Monthly Archives: October 2016

Just another day to me

Today is Halloween. Yippee. 

I haven’t dressed up as anything for Halloween since 1986. Shortly after I turned 10, I declared I was too old for trick-or-treating. My brother, 16 months younger than I, didn’t go out again after 1986, either. Our father was relieved, I’m sure.

The last time I dressed up for Halloween, I had the bright idea to go out as Dracula. My parents put makeup on me. I hated it. Never again. 

Makeup is one thing I don’t miss about being a man, although there are many other disadvantages. 

Unfortunately for my brother, he will get to go out trick-or-treating very soon with his own son. He’s too young this year, since he’s only seven months old, but the day is coming, probably in 2018 or 2019. 

I’m spending Halloween 2016 in Kansas City. I’ve been at Buffalo Wild Wings for an hour. I’m leaving no later than 8:30, then going back to the hotel to do a little work before I hit the sack. I was dead tired last night, and had a little trouble waking up this morning, but once I finally got up, I haven’t felt tired. 

My only concession to Halloween was wearing a (bright) orange shirt and black shorts. Shorts on Halloween? In Kansas City? Ridiculous. 

Okay, it wasn’t my only concession. 

I played “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” on the Buffalo Wild Wings jukebox. Tori was very pleased. I also had to play a KISS song. Also, the wings I ate today had orange sauce (spicy garlic). Also, I dressed my Buzztime trivia avatar in an orange shirt with a black background. 

The Bears, who use orange as one of its colors, is playing tonight vs. the Vikings. Should not be much of a game. The Bears are pitiful. I just hope the city’s National League baseball team also goes down tomorrow or Wednesday. Cubs fans are insufferable enough. Winning the World Series would make them nauseating. 

Speaking of insufferable fans, a Carolina Panthers fan showed up at Buffalo Wild Wings and treated them like they were the greatest team which ever played football. I reminded him several times the Panthers are 2-5. I also reminded him the Saints beat the Seahawks, and the Saints also beat the Panthers earlier this month. I’m not a big Saints fan, but anything to annoy a Panthers fan. 

It’s back to Russell Wednesday, then Crista Thursday morning. 

Another NFL draw

For the second time in eight days, a National Football League game has ended in a draw. 

Yet this time, the fans were not unhappy. 

The Redskins and Bengals began the day’s NFL slate with a 27-27 deadlock in London’s Wembley Stadium. 

It’s the first time since 1997 where there have been ties in the NFL on consecutive weekends. The last time it happened, the Eagles and Ravens finished 10-10, then the Giants and Redskins ended 7-7. The latter game was the infamous contest where Gus Frerotte, then the Redskins’ quarterback, head-butted a wall after scoring Washington’s only touchdown and jammed his neck. 

Last Sunday, the Cardinals and Seahawks played to a 6-6 draw. 

Arizona would gladly take a tie right now. The Cardinals look like pure shit in Charlotte, where they are losing 24-0 to Scam Newton and the Panthers. What is it about Charlotte which turns the Cardinals into something worse than a pee-wee outfit? It happeend the last two seasons in the playoffs, and it’s happening again today.

It’s an outcome which English sports fans are quite accustomed to. Draws have occurred in one of every four Premier League matches this season. William Hill, the leading bookmaker in the United Kingdom, offers odds on draws for every football (the one with the round ball) match it puts on the board. 
England’s most popular football team, Manchester United, played to a scoreless draw yesterday vs. Burnley at Old Trafford. United fans were upset, given their side’s dominance of Burnley, but Burnley fans weren’t complaining, since their team more often than not has left Old Trafford in defeat. 

Again, I do not see why a draw in an American football game is a negative. It’s not a playoff game.It’s not life or death. It’s the asinine American obsession with having a winner and a loser in anything and everything which makes most Americans averse to such an outcome. 

I am not most Americans. I believe a draw is a fine outcome of a sporting event. Those who can’t stand draws can watch something else. 

If association football, the world’s most popular sport, is okay with a draw, why isn’t American football? NOT EVERYTHING CAN HAVE A WINNER. Get over it! 

