For the Sheer Enjoyment of It — and a Little Vetting

A woman from South Carolina replied to my blog that I should go national. Well, folks can read this from anywhere. All they have to do is log in. However, I understand her point and I appreciate what she said.

I write my blog simply for the enjoyment of it and the chance to vent. I don’t pay any attention to how many hits this blog gets but I do know that I get a kick out of talking to friends and family who catch me in person and discuss various facets of a particular topic in one of the stories. Of course, I hope others get involved and manage to take some of my thoughts to heart.

I fear the way the country is moving. I think of the worn-out but oh so true phrase, we’re only as strong as our weakest link. And that causes me to segue to, a rising tide raises all boats but a lot of folks out there can’t afford the boats.

Newspapers, radio and television journalism fails to measure up to my expectations. As for the KC Star, it’s a case of yesterday’s news tomorrow. Radio? Geez. In Kansas City, you no longer have news radio. You either listen to music off a computer format or a conservative pundit spewing misinformation, flat-out lies and hate. If you pick and choose wisely, you can put together some good TV news sources, although the chore is becoming more and more difficult. But, quite honestly, you get maybe a half hour a day of hard news from local, national and cable news. Local has a lot of happy talk; national has so very little time; and cable repeats stories without anything new.

I catch myself slapping the paper, upset at the reporting and editing. I yell and cuss at the TV and they can’t hear me shout, “Ask the tough question, dammit.” They don’t follow up and the source is sugar-coating the answer. If the TV set didn’t cost so darn much, I would throw something at it.

The Star upsets me because of the lack of good, hard news reporting. Back in the old days, reporters were alert to get on top of a story by listening to the police radio, cultivating sources and beating the bushes. When news happened, reporters were on it.

I refer to a story a few years back that reflects just how poorly the paper jumps on a truly breaking story. A Grandview Triangle bridge collapsed on a Saturday afternoon. The paper ran an Associated Press story for Sunday’s editions. For Monday’s paper, a small item appeared. Finally, on Tuesday, they realized they had a page one story.

It’s not just the timeliness of the story, it’s also the reporting and editing of it. So many stories, so many holes, more than a western Kansas field inhabited by prairie dogs. Our Brooksider Group spends much of Wednesday afternoons pointing out the numerous short-comings of the Star and wonder why if we can catch the flaws why in the world can’t they — after all, they are supposed to have the resources and staff to stay on top of the process.

Local TV news leaves me begging for more. They say they don’t have the time to fill with local stories and yet they add national feeds, ones that don’t take staffing.

Oh nationally, all those staffers and so many just don’t get it. Maybe I’m jaundiced by so many of the reporters lacking sound journalistic backgrounds.

Chuck Todd of NBC is considered one of the most influential reporters on TV. He attended George Washington University from 1990 to 1994. He played the French horn and attended on a music scholarship. He majored in political science but didn’t graduate. He worked on political campaigns in Florida and Washington, D.C., before working his way from Hotline to spots on MSNBC. He’s now chief White House correspondent for NBC.

CNN makes me gag most of the time. They’re supposed tobe the real journalists of cable-TV. Not! Wolf Blitzer is its lead reporter and anchor who has been at the network since 1990. Fluent in Hebrew, he became known for his coverage of the arrest and trial of Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who was charged with spying for Israel. He has become the Brent Musburger of TV news — way over-exposed and tiresome to view.

And don’t even bring up Fox News. It’s an abomination. The shows spread conservative propaganda, out-and-out lies and more misinformation than a con man caught with a Ponzi scheme.

Don’t get me started on USA Today. Can’t stand it. Instead of consistent journalism, the paper snows its readers with color and graphics.

You want a terrific daily newspaper, then you gotta live in Dallas. The Morning News is solid in every respect. Terrific newspaper in all ways. The sports page is really good with entertaining columnists, in-depth reporting and blanket coverage of the state.

The Star has some good reporters but they mainly have to follow the yesterday-tomorrow time line because of the management philosophy.

They have more columnists than Bayer has pills. The paper had it just right when Mike Hendricks was the main news columnist. He was good and provided a good face for the Star. Now he’s doing news and they fill the columnist job with so many different people that I think I’m running down the list of Sybil’s 16 personalities.

Dave Helling and Steve Kraske try to do a political column and they do a woeful job, for the most part. Helling will miss key facts needed to fulfill the nut of the story and Kraske, well, he’s not robust enough for me. Mary Sanchez and Barbara Shelly do good jobs but the Star needs that one dominant news columnist, not column-by-numbers.

Allow me to touch on the Star’s sports section for just a moment. So much potential, so much disappointment. From a columnist standpoint, well, the two of them, Sam Mellinger and Vahe Gregorian, are more take-out writers than columnists. An old editor of mine would say now, they may not write very well but they sure do write long. Blair Kerkhoff does a terrific job for the sports page. The KC Chiefs and KC Royals get basically good coverage.

Oh, I could go and on but I won’t.

I will just keep on writing and doing what I please and hope the ones who read will be incited to think and exchange their ideas.

Gutless Nay-sayers and Weenies Need Scrutiny

Gutless. It’s the only way I can describe some of these politicians — the ubiquitous Republican nay-sayers and the weenie Democratic fence-setters.

Two issues reflect their sometimes vindictive, sometimes timorous approach to the issues. One is the situation in the Ukraine and the other is the Keystone XL Pipeline. And, of course, there’s always the Affordable Care Act.

I watched Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., deliver his continue-to-stick-it-in-Obama spiel on the United States-Russian debate over the Ukraine. He said President Obama had been slow to act and lacked the will to develop more stringent economic sanctions on the Russians. Yeah, listen to Corker all you want because I’m sure his southern-fried brain knows all there is to know about international relations.

This is the same guy who said he had it on good authority that Volkswagen was going to bring in more business to Tennessee if the workers there voted down a union. Volkswagen officials then said they never made that statement. But the workers did vote down the union.

Corker is the largest landowner in Hamilton County, Tennessee. He was accused, when mayor of Chattanooga, of illegally using his position to push through a land deal between one of his companies and Wal-Mart, but that charge went nowhere. He’s worth at least $60 million. Naturally, he’s a friend of the tax cuts for the upper one percent and that’s the way he votes, conflict of interest or not.

Now, we have Republican-flavored pundits questioning Obama’s manhood. New York Times columnist David Brooks suggested on Meet the Press that Obama had a “manhood problem.”

During a discussion on the Ukraine issue Brooks said, “And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair, but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.”

Former President Jimmy Carter has even knocked Obama on foreign policy, saying that he isn’t involved enough in peace negotiations in the Middle East. Interesting, huh. How did your policies work out in the Middle East, Jimmy?

