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Free Samples of a Sleep-Deprived Brain

…or what happens when family meets work meets severe weather meets baseball…

I Have Seen…The Baseball Promised Land

Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera and Wade Davis celebrate after Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in New York. The Royals won 7-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Royals catcher Drew Butera and Wade Davis celebrate after Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, in New York. The Royals won 7-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Eleven years ago, my wife Ginny and I had our first formal date as a couple. I asked her to a Kansas City Royals game against Cleveland and I was pleasantly surprised when she accepted.

The Royals were bad that year, miserable bad, sweat-on-sunburn-painful bad. Bad enough where outfielders looked at each other during a fly ball, jogged in for the third out and had the ball land behind them. Bad enough where a first baseman got eaten up by a tarp…not really, but you get the picture. Bad enough where fireworks were touched off when a batter walked. (OK, they didn’t all happen that year, but after a while the cumulative effect just rolls together into one mind-numbing nightmare lowlight). Bad enough where our attention wasn’t on the game but on developing the Ballad of Coco Crisp. I forget how that goes.

Last night, shortly before midnight, we cuddled up on a couch and watched Wade Davis close out the New York Mets for a World Series crown.

And what a crown. And what a team.

The never-say-die attitude of the Royals was discussed at length, especially as the comebacks started to mount. The reasons behind the comebacks were also given a lot of air time as the World Series continued and eventually culminated. One of the reasons I haven’t heard mentioned, especially about the Royals hitters, was what can best be described a lack of baseball ego. Think about it. The Royals sometimes had some pretty poor at-bats early in playoff games this year, but go back and follow the ABs in pivotal situations. There were very few wasted plate appearances, very few wasted swings, even if they weren’t all productive.

Dale Sveum’s “keep the line moving approach” demands that hitters make contact as often as possible. But it dictates an unselfishness among batters, urging them to put their individual wishes aside for “the big hit” — namely home runs — for the greater good of a hit, a baserunner, an increase in pressure on the defending team.

Under that pressure, Royals opponents cracked, buckled and eventually caved.

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Look at the Mets as a classic example. Look at how the deciding rallies started in Games 1, 4 and 5 to prove the point. Rushing on defense led to critical errors, setting the table for possible victories — but the Royals also took advantage, which is the big thing (and what had a lot of us worrying about the team’s postseason fate back in September when KC wasn’t finishing off teams).

The Royals weren’t clean by any means in this World Series — two potentially costly errors by Gold Glover Eric Hosmer and a fielding brain fart by pitcher Franklin Morales that locked up the Mets’ only win. Doesn’t matter. Not with this team.

As an aside, I have to credit the Fox broadcast team for their Game 5 coverage. As unabashedly biased as Game 1’s play-by-play went, the crew of Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci changed their tune by Game 5 and were about as fair and balanced as you can get. Kudos there.

Back to the team that matters.

This was a team that has been labeled as destined to win, and not just because of what outfielder Alex Gordon called a cockroach-like inability to go away. It was a team brought together by the heartbreak of losing the World Series last year and fused by the unfortunate passing of Mike Moustakas’ mother and Chris Young’s and Edinson Volquez’s fathers. The word team often blends into the word family when it comes to championship-level sports. The Royals embody that blend perhaps better than any time I have followed for a long time, in part due to the losses that matter on the scoreboard and the losses that matter in life.

Speaking of the on-field losses, it was less than three years ago that Royals fans had enough of the team’s current direction. Myself included. And honestly, it was hard to blame us. Starting in 1995, the Royals dove into one of the most inept stretches of baseball, losing 90 or more games almost every season, looking bad on the field and lost off it. Starting the 2013 season, the Royals had to use a second-half shove to get into the playoff picture and give fans some hope General Manager Dayton Moore’s “Process” and Manager Ned Yost’s crustiness were worth supporting. Both were just about the door if the Royals had another lifeless summer.

If you want to look back, that walkoff grand slam hit by Justin Maxwell against Texas — one of the best non-playoff baseball moments I’ve ever seen, in person or on TV — was a feelgood moment to essentially end the 2013 season. But it also served as a precursor to what we saw this year.

If you want to look back, the 2014 Wild Card game was yet another prelude.

And now there’s no need to look back.

