Category Archives: Sports

A party of no, no, no, no, no, no…

Today was supposed to be Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Tonight was supposed to be the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

Unless you have totally shut out media the last two weeks, you know by now there will be no NCAA basketball tournaments for either gender at any level until at least 2021, and it’s likely the first pitch of the MLB season will not be thrown before Memorial Day, probably later.

Earlier today, it was announced the Indianapolis 500 will be postponed from 24 May to 23 August, the first time since 1945, the last year of World War II, that “The Brickyard” will not host the iconic race on Memorial Day weekend. Formula One already cancelled several Grand Prix races, including its most prestigious in Monaco, which is usually run the same day as the Indianapolis 500.

Tuesday was quite eventful, definitely not the norm with stay-at-home orders proliferating to try to “flatten the curve” against COVID-19.

I was supposed to see Crista at 13:00. As soon as I pulled into the Walmart parking lot to pick up an order, the phone rang. Since it was The Cars’ “You Might Think”, I knew it was Crista’s office.

She told me that I would not be going to the office to see her. Instead, we would video conference via Zoom. The setup was simple, but now I had to find a quiet place to hold the meeting. Going inside a restaurant was not an option, and besides, I wouldn’t want to attract unwanted attention. It was a nice day to go outside, but again, I didn’t want people to become concerned.

As I drove south on Vine, I got the idea to go to Sonic, pull into a stall, and sit in the Buick while conducting the session. I knew Sonic was operating as usual, and it would be easier to go there than most other places, since there was no inside seating and everything was brought to the car to begin with.

The idea worked like a charm. Got two burgers and a big drink, and I had my session with Crista and Alicia, one of the many students who sit in on sessions at High Plains Mental Health (with client consent, of course).

Crista and Alicia laughed at my Zoom backdrop: the Kentucky state (or is it commonwealth?) capitol. Obviously, the picture was from when I stopped in Frankfort three years ago on my way to Lexington. They did not know you could create your own background. I told them it was like the backgrounds used on CNN, ESPN and other outlets.

The session went well. I see her again April 15, and hopefully I’ll be able to go into the office. Actually, Zoom might work better, since I see Dr. Custer 20 minutes after my session with Crista will end.

I went into Dillon’s on Vine. No toilet paper, no hand sanitizer, no rubbing alcohol, very few paper towels (no Brawny or Bounty, only the cheap stuff), no Dixie Ultra paper plates. However, there was ONE package of Chinet plates. One hundred of them. I decided they would never go to waste. Also found bacon, which was not available last week.

Since I was able to drive this week, I ventured to Salina to pick up orders at Walmart and Dillons on Ohio. I also took time to get my car washed at a new location and pick up Chick-Fil-A, where mobile ordering is a snap. Too bad Popeye’s can’t get its mobile ordering straight.

Tuesday was the first day I drove since 17 February. I believe it is the longest I’ve gone without driving since I received my unrestricted license 28 May 1992. The previous long was 25 days in November and December 2004 when I almost died from pneumonia and a pneumothorax, and I spent two weeks in the hospital, the first in ICU.

The Dillons on Ohio had no rubbing alcohol, toilet paper, wipes or sanitizer, but there were Dixie Ultra plates. However, I bought two packs of the Kroger brand. I figure if I have to use two at a time, it will be okay. I also stocked up on Boar’s Head sopresseta, as I like to munch on it. I was tempted to buy some capicola and/or mortadella, but my refrigerator and freezer were going to be stuffed anyway.

Since CVS pharmacy was only six blocks north of Dillons, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stop. It would allow me to kill time, since driving to Russell at that time would have a blinding sun in my face. I had trouble in Salina with the glare driving westbound.

There were a few packages of toilet paper at CVS, with a large sign reading “LIMIT ONE PER CUSTOMER”. I milled over buying a pack, but I said no, since I have 19 big rolls of Charmin downstairs in Russell. It was a good stop because I needed a certain item I forgot at Walgreens last week, and I needed to print a picture to mail to Crista.

Old Chicago in Salina was closed, as it should have been. Last Thursday, the company issued an e-mail stating it was closing every location, even for takeout.

Yet when I pulled into the parking lot at the Hays location Tuesday at 12:30, four people walked in. I also noticed last Saturday that two people played one of the Buzztime games which cannot be played through the app.

Last stop in Salina: Target. Plenty of hand soap. Again, I passed. No toilet paper, but there were Bounty paper towels and Dawn Platinum dish soap available, so I bought one of each. I also stocked up on more toilet bowl tablet cleaners, even though I purchased eight at Walmart. Those don’t go to waste, either, and I could afford to keep my toilet cleaner.

I didn’t need to buy any soap to begin with. I ordered three bottles from an online collaborative in northern California. I got it yesterday, along with two more boxes of facial tissues.I’ve got four full cannisters and three partial cannisters of hand wipes, and three bottles of household cleaner with bleach. Now I’m glad I kept buying incrementally during all those trips to Kansas City.

When will I return to Kansas City? See below for why it might be awhile.

I made Larry’s day yesterday.

He was attempting to play Buzztime Tuesday night when I got back to Russell, and he said he got kicked off the server at Minsky’s, and then at 54th Street Bar and Grill in Liberty.

Buzztime updated its app recently. I noticed Tuesday, since I played in Salina (don’t worry, only when I was in a parking lot) that it had been updated, because after each game, the national leaderboard came up like it does in bars.

Yesterday afternoon, a Buzztime e-mail said its app now could connect to establishments up 20 miles (32 kilometers) away instead of only 2 miles (3.6 km) previously.

That change doesn’t affect me. Russell is 27 miles (44 km) from Hays, so the closest I could connect would be the Gorham exit on I-70, or a mile or two east of that.

For Larry, it’s a godsend. Now he doesn’t have to leave his home, drive by Minsky’s to pick up the signal, and then hope the app doesn’t leave him high and dry, like I did until I discovered the Android emulator for my laptop and a GPS spoofer for my phone.

I played until 02:00 Wednesday and 01:00 this morning. I’m back at it now. Might as well try to keep my mind off of COVID-19.

Larry and the rest of the Kansas City metro is under a stay-at-home order until 23 April, as is the St. Louis area. Missouri did not have many cases at first, but it is mushrooming and has surpassed Kansas.

I told Larry that hopefully we’ll be playing trivia again at Minsky’s on the first Friday of August. I can hope for July, but maybe August is too optimistic. I also want to get to Kansas City and St. Louis to be able to shop at their wonderful grocery stores, as well as eat White Castle in either St. Louis or Columbia.

The Advocate’s banner shows the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and people hospitalized in the Bayou State.

The numbers are alarming, disturbing , depressing and a bunch of other adjectives, none of them bright and sunny.

As I look at The Advocate’s home page, the numbers are 2,305 positive cases, 83 deaths, and 676 hospitalized.

Louisiana’s rate per capita is the highest in the nation. Yes, there are more cases in New York, California, Washington, Illinois and Florida, but Louisiana’s population is less than 5 million. That’s only two-thirds the size of New York City’s population (that’s just the five boroughs, not the entire metro), one-sixth of Florida’s population and one-eighth of California’s.