Look, Europe faces the brunt of hardship if Russia continues to act tough. So, why not let Europe be the leader in whatever direction the allies want to take? So far, the United States hasn’t lost a soldier in the Ukraine unrest. Good. Let’s keep it that way. Vladimir Putin has plenty of trouble internally and he can politicize external pressures to give him more clout as the Russian leader. Let him wallow. Let Ukraine settle its differences. What would be the problem in allowing the East to separate from the West? Politically, the Ukrainians are set up that way.

Speaking of little knowledge, listen to those who arduously back the pipeline. They keep talking about how many jobs it would create. People, think. Do some checking. It doesn’t take that many people to run a pipeline, Believe me. After the construction, jobs would be minimal. Oh, and here’s Corker again — the man knows everything. He said the pipeline would create 42,000 jobs. Geez, the most liberal estimates even by contractors say construction jobs would reach maybe 14,000.

However, take this figure and put it down in big type — 50. Yes, that’s right. A pipeline of Keystone’s size would take just 50 workers to operate on a daily basis.

So, please, stop all this discussion about job creation. You want jobs, then Congress must pass an infrastructure bill. That simple.

Oh, and the pipeline proponents push the point that the U.S. needs to be energy independent. Yes, that’s true. But the pipeline won’t bring about that security. You see, most all of the crude oil and refined liquid hydrocarbons would be shipped overseas. The U.S. refineries are running at near capacity.

Just what would happen if the highly toxic tar sands would spew through a break in the line. Think about the Ogallala aquifer. Many Nebraskans are concerned about a possible spill polluting their ground water. Unfortunately, many of the politicians who represent them are backing the usual think-money-first promoters.

Most all of this Keystone talk is propaganda, based on conservative ideology.

Ultra conservatives and scared-to-appeal-to-the-base Democrats simply miss the correct emphasis on the needs of the country. Let’s get in touch with people who know what the heck is going on and stop this idiotic punditry. Nail down people like Corker. Get them to come up with exactly where they got their information. Make sure you pin them down on exactly what they would do. And most important, tell them how wrong they are.

Jason Easley, writing in the Huffington Post, showed just how the punditry has fallen under the spell of the conservatives. On Meet the Press, host David Gregory made it clear that he was only interested in pushing the Republican fantasy that Democrats are doomed because of Obamacare, he wrote.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz reacted in a way that all the weenie Democrats should take note. She fought back. She put Gregory in his place by explaining reality. Millions of people do understand the ACA, because they now have good health insurance. As far as the 2014 electoral map is concerned, Democratic Senate incumbents are leading in places like Arkansas and Louisiana, and they could easily pick up two more seats in Kentucky and Georgia. They are not doomed.

“The sleaziest part of the whole segment was Gregory’s quoting of a radio interview with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, from nearly four months ago,” Easley wrote.

Many positives have taken place on the ACA since then but Gregory allowed the segment on Shaheen to air.

Shaheen said on the radio interview: “I think there are important things about the Affordable Care Act that are working, and working very well. I think we need to fix the things that are not working, and that’s what I’m committed to. I would have designed it differently if I had been designing it; unfortunately I wasn’t the person who was writing the law. I think hindsight is always 20/20. You always know that you could have done better.”

Gregory then said, “To me, that’s not a ringing endorsement to get people out there to vote.”

“Well,” Wasserman-Schultz responded, “that’s Legislation 101. I mean, that is how we have handled laws and their evolution throughout American history. The president is right, and Jeanne Shaheen is right. We have a law that is working.”

In the four months, the Obama administration worked to create a better health insurance program. But Gregory focused on a four-month-ago interview. Sounds like Republican cheerleading and Wasserman-Schultz would have none of it. That’s leadership. That’s standing up and setting the record straight.

While Royals Fiddle, Twins on Fire

The temperature reached 77 degrees but a breeze and low humidity made it a great day for baseball. Too bad the KC Royals didn’t pick up on that.

Here, Minnesota, take the game. It’s yours. We’ll wrap it up in a box and put a pretty ribbon on it.

Well, it seemed that way. Extra bases, walks, defensive misplays to help the Twins. Missed opportunities, lack of focus and poor decisions to hurt KC. The Royals did about all there was to hand the game to the Twins. It was a no contest from the beginning as Minnesota built an 8-1 lead Sunday afternoon and went on to win 8-3 in Kaufman Stadium.

No, no six-game winning streak for the Royals. No, no solid performance by 22-year-old Yordano Ventura, the rookie with the 100 mph fast ball. In four innings, he gave up four runs, six hits, four walks and struck out six. Just last Tuesday, he picked up a victory as the Royals beat Houston 4-2; he struck out seven and allowed just four hits in seven innings in that game.

Sunday, he tried to nibble the corners but he never got the calls and the Twins teed off on him.

Manager Ned Yost said in the post-game that Ventura was having mechanical problems, not coming straight down with his arm. Maybe a tune-up will help him on his next outing.

All in all, it just wasn’t a fun game for Royals fans. For me, well, I just can’t understand paying $11 to park, $31 for a ticket, $10.25 for one big beer, $5 for a hot dog and watching a team just go through the motions.

Yes, yes, they did just that. Maybe it’s because they have players out of position defensively and offensively. Justin Maxwell hasn’t played much and when he has it’s usually in right field. With the injury to Lorenzo Cain, the Royals needed a center fielder so Maxwell got the job. He can’t read the ball off the bat.

For example, in the top of the fifth with the Twins leading just 3-0, Trevor Plouffe drove the ball high and deep to center. Maxwell got a poor jump and the ball reached the bottom of the fence. A chance to make a play? Sure looked like it. However, Plouffe wound up at third and scored on Chris Collabello’s single. The single? It was a high pop to center and Maxwell was slow to make his move in and the ball dropped in front of him.

Out of position offensively? You bet. The Royals simply don’t have a clean-up hitter. Salvador Perez replaced Billy Butler, who wasn’t hitting his weight there. Now Perez, who was off to a hot start, is sinking in the fourth spot — getting only one hit batting clean-up. And Butler, without the pressure of the clean-up role, is starting to hit. So what’s going to happen? Well, Yost indicated Butler will return to the No. 4 spot. How’s that going to work out for ya?

Perez’s problem may be akin to what a golfer goes through in a swing. He’s not staying behind the ball, instead moving his shoulders way ahead. That creates a multitude of problems, like minimizing power.

A clean-up hitter gives a batting order identity. And the Royals just don’t have anyone with consistent power. They have only five home runs, last in the major leagues. Management knew this before the season started and instead of going after someone who could hit the long ball, added two slap hitters.

Look at Sunday’s line score. The Twins only out-hit the Royals 13-11 — the Royals needed 11 hits to manufacture 3 runs. Yes, the Twins got eight walks. They’re patient and they make pitchers pay. They also had five extra base hits. And this important item: they have clutch hitters.