A hard to stomach Saturday morning

I woke up this morning with a terrible case of indigestion. That’s what I get for eating a New York strip, coconut shrimp and a salad from Outback between 9:15 and 10 p.m. That was on top of a big order of wings, fries and mushrooms at Buffalo Wild Wings.

That brings the total to almost 15 hours at Buffalo Wild Wings since Thursday evening. I’m addicted. Fortunately my brain hasn’t exploded yet from all the inane trivia I’ve played.

I saw Larry at lunch, then Robb and Dawn at happy hour. Always a fun time when I get to match wits with them, or more accurately, match and share wits.

A surprise visitor showed up at 8:15: Lisa. She came in to get takeout, and she spotted me all the way from the register at the front of the restaurant. I guess I’m kind of hard to miss.

She had an announcement about another former employee. I’ll go into that in another post. It brought me to my knees (not literally). It also was a horrible reminder of my sordid past.

I should have just gone to the hotel and hit the sack. Instead, I ate and watched the rest of game 3 of the World Series. Cleveland won 1-0 to go up 2 games to 1. Then I stayed up some more, fooling around on the Internet looking for scores from the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s state volleyball tournaments and football games.

It wasn’t until 11:45 that I finally got in bed and put the CPAP mask on. I knew not to set an alarm. I finally woke up a little after 8.

I need to get to Buffalo Wild Wings when it opens today at 11. Kansas State AND Missouri both have 11 a.m. kickoffs. I’m sure it will be packed from the get-go. There should be a lull in the afternoon, but pick up tonight for the Kansas-Oklahoma glorified scrimmage and then Game 4 between the INDINAS and Cubs.

I am so proud of Cleveland for wearing the Chief Wahoo hats for every game in the series so far. Serves those politically correct whiners right. Too freaking bad.

I said I would get in the shower no later than 9:30. It’s already 9:45. Enough farting around!

What’s wrong with a draw? NOTHING!

Following the Seattle-Arizona tie, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson suggested if overtime ends still tied, that a field goal be attempted. If the kicker for his team makes it, they win. If he misses, the other team wins.

STUPID. REALLY STUPID.

That would be the equivalent of a free throw contest in basketball or a home run derby in baseball to break a tie. It’s already stupid enough in hockey and association football (soccer in America) with the penalty shootout.

Personally, I do not see the problem with a draw. I believe the American obsession with winning and having to have a winner and loser in every single facet of society, whether it be sports or something else, is the reason why people disdain ties so much.

The most popular sports league on earth, the English Premier League, has witnessed 24 of 90 league matches to date end in draws. That’s almost two out of every seven matches. Nobody in Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Southampton, Bournemouth, London or any other Premier League outpost is griping about it. Neither are German fans of the Bundesliga. Or La Liga in Spain. Or Serie A in Italy.

Even though Major League Soccer is seriously flawed, thanks to having conferences instead of a single table and playoffs to determine its champion instead of using only the regular season, at least it ditched the shootout in 2000.

The shootout in MLS used from 1996-99 was beyond asinine. A player had to start 35 yards from the goal, dribble ahead, and shoot from the penalty area. He had to do it all within five seconds. Matches which ended level did not even feature extra time; it was straight to the stupid shootout.

My God. That’s not association football. That’s stupidity. That’s a video game.

If a draw was so toxic, the Premier League and other association football leagues would not award a point for a draw. It would disregard a draw, as the NFL did through 1971.

What is the outcome of many chess matches? A DRAW. STALEMATE. INSUFFICIENT MATERIAL. Has the good possibility of a draw stopped boys and girls from across the globe from learning the game? HECK NO.

Wars have been stalemates, so why are Americans so obsessed with determining the winner of a sporting event? If America would have accepted a stalemate in Vietnam, it would have looked a heck of a lot better than fighting on and accepting disadvantageous peace terms as Nixon and Kissinger did.

Before 1982, there was no provision whatsoever for a penalty shootout in the FIFA World Cup, the most watched sporting event on the planet. If a knockout round game ended drawn prior to ’82, it was replayed in its entirety. Many competitions continue to use the replay rather than a shootout if a match remains level after 120 minutes (90 regulation, 30 extra time).