I was 14 when the Kansas City Royals slid past St. Louis in the 1985 World Series. Say what you want about the Don Denkinger call in Game 6 that year, but the Cardinals flat melted down in that inning and throughout Game 7. The Royals’ core from that team didn’t completely end its useful baseball life for several years, so I thought at least one more playoff push was in the cards. It wasn’t. Not for a loooong time. The team then got so bad and the front office so clueless I thought I would never see another title.

This must have been what the Israelites felt some 3,000 years ago criscrossing the Palestinian desert and then being told The Promised Land was in sight. It wasn’t 40 years in the desert, but three decades of mainly rudderless direction is plenty long enough.

There are a ton of questions about the 2016 Royals. Can KC re-sign Gordon to a deal and get Ben Zobrist on board for another year or two? How will the Royals handle Danny Duffy and replace Johnny Cueto? Can the Royals reclaim their magic from this year?

Right now, it doesn’t matter. I and millions of Royals fans have finally seen the baseball promised land.

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Royals Keep Steamrolling to a Title (First Takes and Second Helpings: Oct. 29, 2015)

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Various and sundry thoughts while mulling the end of a vacation week…

  1. The Kansas City Royals are primed to win the World Series. That’s something I didn’t expect at the start of the regular season, and it’s certainly something I didn’t expect after the Royals dug themselves a massive hole in the American League Division Series Game 4 against Houston. One thing that has highlighted this season is an ability to get big at-bats at big times, and that trend has been in full evidence against the New York Mets in the first two World Series games. The Mets rotation is designed to miss bats. The Royals hitters are now designed not to miss pitches, especially those in the strike zone. Mets pitchers are losing this battle in a big way. The other thing in the Royals’ favor has been underrated starting pitching. Edinson Volquez was every bit the equal of Matt Harvey in Game 1, and Johnny Cueto (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) simply outpitched Jacob deGrom in Game 2.It just has to be the nails.

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    After the All-Star break, while Ginny and Bella were getting their nails painted, my foster son asked whether I’d get my nails done. I said I’d get mine painted blue if the Royals got back to the World Series. Lo and behold, they did. And I had to remind the ladies of the home about this. Typically, I’m the one having to field the reminder on just about everything. Anyways, Bella was pretty giddy about getting to paint Daddy’s nails. As far as the on-field results, so far, so good. Just waiting to see what happens when I chip a nail.

  2. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything. Therefore, this will be the only mention of Joe Buck’s broadcasting, um, style, excellence, high-priced waste of air space in this blog post. I gladly utilized the six to eight seconds of delay between KVOE’s feed of the ESPN Radio coverage and the Fox TV picture for Game 2. It hurts the brain somewhat with that approach, but it sure eases the mind when you know you have an unbiased broadcast at the national level.joe

    I just love how, according to Mr. Buck, Harvey was the perfect pitcher for the Mets to start the World Series…and then how deGrom was the perfect guy to get a win for the Mets in Game 2 after they lost in crushing fashion in Game 1. Well, obviously they weren’t because the Mets are down 2-0 for the aforementioned reasons. There weren’t any perfect Royals starters to be part of the World Series, the way it appears. Funny how that works out. And it’s funny how the backhanded compliments — “and those Royals, nobody knows how they do it” — just enhance the fact that they, not the other team are doing it in emphatic fashion.

  3. Man, does Emporia State football have a big one coming up. And not against Northwest Missouri on Nov. 7. Archrival Washburn comes calling — on Halloween Day, mind you.10895870235_452fc42ba9_b

    If you wanted an example of inconsistency, the Ichabods would be about as good an example as you could get this season. Defeat Pittsburg State, ranked in the top 15 at the time, lose to bottom-dweller Lindenwood. Defeat Missouri Western, a longtime powerhouse in the conference before quarterback injuries hamstrung the offense over the past four weeks, lose to Central Oklahoma, a team finding its way after being the pleasant surprise in the MIAA last year. A ton is at stake for the Hornets, who at 7-1 can still get into the playoffs with two losses — and just about everybody expects ESU to lose at Northwest Missouri. Losing to Washburn and to NWMSU, though, and it’s just about curtains for any postseason hopes.

    It’s your archrival. Weird things happen against your archrival, especially in games where you should win — as Emporia State should on Saturday. It’s Halloween Day, the day of weird things. Hopefully the Hornets take all the strangeness out of the game early on, take care of business and move to 8-1 before a national broadcast in Maryville.

