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Happy 40th, Selection Sunday!

It took 10 minutes for me to scrape the icebergs off my car this morning in Kansas City. I arrived from Russell barely in time; it began sleeting at Junction City, and by time I hit Lawrence, the bridge over the Kansas River on the Tunrpike was slushy. A state trooper was on the left shoulder, and two vehicles were involved in an accident on the right.
It got worse after the toll plaza near Bonner Springs. There is a series of curves between the plaza and Kansas Highway 7, and if you take it too fast in bad weather, it will lead to trouble.
Indeed, numerous cars had slid off the Turnpike, and a couple hit the barrier median (the Turnpike has a concrete barrier for its entire length from the Oklahoma state line to KCK; engineers in the mid-1950s saved money by not including the standard 11-meter (~25 foot) grassy median). I was smart enough to slow down.
By time I checked into my hotel at 16:00, the sleet was coming down harder. An hour later, the snow began, and by morning, my white Buick mostly disappeared.
If it would have been -10 C (12 F) when the snow started, it would have been light and fluffy. Instead, with the temperature at -2 to -3 (27-30), it made the snow ice-crusted.
I have always carried a scraper/brush combination when driving in the winter. Today proved why. Combined with starting the engine and cranking up the defoggers to 32 (90), it made the removal easier.
I had an appointment today in KC, one I put off two weeks ago. That’s the only reason I was here. Believe me, if I didn’t have to be here, I would be in my basement in Russell.

Forty years ago this evening, CBS made sports history with a half-hour special announcing the pairings for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, colloquially known as March Madness.
CBS acquired the rights to the NCAA tournament in the summer of 1981 following a 13-season run on NBC.
NCAA head Walter Byers and his closest lieutenants may have had reservations about moving to Black Rock, since the network also had the NBA, but soon Byers and everyone else at NCAA headquarters in Overland Park would be over the moon.
CBS promised the NCAA much more coverage of the early rounds. NBC provided spotty coverage of the rounds prior to the Elite Eight (reginonal finals), and it wasn’t until the late 1970s it showed those four games live to all of the nation. At first, all four regional finals were played on the same day at the same time; then it was two Saturday and two Sunday, regionally televised.

CBS televised its first college basketball game the Saturday after Thanksgiving 1981, then made its big splash the evening of Sunday, 7 March 1982.
At 6:00 ET/5:00 CT, Brent Musburger sat at his familiar desk at CBS Sports Control in New York with Billy Packer, NBC’s top analyst from 1975-81, discussing what would happen in a few minutes when they linked up with Gary Bender at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Kansas City (yes, THAT Hyatt Regency, the one where 114 were killed eight months earlier when a walkway collapsed on participants in a dance contest).
Joining Bender, who called the 1981 NBA championship series (Celtics-Rockets) for CBS and was tapped as the top play-by-play man for the NCAA was Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt, chairman of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee.
Bender and Gavitt gave a thorough explanation of the principles of constructing the bracket. Gavitt explained the committee always did its best to keep teams in their “natural” geographic regions, but inevitably some teams had to be shifted, such as Georgetown, led by freshman Patrick Ewing, to the West as the No. 1 seed.
The first pairing announced by Bender was Ohio State vs. James Madison at Charlotte in the East regional, with the winner to face top seed and top-ranked North Carolina. (for the record, the Dukes defeated the Buckeyes
FYI, the bracket was 48 teams in 1982. The top four seeds in each regional had byes to the second round. In 1985, byes were eliminated with the expansion to 64.
Another innovation by CBS was live satellite hookups at various schools to gauge their reaction to the brackets.
Pat O’Brien was stationed with Fresno State, where he was joined by the team and hundreds of fans outside Selland Arena. Jim Kelly was in Lexington, where he interviewed Kentucky athletic director and former Wildcat superstar Cliff Hagan. Verne Lundquist, who announced a UNLV-South Carolina game earlier that day in Columbia, got raw emotion from Running Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian after his team was snubbed.
In later years, the chairman of the selection committee answered questions from CBS anchors and analysts, as well as coaches. There have been more than a few heated exchanges.
ESPN began the women’s selection show in the mid-1990s, and it has gained popularity as the women’s game has grown. It will likely draw the highest ratings this year in Louisiana, thanks to Kim Mulkey.

The selection show whetted the appetite of college basketball fans for what CBS would do when the games started four days later.
Black Rock came through big time.
Beginning in 1982, CBS televised a first-round game at 11:30 ET/10:30 CT/8:30 PT on Thursday AND Friday, plus three second-round games each day. CBS showed four live games (two Thursday and two Friday) in the Sweet Sixteen, then made sure every regional final had an uninterrupted three-hour window.
ESPN continued to show first round games through 1990. CBS took over the entire tournament beginning in 1991, and in 2011, coverage expanded to TBS, TNT and TruTV to ensure every game from the First Four to the championship was televised from start to finish in every household in the United States (and many in Canada) who wanted to watch.

YouTube has video of the 1982 selection show. That’s all you need to put in the search box.

One tradition which did not come for a few years was “One Shining Moment”. In 1982, following North Carolina’s 63-62 nail-biter over Georgetown in the Superdome to give Dean Smith his first national championship, CBS showed a montage of highlights, set to Sister Sledge’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us (Jackie’s Theme)”. Nowhere near as popular as “We Are Family” or “He’s the Greatest Dancer” for Sister Sledge, but I’m betting that song gets some play in Raleigh-Durham this time of year to the chagrin of Duke fans (hopefully not too much; besides, the Blue Devils have won five titles since OSM began in 1987).
In 1983, Christopher Cross’ “All Right” was selected for the highlights after North Carolina State’s stunning win over Hakeem Olajuwon’s Houston Cougars (aka Phi Slamma Jamma). I hope Pam Valvano, her children and grandchildren listen to that song and remember Jimmy V. running up and down the court at Albuquerque looking for someone to hug. It was sad Jimmy V. couldn’t be at Cameron Indoor last Saturday for Coach K’s last home game.
Jennifer Hudson, YOU SUCK. Just look up “One Shining Moment 2010” and you will see why.

Coincidentally, CBS’ coverage of the NBA dramatically improved during the 1981-82 season.
The previous season, four of the six games in the championship series were tape-delayed and not televised until 11:35 ET/10:35 CT. Only if you lived in Boston or Houston could you see the games live; even the West Coast markets, where the games in Boston started before prime time, did not show them live.
In 1982, CBS showed all six games of the Lakers-76ers series live. Some earlier round games were still tape-delayed, but there were more live playoff games. Plus, Dick Stockton took over from Bender as play-by-play man, and he showed his mettle as one of the best, and my personal favorite.

I’m not a big college basketball fans, but those who are deserve the best coverage. CBS and its partners have given it to them for 39 seasons.

Two days of heartache

These have been two of the strangest days I’ve been through in 2015. 

Yesterday I was dressed and ready to go before 9 a.m. On Good Friday. Why the hell would I get up that early on a day when I had absolutely nothing to do? 

My car needed me to be up that early. My oil ilife montior on my Impala was telling me it was time to change my oil. The oil life was down to ZERO. As in get it done now. 

I did just that. Got to Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet on Metcalf Avenue just after 9. I had to wait a little longer than usual for an oil change and tire rotation, but that was to be expected, since it was Good Friday and a lot of people took their day off to get their cars serviced. The good news? It was free due to my loyalty to Morse-McCarthy. 

I didn’t get to Buffalo Wild Wings until 2. Lisa was bartending, and she was on pins and needles, because the regional manager, Tory, was there, which marked the fifth time he had been there in the past three weeks. Brittany and Tori took over for Lisa at 5, but I didn’t stay that long. 

Dawn and her husband came in for happy hour. I didn’t play trivia against them, but I didn’t leave, either. Then came two of my favorites (not), DIGDUG and RONDO. Time to get the hell out of dodge. 