The number of cases in the city of New Orleans (Orleans Parish) is 997, with 46 deaths. Neighboring Jefferson Parish has 458 cases and 12 deaths, while St. Bernard Parish, where I lived and was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, has 28 cases and one fatality. Fifty-one of the state’s 64 parishes have at least one positive case, and every metropolitan area has been hit.

NBC reported last night that “patient zero” may have come from a foreign country during Carnival, which ended with Mardi Gras on 25 February, and then it spread like wildfire.

There certainly isn’t social distancing during Carnival; if you get six CENTIMETERS between yourself and another person in the French Quarter, you’re fortunate. I never went to the Vieux Carre during Carnival, but the big parades (Endymion, Thoth, Bacchus, Rex) also had crowds bunched like sardines.

It’s not hard to figure out how quickly COVID-19 can spread in that environment, just like it has in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago.

Two of the city’s most famous residents, Saints coach Sean Payton and Archbishop Gregory Aymond, tested positive. Payton is recovering, and hopefully Aymond will.

Weekend number three without sports looms, but first another visit to Hays to get my wound treated. It’s looking a lot better than it did two months ago, when Dr. Custer first got a look at what was a grotesque chasm.

A sports-free universe

Today was supposed to be the day the Kansas Jayhawks began their march to their fourth NCAA Division I men’s basketball national championship, at least if you believe Bill Self, his players, and at least a third of Kansas’ college basketball fans (I’m probably being generous saying there’s an even three-way split between KU, Kansas State and Wichita State, but I’ll keep it simple).

Kansas was a lock to be the number one overall seed for the tournament and would have been playing its first round game today in Omaha’s CenuryLink Center. The Jayhawks would gone against a No. 16 seed and probably would have won by 25 to 30, though nothing is certain after Maryland-Baltimore County waxed overall #1 seed Virginia 74-54 in the first round two years ago.

Unless you’ve been living like the Unabomber prior to his capture, then you know there is no March Madness for the men or ladies in any of the NCAA’s three divisions. The big dances in Division I were cancelled eight days ago, and the rest of the sports world has come to a grinding halt.

This is the biggest disruption in the history of organized team sports, much more so than the previous benchmark, World War II.

The NFL conducted its 1941 championship game only hours after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and the next few seasons went on, although the Steelers merged one season with the Eagles and another with the Chicago Cardinals.

Major League Baseball played full seasons from 1942-45. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis was all but resigned to not having a 1942 season, but FDR encouraged Landis to soldier on. The quality of play was sharply reduced with superstars like Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and numerous others fighting Nazis and samurai, but there was a World Series every year.

Many college football programs had to shut down for at least a year, sometimes longer, but LSU kept on chugging. The Bayou Bengals have fielded a team every year since 1893 except in 1918 due to World War II.

College and professional sports stopped for a few days following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but everyone knew they would come back once the appropriate security measures were taken.

Now? Nobody knows.

I doubt the NBA and NHL seasons can resume. There are no good reasons to continue the regular seasons if either league is able to play again. The seasons are more than 75% complete. That’s plenty to determine playoff brackets. Besides, if either league can’t start before Father’s Day, it would seriously impair the 2020-21 campaigns.

Major League Baseball may be reduced to 100 games if it’s fortunate. That would be the minimum for a legitimate season. Anything less would cheapen the World Series champion.

The NFL will probably not be able to start after Labor Day since teams can’t hold any organized or unorganized activities at their facilities. Football is too complex a sport to properly play without a large amount of practice. The same applies to college football.

The Kentucky Derby has already been postponed four months. I’m sure the Preakness and Belmont will also be pushed back, which might force cancellation of the Breeder’s Cup.

Golf cancelled the last three rounds of The Players Championship last weekend, plus every other tournament through Mother’s Day except The Masters, which was postponed. The PGA Championship scheduled for 14-17 May is postponed as well.

Tennis moved the French Open to after the U.S. Open, meaning Wimbledon is the next major event. There may not be any events, period, until The Championships at the All-England Club.

European football is in dire shape. I can’t see how Serie A (Italy), La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), Bundesliga (Germany) and Premier League (England) start again before July. I understand those leagues want to play a full season due to promotion and relegation, but it can’t be done without seriously disrupting the 2020-21 schedule.

As for me, I have nothing to cover. The Kansas State High School Activities Association cancelled all sports until August, coinciding with the order by Kansas’ governor to close all school buildings through the end of the academic year.

Not working is on my mind, but I’m not as worried about it as the pieces of fecal matter hoarding sanitizing wipes, bleach, hand soap, tissues and any other cleaning supply. I smell a soapbox post coming on…but I’ll hold off for now.

A different type of March Madness

The first NCAA men’s basketball tournament was held in 1939.

In 1939, much of the world still struggling to claw its way out of the Great Depression. A couple of madmen in Europe, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, were plotting the attacks which would ignite World War II. There was no television, at least in the United States and Canada. Radios were luxuries many couldn’t afford. Franklin Roosevelt was giving thought to running for a third term as President of the United States, breeking the two-term limit tradition began by Washington, adhered to by Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and Cleveland (non-consecutively), and imposed upon Grant (due to party rejection following two corrupt terms) and Wilson (due to debilitating illness).

Since 1939, there has been a world war and numerous lesser wars (Korea, Vietnam, two in Iraq, Afghanistan). Tornadoes have decimated two communities in Kansas 42 years apart (Udall and Greensburg) and caused billions of dollars in damages to larger cities (Topeka, Tuscaloosa and Joplin). Hurricanes wiped out the Mississippi Gulf Coast twice and flooded New Orleans twice. There have been numerous scares from diseases (Ebola, H1N1, avian flu, Zika, SARS), and the war on cancer may never be won.

None of it affected what came to be known as March Madness.

Until now.

This afternoon, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced the NCAA was cancelling all championship events sponsored by the organization through the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

The biggest loss, of course, is the Division I men’s basketball tournament, which is the NCAA’s biggest money maker by far.

Revenue from March Madness finances just about every other NCAA championship. The Division I women’s basketball championships and Division I baseball championships, which include the College World Series, have turned small profits from time to time, but usually are in the red, although far less than the deficits run by lower-level events and Division I championships in lesser sports.

Yesterday, the NCAA planned to go on with March Madness in mostly empty arenas. Attendance would have been limited to the immediately families of players and coaches, support personnel from the competing universities, arena staff and media members.

Social media exploded. Fan after fan threw hissy fits complaining about conducting March Madness without fans.

My response? TOO FREAKING BAD.

The NCAA tournament is for the PLAYERS. The players are the ones competing for championships. They are the ones who put in the work day after day in practice and perform at games. They are the most important figures in any sports tournament.

After the players, the coaches are next in importance, followed by game officials and support staff.

Fans buy tickets. They cheer their teams. Otherwise, they have no effect whatsoever on what goes on during a basketball game or any other sporting event.

