NASCAR Hits the Wall

Having done a racing show on radio [Quick 60 Racing Show] for nine years now, I get asked about racing quite often. One question, I get more and more is what is happening with NASCAR? Well that is a difficult question to answer. What I usually tell people is that they have problems, and they are aware of it. I have given it some thought, and naming the problems is a lot easier than fixing them.

Before I head off into detailing NASCAR’s current situation, maybe a bit of history is in order. Stock car racing grew as very much a regional phenomenon in the south. I think Richard Petty gave a very good reason why that was. Petty said that after World War II many southern men returned home and were looking for things to do and get involved in. One of the things people in the south didn’t have was professional sports. Baseball, football, and basketball teams were all located in the north. You could watch it on television, but claiming a team as your own or going to see an actual game was difficult. After the war the country was prosperous, most had jobs, and most were able to afford an automobile for the first time. This wasn’t just a southern thing, but was true nationwide. People will say that moonshiners with their fast running whiskey haulers were the ones that spurred the interest in racing in the south. No doubt that is true, and people being competitive, racing to see who had the fastest moon rod became a popular pastime, and an event people would pay to watch. This lead eventually to NASCAR, a successful, but very regional sport. Then, ironically the professional ball sports that the south didn’t have played a role in helping build NASCAR. By the 80’s NASCAR’s appeal had begun to grow beyond the south. This growth got a big boost from the labor problems that hit baseball, football, and basketball. Fans were looking for  alternative sports to follow when labor problems in these sports ended or shortened seasons. Many of these fans tried NASCAR and liked what they saw. This triggered a huge growth spurt, that included: more television exposure, new race tracks all over the country, new sponsors willing to pay big money to be a part of this growth. New drivers came into the sport, as the face of NASCAR changed from hard driving, straight talking southerners like Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, and Cale Yarbrough, to camera ready, media savvy, marketing aware drivers typified by Jeff Gordon. Gordon came to NASCAR from open wheel racing which at one point was more popular than NASCAR. In the 1990’s open wheel racing in the U.S. split into two groups: CART and the Indy Racing League. Open wheel racing, even after reunification of the two groups, has never come close to regaining its popularity.

Where are we now? The news isn’t good, Attendance is down, so much so that NASCAR doesn’t release attendance figures anymore. We do know that attendance revenue reports by the tracks are down 52.7% over the last nine years. This unfortunately is evident by watching many races on TV and seeing the large amount of empty seats. In fact several tracks are removing seats. Television ratings have been faltering as well. This year’s ratings are down for all races with the exception of the Daytona 500, and the race at Indianapolis. Some race’s viewership is down as much as 18% [Las Vegas and Phoenix] from last year.

So NASCAR is dealing with a decline in attendance, decline in TV ratings, and a general decline in popularity. Having identified the problem, the next step is to discuss the causes. Here is my list of the causes of this decline, in order of when they popped into my brain.

