Category Archives: Sports

Not-so-sweet 16 for the XFL

Three Super Bowls have been played previously February 3. Three teams I do not care much for won those three Super Bowls played: Patriots (vs. Rams, XXXVI), Giants (vs. Patriots, XLII, the game which denied New England its 19-0 season) and Ravens (vs. 49ers, XLVII).

Yet February 3 will also be remembered by some for the launch of one of the worst ideas in the history of sport.

The XFL.

I didn’t say it was the worst idea in the history of sport. The designated hitter and giving the league which wins Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game home field advantage in the World Series are and were far more ruinous. At least the latter of the above is no more.

But the XFL ranks right up there. Or should I say down there.

Yes, 16 years ago tonight, the XFL kicked off, with games in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The XFL was the brainchild of Dick Ebersol, Director of NBC Sports, and Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which was then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Ebersol, who created Saturday Night Live in 1975, was deseprate to show professional football on the Peacock after it lost the rights to the AFC to CBS following the 1997 season.

Ebersol did himself in on losing the NFL. He spent ridiculous amounts of money to acquire the Olympics, Summer and Winter, for what seems like forever, although somehow the NBC rights deal currently expires after the 2032 Summer games. If he would have been smart enough to realize ABC and CBS had no desire whatsoever to televise the Olympics at any price, and thus NBC could have had them for far cheaper, the Peacock would never have lost the NFL.

Yet Ebersol wasn’t smart enough to see this, thus overpaid grossly for the Olympics, as well as handing over a handsome sum for the NBA, which was horrendous due to the number of very, very bad teams, as well as the dominance of the Bulls and Michael Jordan. Why watch when you know what’s going to happen?

Vince McMahon badly wanted football. He tried to buy the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, but failed. He had planned to re-expand the CFL into the United States, an experiment which failed miserably in 1994 and 1995. When McMahon’s bid to buy the Argos failed, he opted to form a new league.

He found a more than willing partner in Ebersol, who felt putting the XFL on NBC would be his network’s ticket to total dominance. Even with Seinfeld off the air (THANK GOD) by this time, NBC still had The West Wing, Friends, E.R. and Frasier as the bulwarks of its primetime lineup. Yet NBC was losing ground steadily to CBS, which of course had the NFL once again, plus ABC still had the biggest prize in sports, Monday Night Football.

The league’s launch was announced February 3, 2000. The first games would kick off EXACTLY one year later, February 3, 2001.

The XFL promoted itself as “real” football where “pansies” were not going to make it. It touted new tough-guy rules, such as no fair catches and allowing bump-and-run pass coverage all over the field, which was the rule in the NFL until 1978, and is still allowed in college football, just as long as all hits come from the front.

The other part the XFL liked to promote was wholly inappropriate for family viewing.

It promoted sex appeal.

The cheerleaders wore next to nothing. They were ENCOURAGED to date the players and other team personnel, a strict no-no in the NFL. And there was talk of putting cameras in the cheerleader locker rooms.

What was this, football or the Playboy Channel? I don’t know if Hugh Hefner could have come up with something so brazen.

The nicknames were stupid.

Two of them glorified the mob and organized crime: the Chicago Enforcers (a nod to Al Capone) and the New York-New Jersey Hitmen (ostensibly honoring John Gotti and the numerous mafia members in those states). PUKE.

The Memphis Maniax had a man with cyclone eyes, something akin to the Mr. Pibb logo with the crazy man head.

The Birmingham team was originally going to be called the “Blast”, but some felt that name was too graphic, given the 1963 church bombing which killed four black girls. The name became the Thunderbolts, shortened to Bolts.

Players were encouraged to wear nicknames.

And that created the league’s iconic player, Rod “He Hate Me” Smart of the Las Vegas Outlaws. Smart went on to play for the Panthers, including their Super Bowl XXXVIII team which lost to the Patriots.

Gerry DiNardo, the former LSU coach who coached the Bolts, forbid his players from wearing nicknames. DiNardo would go on to coach three (terrible) seasons at Indiana before he was fired there, too. He has not coached since. Today, he’s an analyst for the Big Ten Network, where DiNardo is simply fantastic.

I haven’t even gotten to the worst part of the XFL.

The football itself.

To say it was terrible would be understating the case just a wee bit.

