All hail the fat man!

The Kansas Jayhawks kick off what figures to be their ninth consecutive losing football season tonight when they face patsy Southeast Missouri State in Lawrence. Nothing like opening your season with a challenging opponent, right David Beaty?

Beaty, entering his third season as Jayhawks coach, was once an assistant to the man who led Kansas to its last winning season.

A man who will be inducted into the University of Kansas (don’t get me started about how KU appears on nearly every piece of apparel for the Jayhawks, but the official title of the school is the University of Kansas; it’s that way at Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma, too) Athletics Hall of Fame.

A man whom I despise. A man whom I have absolutely zero respect for. A man whose mere image gets me riled up.

Let me put it this way: if I had a choice of being on a deserted island with this man and former President Obama, I’m choosing Barack every time.

Mark Mangino.

Mangino coached the Jayhawks from 2002-09. He guided Kansas football to arguably its most successful season in its mostly wretched history, leading the 2007 Jayhawks to a 12-1 record and victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. That victory fully eradicated the memories of the Orange Bowl following the 1968 season, the one where Kansas, led by John Riggins and Bobby Douglass, appeared to defeat 10-0 Penn State 14-13, only to be called for having at least 12 players (some accounts report as many as 14 Jayhawks on the field) during the Nittany Lions’ 2-point conversion attempt after their second touchdown. Penn State didn’t blow its gift, and converted for a 15-14 victory.

Kansas won its first 11 games of 2007 and rose to #2 in all of the major polls of the time: Associated Press, coaches, Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and Harris Interactive, which replaced the AP as part of the BCS formula in 2005. Ironically for me, my alma mater was #1.

The night before the Jayhawks were to play archrival Missouri in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, LSU lost 50-48 in three overtimes to Arkansas in Baton Rouge. It was the Bayou Bengals’ second triple overtime loss of 2007, having fallen 43-37 at Kentucky on October 13, my 31st birthday.

I don’t like college overtime, period. I think it’s bush league to give a team the ball on the opponents’ 25-yard line and ask the defense to hold up, knowing the offense needs only 10 yards to keep the drive going. I think overtime should be eliminated in all regular season football games, whether it be high school, college or professional. If the most popular sporting league on earth, the English Premier League, lives with draws during its 38-game schedule, why can’t American football? But if the NCAA is going to insist on determining

In my mind, LSU was 10-0-2 after the regular season. I’m saying Kentucky and Arkansas TIED LSU, but the Wildcats and Razorbacks simply scored more touchdowns in the shootout. It’s the same procedure for association football (soccer), where the match is officially recorded as a draw, with the team which scores more in the shootout advancing.

Kansas was poised to move to #1 if it defeated Missouri; instead, the Tigers won 36-28 and took over the top spot, with West Virginia going to #2. The Tigers lost the Big 12 champiosnhip game to Oklahoma, the Mountaineers were shocked by Pittsburgh at home, leaving the door open for Big Ten champion Ohio State, one of two one-loss teams remaining–the other wa Kansas–to play SEC champion LSU, which was 11-2 officially (11-0-2 in my book), in the BCS championship game.

Despite losing to Missouri and not playing in the Big 12 championship game, Kansas received an at-large BCS bid to play in the Orange Bowl against Atlantic Coast Conference champ Virginia Tech. Missouri got bumped down to the Cotton Bowl, which was in its period as a second-tier bowl game, to play Arkansas.

It was revealed Kansas recevied the Orange Bowl bid because athletic director Lew Perkins guaranteed the committee to purchase an absurd number of tickets. It was also hinted he provided the committee with, uh, inducements to pick the Jayhawks instead of the Tigers.

That’s another story for another blog post, which will not be long in coming.

Back to Mangino.

Following Kansas’ unexpected season, he was voted national Coach of the Year by just about every organization, beating out the coach of the national champions, LSU’s Les Miles, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Illinois’ Ron Zook, whose Illini beat Ohio State and went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1983 and only the second time since Dick Butkus led Illinois to the game in 1963.

It figured any man could lead KANSAS, which would win the NCAA men’s basketball championship in April under Bill Self, to a 12-1 record would be first in line for a job at a school which places a higher priority on football, right?

Mark Mangino received exactly ZERO interviews in late 2007 and early 2008 to fill vacancies. And there were vacancies at schools in major conferences.

Lloyd Carr retired at Michigan after 13 seasons. The Wolverines did not place the call from Ann Arbor to Lawrence, instead hiring Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia, who one year earlier agreed to become Alabama’s coach, but pulling out at the last second. Instead, the Crimson Tide hired this guy Nick Saban to replace Mike Shula. We know how that turned out.

West Virginia, which won the Big East in 2007 and has been a top-tier program since Bobby Bowden coached there in the 1970s, would be a step up for Mangino, even if he would step down in conference. The Mountaineers instead promoted assistant Bill Stewart, who coached West Virginia to victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma.

Chan Gailey left Georgia Tech to coach the Buffalo Bills. The Yellow Jackets opted for Navy coach Paul Johnson, who returned the Wishbone to the upper level of college football. He’s still there.

