Author Archives: David

Half-hearted rivalries 

In this morning’s Kansas City Star, there was an article with comments from former University of Missouri president R. Bowen Loftin about the possibility of the Tigers resuming their athletic series with the University of Kansas. 

Kansas and Missouri began their football series in 1891, only 30 years after Kansas became the 34th state. The Tigers and Jayhaks played 120 times, making it the oldest NCAA Division I rivalry west of the Mississippi River. FYI, the oldest NCAA football series is Lehigh vs. Lafayette, which bgan in 1884.

Loftin stated only one reason why Mizzou and Kansas have not played since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

Bill Self.

Loftin blamed Self, the Jayhawks’ men’s basketball coach who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame later this year, for not wanting to play Mizzou, at least in football and men’s basketball. In recent years, Mizzou has reached out numerous times to Kansas about playing football games at Arrowhead Stadium and basketball games at Sprint Center, but each time, the Jyayhawks have said no way. 

Self, of course, denied Loftin’s premise. He emphatically stated he had nothingt to do with football scheduling. 

Loftin speaks from experience about dormant rivalries. In 2012, he was president at Texas A&M when the Aggies joined Mizzou in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. A&M wanted to continue its rivalry with Texas, but the Longhorns refused. 

In his comments, Loftin believed the Longhorns and Aggies would continue their rivalry before the Tigers and Jayhawks do. 

I know about in-state rivlaries going dormant, but Louisiana really isn’t comparable to Texas, or to Missouri-Kansas, either. Tulane has never really been at LSU’s level, and the gulf has continually widened since the Green Wave dropped out of the SEC in 1966. LSU discontinued its annual rivalry with Tulane on the gridiron after the 1994 season; the teams played four consecutive years from 2006-2009, but LSU then bought out the remaining six games on the contract. In men’s basketball, Dale Brown dropped Tulane in 1981 because he felt the Greenies were non-competitive. Tulane dropped its program for three years in the 1980s due to a point shaving scandal, but the Tigers refused to play Tulane until 2003, seven seasons after Brown retired. LSU and Tulane only compete in women’s basketball and baseball, as well as a few minor sports. 

As much as I’d like to see LSU and Tulane play every year in football, Tulane must shoulder a lot of the blame. Why not play in Baton Rouge every year, or four out of every five years? The Greenies are going to make far more in Tiger Stadium than they ever will at Tulsa, SMU, East Carolina or another American Athletic Conference school, and certainly much, much more than playing at UL Lafayette or Louisiana Tech. As for LSU, it would be much more financially prudent to play Tulane than to pay Troy or Chattanooga an exorbitant sum to come to Death Valley as it is doing this season. It would have been much better in 2017 becuase LSU has only six home games, since the Florida game was switched to Gainesville after last season’s Hurricane Matthew flap. 

On the flip side, if Tulane wants LSU to come to New Orleans, it is going to (a) have to give LSU a larger cut of the gate and (b) play in the Superdome. Yulman Stadium only seats 30,000. I understand the idea of playing on campus, but in this case, it would be unreasonable for LSU to do so. If Tulane is worried about LSU fans overrunning the Superdome, then that’s too bad.

LSU has tried to make too many other SEC schools their “rival”, but the other school would not reciprocate. The series with Ole Miss has largely been irrelvant since Johnny Vaught retired as Rebel coach in 1970 (save for a brief return in 1973). Alabama could care less about beating LSU unless the Tigers are at or near the top of the polls. As Bear Bryant put it, “I’d rather beat the cow college (Auburn) once than Notre Dame ten times”. Nick Saban has turned this so-called rivalry into a laugher. Auburn and LSU didn’t play every year in football until 1992, and Auburn might be going to the Eastern Division anyway. 

LSU has played Arkansas for the Golden Boot since 1996, but the Tigers resisted it with every fiber of their being until then-SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer finally prevailed upon LSU to play along.  The game has always meant much more in Fayetteville than in Baton Rouge.

Back to the Border War. 
Kansas’ non-conference football schedule this season is an out and out JOKE. Southeast Missouri, Central Michigan, Ohio University. The game vs. the Bobcats is in Athens, Ohio, which is a coup by Ohio coach Frank Solic in getting a Power Five school to travel to Athens and play a Mid-America Conference school. 

The trip to Ohio begs the question: why not play Missouri at Arrowhead and get a huge gate? It would be mutually beneficial. It would allow Mizzou to fulfill the SEC requirement to play a Power Five opponent in non-conference, and Kansas would not have to embarrass itself playing a lower level team like SEMO. 

I cannot say for sure Self is personally responsible for Kansas not wanting to play Mizzou. But the Jayhawks are wrong on this one. Why would Kansas pass up a chance to play in Kansas City, only 45 minutes from its campus, to go to places like Ohio U and Memphis? 

The Texas-Texas A&M series is not something I’m really worried about. Texas has enough in-state rivals (Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU) in the Big 12, and A&M is content making Arkansas and LSU its big rivalry games. 

In the grand scheme, it’s only college sports. It could be worse. The fact the Jets and Giants play only once every four years in the regular season is sad. The NFL is missing the boat. 

The end (of June 2017) is in sight

Yesterday was a very long day. Woke up at 6:30–the alarm started crowing. Then Crista. Then Dr. Jones to get my eyes checked. Small area of concern in the left eye, something she hopes will clear up as my blood sugar improves. I’m sure she will report to Dr. Custer, whom I see again in September.