  4. Mike Riley isn’t in trouble, but the Huskers are. Let me rephrase that: Mike Riley isn’t in trouble yet. There’s a big difference, but regardless, there’s no way NU should lose to Northwestern at home. It shouldn’t have lost to BYU, Wisconsin or Illinois, either. And there’s no business losing the way they have this season, whether through bad defensive positioning or shoddy play-calling or bad communication or, apparently against Northwestern, just a poor effort. For a team allegedly hungry to prove it can win two straight, it sure sounded full of itself until it was way too late.Oct 24, 2015; Lincoln, NE, USA; The Northwestern Wildcats sign their fight song after a win against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Northwestern defeated Nebraska 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

    What does this mean? Well, on the field it means this team had better cinch up the fundamentals and at least play solid football. Win or lose. That’s now the best we can expect as fans for this season. Which isn’t nearly enough for this program or its fans. We have come to expect more because we have seen it’s possible. And we were told solid football would be the basic common denominator of this program. So far, it hasn’t been.

    Going into Riley Stardate 2.0, it should mean a purge of all the players who are demonstrating any unwillingness to buy into what Riley and his coaching staff are selling. If you’re not on board, find some place where you’re comfortable. It’s as simple as that.

    Off the field, it means this can’t continue or else Riley’s seat will get extremely hot extremely quickly. So will the seat under his coaches, especially defensive coordinator Mark Banker. And so will the seat underneath Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. The Riley regime didn’t have the talent of other Big Ten teams to start, so struggles were anticipated. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s skill set didn’t fit what Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf had in mind, and at times they have melded the separate approaches into something quite nice. Injuries haven’t helped. But the sheer sloppiness of things…it’s unacceptable. In all phases of football. And that should have been communicated to the coaching staff from somebody — Eichorst, football god Tom Osborne, an outgoing chancellor, anybody — well before now. Even after the mess of the Bo Pelini era, NU football has taken a significant step backward in the first year of the Mike Riley regime. It’s a step backward I didn’t expect. And it’s a step backward that I hope doesn’t mean leads to backing into the mud of mediocrity. If the program isn’t already there.

  5. You can make a buffet out of anything. Ginny made the point abundantly clear this morning when I asked her what’s for supper tonight and she said, “We’re gonna have a leftover buffet.” Now that’s craziness. An all-you-can-eat buffet? Awesome. A pie buffet? Heavenly. But a leftover buffet?Now that you mention it, that pot roast from Tuesday night does sound pretty tasty.

Until the next plate of mental goulash…

Signs of Change 

nyy tor

Less than a week is left in the 2015 MLB regular season, and as the season steams to a close I noticed a couple things about my own baseball preferences which, quite honestly, disturbed me.

First off, and I can’t believe I’m saying this…I have been rooting for the New York Yankees here as the season ends. The fricking Yankees. The only team on the planet I despise more than anything associated with the University of Texas.

Yes. I have been rooting for them.

“Hello, I’m Chuck and I’m apparently a seasonal Yankees fan.” “Hi, Chuck…”

It hasn’t helped, at least for the most part. The Yankees, who led the AL East for much of the season, got passed by Toronto a few weeks ago and are now 5.5 games back with five games left. So they won’t win the division, although they do have a 3-game lead in the wild card race. Doesn’t sound that bad, except when you consider who the Kansas City Royals could face in the playoffs, either in the Divisional Series or the League Championship Series.

Put simply, the Royals match up much better against the Yankees.

The Blue Jays are the team nobody wants in this year’s playoffs. At any level. They mash the ball. Their pitching has improved. And say what you want about some of the whining antics or manufactured outrage coming from a Jose Bautista or Josh Donaldson…but the Jays play for each other very well.

One other thing you may have noticed since the trade deadline: if the Jays are involved in a close game, something now almost invariably happens to tilt the scoreboard in their favor.

Like I said: nobody — and this includes the Royals — wants any part of Toronto starting next week.

My rooting for the Yankees goes against everything in my baseball being. (Apparently this is more deeply-rooted than even I knew. Last year, my dad told me he wouldn’t have known what to do with me if I had become a Yankees fan growing up.) So that’s unnerving all by itself. But when the Royals went to Baltimore earlier this month, I had no rooting interest for the Orioles. And I’ve been rooting for them since 1975. The Orioles are the team I latched onto when I started learning about baseball — and now it’s just, well, meh.

