Thanks to everyone who responded to my 15th annual Reader Survey, all 997. I wish we would have made it to 1,000, but Im told three people were out of town.
There are some interesting results concerning some hot topics. I also appreciate the comments many of you left, both online and through the mail.
Heres what you said:
1. Wichita city manager Robert Layton announced a few weeks ago plans to eventually close one of the citys five municipal courses. If one is closed, which should it be:
Clapp Park 332
Auburn Hills 144
Sim Park 92
MacDonald Park 81
Bob says: Im not convinced the city needs to close a course. Golf courses are a treasured part of a community. So as difficult it is for me to pick a course to close, if I absolutely have to pick one, it would be Clapp Park. But dont worry, you guys and girls down at Clapp. Ill be down there protesting if this comes to pass.
2. The Wichita Thunder recently was sold by Horn Chen to the Steven brothers, the first time the franchise has had local ownership. It joins the Wild (indoor football), Wings (indoor soccer) and Wingnuts (independent league baseball) as niche sports in the Wichita market. Which is your favorite?
Wichita Open golf 162
Bob says: Perhaps its not fair to call all of these sports niche, but its the only description I could think of. I do love the Wichita Open, which has been a launching pad for numerous professional golfers who have gone on to great PGA Tour success. And I think the Wingnuts have turned out to be a real positive for the community, although Im not sold that affiliated baseball cant work in this market. More on that when we get to No. 16.
3. Perry Ellis has narrowed his list of college choices to four. Which of the four schools that Ellis is considering is most likely to land him?
Wichita State 184
Kansas State 108
Bob says: Ive thought all along Kansas had the upper hand.
4. The 2013 list of Baseball Hall of Fame-eligible former players is incredible, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Which of these six players will be first-ballot Hall of Famers?
Curt Schilling 626
Mike Piazza 467
Craig Biggio 404
Roger Clemens 215
Sammy Sosa 197
Barry Bonds 189
Bob says: Biggio is the only lock on this list. He has more than 3,000 hits, one of the landmarks of automatic inclusion. Schilling and Piazza might have to wait another year and the three players alleged to be a part of the Steroids Era wont be getting an invite any time soon.
5. Kansas States basketball team made it to the Elite Eight in 2010 and to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Will a Frank Martin-coached K-State team ever get to another Elite Eight? Yes 533
Bob says: Not next season. I think its difficult to project the Wildcats as an Elite Eight team anytime soon, given that there are no Michael Beasleys or Jacob Pullens in the pipeline. Its all about recruiting and Martin is in the process of re-stocking.
6. Heres a question that has been on my mind for months. When Wichita States basketball team won the NIT in March, some said it was a bigger accomplishment than just getting to the NCAA Tournament. Do you agree?
Bob says: I just dont get it. But apparently there are a lot of you who think winning an NIT is a bigger accomplishment than getting to the NCAAs. My thinking is that getting to the NCAA means youve done something during the regular season above and beyond, such as winning a regular season or conference tournament. The Shockers got a boost in winning the NIT, and it was fun for fans. But its all about the NCAA Tournament in college basketball.
7. Which of the following is your least favorite athlete?
LeBron James 332
Tiger Woods 206
Alex Rodriguez 158
Michael Vick 139
Lance Armstrong 126
Bob says: I think James is probably the best guy of this group. But the whole ESPN special and South Beach thing sure didnt go over well. Are we surprised Vick got as many votes as he did? Killing dogs isnt easy for people to forgive. My votes for Woods.
8. Among the following, which is your favorite sport?
College basketball 314
College football 281
College baseball 37
High school sports 22
Bob says: Wow, do you see the number of votes for the NBA? I realize Wichita isnt exactly that leagues test market, but five votes? The NFL probably does a lot better in many markets, too. This is a college sports town. And basketball in Kansas runs deep. Im a Major League Baseball guy, but Im all about the college games, too.
9. Who will still be coaching basketball at their respective schools in five years?
Bill Self, KU basketball 866
Frank Martin, K-State basketball 435
Gregg Marshall, WSU basketball 255
Gene Stephenson, WSU baseball 185
Bill Snyder, K-State football 159
Turner Gill, Kansas football 154
Bob says: Five years is a lifetime in coaching. It wouldnt shock me if none of these guys is around by that time. Id certainly be surprised to see Snyder or Marshall still coaching, for separate reasons. I think Snyder will retire by then and Marshall will be coaching somewhere else. The safest bet is Self, by far.
10. The experts cite the Chiefs 2011 schedule which on paper looks extremely difficult as a reason why KC will have difficulty matching last seasons 10-6 regular season record. What will be the Chiefs record in 2011?