Ole Miss fired Ed Orgeron, who drove the Rebels straight into the ground with three horrible seasons. Mangino, who weighed north of 500 pounds then, would have loved eating southern cuisine in Oxford. The Rebels instead hired Houston Nutt, who had burned his bridges at Arkansas after 10 seasons.

Arkansas will certainly take a chance on Mangino, right? The Razorbacks are the only team in the Natural State (I don’t count Arkansas State, being so close to Tennessee and Missouri, plus being minor league for most of it existence), and Mangino would be the highest paid and most powerful person in the state, since Frank Broyles was set to finally retire as athletic director after almost 50 years in Fayetteville as football coach and AD.

Broyles’ successor, Jeff Long, instead plucked Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons. Petrino, who coached Louisville for four seaosns prior to taking the Falcons’ job in early 2007, resigned after a Monday Night Football loss to the Saints, leaving a typed note in each player’s locker. Twenty-four hours after the game ended, Petrino was in Fayetteville, “calling the hogs” with the Arkansas cheerleaders and numerous big-money boosters, which there are a lot of in Arkansas.

Petrino is a scumbag, too. One step above Mangino. One VERY SMALL step.

Why would Mangino not get a single interview after such a successful season?

It wasn’t because of his morbid obesity, which had to be a serious concern for KU officials, even if they would not say so publicly.

It was because he was one of the biggest ASSHOLES to ever roam a college sideline.

Yelling and screaming is a way of life for coaches in all sports in all levels. It is the preferred method of fommunication for football coaches, who believe the higher the decibel level, the more effective the message is. Tony Dungy, who hardly ever raised his voice, would beg to differ, but most of the great coaches yelled and screamed their way to the top, save Tom Osborne and Darrell Royal, who presented low-key images to the press, but probably did their fair share of vocalizing behind closed doors.

Mark Mangino is a world-class screamer.

But there was a problem with his screaming as big as Mangino’s waistline.

He was a sadistic bully.

Mangino had the one of the highest turnover rates of assistant coaches of any program. Nick Saban has been known to burn through assistants at a rapid rate because he works them to death and is so demanding those coaches often feel like they are trapped at the bottom of the ocean in a vacuum with no air hole.

Mangino was much worse than that.

When a player made a mistake, not only did the player feel Mangino’s wrath, but often his position coach did, too.

This was the big reason Bill Young, who was Mangino’s defensive coordinator in 2007, left the Jayhawks after that season to coach at Miami,, which at the time was sloghing through mediocrity under Randy Shannon.

Mangino was just as cruel to his players.

In 2003, it was reported Mangino made a KU player do tortuous bear crawls on the artifical surface of Memorial Stadium, where the temperature on the field was in excess of 150 degrees. The player ended up with burns and lost skin on his hands.

Following the Orange Bowl, starting linebacker Joe Mortensen went home after suffering a knee inury in the game, isntead of retruning immediately to Lawrence to rehabilitate the injury. Mangino punished Mortensen for three months by subjecting him to harsh conditioning, drills which led him to tear ligaments in the same knee.

Mangino’s verbal barbs were just as bad as his physical ones.

Reportedly when a player was charged with underage drinking, he said that player would one day be “drinking from a brown paper bag in Oakland under a bridge”.

He asked another player if “he wanted to be a lawyer or an alcoholic like his father”.

And the worst of all was when he told a player whose brother was injured by gunfire in St. Louis that he could “go back to the ‘hood and get shot with his homies”.

Bear Bryant would rise from his grave and kick Mangino in his family jewels if he could. Nick Saban might join him.

It’s one thing to scream. It is crossing the line when you get personal.

Mangino got personal.

Yet it took Lew Perkins until November 2009, when Kansas was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak which would drop it from 5-0 to 5-7, that Perkins began to investigate.

Mangino, who was owed a $6 million buyout if he were fired, refused to step down, claiming he did nothing wrong.

Faced with lawsuits and a revolt, Perkins negiotiated a settlement, paying Mangino $3 million to quietly resign.

Kansas fans went nuclear.

Most loved Mangino and claimed he as a victim. Lew Perkins was called every epithet you could think of.

I’m sorry, but Mangino got what he richly deserved. Mangino can go fuck himself.

I have no pity whatsoever for the Jayhawks. I find it quite amusing they are so horrnedous. It is karma for hiring that fat piece of shit and for buying the Orange Bowl bid.

Tonight, Mangino will be inducted into such company as Riggins, Douglass, Gale Sayers Phog Allen, Danny Manning and the man who invented basketball himself, Dr. James Naismith.

And guess what? Many are pushing for a bronze statue of Mangino outside Memorial Stadium.

John McEnroe said it best: YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS.

Congratulations, Jayhawks. You have disgraced yourselves. Just don’t disgrace yourselves more by even considering a statue for this disgrace of a homo sapiens.

Nixon and college football coaches–peas in a pod

Richard Nixon was infamous for being the most paranoid man to be President of the United States.

He was also the biggest football fan who ever occupied the White House.

In 1969, Nixon traveled to Fayetteville to watch the game between #1 Texas and #2 (Associated Press)/#3 (United Press International) Arkansas, known colloquially as “The Big Shootout”. The game was for the UPI national championship, since the coaches would not take a poll after the bowl games, while the winner would not only earn a trip to the Cotton Bowl as Southwest Conference champion, it would have the inside track to the Associated Press championship. The AP would vote again after the bowl games.