Nobody would have forced those crybaby fans to watch games in empty arenas. Most true basketball fans would have watched. They may not have liked the idea of being kept out of arenas, but they would have understood.

To those fans who threw fits yesterday about possible games in empty arenas: I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

The last time a major sport shut down competition due to illness was in 1919, when the NHL cancelled the Stanley Cup “challenge series” due to the Spanish Flu epidemic which spread worldwide following the end of World War I.

The NCAA’s cancellation of the College World Series three months before it’s scheduled to start is puzzling. I understand the desire to protect everyone, but who’s to say the coronavirus threat won’t be greatly reduced come June?

College baseball is now shut down until at least the end of March, probably longer. Without a championship to shoot for, is there any reason to resume the season?

The coronavirus is serious. It has killed thousands. More than 1,500 Americans have been infected. I hope it passes soon. But I’m not worried. I haven’t had any reason to go out in public much, and with things being cancelled left and right, there may not be any reason to do so.

World Champions of NOTHING

Kansas City is celebrating the “World Champion” Chiefs today with a parade and rally.

For the record, the Chiefs are not “World Champions” of anything, even if every vehicle in the parade is displaying the words “World Champions”.

The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, which gives them the right to forever be called “Super Bowl LIV champions” and “2019 National Football League champions”, the same way the franchise can refer to itself as “Super Bowl IV champions” and “1969 Professional Football champions” (1969 was the last year before the AFL-NFL merger).

The Chiefs may refer to themselves as “NFL champions” without a qualifying year until they are eliminated from the 2020 playoffs (or fail to qualify). If Kansas City wins Super Bowl LV next February in Tampa, the Chiefs may continue to use NFL champions without the year.

The Patriots lost the right to call themselves NFL champions without a qualifying year when they lost to the Titans in the wild card round. New England can refer to itself as NFL champions of 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018, but must use the qualifying years. And it cannot call itself a “world champion”, period.

No NFL (or AFL) champion has the right to call itself a “world champion”.

The NFL has never had a franchise in a country other than the United States of America. Save for a few exhibitions in the early 1960s, no NFL team has played a team from the only other major league on earth which sponsors gridiron football, the Canadian Football League.

Two of the other major North American sports leagues use “World Champions” when they should not.

The NBA has referred to the winner of its playoff tournament as “World Champions”. At least the league no longer refers to the final round of the playoffs as the “World Championship Series” as it did through 1985.

Major League Baseball has sponsored the World Series since 1903, with two exceptions (1904 and 1994). Every World Series winner I know has referred to itself as a “World Champion”, even though MLB has never had teams in countries other than the USA and Canada. North American champions is also inappropriate since no World Series winner has played a champion from Mexico, Cuba or another country.

The Associated Press expressly forbids its publications from using “World Champions” to refer to teams. It is SUPER BOWL champions, WORLD SERIES champions and NBA champions.

Baseball and basketball can easily determine a world champion the way FIFA does with the Champions League.

The National Hockey League has it right. Gary Bettman and his predecessor, John Ziegler, never refers to the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals as the “World Champions” of hockey. That team is the STANLEY CUP champion or the NHL champion.

Here’s something to keep in mind about the NHL. A team can win the Stanley Cup X number of times. However, a team cannot win Y Stanley Cups. There is only one Stanley Cup, and unlike the Vince Lombardi, Larry O’Brien and Commissioner’s trophies, a new one is not made each year.

Therefore, the Blues are attempting to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, not their second Stanley Cup. Got it?

Back to football.

There are two world champions of football. They are the French Men’s National Team and the United States Women’s National Team. France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the USA won the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Every Super Bowl ring is a FRAUD, since every one says “World Champions”.

1971: baseball nirvana

I wish I could put myself in a time machine and go back to the summer of 1971.

Sure, I would not be blogging if it were August 1971. Sure, I would not be playing Buzztime trivia if it were August 1971. The American economy wasn’t in great shape in August 1971, and Nixon made a foolish mistake by taking the United States off the gold standard.

There were good things about 1971, though. The Brady Bunch was on the air. Gas was 30 cents per gallon; even with inflation, that’s $1.90, 45 cents less than what I paid last night when I filled up in Salina.

Major League Baseball was certainly better in 1971.

Hank Aaron hit a career high 47 home runs as he drew closer and closer to Babe Ruth’s record of 714, once thought to be unbreakable. In his final season with the Giants, Willie Mays led San Francisco to the National League West championship in yet another epic battle with the Dodgers. San Francisco lost the National League Championship Series to the Pirates in four games in their last postseason appearance until 1987. The Orioles won their third consecutive American League pennant by sweeping the Athletics in the American League Championship Series. It was the Athletics’ first trip to the postseason since 1931, when they were in Philadelphia and led by legendary Connie Mack.

The 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit was one of the most memorable. Aaron and Johnny Bench staked the National League to an early 3-0 lead with home runs, but Reggie Jackson began the American League comeback by launching a monstrous home run off of a transformer on roof above right center. The pitcher who served it up was Dock Ellis, the same Dock Ellis who threw a no-hitter while allegedly under the influence of LSD (his claim) the previous season.

Ellis, the volatile right-hander from Pittsburgh, was the Naitonal League’s starter. The American League countered with Oakland lefty Vida Blue, who went on to win the AL Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. More importantly, it was the first time there were two black starting pitchers in an All-Star Game.

One of the umpires in the 1971 All-Star Game was Jake O’Donnell, who from 1968-71 officiated both in the American League and NBA. O’Donnell resigned from the AL at the end of 1971 to concentrate on basketball. It was a wise move, for Jake worked the NBA Finals every year from 1972 through 1994. O’Donnell is the only man to officiate All-Star games in two major sports.

Also on the umpiring crew that evening in Detroit were future Hall of Famer Doug Harvey, and Don Denkinger, whose moment of infamy in Kansas City was still a long way off.

Nearly every team still wore flannel uniforms in 1971. Sure, they were hot, but they were beautiful for the most part.

The Athletics had a lovely sleeveless vest which came in white, gray and gold, and those could be worn with gold or green undershirts. The Dodgers debuted a new road top with thin blue and white piping along the shoulders. The Padres had a tan road uniform. The White Sox and Phillies both debuted new uniforms, and both would keep them when they switched to polyester the next season. I thought both sets were downgrades; the White Sox’ royal blue and white set of 1969-70 was downright gorgeous, and the Phillies ditched the classic set they debuted in 1950, when the “Whiz Kids” won the franchise’s only pennant between 1915 and 1980.

Three teams wore polyester that season. The Pirates debuted them in July 1970 when they moved from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium; the Cardinals began 1971 wearing them; and the Orioles gradually switched from flannel to polyester throughout that season, finally ditching flannel for good in the ALCS. Ironically, the 1971 World Series was all polyester, as the Pirates took down the heavily favored Orioles in seven games.

In 1971, the Senators were still in Washington. The Brewers were in the American League West, building healthy rivalries with the Twins and White Sox.