The NHL got rid of overtime in the regular season in 1943. It didn’t return until 1983. In 1982-83, the last season before overtime returned to the regular season, 127 of 840 games (15.1 percent) ended drawn. That’s slightly more than one in six. What’s the big deal? So what if one of every six ends in a draw?

Hockey is a brutal enough game for 60 minutes of regulation. If a game is even after 60 minutes, that’s enough, at least for the regular season. I understand the need for having a winner in a playoff game. But playoff overtime is real hockey: 5-on-5, 20-minute periods, not this crazy 3-on-3, 5-minute crap for overtime, then the stupid shootout.

The NHL should award a team three points for a regulation win. NO OVERTIME. Draws earn each team one point. That’s it.

The same applies to American football.

Players expend far, far, far too much energy over 60 minutes, more than the average human can only dream of expending. Why make them go any farther during the regular season? If it’s even, the game should end right then and there. In the playoffs, yes, there needs to be overtime. And none of this crap about both teams need to possess the ball. Straight sudden death. If your defense is not good enough to prevent the other team from driving to score a field goal, you don’t deserve to advance.

Don’t get me started on how ridiculous college and high school overtime is. College is bad enough starting from the 25-yard line. High school is much, much worse, going from the 10. If an offense can’t gain 2 1/2 yards per play for four plays, then that team needs to give up the game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has done some really dumb things. The tiebreaker its former Executive Director, Brice Durbin, came up with in 1971 is totally ludicrous. It’s not real football. You’re asking a defense to hold a finger in the dike having to keep the offense out of the end zone from 10 yards out, and that team is already within range of a field goal.

The college and high school football format is not football. It takes the kickoff and the punt out of the game. Special teams have made the difference in thousands of football games over time. Why take part of it out of the game? Also, where is the strategy for a high school defensive coordinator, when you’re defending 10 yards every time?

High school and college football games in the regular season should end drawn if the score is level after 60 minutes (48 in high school). Overtime should be sudden death in the playoffs. If high school associations want to return to the old method of using first downs and penetrations inside the 20-yard line to break a deadlock, then go right ahead.

Baseball isn’t nearly as physically taxing as American football or hockey, but there are limits, too.

In Japan, regular season games are declared a draw if the score is still even after 12 innings (three extra). That’s not a bad idea for the United States. Once a game gets to 15, 16, 17 innings, teams are out of pitching, and it affects them for days after.

Major League Baseball would balk at any idea to declare a game drawn, but many managers would breathe a sigh of relief when they didn’t have to throw four relievers three innings each. The vast majority of games are resolved in nine innings, or those which do go extra can be resolved in 10, 11 or 12, so why worry about a draw? Not going to happen very much.

Basketball? Everyone has overtime, so I don’t see too much of a problem. Non-varsity high school games should be considered draws after regulation, simply to keep things moving. .

Some states use the “international tiebreaker” for softball. In that situation, the last batter of the previous inning starts the new frame on second base, and then the batting order proceeds as normal.

Hate it. HATE IT. Play real softball.

There are many, many more pressing issues than if a sporting events ends in a draw. America, as it is on many issues (using red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, not using the metric system, using paper money instead of coins or plastic), is DEAD WRONG.

Pushes in the House of the Cards

If you don’t follow the NFL, or you’ve been away from your television, radio or computer since Sunday, the Cardinals and Seahawks played to a 6-6 draw (tie in American parlance) in the Sunday Night Football game at Glendale.

I didn’t watch any of it. I was too afraid the Cardinals would lose. I didn’t watch any of the Cardinals’ game vs. the Jets the previous Monday, either. I wasn’t about to get myself worked up after the egg Arizona laid in the season opener vs. the Patriots, who were without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

It was the first time the Seahawks have played to a draw in franchise history. Seattle came into the NFL in 1976, the third season there was sudden death overtime for regular season games.