I drove half-bllind from Hays to Topeka. My eyes were dilated so Dr. Jones could examine them. I wore my old prescription sunglasses, and I was having a devil of a time seeing the car radio. I was fine to drive, but reading small print was a hassle. I finally inserted my contcts at Topeka so I could wear my Oakley sunglasses, which are much darker than my prescription lenses. Got to Kansas City and Buffalo Wild Wings at 3:30.

Around 6:30, a man accosted me at the bar and asked me if I was using my iPad to take pictures. My first instinct would have been to yell at him and call him a few unprintable words. Instead, I was focused on the TV screen with trivia. I let him stand there for a few minutes before he got the point. He complained to management. I showed Jarrod, the general manager, my iPad that it had no picutres of anything in the restaurant except the screen with trivia. I stayed until 8:30, which was leaving time anyway. 

I was offended at the accusation. Why would I risk going to jail in a place 250 miles from home? And certainly why would I risk trouble at a place I have been going for four years and want to keep going to? I told Robb and he was not happy to hear. He and his brother, Tim, came to play with me for a little while in the late afternoon. 

I am staying at the KCI Hilton this time. I rarely stay at Hilton properties. I am angry Hilton has not made all of its hotels, which also include Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and Doubletree, smoke-free like Marriott has. Fortunatelly, the KCI Hilton went smoke-free earlier this year after seeing non-smoking customers bleed away to the Marriott and Four Points near the airport. 

I had trouble getting the luggage cart in the door, but for the first time when staying by myself, I did not have to stop by the front desk for a key.

The KCI Hilton offers a digital key. It is sent to your smartphone, and using Bluetooth, it sends a signal to the phone when you are near your room or any other space which requires a key to access. All I had to do was hit a button on my phone when I got to the room, and voila! Open sesame. 

I have not forgotten my key in a long time; I always put one in my wallet immediately after check-in and use the other when I need to leave the room but not leave the property. This morning, no key to forget! 

The room is very nice. The TV selection isn’t as good as the Farifield at KCI, which has DirecTV, but the bed was plush and there’s enough electrical outlets. There is room service, but it would cost more for a 10-ounce strip than it does for the 22-ounce bone-in ribeye at Outback. Speaking of Outback, the regular ribeye I had last night was superb. Charred outside, but nice and red inside. 

It poured AGAIN last night. Severe storm rolled in at 9:45 and blew through in 30 minutes. Over three inches of rain at KCI. In Carrollton, where Frank and Elaine Mercer lived before moving to Russell–they still own and publish the Carrollton Democrat–there was at least seven inches. This is the fourth time I have witnessed severe weasther in Kansas City this month. The rain is probably done until Monday. I’m planning on leaving Sunday night, but that could change. 

Getting the oil changed at McCarthy-Morse Chevrolet this morning. May be the last time here. My dad is talking about how his dad won’t be able to drive much longer and I’ll inherit his Buick LeSabre. 

I’m supposed to meet Larry (Mizzou) at Buffalo Wild Wings in Liberty for some trivia later. I also need to hit Minsky’s. 25 percent off through Tuesday! 

I’m eating 7-11 hot dogs for breakfast. It is a much better option than doughnuts for a diabetic, and I wasn’t in the mood to fight McDonald’s or another fast food place. Besides, it’s less expensive and I got a free Super Big Gulp. 

I ordered four movies from the 1980s on Blu-Ray on Amazon yesterday. They’ll arrive Monday. One of them I’ll discus in an upcoming post.

Another NCAA season in the books

The 2017 Division I college baseball season, and the entire 2016-17 NCAA athletic calendar for that matter, ended at 10:26 p.m. Central Daylight Time last night when Florida recorded the final out of its 6-1 victory over LSU in the second game of the College World Series championship series. 

The Gators won their first baseball national championship, joining a very select list of schools which have won national championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball. 

Only four have done it since the Associated Press began its major college football poll in 1936. Two of the four are Big Ten Conference archrivals Michigan and Ohio State. UCLA, which has one championship each in football and baseball and 11 in men’s basketball,  was the third until Florida. Two of UCLA’s Pacific-12 Conference rivals, California and Stanford, each claim national championships, but those were retroactively awarded by math formulas or other polls. 

Florida, Michigan and UCLA have also won national championships in softball. 

LSU, which won national championships in 1991, ’93, ’96, ’97, 2000 and 2009, came up short for the first time when making the CWS final round. The end of the CWS in the full double-elimination era (1950-87) depended upon how many teams were left after 12 games. The series could end in 14 games if one team went undefeated, or 15 if nobody did. In 1988, the format was changed to a single championship game contested between the winners of two four-team brackets. The best-of-3 series began in 2003. 

The Bayou Bengals were left for dead in Omaha after losing 13-1 to Oregon State June 19. The Beavers improved to 56-4 and won their 23rd consecutive game. LSU defeated Florida State to stay alive, but then would have to beat Oregon State twice to reach the championship series. 

Not only did LSU end Oregon State’s winning streak with a 3-1 decision last Friday, it completed the comeback the next day, 6-1. The Beavers collected only five hits over two games. FIVE. Thus Oregon State finished the year with a .903 winning percentage, but did not even play for the title.

LSU did this before. 

In 1989, LSU was in the regional at College Station, where Texas A&M entered the tournament 55-5. The Aggies, who smashed the Southwest Conference that year, outscored their first three regional foes (Jackson State, BYU and South Alabama) 65-13. LSU lost its second game to South Alabama, and thus had to defeat UNLV and the Jaguars on day three to advance to the final round,  where it would need to defeat A&M twice.