Have the Royals finally become my favorite team? Initially, I’d say yes. However, the Orioles did next to nothing last offseason after the Kansas City sweep job in the ALCS. They hardly did anything near the trading deadline to improve the club and bolster a playoff push, even though they still were pretty much in the thick of things at the season’s midway point.

It’s almost as if upper management didn’t care. That spoke volumes to Orioles fans like me.

The Royals, meanwhile, did what they could — leading the division for most of the season and also adding pieces (Ben Zobrist, Johnny Cueto) designed to bring the trophy home. That hasn’t worked recently as the Royals have had a month-long slide, but it’s a push we Royals fans have never seen before — or least not in the past 30 years. That says a lot to baseball. And it says a lot to your fan base.

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I’m still calling myself an Orioles fan, but I’m not sure my heart is in that statement. Ask me again when the Royals and O’s do battle next year.

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Advice for New Journalists (i.e., Bust Your Butt Because Stuff’s Gotta Get Done)

BOSS

Recently, I had the good fortune to rub shoulders with a couple sets of college journalists. We didn’t discuss a whole lot other than their assignments, but they seemed pretty into their work and eager to join the profession. I have to say I was pretty impressed with their drive.

Thinking about those encounters got me thinking about something else: exactly what young journalists need to know about the profession before they get into it. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s being taught in the classroom these days — especially when it comes to the day-to-day, common-sense things journalists have needed throughout history. And to tell you the truth, I never got that far in my formal college education to find out because I was already learning on the job and had made the fateful decision to pursue the position rather than the degree. Maybe that lack of a diploma disqualifies me from giving advice, but I think my 20 years in the field as a reporter, copy editor, page designer, play-by-play voice, color commentator and department director make me rather qualified for what I’m about to say in a bit.

(A foreword and an insight into my news coverage philosophy: On my Twitter page, I’ll often use the hashtag #SGGD when things are busy — like today, when I’ve written nine stories between 7 and 11 am. Translation? Stuff’s Gotta Get Done).

With that in mind, here’s my advice for those either set to enter the journalism field or those even considering journalism as a profession. Think of this as a guide to helping you be a better journalist, increasing your personal and news outlet’s credibility and keeping your supervisors gruntled (as opposed to the picture at the top of this post). As usual, there is no particular order to these different points:

Don’t ever underestimate the importance of breaking news. It may seem like this should go without saying, but if you don’t cover breaking news correctly, you and your station lose a lot of credibility in a very short time period. Just based on our website numbers, breaking news — even if it doesn’t turn out to be anything serious — will easily outpace your other stories that could well be of more importance to more people. If, by chance, you miss something like a crash or a fire, you’ll hear about it in house for a long time. And your bosses will hear about it from community members for a longer period of time.

You absolutely cannot have a lasseiz-faire attitude when it comes to breaking news. That can be reserved for others in your operation. But you have to think worst-case scenario until proven otherwise. Once you think you don’t have to go all out, especially in the first few moments of an event, you tend to miss something big. You don’t want to answer the questions that follow something like that.

Have what I call professional curiosity…or, related, Go beyond the assignment list. This is the journalism equivalent of playing through the whistle in sports. Has something come down on email or social media that wasn’t on your assignment list but you’re the only one on duty? See something like a water main break or construction around a previously burned-out building? Follow up and let your supervisor know. Few things aggravate superiors more so than egregious errors in your work…but high up on the list is having reporters know of stories and refusing to pursue them.

Speaking of the assignment list, follow that completely and let your supervisor or news director know if there is something you can’t get written up. It’s aggravating to see a story assigned with photos or a video and only seeing the story. There are reasons your supervisor has assigned those stories to you and given you related assignments like pics or videos as well. If you have questions about the train of thought involved, just ask.

Translate lessons from one situation to another. This typically comes after mistakes. The goal here is to learn what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again — and you avoid incurring the wrath of your supervisors for repeated issues or outright failures.

Don’ t pass your work off on anybody else, let alone your supervisor. Don’t be that guy (or that girl) who covers something but tells your supervisor something along the lines of, “I left that pic up on the desktop so you can load that later” or “I’ll let you handle that interview for (fill in the blank reason).” You didn’t make the assignment so don’t act like you did. You’ll be lucky to see it go online and you may get a rather sharp retort to finish your assignment.