  1. The season is too long, NASCAR starts around Valentine’s Day, and finishes just before Thanksgiving. That is a long time to hold fans interest. If they miss the race this week, there will be another next week. The same holds true for attending a race, but to a lesser degree due to race proximity. Indy Car starts their season the middle of March, and finish early September. NASCAR races in September, October, and November, generally go head to head with NFL Football. That is a matchup that NASCAR cannot win. When NASCAR is in it’s playoffs, when the most interest should be focused on the sport, they are in direct competition with football [college and pro], baseball playoffs and World Series, and the beginning of the NBA season. It is easy to get lost in the landslide of sports activity.
  2. The cars all look alike, the tracks all look alike, and the drivers all look alike. In 2009 NASCAR went to the Car of Tomorrow, a standardized car that virtually eliminated the differences between cars. Each car had to conform to a ridged set of specs that determines body shape and chassis design. Except for the brand logos on the cars each one looked the same. It is hard for fans to identify with their favorite brand of car. During the boom years of NASCAR growth, a number of new race tracks were built to accommodate the increase in fans wanting to see live races. Unfortunately, the new tracks all seemed to be roughly the same design – 1.5 mile, D-shaped ovals [Charlotte, Texas, Atlanta, Kansas, Chicagoland, Las Vegas, Homestead, and Kentucky]. The tracks did have variable amounts of banking, but looked, and often raced similarly. Add to this the new generation of drivers all seemed to have been trained by the same marketing firm. They were going to tell you their sponsors and what a great job the team did getting the car ready for the race. That was about it. You would occasionally get a little individuality and emotion from the Busch brothers or Tony Stewart, but when that happened NASCAR would quickly put an end to it.
  3. Too many races are decided in the pits and not on the track. This is probably the result of cars and drivers being fairly equal, the only place a real difference can be made is in the pits. On this I know that NASCAR is in accord with the fans and want to make more of the finish of races based on action on the track rather than in the pits.
  4. How much is the drop in TV ratings the result of the availability of races via live streaming on their mobile devices? The trend, especially among young consumers is towards cutting the cord. Additionally NASCAR has been quick to embrace new ways for fans to stay up to date with NASCAR.
  5. The rules seem to be constantly changing. This is true for the cars, drivers, crews, and championship points system. To it’s credit NASCAR is working to make races more competitive and entertaining for fans from start to finish. To accomplish this they have tried several ideas, some good and some not so. The main idea is to put more of the race outcome in the hands of the drivers. It is my hope that sometime soon we reach a point where that is close to being accomplished, and NASCAR can quit tinkering with every little element of their product.
  6. Less than a full field of cars at many races in NASCAR’s top division, even after cutting the standard field from 43 cars to 40. It isn’t relevant to the quality of the actual racing, but is obviously symptomatic of a greater problem that NASCAR will have to address. That being the high cost of operating a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series car for a full season. This problem has been made worse by the decline in attendance and TV ratings, which has a direct effect on decisions by potential sponsors. The economic down turn of 2009 seemingly hit NASCAR harder than most sports. Instead of one major sponsor for the entire season, most teams must now piece together multiple sponsors to run the entire season. For years car’s sponsors were as familiar to the fans as the car’s number. Now fans often have a hard time identifying their favorite driver. Although the number of cars in the field doesn’t have a great effect on the actual race, personally the most exciting part of the race, other than the finish, is the roar of a full pack of race cars charging to the start/finish line all accelerating at once. The sound and the vibration is exhilarating.
  7. NASCAR lost touch with its roots. When the great NASCAR expansion came and new tracks were being built across the country, there was only one added in the south. – Homestead Florida in 1995. Texas Motor Speedway is technically in the south, but Ft. Worth feels much more Midwestern/Western than southern. When I have been there to watch races, most of the license plates [other than Texas] are from Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, rather than southern states. In order to clear dates on the schedule for the new tracks, the track at North Wilkesboro [ two races], was closed, plus Atlanta , and Darlington race tracks each lost a race. At the same this shift away from the south was taking place, the places where the drivers came from changed as well. Where most of the drivers came from southern roots, now most of the drivers came from places like California, Wisconsin, Nevada, Indiana,, etc. Prior to a recent influx of young southern drivers, there were only three regulars in the Cup Series from the south: Dale Earnhardt Jr. [North Carolina], David Ragan [Georgia], and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. [Mississippi].   The NASCAR base felt very disconnected from the sport they helped build.

With all these causes [there are more] outlined above, what are the answers to reversing the NASCAR decline? If I had those answers, I would make millions in the business consulting trade, as all major sports are facing a similar problem to some degree. Here are my thoughts, not solutions, for the problems I’ve outlined.