The Royals were going after a sweep of the series after winning the first two games, 5-0 and 5-4. No doubt the Twins were thinking about that as they certainly seemed ready to play.

A KC killer play came in the Royals half of the fifth inning. Trailing 5-0, they had a chance for the big comeback. Alcides Escobar doubled to left, went to third on a fly to left by Nori Aoki and scored on Omar Infante’s single to right. Eric Hosmer followed with a single to center. Only one out and Perez came to the plate. He grounded sharply to the right of second baseman Brian Dozier, who dove and came up with the ball. While laying on the ground, he flipped the ball from his glove to second and the relay to first completed the double play. End of inning. End of chances. What a play!

Escobar did homer in the eighth after Maxwell’s single but it was too little too late.

While watching the game and the many lovelies who paraded up and down the stairs, I managed to keep track of the first-pitch accuracy of Twins starter Phil Hughes. I couldn’t recall one time that he didn’t throw a strike on that first pitch and I couldn’t recall but one time that the Royals swung on his first pitch — Hosmer fouled one off to the left.

While Ventura nibbled, Hughes feasted.

It was Hughes’ first win in 18 outings, a span that included eight losses. He signed a $24 million, three-year deal in December. The Royals certainly helped him feel valuable.

After the game, Alex Gordon reflected on what I have said for lo these many months. If you can’t score, you can give up four runs or eight runs and it doesn’t matter. You can get 11 hits but if you can produce only 3 runs with them, it doesn’t matter. Gordon told reporters: “If you don’t score runs it doesn’t matter how many hits you get.” Amen.

The Royals will open a four-game series today in Cleveland with Jeremy Guthrie scheduled to pitch.

… And the Government Comes Tumbling Down

With all that we read and hear, it should be abundantly clear that the right wing-nuts aren’t just satisfied by being anti-government. They simply want to eliminate government. Unfortunately, not enough people see the danger in what these ultra conservatives are pushing.

They cut funding and the bureaucracy runs into difficulty, short-handed and budget-restricted. Then the wing-nuts cry and whine how the government is so dysfunctional. No revenue, they say. Doh! Look at the tax benefits for the rich. Too much spending. Yeah, like fighting two wars without paying for them. What a plan — squeeze government and then cry how inept it is.

Each time I watch an old western movie with the cattle barons cutting off water rights and tromping over the little rancher, I think of what is happening today. The barons of Wall Street, oil and gas and real estate fight like despots to abolish all oversight. They want to roam the financial range with impunity and forcefulness.

The congressional and legislative weenies follow like boot-licking lemmings.

Then you add the Christian-right dingbats and it’s a wonder our country stands at all. Just listen for a little bit to the misinformation spewed by representatives Steve King of Iowa and Louie Gohmert of Texas and you should shake your head in disgust. Then close your eyes and listen to the oratorical wizardry of Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas. If you truly believe what they say, well, Lord have mercy.

An extreme contingent leads the House Republicans. Bolstered by Tea Party and radical freshman members, the leadership rolls back progressive reforms and opposes President Obama at every turn.

Speaker John Boehner won’t even bring bi-partisan bills to the floor. Do you pay any attention to Majority Leader Eric Cantor? You should. A lot of attention. Listen to what he says. Really. Okay, it’s difficult concentrating to what he throws out because he has such a discordant speaking style. A grating voice and an encumbering agenda.

What these two wrangle, however, is working because too many folks poll in their favor. Why do so many vote against their own best interests? I cringe at what seniors and the disenfranchised are facing. Yet look, for example, at the many seniors who vote Republican.

Check out again the Ryan budget, the one that favors the wealthy and trickles down on the poor. Ryan, the Ayn Rand devotee for laissez-faire and squeezing the “takers,” has certainly developed an austere budget.

Democrats may rejoice in listing what Ryan proposes because they can run against the points of view, but they better get off their duffs and fight to defeat this senseless path in Congress. Democrats view the document as a potent weapon in the November congressional elections and are betting that its emphasis on austerity and cuts to popular programs such as Medicare will provoke a backlash against Republicans.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it a “moral imperative” to make sure the public was aware of the budget cuts that Republicans are proposing.

“It’s like a Dracula in sheep’s clothing coming in to suck the blood out of the middle class,” said Representative Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat.

Robert L. Borosage, president of the Institute for America’s Future, wrote for the Huffington Post and said the budget identified who these wing-nuts were, what they valued and what their priorities were.

“These are unsurprising but remarkably unconscionable,” he said.

His look at the budget:
• Cut taxes on the rich. The Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that even if Republicans eliminated every loophole claimed by the wealthy, lowering the top rates to 25 percent would still hand millionaires an average tax cut of $200,000 a year.
• Cut taxes on multinationals. It would lower the top rate of corporate taxes. But most important it calls for moving toward a territorial system for taxing multinationals which in essence turns the entire world outside the US into a tax haven where corporations could move jobs and report profits without having to pay U.S. taxes.
• Hike spending on the Pentagon. The Pentagon is slated to spend $6 trillion over the next decade, with annual spending at the end of the current five-year plan up 27 percent over 2001 in constant dollars. Republicans argue that is not enough, adding nearly $500 billion over the 10 years over sequestration levels (about $273 billion higher than President Obama’s budget).
• Eliminate health insurance for an estimated 40 million Americans. The budget repeals Obamacare without replacing it. It would turn Medicare into a voucher of declining value — known as a “premium” — for today’s 55-year-olds and younger. It would gut Medicaid, repealing the Obamacare expansion, turning it into a bloc grant and cutting it by a quarter by 2024. Private insurance companies will ration health care by the ability to pay.
• Inflict savage cuts in domestic investments. The budget cuts domestic programs by one-third compared to inflation adjusted levels over the next decade. This includes aid for schools, Head Start, child nutrition, roads and bridges, water systems, border security, the FBI, environmental protection and more. Republicans will not specify where they will make the cuts.
• Slash programs for the most vulnerable. Even while cutting taxes on the rich and the multinationals, the Republican budget would slash support for the most vulnerable — Pell grants, Supplemental Nutrition, housing, home heating, child care, and more would be rolled back. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that fully 69 percent of the Republican budget cuts are taken from the poorest and most vulnerable Americans. But of course, poor people don’t contribute to campaigns or hire lobbyists.

This is who they are, Borosage, said. House Republicans lined up to pass the budget. At the same time, they would not even allow a vote on raising the minimum wage or extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed.

The austerity of the Ryan Budget would cost jobs and cripple the economy. Its tax cuts would add to Gilded Age inequality. Its Big Oil agenda continues to ignore catastrophic climate change. Its numbers don’t add up. Its claim to balance the budget in a decade depends on funny money — assuming faster growth, keeping Obamacare’s tax revenue while repealing its benefits, etc.