Even though there has been overtime in the regular season since ’74, the Cardinals had drawn twice before Sunday since the rule was instituted: 20-20 vs. the Giants in 1983 on Monday Night Football (more on that later), and 10-10 at Philadelphia in 1986.

From 1974-2011, the overtime rules in the regular season were simple: first team to score wins. If the full 15-minute period went without a team scoring, the game ended drawn.

In 2012, the rule was changed–it had been changed for the playoffs in 2010–to where if the team receiving the overtime kickoff scored a field goal, the other team could  (a) match the field goal, at which time it became sudden death; (b) win the game with a touchdown; or (c) lose the game by failing to score or committing a turnover. If the team receiving the overtime kickoff did not score on its first possession, it automatically reverted to sudden death.

The Cards-Seahawks deadlock was the fourth under the new OT rules. It happened to the Rams and 49ers in 2012, Vikings and Packers in 2013, and Panthers and Bengals in 2014.

Prior to Sunday, the last NFL game to end drawn without either team scoring a touchdown occurred November 5, 1972, when the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles ended 6-6.

There have been three 6-6 draws in the NFL since 1939. All three have involved the Cardinals. The first was November 22, 1970, when St..Louis and the Chiefs deadlocked 6-6 at the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.

Jim Bakken was the kicker for the Cardinals from 1962-78. They could have used him Sunday. Chandler Catanzaro missed a 24-yard kick in overtime which would have won the game. Then again, Seattle’s Steven Hauschka missed from 27. OUCH.

Catanzaro and Hauschka reminded me of the 1983 Giants-Cards game which ended tied. It was at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. Howard Cosell was NOT there, taking time off following the conclusion of the World Series, where he was a broadcaster for ABC, alongside Al Michaels and Earl Weaver. Instead, Orenthal James Simpson was in the booth with Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.

Seven days prior to Giants-Cards, the Redskins and Packers put on one of the most thrilling games in regular season history. Green Bay outlasted defending Super Bowl XVII champion Washington 48-47 when the Redskins’ Mark Moseley, the 1982 NFL Most Valuable Player, missed a field goal on the game’s final play. The Redskins didn’t lose again until Super Bowl XVIII, when they were humbled by the Raiders.

Giants-Cards was 180 degrees from Redskins-Packers.

It has been called the worst game ABC telecast on MNF, and I can see why. Cards kicker Neil O’Donoghue missed THREE field goals in overtime, including a 19-yard gimme, which is the equivalent of an extra point.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Cards coach Jim Hanifan kept O’Donoghue. Had he cut him after his MNF fiasco, St. Louis might have won the NFC East the next season. An O’Donoghue miss on the final play of the 1984 finale at Washington which allowed the Redskins to win the division and keep the Cards home.

Why did Hanifan not try to score a TD when O’Donoghue missed the 19-yard field goal? He had a damn good running back in Ottis Anderson. He had two outstanding wideouts, Roy Green and Pat Tilley. What the hell? Was he that worried about a fumble? Come on, man. Even if the Cards fumbled that deep in their own territory, they might have won on a safety, given how putrid the Giants’ offense was that night.

Fortunately, the game lasted past midnight in the Central time zone, so most Americans were fast asleep by time it ended.

The New York Times described the game as “poorly played” with “an incredibly bad finish”. Sums it up.

The 1983 Giants were horrible, because the new coach, Duane Charles Parcells, better known as “Bill” or “The Big Tuna”, had the wonderful idea Scott Brunner and Jeff Rutledge were better quarterbacks than Phil Simms.

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

If Ray Perkins had little or no confidence in Brunner being better than Simms, why should Parcells have? Parcells was on Perkins’ staff for three seasons. What, he didn’t see it in 7-on-7 drills? If Parcells was that enamored with Brunner, he should have just reacquired Joe Piscarcik. .

Parcells was very nearly fired after going 3-12-1. He survived, then thrived, with Big Blue, getting to the playoffs in 1984–the Giants’ first berth since losing the 1963 NFL championship game to the Bears–and winning Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990.