It was beyond awful.

These were supposedly “professional” football players, being paid (not much, admittedly) to play the game. The winning teams would receive a bonus to be split amongst team members.

Yet the worst part of the football itself was not the games.

It happened before the game.

The scramble, the XFL’s version of the coin toss.

One player from each team would line up at the 20-yard line and sprint towards midfield on the referee’s whistle. The player which gained possession of the ball would have the option to kick or receive to begin the game, and would have the option to play offense or defense first if the game went to overtime (the XFL used a modified version of the college overtime, which I’ll explain below).

One of the first participants in the scramble, Hamad Shasmid-Deen of the Orlando Rage, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. More than half the players who participated in the scramble were injured at some point, and many of those injuries were serious.

The referee in the first game at Las Vegas, Randy Christal, has officiated many high profile college games, including the 1996 and 2002 national championship games, and the Rose Bowl between USC and Northwestern following the ’95 season. Why Christal, who also was an umpire at many a College World Series during the 1980s and 1990s, would lower himself to the XFL is beyond me.

When Christal explained the scramble over the microphone in Las Vegas on opening night, I had a feeling he would have rather been in a dentist chair getting a root canal without anesthesia, even if it was 5 p.m.on a Saturday evening.

Teams could not kick an extra point in the XFL.  It was a play from the 2-yard line, worth one point only. Later in the season, the XFL allowed teams to score two points if it was successful from the 5-yard line, and three points for a successful conversion from the 10-yard line.

Overtime was also very dumb.

It was the NCAA version, which I dislike, although not as much as the high school version (in most states; Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas and a few others excepted).

In the XFL, a team had four downs from the 25-yard line to score. However, if a team scored a touchdown in fewer than four downs, the other team had only that many downs to match the touchdown. A field goal could not be attempted until fourth down. And again, no kicking extra points.

Good idea, but of course, the whole concept of overtime in college and high school is very dumb to begin with, so no way.

I happened to watch part of the first XFL game on NBC, New York-New Jersey and Las Vegas. I only watched it because I was at Ivar’s when the game kicked off, and it was the only thing on. When I left Ivar’s, I wasn’t about to turn the game on at my apartment.

Not once did I tune in to an XFL game from my apartment (or hotel room in one case).

During the second week of the XFL, the game NBC was televising from Los Angeles was interrupted due to a power failure. Worse, NBC’s television trucks were totally shut down since there was no gas in the generators fueling the trucks. Not only that, the game went to double overtime, forcing a very late start to Saturday Night Live, which was hosted that night by Jennifer Lopez. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s Executive Producer, was all over Dick Ebersol worse than ugly on an ape. Most of that conversation is not printable.

After that fiasco, NBC forced the XFL to adopt speed-up rules to ensure no game would cut into SNL’s

When the XFL announced on May 10, 2001 that it was shutting down forever, I hardly shed a tear. Good riddance.

Last night, ESPN premiered a new 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL. It reminded me of just how bad it was.

I have an acronym for the XFL. eXtremely (expletive) up League.

I admit I watched McMahon’s wrestling in the 1980s. My brother and I were huge fans. We went with my dad to a few shows in New Orleans.

But McMahon’s football venture? I’m glad there wasn’t a team in New Orleans. It would have been tempting. I’m glad I watched (or didn’t) from a very safe distance.

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.

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.

Wall-to-wall football, day two

I saw plenty of football yesterday, especially from 11 am until 8:30 pm, the time I spent at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I had enough when Alabama started beating the stuffing out of Arkansas. The Crimson Tife won (again) 49-30, and if they lose in 2016, it will be a miracle. Who can beat them? I don’t think Tennessee can. I don’t think Texas A&M can. Not LSU. And certainly not Mississippi State or Auburn. Why bother watching the rest of the college football season? We know who will win the championship game January 9 in Tampa. 

Today it’s more football, this time NFL-style. The Chiefs are off, so Buffalo Wild Wings might not be as crowded, but it should pick up later when the Broncos play the Falcons. The night game is Giants-Packers in Green Bay. The Cardinals played and won Thursday at Santa Clara vs. the 49ers, so there’s no stress today. 