After Texas rallied from a 14-0 deficit with two fourth quarter touchdowns to win 15-14, Nixon went to the Longhorns’ locker room and presented a plaque to coach Darrell Royal and his players. The presentation incensed Penn State coach Joe Paterno, whose Nittany Lions were in the midst of a 21-game winning streak. Paterno felt his team should be national champions in the UPI.

However, Paterno screwed his own team by refusing to accept a Cotton Bowl bid, instead opting to take Penn State to the Orange Bowl vs. Big Eight champion Missouri. The Nittany Lions went to the Orange Bowl the previous season, defeating Kansas 15-14 (how ironic)

Two years later, Nixon called Dolphins coach Don Shula at 4 a.m., a little less than 10 hours after Miami defeated the Baltimore Colts to win the AFC championship. Not only did Nixon want to wish the Dolphins well–Nixon had a compound in Key Biscayne–he suggested a play to Shula, a down-and-out pass from Bob Griese to Paul Warfield.

Listening to Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star on 810 AM in Kansas City this morning, it hit me why Nixon loved college football.

Today’s college football coaches are as paranoid as Nixon.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who is eccentric to say the least, refuses to issue a depth chart, fearing it will give his opponents an unfair advantage.

Come on, Jim, this is a football GAME played by young men between the ages of 18 and 22, not the nuclear launch codes.

So what if Florida, this week’s opponent, knows your starting nose guard? What’s the big deal? Jim, if Michigan is the better team, Michigan will win. If not, the Wolverines lose. Simple as that.

Les Miles, who was fired at LSU last September, was notoriously secretive. He shut the media out of practice and never, ever divulged injury information.

There are now HIPAA laws governing injury reports, but that was started before HIPAA was in place.

The father of hiding injury information? Bill Snyder, the walking definition of “paranoid” and “control freak”.

Ask Snyder about an injury question, and you will be dressed down by Kansas State’s sports information director. Snyder won’t do it himself. He’s not Nick Saban. Bill Snyder also closed practice tighter than a drum when he got to K-State in 1989, which wasn’t uncommon in the Big Eight–Tom Osborne did it at Nebraska way before anyone knew who the hell Bill Snyder was.

Snyder wouldn’t know what to do in the NFL, which requires injuries to be disclosed. Of course, some coaches–Bill Belichick and George Allen come to mind–have abused the injury report by putting way, way, way too many players on it. Tom Brady being on an injury list, other than 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the year vs. the Chiefs, is preposterous. Unless Brady can’t walk, he’s playing. GIVE ME A BREAK.

Nick Saban is the ultimate control freak. On the other hand, he isn’t as evasive as Miles, Harbaugh or some others. Maybe Miles and Harbaugh learned it from Bo Schembechler, who cut out media access to practice in an era where that was unheard of.

I really don’t care to watch football practice. I saw enough of those at LSU to know just how tedious they are. On the other hand, I understand why the media needs some access. They are doing their jobs as REPORTERS, and they are REPORTING on something their readers really want to know about.

Harbaugh and Florida coach Jim McElwain are engaged in a pissing contest in advance of Saturday’s game in the Dallas Cowboys’ Arlington Stadium.

McElwain refused to name a starting quarterback for most of the days leading up to the game. Since McElwain did not, Harbaugh refused to name his starting QB. This morning, McElwain capitulated and named freshman Felipe Franks. Yet Harbaugh refuses to say anything, and he’s likely going to keep the media guessing until kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday.

Kansas coach David Beaty won’t name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game vs. Southeast Missouri. Come on. SOUTHEAST MISSOURI? Who are you trying to fool, Beaty? Kerkhoff said it best: the Jayhawks really don’t have a starting QB. If Beaty can’t settle on one two days before a game against a lower level team, it say Kansas has nothing at the most important position.

Why do college football coaches feel the need to be so evasive?

I understand they are under tremendous pressure to win. But they are getting compensated very well to do so. Many college football coaches are the highest paid employees in their respective states. Nick Saban makes over $8 million a year, 20 times what the President of the United States earns.

There are days when I miss being at LSU. There are others where I don’t. Honestly, I’m glad I’m not putting up with it anymore.

Houston flooded? Texas Rangers say too bad

The Texas Rangers have always been a low-rent, low-class organization in my mind.

The stunt the organization pulled this week simply confirmed it yet again.

The Rangers were scheduled to play a three-game series in Houston against the Astros. While Minute Maid Park, the Astros’ home field, was not flooded, most of Houston was, and every major route in the city was flooded and impassable. Also, the resources of the Houston Police Department and other first responders, already stretched beyond the breaking point, would have been stretched worse to provide security at Minute Maid for the games.

The simple solution to this problem would have been for the Rangers to host the series this week, then go to Houston in September when the Astros are scheduled to come to Arlington for the final time in 2017.

Easy. A lot easier than if the teams were not in the same division, since each team visits the other teams in the league not in their division only once per season.

The Rangers said hell no.