But put the disagreements aside. Simply accept Republicans at their word: This is who they are. These are their values. These are the priorities that they choose to endorse.

Borosage concluded, “And then pray for the future of this country.”

Mah Puts the Finger on Republican Mismanagement in Kansas

The John Birch Society has long been an anti-union organization, among other things. The father of the Koch brothers was a founder of the society so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Americans for Prosperity pushed a bill in the Kansas Legislature that strips teachers of their rights to due process before they’re fired.

With all the money the Koch Brothers can throw around, it’s difficult enough to battle them but when the state’s three largest newspapers fail to zero in on the Koch brothers connection it becomes even more troublesome.

Media Matters, a non-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to monitoring, analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation in press reports, wrote on April 10 how the Kansas City Star, Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital-Journal downplayed the Americans for Prosperity’s role in the legislative process. The Star, in its early report, made one passing mention of Americans for Prosperity without noting its Koch connections. The Eagle mentioned Americans for Prosperity in two of its news articles but neither report mentioned the Koch brothers. The Capital-Journal, in its original news reporting on the bill, never mentioned Americans for Prosperity nor the Koch connection to the bill.

Ann Mah, a Democratic member of the Kansas House of Representatives from the 53rd District between 2005 and 2013, keeps in touch with her former constituents with letters. She recently wrote: “Tonight I stood on the House floor and watched my state representative vote to trash public education along with 62 of his colleagues. It was a sad day for Kansas.”

Mah currently works as a trainer/speaker, and is the owner of Discover! Strategies. She is a member of the Capitol Area Federated Women’s Democratic Club, Shawnee County Democrats, State Committee of the North Central Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Greater Topeka.

Officials with the state’s largest teachers union said they were ready to sue school districts that tried to fire teachers without due process. The bill allocates millions more in funding to Kansas schools but also strips public school teachers’ right to due process hearings that was established by a 1957 Kansas Supreme Court case.

David Schauner, general counsel for the Kansas National Education Association, said the bill didn’t eliminate due process, instead it would change the definition of “teacher” to exclude K-12 teachers but would leave others, such as community college instructors, covered by the law.

Advocates of the bill said it would allow districts to get rid of bad or under-performing teachers.

Mah’s letter included some provisions of the bill:
• Increases state aid per student by $14 for the next school year.
• Adds $129 million to education funding to equalize the difference between low and high property value districts, as the court ordered. Less than half is “new” money. Most comes from reducing other budget items.
• People who have degrees in science, technology, math, finance and accounting can now teach in your schools without a teaching license.
• Corporations can now get a tax credit for donating to private school scholarship funds to be ear-marked for low-income students, up to $10 million a year.
• The lid on the local option budget is lifted from 31 percent to 33 percent.

Mah wrote, “Rather than just pass a bill to resolve the funding issue, the Legislature inserted policies that will hurt Kansas public education. Kansas teachers do not have tenure. There is no guarantee of employment. What they did have was a right to a hearing.”

Almost anyone could be hired to teach — no license or knowledge of how to teach is required if potential teachers have degrees in the areas of science, math, finance, and accounting, she said.

The No. 1 factor in student success is teacher preparation, she said, adding, “Believe me, just knowing a subject does not make you a good teacher. I’m scared for the future of our schools.

“I do not know why anyone would come to teach in Kansas. Our salaries are near the bottom of all states. And now the legislature says even with decades of experience you can be fired at will for no reason without a hearing.

“On the financial side, there is a mix of news on property taxes. Much of the $129 million will go toward property tax relief, and that is good. But we need more money in the classroom. So the Legislature’s best idea on that was to raise your property taxes back up! They raised the lid on the Local Option Budget and raised the base amount on which your LOB is calculated. So more of the cost of education is shifted to property taxes and away from income and sales tax.

“Corporations came out winners with another $10 million in tax credits that are claimed to help low-income kids but will never get there because private schools don’t bus urban kids to their schools.”

Many Catholics like the idea of tax credits for their parochial schools. Likewise, the Christian Right want to develop their religious schools and would appreciate vouchers to promote their teachings. It’s part of Governor Sam Brownback’s plan. He’s a converted Catholic and a Koch devotee.

Kansas Republicans have said they were interested in creating jobs and helping the economy. They have pushed against Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, they have advocated a cutback in school funding, they pass austere budgets that squeeze the disenfranchised, they enact tax laws that help the rich get richer and they quash oversight regulations that create opportunities for toxic waste emissions. Now they want to cut back on the rights of the teachers.

Businesses look for certain pluses in moving to a particular area. Education and health care rank as more important than tax breaks in their search. Republicans are sending the wrong messages to draw business and keep good people from fleeing the state.

The grand Republican plan is faltering and Kansas is teetering on the brink of economic collapse.

No. 2 to No. 42 But No. 1 in the AL

All the major league ball players wore No. 42. Newspapers, television and radio extolled No. 42. They made a movie about No. 42.

Jackie Robinson, of course, wore No. 42 as he blazed a baseball trail for the Negro baseball player. On April 15, 1947, he broke the major league color barrier when he suited up and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Yep, lots of publicity for Robinson. Just like the Kansas City media heap praise on Buck O’Neil and the Kansas City Monarch. They even mention often how Robinson played for the Monarchs.

Many old-timers grew up watching the Kansas City Blues, the farm club of the New York Yankees, and you never hear anything about them. When you see “Blues” in a headline, it’s probably about the hockey team in St. Louis. But there’s even a bigger rebuff. Do you ever hear much at all about Larry Doby and how he was the first Negro to play in the American League? No, you don’t.

Sid Bordman, the former baseball beat writer for the KC Star, mentioned that some time ago. Why the snub? Bordman said Doby was terrific on the field and even better off the field. He never sought recognition; he just wanted to play baseball and did it in a quiet, efficient and glorious manner.

Doby, who died in 2003, signed a contract to play for Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians in 1947 at age 23. Doby played most of his 13-year major league career with the Indians. He wound up with a .283 batting average, 1,515 hits, 253 home runs and 970 RBIs. He was a seven-time All-Star centerfielder and was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He suffered racial slurs and affronts throughout his career but he said, “I was never bitter because I believed in the man upstairs. I continue to do my best. I let someone else be bitter. If I was bitter, I was only hurting me. I prefer to remember Bill Veeck and and Jim Hegan and Joe Gordon, the good guys. There is no point in talking about the others.”

The New York Times wrote: “In glorifying those who are first, the second is often forgotten. Larry Doby integrated all those American League ball parks where Jackie Robinson never appeared. And he did it with class and clout.”

