…someone set a good example…

We’re going to get into some personal stuff here.  I promise it’s nothing creepy or awkward, just Music.

A few weeks ago my brother and I went down to Tulsa to see my favorite band Rush on the Opening Night of their R40 Live Tour.  All indications are that this is the last tour the band will perform of this magnitude.  I read that as: They’re not retiring and may play some shows here or there, but they’re never going to embark on a continental tour where they play three or four shows in a week.  Either way, the concert we went to will probably be the last time I get to see them before they retire.

Tulsa is a few hours from my house.  During the week leading up to the concert I started looking for all my Rush CD’s that I bought as a teenager so I could listen to them on the drive to the concert.  Like most things from when I was growing up they were in a box down in the basement next to the baseball cards, and all that stuff from college I’m not sure what to do with but throwing it out isn’t an option right now.

After getting all those CD’s together and listening to them on the trip to and from Tulsa.  Attending the concert, and having discussions with other Rush fans.  I began to realize how much of an impact the band has had on my life.  If I began to list prominent life influences Rush would be on the same list as my parents, church, scouts/Civil Air Patrol, and sports.  If you know me personally you probably already know about those.

As music often does, all those songs that I had not heard in a long time stirred up a bunch of nostalgic memories.  Rush is what I listened to in my Discman (remember those?) on family vacations, church trips, scout trips, essentially anytime spent in a car in which I was not driving.  Rush is what I retreated to after a bad day, or a good one.  What I listened to after break-ups or just flat out rejection.  Rush is what I listened to before wrestling matches.  Although, I was a mediocre wrestler maybe I should have listened to something else.   It was essentially the sound track to my youth and into adulthood.

I think what attracted me to the band initially, and what kept me intrigued was that in a genre where the majority of songs are about sex, drugs, drinking, partying, and rambling.  Rush’s songs were about Futuristic Dystopia’s (2112).  Philosophical thoughts about choice (Freewill).  An entire industry (Spirit of Radio).  The development of the atomic bomb (The Manhattan Project).  And whatever political statement The Trees is trying to convey.  Don’t get me wrong, Rush has a few songs that you would normally find in the rock genre.  For example, A Passage to Bangkok is a song about sampling the varieties of marijuana from around the world.  Or In the Mood, which needs no explanation.

Rush is and was different from their genre, and completely different from the self-loathing grudge of the early 90’s that was dominating FM radio when I discovered the band.  Because the lyrics are what initially intrigued me about the band, my favorite Rush songs aren’t necessarily the ones that received radio air time or are popular among most Rush fans.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the electric guitar riffs and straight hard rock sounds on traditional Rush songs like 2112, Spirit of Radio, Freewill, Working Man, and La Villa Strangiato.  But there are some songs that made a lifelong impression on me.

I’ve been thinking about the influence Rush has had on my life for a few weeks.  About a week ago I decided I would try put all of it into this blog post.  After all of that I’ve settled on eight Rush songs that either had a profound influence on me, or I think they’re really interesting.  Rush has 40 years of music from which to choose and this list is by no means comprehensive.  At some point I had to quit adding songs and begin writing this post.  These songs pop into my head on a daily basis.  These songs are special.

Rush on the opening night of their R40 Live Tour in Tulsa.  May 8th, 2015

Rush on the opening night of their R40 Live Tour in Tulsa. May 8th, 2015

These first three are what call motivational songs.  I first heard them in high school and set-up a quasi-personal mantra as I grew older.

Cut to the Chase, Album: Counterparts, 1993

Favorite lyric: You may be right, It’s all a waste of time, I guess that’s just a chance I’m prepared to take, A danger I’m prepared to face, Cut to the chase.

This song came out when I was a freshman in high school and still speaks to me.  Anytime you make plans, or make plans that only you can see the benefit.  There will be people telling you that it’s not worth it.  Or that you will fail entirely.  This song re-enforces to me the adage that you don’t know until you ask, or until you try.  Sure you’re going to fail, but never stop trying regardless of what your critics say.

The Enemy Within, Album Grace Under Pressure, 1984 

Favorite lyric: I’m not giving in to security under pressure
I’m not missing out on the promise of adventure
I’m not giving up on implausible dreams

I’m not sure why this song was not more popular than it was.  It does have an interesting history other than my affinity for it.  It’s a rockin’ fast paced song.    After MTV’s debut in the United States a similar channel was launched in Canada.  It was called Much Music and the video above was Much Music’s first aired music video.  Aren’t the 1980’s graphics spectacular?  You’ll notice that will be a reoccurring theme with some of these videos.