Their excuse: they did not want to “inconvenience” their fans who held tickets for the September series by switching on short notice.

Excuse me, Jon Daniels (Rangers general manager), but what do you think Hurricane Harvey did to the people of Houston? That’s not an inconvenience. That’s what’s called a catastrophe.

Just how catastrophic would it have been if a few thousand Rangers fans could not have attended the series this week? NOT AT ALL. On the inconvenience scale, it would rate at most two out of 10.

THREE games out of EIGHTY-ONE. How many people attend all 81 home games of an MLB team’s schedule? Not many. Likely only those who are retired or not working because they can afford not to work. And even some of those people would probably need a night or two away from the ballpark.

So what if fans don’t show up? The White Sox and Orioles played a game in front of NOBODY two years ago when there were riots in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray shooting. Many a European football match has been played in front of an empty stadium due to hooliganism. Fans are not necessary to play a game. If nobody wanted to show up in Arlington, let them watch it on television.

Instead, MLB forced the Astros to play their “home” games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. If the floods weren’t injury enough, MLB insulted the Astros by forcing them into MLB’s worst facility (if not, it’s the second worst; only the Oakland Coliseum rates that badly) and playing in a city which does not deserve to even have an MLB team. The Rays have proven year after year after year they don’t care, always finishing at or near the bottom of MLB attendance.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred proved himself a gutless coward. GUTLESS COWARD.

All Manfred had to do was exercise his “best interests of baseball” clause and forced the Rangers to switch dates with the Astros. And if the Rangers didn’t want to play the games in Arlington this week? Fine, they would have forfeited.

Instead of Manfred doing the right thing, he kicked Houston while it was way, way down. As bad as that is, you don’t want to see what I’m going to say about Manfred if he ever approve the designated hitter for the National League.

If this had been the National Football League and it had been the Texans and another AFC South team playing a regular season game, Roger Goodell would have told the team scheduled to play in Houston that it would have to host, and they would have to go to Houston later in the year. That’s that. No appeal.

Had the Saints been scheduled to host Carolina in week one of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, I’m sure Paul Tagliabue, Goodell’s predecessor, would have asked the Panthers to play in Charlotte, then travel to either San Antonio or Baton Rouge later that season, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and then-coach Jon Fox would have had no problem with it whatsoever.

Instead, Rangers GM Daniels uses a cheap, petty excuse to screw the Astros, who are running away with the American League West. Texas is below .500 and only in the wild card race because the DH league is a whole bunch of mediocrity, except for the Astros and Indians at the top and the White Sox, Athletics and Tigers at the bottom. How else would the Twins go from 59-103 in 2016 to leading for the second wild card spot this August 31? If the Rangers played in the National League, nobody in Dallas/Fort Worth would give a damn.

Why am I not surprised by the Rangers’ pettiness? It’s in their orginazational DNA.

It began in 1968, when the Rangers were still the second incarnation Washington Senators.

The team was purchased by a Minneapolis businessman named Robert Short. Short was exiled from the Twin Cities in 1960 when he moved the Lakers to Los Angeles, then made a nice profit by selling them to Jack Kent Cooke in 1965. Cooke and later Jerry Buss turned the Lakers into one of professional sports’ iconic franchises.

Short probably wanted to buy the first incarnation of the Senators and move them to Minneapolis, but Calvin Griffith beat him to the Twin Cities in 1961 and renamed the club the Twins.

The second incarnation of the Senators were a laughingstock, just like the first team was after Walter Johnson retired in the late 1920s. The Senators were fortunate in that the Kansas City Athletics were just as terrible and kept the new Senators out of the cellar many years.

Somehow, Short convinced Ted Williams, probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, to manage the Senators. Williams led Washington to 86 wins in 1969, the franchise’s only winning season in the nation’s capital, and was AL Manager of the Year. Washignton hosted the 1969 All-Star Game at RFK Stadium.

Yet Short only cared about the almighty dollar, and he thought he could not make enough of them in Washington.

Near the end of the 1971, cheapskate Short conned owners into allowing him to move the Senators to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and play in a mionor league stadium halfway between the two cities.

Arlington was just another town on the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike (now Interstate 30) not too far from where the new DFW Airport was being built. It had Six Flags, but not much else.

Ten of the AL’s 12 owners at the time–the White Sox (John Allyn) and Orioles (Jerold Hoffberger) said no–let Short take baseball out of Washington. This greatly angered commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who despearately tried to get Short to sell. Yet Short showed he was just as egotistical as he was cheap, refusing an $8.5 million offer from grocery magnate Joseph Dazansky so he could put one over on the nation’s capital.

Williams quit after his first season in Arlington. He hated Dallas/Fort Worth and especially hated the shithole that was Arlingon Stadium, where more than 40 percent of the seats were aluminum bleachers in the outfield, where it was hot enough to fry eggs most days. Whitey Herzog was hired following Williams, but Short thought it was a big mistake from the start.

Herzog said it best when at his first press conference he declared “This is the most horseshit excuse for a Major League team I ever saw”.

Unfortunately, Whitey, the Rangers are still a horsehit organization.