Sports Illustrated wrote that Doby had to suffer the same indignities that Robinson did, and with nowhere near the media attention and implicit support. Doby once told reporters, “Jackie got all the publicity for putting up with it (racial slurs). But it was the same thing I had to deal with. He was first, but the crap I took was just as bad. Nobody said, ‘We’re gonna be nice to the second Black.’”

Doby served as one of the pallbearers at Robinson’s funeral. Fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said, “Anyone who knew Larry knew that he admired Robinson and was never jealous of the attention Robinson received.”

Former Indian teammate Al Rosen said, “Jackie was a college educated man who had been an officer in the service and who played at the Triple-A level. Jackie was brought in by Branch Rickey specifically to be the first black player in major league baseball. Larry Doby came up as a second baseman who didn’t have time to get his full college education, and was forced to play a different position in his first major league season. I think, because of those circumstances, he had a more difficult time than Jackie Robinson. I don’t think he has gotten the credit he deserves.”

After retiring as a player, Doby recalled. “You know why I hit so well in Washington and St. Louis? They were major Jim Crow seating parks and when I came to bat, I knew where the noise was coming from and who was making it. I felt like a quarterback with 5,000 cheerleaders calling his name. You know most of them couldn’t afford to be there. I never forgot them.”

Larry grew up in Camden, South Carolina. His father, David, was a stablehand, grooming the horses of many wealthy New Jersey families. When Larry was 8 years old, his father died in a tragic accident. David had gone fishing on a day off, and he drowned after falling from a boat while fishing on Lake Mohansic, in upstate New York. His death began a tumultuous time for Larry, during which he moved frequently and was cared for by his aunt and uncle. Four years after his father’s death, Larry and his mother left South Carolina and moved to Paterson, New Jersey.

After high school, where he was a good athlete, Larry enrolled at Long Island University. Part of his motivation was to play for renowned basketball coach Clair Bee. Another reason was to be able to visit Helyn Curvy, whom Doby had begun dating at Eastside High School when he was a sophomore.

He didn’t finish college and he joined the Navy during World War II. He was honorably discharged in January 1946.

After playing two months of winter ball with the San Juan Senators for $500 a month at the invitation of Monte Irvin, a prewar teammate on the Newark Eagles, Doby subsequently rejoined the Eagles. Being close to home also allowed him to date Helyn again.

“She told me if we didn’t get married that year, 1946, to forget it,” Doby said. “We got married on August 10, 1946, in Paterson.” The night of their wedding, the couple drove to Trenton, where Doby was scheduled to play. The game was rained out.

Doby and Helyn had five children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. When the Dobys moved to Montclair, Yogi Berra and his wife became neighborhood friends and children of the two families played baseball and football together. Doby underwent a kidney removal operation after a cancerous tumor was detected in 1997. Helyn, married to Doby for 55 years, died in 2001 after a six-month battle with cancer.

Veeck, who had considered integrating baseball the year before, proposed to do so in 1942. Kenesaw Mountain Landis, commissioner of baseball, rejected the offer. Veeck persisted and said he would integrate the Indians’ roster if he could find a black player with the necessary talent level. He also desired someone who could withstand the taunts and pressure of being the first black athlete in the American League. He was aware of Doby.

Dodger owner Branch Rickey declined in 1945 to pay for the purchasing rights of Robinson with the Monarchs. Veeck, however, was determined to buy Doby’s contract from the Eagles. He finalized a contract deal for Doby, paying the Eagles $15,000. If he had been white, so it was said, he would have given $100,000.

With the season in full swing, Veeck and Doby took a train from Newark to Chicago where the Indians were scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox the next day.

In meeting his teammates for the first time, Doby would say later: “I walked down that line, stuck out my hand, and very few hands came back in return. Most of the ones that did were cold-fish handshakes, along with a look that said, ‘You don’t belong here.’” Not until Joe Gordon asked Doby to play catch with him was Doby given the chance to engage with his one-day teammates. Gordon befriended Doby and would become one of Doby’s closest friends on the team.

Doby entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for Bryan Stephens and struck out.

The Indians had a doubleheader against the White Sox on July 6. More than 31,000 showed up, an estimated 30 percent black. Some congregations of black churches let out early while others walked immediately from Sunday service to Comiskey Park.

Manager Lou Boudreau had Doby pinch-hit in the first game but for the second, listed him a starter at first base, a position Doby was not expected to fill when the Indians brought him up to play at second base. Doby had played the position before with the Eagles but was without a proper glove for first base and met much resistance when attempts were made to borrow one from teammates, including first baseman Eddie Robinson. Doby later said only because Gordon asked in the clubhouse to borrow one of the first baseman’s glove did he have one to use in the second game. It was the only game Doby would start for the remainder of the season. He went1-for-4 as the Indians won, 5-1.

Doby endured unfriendly teammates and fans and was criticized from players both active and retired. Rogers Hornsby, after watching Doby play one time in 1947, was quoted: “Bill Veeck did the Negro race no favor when he signed Larry Doby to a Cleveland contract. If Veeck wanted to demonstrate that the Negro has no place in major league baseball, he could have used no subtler means to establish the point. If he were white he wouldn’t be considered good enough to play with a semi-pro club. He is fast on his feet but that lets him out. He hasn’t any other quality that could possibly recommend him.”

In 1948, Doby experienced his first spring training in Tucson, Arizona. Unlike their white teammates, Doby, along with Satchel Paige and Minnie Miñoso, weren’t permitted to stay at the nearby Santa Rita hotel but instead stayed with a local black family and used a rental car provided by the Indians for transportation.

Leading up to spring training, Doby read books concerning outfield play. After spring training began, he received instruction and encouragement from former Indian great and center fielder Tris Speaker and also from the Indians’ farm system director, Detroit Tigers legend Hank Greenberg.

Hall of Famer Bob Feller was Doby’s teammate from 1947 to 1955 and said: “He was a great American, served the country in World War II, and he was a great ballplayer. He was kind of like Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, because he was the second African-American in the majors behind Jackie Robinson. He was just as good of a ballplayer, an exciting player, and a very good teammate.”

Suspect in Shooting Tied to Web Posting About Obama and Hillary

Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, facing charges of premeditated murder in the shooting spree that killed three people, recently discussed on an Internet posting the potential impacts if President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were both assassinated, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Miller, who also goes by the name of Cross, also posted that he applauded a recent commentary by Pat Buchanan who said Russian president Vladimir Putin was merely protecting the ethnicity of Russians in his standoff with Ukraine, comparing Russia with Israel protecting Jews worldwide, the center said.

The suspect in the Passover Eve killings at two Jewish community facilities in Overland Park, Kansas, has a long history of racism and anti-Semitism, human rights groups said on Monday.

Miller was arrested Sunday after a a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were killed outside a popular Jewish community center and a third victim outside a nearby Jewish retirement home.