  1. The season is probably too long, but I don’t see NASCAR shortening the season any time soon. There are television contracts, sponsor commitments, race tracks with commitments to fans and sponsors. The problem with the schedule is that by the time the playoffs [Chase], start, you lose a large portion of the casual race fans to other sports. NASCAR could run races on week day nights, which would probably improve TV ratings, The problem is track owners would not be happy about the decrease in attendance week night events would bring. One of the things that still excites are races with great traditions, like the Daytona 500 and the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These are the only two races with increased TV viewership this year over last. Also, races that are unique or offer a point of difference. This was true for years of the races at Bristol – until the track owners decided to monkey with the track. In the Camping World Truck Series, the race on dirt at Eldora Speedway drew plus ratings [TV], on a Wednesday night,, with a late [8PM] start time, on a non sports channel. There has also been an increase in interest in road course races, probably because the races are unique, with different strategies for the crews, and different challenges for the drivers. Charlotte Motor Speedway is going to a hybrid track with elements of a road course and a traditional track. If I had the money to gamble with I would build a three quarter mile dirt track, with full NASCAR ready infield, and pit area. Of course I wouldn’t advise anyone to build a race track now, with any hope of attracting a NASCAR race anytime soon. Themed race weekends could be a source of generating additional interest. For example the Throw Back Weekend at Darlington. Fans love the paint schemes on cars honoring past racers.
  2. Don’t expect the look a like car situation to change as NASCAR has begun work on the Generation 7 Car of Tomorrow which will probably be implemented in the next couple of years. As far as the tracks go, don’t look for any major schedule changes. The individual tracks may repave, change banking, try to make wider race groves and better grip, but essentially no major changes. Plus, don’t know of any tracks that are likely to close. This brings us to the drivers. NASCAR has a unique opportunity with so many young talented drivers coming into the sport. NASCAR and race teams should let these drivers display their personalities, instead of being as buttoned down and marketing polished as the last group. It is an impressive list of young drivers all coming into NASCAR about the same time and should be the face of the sport for years to come. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, the Dillon brothers, William Byron, Daniel Suarez, and Ryan Blaney, each has the potential to be the next Dale Earnhardt Jr. Larson’s driving style will win him lots of fans. Everyone loved Chase Elliott’s father Bill, and Chase will eventually step out of that shadow. Daniel Suarez has the potential to bring a whole new group of fans to NASCAR. Ryan Blaney is a fun loving, young driver that loves to interact with fans at the track.
  3. NASCAR is trying to put more of the outcome of races in the hands of drivers, but pit stops and pit strategy will always play a big role in race outcomes. The talent of the crews who build the car and drivers of the cars is all so close, the primary variable is what takes place in the pits. NASCAR has worked with down force and track bar adjustments to put more importance on driver talent. NASCAR and track owners have begun developing compounds that can be added to the track surface to increase grip. This has had some success in adding a second grove at certain tracks where passing can be difficult. I think we are just seeing the beginning of such technology. If you really want to see almost total equality among race teams, NASCAR is discussing going to a universal, standard engine. If this comes to pass each team would get their standard, sealed engines from NASCAR. I personally don’t think this will happen, as it takes the auto manufacturers totally out of racing.
  4. Cutting the cord is here to stay. we started with TV with an antenna, then cable, next satellite, now there are numerous ways to stay connected with your sports. NASCAR is smart to make sure that keeping up with racing is as easy as possible. It may hurt TV ratings, but it has to be available.
  5. I personally don’t want NASCAR to become complacent, and say that racing is as good as it is going to get. With so many variables that can effect the speed, and handling of a race car, NASCAR has to constantly be making rule changes to maintain competition and safety. We may at some point see each race track have it’s own race specs. What I am afraid of is when we will get this current car design tuned where NASCAR wants it, along comes the new C.O.T. in 2019 and we start all over.
  6. NASCAR needs to, and fairly quickly, address the high cost of fielding a NASCAR race team. This is especially true in light of the growing challenge of finding and maintaining sponsors. Event top teams such as Hendrick Motor Sports struggle with securing enough sponsorship for their four race teams. This is true at all of the top three levels of NASCAR Series. In the Truck Series, two multi truck teams have shut down or will at the end of the year because they can’t continue to lose money. NASCAR has taken some steps to cut cost such as shortening the length of some race weekends. There is also talk of limiting even more the number of sets of tires teams can have for the weekend. Also, NASCAR will begin mandating that race teams must run each race engine they use during the year a minimum of two races starting in 2018. NASCAR is considering other cost saving moves as well. Will any of these moves result in enough savings that we will see the return of full fields of race cars at all tracks? Probably not. There is a desire by several teams to add additional cars to their teams, and even teams that compete in the Xfinity Series that would like to take it to the next level. Of course when any of these teams say that they want to add cars, they also always say – if sponsorship can be found.
  7. When it comes to reconnecting with NASCAR’s southern roots, that problem  make take care of itself. Several of the top young drivers that are coming into the sport are coming from southern states. Austin Dillon born in Tennessee, lives in North Carolina,Ty Dillon born in Tennessee, lives in North Carolina, Ryan Blaney North Carolina, Chase Elliott Georgia, Chris Buescher Texas, William Byron North Carolina, Christopher Bell Oklahoma. This group hopefully will help reinvigorate NASCAR’s southern fans.
  8. Finally, having written most of this by candlelight during the powerless nights after Hurricane Harvey, it gave me time to write that I haven’t had in some months. Doing a one hour racing show on Saturdays doesn’t offer an opportunity to go into any depth on the subject of NASCAR. I welcome your comments at larry@sportsradiocc.com

Better Late Than Never Super Bowl Wrap

Yes, I know that the Super Bowl is ancient history, but I have been crazy busy, plus I ran head on into the flu for about six days. But, before my thoughts of the Super Bowl are cut to make some more brain cap space I will put them down here.