Short forced Herzog to pitch 18-year old David Clyde less than a month after his high school graduation. Clyde eventually became an alcoholic, developed arm trouble, and eventually flamed out of MLB by 1981. The only reason he isn’t considered the worst #1 overall pick in MLB history is because at least he played in MLB, unlike Steve Chilcutt (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991).

Herzog was fired with 24 games to go in 1973 and replaced by Billy Martin, the same Billy Martin who would be hired and fired five times by George Steinbrenner. Martin led the Rangers to 84 wins in 1974, but the better news was Short sold the Rangers to Brad Corbett, a local pipe salesman.

Corbett’s ownership was just as horseshit as Short’s, and the Rangers were pretty terrible for 15 years, save for a season of contention here and there (1977 most comes to mind).

Then came George W. Bush, future governor of Texas and 43rd President of the United States. His predecssor, Eddie Chiles, left the son of the then-POTUS the gift of Nolan Ryan, who was offered a boatload of cash to come north on Interstate 45 from Houston.

Bush turned the Rangers into a semi-respectable outfit. Ryan filled decrepit Arlington Stadium every time he pitched, including once when my brother, father and I watched from the left-center field bleachers for Ryan to face the Brewers in what turned out to be his final season, 1993.

Yet Bush 43 made one gigantic mistake.

The Rangers got a new stadium under Bush’s ownership. Arlington Stadium was demolished in 1994, about 15 years after it should have been.

The bad news? NO ROOF.

Let’s see: we’ll build a new baseball stadium in Dallas/Fort Worth without a roof after fans have suffered for 22 years in the extreme heat in Arlington Stadium, a shithole where many fans had to burn the butts–literally–on metal benches.

I visited the new stadium in Arlington, currently called Globe Life Park, once, in 1996. It was better than Arlington Stadium, but much crappier than Kauffman Stadium, and certainly nowhere as good as PNC Park, which I visited in 2005.

The Rangers are correcting Bush’s gigantic mistake by building a new stadium with a roof, set to open no later than 2021. But the Rangers should have got it right the first time.

If that were the Rangers’ biggest problem, I wouldn’t have such a beef with them.

But it isn’t.

In 1999, when Ryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he went in wearing a Rangers cap on his plaque. It turns out the Rangers offered him financial inducements to wear a Rangers cap, even though he pitched four career no-hitters with the Angels and played nine seasons with the Astros. I don’t care if he collected his 5,000th strikeout and pitched two no-hitters with the Rangers.

Last I checked, it’s called bribery when financial gain is offered in return for a favor. If it happened in a political arena, the briber and the bribee would both be in federal prison. Instead, Ryan is a hero in Dallas/Fort Worth, even though he is from south Texas and played the longest with the Astros.

In 2002, the Hall of Fame said enough was enough and told Gary Carter his plaque would have him in an Expos cap, even though he wanted to wear a Mets cap on his plaque. Now the Hall of Fame determines the team cap on the plaque.

Wade Boggs tried that shit when he wanted a Devil Rays(??!!) cap instead of the Red Sox. The Hall of Fame said no.

Too bad the decision is not retroactive. Reggie Jackson should be wearing an Athletics cap, not a Yankees cap.

Catfish Hunter had it right when he insisted on a blank cap on his plaque, not wanting to offend the Athletics or Yankees. Greg Maddux (Cubs and Braves) did the same.

The Rangers continued their reign of error by signing former crack whore Josh Hamilton, the former #1 overall pick who was banned from baseball for a time for extreme drug usage.

It hired Ron Washington, a former admitted coke junkie, as its manager.

And now this.

There are some teams I just will never like.

The Reds are one. Pete Rose can get fucked, and Marge Schott should rot in deepest hell.

The Cubs? Obnoxious fans. Just because your team won its first World Series in 108 years does not mean you rule the earth.

The Marlins? Jeffrey Loria is a fuckwad. Jose Fernandez killed two other people because of his abject stupidity. He is not a hero. Besides, I can’t stand Miami to begin with. I despise the Heat. Dolphins and Panthers just as much.

The Texas Rangers fall into that club.

I hope the Lord has something nice in store for this dirtbag crew, who gave a giant middle finger to their in-state neighbors just because they couldn’t handle a very minor inconvenience.

One overhyped event down, one to go

The solar eclipse came and went Monday. Could not see a damn thing in Russell, where it was overcast. Good. I’m glad. I was in my basement working on something Frank needed done when the eclipse passed.

Now it’s on to the other overhyped happening of August 2017, not counting Patrick Mahomes’ performance in the Chiefs’ exhibition vs. the Bengals the other night, or the Royals’ playoff chances.

McGregor-Mayweather.

UFC fighter Connor McGregor faces boxer Floyd Mayweather this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Count me out.

I have never, ever watched UFC, unless it happened to be on while I was in a Buffalo Wild Wings, and even then, I did my best to ignore it, playing trivia and trying to watch other sporting events–even if the other events included the NBA (good Lord).

I don’t like Mayweather. He has a long history of domestic violence. He is boastful to the point where Muhammad Ali was downright humble. I didn’t watch one second of his fight vs. Manny Pacquiao two years ago, and there’s no way in hell I’m watching this farce.

Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa usually shows UFC cards, but it will not be televising the McGregor-Mayweather fight.