Police believe Sunday’s killings were motivated by anti-Semitism. Both the SPLC, a leading anti-hate group, and the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights said the suspect was a former senior member of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan movement.

The groups said Miller, listed as living in Aurora, Missouri, was involved in creating an armed paramilitary organization 20 years ago in North Carolina.

A day before the shootings, Miller publicly discussed talking by phone with another white supremacist who wanted to turn a small North Dakota town into a whites-only enclave. That was only one of 12,683 anti-Semitic, racist Internet postings Miller made on one racist site alone — the Vanguard News Network — in the past decade, according to SPLC.

On the VNN Forum, Miller, using the screen name “Rounder,” posted a public message claiming that he had received a phone call on Saturday from Craig Cobb, who is in jail in North Dakota while he awaits an April 29 sentencing for terrorizing residents of Leith. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Cobb, also a white supremacist, last spoke with his friend Miller on Thursday and that Miller gave no indication that he might be planning an attack.

Hateful postings on the Internet come in many forms. The reference to Obama and Clinton is remindful of the numerous and sundry sick jokes and offensive caricatures browsers can find in various posts.

The political atmosphere in Southern Missouri has fomented conservative outbursts before — south of Highway 54 and you run into many with right-wing beliefs. Of course not all of those wallow in hate but you will find plenty of reactionary propaganda passed by word of mouth and internet posts. Aurora certainly tolerated Miller.

The SPLC showed in 2011 that Missouri had 28 patriot groups with Springfield, Branson and Versailles leading the way.

So don’t for one minute think the Heartland is all about Mom and Apple Pie. Yes, many good people but the country’s mid-section produces its share of hate. This recent shooting is one example.

You can go back to the Civil War and find loathing, from Jesse James escapades to Quantrill’s sacking of Lawrence, Kansas. James and William Quantrill fought as Confederate guerrillas. Many south of 54 identify with the South and Confederate flag bumper stickers dot many a pick-up truck.

While it may not be fair to make the Heartland the center of the plot to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the launch site was in the Junction City, Kansas, area. Timothy McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, for blowing up the building that killed 168 people and injured more than 600.

Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier were also convicted in the conspiracy. All three men served in the Army at Fort Riley, Kansas. McVeigh, a militia movement sympathizer, hoped to inspire a revolt against what he considered to be a tyrannical federal government.

In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot through the eye at a church in Wichita and killed by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder, then of Topeka, Kansas. Tiller was medical director of Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita; it was one of only three clinics nationwide at the time to provide late-term abortions. Roeder was convicted of murder on January 29, 2010, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a recently released study that the number of hate groups was down in 2013 but noted that they’re leaner and meaner and arguably more frightening. The radical right, which was infused with vim and vigor by President Obama’s election, experienced its “first significant decrease” since he took office.

Hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, dropped by 7 percent to 930 groups across the country in 2013. Patriot groups steeply fell 19 percent to 1,096, according to the SPLC’s annual count.

While hate groups are characterized by a favoritism of a race, religion or ethnicity over another, patriot groups represent a wide range of anti-government factions, according to the SPLC. Patriot groups exploded in growth after Obama’s 2008 presidential victory.

Although falling last year, both types remain near record highs and approximately double the number of the 1990s when anti-government militias were in the limelight, according to the report.

High-profile cases displaying the potential for mayhem by individuals aligned with the radical right:
• Suspects in the killing of Colorado’s prison chief lastn April were members of a white supremacist prison gang.
• In August, a sting foiled a supposed plot to kidnap and execute Las Vegas policemen. The suspects were sovereign citizens, a movement under the Patriot group umbrella who affirm a right to reject any law.
• A Seattle gay bar crowded with 750 patrons on New Year’s Eve was evacuated after an arsonist allegedly attempted to light it on fire. No one was injured
• Among black separatist groups, the New Black Panther Party experienced a burst of attention, by offering a $10,000 bounty for the citizen’s arrest of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin but was found not guilty of his murder.

SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok said conservative Republicans at the local, state and federal level had incorporated elements of the far-right’s platform, such as opposition to gun control legislation, and that co-opting was “one of the primary reasons” for the drop.

Obama’s reelection in 2012 deflated the far-right, too, which is ironic because his historic election as the first African-American president was a galvanizing force just a few years ago.

“It was a reaction of real dismay,” Potok said in the report’s release. “It took the wind out of their sails.”

However, the report said, “The weakening of groups often has the effect of fostering, rather than retarding, followers’ decisions to finally act out violently.”

A Package Deal — Bubba, the Royals and Jayhawks

A Bubba reigned in the South. The Royals found another way to lose. And Kansas fans surely spent Sunday wondering just how bad/good the football team would turn out this fall.

Bubba Watson put on another green coat Sunday as he staved off a couple of talented young players — Masters rookies Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt — to win at Augusta for the second time in three years. He shot a final-round 3-under 69 and finished 8-under for the tournament to forge a three-shot margin with a 280 total.

The Masters just wasn’t the same this year. Maybe it was ice storm in February that cut back on the usual lushness of the course. Maybe the lack of celebrated stars dimmed excitement. Whatever, I sure watched the show.

Gary Woodland, the Topeka native, had a shaky 76 to wind up plus-4 for the tournament and a tie for 26th. He had a chance to get into the battle, entering the final round even par. However, truth be told, he lost his opportunity on the back side Saturday.

He was 7-under par Saturday on just the first 10 holes — shooting 30 on the front side. There were no hallelujahs at Amen Corner, only groans. He left a 20-foot putt from off the green woefully short, leading to a three-putt bogey on 11. He went with wedge off the tee at the 155-yard 12th hole, taking aim at the left-side hole location.

Having just knocked his approach a little long at 11, he took a little off the swing. The ball bounded into the steep bank, and rolled back into Rae’s Creek. His pitch nearly rolled back, too, and he walked off with a double-bogey 5. He made a birdie and two more bogeys on the way in, and though 69 on a Saturday at the Masters is something to cherish, it wasn’t quite the number he had in mind, especially with that magical 7-under early on that put him at 5-under for the tournament.

The Royals certainly matched his frustration.

Royals reliever Wade Davis made an off-balanced wild flip home on a comebacker in the eighth inning and the Minnesota Twins rallied past the Royals 4-3 Sunday.

Davis struck out Joe Mauer in the eighth but Trevor Plouffe walked to load the bases. Chris Herrmann then hit a tapper back to the mound and Davis hesitated after getting the ball out of his glove. His toss sailed past catcher Salvador Perez. Pedro Florimon scored the tying run. Davis hesitated again after the poor throw and he was late covering the plate. Brian Dozier slid home under Perez’s return throw to Davis.

Aaron Crow had started the inning for the Royals by giving up two straight walks.