That changed in 1972.

Cheapskate Senators owner Bob Short lied to the American League, claiming he was going broke in the nation’s capital, giving owners a supposed reason to allow the second incarnation of the Senators (the first became the Twins in 1961) to move to Dallas/Fort Worth and become the Texas Rangers. RFK Stadium was not a great facility by any means, but Short traded it for Arlington Stadium, a minor league facility which had no business hosting Major League Baseball. Yet it was the home of the Rangers through 1993.

Dallas/Fort Worth is too big an area for any major sports league to ignore. However, Short was, well, (extremely) short-sighted for deserting the nation’s capital for a dump like Arlington Stadium. Had DFW waited until the American League expanded for 1977, it would have had a stadium which might still be standing, or would have served a team much better than Arlington.

I visited Arlington Stadium a handful of times in my teenage years. I hated the park. Hated it. Those metal bleachers in the outfield were hot enough to fry eggs. Of course, the idiots who expanded the park built bleachers instead of building more decks from foul line to foul line, which would have been better for fans watching the game and the team, since those tickets would have commanded a higher price than bleachers.

The Senators’ shift to DFW prompted AL owners to move the Brewers to the American League East, pissing off the White Sox and Twins, each of whom who lost six games per year against Milwaukee. The Great Lakes trio would not be reunited until 1994 when the American League Central, but that lasted only four seasons, because the Brewers gleefully moved to the National League for 1998.

Speaking of the leagues, another great thing about baseball in 1971: NO DESIGNATED HITTER.

The designated hitter is a pox on baseball. Charlie Finley, you can rot in hell. It is the single worst rule in all of sports. There are many other terrible ones, like the shootout in the NHL and high school football overtime, but the I despise the designated hitter more than any other rule in sports.

Basketball players are not allowed to play only one end of the floor–at least if they want to stay on the court. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored loads of points during their playing days, but if they didn’t rebound and block shots, they would never have sniffed the Hall of Fame.

Other than the goaltender, hockey players must be good offensively and defensively if they hope to stick in the NHL. Gordie Howe, the NHL’s greatest goal scorer until Wayne Gretzky came along, prided himself as much for his defense as his offense. No opposing winger dared cross Mr. Hockey, or else he would find himself in a world of hurt.

Association football? Same as hockey. Defenders don’t score many goals and forwards don’t play beyond the center line, but a player who is a defensive liability will be on the bench unless he scores goals as frequently as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

Players went both ways in the early days of the NFL, and in college until 1964. Many players at small high schools go both ways, and even at some large ones, because coaches would rather have an excellent athlete who may be fatigued rather than a mediocre one who is fresh.

When Mr. Doubleday invented baseball in the 19th century, he intended for the nine players on the field to specialize in a defensive skill AND be able to swing the bat. Some swing the bat better than others. That’s professional sports.

Major League Baseball is the best of the best of the best. The 750 men who populate the 30 MLB rosters are supposed to be the best in the world. Not all of them have to hit .350 with 50 home runs. Heck, Bill Mazeroski and Ozzie Smith, among many others, were mediocre hitters, but so great with their glove they have plaques in Cooperstown.

I can tolerate–not accept–the DH in Little League and high school. However, at those levels, pitchers are often the best hitters, too, so it’s not necessary in those cases. Little League has a much larger problem than the DH. You’ve probably read my rants about this in earlier posts.

In college baseball, the DH should be abolished, especially in Division I. If a young man is good enough to be pitching at the highest level of college baseball, he should be able to stand in the batter’s box up to four times every week if he’s a starting pitcher.

The National League is going to adopt the designated hitter soon. I am deathly afraid of it. When it happens, I will be back on this blog using language not safe for work. You’ve been warned.

When you went to the ballpark in 1971, there were no silly promotional handouts, no dizzy bat races, no scantily clad 20-something women shooting t-shirts out of air-propelled mini-cannons, and no mascots. Umpires still wore their blazers many days. American League umpires wore the balloon chest protector, leading to the Junior Circuit becoming known as a high-strike lead, contrasting to the National League, where the low strike ruled. Games usually lasted two hours, give or take a few minutes. There a few real doubleheaders, where one ticket got you two games, although there were fewer by 1971 than there had been in 1961, and fewer in 1961 than in 1951.

In my opinion, the best thing about baseball in 1971–and the 34 years prior to that–NO FACIAL HAIR!!!!

In 1971, only the Reds had a rule banning facial hair, but the other franchises unofficially followed suit. Many players had mutton chops and other forms of long sideburns which were in vogue in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but not one player in professional baseball sported a mustache and/or beard.

Unfortunately, this came to an end in 1972. The culprit? Charles O. Finley. I hope you are seriously rotting in hell, Mr. Finley. You were a bastard in so many ways.

Cheapskate Charlie, who refused to pay his A’s (from 1972-86, the Oakland franchise was officially known as the A’s) a living wage, somehow came up with an idea to give each player a $300 bonus if he grew a mustache by Father’s Day. Sure enough, every goddamn A’s player grew one.

The A’s, wearing their new polyester uniforms of “kelly green”, “Fort Knox gold” and “wedding gown white”, ended up in the World Series against the clean-shaven Reds in a series termed by the medias as the “hairs” vs. the “squares”. Oakland won in seven games.

I’m glad I wasn’t alive in 1972. I would not have known who to root for. I despise the Reds for Pete Rose, a gambling pedophile who played dirty. I disliked the A’s for the facial hair, not to mention the strong hate I have for Finley, who pulled the Athletics out of Kansas City after the 1967 season because of his avarice.

The plague known as the DH came into being in 1973. That’s one of two reasons why 1973 was a horrid year for the grand old game. The second was the introduction of one George Michael Steinbrenner, who bought the Yankees from CBS for a paltry $10 million. That season was also the last for the original Yankee Stadium and the first for the facility now known as Kauffman Stadium.

In 2019, finding a clean-shaven MLB player is as hard as finding a four-leaf clover. I don’t get it.

Beards in hockey are ubiquitous in the playoffs. I don’t like them. Wayne Gretzky never grew a playoff beard. He was okay, wasn’t he? At least most hockey players shave them. Baseball players aren’t shaving them, and it’s gross.

I’m surprised there isn’t a huge Detroit Lions fan club in western Kansas because of coach Matt Patricia’s disgusting facial hair. People out here could root for the Lions without feeling guilty, since Detroit plays the Broncos and Chiefs only once every four years. The Lions happen to play both this season, and for some reason, Kansas City has to go back to Ford Field. Under the current schedule rotation, Detroit will go 20 years without visiting Arrowhead. Good work, NFL.

1971 also happened to be a wonderful year in other sports.