Mayweather’s promoters contorl the pay-per-view rights, and his fights are routinely far, far higher to buy than a typical UFC card. It would cost the consumer $99.99 plus tax to watch the fight–if it is availlable on their cable system, that is. It won’t be on the cable systems in Russell, Hays and northwest Kansas. Too freaking bad.

I recall two years ago there were scores of angry people who came into Buffalo Wild Wings at Zona Rosa hoping to see the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, only to find out B-Dubs wasn’t carrying it.

I have done all I can to tune out McGregor-Mayweather. The hype is going to ramp up signifcantly between tonight and the fight, and it won’t subuside until the fight is reviewed ad nauseam Sunday and Monday.

The next total solar eclipse is in 2024. Oh boy. At least Kansas and Missouri are far from the path of totality.

Enough of the eclipse!

I’m in Kansas City right now, where I have been since 4 p.m. Wednesday.

I am ready to get the hell out of dodge and return to the prairie.

The eclipse is now scheduled to arrive in Missouri in less than 21 hours. The hype machine has been in full gear for months, but it has been in turbo since the beginning of August.

Many in the area turned their attention away from the ecliipse for three hours last night when the Chiefs played the Bengals in an exhibition game. When the game ended shortly after 9 p.m., it was time for many to drop everything and worry about the weather for tomorrow.

It would be very funny to me if clouds blocked out the eclipse. It would really be too bad for those who spent hundreds of dollars on a hotel room for one night, thinking they would see a total eclipse. I can’t wait to see how the people react if there are clouds obscuring the sun. You know what? It’s the weather. You know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re dumb enough to lay out exorbitant amounts of money to witness an eclipse, it’s your own fault.

If you’re spending $500 to $700 for a hotel room for one night, you have tons of money to burn AND you need to find something better to burn that money on. For $700, you should be able to take your family to a Chiefs game and still have money left over for a meal after the game.

I gave brief thought to staying over and watching with Robb and Dawn, but they’ve got too many issues in their lives. Good. Now that I think about it, I’m making the right move going home. In fact, I’m going to stay up through the night so I am fast asleep at 1 pm when the eclipse is supposed to be over the region.

Beatlemania paled in comparison to the hype for the eclipse. The Beatles were not bigger than Jesus, as John once claimed. But they were well worth the money spent on tickets. I can’t say the same about the money wasted to try to see an eclipse, which will last less than THREE MINUTES.

I will be so happy by Tuesday afternoon. The eclipse will be over, and the media will have to focus on something else.

Mandatory and play do not go together, Little League

The Little League World Series began Thursday and continues through next Sunday.

I refuse to watch, unless it happens to be on at a sports bar, where I don’t have control of the televisions. But usually I have enough to distract me, including trivia and other sporting events.

I refuse to watch for one primary reason.

Mandatory play.

In most levels governed by Little League International, including the 12-year old level, which is the age group for teams in the LLWS, everyone who is listed on a lineup card must get into the game for meaningful action.

If a team has 13 or more players on its lineup card, every player must (a) bat at least once, or (b) play three consecutive outs on defense. And three consecutive outs means just that; a fielder can drop three fly balls or let three balls go through his legs, but he has to stay out there until three outs are recorded.

If a team has fewer than 13 players on its roster, then everyone must either bat once or play SIX consecutive outs.

A coach who violates this rule is subjected to severe penalties, and the player(s) who did not get into that game must start the team’s next game.

It happened in a regional game in Connecticut this summer. The coach of the New Hampshire state champion refused to insert the one player on his team who had yet to play. The commissioner of the New England region ruled if the coach violated the rule, he would be suspended for his team’s next two games.

What made this ridiculous is New Hampshire trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth–the last inning–with runners on the corners.

The coach refused.

Good for him.

Let me see: I’m going to bat someone who has yet to play just to satisfy a stupid rule when he represents the winning run. Okay then.

The mandatory play rule is asinine. I don’t care if the kids are 12 years old.

It’s a fact of life some kids are just not as talented as the others. It may be some kids hit their growth spurt earlier, it may be a kid is just not naturally talented, whatever.

If the greatest heartbreak in a kid’s life is not getting into a Litlte League game, then that kid has a great life.

How many Little League players are going to make their high school varsity? I would say less than one third.

How many of those who make their high school varsity are going to play in college? Less than five percent.

And how many players in college (or high school) are going to play professionally (and by professionally, I mean the minor leagues)? Less than one percent. And very, very, VERY few are going to make it all the way to Major League Baseball.

Starting in high school, NOBODY has a right to play. NOBODY. There are tens of thousands of high school varsity players across the United States who see little or no action in their careers. It’s not anything against them. It’s a fact of life.

Mandatory play in Little League is another symptom of the participation trophy culture of the United States. Just like parents complaining their son or daughter didn’t play.

I think mandatory play should be abolished, period. But if Little Leasgue insists on keepig it, it should be outlawed for use in state, regional and World Series play. Teams should be able to use their best players at all times when their seasons are on the line. And coaches who refuse to abide by it need to be applauded, not punished, for upholding the spirit of the National Pastime.