The Bayou Bengals pulled it off somehow. They won the first game 13-5 behind Golden Spikes Award winner Ben McDonald. In the winner take all game, McDonald came on in relief in the 10th inning and earned the win as LSU prevailed 5-4. 

LSU didn’t win the championship this year, but the season was far from a failure. Quite the opposite.

When Bill Franques and I parted company at 5 p.m. ET in Lexington the afternoon of April 23, neither of us had much confidence LSU would be one of the eight to make it to Omaha. LSU was 27-15 overall and 10-8 in the SEC after dropping two to Kentucky and needing an eighth-inning rally to pick up the one win it got. Some projections had LSU going on the road for a regional, and its chances of hosting a super regional were slim and none. 

Yet LSU steamrolled its way through the rest of the regular season (winning a share of the SEC championship) and the SEC tournament to earn the #4 national seed, one spot below Florida. The Bayou Bengals went 5-0 at home and were on their way to Omaha for the 18th time. 

I didn’t get emotional over the CWS this year. There were times in the past where I would get upset that I wasn’t in Omaha. I would let jealousy get the best of me, because people I knew were there and I wasn’t.

This year, I felt fine with being at home. I did not want to pay exorbitant prices for hotels (a halfway decent hotel costs over $200 per night during the CWS, and if you want to stay close to TD Ameritrade Park, you can expect to pay at least $350 a night), fight all the crowds and the heat just to sit in the bleachers. Reserved tickets on the secondary market for LSU games ran anywhere from $150 to $700. LSU games were twice as much as other games. The only other school I can see driving ticket prices that high is Nebraska. Of course, the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t like the Cornhuskers in the CWS, because their fans will commute back and forth from Lincoln. 

If I ever go again, I’ll probably have to stay in Kansas City or St. Joseph and commute the 2 1/2 hours up Interstate 29. But I don’t see it happening.

Here’s the good news for LSU: if history repeats tself, it will win it all in 2018.

Since winning their first title in 1991, the Bayou Bengals have won every nine years. They did it in 2000 and 2009, so 2018 is ripe. 

Need a break from college sports. Football hype is too much for me to take in late June. It’s only going to get worse. 

Louisiana comes to Kansas City

If you’re in Kansas City today, I have two words for you: AIR CONDITIONING. And lots of it.

There is an excessive heat warning in effect for the Kansas City area, which extends south on Interstate 49 to the Arkansas state line, and then into Kansas and Oklahoma. There is a heat advisory as far west as Salina and far east as Columbia. Summer is here in case you didn’t know it. Yes, summer does not officially start until Wednesday, but it was here on Memorial Day, and it is now unleashing its fully fury. 

The heat indicies they’re talking about in Kansas City today are common in Louisiana this time of year. Yes, I realize Kansas City gets hot and the humidity is worse than it is in Russell and points west, but this is oppressive. I hate to think how bad it gets in St. Louis. 

It stormed again last night. I went to bed a few minutes after midnight, just when it was getting cranked up. It didn’t prevent me from falling asleep. I finally got up at 9–there was no reason to really get up early–and made my way to Buffalo Wild Wings for a Saturday of trivia. I’ll eventually cross Barry Road and go to Minsky’s, where I went for an hour and a half yesterday. I was looking to go back in the evening, but when I went at 7, the parking lot was completely full. So I went back to Buffalo Wild Wings and played more trivia with Robb and Dawn, leaving at 8:30. 

I ate lunch with Peggy and Caitlyn yesterday at Yard House in the Legends shopping plaza, where the Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting KC of Major League Soccer, are located. I really wanted to go for a steak or a big piece of fish, but I opted to just get the sashimi. Peggy paid, and I didn’t want to take advantage of her generosity. I hadn’t seen either of them since early May, and this was the first extended time I spent with them since the end of the basketball season in late February. 

The U.S. Open gollf tournmaent is in the thrid round in Wisconsin. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all missed the cut. Jordan Spieth is well off the lead. Phil Mickelson didn’t even play, choosing to attend his daughter’s high school graduation in San Diego. Eldrick Woods? WHO CARES? Rickie Fowler is the biggest name in contention, trailing by one stroke at 8-under. He shot 71 yesterday after a 65 Thursday, which tied for the best opening round in U.S. Open history. 

Johnson will not be able to repeat as U.S. Open champion. It hasn’t been done since Curtis Strange did it in 1988 and ’89. This is the second consecutive major in which the defending champion has missed the cut; it happened to Danny Willett at The Masters. Willett has basically fallen off the face of the earth since winning at Augusta National 14 months ago. Sergio Garcia made the cut, but he’s probably too far back to make a run. 

People have complained about Erin Hills, the course hosting the tournament for the first time. Many do not like new courses thrown into the mix of the traditional sites, which include Oakmont, Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, Baltusrol, Pebble Beach, Congressional, Lower Merion and Bethpage Black. Those players may have a point.
The College World Series starts in one hour. Cal State Fullerton and Oregon State, which has won 21 consecutive games and is the top ranked team in every poll, as well as the #1 national seed, open the festivities in Omaha. Then it’s LSU and Florida State at 7.  LSU is aiming for its seventh national championship and its second under Paul Mainieri, who led the Bayou Bengals to the title in 2009 at Rosenblatt Stadium, the penultimate year the CWS was played there. It moved to TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha in 2011. LSU has not fared well there, going 1-4 in two appearances, including an 0-2 trip (coloquially referred to as “Two and Barbecue” in college baseball lingo) in 2013 when LSU entered 57-9 and the #1 national seed. 

