It’s time for the weekly Monday sports review!


Gale Sayers was waaaaaay before my time. He retired about six months after I was born, and his final two years in the NFL were slowed by a series of serious injuries that robbed him of his breath-taking speed. But there were uncles, and friends of uncles, and other people their age who would get emotional when they talked about watching him play in his prime. I once had a boss who was from Chicago and grew up in the ‘60s. This man was gruff and cold and rarely smiled or laughed. But if you mentioned Gale Sayers to him, he would soften and talk about how he had never seen anything like Gale when he played for the Bears.

Gale Sayers died last week. He was the greatest football player to ever play at the University of Kansas, either at KU or as a pro. That’s not saying much, it being Kansas football and all. Which makes it more amazing that one of the most gifted running backs to ever play the game, someone who everybody who saw play in his prime said would be just at home in the modern game as in his era, was a Jayhawk.

Another thing about Gale: pretty much everyone who ever came across him in his post-playing days said he was one of the nicest, most unaffected former athletes they had ever dealt with. They always said he was warm and genuine.

Sayers wasn’t celebrated much when I was on campus. Which is a shame. As big of a deal as it was for Wilt Chamberlain to finally come back to campus in 1997, Sayers should have been welcomed back as often as he was willing to return. We all knew the names and stories of basketball legends of the past. Gale’s story really should have been drummed into our heads so that we knew, even if we never saw him play with our own eyes, how lucky we were that he was a Jayhawk.

KU Football

I didn’t play close attention to the build-up to last week’s game against Baylor since the game was in doubt until Friday due to Covid concerns on the Baylor roster. So perhaps I missed signals that a change was coming.

Thus I was surprised on Saturday when I saw the tweets that true freshman Jalon Daniels would be starting at quarterback. The coaching staff seemed thrilled when he committed and signed last year, but I don’t think I ever heard his name in the preseason. I wondered if he wasn’t ready for the challenges of college ball yet.

But Saturday he started well. I couldn’t see the game, only highlights that hit Twitter, but he was much bigger than I expected. Writers say he has a huge arm. He made a ton of mistakes, but also played with a swagger and confidence KU hasn’t had in a long, long time. His mistakes were out of ignorance and brashness rather than cluelessness or ineptitude.

KU played a lot of first year players Saturday. They lost 47-14. The first sentence in more important than the second. Les Miles and his staff are doing it right. They’ve filled their first three recruiting classes almost exclusively with high school players. That’s step one. Step two is playing those kids, for better or for worse. If you believe in their talent you get them on the field and let them learn by going through adversity. It sure as hell won’t pay off this year. It may not pay off next year. But unlike the wishy-washy half measures the last three coaches have taken at least this is a concrete path to the future.

Starting Daniels is the most obvious piece of this plan. To be fair, he started because at least one of the QBs who played week one was not healthy enough to play this week. But throwing Daniels out there also sends a message to this year’s recruiting class: if you’re good enough, you can get on the field quick. And look at this kid and his potential, don’t you want to be a part of what he’s going to do?

Offered with the usual caveat that this is KU football and any glimmers of hope are more likely to be brutally crushed than offer even meager payoffs.

Alex Gordon

This was Alex Gordon’s final weekend as a professional baseball player. Most of my readers are Royals fans, and thus read the many tributes to Alex over the weekend. I feel like most of what I would write would repeat those, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

Alex was the first guy who made me believe the Royals’ fortunes would change. He was the best player in college, grew up a Royals fan, and they managed to not fuck up the draft and pick him when he was waiting for them. He roared through the minors. This was it, the next great cornerstone of the franchise!

Then it didn’t exactly work out like we all planned it to. He retires being responsible for the biggest hit in franchise history, being beloved by the fanbase, and almost certain to have his number retired. But it was a bumpy road to get there, and even when he righted himself after early struggles, he still had a strange career. There was the offensive peak from 2011 until he got injured in 2015. Even then, though, he would be white hot for three weeks, then go stone cold for three weeks. He would hit the biggest, loudest, most majestic home runs you have ever seen, then look lost for weeks at a time.

He worked his ass off to become the best left fielder in the game. He may have worked too hard and hurt himself at the plate, but you could never, ever question his dedication or worth ethic. He was not the demonstrative leader that Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, or Salvador Perez were. Yet he was also the unquestioned guy that everyone looked up to.

There’s a part of me that will always view Alex’s career as a slight disappointment. He was a career .257 hitter with an OPS+ of 102. As good as he was in 2011 and 2012, if feels like he should have extended that success over a 4-5 year stretch. His defensive play always made up for his struggles at the plate, though. And “Gordon in the air to center…back, at the wall…this game is tied!” will always make up for any disappointment at his career numbers.

Kid Hoops

L’s first CYO basketball game of the year was Sunday. I am back on the bench as an assistant coach this year. We played a school we lost to by eight last year, mostly thanks to a third quarter in which we were outscored 6-0.

We led 7-5 at halftime and used a 8-0 run in the third quarter to break the game open. We got a little sloppy late but still closed it out to win 17-7.

L had four points. She hit a couple jumpers, one from a step inside the 3-point line. She also missed at least 80 layups and was 0-2 from the line. We will be spending a lot of time on layups at practice this week. I believe our team went 1-852 on layups.

I am responsible for the offense we run and the girls, well, they did not run it well. It’s a (theoretically) simple pass-and-cut offense that you can run against about any defense. They were passing and cutting, but then no one looked for the ball or posted up after their cuts. And no one looked at the cutters for a quick hit. Well, L did throw one toward a cutter late in the game, but the cutter never looked at the ball, and the defense had switched to zone so there were three defenders waiting to grab the pass.

Our defense, though, was awesome. We are pretty small and mostly fast. The team we played was bigger and slower. Our girls attacked every loose ball, jumped in the passing lanes, pressured the ball, and generally created havoc on the defensive end. Not exaggerating, we had at least 20 breakaway layup attempts that came off of steals. If we could get to even 50% on those we would be in really good shape, because half court offense is always going to be a struggle. That is middle school basketball for you.


Still trying to figure out how the playoffs work. I’ve been pretty checked out of baseball for the past month so need to start paying attention again.


Not sure if it is the bubble environment, the lack of crowds and travel, or just the strangeness of 2020, but Miami is making the playoffs feel more like an NCAA tournament. They are the team that got hot at the right time and never fade in the big moments. Some friends of mine and I like to make fun of Jimmy Butler and how he thinks he’s a superstar. If he gets the Heat to a title, I guess he can laugh at us. Lakers in six.