Be prepared for some very long work days and work weeks. My work day typically starts around 4 am and usually doesn’t get done until around 2 or 3 pm — and that’s if I don’t have an evening meeting, breaking news assignment during our late afternoon newscast cycle or severe weather to handle. It adds up. My work week is typically in the 60- to 70-hour range, and during vacations it climbs to around 90 hours to make sure everything (or most everything) is covered. Take your downtime whenever you can. Find some way to get away, if only for short chunks of time. And make sure you get sleep when you can. Sleep becomes a priceless commodity in this business.

Put another way: your work day isn’t over just because your shift is done.

A broad range of interests can only help you. You have to cover everything from performing arts events to zoning meetings to school board budgets to deaths. The full news coverage pie is a meaty, meaty offering. It all needs to be covered to the best of your ability. Don’t get a reputation for fully covering only a small slice of your pie and leaving the rest virtually untouched.

What you say…or type…can come back to haunt you. You have to be on the level, whether you’re writing a story or talking about other matters. If you’re caught lying about off-work stuff, it automatically calls your credibility into question about what you write. Automatically. And heaven help you if you are caught lying about something you did or didn’t do for work.

Be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. You may have to wake up at 5 am to cover a wreck when you just got back home at midnight after a long meeting. Severe weather may hit during a late afternoon newscast. Somebody notable to your area may resign or die and you don’t hear about until Saturday afternoon. You know it in your head that a lot of news stories don’t have a schedule, but you will have that lesson drilled into you during your first six to nine months on the job. You have to be flexible in this business.

Bottom line? Even in a small market, journalism is a field that mandates a high-revving motor. You’re going to make your mistakes. There will be stories or angles of stories you don’t immediately see. Even seasoned veterans have some major screw-ups or dumb thought processes (just ask NBC’s Brian Williams). You’ll get somebody mad at least once a week for how you write a story, no matter how fair you are. But nobody should question your work ethic. If you have a slow-running motor, it’s best to avoid this field even if you like to write and interact with people. If your motor runs high, then certain things you don’t do so well will at least be tolerated until you can bring those up to speed — and you will be expected to do so in short order.

#SGGD. And you’ll be hired to get that stuff done. Good luck…and may the news force be with you.

The author is the news director of KVOE Radio in Emporia, Kan.

Deja Vu in Huskerville

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In case you missed it, the Nebraska-Miami football game Saturday turned out to be quite the battle.

Miami jumped out to a 17-0 lead after a quarter and led 33-10 early in the fourth. NU stormed back to force overtime only to lose.

The nation yawned. Husker Nation cussed.

This was just the latest battle for the Big Red to return to relevance. And it was the latest opportunity to slip by in tantalizing, maddening fashion.

Look: the win over South Alabama was nice and all for getting the Mike Riley era into the win column — and erasing the nasty taste of the BYU game to start the season — but honestly, nobody cares. Those don’t get you back into the national spotlight as a title  contender, whether it be for the national championship or even for the conference crown. It’s games like BYU and Miami that we as Husker fans care about. And it’s those games that determine whether you’re on the road to respect or spinning your wheels as an also-ran.

And what’s concerning is the problems NU has had the past, oh, 15 years or so haven’t departed with the new coaching staff now on board.

Dumb penalties? Yep. Questionable play-calling, bad positioning? Mmm-hmm. Taking too long to get engaged in the game? More of an issue against Miami than BYU, but remember that second quarter against the Cougars? And did you listen to Nate Gerry, who said issues in practice carried over to the Miami game?

I have to breathe. Stuff like this doesn’t change overnight. But don’t tell me there’s a lot of hope after another kick to the gut like the Miami game. Hope for what? More of the same? Because that’s exactly what we got. And we have the loss to prove it.

Some Things That Just Make No Sense

Head in Hands

Everybody sees some things that just make you scratch your head. As in, these things make absolutely, positively no sense.

A lot of them have to do with what we say. My daughter is getting a kick out of why we park on driveways and drive on parkways. Things like that. And no, I have no answer for that question.

Just in general, the English language is another good example. Why can’t we go good/gooder/goodest or its reverse, bad/badder/baddest, when we could go high/higher/highest? Insert your examples here.