Strangely, the Cards and Seahawks played two overtime games in three seasons in the mid-1990s, long before they became division rivals. Arizona won in 1993 at the Kingdome on a late field goal by Greg Davis, and in 1995, won at Sun Devil Stadium on a 72-yard pick-six by Lorenzo Lynch.

The Cards’ history with Seattle dates to the Seahawks’ very first game, which St. Louis won 30-24 at the Kingdome on Sept. 12, 1976.

The odds the Cards (at Carolina) or Seahawks (at New Orleans) will play to a draw this week are very, very, very slim. Slimmer than Kate Moss. The last time a team played consecutive deadlocks was 1971, when the Raiders did vs. the Chiefs and Saints. Tom Brookshier, the late, great CBS broadcaster, described back-to-back deadlocks as “like kissing your sister when she’s got the mumps”.

New England hasn’t played a tie since October 8, 1967, when it was the BOSTON Patriots. Every other NFL team which was around in ’67 has played to a draw since the merger, as has Cincinnati, which came along in ’68. Expansion teams Tampa Bay, Carolina and the Baltimore Ravens all had prior to Sunday, and now Seattle joined that list.

No team has played more than one draw in a single season since 1973, the year before overtime in the regular season, when the Broncos, Browns, Chiefs and Packers all had two on their ledgers. The Broncos had two in three weeks in ’73; the first was against Oakland on MNF, the game where Don Meredith exclaimed, “We’re in the Mile High City, and so am I!”. One night after the Broncos’ second tie of the sequence, 17-17 at St. Louis, Meredith called President Nixon “Tricky Dick” while he was broadcasting the Redskins-Steelers game in Pittsburgh.

Now I’m droning on about history I’m sure three people might care about other than me. I’ll stop.

 

 

Stupid escape

I haven’t posted since I was in Lakin last Saturday. It went downhill pretty fast since my last post.

Sadly, Norton’s season ended with a loss to Lakin in the sub-state semifinals. However, the biggest loser wasn’t the team. It was me.

I quickly packed up and left Lakin after the Bluejays’ loss. I did not stick around for the final, where TMP defeated Lakin to advance to the state tournament this weekend in Emporia.

I should have stayed at Lakin to say goodbye to everyone. It was rude to Cailtyn, her teammates, and especially her mom. I was scared I would be an intruder, since Clark, Chelsea and her husband Sam were there. I felt it were best if Peggy talked to them and not worry about me. I also wanted the girls to be able to weep in peace. Ending a season is very hard, especially for the seniors. Peggy told me I read too much into it. I’ve heard that a lot from Crista. Yet I keep doing it.

Instead of doing the right thing, I sped back to Garden City as fast as I could. I had the idea I would get to Buffalo Wild Wings before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series began.

Horrible move.

I saw an open barstool and was about to sit down when a rude Nebraska fan told me he was saving the seat for an invisible friend who was supposedly going to show up at some point.

That set me off.

I was pissed. Why didn’t he tip the barstool over or otherwise put something of his on the seat so he could reserve it? That’s what I like to do when I know Robb and Dawn are coming. Even better, I’ll write their names on a Post-It and affix it to the stool. Now if it’s busy, I won’t reserve a seat; I don’t like denying other patrons the chance to sit down.

This guy, though, didn’t understand common courtesy. I was beyond pissed I was STEAMING at this guy. I screamed a couple of expletives at him on my way out. Then I completely melted down in the car.

I was happy to get out of Garden City Sunday morning. The hotel was fine. But if I don’t have to see that Buffalo Wild Wings again, fine by me. I don’t have a reason to visit Garden City in the near future to begin with. It may be closer than Wichita, but it certainly isn’t easier to get there. Kansas City isn’t that much farther.

I didn’t use the CPAP machine Saturday night for the first time in nearly two months. I went back on it when I got back to Russell. I was afraid it would negatively affect me on the drive home, but it didn’t. I won’t take that chance again.

My contacts were irritating the hell out of me Sunday morning. Thank God I had my prescription sunglasses with me to drive home. I went straight downstairs when I got back to Russell at 12:40.

