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SALINA, KaN. - Ted stopped by and shared the news. I never thought I would care about, let alone feel sorry for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. Another generation of kids young and old had been disillusioned.

Immediately I had flashbacks to my worst moments as a Royals' fan - the trade of the hometown boy and reigning Cy Young Award winner David Cone to the Yankees, the Johnny Damon trade, the Carlos Beltran trade, etc. , etc.

Oh, I almost forgot, Ted's news. The Brewers' star player, Prince Fielder, left his team and signed a $215 Million dollar contract with the Detroit Tigers. To add insult to injury, the Tigers play in the same division as the Royals.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Practicing law wasn't my first career choice. My first choice was to play first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But even by 4th grade Pee Wee League in Great Bend, I was too slow, couldn't field, was scared of the ball, and warmed the bench. When I got my two front teeth knocked out by an errant bat in 7th grade, I was terrified of the bat and the ball. As a player, baseball was over for me.

I wasn't very good at all. But we all loved the game. Summers were about baseball. And when we weren't playing for the St. Patricks' Crusaders (each school had it's own team then), we spent most afternoons in "pick up games" on local diamonds. A few phone calls and you could have a pick up baseball game going in half an hour.

EMPORIA, Kan. - While many people have found many reasons to strongly dislike the new immigration legislation in Arizona. It's effect will reach more than just the work-a-day world it could have far reaching effects in the sports world as well.

According to the Kansas City Royal's director of Player relations the change could hurt the Royals minor league system in Arizona immensely. Eighty-percent of the currently Royals Arizona Rookie Squad Roster is players of foreign descent here playing on work visas.

Unsafe At Any Weight

YOCEMENTO, Kan. - In 1965 Ralph Nader wrote his earthshaking Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile, addressing the automobile industry's resistance to the introduction to safety features such as seat belts in designing cars.

Is football the new GM?

In an earlier article, I attempted to explain the physiology of repetitive hits to the head in football and the consequent brain damage. I mentioned the case of an eighteen year old. He died of other causes, but his brain upon examination showed evidence of tau neurofibrillary tangles; the same kind of tangles found in Alzheimer victims. The young man played only two years of high school football.

This evidence should be the source of concern for parents and young players. Is playing football at any age a potential threat to the brain?

university-of-kansas.gifLAWRENCE, Kan. - As KU faces off against UCLA in basketball today, it brings back memories of seven foot legends Wilt Chamberlain for KU and Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabaar) for UCLA. But they weren't the first.

In the fall semester of 1927, University of Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen quietly planned a basketball revolution. With little fanfare, Phog Allen enrolled the first known seven foot basketball player in classes at Lawrence.

In the 1920's, a player 6' 4" was considered extremely tall, and a player seven foot tall was unthinkable. Harry Kersenbrock enrolled at KU, and quickly earned the nickname "Big" from his KU classmates. At the time, freshmen were not eligible to play varsity, so Kersenbrock played for the freshman team.

This was 1927 - long before anyone had heard of giants Bob Kurland at Oklahoma A & M, George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers, or even Wilt Chamberlain.
Kersenbrock was raised in Crete, NE, and people didn't know what to make of the sometimes clumsy "freak of nature."

GREAT BEND, Kan. - If there was a way Tiger Woods could visit his father's grave in Manhattan, Kansas today, I'm sure he would. Earl Woods' always kept a close watch over Tiger, and his death on May 3, 2006 probably had an impact we are only realizing today. Maybe we should have seen it coming.

Earl Woods was an African-American pioneer in his own right. Born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas, Earl Woods was the first African-American baseball player in the Big 7. The Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues showed an interest in signing the catcher to play professional baseball, but Woods turned them down, graduating from college in 1953, and becoming a Green Beret in the Army.

Woods retired from the service as a Lt. Colonel, and he always emphasized discipline and self-control in raising Tiger. In a letter to Great Bend's Frances Burns (widow of Earl's Ban Johnson baseball coach in Great Bend in the summer of 1951) Woods mentions "discipline." He wrote that the discipline he learned from Coach Al Burns in baseball "has helped me in teaching Tiger and has directly contributed to his success."

university-of-kansas-ku-1.jpgLAWRENCE, Kan. - Although some would say KU football coach Mark Mangino's high water mark was winning the Orange Bowl in 2007, I think the defining moment for Mangino came earlier that season when Kansas overcame decades of futility to thrash Nebraska 76-39 in Lawrence on November 3, 2007. Nebraska had never had any team, ever put up 76 points on them.

My brother and his son, along with hundreds of other fans, waited outside the locker room after the game for Mangino to exit the stadium. When Mangino appeared, he was mobbed by the fans like a rock star. He could barely get to his car, as fans praised him for ending decades of frustration at the hands of the Cornhuskers.

But that was then. This is now. In sports, like in politics, people want to know: "What have you done for me lately?"

The Way of the Brain

HAYS, Kan. - Lately, there has been a spate of media coverage on the connection of brain damage to the sport of football. The New York Times, NPR, and PBS have all weighed in. Congress held hearings about it, too. Probably the most influential piece of late is Malcolm Gladwell's "Offensive Play" (The New Yorker, Oct. 19, 2009.)

Mr. Gladwell focuses on the research associated with the football-brain damage connection. This brings up a big question: if repetitive hits to the head are causing brain damage in NFL players, could something similar be happening to younger players?

EMPORIA, Kan. - Holton, Andale and Hugoton are the only undefeated teams in class 4A, but there should still be some great match-ups before the final game.

Early Round
Ulysses (5-4) at Wellington (6-3)
Wellington survived a scare last weekend at Chaparral, and survived a weak district. Ulysses was in a tough district and played a tough schedule all season, if there is going to be an early round upset, it will happen here.
Prediction: Ulysses 27-17

EMPORIA, Kan. - Another big bracket, this one contains some of the state's top low classification teams. There are some great match-ups late and couple of good early rounders, let's take a look at them.

Early Round Fun
Osage City (6-3) at Central Heights (4-5)
Upset alert, Central Heights it the higher seeded team, but Osage City came out of one of the toughest districts out there. The Indians should earn the win here, but face a tough test on the road.
Prediction: Osage City 34-17

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