Blog Archives

Sports Saturday morning

Smith Center solved the easy part of the playoff equation last night with a 34-8 victory over Bennington at home. The game was never in doubt, even though the Bulldogs scored in the second quarter to narrow the gap to 14-8.

The Redmen scored on their next drive on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Thayne Benoit to Mason Buckmaster, and then just before halftime, Kaden Meitler’s pass rush forced Bulldog quarteback Kyle Kiborz into a hurried throw which was intercepted by Gavin Overmiller. Smith Center cashed in the turnover for a touchdown, and it was 28-8 at halftime. Game over.

Now comes the hard part. Smith Center must win at Phillipsburg Thursday, or the Redmen are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Phillipsburg won a tougher than expected game at Ell-Saline 20-14. The Panthers would have clinched a playoff berth if they would have won by a larger margin, but I still think they win the district title Thursday by ousting the Redmen.

I listened to the final three innings of game three of the World Series on XM Radio going south on 281. The Royals won 3-2, as Wade Davis and Greg Holland retired the Giants in order in the eighth and ninth innings to put Kansas City up 2-1.

Since I have XM, I can get the Royals radio broadcasters, Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre. I can also get the Giants’ call, which means the legendary voice of the one and only Jon Miller.

Under the MLB’s radio agreement with ESPN, the only stations which may carry local broadcasters during the World Series are the flagship stations, which this year means KCSP-AM in Kansas City and KNBR-AM in San Francisco. Every other station, including WIBW in Topeka, the only station to carry every Royals game since the franchise began in 1969, must take the ESPN Radio feed.

However, there is no exclusivity for local stations and their broadcasters, meaning any station in one of the competing cities can carry ESPN’s feed if they so choose. This has caused a major ruckus in Kansas City, where WHB-AM, the leading sports talk station in the market and the archrival of KCSP, has carried ESPN’s feed for all Royals playoff games. I’m sure there are affiliates in all the other postseason cities, including San Francisco, which has the same problem. It’s worse in KC, however, because WHB dominates the market, save for Royals games, which air on KCSP. The Chiefs have aired on an FM station, KCFX, since 1989.

Matthews, who has been with the Royals since day one, did not call the 1980 World Series at all. That was the last year local radio stations were precluded from producing their own broadcasts, forcing even the flagship stations to take the national feed, which at the time was CBS Radio.

In 1980, it may not have caused more than a ripple in Kansas City, but it caused a near-riot in Philadelphia, where Phillies fans were not allowed to hear the voice of one of the legends of broadcasting, Harry Kalas. Most sports fans, myself included, first heard Kalas doing voice-over work for NFL Films, but in the City of Brotherly Love, he was Jesus Christ as far as broadcasters were concerned. I say Jesus Christ because the Lord was John Facenda, who of course was the main voice of NFL Films from 1966 until his death in 1984, and also was a famous anchor for the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia from the late 1940s through 1973.

In 1981, MLB changed its rules to allow the flagship station for each team to produce its own broadcasts , but only the flagship could carry the local announcers; all other stations still had to take the national feed. It worked out wonderfully in 1982, when fans for the Brewers and Cardinals got to hear Bob Uecker and Jack Buck, respectively. The next year, Kalas got to call his beloved Phillies in the World Series, but they lost to Orioles. Same in 1984 with the Padres (Jerry Coleman) and Tigers (Ernie Harwell). Matthews got his chance in 1985.

As much as I’d like to sit around, I’ve got to get moving. Got a long trip to Scott City for sub-state volleyball this afternoon. I’ll next report when I’m there.

Lights out at Hubbard?

I have got to start going to bed earlier than I have. I slept too late again today. I also didn’t help myself by stuffing my face. It came back to haunt me just before noon.

Regardless, I’m back in Smith Center for what more than likely will be the final football game at Hubbard Stadium this season. The Redmen must defeat Bennington to keep their playoff hopes alive, but that’s only half the story.

Smith Center, which has lost to Ell-Saline and LaCrosse in the last two weeks, although the latter was a non-district game, also has to defeat Phillipsburg Thursday to make the postseason for the 12th consecutive season. The week six boo-boo in Brookville, a game in which Ell-Saline gained a meager 64 yards, has put the Redmen squarely behind the 8-ball.

The Redmen’s current playoff run began in 2003. It includes five consecutive Class 2-1A state championships between 2004 and 2008, and 29 of the 79 victories in Kansas’ longest high school football winning streak.