I wasn’t good enough to play baseball when I was very young. I tried, but it was futile. I gave it up. It’s not good to quit, but I knew I wasn’t coordinated enough. It’s simply a fact of life I deal with.

No kid should be discouraged if he doesn’t play. It’s all about the team.

Kansas doesn’t have to worry about it anyway. No team from the Sunflower State has ever played in the LLWS. The only area with teams sanctioned by LIttle League are in the southeast corner, and those are grossly overmatched in the Midwest regoinal.

Is there an immunization for eclipse fever? Sign me up!

Eclipse fever has overtaken Kansas City.

Check that, eclipse fever overtook Kansas City months ago. Eclipse fever is now raging throughout much of Missouri, especially along the western edge of the state from Kansas City to the far corner where the state borders Iowa and Nebraska.

You cannot turn on any of the four local network stations and not hear something about the eclipse, which occurs Monday. Most of northern Missouri is in the path of totality, with St. Joseph scheduled to be in totality for two minutes, 38 seconds.

There are estimates of over one million people flocking to Kansas City, St. Joseph and countless small towns in the far northern reaches of the state to view the eclipse, which is dangerous for the human eye unless proper eclipse glasses are worn. Regular sunglasses won’t work. And certainly do not try taking picutres or videos of the eclipse. Anyone who does will go blind and not know it.

In Kansas City, only areas north of the Missouri River–Platte and Clay counties–will have totality, and it won’t be as long as it will be farther north. I’m guessing there will be gigantic traffic jams on Interstate 29 with people stopping to watch. I’ve suggested Missouri Western State University, where the Chiefs hold training camp, open its stadium to let people watch.

Elaine Mercer, one of my supervisors at work, is going to watch from Carrollton, where she and Frank used to live (and still own the newspaper, the Carrollton Democrat). Carrollton is scheduled to have totality for two and a half minutes, too.

The only place in Kansas in the path of totality will be Doniphan County, the farthest county northeast in the state. Russell and Hays will be in the 93 percent range. I’m not watching. NO.

I don’t see what the big fuss is. I saw an eclipse in 1984 when I was finishing second grade. I want to be able to see, even if I’m blind without my contact lenses or glasses.

It reminds me of all those who went crazy over Haley’s Comet being visible in early 1986. It’s not that big a deal to me. I’m not into astronomy. I only know what I learned in school (and playing Buzztime trivia). That’s it. I don’t own a telescope, I don’t look at the horoscope, and I never got attached to watching the space shuttle launch and land, except when I watched it in school. The only time I can remember watching a shuttle launch was in seventh grade at Arabi Park Middle, mostly because it was the first one after the Challenger explosion.

Hotels in Kansas City and St. Joseph are absolutely gouging people who are coming to the area to view the eclipse.

If you thought hotel rates in the area were outrageous for the two NASCAR weekends at Kansas Speedway, you haven’t looked at the rates for this Sunday night.

The “budget” hotels in the area are charging at least $250. Some of the classier hotels downtwon are charging up to $750.

Seven hundred fifty bucks. And that’s not for a hotel in the path of totality.

Someone who is paying over $800 to stay in a hotel and then go watch an eclipse has money to burn. Still, it’s a gigantic waste of money. That person would be better off buying Chiefs tickets.

I’ll be so happy Tuesday when the eclipse is over and people have to start talking about something else.

How cheap can you be?

This fucking sucks. I was writing a nice post on the most overrated 12-1 college football team in the history of the sport, the 2007 Kansas Jayahwks, and the stupid WordPress app on my iPad crashed, taking all the work with it. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT.

Maybe I’d be better off doing the KU football one on my computer. That way it will autosave. Besides, I’ve still got time for that one.

I am having a terrible, terrible time of it. I had hell to go through yesteday at the driver’s license bureau in Hays. I didn’t have the proper documents. The REAL ID law, which took effect for Kansas driver’s licenses August 1, is complicated. I had to go to Hays because in Russell, you can only take care of your driver’s license EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY. That’s it. Thank you, Sam Brownback, for being such a tight-fisted asshole that rural residents either have to drive long distances to renew their licenses, or have to do it on a particular day, which may or may not be convenient for them.

Kansas is also cheap because it won’t give you a new license immediately. You have to get a temprorary one on a thermal sheet of paper and it is mailed to you two weeks later. What is this, a 1990 fax machine? Kansas is too cheap to purchase laminating machines to do it then and there? In Louisiana, I walked out with my new license card a few minutes after filling out hte paperwork and taking a new picture.

I don’t know if Brownback belongs on the Mount Rushmore of cheapskates, but he certainly is in the running.

I would definitely have include Charles O. Finley, the former owner of the Athletics who screwed his players royally by serverely underpaying them, which in turn led to pitiful teams, save for the teams which won three consecutive World Series from 1972-74, and that was only because most of the players came up through the team’s farm system. When it came time to pay Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and the others, they all bolted, knowing Finleey was a cheap bastard.