This song is the first of a four song series titled Fear.  What is interesting is this song is Part I and was released off of Grace Under Pressure in 1984.  Part II is called The Weapon and was released off of Signals in 1982.  Part III is called Witch Hunt and was released off of Moving Pictures in 1981.  Only part IV, the song Freeze from Vapor Trails in 2002 was released in chronological order.  I highly recommend that you find Witch Hunt.

This song is about how most of our fears come from things that we create inside of our own minds.  I’m not smart enough.  They will laugh it at me if I try that.  I’m too big, too small, or not strong enough.   Fear of being uncomfortable.  Fear of loneliness.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of writing a blog post and people laughing at it.  Or any number of negative thoughts that we have that keep us from doing things we want to, should do, or might enjoy but nothing but our own fear is holding us back from doing them.  We are the enemy within.  And we must remain persistent to defeat that enemy.

The Pass, Album Presto, 1989

Favorite lyric: It’s not as if this barricade, Blocks the only road, It’s not as if you’re all alone, In wanting to explode

If you go looking for it there is a lot written about this song.  Neil Peart has spoken about it many times.  This song is about how suicide is a tragedy and nothing more.  If you go read the comments on Youtube you will see a lot of people say this song saved their lives.  That’s some impressive stuff.

I can honestly say I’ve never thought about suicide.  However, I have had times in my life where I was lonely or feeling down.  This song and the favorite lyric above were instrumental in reminding me that I was not alone.  You are not alone.  Find someone to talk to.  Talk to me if you want.

The title of this blog post comes from the line: Someone set a bad example
Made surrender seem all right.  As you can tell I changed it up.  Someone set a good example.  As I’ve found positive values in Rush songs in which to take through life.

These next three songs I don’t consider motivational.  But they do contain thought provoking lyrics that I have enjoyed and thought about since I heard them.

Resist, Test For Echo, 1996

Favorite lyric: You can surrender without a prayer, But never really pray, Pray without surrender.  You can fight, Without ever winning, But never ever win, Without a fight

Have to admit I don’t care for the actual album version of this song.  But this acoustic version from Live in Rio is spectacular.  The song is a paradox that makes you think.

Nobody’s Hero, Album Counterparts, 1993

Favorite lyric: But she’s nobody’s hero Is the voice of reason against the howling mob

After The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks we finally had a national discussion about what a hero was.  There was a lot of redefining going on after that.  This song was released 8 years before that.  It resonated with me then, and after the attacks I had this song on my mind frequently.

As for my favorite lyric?  I have huge admiration for anyone who is brave enough to stand up and make a mob hungry for blood stand back and re-asses the situation.  I think we need more people like that.

Another angle to take with this song are the people that don’t know that they are heroes.  They had an influence on someone, and that influence propels that someone to do great things.  But that person never learns the benefit their influence provided.

Time Stand Still, Album Hold Your Fire, 1987

Favorite lyric: Freeze this moment a little bit longer, Make each sensation a little bit stronger

Musically this song isn’t my favorite but the lyrics make it just good enough to make this list.  And that video.  Um yeah.  I think this society likes to wish it’s time away.  Rarely do people to take the time to live in the moment and take it all in.  This song has always been a good reminder to not wish my life away.  Take in the moment.  And realize some experiences you may remember more fondly later than when you were actually experiencing them.

I put these two on here because I listened to them a lot as a teenager.  I listened to them a lot while I was reading Tom Clancy novels.  I love the way the lyrics are crafted to tackle the serious subject of nuclear war and the standoff that required our military to stay on alert 24/7.  These two songs are a good snapshot of where the US and Canada were during the latter days of the Cold War.

There’s a line in Distant Early Warning; cruising under your radar, watching from the satellites. Back then I felt like this meant watching the enemy.  If you heard that line without context now it sounds creepy.  Like NSA is watching you.  Just an illustration of how times can change how we view things.

Manhattan Project, Album Power Windows, 1985

Distant Early Warning, Album Grace Under Pressure, 1984

If you are a seasoned Rush fan you may have noticed I have not mentioned Tom Sawyer until now.  Frankly, I can’t stand that song and I turn it off whenever it comes on the radio, and hit skip when it comes up on my playlists or CDs.  I was relieved at the concert in Tulsa that it was the first song they played out of intermission and I was still buying beer and a tour t-shirt.  I suppose it’s an OK song on its own in a vacuum.  But it’s been over played so much and anytime Rush comes up in a conversation with a general crowd it’s the first lyric quoted.  I put it in the same category as Back in Black, Freebird, and Sweet Home Alabama.  They’re decent songs, but the bands that made them have much better stuff for these to be the “go to” songs in pop culture.