  • The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship in their third season, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in four games. Of course, having Lew Alcindor, who had already changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but not yet adopted it on the court, and Oscar Robertson didn’t hurt.
  • The NFL in 1971 was fabulous. Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page was the league’s Most Valuable Player. Dallas legend Bob Lilly and the Doomsday Defense powered the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl championship. The Dolphins, who lost Super Bowl VI, won the NFL’s longest game, defeating the Chiefs after seven minutes, 40 seconds of a second overtime period in what was the final NFL game in Kansas City Municipal Stadium.
  • College football came down to Big Eight superpowers Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day in Norman. The Cornhuskers survived 35-31, then steamrolled undefeated Alabama 38-6 in the Orange Bowl to finish the first 13-0 season. That Crimson Tide team switched to the Wishbone offense and also fielded its first black players, John Mitchell and Wilbur Jackson.
  • After the previous three Stanley Cup finals series ended in four-game sweeps (sorry Blues), the Canadiens and Black Hawks played a series for the ages. The home team won each of the first six games, with the series returning to Chicago for game seven. In what turned out to be the final game for Montreal legend Jean Beliveau, Montreal silenced Chicago Stadium by winning 3-2 for the first of its six Stanley Cups in the 1970s.
  • UCLA won its fifth consecutive college basketball championship, overcoming determined Villanova 68-62 in the final at the Astrodome. Kansas reached the Final Four for the first time since 1957.
  • There were 48 NASCAR Grand National races in 1971, many on short tracks. The next year, the schedule was shortened to 31 races, and Winston cigarettes (🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮) became the sponsor of the top series.

Also in 1971, cigarette advertising on TV and radio was banned following the completion of the Orange Bowl (Nebraska 17, LSU 12) on New Year’s Night.

Too bad H.G. Wells’ vision will never come to light. I’m stuck in this era of beards, tattoos and other things I can’t stand.

I’m not going to apologize for this novella of a post. I needed to say these things.

Maybe Buzztime knew I was blogging about 1971 in baseball. The first question of sports trivia tonight: What award did Ferguson Jenkins win that year? Of course any baseball fan worth his salt knows it was the National League Cy Young.

Trivia and tacos

Today’s trivia adventure comes from the Taco Bell at 1730 Vine Street in Hays, Kansas USA.

That’s right. I am a little under 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from The Golden Q, where I normally play trivia in Hays. If you read my blog post from last Wednesday, you know The Q is undergoing a massive renovation which has closed its kitchen until next Tuesday, and the air conditioning and televisions are not functioning.

Buzztime updated its app last week. The questions now appear on the screen with the answers. The only drawback is clues are not given for Lunchtime and Countdown, meaning it’s all or nothing, unless lightning strikes and you figure it out in the middle of the question. For Late Shift, the game which runs from 2200 to closing, and others like it, the wrong answers wipe out. The app still cannot handle the hour-long games Tuesday through Saturday meaning if I want to play SIX Wednesday and Thursday at 1930, I have to be somewhere, which means Salina this week.

I had to come to Hays today to get my eyeglasses adjusted. Dr. Jones did it herself. I also had to get the correct case, which wasn’t a big deal.

Nickole Byers in Ellis called me while I was driving to Hays. I called her back and she wanted information on tournaments for the upcoming school year in case we wanted to print programs for them. Therefore, I stopped at Taco Bell to work.

I decided I would see how far away Buzztime could pick up the signal from The Q so I could play.

It worked. I’m about ready to leave to go home because I am dead tired. I didn’t get a lick of sleep last night, and it wasn’t because anything was wrong; for some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep even after taking Seroquel. I think I’ll be in bed very early tonight, because I would like to wake up early tomorrow, go to Wichita to get my car cleaned, then come back to Salina for trivia and a haircut with Amber.

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I understand why Wimbledon instituted a tiebreak in the deciding set of matches when the score reaches 12-12. The All-England Lawn Tennis Club does not want marathon matches such as 2010, when John Isner and Nicholas Mahut needed 138 games to decide the fifth set, with Isner prevailing 70-68.

That’s right. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT games. It took 11 plus hours over three days to complete.

Back to yesterday, when Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled for the gentelmen’s singles championship.

Federer choked away two match points in the fifth set. Lo and behold, it got to 12-12.

Djokovic won seven of the 10 points in the tiebreak and won his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam.

Djokovic also won the first and third sets by tiebreak after it was tied 6-6.

The 12-point tiebreak was introduced to Wimbledon in 1972. From 1972-78, the tiebreak was played in all sets EXCEPT the decisive set (third for ladies, fifth for gentlemen) when the score reached 8-8. It was pared down to 6-6 in 1979 and remained that way through 2018.

Through 1970, all sets had to be played out until one player had a two-game advantage. In 1971, an ill-conceived tiebreak was used; it was a maximum of nine points, period, meaning if it were 4-4, it was a sudden death set point.

I’m not a tennis fan. I haven’t followed the sport much since the heyday of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and later, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker.

If it were up to me, I would say no way to tiebreaks in all Grand Slam tournaments, at least in the decisive set. And for the championship match, it would be no tiebreaks, period.

This is akin to the four major golf tournaments eliminating the 18-hole playoff when two or more players were tied after 72 holes.

  • The U.S. Open was the last to eliminate the fifth round, going to a two-hole playoff starting in 2017; the last 18-hole playoff was at Torrey Pines in 2008, when Eldrick Woods defeated Roccco Mediate in 19 holes.
  • The last 18-hole playoff at The Masters was 1970 when Billy Casper defeated Gene Littler; Augusta National adopted sudden death in 1976, and it was first used in 1979. The Masters uses sudden death for one reason and one reason only: to make sure 60 Minutes is not delayed too long on CBS should the tournament run past 1900 ET (1800 CT). It’s the same reason why NFL games which kick off at 1505 or 1525 CT on CBS have fewer commercials than the 1200 CT kickoffs on CBS or all games on Fox and NBC.
  • The Open Championship last held an 18-hole playoff in 1975, when Tom Watson bested Jack Nicklaus at Carnoustie. The 18-hole playoff remained the tiebreak format for the Royal & Ancient through 1985; in 1986, it changed to a three-hole playoff, and later, four holes.
  • The PGA Championship eliminated the 18-hole playoff in the 1970s, first using sudden death, then changing to a three-hole playoff in the late 1990s.

Winning a major tournament in tennis and golf is supposed to be among the most difficult tasks in sports. Not to to detract from Djokovic’s thrilling victory on Centre Court, but if there weren’t tiebreaks, would the Serb win? Who knows?

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That said, I am on the other side of the fence as far as overtime in gridiron football and hockey.

There should be no overtime, period, in the regular season in those sports. If a team cannot get the job done in 60 minutes, it doesn’t deserve another chance. Better to have ties factor into a record than some convoluted tiebreaker based upon net points in conference games (NFL) or “regulation and overtime wins” (NHL).

Football and hockey are physically draining sports. Bruises, sprains and other injuries are a way of life. Why expose the players to more risk when it’s not necessary?

College and high school football should do away with their stupid version of overtime, which was foisted upon us in 1971 by Brice Durbin, then the Executive Director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, and later Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The “Kansas playoff” is ridiculous. Starting from the 10-yard line slants the playing field so heavily in favor of the offense. Any team which can’t make three yards per play for four plays doesn’t deserve to win. Not allowing the defense to score on an interception or fumble is just as asinine. Why should the team which turned the ball over deserve a chance to stop the team forcing the turnover? If the defender runs 95 yards the other way, then that team deserves to win.