Some other thoughts on our language, specifically when it comes to some unpaired words:

*Why do we never hear of the gruntled former employee? And what qualifies as gruntled, anyways?

*Is sheveled like being shoveled? And if people can be disheveled, how come you never hear of sidewalks being dishoveled?

*I told somebody I was “in whack” a few years ago. I think that person is still out of whack as a result.

*It’s easy to be couth and kempt, but you never hear of that.

*The next time I broadcast a baseball game, I’m going to say a pitcher who gave up a bunch of runs came out of the inning scathed. And I’ll monitor my social media to see how many people ask what the heck I was saying or what I meant by that.

*Speaking of work, I’m going cognito back home after my shift ends. Hard to go incognito anywhere with my job.

*If the Kansas City Royals win their first World Series in 30 years this fall, I would hope for some ruly celebrations. I’m guessing those won’t catch the headlines.

*Ungainly and unwieldy mean awkward, but they roll off the tongue much more smoothly than gainly and wieldy.

Have a gruntled and couth Labor Day…and an ept time with your grilling endeavors.

Qualms About Cueto

It’s a pretty good thing the Kansas City Royals are steaming towards the American League Central title. Otherwise, there would be a lot more worry about the Royals’ pitching staff.

The concerns have been mumbled about Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy all season. Other grumblings have been focused on which Royal woul claim the No. 5 starter position — Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Young and lately Kris Medlen — almost by default.

But the biggest concerns are now revolving around one of a handful of players who are supposed to lead the franchise back to the World Series this fall.

Johnny Cueto had his fourth straight ghastly outing today: 3 IP, 5 earned runs allowed, 7 hits. It’s his shortest outing in a Royals’ uniform, but the three prior starts weren’t much better:

6 IP, 13 hits, 6 ER

5 IP, 8 hits, 6 ER

6 IP, 9 hits, 4 ER

What gives?

If you listen to the Royals’ coaches, it’s nothing more than the pitching equivalent of a hitter’s slump. I get that. But if that’s the case, you would look for different results. Hitters go from getting under fastballs and popping them up to trying unsuccessfully to pull breaking pitches away to being ahead to being late — all in a 20-at-bat slide.

Cueto’s problem has been consistent. He has missed up and out over the plate. Seriously, if you look at where his pitches have been hammered the hardest, Cueto did better teeing up his offerings than he could have done with an actual tee.

The Royals may be unpleasantly surprised this offseason by their rotation and the resulting impact on their bullpen. It would be unfortunate if the team’s signature acquisition for this stretch drive would be be one of the disappointing reasons the Royals fail to reach the World Series.

Inauspicious Beginnings, Hopeful Future in Lincoln

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How do you lose a football game? Usually it’s with mistakes, either a whopping amount or a handful that are poorly-timed. And make no mistake: errors killed Nebraska’s victory chances in its season-opening football game against BYU.

To spare you a lengthy recap, just observe each team’s final drive of the game. Nebraska’s drive ends in a shanked field goal. BYU’s ends in a Hail Mary touchdown with all of NU’s defenders behind the receiver.

I didn’t watch the entire game — stories to write and post and the like — but I mainly liked what I saw from the offense, although I was more pleased with the passing game as opposed to the rushing attack. So much was made of how head coach Mike Riley’s passing emphasis was different from quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s demonstrated skill set, but that side of the game could have ended up a lot worse.

Punting wasn’t bad, but missing two field goals inside 45 yards is about inexcusable at the Power 5 level these days.

And then there’s the defense, shredded for a half and the out of position enough on the final play to claim defeat.

It’s unfortunate the Huskers lost the game, and with it the streak of consecutive home opening victories. But the game showed there is a lot of hope for the Mike Riley era. They say the most improvement in a given football season happens from Week 1 to Week 2. If that happens, Nebraska’s chances for returning to relevance improve dramatically — if not this year, then certainly by next season.

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Aftermath of a Football Road Trip

2015 STUDIO

I think it was 2:17 am when we pulled into Emporia State’s HPER parking lot this morning. Fitting, because I think I had 217 seat adjustments from when we left Joplin, Mo., following the Hornets’ 38-20 win over Missouri Southern, back to the Flint Hills.