Hopefully Robb and Dawn show up. It’s the main reason I come to Kansas City now. I still know a few Buffalo Wild Wings employees–Morgan, Molly, Ethan, Sekou, Arlene and Megan, plus the mangers–but Liz, Lisa, Jaclyn, Shannon, Alex, Stephanie Suggs and Raymie are gone, as well as both Brittanys. 

I’m probably not staying as late this evening, but I could. I’ve got a lot of work done for Osborne, and what’s left I can knock out quickly. 

I still want to drive to Columbia at some point to get the thing I can’t get in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Salina, Russell, Hays or anywhere. The only options are going to Nebraska one day, or maybe they have it in Colorado. I need to get to Colorado, anyway, to see Liz, whom I have not seen since July 2015. She’s not happy about that, and neither am I.

Norton’s volleyball team went 2-3 in Scott City yesterday. Peggy and Caitlyn were not happy about having to play five matches in a single day. Three of those went the full three sets. 

There is a provision in the National Federation rules which allow matches to be modified, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association refuses to do so. In Louisiana, the third set of regular season tournaments is only played to 15. I didn’t think it was allowable, but I discovered last night in reading the rules it is. 

Also, the KSHSAA doesn’t allow two-day tournaments, except for leagues which have nine or more teams. In Louisiana, I never saw a team play more than four matches in one day, and there were lots of two-day tournaments. When Brenda was coaching St. Joseph’s Academy, the Redstickers played in FOUR two-day events, and the JV played in one in Hammond for a few years. 

The Mid-Continent League tournament went to two days in 2014, when Trego returned afte a one-year hiatus and Oakley and TMP joined, giving the league 10 teams. Instead of two play-in matches, the format which was used from 1978 through 2004, the principals and athletic directors took the advice of the volleyball coaches and went to two five-team pools. Teams play two pool matches Thursday and two Saturday morning before cutting down to four.

Tom Brady is back today. The Cleveland Browns are in big trouble if they weren’t already. 

Thank God. Praise Jesus. Mazel Tov.

Tonight is a night I have been long awaiting. I thought it migh tnever arrive.

Later this evening, the 2016 Summer Olympics are OVER. FINISHED. DONE.

I cannot stand the Olympics, period. I am sick and tired of turning on ESPN and having more than half of SportsCenter dedicated to the Olympics. I watch ESPN to get away from the Olympics, because every NBC Universal-affiliated network (USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, and of course NBC Sports Network) is foisting the Olympics upon the United States. Yet I have to hear about the Olympics during a time I want to see Major League Baseball highlights or the latest news from National Football League training camp.

These Olympics have been mostly about three athletes. all of whom I hope to never hear about again as long as I live. At least Serena Williams was bounced early from the tennis competition, or I’m sure we’d be hearing about her ad nauseam too.

Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast who ever lived, at least according to those in Rio “reporting” back to the United States. More accurately, Biles is being declared the greatest gymnast who ever lived by the American propaganda machine disguised as reporters.

I guess Olga Korbut never existed. Neither did Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson or Shawn Johnson, and certainly none of the great gymnasts who followed Korbut in Russia and the former Soviet republics, nor anyone who followed Comaneci from Romania. If you don’t accept Biles as the greatest who ever lived, I guess you’re anti-American.

I guess I’m anti-American. I’m not buying the Biles crap for one nanosecond. I didn’t watch, and I never will watch. If I never hear the name Simone Biles again, although I’m sure she will be plastered all over the TV screens of the world come 2020, I’ll be a happy man.

Michael Phelps. I was fed up with him in 2008, when NBC tried to shame those who didn’t think he was the greatest Olympic athlete who ever. I didn’t like him then, I don’t like him now. I will not watch swimming. NO WAY.

As for Ryan Lochte, enough is enough. He needs to shut up and just go away. Forever and ever.

I’ve also had enough of the US women’s basketball team. Nobody else cares about women’s basketball. Really. And does anyone in the United States really care about women’s basketball outside of Connecticut and eastern Tennessee? LSU went to five consecutive women’s Final Fours from 2004-08, but women’s basketball was never going to be more than the fourth most popular sport at LSU. Until there’s more competition, both at the Olympic level and in the college game, it will continue to be a backwater. And as long as there’s no competition, I don’t care.