The first three days of the work week have been pretty  much standard operating procedure. The workload will drop starting next week as many high school football teams conclude their seasons, and the cross country season ends with state meets. No local teams are playing in state volleyball tournaments, so that’s a relief.

Thinking about a trip to Kansas City. Got the rest of the day to think about it.

Top seeds steamroll into semis

Thomas More Prep and Lakin easily won their quarterfinal matches of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin.

The Monarchs improved to 36-2 by spiking Southwestern Heights 25-10, 25-7; and the host Broncs (32-7) rolled over Hi-Plains League rival Syracuse 25-8, 25-10.

Next up is #4 Hugoton (16-20) vs. #5 Cimarron (15-19) on the West court, and #3 Norton (22-13) vs. #6 Hoisington (8-25) on the East court.

TMP gets the Hugoton-Cimarron winner in the semis, and Lakin plays the Norton-Hoisington winner.

Norton has won just one sub-state match since making it to the 2007 state tournament. That was two years ago at Scott City, when the Bluejays won in the first round over Southwestern Heights before losing to Lakin in the semis.

This is the first match Norton is the higher seeded team in sub-state since 2005, when Chelsea Cox was a senior. How time flies.

Short drive, long wait

The first match of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin is still an hour and 15 minutes away. (Now less than an hour. I’ve been a little slow in getting my blog updated).

I’ve been here for 45 minutes. Once again, I left too early and got here way too early. I should have waited another hour. It isn’t as far from Garden City to Lakin as I thought it was, so I ended up here right at noon, even after three stops on K-156 in Garden before heading west on US 50. I probably should have stopped at the new Love’s travel center in Holcomb to kill a few minutes. The good news is it will be easy for me to get out of the gym to my car this evening. I was able to park along the side of the football stadium, and there is an exit door in the gym only 20 feet from my car.

The nice people at Lakin have set me up with a table, so I can use my laptop to blog and update Twitter without draining my cell phone battery. I have my phone and Bluetooth keyboard to update Instagram should I so desire. I’m going to take pictures from the walking track above the gym floor. I can set my lens at a long length, like I did at TMP, and go without having to worry about getting too close to lose focus.

The way I see it, is if I’m driving east on US 50 and the sun is still out, it will be a bad day. It will mean Norton got bounced by Hoisington in the first match.

TMP is here for their first match vs. Southwestern Heights of Kismet. God Natuasha Dreher hates me. Really hates me. It’s not like I said something to her. I haven’t. I’m too scared. I’m afraid she will bite my head off. I want to cry about it, but I can’t right now. And I’m not bringing it up with Peggy. Not today. Not the time or place.

Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t looking likely this evening. Not with the Cubs playing in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. I’m hoping to be in Lakin late enough so where all I have time to do is drive back and hit the hay. I’ve got to leave Garden before 9 tomorrow morning so I’m back home by noon to eat lunch with my parents. My mother is cooking for the first time in three weeks.

It is absolutely ludicrous I’m wearing one of my silk floral shirts and my pale yellow shorts today. It is not supposed to be this hot in Kansas, even though I’m farther south than normal, on October 22. Ten years ago, I went to a sub-state in Scott City, and I remember sleet flying around as I drove on I-70 from Russell to Oakley, most of the exact same route I drove yesterday. For it to be this hot this late in October is making me nauseous.

I am sick and tired of the bugs swarming around the basement at home. They are particularly bad in the bathroom. I’ve had it. I told my dad to look into it pronto. I’m about ready to buy an indoor bug zapper. I don’t care if it’s loud. I want the bugs dead.

The bugs can wait until tomorrow. Volleyball beckons.

 

KSHSAA’s Sunset Saturday

Today is the end of the season for most high school volleyball players and cross country runners across Kansas.

For a select few, the season continues for one more week.

It’s regional cross country/sub-state volleyball Saturday.

The cross country format is fine, although I believe too many teams get to qualify for state. There should be a formula where the teams with the lowest average times, no matter what regional that team is in, should advance to state, not just the best three (Classes 2A-6A) or four (1A) from each regional.The meet timing software in use should be able to do that very easily, or what would be the harm until waiting until Sunday afternoon to find out which teams are going?