Prior to the Super Bowl, I spent two great weeks basking in the glory of successfully predicting the two Super Bowl teams back in August. Then the Friday before SB, I predicted the Falcons to win. At that point it just felt like their year. For most of the game I looked like a genius. Then one astounding, amazing comeback later and I was wrong.

So, based on the returns from SBLI I can now make the following predictions:
Greatest NFL Coach of All Time: Bill Belichick
Greatest QB of All Time: Tom Brady
Greatest NFL Franchise of all time: trending Pats, but still too close to call

It is obvious that Freeman’s blown block, and Matthew’s hold cost the Falcons the game. The other thing those two plays did was make Julio Jones’ fantastic sideline catch irrelevant and soon to be forgotten.

The Pats always seem to have a player or players that you weren’t expecting to be key contributors, step up and be a key element in their victories in big games. This time it had to be Malcolm Mitchell, James White and Danny Amendola. Mitchell was the teams’ fifth leading receiver for the season, yet he made key receptions that extended drives throughout the comeback. James White ran for 166 yards total for the season, but he was the man carrying [and catching] the ball when the game was on the line. I have always been a Danny Amendola fan going back to his college days. This season, he hardly ever saw the field during the Pats games I watched [23 catches for the season]. Yet, he was the go to guy with the game on the line. Will be interesting what their roles will be with the team in 2017.

The Falcons are denying their Defensive Coordinator-Richard Smith, and D-Line Coach-Bryan Cox were fired right after the game as scapegoats for the loss. Saying that this was in the works for some time. There is no way you fire your DC and D-Line Coach right after a SB win. I thought the defense and in particular the defensive line played beyond what anyone would have expected in the first half to the game. They brought strong, consistent pressure on Brady, causing the Pats to be unable to sustain any offense. Evidently, Smith and Cox must have gotten stupid at half time, and lost the ability to coach. It was much more the case of lack of quality depth on the Falcons defense, primarily on the d-line that cost the Falcons. The d-line was rushing the QB on 60 plays, and the linebackers were either rushing or dropping, sometimes deep, into pass coverage. I think the defense wore down, I think everyone knew that at some point Brady and his receivers would get a rhythm going and the
Falcons would have to hold on [not you Jake Matthews], and hope they had scored enough to win.

More to come soon. Want to do some beer reviews as soon as my allergies clear up. You have to taste beer with your eyes, nose and tongue. Right now the nose is not ready.

Let The Blogging Begin

Hello, it is I, Larry Roberts, Larry The Beer Man if you like, adding my thoughts to the KSIX SportsRadioCC Blog. Why you may ask – well there are two main reasons. First, it is right there on the front page of our station web site, inviting people to click open the blog only to find there has been no blogging going on for some time now. I don’t want our listeners to think we have nothing to say. After all we are in the business of talking. Secondly, there really isn’t a place for me on air anymore to talk sports, which is why I got into this business to begin with. So here I go – he’s off and blogging.

Since today [February 1, 2017] is NCAA Football national signing day, it has brought to mind the pathetic state of college football in Texas these days. In case you missed it, or just lost interest this past football season [2016] was a disaster for colleges in Texas. I am talking FBS football, we all appreciate Mary Hardin-Baylor winning the NCAA Division III Championship. Need proof of how bad things have become? For the first time in 50 years no Texas college team finished in the Top 25 of the final rankings. University of Houston was the pride of Texas with a final rank of 36. Six colleges from Texas were selected to play in bowl games, finishing with one win and five loses. Thank you Baylor for saving us from a shut out. Think things maybe getting better soon? Don’t count on it. With today being national signing day, a quick look at the top ten college prospects in Texas shows all ten are heading out of state to play college football. I will be studying the signing lists the next few days, and probably post something on who went where.