I’ve also had enough of Twitter blaring the Olympics. A few people I know are way too emotionally invested. WAY TOO MUCH. Robin Fambrough, I’m looking at you.

Three slow days

Saturday was fantastic. The final day of my stay and I wish it could have gone on forever. I got to spend almost 10 hours with Brittany and Raymie, and five with Liz. If I did not drive back to Russell the next morning, I would have stayed until closing time at 1 a.m. There will be a weekend for that coming up.,

I miss Brittany, Liz, Raymie and everyone else already. I’m sad I didn’t see Lisa, but I will very soon.

I left Kansas City at 7:30 Sunday morning. I stopped at the Topeka Hy-Vee, and again at the Quik Ship in Salina on I-135 and Crawford to use the restroom and get a frozen Pepsi. Got home right at noon, in time to eat salmon with my parents for Father’s Day. It was delicious, although I was sad to leave my friends. I didn’t get to see Alexandra Mullinax, who didn’t come back from her vacation and back to work until Sunday night.

I watched the U.S. Open most of Sunday evening, simply because there was nothing else on. Jordan Spieth did the unthinkable, bouncing back from a double bogey on 17 to birdie 18 and eventually win the tournament win Dustin Johnson choked with a three-putt on 18. He had an eagle putt to win and missed, then missed a short birdie putt which would have forced an 18-hole playoff Monday. Louis Oostheizen shot 67 Sunday to move into contention, but he ended up tied at 3-under with Johnson and Adam Scott, he of the illegal putter (at least as of January 1) and the arrogant caddie, Steve Williams, who was fired by Tiger Woods.

I like the fact the U.S. Open has refused to let go of the 18-hole playoff if it is still tied after 72 holes. To me, it is the fairest way to determine the champion of a major tournament.

The Masters stinks in this regard, because it has been sudden death since 1976 (the first sudden death playoff was 1979, when Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Ed Snead (?) and Tom Watson in two holes). The last 18-hole playoff was in 1970, when Billy Casper won by five strokes over Gene Littler.

The sudden death playoff is fine for minor tournaments, but it absolutely sucks for a major. Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros found this out in 1987, when Larry Mize chipped in from 43 meters (47 yards) on the second playoff hole to win the Green Jacket.

The PGA Championship was the first major to use a sudden death playoff, when in 1978, John Mahaffey topped Jerry Pate and Watson at Oakmont on the second hole.The sudden death playoff was used five more times, the last in 1996, when Mark Brooks left Louisville and local hero Kenny Perry hearbroken by winning on just one hole at Valhalla. Perry would redeem himself in 2008 when he helped the United States win the Ryder Cup on the same course.

Beginning in 1997, the PGA adopted a three-hole format, which was first used in 2000 at Valhalla, when Tiger topped Bob May. It has been used three more times, most recently in 2011 when Keegan Bradley bested Jason Duffner at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

The last 18-hole playoff at the PGA was in 1967, when Don January topped Don Massengale by two strokes at Columbine Country Club, not too far from the site of the Columbine High School massacre 32 years later.

The Open Championship did not move away from the 18-hole playoff until 1985; however, the last time a fifth round was needed to determine a champion was 1975 in possibly the most famous golf tournament ever played.

Tom Watson and Jack Newton were tied through 72 holes at Carnoustie, as each finished at 9-under par 279. The playoff of July 13 was played in a driving, blustery rain, not unusual for the east coast of Scotland in mid-July. With the golfers tied at 1-under heading to the 18th, Watson, the native of Kansas City, hit his second shot to within 25 feet of the hole, while Newton’s approach found the front left bunker. Watson made par and Newton could not, and Tom had the first of his eight major championships.

The Open Championship did not test out its four-hole playoff format until 1989 at Royal Troon, when Mark Calcavecchia won by three strokes over Wayne Grady and Greg Norman.

Watson was involved in the most recent playoff at the Open Championship, bowing to Stewart Cink only 46 days shy of his 60th birthday. Tom had the lead going to the 72nd hole at Turnberry, but he bogeyed to give Cink new life.

Not much has gone on since Spieth’s victory. It’s too hot to do anything anyway. A little work, some Shark Tank, some college baseball, and some The O.C., where I am beginning my review of all 92 episodes, which I have done every summer since 2010.