I went to Omaha in 1998 and 2003. Great experiences, but I am not big on the crowds. I certainly do not want to be in the heat, and not in the general admission seats in the outfield, where if you leave your seat, you might as well leave the park, because someone will swipe it. General admission seating is a terrible idea for college and professional sports. TERRIBLE. The NCAA should outlaw that for the CWS and other Division I events. 

LSU has won 15 consecutive games, and is 21-2 since I saw the series at Kentucky. Bill Franques, who is attending his 16th CWS as LSU’s baseball publicity director, told me as we departed April 23 he didn’t see LSU making it to Omaha, and he was worried LSU would have to travel for a REGIONAL. LSU has played in a regional away from Baton Rouge only once since 1990, in 2010 at UCLA, when it lost twice to UC Irvine. LSU did not make the NCAA tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2011. 

LSU’s prospects in a road super regional would have been very iffy, considering it is 1-6 all-time in super regionals away from Alex Box Stadium (old and new): 0-2 at Alabama in 1999, 1-2 at Tulane in 2001, and 0-2 at Rice in 2002. The 2002 super regional saw LSU get shut out in both games, the only time that’s happened. 

The other bracket tomorrow has Louisville playing Texas A&M and Florida battling TCU. TCU beat LSU twice in the 2015 CWS. The Horned Frogs are in Omaha for the fourth consecutive year under former Tulane assistant Jim Schlossnagle, doing something LSU has never done. LSU made it three straight years from 1989-91 and again from 1996-98, but never four. 

UGH. Some employee at Buffalo Wild Wings is playing nothing but horrendous hip-hop. I’m already getting nauseous. 

Scalise still critical

In the early minutes of Thursday morning, at least in the Central Time Zone, U.S. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House Majority Whip, is still in critical condition. The bullet entered his left hip and damaged internal organs.

Yikes.

If the bullet hit the bowels, Scalise is as good as gone. If the bowels are perforated, fecal matter will enter the body cavity and poison the vital organs–heart, liver, colon, what have you–and cause septic shock.

Even if he pulls through, Scalise faces a very difficult road back. I would think his left hip would have to be totally replaced, and doctors will probably do the right one as a precaution. Although he wasn’t hit in the head like Gabby Giffords was in the 2011 Tucson shooting, Scalise’s future in Congress is very, very uncertain.

The deceased shooter, James Hodgkinson, spewed plenty of anti-Trump, anti-Republican and anti-conservative rhetoric, at one point calling president Trump an “a-hole”.

It’s one thing to swear about the president’s policies. It’s another to get personal, and that’s crossing the line. I admit I have been guilty of it far, far, far, far too often. I can’t count the number of times I’ve crossed the line when I shouldn’t have. I regret each and every time I did.

Major League Baseball umpires have said repeatedly through the years that managers and players can say they made a bad call (using the expletive for horse manure), and they do not risk ejection. However, if the player or manager calls the umpire (horse manure), he’s ejecting himself.

The same goes here. You can say Trump’s policies are horrible. You can say Obama’s policies were horrible. However, to say Trump is an a-hole or to call Obama the n-word? Totally unacceptable.

I’ve had it with all the rancor. I don’t want to listen to the political channels on SiriusXM when I’m driving. I’ll play my iPod, the music channels or SiriusXM, or find sports talk. In Kansas City, that’s easy, since two stations (KCSP 610 AM and WHB 810 AM) are all sports, all the time. Here in Russell, it’s harder. ESPN Radio has to do in that regard.

I was hoping WWL AM in New Orleans would have coverage of the shooting and updates on Scalise’s condition. Instead, the 9 p.m. hour was all about LSU baseball and their first game in the College World Series Saturday vs. Florida State. I’m looking very much forward to that. I’ll be watching at Minsky’s Pizza. I’m sure Lindsay will make me swear to behave myself.

Okay enough gloom and doom. Time for me to hit the sack. Crista and I visit in less than nine hours.

Pray for Steve Scalise, his family and the citizens of Louisiana, all of them, not just those who live in Scalise’s district. My native state needs him on Capitol Hill.

Baseball practice becomes target practice 

For those who don’t know yet, United States Representative Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was shot and wounded this morning in northern Virigina while he was working out with Congressional colleagues in preparation for Thursday’s annual Congressional baseball game in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Nationals’ park. The game is an annual tradition which raises money for charity, and also allows members of Congress on both sides of the aisle get together and enjoy camraderie. 

Scalise represents Louisiana’s first district, which includes much of Jefferson Parish, the most populous parish in Louisiana, located to the west of New Orleans. Scalise represents a large swath of southeastern Louisiana outside of the city limits of New Orleans, including St. Bernard Parish, where I grew up and was living at the time Hurricane Katrina struck. Scalise did not represent St. Bernard at the time of Katrina, but it was drawn back into the district when Louisiana lost one House seat (going from 7 to 6) after the 2010 census. 

The shooting occurred just before 7 a.m. CT (8 a.m. ET). I first saw it on Twitter, then the news spread like wildfire across the Internet and all the television networks. Such is the 24-hour news cycle. It was reported around noon CT that Scalise was out of surgery and in stable condition, but as I pulled into Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina just after 3, Sean Hannity said Scalise had taken  a turn for the worse. He is listed in critical condition. 