Since I am off and running on college football, here are just a few thoughts about the 2016 season. Let’s start with some advice to Kevin Sumlin head coach at Texas A & M. He may want to study the rise and fall of Mack Brown this off season. He appears to be heading down much the same path. Brown and staff consistently recruited top notch talent, with great success for a number of years. In the later year’s Coach Brown’s teams consistently under performed, and disappointed. Texas hired high dollar assistant coaches to try to turn things around and return to previous glory. But, the mediocrity continued. Finally an 8-5 season in 2013 did Coach Brown in. Coach  Sumlin is coming off his third 8-5 season in a row in 2016. He has great recruiting classes one after another, and the administration has brought in high priced assistant coaches [see John Chavis and Noel Mazzone], to help. I doubt the Aggie fan base has anymore patience than the Longhorn fans.

Speaking of UT, glad to see Charlie Strong land the job at USF. I know he will do an excellent job there in area where he has always been a strong recruiter. A few things I see that lead to the end of the Charlie Strong era at Texas. First, he inherited a divided and lazy team. Coach Strong was working on this when his time ran out. Secondly, Strong was constantly shuffling his assistant coaches, primarily looking for a way to spark his team to play better. Unfortunately the coach he most needed to move out was Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford, who held his job until the last few games when Coach Strong took over coaching the defense. The final problem that plagued Coach Strong was the inability to develop a quarterback. He inherited Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard, both highly touted recruits. Texas fans and I think coaches loved Swoopes because he reminded them of Vince Young. This is true at least physically, but on the field, not so much. Strong was unable to recruit a viable quarterback in his first two recruiting classes. Finally signing an excellent prospect in his final class – Shane Buechele. To no one’s surprise Buechele won the starting job this past year. He played well, shows signs of promise for the future, and unfortunately made the inevitable freshman mistakes that were to be expected. If Strong would of had a quarterback the likes of Buechele  to develop in first recruiting class, he would probably still be the Longhorns coach. Ironically, this year the Longhorns signed one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation – Sam Ehlinger out of Austin Westlake. Tom Herman can’t take credit for this signing, as Ehlinger was committed to Texas before he was born.

Every college is looking for the brilliant young coach for their football program. How about the brilliant older coach? Look what Bob Davie at New Mexico, and Rocky Long at San Diego State have done with their late career head coaching opportunities. Let’s see what Lovie Smith can do at the University of Illinois. Along the same lines the new head coach at Texas Lutheran in Seguin, is Carl Gustafson. He has served as an assistant coach at TLU in the past, and is a long time high school coach in San Antonio and New Braunfels. If the last name sounds familiar it should. His father was Marvin Gustafson, a high school coaching legend in San Antonio. His uncle is the legendary former baseball coach at the University of Texas – Cliff Gustafson.

Let me know what you think. I promise there will be more to come – probably.

In the Dugout with Dennis & Andy

Dennis Quinn and I have been talking sports on the air waves of Corpus Christi together for twenty years.  We named our show Dennis & Andy’s Q & A Session because we not only wanted to bring the public great interviews but we are storytellers by nature and we enjoy educating our listeners about the history of the game.  Therefore, when you listen to us you’re in the Session.  We have also been blessed to have met so many of our heroes from the past, so we find it important to honor them when they leave us.  You will recognize the opening music of our shows as the “William Tell Overture” or the theme music from the Lone Ranger, one of our favorite television shows growing up.  And we always close with the music from the Jackie Gleason Show as one of us will say, “How Sweet It Is!”

I would like to thank ESPN 1440 KEYS and SportsRadioCC 1230 KSIX as we split our time between these two stations this past year.  I would also like to thank Henry Hernandez, Marty Robinson, and Dotson Lewis who sat in for either Dennis or me, as we traveled to acquire interviews.  We have had a blast while taking our listeners up front and center with some of the finest athletes and greatest coaches and broadcasters in the world of sports.  This year alone we have had 44 one-on-one interviews in the span of 52 weeks.  The list is long and varied but ties closely to our first love, baseball.  Having the Corpus Christi Hooks in town and a long-standing relationship with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers has made our jobs easier.

The year 2015 started off fast with a Hall-of-Fame announcer who joined us at least four times a year on air, the Houston Astros’ lead announcer for many years, Milo Hamilton.  He truly loved Corpus and being on our show.  Sad to say we lostMiloin September.  He will be missed.  Juan Castillo, offensive coach with the Baltimore Ravens and Jeff Lantz, the fellow in charge of Communications for Minor League Baseball, rounded out the month of January.  February would bring our yearly interview with former Buffalo Bills linebacker, Shane Nelson, about the Super Bowl.  The Astros’ Caravan would provide us interviews with former pitcher, Larry Dierker, and superstar, George Springer.  We also paid tribute to Ernie Banks and aired an older interview from 2004.  The South Texas Winter Banquet provided us time with legend Nolan Ryan, Astros’ General Manager Reid Ryan, retired local sportscaster, Dan McReynolds, and Orioles’ Minor League pitcher, Mark Blackmar, son of professional golfer Phil Blackmar.  We also finished up the month of March with interviews with former NFL official, Mike Pereira, of FOX Sports and Los Angeles Dodgers’ star outfielders, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson.

