but it didn’t come to pass.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams-Patriots game in New Orleans, was originally scheduled for January 27, 2002, but due to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the NFL postponed its week two games and pushed back the end of the regular season to January 6. The NFL did not want to compress its playoff schedule, and since it did not schedule a week off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, there was no way they could hold the game January 27 with the new schedule

The NFL rescheduled the Super Bowl for February 3, the first time any game other than the Pro Bowl would be played in February.

At first, it didn’t appear New Orleans would be able to host the Super Bowl on the new date. The weekend of February 1-3 was the first weekend of Carnival parades in the Big Easy, and the National Automobile Dealers Association scheduled its convention that weekend, and had booked nearly all of the prime hotel rooms.

To keep the Super Bowl in the Superdome, the NFL paid a hefty fee to the NADA to move its convention, and the Carnival parades were rescheduled to the weekend of January 25-27, the original weekend for the Super Bowl.

For those who weren’t old enough to watch Super Bowl XXXVI, or those who don’t know their football history, Tom Brady became a household name that day by leading a perfect two-minute drill which ended in Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 48-yard field goal on the final play, which lifted the Patriots to an improbable 20-17 victory over a Rams team which won Super Bowl XXXIV two years prior and was called “The Greatest Show on Turf”.

Kurt Warner, the former Hy-Vee stocker who rose to superstardom when he led the Rams to the 1999 championship, would get back to the Super Bowl seven years after the loss to Brady and New England. Only this time, he would be wearing vastly different colors than the Rams’ blue and gold.

Waiting game

I’m still at Buffalo Wild Wings after two and a half hours. Haven’t heard anything on my father.

Scored 28,439 out of 30,000 on Buzztime’s The Pulse. Didn’t know a question about the English Premier League. I need to study my association football more.

Part of me wants to go back to the hotel. The other wants to stay at Buffalo Wild Wings. Decisions, decisions.

The fix is complete

So much for waiting. Ten minutes after posting last, my car was ready to go. Other than the high price tag, which was totally expected, it went well. I got a lot of work done waiting and my car purrs like a kitten without squeaking.

I’m assuming my father is in surgery right now. I hope it is going well. The cold reality of what could go wrong gripped me on the drive north on I-635, but I’m now at Buffalo Wild Wings trying to keep my mind on other things.

I met a couple of nice folks playing trivia at the bar. They were originally from Kansas City and had returned after living in Fort Lauderdale.

Tori is back behind the bar tonight. Liz is not working, but Jaclyn Blankenship, Rue Jean-Klapproth and Liz’s mother, Nadine, are here tonight, as is Lauren Cambiano. I haven’t seen them for a while.

Since I got here so late, I guess I’m staying until at least 9. Since I’ve got so much work done, it won’t be that hard to knock most of it out when I get back to the room and tomorrow morning so I can be back at Buffalo Wild Wings for 11.