Scalise was shot in the hip, which I’m guessing will mean hip replacement at the very least. I’m worried he won’t make it. For him to take a turn for the worse after surgery is a very distressing sign. I should know, becuase I was near death myself in late 2004 battling pneumonia and a collapsed lung following a buildup of fluid. 

Jefferson Parish has produced some very powerful politicians over my lifetime. To wit: 

  • Dave Treen, who represented most of Jefferson in the House beginning in 1973, was elected Governor in late 1979, becoming the first Republican to be elected as Louisiana’s chief executive, and the first GOP governor, period, since federal Reconstruction following the Civil War.
  • Bob Livingston, who was first elected to the House in 1977. More on him below.
  • David Vitter, who was elected to succeed Livingston in 1999 and later served two terms in the U.S. Senate.
  • Piyush (Bobby) Jindal, who succeeded Vitter in the House and was elected Governor in 2007.
  • John Alario, who is currently president of the Louisiana Senate. He was Speaker of the Louisiana House for two terms in the 1980s and 1990s. 

It could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for two Capitol police officers who were assigned to Scalise as a security detail. Scalise qualified for a security detail since is the House Majority Whip, which is a leadership position. Of the 435 members of the House, only five automatcially qualify for such protection: the Speaker (Paul Ryan of Wisconsin), Majority Leader (Kevin McCarthy of California), Majority Whip (Scalise), Minority Leader (Nancy Pelosi of California) and Minority Whip (Steny Hoyer of Maryland). In the Senate, the Vice President (President of the Senate) has Secret Service protection, while the leaders and whips have security all the time. Any member 

The Capitol police officers gamely took out the deranged shooter, 66-year old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois Hodgkinson later died of his wounds. 

Hodgkinson was a known progressive due to his rants on Facebook, where he was a member of several groups devoted to bashing president Trump and all Republicans. He was a volunteer last year for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The Vermont senator denounced the attack. 

If Scalise does not make it, it would continue a long line of heartbreak for member of Congress from Louisiana who rise into leadership positions. 

In 1972, the Bayou State was hit with a double whammy. 

First, Senator Allen Ellender, who was the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, the second-ranking position in the body behind the Vice President and third in line of succession to the presidency behind the Vice President and Speaker of the House, died of a heart attack in Washington. He had served in the Senate since 1936, when he assumed the seat once held by Huey Long, and was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, probably the most powerful in the Senate since it controls all government spending, although bills have to originate in the House under the Constitution. 

Ellender was running for a sixth term, although he was facing a strong challenge from then-State Senator J. Bennett Johnston, who had barely lost the Democratic primary for governor in late 1971 to then-U.S. Rep. Edwin Edwards, who was elected to the first of his four terms in February 1972. 

Johnston won the seat and served for 24 years, but never rose to Ellender’s lofty status. His bid to earn a leadership post was defeated in 1988 when he lost the race for Majority Whip to George Mitchell of Maine. Mitchell later became Majority Leader, then chaired the infamous Mitchell Commission, which produced the report which named hundreds of Major League Baseball players as steroid users. 

Less than three months after Ellender died, Rep. Hale Boggs, then the Majority Leader, flew with Alaska Rep. Nick Begich on a private plane from Anchorage to Juneau to attend a fundraiser.

The plane never made it. It was lost in the Alaska wilderness forever and ever. Boggs, Begich, pilot Don Jonz and a Begich aide basically vanished from the face of the earth. Boggs was declared dead in absentia when the new Congress convened in January. Hale’s widow, Lindy, was elected to the seat and served through 1990. Lindy Boggs, the mother of journalist Cokie Roberts, later served as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and lived a fulfilling life before passing away at 97. 

Ellender and Boggs aren’t the only members of Congress from Louisiana in positions of power to see their careers end prematurely.

In 1998, Rep. Bob Livingston, who represents the same district Scalise does now, was poised to become Speaker after the resignation of Newt Gingrich. That all came unraveled the week before Christmas when Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, that upstanding citizen, revealed Livingston had an extramarital affair. Livingston, who was Appropriations Committee chairman during the 104th and 105th Congresses, resigned his seat. 

If Scalise does not pull through, it would be a devastating blow to Louisiana on Capitol Hill. 

Two representatives, Clay Higgins of Port Barre (3rd) and Mike Johnson of Benton (4th), are in their first term. Two more, Ralph Abraham of Alto (5th) and Garret Graves of Baton Rouge (6th), are in their second terms. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans (2nd) is in his fourth term, but he is a Democrat, and the minority party has very little pull in the House, much lesss so than the Senate. 

On the other side of Capitol Hill, both Louisiana Senators are in their first terms. Bill Cassidy was elected in 2014, unseating three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu, sister of New Olreans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and daughter of former Crescent City Mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Maurice “Moon” Landrieu. John Neely Kennedy was elected last year, replacing David Vitter, who served two terms and was struck down by the a sex scandal where it was revealed he was a client of a notorious madam. Vitter ran for Governor in 2015 but was crushed by Democratic State Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite City. 

Louisiana’s delegation would be very, very weak without Scalise. Possibly the weakest it has been since the start of the 20th century. 

Even after Ellender and Boggs died, Louisiana still had plenty of clout, due to Rep. F. Edward Hebert, who was chairman of the Armed Service Committee, and Sen. Russell Long, Huey’s son, who was chairman of the Finance Committee. 

