A Weekend Without Kid Sports

For the first time since way back in August we had no kid sports this weekend. That meant I got to fully immerse myself in televised sports. There was plenty of baseball, soccer, basketball, and football on our TV, along with a bonus dose of college basketball on my Twitter and email feeds. Some words about all that…


Baseball

Man, what an excellent ALCS. I only say that because the Houston Astros won. Had the Yankees pulled out either game six or seven and moved on to the World Series, I would likely have a different opinion. And be done with baseball for the year.

Thankfully the Astros got some big hits late in each game, some amazing pitching in game seven, and move on to play LA. That should be a dandy of a series and will likely come down to whichever team’s top two starters perform the best. Houston better hope they can keep scoring runs, as I don’t trust anyone in their bullpen in a close game whereas the Dodgers have a lock-down pen if they need to protect a one-run lead late. Feels like Dodgers in six, but I’ll be pulling for Houston.

The cloud that hangs over all of this is that it appears as though the Yankees are about to get really good again for some time. They are loaded with young talent, have more talent high in the minor league system, and the biggest contracts on the payroll all fall off over the next two years. That’s like the perfect storm for building a dynasty. It was nice when they were irrelevant for awhile.


Football

Here we are in year like 27 of the KU football rebuild with no signs of improvement. When KU hired David Beaty three-plus years ago, I was firmly in the camp of having to give him at least four and likely five years to get things turned around. With the hatchet job Charlie Weis did to the program, Beaty had to have the luxury of time to rebuild it the right way.

And while I think it was unrealistic to expect more than a couple wins from this year’s team, what should not have been unrealistic was a team that played better. Not a team that gets blown out by mediocre MAC teams in back-to-back games. Not a team that can’t do the simplest things right. Not a team that often looks thoroughly lost.

There was some optimism, most likely misplaced, coming into this season. A close loss (that should have been a win) against TCU last year. The overtime win against Texas. The preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. A new quarterback.

Turns out it’s the same old shit. A team that isn’t just overmatched in terms of talent, but looks poorly coached.

That’s the big rub against Beaty. When Mark Mangino took over the program, it took him a few years to increase the talent level on the roster. But he and his staff taught the kids he had how to play smart football. They might not have been able to run with Oklahoma’s receivers, but they were always in the right spot and didn’t make the same mistakes twice. This year’s team shows none of that intelligence or ability to learn. And that’s coaching.

I think Beaty is probably safe this year, simply because athletic director Sheahan Zenger will not be allowed to hire a third head football coach. No matter what he’s done to support the other sports and keep Bill Self happy, he’s the guy who panicked and hired Weis, and then bought into the idea of Beaty and his Texas ties turning the talent base around over hiring a guy with coaching chops. If I were Zenger, I’d be thinking about where I’d want to move my family later this year.

And here’s a thought: quit worrying about hiring some offensive genius. Let’s hire a defensive coach and see how that works. Hell, I’d switch to an option offense, or something crazy like that. Stop competing with, oh, every other program in the country for kids that can play in the various flavors of the spread offense and go back to a 1980s-style running game. It seriously can’t get any worse. Why not try something totally different?

Speaking of jokes, Sunday I got to watch my first Colts game of the year. Those guys are a complete disaster. And as I think Andrew Luck’s injuries are the football gods trying to fix their mistake of allowing the Colts to transition straight from Manning to Luck, I think all the other issues the Colts have are karmic retribution for not taking care of Luck. The latest? First round pick Malik Hooker blew out his knee when he was blindsided by a Jags player yesterday. He’s done for the season. Jacksonville is a rapidly improving team, but they barely broke a sweat in rushing out to a 20–0 halftime lead. A lead that really should have been 35–0. It ended up being the Colts first regular season shutout loss since 1993. Yikes. Oh well, that means more time on Sundays for me.

C actually went to the game with a friend. It was her first Colts game. They had pretty good seats, and she had a really good time. She doesn’t know much about football but knew enough to figure out the Colts sucked. She giggled while telling us stories of Colts fans booing their own team, and Jags fans who were making fun of them. And even she wondered out loud why the roof wasn’t open on the last, beautiful, warm day for several weeks.[1]


Basketball

I’m kind of digging all this buzz about the NBA. Maybe it’s just the right point in the web’s history, but it seems like more major sports sites are devoting more time to the NBA than in the past. There’s a different buzz around the beginning of the season than there used to be. We’ve watched parts of all three Pacers games so far, and a few minutes of other games. Pacers? Not good, but not bad enough to be in the hunt for Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley or DeAndre Ayton next June. Limbo is the worst place to be in the NBA.

Still, I keep telling myself as soon as college basketball begins, I’m much more likely to watch a Butler game than the Pacers, or some top 25 matchup in college than the Cavs playing Boston. To be a casual, yet devoted, fan of the NBA seems like a pretty daunting task. Which I know is a weird thing to say as a guy who watches 130 Royals games each summer. But that’s one team I have to worry about. If I dive into the NBA, there are a couple games each night I need to try to balance with shows I watch, books I’m ready, and college hoops.

I figure I’ll watch more this year than I did in the past, but I’m not ready to go all-in with the NBA just yet. If the Sixers are on, I’ll watch to try to catch Jojo’s act.[2] Until he gets hurt, that is. If the Warriors are playing in the eastern half of the country, L will want to watch them. And I’ll try to catch Wiggins, Jackson, the Morrii, and the other KU guys when they’re on national TV.

And then there was The Scrimmage yesterday in Kansas City. Yep, Kansas took on Ol’ Mizzou in a “scrimmage” to raise money for hurricane victims. As it was the first meeting between the teams in over five years, it was kind of a big deal. I was intrigued by the scrimmage, as it would certainly show more about KU’s talent than their exhibition games against D2 schools. But not intrigued enough to drop $40 for the pay per view. Not intrigued enough to sit and refresh my Twitter feed non-stop for two hours to get updates, either. But I was paying attention in between doing laundry, prepping dinner, etc.

Sounds like it was a good day all around. Big crowd, lots of money raised. Mizzou showed that Porter Jr. and his buddies are all legit talents and MU basketball isn’t a joke anymore. KU showed that Devonte Graham is a legit All-American candidate and if LaGerald Vick, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and/or Marcus Garrett can combine to be a poor-man’s Josh Jackson, this team can lose in the Elite Eight again. Oh, and KU looked sloppy late in the first half, fell behind by as many as six, and then dropped the hammer in the middle of the second half before cruising and nearly blowing the lead. It felt like February!

I generally support Bill Self’s stance to not play Missouri. No need to rehash the whys and who’s fault is its again. But this was a good thing. And I would not be terribly surprised if the teams are in the same bracket this coming March.

Well, there was weekend one without kid sports. L actually begins basketball practice next weekend, but no games until December, so I’ll have a few more weekends loaded with TV sports.


  1. Folks were bemused about the parameters the Colts use to decide whether the roof will be open or closed back when the team was winning. Now that the team is awful, folks get enraged about it. In truth, it’s just another sign of how dysfunctional the entire organization is.  ↩
  2. I was looking at Embiid shirseys the other night. You can get a game-worn jersey for a cool $7500!  ↩