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A loss to KU is not the end of the world

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You could see the disappointment not only in the faces of the Missouri players but in the faces of their fans following Saturday's 40-37 win by Kansas over Mizzou at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. It's tough to lose any football game … but it's even tougher to lose one in which the opposing team scores the winning points with less than a minute to play – on a fourth down play! And, alas, for those who were born and/or raised in Missouri, it's tough to lose to Kansas at just about anything.

As I have mentioned before I am not a native of the Show-Me State … I'm an East Coast snob who moved here in 2000. But I've embraced all that is Missouri Tiger athletics and want to see the teams perform well. For me, what hurt about Saturday's loss was not the fact that it was to Kansas (a loss against Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Texas would have been as disappointing) but the fact that the Tigers were within one play of sticking this one into the win column. I think of a comment of the famed sportswriter Grantland Rice who wrote: "The tragedy of life is not in losing, but in almost winning."

Ah … so close.

But let us, dear Mizzou fans, not sulk while thinking about the "what could have beens." The Tigers are playing in next Saturday's Big 12 Championship Game – for the second season in a row! And the team will head to a bowl game after that – maybe even a BCS Bowl.

While reading the comments posted on various newspaper sports pages Saturday night and Sunday morning … I came across something on the Kansas City Star's website … it's a comment posted at the end of a piece titled, "The hurt runs deep for Mizzou." Clearly, it's from a Jayhawk fan who is happy with the game's outcome. No problem there … but there is a shot taken at Mizzou and Tiger Head Coach Gary Pinkel. It reads: "Glad you resigned Pinkel for a long new contract. We'll continue to see his fancy spread offense that finds a way to sputter 1 or 2 times per year and a defense that is lackluster."

Folks … this is called "schadenfreude" – taking pleasure or delight in someone else's misfortune. It's something practiced by those who have, themselves, failed and who now want others to do likewise. Yes … Kansas beat Mizzou Saturday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. Congratulations to the Jayhawks on a game well played. As for Kansas fans who take special delight in Missouri losing … enjoy raking leaves or whatever else you might do next Saturday while Mizzou fans watch their team play in the Big 12 Championship Game.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 30, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Are you ready for some football? Mizzou and Kansas at Arrowhead

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It's time for one of the biggest football games the Missouri Tigers play each year – the match-up with the Kansas Jayhawks. Last year's tilt at Arrowhead Stadium was huge because both teams had tremendous seasons and the winner would emerge as the Number One team in the country. On the chance you don't remember what happened … Mizzou won. Our team lost the following week to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game … but for a while Mizzou fans could bask in the afterglow of the win over Kansas on a cold night at Arrowhead … and the fact the Tigers were the top ranked team in the country.

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Let's fast forward to 2008. With Missouri having another great year and Kansas not having a season anything like last year … this year's game might have lost a bit of its luster … especially since Mizzou is already guaranteed a spot in next week's Big 12 Championship – also at Arrowhead. But Missouri fans know it's always a big game when the Tigers play the Jayhawks.

Not being a native Missourian … I never really got into the "hate Kansas" feeling that is embraced by so many Mizzou fans … I just want to see the Tigers win – whether they're playing the Jayhawks or the Sooners or the Longhorns – It makes no difference. Still, this game is so important because of the rivalry between the two schools. When I first moved here in 2000, the game was called the "Border War." Somewhere along the way it was changed to the "Border Showdown" … though a lot of the sports commentators on ESPN and elsewhere still call it the "Border War."

Anyway … I thought today we might take a look at some of the other great rivalries in college football (the greatest sport in America) and see where they rank with the Border War … er … Border Showdown in terms of nicknames and/or the trophies they play for.

We'll start with our neighbor to the north – Iowa. The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers play for Floyd of Rosedale … a statue of a pig. Then there's Texas and Oklahoma playing the annual "Red River Shootout" at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. From my days on the East Coast I looked forward to the Boston College Eagles playing Notre Dame Fighting Irish as this contest between two predominantly Catholic schools became known as the "Catholic Bowl" or the "Holy War."

How about Arizona taking on Arizona State? What else could you call this game other than the "Duel in the Desert?" How about Brigham Young versus Utah? Mormons in Utah took it upon themselves to call this clash between the Cougars and Utes as "Church Versus State" as they play for the "Beehive Boot."

Down South … Grambling and Southern play the Bayou Classic … as Alabama and Auburn meet in the Iron Bowl. But my personal favorite will always be Pittsburgh versus West (By God) Virginia in the "Backyard Brawl."

