Thursday, October 8, 2009


KU fall incidents will fade


The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, may it rest in peace, died 20 autumns ago and not a day has gone by in which I haven’t missed it.

Its sports department was loaded with aggressive reporters and edgy headline writers. In March, 1988 the headline that screamed above a byline of feisty baseball writer Ken “Mouse” Gurnick read: “Dodgertown: The Unhappiest Place on Earth.”

Kirk Gibson had just joined the Dodgers as a free agent and didn’t much care for what he viewed as a country club atmosphere in the clubhouse. In the first intrasquad game of the spring, Gibson broke up a double play with spikes flying high, signifying a new sheriff was in town.

When Gibson took the field for his first home exhibition game with the Dodgers, streams of black ran down his face. Someone had pranked him, putting eye-black inside his cap. Gibson didn’t find it amusing. He stormed off the field, didn’t play in the game and made it clear things had to change. The next day, at a team meeting, the culprit confessed. Just how, lefty reliever Jesse Orosco was asked, did he go about telling Gibson, an intense football player in a baseball uniform, that he was the one who did the deed that set him off?

“Easy,” Orosco said. “I just walked up to him, pointed a loaded gun in his face and said, ‘I did it.’”

Some of the other details of that spring that inspired the memorable headline have faded. This player wanted a new contract. That player wanted to be traded.

All that happened in March. In October, the ’88 Dodgers were crowned World Champions.

Check the calendar. It’s October. The NCAA Tournament isn’t called October Madness. It’s called March Madness and a champion is crowned in early April.

All of which brings us to the question of the day: Would you, the Kansas basketball fan who has read about members of your team getting into multiple fights with members of the football team, using offensive language on Facebook, and read about one player, Brady Morningstar getting suspended for the first semester after missing curfew and being arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, trade your team for any of the other 346 college basketball teams?

Of course you wouldn’t. Why would you? Your team is ranked No. 1 in the three preseason college basketball magazines spread out on my desk: Sporting News, Athlon, Lindy’s. Combining the rankings of those three mags results in this Top 10: 1. Kansas; 2. Michigan State; 3. Texas; 4. North Carolina; 5. Kentucky; 6. Purdue; 7. Tennessee; 8t. Butler, West Virginia; 10. Duke.

None of the magazines dwelled much on Thomas Robinson, but the hunch here is the freshman power forward from Washington, D.C. will give the Jayhawks a presence they didn’t have a year ago, a physical, fast, well-conditioned, ball of energy to give center Cole Aldrich more room and a healthier body with which to operate. Mix in the addition of Xavier Henry, the maturation of the Morris twins, additional backcourt depth, coach Bill Self playing the Kirk Gibson enforcer role, and come March, October will seem like a distant memory.


suttonku 10 years, 3 months ago

Keegan is on a role ladies and gentleman...not as good as his last article but this was good.

farnamjayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Good job Keegan. Come March and more importantly, that first Monday night in April we'll see something just as memorable as Gibson rounding the bases to the call of "I can't believe what I just saw"


TwistedFish31 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes Max, let's compare ourselves to the lowest of low sports fans and keep harping about it every time one of the kids skrews up. Let it go....

Hawklin 10 years, 3 months ago

"Its sports department was loaded with aggressive reporters and edgy headline writers."


rawkhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Amen, Keegan. It's a good year to be a Jayhawk!

TX 10 years, 3 months ago

Of course it will all fade. Lew and the boys are the best at what they do and will make sure everything gets covered up!

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 3 months ago

TX.... not sure there was much of a cover up. The fight video and police reports have been available for awhile now.

TX 10 years, 3 months ago

I just think there is more to come out, that is not yet known.

Joel Hood 10 years, 3 months ago

TX is right, with sports "reporters" like Kevin Kietzman and LJW/KU shill reporters like Keegan & Woodling on board, KU can hide all of their illegal shinanigans!

(remove tongue from cheek now)

TX, you sound like one of those sniveling KSUck fans always crying about KU.

KUFan90 10 years, 3 months ago

njjayhawk - don't tell me the "nip/tuck" babe has taken the place of the "evony" babe in your heart?

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't care if KU was ranked 346th. I would still be here on this website reading every article every day, rummaging through the message boards for interesting tidbits. I would never trade my Jayhawks for ANY team.

William James 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm a huge fan of Keegan, but did he just say "the maturation of the Morris twins"? HAHAHA! I don't know if that was sarcasm or not, but Keegan never ceases to amaze me.

bpjhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

" your team for any of the other 346 college basketball teams?

Of course you wouldn’t. Why would you? Your team is ranked No. 1 in the three preseason college basketball magazines spread out on my desk: Sporting News, Athlon, Lindy’s. ..."

No, I wouldn't trade my team because the team represents me. They are my KU family. I don't care if they are ranked #346. They are still my team. (Granted, I'll be moaning loudly until they get back to the top!)

