Much has been written the last week or so about the possibility of a realignment of the Big 10 and Big 12 athletic conferences. On Wednesday alone, The Star carried three stories related to a possible reshuffling.
The A-1 centerpiece addressed the possible ramifications for Kansas City if Missouri moved to the Big 10. In that event, a huge question would loom: Would the reconstituted Big 12 Conference continue to hold championship events in a state (Missouri) that didn’t have a team in the conference?
In Sports Daily, two more stories — one each about K.U. athletic director Lew Perkins’ and K-State athletic director John Currie’s perspectives on a possible Big 12 shake-up. The story about Currie paraphrased him as saying, “I know me and Lew Perkins have spent a lot of time talking together about things we can do to strengthen both of our institutions.”
Which leads me to this: What is the difference between a Big 10 and a Big 12 athletic director?
Give up? A Big 10 athletic director would say, “I know Lew Perkins and I have been spent a lot of time talking about….”
So, John Currie gets the first prune this week. And the first plum goes to sportswriter Kellis Robinett for not cleaning up the A.D.’s grammar.
And on with the show…
~ “Texas free fall” (B-1, Saturday, May 8) — How-not-to photo (Associated Press) of the inept Kansas City Royals. The photo caught Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt dropping an easy pop fly. As he looked skyward, the ball trickled out of his glove at shoulder level.
~ “A case of system failure?” (A-1, Sunday, May 9) — Provocative story by courts reporter Tony Rizzo about the criminal record of Bernard Jackson, suspected in a series of Waldo rapes. He built the story around two strong and stirring questions: “Could anything have been done in the past to keep him behind bars longer? Should he have been released at all?”
~ “KC schools will attempt a new way of learning” (A-1, Sunday, May 9) — If John Covington succeeds as Kansas City School District superintendent, it will not be because he was able to convince a school board majority to close 25 schools, despite that being an admirable feat in itself. His success or failure, Joe Robertson explains, probably will turn on the outcome of his “standards-based education” initiative. The initiative would end “social promotion” of students from grade to grade, instead allowing them to advance only after they have shown that they have mastered the material required at each step.
~ “State ax strikes mentor program” (A-1, Monday, May 10) — Another strong entry in The Star’s occasional series examining budget cuts in Missouri and Kansas. In this story, Jefferson City correspondent Jason Noble wrote about the possible ramifications of a $100,000 cut in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City program. Chris Oberholtz’ photo of a “big brother” and a “little brother” at a bowling alley captured the essence of the mentoring program.
~ “Electric vehicles could get a jolt” (A-1, Monday, May 10) — Transportation reporter Brad Cooper craftily drew readers into his story about the emergence of charging stations for electric cars. Introducing the idea of such stations being located at fast-food restaurants, Cooper wrote: “Hamburger. Fries. Milk shake. Want to throw in an electrical charge with that?”
~ “KC’s four-gone conclusion” — Winning headline in Sports Daily about the Royals losing a four-game series to the Texas Rangers.
~ “Woman’s place at home (plate)” (B-1, Monday, may 10) — Nicely fashioned story about lady umpire Kate Walden, who has worked a Big 12 baseball game and wants to see how far she can go in her chosen field. K.U. athletics reporter J. Brady McCollough ventured away from the “game” stories to give readers something special.
~ “Everyday items tell of war’s effect” (A-1, Tuesday, May 11) — National Desk reporter Rick Montgomery conducted a deft marriage of past and present in this story about an archaeology student’s dedication to finding remnants of the Kansas-Missouri Border War — the real one.
~ “Hillman failing to improve situation” (C-1, Tuesday, May 11) — In retrospect, after Royals’ manager Trey Hillman was fired yesterday, this column made Sam Mellinger look like a genius. (On a side note, how about general manager Dayton Moore’s statement on Tuesday — reported in Wednesday’s paper — that Hillman is “exactly what our organization needs at this point in time”? That point in time didn’t last very long, did it?)
~ “Star 50” (D-1, Tuesday, May 11) — The Star’s Business Desk exerted its customary prodigious effort in rating and analyzing the region’s top publicly owned companies. One caveat: The package struck me as a bit scattershot. It would have benefitted from a box that summarized and highlighted the various elements of the 11-page package.
~ “Pump prices heading for $3” (A-1, Wednesday, May 12) — A periodic review of gas prices — here and around the country — is always a good reader service. Energy writer Steve Everly came through nicely as we round the bend toward the summer travel season.
~ The entire front page from Thursday, May 13. Three locally produced stories — one about insecticide being used on an impromptu play area, one on the Missouri Senate race between Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt, and one on a bill requiring Missouri health insurers to cover autism treatments — shared the page with a quirky wire-service story about a 22-year-old con man who passed himself off as a 16-year-old high school athlete in Texas.
~ “Making history for KC again” (A-10, Thursday, May 13) — Kevin Collison did a masterful job on this story about philanthropist Shirley Helzberg and her revival of the Vitagraph Film Exchange Building at 17th and Wyandotte — the third building she has revived. The Vitagraph now houses the Kansas City Symphony. The best part is Helzberg’s selflessness. “I believe in Kansas City, Missouri,” Collison quoted Helzberg as saying. “It’s been very good to Helzberg Diamonds and I wanted to give back.”
Thank you, Shirley.
#% “Big trees falling before arrival of destructive bug” (A-1, Saturday, May 8) — As much as the tree hugger in me likes a good environmental story, this piece about “the dreaded scourge: the emerald ash borer” (a little beetle-looking thingy) was a bit much for Page 1. I really tried, but I just muster a cataclysmic frame of mind. Better alternatives for Page 1 would have been either of two New York Times offers — one recounting the experiences of workers who survived the Gulf of Mexico explosion and the other an analysis of the 998-point drop in the Down Jones Industrial Average on May 6.
#% “Golfing’s a breeze after the big Break” (B-1, thursday, May 13) — One of the most insipid sports stories I’ve seen in a long time. The actual situation is this: A Ladies Professional Golf Association “Futures Tour” event (a rung below the LPGA tour itself) is being played at Leawood South Country Club this weekend. This is the first time this event will have been played in our area, and a lot of really good women golfers will be in town. How many, and what is at stake? I have no idea because sportswriter Randy Covitz devoted 26 column inches — the entire length of his story — to the experience of several tournament participants in a 10-episode reality series on The Golf Channel. Hey, Randy, the real tournament is here; it’s now; this is no time to tell us about “Big Break,” a trumped-up, made-for-TV series that is virtually unwatchable because it is so clogged with commercials.