Honestly, as much as I was looking forward to watching ESU open the football season (and, hopefully, have a much better season than what I witnessed last year), I was dreading the impact Friday. The Day After. We had left around 1:30 pm to make sure we got to Joplin in way more than enough time to get set up, test the equipment, get interviews if we wanted to and settle into the broadcast instead of scrambling into it — and trust me, there is a difference in the finished product if you’re scrambling. Leaving when we did also gave me another rather large window to plan how I’d attack Friday’s schedule.

The plan: Get in around 2:30. Skip sleep (because I knew I’d snooze right through every alarm known to man outside of a tornado siren directly in my ear). Shower and be back out the door by 3 am. Write up my morning’s self-assignments by 9 am. Hope the Morning Show doesn’t sound like Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

Oh yeah — Record midday, plop stuff on the website and be unconscious by 10 am. Sleep until I wake up or when Ginny comes home, whichever comes first.

Well, it’s 2:20 am and I can already tell I’m going to be off schedule and not in a good way. I’ll leave it to your imagination what happened. Anyways, by the time I’ve gotten showered, let the dog out and given hugs, it’s 3:10 am. Ten minutes is an eternity in broadcasting, but I’m still in pretty good shape.

Writing goes up to just shy of 5 am before I take a break for caffeine. I’m at the same time impressed and a bit worried, thinking I’ve waited too long to start gulping down the Coke. At least short-term, that worry turns out to be unfounded. I’m still conscious and alert (something you hear on the scanner all the time) — right up until I take a quick break to pause. That’s when nice, peaceful darkness lurks until I snap back to the land of the conscious.

Surprisingly, the Morning Show goes fairly well. I don’t stumble much more than normal during the newscasts and my train of thought doesn’t derail in spectacular fashion. By 9 am, though, I can tell the three cans of Coke just ain’t cutting it.

coke tower

I still have one more story to write, another to update with sound, two calls to make on a weekend story and the web to update. And the yawns have started. In fact, they can’t stop. I’m actually thinking I could fall asleep sitting bolt upright…or get whiplash if I lean back…thinking….skngxxxxxxxx…

I’m resigning myself to the fact I’ll have to adjust my schedule. And I’m needing something — anything — to get my motivation back to where it was six hours earlier.

What’s In Outdoors ends and I have to walk up and down the hall a few times, doing some strategic air drumming in the process to get the blood going and caffeine redistributed.

9:30 am: Ron comes back and orders Greg and I to find some time to take a nap. No problem there. So long as I get these stories done and posted.

10:10 am: Stories written but putting one thought in front of the other is now getting reeeeeally hard. Listening to Pat Metheny, while relaxing, isn’t helping.

10:20 am: Change of music will have to happen. Time for Dire Straits’ Alchemy. Maybe that will help.

10:25 am: The more air drumming I do, the less work I do. Grrrr.

10:35: Singing helps to keep me awake — and I can type at the same time. I can hear Greg and AJ getting annoyed.

11 am: Web almost done. But I’m missing one picture I wanted for the front — because I blitzed that out two weeks ago. Lengthy bleep.

11:02 am: Now realizing I have ingested enough caffeine to likely keep me awake the rest of the afternoon. Looooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggg bleeeeep.

11:20: Time to resume recording. So much for 10 am. Now the goal is noon. And I have 18 minutes of news loaded for the midday AM cast. And I’m leaving stuff out. Cannot remember what I was doing 10 seconds ago.

11:27: Almost said “partly chucky” in the headlines forecast. If you want to know what partly chucky is, don’t ask. I have no idea. Apparently I’m not totally chucky today, though.

11:28: Puberty returns. That was weird.

11:34: In an effort to maintain a clean working space, AJ starts to dismantle my Coke tower. Said tower falls apart. Chuck’s rendition of Dr. Giggles (hey, we all have one) breaks out.

11:50: Final check of recorded material. Brain alternately hyper and crashy. Saved midday ag report to the wrong cart, but otherwise everything is clear.

11:55 am: Scanner….nooooo….OK. Patient transfer. We’re good.

So I’m out around noon. A busier day than I thought and, frankly, hoped, but there was some worthy news this morning. Accessibility concerns, blue-green algae impact, United Way starting its general fundraising drive and other stories. All told, seven stories today — including two rather hefty pieces — with three of those needing updates as the morning progressed.

Another #bya #sggd day. Now it’s time for pizza and nap..and to tear down this Coke tower. Chat with you guys again when its #darkandearly tomorrow.

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