We could go on for a long time and, if I were so inclined, cite some of the derogatory or negative terms that are used in college sports rivalries … but I won't do that … because I might be offending the powers that be at some college or university being courted by Learfield Communications … and I do not want to offend. I will, however, say I'm very much looking forward to 11:30 Saturday morning when the Tigers and Jayhawks kick off this year's edition of "Stateline Strife."

- Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 28, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Turkey day at last!

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'Tis the season to be jolly … fa, la, la, la, la … Oops! Wrong holiday. Sorry.

But it is Thanksgiving – a great time of year for family and friends to get together to dig into great tasting turkey with all the fixins. It's a great feast for all concerned … and it drives the people at PETA nuts … so it's a win-win. Just kidding … It is not my desire to insult PETA members in any way, shape, or form … I'm just having a little fun.

But seriously, folks … it is Thanksgiving … and so many of us have so much to be thankful for – our families, friends, and co-workers. If you're fortunate enough to work with people you actually enjoy being around … you should be thankful.

I spent a year once … I call it the year of my life I'll never get back … living and working in Columbus, Ohio. It was a job I had from March of 1999 to April of 2000, just prior to my coming to the Missourinet. It seems the people at that radio station – WTVN – really only liked people who were either natives of Ohio or had graduated from Ohio State University … er … make that THE Ohio State University. Sadly I was neither and found working there to be a most unpleasant experience. But I was rescued and ended up here. For that I am truly thankful.

The folks at Learfield Communications in Jefferson City (Learfield includes the Missourinet, the Brownfield Agriculture Network, and the operations of more than 40 collegiate sports properties from all over the country) really are like a big family. A disfunctional family … but a family, nonetheless … and so many of the people here are such fun to be around.

One of those fun people is Kari McKinney with the Brownfield Ag Network. It's not uncommon for people to bring donuts or bagels or other snacks into the newsrooms from time to time … but every now and then we get a snack that really stands out. Such was the case this Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

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Kari brought in something she had made …something she calls bacon & eggs snacks. No, there is no bacon … and there are no eggs. But it's hard to tell by just looking. You see … Kari put melted vanilla over pretzels … and stuck yellow M&M's into the vanilla to make it look like yolk in the egg whites on top of three strips of bacon. The snack looked so good … nobody wanted to eat it. But we did … because we're radio people and we will eat just about anything – even if it's a work of art.

So … enjoy Thanksgiving with all the food we are blessed to have … and, if you overeat and feel a little guilty about it because you put on a pound or two … think of these words of wisdom uttered by Missourinet's Brent Martin: "Given a choice between obesity and malnutrition … I'll take obesity."

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 27, 2008 at 4:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Governor issues pardons … for a pair of turkeys

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Thanksgiving Day … one of the best holidays of the year … is almost here. And Governor Matt Blunt … aka … "Our Matt" … has done his part to welcome the festive season. He's committed a deed most foul.

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The media were summoned to the Governor's Mansion Tuesday morning for the pardoning of the lucky turkey that would not end up on someone's dinner table. But, instead of pardoning one lucky bird … "Our Matt" let two of these turkeys get away.

They go by the names Turkulese and Stewie. It's difficult to tell the two apart … see if you can tell the difference.

Anyway, there's a reason two birds were pardoned. You see, Missourians were invited to cast ballots at the Agriculture Department website. And it turns out the contest between Turkulese and Stewie was so close that "our Matt" decided to pardon two of these dinners … er … birds.

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The turkeys will not end up frozen in someone's freezer … and eventually in the oven … followed by being placed on someone's dinner table.

No … they'll spend the rest of their days living the good life at the Weston Red Barn Farm near Weston in northwest Missouri. This means that by the grace of "Our Matt" … Turkulese and Stewie will avoid the fate experienced by their distant cousin seen in this photo. Praise the Gov! These birds really are winners! 

One can only imagine that the losers in the contest will end up at the Cargill plant in California as the first stop on the way to a dinner table near you.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 25, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving and local TV news: A match made in … a soup kitchen

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From time to time we detour from the political goings on in Missouri … and take a look at news coverage of political happenings and other events. Occasionally, I like to do a slice of life piece from the perspective of a reporter who has had to cover certain stories he might not – if given options – choose to cover.

You can probably tell, by the title, where I'm going with today's entry. I'm guessing that local TV news directors throughout the Show-Me State are gearing up for the all-important visit to the local homeless shelter on Thursday … for a chance to get precious shots of some guy with a 40 day growth of beard chowing down on turkey and stuffing … with some of the stuffing and gravy dripping from his beard.