Not only did I leave, I did so in tears. I was still very upset over what had happened with Liz the previous night, and I wasn’t up to dealing with certain people. In fact, it was RONDO playing trivia against me which caused me to snap the day I almost hit that guy in the Buffalo Wild Wings dining room three months ago. 

I didn’t stop crying until I finally got back to the Marriott. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts at 75th and Metcalf for an iced coffee, went to Hy-Vee for a few things, and then picked up dinner at Outback at Oak Park Mall. Three lobster tails. Outstanding. 

Then I did something I almost never do, especially if I am staying in Overland Park–I went back to Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m glad I went back.

First and foremost, I got to see Dan and Pam and their kids, Emily and Parker. I had not seen them since New Year’s Night. I had missed them four times in the past three weeks, and each time I got frustrated at missing them. But this time I didn’t miss, and it made me feel much better to see them.

I’m glad I came back to see Liz. She had a rough day, and it only compounded her problems. Not only is her mother back in the hospital, but her grandmother and Aunt Loretta, who lives in MIchigan, are also in the hospital. I hate to see anyone going through that, especially someone who is 21 years old and someone I love so dearly like Liz. I’m going to be 39 in October, and both of my parents and my paternal grandfather are still living. I feel guilty about that sometimes. 

I had a horrendous time getting up today. I kept falling asleep and falling asleep. At one point, I dozed off in the chair at the desk and had a really weird dream. 

I didn’t fully wake up until 5, and it was time for the Michigan State-Duke game in the Final Four to tip off. I got in the shower and then went out, going back to Dunkin Donuts and Outback, with a stop at Walgreen’s across the street from Dunkin to pick up insulin. 

I felt really awful as I ate my T-bone and coconut shrimp. I felt like I had left my friends, especailly Liz and Brittany, in the lurch by not showing up to watch the Final Four games. I felt like I had been a bad friend. 

I didn’t leave the hotel room until 8:40 to head north. Stopped at Dunkin on 87th Street in Lenexa for another iced coffee, then made my way into Missouri. I got to Buffalo Wild Wings at 10, but at first, I couldn’t bring myself to go in.  Finally, Liz brought me in. 

I still have a little guilt. I shouldn’t. I would have been intimidated by the large crowds. 

I still haven’t decided whether or not I’m going back to Russell tomorrow to eat steak with my parents. Part of me says no way. The other says I don’t want to let them down. Decisions, decisions. 

Weekend whirlwind

It has been quite a journey since the last time I posted. I’ve been to Russell and back–again–and had another incident which makes me question if I’m really making progress in therapy.

It happened Friday evening at Buffalo Wild Wings. I knew the place would fill up at night due to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games which would be played that night. I wasn’t ready for the crush.

Three men I had never seen before wanted to sit around me at the bar. I got panicky, demanded my tab, and then picked up and walked away. I went out to the patio, even though it was quite cold, and sat there until someone came outside to smoke. I cannot stand smoke.

I went back inside and sat down for a few minutes. Liz suggested that I go back to the bar and sit at the end where there was open space. I did, but I felt really bad, because I felt I had embarrassed Brittany. Brittany said it wasn’t the case, and she calmed me down. She and Alex made me a smoothie–I drank it too fast and got a brain freeze–and I was able to get myself back under control. I sat out of trivia for awhile before getting back into the game.

I felt much better by time I left at 9:30. I picked up lobster from Outback Steakhouse across the street, then drove back to the hotel and ate.

I knew I had to drive back to Russell Saturday because I had to bring my parents to Kansas City. My dad’s next heart procedure at the KU Medical Center is tomorrow. Since I didn’t have a set time to be back home, I slept in.

Really slept in.

I didn’t step in the shower until after 2. By time I got out of the hotel, it was almost 3. I spent a little time at Buffalo Wild Wings because I wanted to see Brittany, and I also saw Liz and a few others before leaving a little after 5. The drive home was uneventful, and I was back at home before 9.