8-8 275 9-7 251
6-10 or worse 129
12-4 or better 7
Bob says: Not much faith in the Chiefs. Only 152 of 967 respondents have Kansas City equaling last seasons record. These people, of course, are paying homage to a much-tougher Chiefs schedule and probably a little bit of a lack of faith that last season was really a signal for better things to come. I think the Chiefs are headed for 8-8.
11. The Kansas City Royals have initiated a youth movement and newcomers will continue to infiltrate Kauffman Stadium in 2012. Which of the KC newcomers will have the best career?
Eric Hosmer 630
Mike Moustakas 108
Johnny Giovotella 70
Aaron Crow 53
Danny Duffy 46
Bob says: There are some positive signs in KC, but none of it will much matter if the pitching remains near the bottom of the American League. Hosmer I like Hosmer a lot. He looks like a perennial .300 hitter with nice pop. Moustakas, though, has the potential to be a 35 home-run guy, something the Royals could really use.
12. NBA owners are locking out players and there is strong speculation that training camps will not open and much of the regular season could be in jeopardy. What best describes your feelings about the NBA?
Dont care at all 481
Dont care about regular season 232
Wish it would get taken care of 235
Gonna lose it if I dont have
Bob says: Again, it does not appear passion for the NBA runs deep. Or runs at all. Im an NBA playoffs guy. I love the postseason and pay little attention to the regular season.
13. Wichita States baseball team has missed making the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons. And in the season the Shockers did make it into the tourney, 2009, they were only 30-27 during the regular season. Which of the following best describes your feelings about Gene Stephensons job status?
Its time for a change 438
He gets to coach until he decides to leave 387
He is the right person to be coaching the Shockers 148
Bob says: This is a tough one. Stephenson is 66 and is the architect of Shocker baseball. I get why some people think he should be the coach until he decides hes finished. But the Shockers havent been as good in recent years. Theres no getting around that. If that trend continues, Stephenson should face the consequences. I think the 2012 season is big for him and Wichita State.
14. Which do you care more about, your favorite NFL team or your fantasy team? And Ill throw in a third choice.
My favorite team 680
My fantasy team 95
Bob says: I was worried about this question. Because of the proliferation of fantasy football, I was concerned that more people would put their fantasy team first. Fortunately, thats not the case. Props to you people who are keeping your football in perspective.
15. Wichita, I contend, is a melting pot for college sports fans. Wichita State is going to carry the day here, for sure. Kansas and Kansas State have a strong following. But there are lots of fans of other schools, too. Which colleges sports teams do you support?
Wichita State 741
Kansas State 548
Oklahoma State 128
Notre Dame 127
Bob says: I love them all from the bottom of my heart.
16. Which would you rather see as a sports option in Wichita?
Affiliated minor-league baseball 645
NBA Developmental League 190
Higher level of minor-league hockey 79
Bob says: Im not going to pile on the poor WNBA. Its interesting to me that our fine city allowed Double-A baseball to leave town because of apathy and that four years later, in my survey, 645 of you are saying its something youd like to see. You people upset me at times. Wichita should have minor-league affiliated baseball. We had it and we let it go. Shame on us.
17. Wichita State has now been without football for a generation, 25 years. Even though this has probably been the most-asked question in town for a quarter of a century, here goes again: Should WSU bring back football?
Bob says: A predictable response. If the response was more overwhelmingly supportive, Id say there might be an uptick in interest. But I dont think so. I think Shocker football is better left in mothballs for the time being.
18. How confident are you that the NCAA will ultimately award Wichitas Intrust Bank Arena with first- and second-round games in its annual basketball tournament?
Ill believe it when I see it 473
No doubt about it 423
Itll never happen 66
Bob says: I understand your skepticism. But trust me, the NCAA Tournament will come to town within the next five years. If not, Ill jump over the Intrust Bank Arena on a motorcycle.
19. Which basketball player will be Wichita States most valuable during the 2011-12 season?
Garrett Stutz 293
Toure Murry 287
Joe Ragland 163
David Kyles 62
Carl Hall 47
Ben Smith 39
Bob says: Who could other be? Anyway, Ill go with Murry. Hes a senior and a veteran starter with the most experience of any Shocker. Hell have his best season yet.
20. Major League Baseball is likely to change in the next few years. Which change would do the most to make the game better?
More liberal use of instant replay 353
Elimination of the DH 232
HGH testing 193
Expanded playoffs 172
Bob says: Several respondents say theyre in favor of expanding the DH to the National League. Those people are dangerous revolutionists and should be avoided at all costs. Im a strong proponent of eliminating the DH. Bring back the game the way it was intended to be played.