Gene Stephenson goes into the College Baseball Hall of Fame Saturday night. One could make the argument that –considering where and how he had to do it—Stephenson is the greatest coach in college baseball history.
Hard to believe---
It’s hard to believe that what started in 1978 as nothing more than a bag of balls and a blueprint for a pipe dream stadium, is ending with an induction into College Baseball Hall of Fame. In those early years Stephenson literally recruited with those blue prints and he managed to bring in enough talent to reach a College World Series final five years after starting the program.
It ended poorly, of course and I wonder if the damage can ever be repaired. Officials at Wichita State are hopeful, but Gene is one of the most prideful men I know and he’s not likely to soon back off the feeling he was wronged in the manner he was let go. Usually, time helps to take care of these things…but, if so, it’ll probably take a lot of time. I just hope he isn’t being eaten up by bitterness, Gene has so much left to offer, I would hate for anything to get in the way of that.
Note: I’ll be in Lubbock, Texas for Stephenson’s induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame, watch for my reports on Eyewitness Sports and at KWCH.com.
I was surprised and disappointed that Cleanthony Early wasn’t taken in the first round of the NBA Draft Thursday night. Falling to the second round costs him two guaranteed years of pay, however, being the first pick of Phil Jackson as president of the Knicks is pretty cool, as is the chance to start his career in New York City, which, essentially, is where he’s from.
Obviously, there are doubts that Cle can play the small forward at the next level and there are concerns that he can create opportunities off the dribble. I understand that, but Cle is a player who’s progressed greatly in his two years at Wichita State and who’ll continue to improve as a pro. Even as a four year player in college Cle isn’t close to being a finished product, he’s just started to come into his own with his work ethic and that will serve him and the Knicks well as his career starts to unfold.
Late to the party---
Maybe it’s the American success, maybe we’ve finally just started to admit that the rest of the world can’t be wrong---but the U.S. seems to be caught up in World Cup fever or fervor. Over 1.4 million people watched the US-Germany game Thursday on WatchEspn, the network’s mobile app. Another 19 million watched on television in the middle of the day. Those are pretty undeniable numbers, but that’s not the only place I’m noticing a change in our acceptance of soccer—ok, Futbol.
This is the fourth World Cup I’ve gone through as the host of a radio talk show and it’s the first one that I haven’t been inundated by ‘soccer haters’. In years past I’d get the ‘I hate soccer’ blast from listeners and we’d move on to another topic of conversation. This year, a good portion of the shows during the first two weeks of the Cup have been devoted to Futbol. You’re hearing a lot of converts who start the conversation with ‘I’ve never been a big soccer fan, but…’
I’m not going to say that the carryover from the World Cup will have some lasting residual effect on Major League Soccer in this country, but it’s certainly can’t hurt. Either way, I get the feeling that the United States has turned the corner on the world’s most popular game.