With three trips toHoustonduring the year, my partner Dennis Quinn led the league in Astros information.  They say April showers bring May flowers and along with the rain came interviews with Astros shortstop, Carlos Correa and Zvee Geffen, a representative of the TOPPS Sports Card Company.  Craig Biggio, the first member of the Astros to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, also joined us.  In May, we spoke with local long-distance runner, Gabe Lucido, who also ran in this year’s Boston Marathon.  Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer joined us again as the Astros looked to be “for real” this year.  The month of June got even better as Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado, and centerfielder, Adam Jones, joined Dennis and me on tape.  We also spoke to Nolan Ryan again, as the Hooks and TOPPS Baseball Card Company signed a national contest winner to a contract to become a “Hook-For-the-Day.”  Both Jose Altuve and George Springer made their second appearance on the show.

In July, Dennis traveled toHoustonfor the second time, and I had a chance to have Basketball Coach Ronnie Arrow and former All-Star pitcher and now Hooks’ President, Ken Schrom, join us.  I also met and interviewed localSolomonColesHigh Schoolplayers, Billy Sayles and Dee Hardeman, who played for the first team fromCorpus Christi,Texas, to win a state championship in baseball.  Texas A&M Islanders baseball Head Coach, Scott Malone and former Astros’ pitcher, J. R. Richards, joined us on air.  In August, Dennis brought back interviews with Red Sox stars, Dustin Pedroia and David “Big Papi” Ortiz, along with follow-up interviews with Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa.  We couldn’t keep George Springer away.  He loved being on the show.  Keuchel was elected starting pitcher for the American League, for the July All-Star Game.  In September, we spoke with Mike Trout, Jose Altuve for the third time, and VP of Communication and Education for theBaseballHall-of-FameMuseum, Brad Horn.  It was quite a month.

Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Carlos Correa of the Astros, joined us in October.  Correa would win the award.  It was his fourth time on Dennis & Andy’s Q & A Session.  Both Craig Biggio and Reid Ryan joined us again to speak about the passing of our dear friend, Milo Hamilton.

November would find us slowing down as the World Series ended with the Kansas City Royals on top, while football and basketball became front and center on the sports radar.  We managed to snag a great interview with hometown kid, Cliff Pennington, who had participated in the MLB playoffs with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Cliff became to first-ever position player to pitch in relief during a post-season game.  We finished strong in December with our NASCAR expert, Bob Doty.  At the end of each year we are always amazed at how many great folks that have joined us on the radio and we wonder how it can get any better.  The good news is, it always does.   You can always find our show dates and times in the radio section of the Caller Times sports page.  We are usually on Thursday nights from 6-7 PM, but occasionally moved to Tuesdays, same time.  The number to call if we hit a nerve is 361-884-1230.  If you missed our shows and would like to listen, please visit www.purvisbooks.com and press podcasts in the menu section.  There are nearly 150 hours of radio interviews that we have done since 2004.  Just choose an interview by name or date. Thanks for listening.

 

Andy Purvis

There were three days until Christmas: By Andy Purvis

There were three days until Christmas, at Sportsradio,

The best sports show in Corpus was all set to go.

The microphones were all live and the sound was turned up,

The Lone Ranger music was about to erupt.

 

Sliding Bill Doerner was ready, all snug in his chair.

He waits until 6 to put us on air.

With his finger he points and that’s when I say.

Welcome to Dennis & Andy’s Q & A.

 

I introduce my partner, whose name’s Dennis Quinn

He gives me a nickname as our show starts to begin.

I’m usually pretty good at getting it right,

He tries his hardest to stump me with all of his might.

 

Dennis has a broad face and a round little belly

That shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly

I’m chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laugh when I see him in spite of myself.

 

Sports is our passion, we don’t make this stuff up.

We ask trivia questions and the answers are tough.

884 1230 is the number to call,

Pick up the phone and join in, we are having a ball.