I realize there are underprivileged people out there who look forward to a meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas … but it seems kind of exploitative for TV cameras to roll on this. Cameras seeking out someone who's down and out on Thanksgiving is kind of like trial attorneys chasing after ambulances in search of clients. Both the TV news crews and the lawyers will tell you that what they're doing is serving the public good (minus 40 percent for the trial attorneys.) But is that really true?

Some will no doubt argue that the homeless person doesn't mind having his image plastered on TV screens throughout the state because he's helping to publicize the plight of the homeless … just as a trial attorney will argue his client has authorized all legal action being taken in exchange for the client "being made whole" (minus 40 percent for the trial attorney.) I guess anyone can justify any action … but must we exploit the most vulnerable … whether it's for cheap publicity on a local newscast or for a trial attorney's 40 percent of the haul?

Here's what's really sad (at least it's sad to me) … A few years ago, a friend who worked as a producer at a TV station in Washington, D.C., sent a crew to do the standard "homeless on Thanksgiving" story. When the crew returned and started to edit the footage my friend's boss hit the roof .. yelling at everyone from my friend to the reporter. Why? No shots of homeless children … which would undoubtedly – in his mind – have made a much better story. Folks … it's bad enough to take advantage of the homeless guy who hasn't had a decent meal in a while … but kids? Well … at least the trial attorneys stayed away.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 25, 2008 at 2:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Back to work in time for turkey and Mizzou-KU football

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It's great to be back at the helm following a week away from the Missourinet. And it's great to be here for Thanksgiving week – one of the most enjoyable weeks of the year. I spent a good portion of the last week chasing rattlesnakes and scorpions in the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona … and freezing in the mountains of Colorado and Utah. I was tempted to stay … but knew I had to return home to enjoy (and contribute to) the hype associated with Saturday's Mizzou-Kansas game at Arrowhead.

When I first moved to Missouri the match-up was called the Border War … but symbolism prompted a change to Border "Showdown" in 2004. Interestingly enough, much of the talk on sports radio in Utah when I was there focused on Saturday's "Holy War" rivalry game between Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. They don't seem to have a problem, in Utah, using the word "war." So much for symbolism. It reminds me of Washington's NBA team changing its name from the Bullets to the Wizards – partly because of DC's high homicide rate. Who would have thought that we could cut down on violent crime in America's cities by changing the names of sports franchises?

Onto other things. While out of town I stayed in touch with goings-on back home by reading Missouri newspapers and blogs every couple of days … and I was sorry to learn that Jason Rosenbaum is leaving the Columbia Daily Tribune. Jason's "Politics Blog" has been a must-read because he has put a lot of work into it. And, during a political campaign season in which Columbia has been an important part of Missouri's overall political picture, it's been tremendously entertaining for political junkies to read Jason's insights on everything from Kenny Hulshof's run for Governor … to the Luetkemeyer versus Baker Congressional race … to the Graham versus Schaefer State Senate contest … to coverage of the battle over possession of Chuck Graham's urine following the Senator's traffic accident and subsequent DWI arrest.

One can only hope the Tribune maintains the same level of political coverage. Of course, in this day of newspaper cutbacks it would not be a great surprise to see the paper reduce its Capitol coverage … or, worse yet … hire another reporter to chase police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks in and around Columbia.

By the way … this is Thanksgiving week … and the Governor's Office is preparing for the annual pardoning of a turkey – a turkey that will not end up on someone's dinner table this year. The official act takes place this coming Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion. You can still play a role in this year's pardoning by helping to name the lucky gobbler by selecting from 5 names listed on the Missouri Department of Agriculture website. My favorite from among the five is "Turkulese" … but a turkey by any other name would, no doubt, be just as tasty if we were to do away with the pardon and chow down!

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 23, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Paying a little bit more to chow down

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It's that time of the year, again, when the folks at the Missouri Farm Bureau let us in on the results of the Farm Bureau's annual survey of the average cost for a Thanksgiving meal.

And – lo and behold – the cost has gone up quite a bit over last year … relatively speaking. Last year's survey put the price of a feast at $38.44 for 10 people, while this year the price is up $6.06 to $44.50 … or $4.45 per serving. No doubt this is an increase … brought about, in part, by higher fuel prices that result in higher transportation costs … but Thanksgiving dinner is still an affordable feast for most Missourians.

As the Farm Bureau's Diane Olson says: "When you put it all together, these are the facts. However, feeding 10 people a wholesome meal for $44.50 knowing there will be some left for additional meals is a bargain."

By the way … I am taking a week off the recover from the lengthy election campaign that seemed to go on forever. If I get something interesting in my e-mail I will blog on it. I won't wish anyone a Happy Thanksgiving because I'll be back before that. Let's "talk" soon.

– Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

November 14, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized