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A solemn day, forever

The date – Oct. 2 – is forever different at Wichita State. It’s the day, in 1970, that a plane carrying members of the Shockers’ football party – players, coaches, boosters, air personnel – crashed into a mountain in Colorado, killing 31.

It’s a day, then, for quiet perspective. That’s especially true for this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the crash. Family members and survivors will gather at WSU for weekend ceremonies and a special remembrance Saturday morning.

So why is Wichita State holding its annual Rockin’ the Roundhouse event Saturday night at Koch Arena. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great event and a lot of fun. Proceeds go to WSU students, alumni and student-athletes. Food and drink are served in abundance.

But it should be held on a different day. Oct. 2 should be reserved to honor those killed in the crash, and to express consideration to the survivors and family members of those who died. An event called “Rockin’ the Roundhouse” should not be held on the most tragic date in a university’s history.

Doing so puts everyone in a bad position. This event should have been scheduled for a different date.

Tampa Bay Rays players Evan Longoria and David Price chided the team’s fan base – what little fan base there is – for not turning out in bigger numbers Monday night for a game in which the Rays could have clinched a playoff spot.

Instead, only 12,446 showed up at Tropicana Field, the worst venue in the big leagues, to watch Tampa Bay lose to the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria was especially harsh toward fans, saying it was “embarrassing” that the team hasn’t elicited more of a response, considering its World Series appearance in 2008 and its outstanding season in 2010.

The players are right to feel embarrassed. But who is there message intended for? Obviously, the people in Tampa Bay either aren’t enamored with this team, which has averaged only 23,000-plus in a 37,000-seat stadium, or they don’t want to sit in a dingy ballpark in a bad location.

The customers ultimately determine the success of a product, and the Rays will be slashing payroll from an all-time high of $71 million this season to less than $50 million – maybe quite a bit less – in 2011.

Free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano will be on the move and it’s doubtful the Rays will be able to lock up their abundance of young, talented players to long-term deals. Sounds like Longoria and Price won’t be crazy about staying around when they become free agents.

Tampa Bay is a great baseball story, but unfortunately the city doesn’t much care. Which is why commissioner Bud Selig should look into helping the Rays move to another city where they would be more of a draw. Perhaps Charlotte, Las Vegas or Portland would be a logical place for the Rays.

It’s not working in Tampa, though. And when it gets to a point where players are calling out fans, it’s a point of no return.

Looking forward to the book “Death to the BCS,” in which Yahoo writers Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan offer more compelling reasons why the BCS is the worst thing about sports, let alone college football.

Here’s what ESPN’s Pat Forde has to say about the book, which comes out in mid-October, just as the first BCS rankings are unveiled:

The book smartly offers a compelling alternative — a 16-team playoff — early in the narrative. Then it gets back to skewering the system, using financial statements from schools to point out that many schools lose more money than they make — even on the high-dollar bowls. (Virginia Tech’s expense summary from the 2009 Orange Bowl shows more than $3.8 million in expenses, including $1.77 million in a shortfall of selling tickets the school and ACC agreed to buy as the price of playing in the game.)

Sounds like a must-read, doesn’t it?

It’s time, once again, for another edition of “Who Is the Opinion-Line Caller?”

Here’s an Opinion Line contribution from Tuesday’s Wichita Eagle:

We can waste a trillion dollars and thousands of lives constructing buildings and roads for people in the Middle East who hate our religions and our free, tolerant society. Yet we didn’t have enough money for our own schools or a grocery store to serve the center of Wichita.

Our own tolerant society? Not sure what society this person is living in, but it doesn’t appear to be ours. Anyway, this person is 57 or 58 and thinks a lot about grocery stores. Who wouldn’t compare the lack of a grocery store in downtown Wichita with the construction of buildings and roads in the Middle East? It’s so obvious. This Opinion Line caller is a man with three cats and shag carpeting and blinds he rarely opens. His wife is somewhere in the house.

See you here tomorrow. Have a good rest of the day.