The NCAA version of overtime, also adopted by Missouri, Texas and other states, is little better. The 25 is still too close.

In 1972, my future high school, Brother Martin, played Monroe Neville to a scoreless tie in a state semifinal in New Orleans. At that time, the team which advanced was determined by first downs, and if that was tied, penetrations inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

That didn’t work for the Crusaders and Tigers, who each had nine first downs and one penetration. Louisiana High School Athletic Association director Frank Spruiell suggested the Kansas overtime to break the tie.

The coaches, Martin’s Bobby Conlin and Neville’s Charlie Brown, told Spruiell to jump in the Mississippi River. The Crusaders and Tigers got together four days later in Alexandria and played it over again. Neville won 8-0 and went on to defeat Bossier Airline three days later for the title at Monroe.

To be honest, first downs, penetrations and other statistics such as yardage, third down conversions and time of possessions are more appropriate ways to determine a victor than the Kansas playoff. The Kansas playoff is a crapshoot if there ever was one.

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The last time I was in Kansas City, I watched nine innings of a Rays-Twins game in Minneapolis.

I missed the first nine innings driving from Hays to Kansas City.

Eighteen innings? Are you kidding me?

Major League Baseball should do what the Japanese Leagues do and limit games tied after nine to a maximum of three extra innings. If the game is still tied after 12, the statistics count, but the game is thrown out and doesn’t count.

Teams play 162 games a season. What would a few ties hurt? Not a darn thing.

What is the American aversion to draws in sports? There does not have to be a winner in everything.

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I’m still at Taco Bell. That’s all for now…at least on the blog.

Post of 10 July 2019, 19:37

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, but nothing good to post about.

Friday was the worst. The absolute worst. Found out I’m so far in over my head I’ll never recover, then I got into a few shouting matches at Golden Q because some couple thought I was taking pictures of them. Bull.

I went to Salina yesterday just to clear my head a little. I didn’t leave the basement Saturday and Sunday, then only went to Hays Monday long enough to drop a FedEx in the box for Crista.

This morning, I discovered I was so stupid I threw away one of the discs from my Brady Bunch collection. Season 3, Disc 2 is gone. How dumb can I be? Fortunately, season 3 by itself only cost $9 on Amazon, so I’ll have it back Friday afternoon. But man, what am I thinking? I’m not.

I would have spent the afternoon wallowing in my stupidity, but I had an appointment with Dr. Custer. I decided to go back to Golden Q even though I knew the kitchen was close and there would be heavy renovations going on.

The air conditioning has been turned off as part of that renovation, but I’ve experienced much worse. Lucky I had a portable fan in my car. It feels pretty good right now. I’ll get my six and a half hours of Wednesday trivia before going back to Russell.

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The televisions at Golden Q have been disconnected. Thank God.

I don’t have to watch the most nauseating event on the sporting calendar.

The ESPYs.

Other than Jim Valvano’s courageous speech at the first ESPYs in 1993, the one where the beloved North Carolina State basketball coach stood tall in the face of terminal cancer and told the audience in attendance and those watching at home to never give up, I can’t think of one thing the ESPYs have contributed to better the sports world and society in general.

Naming an award after Arthur Ashe, who passed away from AIDS one month before the first ESPYs, is a good idea. However, in 2015, it was awarded to Bruce, I mean Caitlyn Jenner, simply because Bruce decided he wanted to become a woman.

I don’t have anything against anyone who wants to change their gender. There have been many times I wish I were female.

However, Jenner had no good reason to receive that award. Besides, we saw enough of Jenner and his/her family since he married Robert Kardashian’s widow (Kim, Kourntey and Khloe’s mother). I think Bruce made a huge downgrade by dumping his former wife, Linda Thompson, one of the women who caused Priscilla Presley to leave Elvis.

Worse than the ESPYs being nothing more than athletes to get together and congratulate each other on how great they are, FANS decide many of the awards.

I haven’t voted for the MLB All-Star Game since 1991, and I won’t resume anytime soon. I don’t vote in online polls for anything anymore. I don’t believe fans have the right to determine anything. They know very little to nothing.

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The Women’s World Cup is over. THANK GOD.

I have had it up to here with the far left’s favorite athlete, Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan, who doesn’t look as good in a bikini as many think. The media would have you believe they are the only players in the tournament who mattered.

We’ll have to hear non-stop about these two next year at the Summer Olympics. Hopefully, they will exit the international stage and go off to make babies or do whatever with their lives.

Between those two, Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, I’ve had it up to hear with the U.S. women’s national association football team.

Time to leave the stage, girls. Let the men take over. Nobody outside the U.S. cares anymore about you. It’s time for the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A to take their rightful places in the football spotlight.

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The fake league won the MLB All-Star Game last night. At least it doesn’t count for anything.

Bud Selig, thank you for bringing baseball back to Milwaukee. But your idea to make the All-Star Game count for home field advantage in the World Series was so asinine there isn’t a word for it. At least the Royals choked in 2014 when they had home field advantage vs. the Giants.

At least Selig has revealed he didn’t want Barry Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s career home run record. Anyone who wanted Bonds to do it thinks cheating is just fine and needs psychiatric help.

Fuck you Barry Bonds. You are cheating asshole.

And that unrepentant asshole Pete Rose can go fuck himself. You broke the rules. You lied your ass off for 15 years. And even though you’ve admitted to gambling, you still do it. Fuck you.

Sorry for the coarse language. But I hate Bonds and Rose as much as any athlete. Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are in my top 25 for sure, along with LeBron, Brady, Kawhi, Tyreek Hill and (S)Cam Newton

Red Sox wins; Cardinals seeing red

The Red Sox did what I thought they would last night. They closed out the Astros in Houston and clinched their fourth American League pennant this millennium. Boston now awaits the Dodgers or Brewers in the World Series.

MLB executives, especially commissioner Rob Manfred, have to be having multiple orgasms over the probable Dodgers-Red Sox World Series. They were loathing a potential Brewers-Indians or Brewers-Athletics World Series when the postseason began. Now, they have one of their three most desirable matchups (Dodgers-Yankees and Cubs-Yankees were the others).

The Red Sox and Dodgers have played only once in the World Series–way, way, WAY back in 1916. That’s before the Curse of the Babe. Ruth was a 21-year old hotshot left-handed pitcher for that year’s Red Sox, and Boston easily won the series in five games.

Two interesting things about the 1916 World Series.

First, the first two games were in Boston, the next two in Brooklyn, then it was back to Boston for the clincher, not the 2-3-2 we are used to seeing. The format was presumably 2-2-1-1-1, the same as the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.

Second, the Red Sox opted to play their home games at Braves Field, home of the future artists known as the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. The Sox moved their games out of Fenway to shoehorn more fans into Braves Field, which opened in 1915. In 1914, when the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, the National League team played their home games at Fenway due to the decrepit condition of their rickety old stadium, the South End Grounds.