The game ended ignominiously for the Royals. Alex Gordon and Perez struck out and Mike Moustakas was called out for batter’s interference. Moustakas popped a pitch straight up. As he stood to watch it in the batter’s box, catcher Kurt Suzuki tripped over him, resulting in an interference call for the final out.

You may have heard that the batter owns the batter box and cannot be called for interference if he’s in the box. Wrong. A batter can be called out for interference, even inside the batter’s box, as Moustakas was. The source of the misconception is rule 6.06, which says a batter is out for interfering with a catcher by stepping out of the box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play. Debates develop when coaches and players focus on “stepping out of the box” and miss the “or making any other movement.”

The Royals had scored three times in the eighth for a 3-2 lead.

With the 3-game sweep, the Royals have lost four of their last five games, scoring just five runs in the defeats. They’re 4-7 and will play Tuesday at Houston. The Twins sweep of the Royals was the first since winning four in a row in June 2011.

Plenty of blame to go around in the losses, as they say. But a lot of the heat seems to fall on the pitchers. Look, these Royals are equal-opportunity losers. Make sure when you’re passing around the blame you do it proportionally.

I’ve said all along that the Royals haven’t helped themselves at the plate, acquiring a couple of slap hitters when they need power. Look, the Twins’ designated hitter hits home runs. The Royals DH hits ground balls — and strikes out. DH Josmil Pinto hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. DH Billy Butler, batting .154 without an extra-base hit, grounded out twice and struck out twice.

For the season, the Royals have but two triples, both by Nori Aoki, and one home run, by Gordon. They have scored only 29 runs in their 11 games for a 2.6 average. That’s horrible, ludicrous and embarrassing. Hosmer, the guy the Royals are counting on to produce runs, has driven in only two so far. Moustakas is batting .111.

Jason Vargas held the Twins to two runs on five hits over seven innings for his third straight quality start. He’s 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

For KU, pitching is a big question mark. Montell Cozart, the former player at Bishop Miege who will be a sophomore next season for the Jayhawks, was named the MVP of the Spring Game Saturday. He can run but can he pass?

Tom Keegan, Lawrence Journal-World columnist, wrote after the game: “The play that killed any suspense for me as to the identity of the Kansas University football team’s quarterback this coming fall came long before Montell Cozart busted a 60-yard run, long before he found the end zone on two short runs.

“It came in the first half of Saturday’s annual spring game, a half in which the first string, with Cozart and Jake Heaps rotating at quarterback, didn’t score a point against the second-string defense.”

Third-and-9, nobody open, the heat on its way, time for the athlete to make something out of nothing, Keegan said. Cozart started up the middle, cut back and forth and made the first down with a yard to spare.

“You have a quarterback with that much smooth speed and ability to change directions, you have a chance to compete against teams with bigger, quicker, more experienced linemen than the guys playing on your side.”

Cozart gives Charlie Weis’ third KU football team that chance, Keegan said. Heaps, working for his fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons of college football, doesn’t possess the same gifts, he added.

Love the busy sports weekends.

The Prince of Ornery Relives the Old Days

When I read about kids hanging out and getting into trouble at the Country Club Plaza or mingling at a mall, I can’t help but think back where I went and became Prince of Ornery.

Oh the places, oh the mischief.

If you grew up in Kansas City, as I did, you can identify with where I’m going to take you on this trip of times past. You may recall that I have referred to some of the places before but ride along with me again.

If you grew up in the North End or Northeast or the Inner City, you can really get into this.

Geez, what a mess I was on occasion. There I was, duck tails, continental thread oxfords and a Chesterfield King pinched between my two fingers. The picture of cool. Not! Hey, good-lookin’ like to dance, maybe a little West Coast Swing, followed by a slow dance for the cause. Har, har.

As a snot-nosed kid at James Elementary School, I invented ways to nettle authority. I was a true rebel against someone trying to tell me what to do. Usually, though, I was a good boy during baseball season and on weekends for football and basketball. I literally lived at Grey’s Stadium behind Montgomery Ward’s. Practiced sliding by running down the grassy slope and hooking a rock or an old rag. Then we would play our version of Indian ball, where you didn’t run but got base hits determined by the ball’s landing area. With four to six kids, it was difficult to run the bases so we re-invented this game.

With that background I worked my way up into 3&2 baseball.

At Northeast Junior High, well, some kids seemed so much older than I was. Loved to watch the weekly fight between two antagonists. Man, were Vic DeMayo and Jimmy Cain tough. I got pounded too many times in my clashes so I decided to make love and not war. But I did instigate a few battle royals. Just for fun, of course. We used fists, not guns.

After the bell rang, I used to sneak out the class-room window and make a trip over to Dagwood’s for one of their famous tenderloin sandwiches. My dad loved the pig snouts in the evening and brains scrambled for breakfast. I passed. There wasn’t enough horse radish to get by that snout staring back at me.

I got my periodic shower during gym class. There also was the weekly winter swim. We swam naked in the indoor pool. Yeah, we did. No dirty swim suits to worry about, huh. Oh, the girls swam in those god-awful jersey suits. Yes, of course, we used to sneak peeks through the double doors leading to the pool. There they are, Miss Americas. Never could mimic Bert Parks.

My junior high music teacher set me down in the corner and just shook her head at my atonal and nasal sounds. But at age 15 and 16, I tried to emulate one of the Hilltoppers. We would sing PS I Love You at the Shack in Kansas City, Kansas, for free beer. Hey, dime draws were expensive back then.

Dear, I thought I’d drop a line
The weather is cool
The folks are fine
I’m in bed each night at nine
PS I love you

Okay, another beer.

Yesterday we had some rain
But all in all I can’t complain
Was it dusty on the train
PS I love you
Write to the Brown’s just as soon as you’re able
They came around to call
And not burn a hole in the dining room table
Now let me think; I guess that’s all
Nothing else for me to say
And so I’ll close, but by the way
Everybody’s thinking of you
P.S. I love you

Another round over here.

Oh man, the great beer joints as a punk teen-ager. No IDs, just plenty of 3.2 beer. Yeah, you were supposed to be 18 in Kansas — Missouri’s legal age for drinking was 21 then. The Shack, Al’s and Pat Collins. Pat didn’t care about IDs. The former Yankee catcher was too busy playing poker in the back room.

Most every Friday, I tried to come up with a buck and a quarter — the 25 cents to chip in for the gas to cross the Intercity Viaduct and a dollar for 10 dime draws. Is that livin’ or what. A couple of us became proficient on the bowling machine and racked up free beer by either betting someone or winning the nightly prize for high games.

By age 18, we were veterans.

Most Northeast kids hung out at the Griddle Drive-In. I found more than just hamburger and fries there. Ann Anderson worked there. She drove a hot black Mercury coupe and smoked the same brand of cigarettes I did. Oh, get a couple of quarts of Country Club beer, drive the neighborhoods and cruise Independence and St. John avenues. Hey, not too shabby.