I’ve been back in my room at Overland Park since a little past 4. I’m about to go north to Buffalo Wild Wings for a little while.

The Final Four is set. Duke vs. Michigan State, and Kentucky vs. Wisconsin next Saturday at Indianapolis.

Key blunder

I am the biggest fool on the face of the earth.

I’m in Hays at the Quik Shop at the corner of 13th and Vine yesterday to get gas. When I’m done fueling, I go to my pocket to get my keys.

They’re not there.

I tried my other front pocket and the pocket on my sweatshirt…not there. Not anywhere in my car.

OH (feces).

I must have dropped them in the trash can when I threw something else away. I was really screwed.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, something I have not done in a very long time. I was panicked.

An employee came out to see what was wrong. I told her and she tried to calm me down, but to no avail.

After a couple of minutes, she fished the keys out. I got in my car, closed the windows, and screamed at the top of my lungs twice. Then I punched the horn four times. I was so angry at myself.


I called my dad and told him how stupid I was. He tried to reassure me everyone makes mistakes, but I had to remind him nobody had done anything as stupid as i had. We did come up with a new strategy, however–from now on, I will throw my trash into a bag in my car and fill it up before throwing it into the trash can. Also, I need to make sure my keys are in my pocket before getting out.

Before that moment of stupidity, things actually had been gong pretty well.

I left Overland Park at 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. I was late getting out because I was filling out all those guest surveys for Buffalo Wild Wings, mostly to help Lisa. I also filled out a couple for Tori, whom I still feel terrible about because I didn’t say goodbye to her Tuesday night when I left.

I picked up a steak at Hy-Vee to cook on my indoor grill when I got back to Russell. I drove through the rain and made it back to 1224 North Brooks at 7 :40, well in time to cook and watch the new episode of Law and Order: SVU. The steak, a bone-in strip, came out perfect–rare, but not undercooked.

I had my latest appointment with Crista Geyer yesterday in Hays. I got my hair cut first–it had been three weeks–then made it over with a few minutes to spare. The session was great, again. This has turned out better than I could have dreamed.

Following the key fiasco, I watched basketball. Wichita State was eliminated by Notre Dame, Utah ousted North Carolina, Arizona edged Xavier, and Kentucky demolished West Virginia 78-39. The Badgers and Wildcats play for the West Region title Saturday at Los Angeles, which will be followed by the Irish and Wildcats in Cleveland for the Midwest crown. The winners of those regional finals play in the Final Four April 4 at Indianapolis.

Tonight’s games are North Carolina State-Louisville and Michigan State Oklahoma in the East; and UCLA-Gonzaga and Utah-Duke in the South. Other than the MSU-OU game, I don’t expect any to be particularly close. I think NC State gets Louisville again, Duke eases past the Utes, and Gonzaga blows away UCLA.

April 6 cannot get here soon enough. Major League Baseball is overdue.

Sunday winding down

Seven and a half hours on a Sunday is plenty of time to spend at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m about ready to head back to Overland Park.

It has been a fine day. Got to see Liz, Tori and Braidey, all of whom loved my floral shirt. I didn’t overeat and I had a great time playing trivia. 

The second round (round of 32) is down to one full game, Northern Iowa-Louisville. Wisconsin is about to put away Oregon and advance to the West regional semifinals Thursday at Los Angeles. 

The winner of the UNI-Louisville game is in good shape. It gets North Carolina State, fresh off of its upset of top seed Villanova, in the East Region semis Friday in Syracuse. The Wolfpack are dangerous and could be on a Cinderella run reminisicent of 1983, but NC State may also have shot its wad agianst Villanova and be vulnerable. 

Getting ready to head south. This will be a relaxing drive. Got a little work to do in the morning, but nothing too daunting. I should be able to make it back to B-Dubs in good time to see Lisa behind the bar tomorrow. Tori is back tomorrow night. 

About leaving time

Editor’s note: I should have posted this Friday. Forgot to. SIlly me.