James Hodgkinson’s political leanings are irrelevant here. He CHOSE to drive from western Illinois (Belleville is on the opposite bank of the Misssissippi River from St. Louis) to northern Virginia and open fire at a Congressional baseball practice. What kind of person does that? Someone with an evil heart. Hodgkinson is just as much of a piece of shit as Jared Loughner, the asshole who shot Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head (how did she survive?) in Tucson in 2011. Loughner did kill people, though, including a federal judge and Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year old granddaughter of former MLB manager Dallas Green, who led the Phillies to the 1980 World Series championship. 

I’m not sad Hodgkinson died, but I would have loved to see him have to face a jury of his peers and be sentenced to the federal supermax prison in Colorado, which houses the Unabomber, shoe bomber Richard Reid, and other high profile criminals. 

Yes, it is your right as an American citizen to vent, to write whatever you feel like on an Internet site, no matter how poor in taste it might be. However, nobody has the right to take a gun and shoot someone in cold blood. 

If Scalise doesn’t make it, he would be the first member of Cognress to be shot to death since Rep. Leo Ryan (D-California), who was shot by Jim Jones’ minions in Guyana in Novmeber 1978, only hours before the members of the People’s Temple drank the poisoned Flavor-Aid, killing 907. The last member of Congress to be murdered was Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Georgia), who was aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down by Soviet fighter jets in September 1983. 

Prayers are needed for Steve Scalise, his family, and each and every person living in Louisiana’s First Congressional District. 

Let’s also hope we don’t have to put up with this nonsense any longer. Sadly, I fear it will continue. 

NBA, you will be missed…NOT!

The NBA season ended last night. 

THANK GOD! 

I have had it up to here with LeBron, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and anything and everything associated with the National Basketball Association, which I think should stand for something else. I will not reveal it.

I am beyond fed up with the comparisons between this year’s Warriors and the 1995-96 Bulls, who went 72-10 in a season which featured two expansion teams (Raptors and Grizzlies, who were then in Vancouver) and several established teams who were beyond pitiful (Mavericks, Nuggets, Bucks, et al). I don’t think either team is the best of all time. I honestly don’t think Jordan’s Bulls or Curry’s Warriors would beat the Lakers of Magic and Kareem, or the Celtics with Bird, Parish and McHale. I watched the NBA’s golden age of the 1980s, and nothing will ever compare. That’s why I gave up on the NBA for the most part after 1990. 

LeBron flat out lied last night and said he does not believe in “super teams”. Bullshit. Who the hell do you think started the super team idea? LeBron James. He, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade committed gross collusion by talking for FOUR YEARS about joining the same team, which happened to be the Heat. David Stern, the chickenshit bastard that he is, let LeBron, Bosh and Wade commit collusion in the open by forming that super team. 

Yes, LeBron went back to Cleveland, but he stabbed the city in the back and proved he is all about the Benjamins by going to Miami to form the super team. The Warriors only mimicked LeBron by signing 

I cannot stand Michael Jordan, but I agree with him about not wanting other superstars on his team. He wanted to beat the tar out of Magic, Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Kobe (albeit in his very early years). The NBA was greater when the wealth was spread around, which it was in the 1980s. The Lakers had Magic, Kareem and later Worthy. The Celtics had Bird, Parish and McHale. The 76ers had Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and later Moses Malone. The Bucks had Sidney Moncrief. The Pistons had Isaiah, Laimbeer and Dumars. The Trail Blazers had Clyde Drexler. The Jazz had Malone and Stockton, plus in the 1980s, they had Adrian Dantley, one of the forgotten scoring greats. The Rockets had the Twin Towers, Hakeem and Ralph Sampson. The Knicks had Ewing. The Bulls had Jordan and later Pippen. In 1982-83, the Spurs had George Gervin and Artis Gilmore. 

Can you name players on teams other than the Warriors and Cavaliers right now? I know Anthony Davis in New Orleans, the Greek Freak in Milwaukee, John Wall in Washington, James Harden in Houston and Russell Westbrook in OKC. Other than that, don’t ask. I can’t tell you one player on the Kings, Suns, Magic, Nets or Nuggets. 

I am not a big basketball fan. I would much rather watch football, baseball, hockey and real football (soccer). Heck, give me golf, skiing and cricket. But if I’m going to watch basketball, I will watch MEN’s college basketball, and that’s it. I don’t bother with women’s college basketball, because for the most part, we know who’s going to win. Yes, UConn lost to Mississippi State in the Final Four. But that’s not going to happen very often. 

I saw an article on ESPN today about who will win the NBA championship in 2018. According to ESPN’s formula, Golden State is a LOCK to win the Western conference. That’s right, the Warriors have a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT chance of winning the West next season. In the East, Cleveland’s chances are 62.2 percent, compared to 28.9 percent for Boston. The third favorite? Milwaukee at 4.4 percent. Wahsington and Detroit (??!!) are at 2.2 percent.

As for the overall NBA champion, Golden State has a 97.8 percent chance to win the title. Cleveland is the only other team listed at 2.2 percent.

To put that in perspective, in 1,000 simulations of the 2017-18 NBA regular season and playoffs, Golden State wins the championship 978 times. Cleveland wins 22. 

The 2017-18 NBA season begins October 31. Halloween. What a frightening thought to think I only have 4 1/2 months away from the NBA, the most overrated spectacle in entertainment, sports or not. 

As long as I don’t watch ESPN, especially at 5 pm when Jemele Hill and Michael A. Smith spew their garbage, I may be okay. 

Just say no to the NBA

The NBA Finals are almost over. Praise Jesus. 