I am very pessimistic about the Brewers tonight. Hopefully there’s a game tomorrow. But I have my doubts.

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Speaking of decrepit, that would accurately describe the Arizona Cardinals. They were demolished 45-10 by the Broncos last night in Glendale, and frankly, it should have been worse.

Denver led 35-3 at halftime, and State Farm (nee University of Phoenix) Stadium sounded more like Mile High or whatever it’s called these days. It was a throwback to the days the Cardinals played in front of tons of aluminum and a few fans (mostly visiting team, especially when the Cowboys were there) at Sun Devil Stadium on the other side of the Phoenix metro.

I knew the Cardinals were seriously screwed when they hired Steve Wilks. Wilks has no business being a head football coach at any level, especially the highest level of football.

This buffoon was a head coach just once before moving to Arizona, and that was in 1998 at mighty Savannah State, a perennial punching bag for Power Five teams willing to exchange a few hundred thousand dollars for the right to win by 70 to 80 points. When Wilks coached there, Savannah State was Division II. And the team went 5-6 under Wilks’ leadership.

Wilks’ professional playing experience consisted of one year in Arena Football with the Charlotte Rage. Are you kidding me?

Ron Rivera, who was Wilks’ boss in Carolina before the latter was hired by the Cardinals, conned Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim good. Then again, Steve Keim is a known drunk, so it wasn’t hard to pull the wool over his eyes.

If the Cardinals wanted an African-American coach, why not hire Herm Edwards? He got a job in the Phoenix area not long after Wilks when Arizona State hired him to succeed turd Todd Graham. Edwards’ failure with the Chiefs was not all his own doing; he had a lot of help from terrible drafting, free agent signings and trading by Carl Peterson, who clearly was awful without a strong personality as a head coach like Jim Mora with the USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City.

Josh Rosen threw not one, but TWO pick-sixes in the first quarter. Geez, the Cardinals could have brought back Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb or Stan Gelbaugh to do that instead of wasting the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Then again, Rosen has zero protection. The Cardinals have had a woeful offensive line for their entire stay in the desert. In my opinion, it has been really, really bad since the glory days of Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, Tom Banks and Tom Brahaney in the 1970s, when Don Coryell led St. Louis to NFC East titles in 1974 and ’75.

Arizona’s defense is Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and a whole lot of crap. Peterson and Jones deserve better than this. They are true professionals and would be All-Pros if they played on a halfway decent defense.

Larry Fitzgerald, WHY did you come back for this? Your professionalism and dedication to the Cardinals is admirable. But you could have easily rode off in to the sunset. All you’re doing is pushing back your Hall of Fame induction.

Wilks is by far the worst Cardinals coach I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. And I can remember all the way back to Jim Hanifan (1980-85). Dave McGinnis was mocked and went 17-44 in three and a half seasons, but his teams never looked as absolutely awful as the Cardinals have under Wilks. Buddy Ryan was pretty bad, but at least the defense was fierce in 1994. Too bad he hated offensive players and had no clue what to do at quarterback.

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Starting next year, Wimbledon is implementing the tiebreak in the final set when the score reaches 6-6.

I will only watch tennis if someone pays me a ton of cash, and that hasn’t happened. And I will NEVER watch Serena Williams. But I think this is dead wrong.

I understand why the All-England Club is doing this. They want to avoid marathon last sets like the one between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in 2010 in a match that took 11 hours and three different days to complete, with Isner winning the fifth set 70-68.

I totally disagree with doing this in what is supposed to be tennis’ signature event. This is a grand slam event, the most prestigious championship on earth. It should be EARNED. And if it takes 138 games in the final set to do so, so be it.

If Wimbledon wants to implement the tiebreak in the final set, it should not be at 6-6. It should be at minimum after 8-8, maybe 10-10 or 12-12. And that rule should be in all five sets for men or three for women.

The Australian and French Opens, the other grand slams, have not announced they will. implement a tiebreak in the final set. However, I’m certain they will be under enormous pressure to do so now that the U.S. Open and Wimbledon have them.

Using a tiebreak in the final set at Wimbledon is the same as The Masters using a sudden death playoff if there is a tie for the low score after 72 holes.

The Masters bills itself as the premier event in golf, although I will always believe it is The Open Championship. If The Masters is so high and mighty, why not make those tied play a fifth round? If it’s television they’re worried about, there are enough cable channels which would salivate at the chance to televise a round from Augusta for 18 holes. Besides, The Masters rarely allows full 18-hole coverage anyway, so how hard would it be to cut in for the last nine? Also, I’m sure CBS could pre-empt The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful for one day.

The U.S. Open was the last golf major to require a full 18-hole playoff if there was a tie after 72 holes. Last year, that ended and it became a two-hole playoff, which wasn’t necessary when Brooks Koepka won it outright. That’s even worse than The Open (four holes) and PGA Championship (three holes). All majors should be the full 18-hole playoff. Sudden death is just fine for a regular tournament in late October, mid-January or early August. But not for the majors.

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I’m guessing ESPN is going to try to force the officials to speed up the Mississippi State-LSU game in Baton Rouge tomorrow night. That’s because the network is scheduled to show the Rockets-Lakers game from Los Angeles at 2130 CT (1930 PT), which will be LeBron’s first regular season game at Staples Center. It would probably anger the suits in Bristol, as well as two of America’s four largest metropolitan areas, if a trivial football game in the Southeastern Conference goes overtime.

LSU and Mississippi State are not teams which throw the ball on every down. I hope 3 1/2 hours is enough time to get the game in, because college football games drag on and on and on! I remember non-televised games when I was attending LSU could last as short as 2 1/2 hours. But every game in the SEC is now televised, so that’s not happening. Not unless the NCAA wants to return to the terrible idea of starting the clock after the ball is spotted on a change of possession, an experiment which failed miserably in 2006. Not stopping the clock after a first down would be a good start. Maybe that rule could be limited to the final two minutes of the first half and final five of the second, much the way the out-of-bounds timing rules change in the NFL in those periods.

CBS is notorious for forcing the games in the late window (1525 CT on doubleheader days; 1505 on non-doubleheader games) to speed up in order that 60 Minutes starts on time, either 1800 or 1830 CT. Fox doesn’t care, because it never airs new episodes of The Simpsons (JUST END IT ALREADY!) on Sunday nights before 1900 CT.  Actually, Fox prefers longer games in the late window when it has the doubleheader, so it can switch to bonus coverage, then Terry, Howie, Michael and Jimmy can drone on and on until 1900.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a runny nose this morning. Using lots of tissues. Need to stop by the store before I leave Kansas City.

Just saw I was close to 1700 words. Time to end it.

Tiger won! Not really, but some would have you believe otherwise

Did Brooks Koepka win the PGA Championship? I couldn’t tell. By the homepage of ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, and many newspapers, Tiger Woods won, even though the scoreboard I checked showed Woods two shots behind Koepka.