I have an appointment with Crista Thursday at 9. Looking forward to that.

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the signing of Title IX, the infamous amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act which guarantees women the same opportunities as men in education. That has been largely interpreted to mean women deserve as many sports as men at colleges and high schools.

Tomorrow is a much more tragic anniversary, at least as far as New Orleans is concerned.

Ringneck girls ousted

The Mid-Continent League’s 2014-15 girls basketball season has concluded. Hill City was eliminated from the Class 2A state tournament in Manahttan this evening with a 52-37 loss to Valley Falls.

Valley Falls got a little honor back for its league, the Norhteast Kansas League. In the 2013 2A championship game, the MCL’s Smith Center defeated the NEKL’s Jefferson County North 63-55. The NEKL wasn’t in existence then; the JCN was in the Delaware Valley League, although the formation of the NEKL had been announced by the time the 2013 state tournament rolled around. 

Hill CIty does have a girls basketball state championship, winning the 2A crown in 1976. Of course, the Ringnecks have three boys titles under the guidance of the ageless Keith Riley, in 1970, 1978 and 1998. 

Stockton’s boys are all that’s left for the MCL. The Tigers face Doniphan West tomorrow at 4:45 in Emporia. The winner more than likely will draw Hanover Saturday at 6:15 for the title. 

Track season is three weeks away…

Tigers roar into semis

Stockton bucked the Mid-Continent League trend and advanced at their state basketball tournament. The Tigers defeatd Dexter/Cedar Vale, a cooperative between two tiny schools near the Kansas/OKlahoma border, 59-44 in the Class 1A-Division I tournament at the ancient William L. White Auditorium in Emporia. 

The Class 1A-Division I boys tournament has three teams with at least 10 losses this season. One, Pretty Prairie, was 8-12 during the regular season, yet got hot at the right time, winning three games in sub-state to advance. 

I’m not trying to take anything away from Stockton. It’s the smallest school in the MCL, and it has a mighty hard time competing in most sports against Norton, Phillipsburg, Smith Center and now TMP-Marian. The Board of Education there almost voted to pull Stockton out of the MCL–a league it helped found in 1946–but the motion could not get a second and died. I was surprised Stockton didn’t try to leave when the Kansas State High School Activities Association placed TMP in the MCL, the way Trego and Osborne did (although Trego came back), but the Tigers would have a tough time justifying an exit with Plainville and Phillipsburg not too far away on US 183. 

Stockton is seeded second in its tournament despite a 16-6 record. Only Hanover at 22-1 would be a high seed in any classification. The team the Wildcats defeated in their sub-state at Clyde, Osborne, would have been the #1 seed at 18-4 had they won. 

The MCL hasn’t produced a boys basketball state champion since Trego in 2006. Plainville made the 2A final last year, losing to St. John, which looks like it will repeat barring something unforeseen tomorrow or Saturday. 

Class 1A is ridiculously diluted because of the split into two divisions, which first occurred in 2011. There are only 44 teams in Division I and 43 in Division II. No sub-state in 1A has more than six teams in it, and some have five.

Of course, since the Kansas State High School Activities Association places teams in sub-states strictly based upon geography, it means that a few sub-states have #1 seeds who are close to .500, or in a few cases, below it. It leads to sub-par basketball at what should be the time for the best basketball of the season. 

It used to be the 1A state tournament was surivvial of the fittest. Those schools had to go through a regional round first, where two teams would advance. Then four regionals would be paired into pods, and two sub-states would emerge. I can recall three or four teams in a 1A tournament prior to the split with only one loss or undefeated. Now, that’s never going to happen. 

Classes 5A and 6A have had this problem since the KSHSAA adopted its current structure in 1978-79. With only 32 schools in each classification, one-quarter of the schools will advance to state. Teams only have to win two sub-state games, and if the best teams are clustered in one area, some good teams will be sitting at home, while others will be playing with records of 9-13, 10-12 and so on. Or worse. I can recall a 6-14 team getting hot at the right time and making it to state. 

Class 4A now has this problem with two divisions.  

It’s emblematic of the let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings era we live in. Let’s give everyone a medal, let’s let everyone go to state. Guess what? You’re going to lose. It doesn’t make you a loser. The lessons the kids learn playing high chool basketball will serve them well down the road. One of those lessons needs to be how to handle adversity. 