It has been a better night at Buffalo Wild Wings than expected. The patrons who have sat next to me at the bar have been pleasant, and having Brittany and Alex take care of me has been a joy.

Going to have to cut it short tonight, though. Got that long trip to Smith Center facing me tomorrow. I have to be on the road by 10 in order to make it to Smith Center in time for the 4 p.m. tip of the girls game. The boys game starts at 6. I might leave the boys game at the half in order to get on the road and get back to KC before its too late. If I leave the boys game at the half, I might be able to get to Belleville before it gets too dark. 

God I wish I could stay until 1 a.m. and closing. But duty calls. If I don’t have a job, I don’t have money to come to KC and enjoy Buffalo Wild Wings. Besides I need a break after nine consecutive days, as much as I love everyone. 

Tiresome Saturday

I watched basketball yesterday. Only it was in person, and it wasn’t the NCAA Tournament.

The fifth annual Sunflower Shootout, an All-Star game featuring high school players from northern Kansas, was played yesterday at Smith Center.

The format matched graduating seniors from the Mid-Continent League against a gorup of seniors from other schools around the area, extending from Colby to Clay Center and north to the Nebraska state line. Ellis, TMP-Marian and Trego are in the MCL, so they get to skirt the geographical boundaries.

I left the hotel just before 9. I took a slightly different route to Smith Center, taking I-70 to the K-177 exit, then turning north to Manhattan, where I caught US 24 and took it through Clay Center and Beloit all the way to Osborne, which added up to a 126-mile jaunt on the two-lane highway. At Osborne, I turned north onto the familiar US 281.

The North Central Kansas girls won the first game 86-68. I left at halftime of the boys game with the MCL ahead 52-50. I drove all the way back to Kansas City the familiar way, US 36 to St. Joseph and then I-29 south. I was dead tired. Dead tired.

I returned to Overland Park a few minutes after 11. I collapsed after midnight, and it took me until a few minutes ago to get going. There was a washing machine open, so I’m washing shirts right now.

The Kansas-Wichita State game is at 4:15 this afternoon. Better be there early if I want a seat.

Back at B-Dubs x 9

I decided just after 3:30 to make the long venture to Buffalo Wild Wings. 

It was longer than usual because of a bad accident on I-35 north just past Antioch Road, the last exit before the junction with I-635 north, the 12-mile spur to I-29. 

I decided to exit on Johnson Drive, which I knew would lead me to Metcalf, and eventually I-635. Apparently, many others had the same idea. The exit ramp was backed up onto I-35, and the left turn lanes had really long lines. I cooled my heels for a few minutes at the QuikTrip for a pop and a crossiant. Turns out most of the traffic wanted to turn onto Antioch going north, so once I passed that light, it was clear sailing to Metcalf, and then to 635. 

I didn’t have to drive around nearly as much to find a parking place at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was still pretty busy, although not nearly as busy as it would have been during the Kansas-New Mexico State and Wichita State-Indiana. 

It’s certian to be packed SUnday when KU and WSU meet for the first time since 1992, and for the first time in the NCAA tournament since the 1981 Midwest regional semifinals at New Orleans. I think the Jayhawks win comfortably. 

Brittany and Alex are behind the bar, and they are the main reasons I came in tonight. I saw Alex last night, but I left without saying goodbye, and I felt bad about it. She was ecstatic because of all the positive comments I left for her on the surveys I filled out. 

I have a long trip to Smith Center tomorrow for a high school basketball All-Star games. I’m coming back to Overland Park at night. 

The NCAA tournament has produced no upsets today. Every higher seed has won. 

Friday away from the fray

I did something last night I haven’t done in a very long time.

I cried.

I left Buffalo Wild Wings at 6;30 and made the long drive south through the rain. I took US 71 to I-435 instead of going down I-635 like I usually do. I stopped at QuikTrip on State Line Road for gas, then went back to the Marriott. When I got back, I was given a icy greeting by Amanda, which tells me that she has never forgiven me for my days of staying at the Marriott at the KCI Airport.