The drooling love affair with Eldrick Woods has gone on since the weekend of April 10-13, 1997, when he won The Masters, the first of his 14 major championships. When Tiger was forced off the course by injury following the 2008 U.S. Open, and again by various injuries earlier this decade, fans on message boards bitched and moaned and said they would not watch golf until Tiger was playing again.

It’s not as if golf is going to die without Eldrick Woods. Koepka has won three of the last six majors. Jordan Spieth is only a PGA away from the career grand slam, and Rory McIlroy will wrap it up if he wins The Masters. Dustin Johnson is the top ranked player in the world, with Justin Thomas a close second. Phil Mickelson is still chasing the career slam, needing the U.S. Open.

There are a lot more marketable players out there today than there were 50 years ago, when it was Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and a whole lot of good but not great players who really didn’t move the needle. Lee Trevino took Palmer’s place among the big names in the late 1960s, and once Player and Nicklaus passed their prime, it was wide open, even though nobody had the star power that the Golden Bear and Arnie had.

People were scalping tickets for as much as $2,000 in St. Louis for Sunday’s final round at the PGA. That’s enough to buy season tickets for the Cardinals or Blues. Kopeka and Adam Scott were the final pairing, and both played with far smaller galleries than what Woods and Gary Woodland did.

Eldrick is part of a cadre of athletes American media drools over. The others are Serena Williams, LeBron and Tom Brady. Baseball doesn’t have a specific athlete, but the Red Sox and Yankees get all the headlines, with the Cubs getting them to a lesser extent. The NHL has not had that problem as much, although the national media couldn’t stop peeing in their pants about the Vega$ Golden Knight$.

I don’t watch very much golf, simply because I’ve had enough of Mr. Woods. I don’t watch any tennis. Haven’t since the late 1980s. I’m sick of the Williams sisters on the women’s side, and the men’s side is the same people over and over and over: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. The NFL holds little appeal these days, at least the AFC does. And don’t get me started on the NBA.

In sports I actually watch, Liverpool flexed its muscles Sunday by thrashing West Ham 4-0 at Anfield. The Reds appear to be well-positioned to be Manchester City’s chief challenger for the Premier League championship. City opened with a 2-0 victory at Arsenal, ruining Unai Emery’s first match as manager of the Gunners. I didn’t watch the Liverpool match, simply because I knew West Ham had zero chance. I instead streamed Southampton-Burnley, which ended 0-0 at St. Mary’s.

Now there are no Premier League matches until Saturday morning. I’m stuck between bad MLB and NFL exhibitions until then if I want to watch live sports. Of course, there’s the Little League World Series, which I absolutely refuse to watch because of the “mandatory play” rule.

I’m now on to season three of The O.C. UGH. I hated season three, simply because there were so many characters whom I despised: Dean Hess, Charlotte Morgan, Taylor Townsend (the evil version; she makes a 180 in season four), Veronica Townsend (god I love Paula Trickey, but Veronica was downright mean, which shows Trickey is a tremendous actress), the scuzzy loan sharks who beat up Jimmy Cooper, Johnny Harper, Casey, Seung-Ho (the sexually obsessive boyfriend of the equally sexually obsessive Taylor) , the “Harbor  Heckler” (an unnamed character who is so cruel to Seth and Taylor that I want to climb through the screen and squeeze his testicles until they pop, then go Lorena Bobbitt on his penis) and of course, Kevin Volchok and all of the lowlife scum associated with him, particularly Heather, the evil bitch who does all she can to make Marissa’s life a living hell at Newport Union.

Then again, I wish Volchok would have found the heckler and beat the living crap out of him. If it were possible to hate a character more than Volchok and Oliver Trask, the heckler was that character. He and Felix Tagarro from One Tree Hill always make me extremely nauseous.

The only bright spot I could think of that season was Dawn Atwood (Daphne Ashbrook) putting her life back together. Josh Schwartz and the rest of The O.C.‘s production staff should have brought Dawn back in season four so she could rescue Ryan from his deep depression caused by Marissa’s murder.

Not to say season three was 100 percent bad. Just saw the scene where Seth scratches his face with his middle finger, flipping off Taylor. Priceless.

Crying foul over long games

The Phillipsburg-Norton girls sub-state game Tuesday took a little longer than I would have liked. I left Norton’s gym 20 minutes later than I had expected, although I made good time on the drive back to Russell and was home before 10:45.

There an awful lot of fouls called between the Panthers and Bluejays Tuesday, and it so happened most of them resulted in foul shots. Norton ended up winning 45-34, and the Bluejays now head to Colby tomorrow to play Cimarron. The other sub-state semifinal is Scott City vs. colby, and the winners play Saturday for the right to advance to the 3A state tournament in Hutchinson starting next Thursday.

In high school basketball, teams enter the bonus when their opponent commits the seventh foul of a half. On fouls seven, eight and nine, the team which is fouled attempts a “one-and-one”, where the shooter only gets a second attempt if they make the first. The exceptions are on a foul committed on a shot, which is two or three shots if the field goal attempt is not successful, and one shot if the field goal is successful; and on an offensive foul, there are no foul shots.

The double bonus (or super bonus, as the legendary LSU public address announcer Dan Borne coined it) comes into play starting with the 10th team foul of the half. The offended team gets two free throws regardless of the situation, except if the foul came on a field goal attempt, or was on an offensive foul.

The same procedure is in place for college men’s basketball, but in college women’s basketball, the procedures are different since the NCAA adopted four 10-minute quarters for the ladies instead of two 20-minute halves like the men play.

In women’s basketball, there is no “one-and-one”; with the fifth team foul committed in a quarter, the offended team receives two free throws. The difference is the fouls reset each quarter.

The NBA system is somewhat similar, but has many differences. One is offensive fouls do not count towards a team’s limit; and second, within the final two minutes of a half, a team has one “foul to give” regardless of whether they were in the “penalty” (opponent in the bonus) prior to the two-minute mark of the period.

I would like to see the rules changed, at least in high school, to reduce the number of free throws. I propose:

  • Adopt the women’s college/NBA rules on the bonus. Fifth foul puts opponent in the bonus, no one-and-one. No two-minute change like the NBA. Fouls reset at the end of the period.
  • On the seventh foul of the quarter, the offended team does not have to attempt free throws. They may instead opt to inbound the ball at the point of the foul. If the foul occured in the backcourt, the team which was fouled may inbound the ball at mid-court opposite the scorer’s table if they chose to forgo the free throws.
  • When a team reaches the bonus, the team which was fouled may choose its free throw shooter from any player on the court. This would be similar to association football (soccer) when a team is awarded a penalty kick. In association football, the player who is fouled inside the box does not have to attempt the penalty kick. That would make fouling less advantageous.
  • I don’t know if I would advocate bringing back a rule which was in the NBA prior to the 1981-82 season which gave a team in the bonus three attempts to make two free throws. That might hold the game up too much. On the other hand, it might make a team think twice about fouling.

I doubt the rules makers are going to do anything drastic anytime soon. We’ll muddle along with the status quo.