I was worried last night when the Cavaliers led by seven in the fourth quarter. If Cleveland had won, the series would have been guarantted to return to Oakland for game 5 Monday night, which would have meant more and more and more hype Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 

I have had it with the NBA. Enough. Actually, I’ve had it with the NBA since June 1990, when the Pistons won their second consecutive championship by defeating the Trail Blazers in the finals. I stayed up late to watch the four night games in the finals–I missed game three, which was played on a Sunday afternoon, because I went with my dad and brother to an American Legion baseball game–and I was up long enough to see CBS Sports bid adieu to the NBA, since it was their last telecast after having the national television package since the 1973-74 season.

By time the 1990-91 season rolled around, I decided I would severely cut back my NBA watching. If there was nothing else on, maybe I would watch. But if there were other things to watch–and even in the early 1990s, there were–I would skip the NBA. 

God I hated the Bulls. Hated them. I was no big fan of the Pistsons, and Lord I didn’t like Isaiah Thomas, but I was sick and tired of all the ass kissing going on around Michael Jeffrey Jordan, ass kissing which would only get worse and worse as his career continued and the Bulls continuued to win championships. 

The NBA became as predicatable as the weather on a summer day in New Orleans. You knew the Bulls would win the championship as long as Jordan was there. Sure, he didn’t win a championship until he got help from Scottie Pippen and Hoarce Grant, but give me a break. Jordan was going to win championships with whomever he played with, as long as one of them was an above-average NBA player. 

Thankfully Jordan did take some time off from the NBA following his father’s tragic death in July 1993, allowing Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets to briefly take center stage in 1994 and ’95. Sadly, the Rockets will be forever linked to Orenthal James Simpson, who told Al Cowlings to lead the Los Angeles Police Department on a slow-speed chase on the city’s freeways while Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals were taking place on the other side of the continent at Madison Square Garden.

That week of June 1994 was a great one for American sports. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. The World Cup kicked off in the United States. The Rockets and Knicks were providing some much-needed relief to the montony which had become the NBA of Michael Jeffrey Jordan (David Stern was commissioner in name only; whatever Jordan wanted, he got). And here comes Orenthal James Simpson, brutally killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, simply because Orenthal Jamse Simpson never learned how to properly treat a lady and got jealous when Nicole broke free and found comfort with another man. 

When Michael Jordan returend to the NBA March 19, 1995, I said to myself “JESUS F***ING CHRIST”. 

Sure enough, the Bulls won NBA titles in 1996, ’97 and ’98, the last coming when Jordan used his right arm to shove off Utah’s Bryon Russell in order to have a clear view for the winning shot in game six. Of course, Dick Bavetta, that cuckold pussy piece of shit referee, wasn’t about to whistle Black Jesus, aka Michael Jeffrey Jordan, for a foul. Ever. How the fuck is Dick Bavetta in the Hall of Fame? 

Dick Bavetta, fuck you. Fuck you and almost every other official during the Jordan years. You let the asshole get away with everything, yet something like that done by a lesser player would be an automatic foul. Bavetta and other spineless NBA referees all had balls the size of BBs. As in none. 

it was too bad Earl Strom retired the year before Jordan won his first title. It’s too bad Jake O’Donnell was forced out of the NBA just after Jordan ended his first retirement. It’s too bad Mendy Rudolph retired in 1975 and died in 1979. It’s too bad Richie Powers was blackballed out of the league in the late 1970s after he crossed the picket line during a strike and allowed coaches to play illegal defense all game without calling it. 

Strom, O’Donnell, Rudolph and Powers had the balls to give equal treatment to superstars and average players. They would not have put up with Jordan’s bullshit. They would not have allowed Dennis Rodman to make a farce of basketball and abuse officials the way he did. Rodman would not have dared head butt Strom the way he did Ted Bernhardt in 1996. Jordan would not have dared scream the whole game at O’Donnell the way he did to just about every referee, Steve Javie excepted, in the mid-1990s. 

You wonder why Kobe, LeBron and other superstars get preferential treatment? They learned from the master, Dick Bavetta, who somehow is in the Hall of Fame. 

That angered me. Really pissed me off.

To me, Dick Bavetta was just like the late Eric Gregg, the National League umpire who was grossly incompetent, not to mention grossly obese, yet still kept his job for years and years. Bavetta was a showboat who wanted to bask in the reflected glory of the NBA’s superstars. And that meant giving Michael Jeffrey Jordan whatever the fuck he wanted. 

I apologize for the profanity. I really do. I’m sorry, Peggy Cox. 

Enough about the NBA. I’m praying Golden State ends this charade tomorrow night so First Take, Colin Cowherd, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption and every other show can talk about Major League Baseball and the NFL. 

I doubt many people in the United Kingdom are waking up at 4 a.m. to watch this. If they are, then God help them. I know the Premier League season is done, but there’s got to be better sports to watch in the UK than the NBA. What about cricket? 

Lazy bones awakens

Geez! Eleven days since my last post. Lazy. Very lazy on my part. There hasn’t been that much exciting going on in my life, save for the trips to Kansas City and watching too much sports. On the other hand, it isn’t an excuse not to post something, anything. Sorry if you’ve been looking for the juicy details. 

I did leave Kansas City a week ago Wednesday after the extended Memorial Day trip. I didn’t leave town until after 7 that night, because I wanted to wait around and see Robb and Dawn. Also, I had planned to stay even longer that night, but if I had, I would have been back after midnight. 