 

 

 

We line up interviews for all of our fans,

George Springer, Dan McReynolds, Gabe Lucido with a tan.

We talk Minor League pitching with Orioles Mark Blackmar,

And learn from Bob Doty about racing and NASCAR.

 

We’ve interviewed many this year including Carlos Correa.

We also talked football with FOX NFL official Mike Periera.

Mike Trout, Adam Jones, andMiloHamilton,

Are just some of the stars with whom we’ve had fun?

 

Red Sox stars Dustin Pedoria and Big Papi Ortiz

When joining the “Session” they all say their piece.

J.R. Richards,DallasKeuchel, Larry Dierker and Ken Schrom

Share funny stories while droping some bombs.

 

Reid Ryan of the Astros and Brad Horn from theHOF

Say nice things about us and call us by name.

We laugh and have fun and sing once in awhile,

While covering the “old school” stuff with a smile.

 

Shane Nelson, Juan Castillo, they gave us their time.

Jose Altuve, Joc Pederson and Cliff Pennington were kind.

With Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio,

The hour flies by, we don’t know where it goes.

 

We say Merry Christmas to each of our fans.

We thank the Caller Times for giving us a hand.

We enjoy all our listeners and ask them to call.

Give us your “take,” you could be right after all.

 

As we sign off, with our Pal Jackie Gleason,

We want you to understand, that you are our reason,

We come on each week and talk about the sports biz.

And we always end our show with “How Sweet it is.”

 

So thank youCorpus   Christifor listening to our show

You’ve helped us celebrate 20 years in a row.

We pray that all in your family remain happy and bright

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

 

 

Andy Purvis

Race Against Time

On November 7, 1990, the Negro League Basebal lMuseum, located in Kansas City, Missouri, was created by a group of former Negro League players in a one-room office space that contained a round table and six chairs.  In two of those chairs sat Buck O’Neil and Slick Surratt.  The story goes; that they took turns paying the monthly rent to keep their dream alive.  This office space was part of the Lincoln Building, which is located at the Historic 18th and Vine Street, in the Jazz District.

To be clear, this building is not a Hall of Fame.  It is important to the Museum that they are not referred to as such.  The Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM) was conceived as a museum to tell the complete story of Negro League baseball.  They do not hold any special induction ceremonies for honorees.  They believe that the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown,New York, is the proper place for recognition of baseball’s greatest players.  However, they do give special recognition with their exhibits, to those Negro League players who have been honored in Cooperstown.  In 1994, this group was able to expand into a 2,000 square-foot space.  They hung photographs and built interactive displays, and a number of film exhibits were added, all commemorating the history of Negro League baseball.  With the help of the city, a new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September of 1997, and theBaseballMuseummoved into their new space of 10,000 square feet.  They opened their doors in November of that same year.  Twelve bronze sculptures and many artifacts are now on display.

During the 1870s-1880s, over 50 African-Americans had played in leagues with white players.  In 1884, Moses Fleetwood Walker, a catcher, became the first Negro to reach the Major Leagues, with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association.  White pitchers refused to accept signs from a Negro catcher.   By 1887, all the ownership of white teams entered into an agreement that refused to sign anymore African-American players.  It would be 60 years before another black player joined the Major Leagues.  His name was Jackie Robinson.

In 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster, a former player, manager and owner of the Chicago American Giants put in place the organized baseball group that would become known as the Negro Leagues.  Twenty-two different teams made up the Negro Leagues from 1920 until 1962.  Some of the more famous include:  the Birmingham Black Barons, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis Clowns, Baltimore Elite Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Newark Eagles, New York Black Yankees, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Memphis Red Sox.

In 1945, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs.  He became the first African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League team.  Jackie would make his Major League debut in 1947.  Unfortunately this event, while historic in civil rights history, eventually spelled the end of the Negro Leagues, as many fine Negro League players joined the Major League ranks and their fans followed suit.   Some of those names are well known such as Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Roy Campanella, “Satchel” Paige, Ray Dandridge, “Junior” Gilliam, Luke Easter, Hank Thompson, “Minnie” Minoso, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Don Newcombe.

From 1920 through 1962, the end of the Negro League era, more than 2,500 men and, yes, women contributed to the Negro League games as players, coaches, managers and executives.  It is estimated that approximately 120 former Negro League players are still living.  Most of them played at the tail end of the era.  For them, this museum has definitely been a race against time.