For most of senior high school, we did a lot of riding around and didn’t spend too much time at any one place, except in KCK. We did some hanging out at Joey’s near Sheffield Steel. Great Italian steak sandwiches. Joey’s also was a cop joint. We became well known to most of them. They would stop the car, smell our breaths, take the booze and run us into the station. They would giggle, point and then tell us to go home. They would follow and make sure.

My cruisin’ took a bruisin’ when I worked weekends at the KC Star mail room for a buck an hour. It took me until the next Wednesday to get all the ink stain out of my nose from the drifting gunk from the presses. You know what, I didn’t make a helluva lot more when I became a sportswriter there. Ho, ho, ho!

As a senior at Northeast, I became more interested in school work, believing I had a chance to go on to school and become a journalist. Still ornery, of course. That summer, I played senior 3&2 baseball and settled down a little more. Well, there were weekend forays at the Travelux in the inter-city. No, we weren’t 21 but the place was dark and no one cared.

Oh so much to tell. Damn, those were some fun days. Did I tell you about all the fights at Budd Park or the games at Lykins or the escapades at Fifth and Maple or ….

From Bobby to Jack, It’s About Sports

Bobby Knight isn’t what you would say enamored with one-and-done basketball.

Chris Littman of Sporting News asked Knight about the readiness of players like Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker and Knight answered: “If I were involved with the NBA I wouldn’t want a 19-year-old or a 20-year-old kid, to bring into all the travel and all the problems that exist in the NBA. I would want a much more mature kid. I would want a kid that maybe I’ve been watching on another team and now he’s 21, 22 years old instead of 18 or 19, and I might trade for that kid.

“On top of it all, the NBA does a tremendous, gigantic disservice to college basketball. It’s as though they’ve raped college basketball in my opinion.”

Yep, Bobby doesn’t mince his verbs.

“Major League Baseball has the best idea of all,” he said. “Three years before they’ll take a kid out of college, then they have a minor league system that they put the kids in. I’m sure that if the NBA followed the same thing, there would be a lot of kids in a minor league system that still were not good enough to play in the major NBA.”


Ah, the Masters. What a great tournament. You can always count on excitement.

Swing by Swing came up with the top nine memories in the tournament.
1. Louis Oosthuizen’s Albatross, 2012. Usually, it’s inevitable that people will forget who finished second. Oosthuizen secured his place in history when he buried his second shot on the par-5 third hole for the rarely seen albatross
2. Bubba Watson From the Trees, 2012. Watson’s save from the pine straw right of the 10th fairway during the sudden-death playoff was nothing short of divine. Watson saved par, Oosthuizen didn’t.
3. Tiger Woods Chip-In, 2005. With the tournament coming to an end and Chris DiMarco battling hard, Woods hit one of the most memorable golf shots not only of the tournament, but ever.
4. Phil Mickelson From the Pine Straw, 2010. Mickelson decided to go for broke on the par-5 13th. He split two trees from the pine straw right of the fairway and stuck his approach to makeable eagle range. For the week, he played the 13th hole — just the 13th hole — at 6-under-par.
5. Vijay Singh’s Skipping Ace, 2009. This did not happen in actual tournament play but it’s too impressive to leave off the list. Singh made this one screwing around in a practice round.
6. Larry Mize Chips-In for Victory, 1987. Greg Norman’s heartbreak in major tournaments, especially the Masters, is well-documented. This time, Augusta native Larry Mize holed his miraculous third shot on the 11th during the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. For Mize, it was his only major triumph and for Norman, the fifth consecutive major he led on Sunday and the second consecutive major in which he was beaten by a chip-in birdie.
7. Sandy Lyle’s Bunker Shot, 1988. Lyle hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker on 18, then made one of the most remarkable up-and-downs in Masters history to claim his green jacket over Mark Calcavecchia.
8. Jack Nicklaus at 16, 1975 and 1986. Of Nicklaus’ 18 major championship victories, a third of them have come in the Masters. Of his six triumphs, perhaps his greatest were his last two. First, in 1975, he holed a monster putt on 16 to take the lead and hold off Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. Then in 1986, Nicklaus re-wrote the record books, winning the Masters in dramatic fashion with a back-nine 30, defeating Norman, Seve Ballesteros and Tom Kite.
9. Gene Sarazen’s Double Eagle, 1935. Sarazen hit arguably the greatest shot in golf history at Augusta in the second playing of the Masters. Of course, there is more to the story than just his double-eagle on the 15th hole. The shot gave credibility to the Masters before it was a major and when it was a fledgling tournament struggling to survive. Without it, it’s hard to say whether the Masters would have ever blossomed into the tournament that it is.


Kellis Robinett, the Star’s beat writer for Kansas State sports, pulled off another one of his leave-us-in-the-dark reports. In Wednesday’s edition, he focused on Daniel Sams moving from quarterback to wide receiver.

He could do that because Jake Waters is doing so well. Then Robinett mentioned that Coach Bill Snyder didn’t want to waste Sams’ multiple talents. Robinett also said two young quarterbacks, Joe Hubener and Jesse Ertz, had showed promise. Who? Who are these guys. Robinett never gave any background.

Ertz is a 6-4, 199-pound red-shirt freshman from Burlington, Iowa. The K-State website said he was one of the top prep quarterbacks coming out of high school in 2013, adding that he used a redshirt season to develop and should compete for the backup role this season. He earned Kansas State’s Red Raider Award as the top contributor on the scout squad.

More info on the website: In high school, he was named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year following his senior year for Mediapolis. An All-American honorable mention selection by Parade magazine. Broke the Iowa high school state record for most touchdowns in a career (98) and ranks fifth in state history in career passing yardage (7,317). Registered more than 9,000 total yards and 130 touchdowns in his career. Named the 2012 Offensive Player of the Year as well as a first team all-state selection by Iowa Preps after leading Mediapolis to a state runner-up finish and a 13-1 record. A two-time Des Moines Register and Iowa Newspaper Association First Team All-State honoree.

Hubener is a 6-4, 205-pound sophomore from Cheney, Kan. A two-year letter-winner for the Cheney Cardinals under head coach Dustin McEwan he played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back.


By golly, ol’ Jack Harry did come up with a gem awhile back.

He pointed out that Charlie Weis is 4-20 in two years as Kansas’ football coach. Turner Gill was 5-19 in his two years and he was fired. Whoops. What’s the deal here?

The Jayhawks will hold their spring game Saturday. Jake Heaps remains the No. 1 quarterback but KU insiders say the team will advance only as far as Montell Cozart takes them. The question is whether Cozart, the former Bishop Miege quarterback, can throw the ball.