Saturday, March 29, 2014

Play Us... Why Should We?

The cry from Wichita and its loyal Shocker fans to the University of Kansas is play us.  The answer for K.U. is easy.  Why should we?  Kansas has nothing to gain and everything to lose.  And the whining from Wichita State about the snub from Lawrence seems to take away from the luster of W.S.U.'s greatest season ever.

The Shockers finished the season 35 and 1.  They went down to the best 8 seed ever in NCAA history when a young, but tough Kentucky team took them out.  The Shockers were denied the impossible dream of a 40 win season and becoming the first undefeated champions since Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers of 1976. 

Even if Wichita State had climbed that Mount Everest of NCAA basketball history, their program would have still lacked the luster of Kansas.  The Shockers don't belong in the conversation with K.U., Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina and U.C.L.A.  Those schools are NCAA basketball history.  For example, W.S.U. has made the NCAA tournament only 9 times,  Kansas has been in the Final 4 more times than that.

Now with their glorious season at an end, I expect Shocker fans to whine endlessly about K.U.'s refusal to play a home and away series with the Gold and Black.  It's an issue that has some Kansas lawmakers threatening legislation to force K.U.'s hand on the matter.  Economics dictate that Kansas shouldn't do it.  It will cost K.U. a potential home game every other year.  That's a chunk of money and in college athletics we all know that in the end, it's about the money. 

A home and away series with W.S.U. puts the two schools on equal footing when it comes to the conversation of basketball in the Sunflower State.  Why would K.U. want to do that?  The answer is simple, because it makes for a good story.  It makes for a rivalry that Kansas could use with the absence of Missouri.  It would bring a little panache to the dullness of December or January college basketball. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I Need a Race

I've managed to stay healthy for a good six weeks now, slowly adding miles to the daily run.  I finally had a heart to heart with myself about my tendency to just run how I feel, which is generally pretty damn slow.  I've been going out day after day just lumbering along, barely scratching below 10 minute per mile pace.  I realized that just wouldn't cut it.

I am now allowing myself to just slug along for one mile and then I make myself ratchet up the pace.  It really isn't that hard to run under 9 minute per mile if one decides to do so.  Besides, I need to take advantage of the incredible weather we're having. 

But the missing ingredient is a race.  I skipped out on the Edison 5K in February because it was only a couple of weeks after I resumed my daily runs.  I had planned to run my favorite 4 mile race in Lehigh Acres this Saturday but I was super bummed out when they decided to switch the race from 4 miles to a 5K.  I can run a 5K every weekend around here on pancake flat courses from now until the weather is staggeringly hot in May.  So instead of racing, I slept in and actually took a day off from the roads altogether.

So I need to scan the calender and just pick out a race.  I just don't like the idea of not being able to run at least 7:30 pace for a 5K and as it looks now, that's just not going to happen anytime soon.  So I will swallow my pride and just go race for the hell of it.  It's the only way I'll get faster.  It's the only way to keep from getting completely stale.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

World Class My A##!

The city of Lawrence, Kansas got horns waggled by the University of Kansas.  The city put up a butt load of money to build some world class facilities for K.U.'s athletic teams including a brand new track and field facility.  Just recently an article graced the Lawrence Journal-World touting the fact that K.U.'s brand new track facility is one of only five facilities in the United States that is considered top tier.

You would think the University would be ready to roll out the new facility for this April's Kansas Relays with a whole roster of world class athletes ready to do battle on this super-duper track.  Think again.  K.U. decided the $200,000 it spends on bringing a handful of Olympic caliber athletes to the Relays is just too big a burden for its $70,000,000 athletics budget. 

That means K.U. has a world class facility that will now host a glorified high school track meet with a few dozen top caliber collegians thrown in for good measure.  Any pro that wants to run in Lawrence will do so on their own dime.

The K.U. Relays used to be one of the nation's premier track and field meets.  A long slide started after 1972 with Jim Ryun's last appearance and was accelerated when John McDonough got pissed at Bob Timmons and pulled Arkansas out of the meet in the late 70's that began an exodus of top collegiate teams that crippled the meet.

An appearance by a team from the Soviet Union in the early 1980's was about the only bright spot until the late 1990's when the Relays started luring some top flight runners to the meet.  Olympians like Maurice Greene, Alan Webb, Christian Cantwell and Bershawn Jackson helped bring some excitement to an otherwise flagging event.

A stroke of genius put the shot put smack dab in the middle of downtown Lawrence putting one of the U.S.A.'s strongest events center stage.  It was a great spectacle that helped draw people to downtown.  The money spent on pro athletes kept crowds at a reasonable levels and in turn helped put money into city coffers.

Now K.U.'s athletic department has pulled a nice bait and switch.  They got a new track facility, but heaven forbid it spends anything to bring in some athletes that might attract some crowds to the city and in turn generate tax revenue for the city that put up millions of dollars to build those new facilities.  The University of Kansas owes the city and the businessmen and politicians who supported this project a better explanation than the one that currently graces the pages of the Journal-World.  As a track and field fan and a graduate of Kansas, I'm outraged.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

And Then There's Brisbane

Bruce Springsteen's summer of fun is over.  He left New Zealand and returned to winter and New Jersey to rest up and get ready for another tour in the United States in about a month.  I know, I know, I just blogged about the Boss, but oh brother, the man has gone insane.

I'm still recovering from a download of his last show in Brisbane, Australia.  The date was February 26th to be exact.  It was an amazing display from a great songwriter.  He poured through a sensational hour of music which included a freaky opening song as a nod to The Bee Gees with "Stayin' Alive."  Then he suddenly began to second guess his next move, before sheepishly admitting he wanted to play perhaps his most under appreciated album, "The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle." 

Before the audience knew what hit them, Bruce and his massive band was roaring through this masterpiece.   It came complete with Garry Tallent on the tuba for "Wild Billy's Circus Story."  But it was what was played before that tune, "Kitty's Back," that just shook me.  My buddy Chris Ronan sent me a YouTube link which you can click on above of this performance.  It was if Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had channeled the Grateful Dead.  It rumbles for almost 15 minutes with some of Bruce's most searing guitar playing.  I can't stop thinking about it.

And to finish up hour number three Bruce and this unbelievable group of musicians ripped off another 12 tunes before calling it a night.  Tallent's bass playing particularly stood out for me as the show was rapping up.  30 songs in 3 plus hours.  It was a virtuoso performance.  The E Street Band is pretty damn good but when you add three extra horns, Tom Morello shredding on the guitar, and a trio of awesome backup singers and it just sticks to the ribs.

Finally, there is Jake Clemons.  He faced an impossible task of replacing his Uncle Clarence.  Listening to shows from a year ago you could just feel he was outmatched.  Not anymore, Jake can flat out wail.  His playing his stupendous.  I just pray I can get to one of their Florida stops in two months.  Download this one, it's money well spent on an incredible piece of musical history.