Twelve teams, especially in 6A and 5A, which have only 32 schools each, are too many. It ought to be reduced to eight. Twelve out of 64 in 2A, 3A and 4A probably is okay, but there are too many schools in 1A which can’t field complete teams, and some teams which finish third or fourth in their regoinals get to go simply because they were one of the only three or four schools with enough runners to post a team score. Class 1A teams need four runners to post a team score; five are required in 2A through 6A.

The volleyball sub-state format sucks. IT SUCKS. It should have been changed ages ago, but it has been the same since 1992, save for Classes 1A (2010) and 4A (2013) splitting into two divisions.

First, I have never understood why the hell the Kansas State High School Activities Associatoin insists on volleyball sub-states being played on the same day as the ACT test nationwide. Why? Why in the hell should some girls have the added pressure of a high-stakes test, which could very well determine whether or not a young lady gets accepted to her first choice university/college, or some be forced to miss the test because their team has to travel a long way for sub-state?

By insisting sub-states be played on the same day as an ACT test, they can’t start until the afternoon, putting some teams on the road very, very late at night. The good news about Lakin is there are two courts, meaning the play will go faster. If there was only one court, TMP would be getting back to Hays no earlier than 10:30, probably later. I remember not getting home from Norton until 12:05 a.m. when it hosted sub-state in 2007. The trip between Russell and Norton is bad enough in the daylight. At night, following a very long day, and at an ungodly hour, makes it harrowing.

Why can’t the KSHSAA extend the volleyball season an extra week and hold sub-state on the weekend after the ACT test? Or better yet, hold the sub-states on Wednesday and/or Thursday.

Second, why are sub-states single elimination? The state tournament, and most in-season tournaments, have pool play before cutting down to four teams, meaning schools usually get at least three matches, sometimes four, as in the case of the Mid-Continent League tournament. Why is the KSHSAA changing the format at the most important time of the season? One bad match should not ruin a fine season. TMP had it happen last year when it lost to Beloit in the sub-state final. If the Monarchs lose to Lakin or Norton in the final (or earlier), then Natausha Dreher and her players might consider the season a failure, even though they might have finished 36-3.

Missouri is the same way as Kansas, although there is a second single-elimination layer which is being played today. Only four schools from each class advance to the state tournament in Cape Girardeau next weekend.

I’m not a fan of Louisiana’s playoff format, but at least it’s all single elimination. None of this hybrid crap.

KSHSAA could easily do pool play in sub-state. Hold the pools Wednesday and/or Thursday at the top two seeds in the sub-state. Then hold the semifinals and final at a neutral site, or in the gym of the highest seed.If KSHSAA would move the sub-states off the ACT test date, it could be done in one day beginning at 9 a.m. It might limit the number of schools which could host, but so what?

One of KSHSAA’s biggest problems is it tries to have too many sites host tournaments. If a given regional or sub-state is at the same school every stinking year, I don’t see a problem. If the site is centrally located, it’s much better than spreading the wealth and picking some faraway place. Lakin is pretty far out there, but it could be worse, like Syracuse or Hugoton. Cimarron would have been a better choice in this case. Lakin has a very nice gym and does well hosting, it’s just a drive for schools like Norton and TMP, not to mention your intrepid blogger. The good news is I’m alone and can do what I please, so I could stay in Garden City.

The state volleyball tournaments–eight in all–are at four sites. Too many classes (five would be better) and too many sites (ONE). Topeka for 5A and 6A, Salina for both 4A divisions, Emporia (EW!) for 2A and 3A, and Hays for both 1A divisions.

Cross country will be six state meets split between three sites. Classes 3A, 5A and 6A have the honor of running on the beautiful course at Rim Rock Farm north of Lawrence. The kiddies in 1A, 2A and 4A are relegated to the B-grade site, Wamego Country Club. It smells worse than the meat packing plants of Garden City. Why can’t KSHSAA hold the meets over two days? If one site is good enough for track and field, why can’t it work for cross country? Move EVERYTHING to Rim Rock. Please.