I made a quickie trip there last weekend. Arrived Saturday morning, left Sunday night. Enough time to get in 17 hours of trivia and get out of town. I did not see Robb and Dawn Sunday as I had hoped, but I got to see enough people I wanted to, both at Buffalo Wild Wings and Minsky’s. 

The college baseball postseason is down to the super regionals, with eight best-of-three matchups beginning Friday. LSU plays Mississippi State in Baton Rouge starting Saturday night, the very last super regional to get underway. The first to start is the Bluegrass, Kentucky at Louisville, Friday at 11 a.m. Central. Six Southeastern Conference schools are in the super regionals. The other matchups are Vanderbilt-Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton-Long Beach State, Sam Houston State-Florida State, Davidson-Texas A&M, Missouri State-TCU and Wake Forest-Florida. The winners of these series head to Omaha for the College World Series beginning June 17. 

It’s 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals. I was praying the Penguins would have skated the Cup Monday night. Instead, they are in a fight  for their lives with the Underwoods, er, Predators. Lord, please do not let the Stanley Cup reside in Tennessee. Hockey does not belong in Tennessee, period. Or Florida. Or North Carolina. Or Georgia…oh right, that one is taken care of. 

The NBA Finals resume tonight. Golden State, please win the next two games so we don’t have to hear about the NBA! I have had enough of the NBA. ENOUGH. I haven’t cared about it since the late 1980s. 

Bob Stoops retired today as Oklahoma’s football coach. More on that in another post. 

Exhausted–the good kind

When I left Russell at 6 am. yesterday morning, I had no idea it would be a day like it turned out to be.

The plan was after my time at Buffalo Wild Wings in Liberty, I would go over to Zona Rosa. I had no idea whether or not I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings there, or go immediately to Minsky’s.

I didn’t make it to Minsky’s.

Not because I didn’t want to go. I was feeling bad for not going over there to see Lindsay and Tara.

There were people who grabbed my attention–three of whom I had no earthly idea I would see yesterday.

I arrived at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa at 3:30. I asked Robb what his plans were, and he said he and Dawn would try to be there by 5:30. I told him I didn’t know how long I could hold on there before getting the itch to cross Barry Road.

I ate at Liberty, so I wasn’t eating at Zona Rosa. No Buffalo Wild Wings twice in a day. That’s a new rule for me. There were times where I’d eat twice at B-Dubs Zona Rosa the same day. Not anymore. The food isn’t that great. With Minsky’s and Outback right there, why bother with B-Dubs again?

Just before 5, I got a tap on my shoulder. It was Molly.

I knew she would be working tomorrow from 11 to 5, but her arrival was a pleasant surprise. I told Robb I would stay for awhile. I could see Lindsay and Tara later.

Robb and Dawn got there at 5:30. I thought we’d be there for an hour and half to two hours, then I’d cross Barry Road.

When Robb posted his high score in Countdown, he got a Facebook comment from an ex-Buffalo Wild Wings employee stating she and another ex-employee would be arriving around 8:30.

The ex-employee: Shannon Swanson. Her accomplice: Lisa Toebben.

Whoa.

Shannon was in town from Chicago. Lisa is trying to balance her 18-month old son, Liam, and prepare for her October wedding in St. Louis.

Robb and Dawn could not stay that long. They left at 8:30. I was still there, and I also ran into another trivia pal, Bob (ARROWHEAD), who has been going through a tough time as of late, following the death of his mother last month. His mother was 99 and lived a full life, something I can only hope for.

Shannon and Lisa didn’t arrive at 8:30. They weren’t there at 9. Morgan asked me why I was still there at that late hour, and I revealed it. She was quite surprised as well.

It wouldn’t be the first time I would see a former Buffalo Wild Wings sweetheart this month.

Elizabeth Psenski was in town last week. I saw her twice. Of course she had to hug me more than a few times. Now I have to go to Colorado Springs to see her.

Shannon and Lisa arrived at 9:30. They sat next to me at the bar and visited with Molly, Trey and all the employees they knew, plus a few guests they recognized. We talked about Liam, about a guy Shannon is seeing, and other things going on. I didn’t divulge much about myself, but I promised I would send a message about what’s been going on in my sessions with Crista.

Shannon and Lisa were the ones who pushed me to get help in late 2014. They kept on me about it. They were not going to put up with me the way I was going, which was straight down the toilet. And to be honest, they should not have put up with me in that state. Fortunately they prevailed upon me, and Dr. Custer got me referred, which led to me seeing Crista.

I hated leaving at 10:50, but I finally did. I used the excuse I was an “old man”, although I wasn’t fooling Lisa, since I’m sure Jeff has had many sleepless nights. Eleven and a half hours at two Buffalo Wild Wings. That was plenty. At least it was good.

After picking up a steak at Outback–I hadn’t eaten since 2:15–I stopped in at Minsky’s to say hello to Lindsay and Tara. I promised I’d be back later today.

The best thing other than seeing Larry, Robb, Dawn, Molly, Shannon and Lisa? My contacts did not irritate me, even though I wore them 19 hours.

It’s now a little after 1 a.m. I’m not yawning, but I am weary. A happy weary.

Today looks stormy. As long as I can get to Barry Road without much trouble. I’m sure it will be soaked when I drive from B-Dubs to Minsky’s, which makes me worry a bit about some maniac causing an accident.

I’ve seen more rain this year than I have since moving to Kansas. People can stop complaining about a drought. Then again, they’d better not waste water, because if the drought returns, there will be hell to pay.