That’s when I went to my room and broke down. I was determined to leave the next day and go back to Russell. However, I discovered that it wouldn’t save me that much money to go back, so I decided i would stay at least one more day.

I wanted to do laundry, but the laundry room was packed. The hotel is hosting many teams competing in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II women’s basketball national tournament, and of course, they didn’t pack nearly as much as I did. I went down to the lobby and saw Megan, whom I expressed my concerns to about Amanda. I told her that if it would be better for me to stay elsewhere, I would do so, but she said no, everything was fine.

I went to get a steak from Outback. This time it was rare, the way I like it. Wednesday night, it was closer to medium. I could eat medium as a kid, but not anymore.

I did NOT cry over the ending of the LSU-North Carolina State game. I was simply numb over the way the Bayou Bengals could blow a 14-point halftime lead by going 0-for-12 from the field over the final 10:50, and then miss six free throws over the final three minutes. Then again, LSU deserved to lose that one.

I found an open washing machine at 4:45 this morning. Of course, I fell asleep and then suddenly realized at 8:30 my clothes were still down there. Lucky for me, there was an open dryer, and by 9:45, I had clean underwear again.

I haven’t left my room today. I slept through most of Kansas’ victory over New Mexico State, and I have had the Wichita State-Indiana game on, but not really watching it, more for white noise. I figure I’ll drive to Zona Rosa to survey the situation, say hello to the ladies, and then depart. I have to drive to Smith Center tomorrow.

Texas strikes out

Nolan Ryan would have been right had home had he been on his ranch in Texas watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.


Texas had five entries in the tournament. By 9 p.m. Central tonight, all five were making plans to return to the the place where everything is bigger, but not always better.

We’ll excuse Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin. They were going up against the Pac-12, which isn’t the best conference this season, but it is a major conference, one where the basketball budget at Arizona and Utah, the teams which vanquished TSU and SFA, respectively, is far larger than the entire athletic budget at the smaller Texas schools.

The big boys from the big state fared no better.

The losses by Baylor, Texas and SMU reminded us once again that Texas is a FOOTBALL state first and foremost. If there is a second sport, it’s BASEBALL, not basketball. And women’s basketball has been more successful on the national stage than men’s basketball in the Lone Star State, as evidenced by undefeated national title runs by Texas in 1986 and Baylor in 2012.

Texas’ loss is forgivable. Butler is a good team which knows how to win at this time of the year. The Longhorns were too inconsistent to go very far, and they were exposed by the boys from Indianapolis.

SMU lost to a UCLA team the vast majority of experts claimed had no business being in the tournament. Committee 1, “experts” 0. Now the Bruins are heavy favorites to reach the Sweet 16, since they get UAB in the next round.

Baylor. Wow.

Scott Drew must have taken the PhD course from Art Briles in how to blow big leads. A little more than two months after the Bears football team blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter of the Cotton Bowl to Michigan State and lost 42-41, the Baylor roundballers lost a 12-point lead in less than two minutes to a less than stellar Georgia State team which scored a whopping 38 points in the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game. THIRTY EIGHT POINTS in a game with a 35-second shot clock. Villanova and Georgetown went way over that in the last major college game played without a shot clock, the 1985 championship game won by the Wildcats 66-64.

Then again, where Baylor is now is light years from where it was 10 years ago, when it came within a whisker of the NCAA Death Penalty following the cover-up in the murder of Patrick Denehey by teammate Carlton Dotson. Coach Dave Bliss committed egregious violations and also covered up the murder, which led to a 10 year show-cause penalty, essentially blackballing him from coaching at another NCAA school. The Bears were banned from playing non-conference games in 2005-06, the first time such a harsh penalty had ever been handed down.

I don’t think many will care much about college basketball in Texas for much longer. Spring football at the colleges is well underway, and the large high schools will hold their own spring drills in April and May.