As of this writing, there have been 35 former Negro League players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Not all of them played in the Major Leagues, but they were honored for their contributions to the Negro Leagues.  Many of them were WWII veterans.

As for me, I have been blessed to meet Buck O’Neil on two different occasions and also Slick Surratt.  They were together inHoustonduring the 2005 World Series and were the speakers for the Negro League traveling museum.  I wrote about both of them in my Greatness Series books.

So, on Saturday, November 7, 2015, it was fitting that the NegroLeagueMuseumcelebrated its 25th anniversary.  Attending the celebration were stars like Hank Aaron, Dave Winfield, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, “Fergie” Jenkins and many more.  Current curator, Bob Kendrick, was pleased.   Next time you’re inKansas City, check it out.

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

I Should Have Taken Up Golf

Yes, I played a bit of football in my time.  I am reminded every morning when I roll out of bed.  My joints, ligaments and tendons serenade the early light with “Snap, crackle and pop.”  I did enjoy the game of football, but I had no idea that my body would pay for the pleasure for the rest of my life.  I should have taken up golf.  Then the worst thing that could have happened to me was hitting my ball out of bounds.  Golf is a game where a “late hit” means a slice, not a separated shoulder.  The game is played at a walk, and no one ever sweats.  A “bad lie” is a ball buried in the sand, not a pile up at the goal line against Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears.  A “career-ending play” is scoring a 6 on a par 3.  The most terrifying thing a golfer ever sees is a twenty-foot downhill putt.  You never hear words like blitz, cover two, or spearing.  The word “rough” refers to tall grass, not J.J. Watt.   You don’t have to stand in a pocket, nor do you need a cut man on the sideline.  Canes and wheelchairs are off limits on the golf course, because most likely you will never need a knee operation.  You don’t have to block anybody while playing a round, and you get to keep your teeth.  Missing the “cut” in golf refers to their score when it is not in the low 60’s, not stitches.

You never see a golfer with a mark on him.  His nose isn’t bleeding, his eyes are clear, and you can understand him when he speaks.  Golfers don’t need crutches, and no one has ever seen Tiger Woods carried off the golf course on a stretcher.  I could have traded a torn meniscus and sprained ankles for playing golf until I’m 60.  The playing surface in golf is soft and beautiful, and the holes are guarded by trees that you can hit over or sand traps that you can go around; the holes are not guarded by guys named Mike Singleterry or Lawrence Taylor.  The toughest part of a round of golf may be taking off one of your shoes to play your ball out of a water hazard.   These guys make millions of dollars without bruising a rib or sustaining a concussion, and it’s hard to fracture your thumb on a six iron.  Heck, there’s no heavy breathing, no heavy lifting; and a guy carries their clubs for them.  They can make 1.2 million on a weekend, and they don’t have to knock down linebacker Ray Lewis.  I’ve never seen a disabled list in professional golf.

Playing golf is like finding money.  Jordan Spieth is never going to be able to tell if it’s going to rain by the feeling he gets in his knees, yet Tony Romo gets headaches for a living.  These guys go through life with a sun tan, wearing the best fashioned clothes, laid out for them by style coordinators.  When they finish a tournament, they don’t have to soak in a tub of ice or inflate a collapsed lung or get their blood to clot.  Yet, people are in awe of them because they once shot a 66 at The Masters.

Golfers are the luckiest guys in sports.  I should have taken up golf.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

Food Poisoning

He always made fun of himself so you didn’t have to.  “Some guys smoke, some guys drink, some guys chase women.  I’m a big barbecue-sauce guy,” he once said.  He was tall, mostly bald, loved white sweaters, hated ties, and was funny beyond words; the things he said, it was like he had swallowed Don Rickles.  He could pass forJohnPinette in sneakers or Louie Anderson with a whistle around his neck.  People did make fun of him for not being in shape; he thought round was a shape.  He also thought pancake syrup was a beverage and candy corn a vegetable.  He was a big, heavy-set guy; when he got his shoes shined, he had to take the guy’s word for it.  He was once asked, “How do you plan to stop the Kentucky Wildcats?” in a 1996 NCAA Basketball Tournament match-up.  “Food poisoning!” answered Utah Head Basketball Coach, Rick Majerus.  When asked about the difference in talent between his team andKentucky, he responded, “They have all those McDonald’s Basketball All-Americans.  We have four guys on our team who don’t even have a McDonald’s in their hometown.”  Rick Majerus was a riot and a fine basketball coach.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com