I’m getting ready to leave the hotel. I have a couple of stops to make in GC before heading west on US 50. First matches start at 2, although Norton doesn’t play until 3, or a few minutes thereafter. I like to be early. That’s a problem sometimes.

In the Garden (City)

I spent much of yesterday feeling very guilty.

The first thing Crista told me when we started our session was that she saw Norton play Smith Center in the third place match of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament last Saturday. If you recall, I did not go to the MCL tournament the second day, although I did go the first, which coincided with my birthday.

I wish I had been there Saturday. I would have loved to introduce Crista to Peggy and Caitlyn. Now I feel terrible about not going.

I was pretty certain I was going to Norton’s sub-state in Lakin tomorrow, but when Crista told me that, it cemented it.

To that end, I’m now in Garden City, 30 miles east of Lakin on US 50. It was a three-hour drive from Russell, I-70 to Oakley and US 83 down. The TownePlace Suites, where I’ve stayed before, is on K-156, the road which heads towards Jetmore, Larned and Great Bend. I could have saved a few miles if I had taken US 281 from Russell to Great Bend, then K-156 all the way down, but I figured the way I went saved some time.

I passed a tanker about a mile south of Oakley on 83. He was throwing rocks. IDIOT. Every time I then dropped to 65, he would tailgate me. I was ready to call the Kansas Highway Patrol and report him, but after crossing into Scott County, he disappeared from my rear view mirror.

Lucky I passed through Scott City. I had something I forgot to mail in Russell. Better I drop it off than keep carrying it in my car, although it wasn’t super important.

Norton plays Hoisington tomorrow following the completion of the match between Lakin and Syracuse, which begins at 2 p.m. on the east court.

TMP, which is 34-2 and the top seed, plays on the West court at 2 vs. Southwestern Heights. The second match on the West court is Hugoton vs. Cimarron.

The TMP-Southwestern Heights and Hugoton-Cimarron winners play on the West court in one semifinal, while the Norton-Hoisington and Lakin-Syracuse winners play on the East court in the semis. The championship is on the West court.

The winner advances to the Class 3A state tournament next Friday and Saturday at Emporia.

Norton hasn’t been to a state tournament since 2007, when Caitlyn’s sister, Courtney (Otto), was a senior. The Bluejays were 10-20 heading into sub-state, but beat Lakin, Cimarron and Phillipsburg to advance. The state tournament wasn’t so good, with Norton going 0-3, but it was remarkable to make it.

The 22-13 record Norton carries into sub-state is the best for the school since 2005, when Caitlyn’s OTHER sister, Chelsea (Funk), was a senior. Norton has generally had great success in all other sports, winning state championships in both boys and girls track in the years I’ve been here, in addition to seven wrestling championships in 11 seasons, but volleyball somehow has been left behind.

It could be much worse. Some schools have very little athletic success. Like one I’m very familiar with.

The next time Norton has an event in Hays isn’t until Feb. 3, when the Bluejays play basketball at TMP. I will remind Crista many times. .

I’m going to find a place to play Buzztime this evening. Either I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings, which recently opened, or Old Chicago. Those are the only locales in Garden City, but hey, it’s better than Hays, where the only place you can play now is the Fort Hays Student Union, and I’m sure they hate non-students going in there. Therefore, the closest place to Russell to play is Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina.

Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t a Buzztime location in Hays. I might spend too much time there and stay too late, which would disrupt my sleep patterns. It’s just too bad the best games are at night, which force me to drive I-70 between Salina and Russell at night. It’s a boring stretch any time, but it’s dangerous at night.

I’ve learned to cut myself off in Kansas City. Never later than 10, usually earlier. And staying very close to Zona Rosa helps.

I have a stop to make at Dillon’s to buy Caitlyn’s teammates some Gatorade for tomorrow. High is supposed to be around 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), which is absolutely absurd for October 22. They’ll need hydration, even though Lakin’s gym is air conditioned. I already bought Caitlyn’s grape Gatorade in Oakley when I stopped for gas and to use the restroom.

I’m hoping I’m not back in Garden City too early tomorrow evening. Bad news if I am.