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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kansas Jayhawks Football Game 7: 29 and Counting.

“KU has lost 26-consecutive true road games and 29 games away from Lawrence overall.”

This is not from a Texas Tech Red Raider fan site lobbing bricks at the Kansas Jayhawks in anticipation of Saturday’s meeting in Lubbock between two teams that are 2-4 and 0-3 in the Big 12 (it’s a 2:30 pm CT kick on Fox Sports Net, I know you’ve already set the DVR).

This is also not a quote from any media outlet that covers KU, who in the interest of fairness and journalistic integrity note all relevant statistics, warts and all.

No, this quote is from the one place that is basically required to spin everything that happens to Kansas football in a positive light, the weekly media release. By the school. Approved by the program. It is entirely possible that it is seen by interim head coach Clint Bowen before we get a chance to see it. And that’s in the weekly media release.

Believe it or not, there is actually some positive spin in that quote. Did you spot it? It’s the part where it implies that KU really hasn’t lost 29 consecutive away games, because three of those games are considered “neutral location” contests.

This, clearly, is the positive spin of a program that if it isn’t at rock bottom, it can positively reach out and touch it. “We’ve really only lost 26 road games” is flat-out delusional talk. You’ve lost 29 straight. I speak now as an alum, owning up to the truth. We’ve lost 29 straight.

I looked it up. KU last won on the road- okay, fine, “away from Lawrence” on September 12th, Two thousand and NINE. In El Paso, against UTEP.  The final score was 34-7. On 9/12/09, Mark Mangino was still KU’s head coach (it was his last season). Todd freaking Reesing was the starting QB. And get this- KU was actually ranked. They were 24th. The win, in the second week of the season, was part of a five-game win streak to start the ’09 campaign, and coming off their second consecutive bowl season and win (they beat Minnesota in the Copper Bowl in ’08, and of course won the Orange Bowl the season before), there was of course plenty of hope that this was part of the Jayhawks resurgence.

It wasn’t, as you well know. After winning five straight to start ‘09, KU lost seven straight to end the season. Mangino resigned under threat of being fired for “conduct detrimental to the university,” although apparently treating players like dirt is okay when you’re winning.

Then they hired Turner Gill. You may recall how well that worked. Then they hired Charlie Weis. You know how well that worked. Now we’re on Clint Bowen. It has been more than five years since KU has won a road game. This is their last real chance to break the streak this year, because KU’s last three road games are against currently ranked opponents. And not just ranked teams, but Top-15 teams (#4 Baylor, #11 Oklahoma, and #14 Kansas State. Although how the Mildcats are ranked 14th is beyond me. They came close to Auburn, sure, but they’ve played awful teams otherwise. They’re at Oklahoma this week, so they oughta be out of the Top-15 the next time the polls are released). It’s not looking good.

Not to add insult to injury (don’t forget this started with a quote from a KU-sanctioned press release), but can you recall those three neutral site games that KU lost that makes Jayhawk staff claim the losing streak is “really” only 26 games? They weren’t bowl games, obviously. They were the final three contests against Missouri, at Arrowhead Stadium. To which I say: Screw Mizzou!  (Any excuse to say “Screw Mizzou!” is a good one.)

Barring some sort of offensive firepower miracle, KU will lose their 30th consecutive “away from home” game in Lubbock. I don’t know what the NCAA record is for longest away losing streak, but I feel confident that the KU media guide will not tell me how close they are to owning that record. But I’ve been surprised before.
Our proverb around here: Where there's Clint, there's Julie.
photos courtesy: kansas.com, celebritybabyscoop.com (don't judge, that's where Google search led me)

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17th, 1989: Before The Quake

Here's the sports section of the Marin Independent Journal on October 17, 1989, the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I came home from high school and read this paper in anticipation of game 3 of the Bay Bridge Series. Even then, I noted how the Oakland A's eventual series win over the San Francisco Giants was such a foregone conclusion that the big photo was basically a joke. "Here's the only thing interesting about this series so far, a camera trick."

Note the unintentional foreshadowing of the headlines: "Craig shakes up his lineup," "Winds of Change"
On page three, a recurring guest column by a soon-to-be retired Giants pitcher. Wonder whatever happened to him?

In other sports news pre-quake, the Denver Broncos hired a recently fired Los Angeles Raiders coach. Mid-season, no less. Good luck with that.
All pictures by me, of a 25 year old newspaper that's almost been thrown out many, many times.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kansas Jayhawks Football Game 6: Oh, S….. tate

It's almost like even he has no idea what's going on.
Nobody expected miracles in Clint Bowen’s first game as Kansas Jayhawks head football coach. Which is good, because there weren’t any. Unless you count scoring two touchdowns a miracle, and considering the KU offense, it might well be one.

This week, the Hawks are back at home taking on Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3pm CT, Fox Sports One). The most interesting thing Coach Bowen has said all week concerns the quarterback situation. Montell Cozart isn’t the worst QB ever, he’s just stuck in a situation where he can’t succeed. How much of that is his fault? Anyway, in his presser, Bowen said that nobody freaks out when other positions shuttle players in and out, so why should quarterback be any different?

The answer, coach, is that the quarterback controls everything that goes on in the offense. When you have three different bosses, you have three times as many problems. Nice try, though. We get the message loud and clear: you’re changing quarterbacks. Probably several times. A game.

The Cowboys are the first ranked team KU plays this season, they’re 16th. Their only loss was to number-one Florida State in the first game of the year. They’re 4-1, 2-0 in conference. Against non-ranked “big 5” conference opponents (Duke, Texas, and West Virginia), KU is 0-3, being outscored 97-17. This is not a good sign.

The only thing that might- might, as in real big longshot- help KU is that this is OSU’s first real road game of the year. The FSU match officially occurred on a neutral field, at the Jerry Jones Memorial Mausoleum in Dallas. So the Kansas crowd, if anyone’s still left, could possibly maybe potentially throw the Cowboys off. Somewhat.

Oh, the game starts at the same time as the second game of the American League Championship Series between Kansas City and Baltimore.

As the great Emily Litella said….

Sorry, Julie. Almost forgot about you.

Shortest Oregon Ducks-UCLA Bruins Preview Ever

Both teams entered the season with National Championship aspirations. The loser of this game (Saturday, 12:30pm PT, FOX) is done. End of story. No College Football Playoff, no New Year's Day/Eve Bowl. In the eyes of the fan base, the loser of this game might as well pack it in. So I expect both teams to pull out every trick in the book. Fake punts, fake field goals, multiple option passes, hook-n-ladders, every misdirection play you have ever seen. The loser of this game should be happy to make the Alamo Bowl. The winner still can make the Final Four. Simple as that. 

A season on the brink.
photo courtesy: dailyemerald.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

“World Series of Destiny” Storylines for Every Potential Matchup

Every World Series, it’s apparently not enough that they’re playing for the championship. In order to draw in the casual fan, there is always an emphasis on the matchup’s historic qualities. Every World Series is now touted as “inevitable” and “destiny” and “fated to happen” because of certain storylines that “had to meet here.” This is, of course, a crock. Here are some of those “inevitables” for each potential matchup.

Kansas City Royals versus St. Louis Cardinals
The most obvious of all of them. A rematch of the 1985 Series, KC’s only World Series title. Expect plenty of Don Denkinger video montages should this happen. They’ll happen anyway if KC makes it, but they’ll replay it every time there’s a close play should this matchup come to pass. In addition, a state currently very troubled by race relations would welcome any chance for positive publicity of any kind.

Baltimore Orioles versus St. Louis Cardinals

The Orioles began life as the American League St. Louis franchise, the Browns. They owned Sportsman’s Park and shared it with the Cardinals. The Cards and Browns met in the 1944 World Series (the last World Series to be played entirely in one ballpark), which the Cardinals won, 4-2. So plenty of Stan Musial, Mort Cooper, and Harry Breechen highlights if this happens. Maybe even some Denny Galehouse (who is more known for being the ill-fated starter for the Red Sox in the 1948 one-game playoff with Cleveland). In the early 50’s, Browns owner Bill Veeck tried to drive the Cardinals out of town by out-promoting them (Eddie Gaedel, a one-game comeback by Hall of Famer and former Cardinal Dizzy Dean, and so on). He might have succeeded, but the Cardinals were sold to Augie Busch and the Budweiser fortune, and the Browns were the ones that left for Baltimore.

McGraw in his Baltimore days
Baltimore Orioles versus San Francisco Giants

Before the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954, the only Major League franchise in Baltimore had been the American Association and National League Orioles. Their heyday was the mid-1890’s, when they won three straight NL Pennants as well as two Temple Cups (since there was only one Major League at the time, the 1st and 2nd place NL teams had a postseason playoff series called the Temple Cup). Those Orioles were known for dirty play. A second umpire was added to the field because when the one umpire’s back was turned, those Orioles would take advantage of the situation by impeding a baserunner’s progress any way they could. Tripping was child’s play for the 1890’s Orioles. And the most notorious of those Baltimore Orioles was their shortstop, John McGraw. When the NL disbanded the Orioles for their shenanigans, McGraw played for the St. Louis Cardinals for a year, then jumped to the new American League to play for, manage and own part of their new Baltimore Orioles franchise.

After a year or so back in Baltimore, McGraw and the American League president, Ban Johnson got to feuding (a recurring theme in McGraw’s career), and McGraw snuck back to the National League, becoming manager of the New York Giants and making them the most successful franchise of the first quarter-century of professional baseball. Those Orioles were then moved to New York specifically to compete with McGraw’s Giants and renamed the Highlanders, because they played in a ballpark built on a hill. Newspaper editors found “Highlanders” too annoying to print and renamed them the Yankees. The Giants eventually moved to San Francisco in 1958. So McGraw plays a very important part in the early history of both (all three?) teams. If this matchup is not referred to as the “McGraw Series” at some point, I’ll be disappointed.

Kansas City Royals versus San Francisco Giants

The first World Series with two teams that won the one-game Wild Card Playoff. Have you even been paying attention?