Another person who would be etched in granite on the Mount Rushmore of cheap bastards is Joe Dean, LSU’s athletic director from 1987-2000. His penny pinching ways fucked LSU fans over good, giving them football coaches Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo, and men’s basketball coach John Brady. Thank God for Mark Emmert. Emmert, who became LSU’s chancellor in 1999, told Dean in no uncertain terms he was conduing the search for the coach to replace DiNardo, which led to Nick Saban leaving Michigan State for Baton Rouge and LSU’s program returning to college football’s upper crust. Had Dean been allowed to hire DiNardo’s replacement, who knows what would have happened.

I’d have to seriously consider Royals owner David Glass, who ran the team like a Walmart store. Walmart is known for cheap shit, and the Royals were pretty much the same until recently.

At least I have a few weeks to take care of the driver’s license. It’s aggravating nonetheless.

Alive–but certainly not kicking

Reports of my demise, while not exaggerated, are premature–at least for now.

I am well aware I haven't posted for over a month. However, there hasn't been anything worth reporting in July, at least outside of the first 40 hours of the month.

I have barely left Russell the last three and a half weeks. I have no desire to fight the scorching heat which has gripped Kansas for much of the month. It's really bad when 95 is considered a decent day. It has been over 100 half the days of the month, and as high as 110 a couple of days. Next summer I'll plan a return to Louisiana so I can escape the heat.

Today is not supposed to get to 90, which calls for a parka. Seriously, I cannot wait for fall. This summer has been downright brutal.

Kansas City is in a lather over the Royals, who take an eight-game winning streak into this weekend's series with the Red Sox at Fenway. Royals fans are saying "bring on the Dodgers" and "Kershaw is no Bumgarner" already. Sorry to be the wet blanket, but the Royals have won all eight of those games against the Tigers and White Sox, who are putrid. The White Sox are easily the worst team in the American League, and while the Tigers don't have the second worst record in the Junior Circuit, they are paying just as badly as the White Sox.

When I lived in Louisiana, I took pity on the Royals after they fell into the abyss. Since Louisiana doesn't have an MLB team and it never will, the pipe dreams of some idiots in the 1970s notwithstanding, there really wasn't a team to root for, although the Astros were popular in many parts, and the Rangers had a few followers in the northwest corner of the state. I was, of course, rooting for the Brewers, and then the Royals, because I heard it from some people about how bad they were, knowing I had roots in Kansas.

Royals fans have become quite insufferable since going to back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning the latter. It's like 1986 through 2013 were an alternate universe, and the 2014 and 2015 teams have direct lineage to the 1985 World Series winning team, and the 1970s squads which won three consecutive AL West championships. Losing 100 games in four of five seasons between 2002 and 2006? Didn't happen. Trey Hillman as manager? Nope, not real. Emil Brown, Mark Grudzielanek, Mark Teahan, Yuniesky Betancourt? Who were they?

Nope, the Royals history goes straight from October 27, 1985, the night they won Game 7 vs. the Cardinals, to 2014. At least, that's what die-hard Royals fans will tell you. Ned Yost is the second coming of Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, if not John McGraw and Casey Stengel. Eric Hosmer is the best first baseman who ever lived. Danny Duffy is better than Sandy Koufax.

Keep drinking the Flavor-Aid, Royals fans. When your team is watching the postseason, don't say I didn't tell you so. And then get ready for what's to come in 2018 and beyond. You can party like it's 1999 (or 2002 or 2004 or 2005 or 2006).

As for the other team occupying the Truman Sports Complex, the Chiefs are starting training camp in St. Joseph. WHY St. Joseph?

This is something that should have ended when Todd Haley and Scott Pioli were fired. It was their brilliant idea to move training camp from Wisconsin, where a more temperate climate allowed for more work outdoors, to a Division II college only 50 miles from their training complex. WHY?

If the Chiefs are going to go away from home for camp, do it a long way from home. If there was a Division II school to use, it would have been Northwest Missouri in Maryville, the dominant Division II program of the 21st cenutry. I understand the idea of drawing fans from Kansas City, but if that's the idea, then hold practices at the high school fields in Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, Olathe and Overland Park.

Missouri Western State University got a sweet deal out of it, not only getting the publicity of having the Chiefs, but massive upgrades to its facilities. MWSU had fallen far behind Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) rivals Northwest Missouri and Pittsburg State as far as facilities. Now that the NFL and the state of Missouri have ponied up, the Griffins have palatial digs, at least for Divison II.

Last I checked, training camp is for the players and coaches to get ready for the season, not for the fans to mingle. The Chiefs would be better off holding practices at their complex and televising them instead of letting fans in. The fans would be able to watch from the comfort of their air-conditioned living room (or sports bar if they so desire).

The Cardinals used to hold training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. In the state, but far enough away from the training facility in Tempe. Also, the Cardinals trained at elevation (7,200 feet), so their stamina was built up. That's the perfect idea of going away for camp.

Holding camp at Division I colleges isn't going to work, now that the season starts before Labor Day. It wasn't that way until the 11th game was added by the NCAA in the early 1970s. Now it wouldn't work if the Chiefs went to Columbia to train at Mizzou. Same for the Saints going to LSU. Or the Cardinals using the University of Arizona.

It poured in Kansas City overnight. Two of the television stations are reporting two people are trapped in a restaurant in south KCMO near the state line.

Half-hearted rivalries 

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

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

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

Bill Self.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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