Traveling Thursday

I am glad to be getting out of the Courtyard Junction City in a little bit. I found mold on the shower head. GROSS. I took a picture and I plan on sending it to the hotel. I don’t expect this at Marriott properties. By contrast, the shower head at the Sleep Inn Norton is always clean. I never have to worry there.

I also won’t have to worry about the next hotel at which I will be lodging. The Overland Park Marriott is one of m favorite stops on the circuit. With perfect weather, I won’t have to worry about the long drives back and forth to Zona Rosa, and I’m also within easy reach of the Buffalo Wild Wings at Metcalf and 137th Street. Strangely enough, I got an overall better rate at OP than I would have at the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs.

This will be my first trip to Kansas City since the end of January. Can’t wait.

Kansas State High School Activities Association state basketball continues today. If all of the games were being held at one site, which is the rational and sane thing to do, which is the case in Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska and numerous other states, I would go and watch the games. But with EIGHT sites, you have to pick and choose. It’s awful for the kids. It’s awful for the fans. It’s also a financial hit for the KSHSAA,, which has to pay rent at EIGHT sites instead of one and has to pay more travel expenses to officials than it would having to only pay them at one central location.

Another problem of playing games at EIGHT sites is there isn’t television coverage for most tournaments. The Class 3A tourney in Hutchinson is being streamed online by the National Federation Network, but none of the others are. The only tournament with live TV coverage will be Class 6A at Wichita State’s Koch Arena, when the semifinals and championship games will be aired on Cox Cable channel 22, which is now available in northwest Kansas on Nex-Tech cable.

In Louisiana, all championship games (14 total) are televised on tape delay by Fox Sports New Orleans. Nebraska is even better, televising the games LIVE on Nebraska Educational Television from Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Big 12 Conference men’s basketball tournament at Kansas City resumes at 11:30 with Baylor taking on West Virginia. Kansas plays TCU in the second game of the day. Kansas State was eliminated yesterday by the Horned Frogs, leaving the Wildcats 15-17. The only way in hell they would play in the postseason is if they agree to play in the pay-for-play College Basketball Invitational (CBI), but I wouldn’t. It would be slumming.

Elimination Wednesday

The first night of the 2015 Kansas State High School Activities Association state basketball tournaments was not a good one for the teams I had the most interest in.

I witnessed St. John-Hudson put on a clinic inside Bramlage Coliseum against Ellis. The Tigers began with an alley-oop which 6-foot-9 Dean Wade flushed. He dunked on another alley-oop, and was in position for a third before getting fouled by the Railers’ Eli Lohrmeyer.

St. John scored the game’s first 10 points, It led 28-4 after one quarter and 52-11 at halftime, going on to win 83-41. The Tigers extended their winning streak, to 50, the longest active streak among boys teams in the state.

Ellis lost for the first time since Jan. 22. It was on a 12-game winning streak coming into the state tournament and finished the year 18-6, a vast improvement over the 9-13 mark of a year ago. The Railers made their first boys state tournament appearance since 2003, but they haven’t won a state tournament game since 1981, when they were runner-up in Class 3A to Silver Lake.

None of the four games at the 2A tournament were particularly competitive. Olpe, Central Plains and Washington County were all easy winners. Olpe and Central Plains play one semifinal Friday at 4:45, while St. John and Washington play at 8:15.

Tomorrow is the girls games at Manhattan. Hill City plays Valley Falls at 6:30.

The other Mid-Continent League team in action today, the TMP-Marian boys, dropped their game in the Class 4A-Division II tournament at Park City to Wichita Trinity.

The third MCL boys team in a state tournament, Stockton, plays tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the 1A-Division I tourney at Emporia.

Thunder Ridge, the small school in Kensington, the small town halfway between Phillipsburg and Smith Center, lost in the 1A-DI girls tournament to St. Paul, 37-32. Jack Krier handled that one since I was in Manhattan.

Beloit’s girls, the lone North Central Activities Association team in a state tournament, lost int he first round in Class 3A at Hutchinson to Sabetha.

I’m done with covering basketball for Main Street Media for 2014-15. It’s been quite a winter sports season. Now I’ll get some time to decompress and relax before track and field starts.