Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz’s Friday Musings on Spring Training, Wichita State-Northern Iowa, ‘Better Call Saul’ and Bruce Weber

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training sites in Florida and Arizona next week. It’s one of the sports highlights of February.
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training sites in Florida and Arizona next week. It’s one of the sports highlights of February.

▪ Greetings with Friday musings, 13th edition. That’s my play on Friday the 13th, which I never put much stock in. I treat Friday the 13th as just another day, except for the incense I burn.

▪ February is a bad sports month, folks. Outside of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training next week, there’s really nothing that happens in February – outside of now the Super Bowl – that does much for me. The NBA All-Star weekend is OK, I suppose, although there’s not much to the actual All-Star game.

▪ There is the Wichita State-Northern Iowa rematch coming up on Feb. 28, the final day of the month. Now that’s something to look forward to. I suspect the Shockers and Panthers will be playing for the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference championship that day because I doubt either team loses a conference game between now and then.

▪ I’ve come to take a lot for granted in the Missouri Valley, which isn’t a good thing. The conference has become stale and part of that is because Wichita State has been so dominant over the past couple of seasons. I don’t see a lot of talent around the conference; hopefully some young players will develop. Thank goodness for Northern Iowa’s rise this season to give the Shockers a foil. Panthers senior Seth Tuttle is the likely player of the year in the Valley and it’s hard to argue against him.

▪ Why didn't the Seahawks run the ball?

▪ Are you watching Better Call Saul on AMC? Two episodes in and I’m hooked. I’d watch anything Vince Gilligan is involved with after his success with Breaking Bad. I love a good television show. And this one looks like a keeper.

▪ I’m also loving the final season of Justified as we get re-introduced to some of the great characters in the history of that show. Sam Elliott’s casting for the final season hasn’t done anything to hurt, for sure. That man has a screen presence like few others and why don’t we all have his voice?

▪ Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin are going to reach the Final Four. I don’t guarantee it, but it’ll be a real surprise to me if those aren’t three of the four teams that square off in Indianapolis during the first weekend in April. The fourth participant? Gonzaga, Virginia, Arizona, Villanova . . . all could be in the mix. But I think the fourth team will be a surprise, at least a mild one, and I’m going with Iowa State. Check back with me in a couple of weeks.

▪ When I hold my finger in the wind, I get the feeling a growing number of K-Staters are becoming disillusioned with basketball coach Bruce Weber. He needs to win a few games down the stretch to try and win some fans back. This has been a terrible season with the turmoil around standout guard Marcus Foster. The last thing a fan base wants is a disciplinary issue between a team’s coach and its best player, especially one the coach recruited. I’m not saying Weber is wrong for doling out discipline to Foster. But it’s unfortunate and it doesn’t help his standing with a lot of K-State fans.

▪ Or does it? Like I said, I’m going on what I hear and perceive. Maybe K-Staters like the fact that Weber isn’t putting up with whatever it is that Foster has been guilty of. If you’re one who believes the star players get away with more than the average guys, then Weber is going against the grain here. At this point, though, K-State isn’t a postseason team. And that’s a tough one to swallow considering the preseason promise.

▪ Maybe it’s just me, but I never think about Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson and don’t care if they every play football again. The NFL has an image problem that’s more important than any player. But it is interesting to see the front office of the Minnesota Vikings practically pleading for Peterson to be re-instated by the NFL. There are tickets to sell, apparently.

▪ As always, I enjoyed the Grammys last weekend. But what is Paul McCartney doing singing backup to Rhianna? That’s Paul McCartney, people. AC/DC was fantastic opening the show and I think we could all do with less Kanye West and more Beyonce. I also love Ed Sheeran and believe Adam Levine is a little overrated. And I’m all in with Sam Smith, the big winner of the night. Then again, the awards are such a little part of the Grammys.

▪ I’ve always been a fan of professional wrestling (yes, I know it’s fake). I went to a few shows as a kid at a venue near downtown, but a little north. I can’t remember exactly where it was or what the building was called. Anybody? Later, my friends and I frequently went to Century II on Monday nights to watch the likes of Roger “Nature Boy” Kirby, Handsome Harley Race, Danny Little Bear, Rufus R. Jones and Bulldog Bob Brown. I still watch the WWE because I enjoy the soap-opera nature of “sports entertainment.” Again, what building was it near downtown that used to have pro wrestling?

▪ My dad could fix anything. He constantly was working on the engines of the various Renault cars he drove over the years. I, on the other hand, am a terrible handy man. I can put stuff together occasionally, but only after many more hours than it should take. As I tell my wife all the time, I was not a catch. If I was a woman, I don’t think I’d marry a man who couldn’t do stuff.

▪ I thought a couple of weeks ago that Illinois State would beat Wichita State in Bloomington/Normal on Saturday afternoon. I don’t think that now. The Redbirds have lost a couple in a row, including a mystifying defeat at the hands of Southern Illinois. Illinois State was blown out by Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls this week, much the same way the Shockers were a couple of weeks ago. I think WSU survives the Redbirds, then handles SIU in Carbondale on Tuesday night.

▪ Baylor, meanwhile, could give Kansas some problems in Lawrence on Saturday at noon. The Bears, 18-6 but 6-5 in the Big 12, are dangerous. But, alas, the game will be played in Allen Fieldhouse, where KU never loses. I was trying to convince myself that this could be a tight one, especially since I’ll be in Lawrence on Saturday. But Kansas will win, probably by 10.

▪ I thought Frank Martin would be a little farther along with South Carolina in his third season, but the Gamecocks are just 3-8 in the SEC and have a game at Kentucky on Saturday.

▪ I see that ESPN baseball expert David Schoenfeld is ranking the MLB teams and has the Royals at No. 17 going into the 2015 season. Interesting. Schoenfeld is skeptical that KC’s bullpen can replicate its incredible numbers from last seasons and doesn’t like the way KC has replaced James Shields, Billy Butler and Nori Aoki with Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios. I’ll be writing about the Royals some next week as they report to Surprise, Ariz., for the start of spring training.

▪ As always, thanks for reading. And have a fantastic February weekend.

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