It used to be much harder to make the playoffs. From 1981, the year the Kansas State High School Activities Association introduced district football, through 2001, only the district champion reached the postseason. There were a few seasons where 8-1 Smith Center teams sat home because the loss came in the wrong game.

1983 is a good example. The Redmen won the 1982 state title and were undefeated going into their final game of the season. but they lost to Osborne and that was it. The Bulldogs went on to win the 3A state championship, so no shame in that.

The Royals and Giants play game three of the World Series at 7:07 CT tonight. Smith Center principal Greg Koelsch and athletic director Greg Hobelmann are already looking for ways to get updates on the game. I have the MLB At-Bat app on my iPhone.

Speaking of my iPhone…I may have bit off more than I can chew.

An interested observer–nothing more

I’m sorry. I cannot get caught up in Royals hysteria. I can’t do it. There’s something that isn’t letting me.

Yes, I have favorite professional sports teams, but I am not invested heavily in them. For instance, there are no pennants of my teams on the walls of my basement room, I don’t have posters, clocks, lamps or anything signifying whom I pledge my allegiance to. The only thing I’ve got is a Brewers jacket. I have Brewers hats, but I don’t wear them, simply because I can’t. My head is way, way too big to fit comfortably even in a size 8 cap. I “liked” my favorite teams on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, but you won’t find me in Buffalo Wild Wings screaming for them. And you certainly will never find me wearing a jersey. Waste of money. Big waste of money. Why do I want to spend $250-$350 on a shirt?

The Arizona Cardinals, my favorite NFL team, played in Super Bowl XLIII. i got pretty excited when Larry Fitzgerald scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but I knew in the back of my mind the Steelers would come back, and sure enough, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes and assured Pittsburgh of its sixth Lombardi Trophy. It would have been nice to see the Cardinals win, but I would not have gone out and bought a bunch of Cardinals championship gear. Sure, it would have been nice to wear it for a month or two after the game, but once the next season started, what did it matter?

I’ve witnessed LSU win six baseball national championships and two ore football national titles since 1991. The most emotionally invested I was for any of those teams was the 1997 CWS title team, since I had worked all the home games and would be moving into an expanded role for 1998. I got to see LSU win the 203 football title in the Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, but in that case, I was in the press box and could not cheer. I have not watched an LSU football game as a spectator since the Bayou Bengals lost their 1993 season finale to Arkansas during my senior year of high school. I’ve only watched LSU baseball games as a fan during the old Winn-Dixie Showdown at the Superdome in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Do I have preferences for many events? Sure. I could not stomach the Oakland Athletics of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. I was not a fan of the Cincinnati Reds when they won the 1990 World Series. And I have always been negative about the Atlanta Braves, largely because they were owned by left-wing lunatic Ted Turner, and because Turner kept forcing “America’s Team” down our throats on TBS. Unless America only consists of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolinas, then the Braves are NOT America’s Team.

I’ll freely admit I could not stand Michael Jordan. Great player? Yes. Great person? HELL NO. Turd. Jerk. Arrogant bastard. All about him. I wanted the Bulls of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to lose every game they played, and I was angry every time they won the NBA championship. And I do not like any NHL team in the south. I believe hockey should only be played in places where it’s cold enough to do so outside in the winter. Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta and Dallas don’t qualify.

Is the journalist in me preventing myself from getting caught up in the hype? Maybe so. I do not feel comfortable going to sporting events and just watching. I feel like I have to be doing something, anything, whether it’s taking pictures, taking notes, following something online, whatever. Sitting at a game with a bunch of strangers just isn’t my cup of tea, nor am I one to sit at a sports bar with a bunch of friends to watch a game. I prefer to be in my own world, watching the game the way I feel comfortable doing so, without distraction, without pressure.

I was at Buffalo Wild Wings the night of the Royals’ wild card game victory over the Athletics. I had far bigger concerns than the Royals. I did not cheer. I did not clap. In fact, I put earplugs in for most of the night. I did not go to B-Dubs during the division series because I knew hotel space would be next to impossible to find with the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway in town that weekend.

I was at B-Dubs for game two of the ALCS, but again, no cheering. Just watching, playing trivia and checking on my computer.

I’m watching the 2014 World Series the same way I watched the 1984 Series: a guy who likes Major League Baseball. I am not rooting for the Royals or the Giants. Not my style.