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

Thursday Recalling What Was Overrated in Journalism:

I had lived in LA for several years, when the Herald Examiner died November 2, 1989. I was in Dodger Stadium when Kirk limped up and jacked it out in the World Series. It was the greatest nonKU related sports moment I ever witnessed in person.

The Examiner was a lousy paper with three sports writers with images kind of like those of reporters from the film noirs of the early 1950s. They wrote about every sport, as if it were as slimy as prize fighting. Right or wrong, they could, at least, write, something today's journalists (some of our beloved LJW folks excepted of course) often cannot claim.

Mel Durslag was one Examiner scribe who could write. His name pretty much captured his style. The two others' names I forget, but at least one of them is probably still working. The LA Times snapped up one or two in an effort to move down market; that should put the paper Tom recalls fondly in initial perspective.

To give you an idea of how truly bad the Examiner was, at its death, the LA Times, the dominant paper in LA, was then still a family-owned mouth-piece beholden to the by then balkanizing grand old families of LA. The Times was still pretending to being a sort of blown-dry, mayonaisse-and-coppertone version of the by then hopelessly hoary, buttoned-down NY Times. The LA Times was a boring triumph of mediocrity in big circulation newspapers that had long been known probably even by bums begging south of downtown to parse the truth about anything involving an advertiser, or about a potential advertiser. Hard hitting coverage always seemed to focus on the inadequately connected, on those that could not hit back, on those that were on the outs with the big players. At times, it almost seemed like the LA Times withheld as much news as it printed.

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

Okay, now you've got the picture of the Examiner's better. Imagine what the Examiner had to have been to have been the Times' lesser?

The Examiner was sort of a newspaper of record of the culture James Ellroy later stylized into his LA crime novels--one of the most systematically corrupt and seedy popular cultures ever generated by wealth and prosperity flourishing on hi-jacked water, second only to NYC, another alternately sordid and magnificient place built on hi-jacked H2O.

(Note: Yes, Mildred, the dry rock of Manhattan drains areas to its north as surely as LA drains the Owens and Central Valleys.)

The Examiner was to journalism what Charles Bukowski would have been to poetry, had Chuckie had meager talent.

(I'm ripping off Jim Murray's LA Times "was to" style here both for fun and to poke a stick in the eyes of Examiner lovers).

The Examiner was to journalism what just about every Hearst-owned newspaper had ever been (at one time or another)--a-just-above-the-bottom-feeding journal of sensationalist record regarding the scum trails left by not-deeply-enough connected pols, by grifters whacked, by wives who stabbed their husbands with butcher knives during the Santa Anas (apologies to Raymond Chandler), by small time gangsters being squeezed out by big time gangsters, by murderers caught, by contract killers given passes, by vice operations shaken down because they were not paying the police their skim, and so on, all glazed over with a faux pretense of being a paper for the little guy.

Yeah, right. I may have been a rube from Kansas, but I could recall that drill in a few midwestern newspapers, before.

The Examiner was to journalism what a very greasy hamburger was to LAs generally stellar hamburger cuisine.

The Examiner was better than Rupert Murdoch's current Austral-Anglo-Gringo papers, but that is like saying a snail is better than a slug.

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

The Examiner was, in short, what many second banana newspapers in USA cities were--home to a lot of hacks and a few decent talents that were too cranky and crusty to cut it at the top paper. Despite some exceptions, the first string paper of those days was mediocre. The second string paper was less than mediocre--good for mopping up the advertising crumbs.

The last 15 years of the Examiner's existence saw it ensnared in labor disputes. It died, because it couldn't compete with the Times. The Times could move down market easier (that is without a bath) than the Examiner could move up market (even a bath could not clean it up). Both knew where the bodies were buried, but The Times ownership was tied into who owned the water in Southern California, who decided where the next real estate was going to be developed, who ran the harbors, who owned the police and courts. When push came to shove, if a firm had to choose which paper to favor with advertising, the hometown boys with the judges and police, etc., or the out of town Hearsts, who do you think they chose? The Examiner only hung on as long as it did, because the Heart family and chain was a little stubborn about maintaining a presense in SoCal to go along with their deeper roots in San Francisco. To be a real player in California, you have to work both cities. Hearst papers are entirely about being players. It was William Randolph that reputedly brought Richard Harding Davis a war in Cuba to write about, after all.

So what in god's name have the LA Herald-Examiner, or Kirk's World Series rope, to do with KU basketball?

Tom sees the analogy this way: no one cares about the brouhaha at the beginning of a season that ends in a championship.

I see the analogy another way: if you let your business begin to run like a seamy operation, it doesn't matter if you've got some talent on board. Its going to go south, and despite occassional great moments, people are going to remember it as a seamy, two-bit operation.

Now, where's my copy of LA Confidential and White Jazz. I gotta reread them to get ready for Blood's a Rover, right Jimmy?

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