So there it is.  You might have known I was a Rush fan.  But now you know just how much.  If reading this made you think of songs, any songs, that have influenced your life or are special to you, feel free to comment below.  If you’re a Rush fan and have similar thoughts on these songs, or have different Rush songs in mind, leave those comments too.


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Hello…Is anybody out there?

I was organizing files on my computer when I ran across the folder containing the files of drafts for my blog posts.  Not just for this site, but back when I was a Royals blogger at I70 Baseball.  (Which is fitting since the Royals play the Cardinals this weekend).   All of that reminded me that I used to write blog posts frequently.  At least once a week and sometimes more than that if I got really wound up.  But then life got in the way, responsibilities increased, and I had to leave blogging behind.  Not only had I not posted anything since January 2014.  I even let my domain expire.  (Remember, any idiot with $20 can buy a domain name.)

I mean, my favorite sports team, the Kansas City Royals went to the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and even came within a game of winning the World Series and I didn’t even think about blogging about it.  I was doing good to watch the games.

But now things have slowed down a little…at least for the summer.  I found that writing was something I enjoyed back in the day, and that I have missed it.  So, I’m going to make it a goal to write something at least once a week.  It may or may not be about sports.  But I hope it’s at least worth your time.  Well, not really.  You see, I commute an hour each way to work and I think of some weird shit.  Frankly, I just need an outlet for that.  If you find it entertaining, that’s just icing on the cake.


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Chiefs 2013 Season: Success or Failure?

It’s been 72 hours since the Chiefs spectacular loss in the playoffs to the Indianapolis Colts.  I’ve heard this game sliced and diced so many ways by pundits, fans, Sports Talk Radio Guys, Twitterati, and everything in between.  Through all that I’m just now deciding on how I should feel about it, other than it sucks.  My first thought was this game is a perfect example of why you should limit how much emotional energy you spend on a bunch of dudes you don’t know who play a game for a living, who don’t even live in the city they “represent”. 

I would like to take the stance that a year ago this team was 2-14 and was looking for new leadership; that I should just be happy with improvement.  I might feel that way except for two things.  We went down this path in 2010 and I was happy with improvements and taking steps forward.  Except instead of steps forward the organization turned into a clown show that lead to a lot of office cleaning in the Chiefs front office.  At least that infamous candy wrapper finally got picked up….I’m assuming.  The other reason I won’t just be satisfied with improvements is THEY WERE UP 28 POINTS IN THE 2nd HALF OF A PLAYOFF GAME AND LOST!  


Sorry, I can’t excuse that.  Even though, if you follow my twitter feed you’d know I wasn’t buying in until the game went final, and it turns out, those fears were justified.  Granted injuries and bad bounces played a part in the loss.  However, it was the same old Chiefs doing the same old Chiefs things.  Poor play calling, lack of adjustments, and poor tackling adds another dreadful tale Chiefs and Royals fans can add to their tales of historical shittyness and amazing choke jobs.

Was this season a success or failure for the Chiefs?  I say this question remains unanswered.  If the front office can take steps forward next year with better players and better play calling; I think you can look back on this season as a success in that the improvements were a means to an end.  If this is a repeat of 2010 and it’s just luck and a weak schedule then it’s another failure by the organization.  And if that’s the case, maybe I should stop using emotional energy on an organization that I don’t have any personal connections, and the people within that organization aren’t even from the city they represent. 

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Books! My Top 5

I was asked on Facebook to list my five favorite books. I know this is off topic for what I want to be a sports blog; but I need the content, and I can’t just throw out a list like that without some explanations. If you ask me this same question next week I may give you three different titles. Only my top two would be constant. Here is the list, they are in order.

#5. Wingman #4: Thunder In The East by Mack Maloney

This book has no redeeming literary or moral value. It’s book #4 in the Wingman Series that I read when I was a teenager. The Wingman Series is about a guy who has the last remaining F-16 after America loses World War III and his attempt to bring the nation back together. It’s pure pulp, but it’s a fun little book that I’ve read several times. If that doesn’t convince you to read it, read it because the book starts in a place called Football City where a 24 hours football game takes place.

#4. Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger

Of course the only non-fiction book on my list is about High School Football. This book has influenced a movie and a TV Series. Bissinger makes it read like a novel. As a former mediocre high school football player I found a lot of things that I could identify with in this book. There were also a lot of other things just blew my mind.

#3. Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy

The more I think about this book the more reasons I find to admire it’s genius. It’s a long read, the copy I had was over 900 pages, and it’s much different than the movie with the same title. A part of the Jack Ryan Series; it’s a perfect blend of Cold War and domestic terrorist threat written at a time when one was transitioning to the other. This book was written 10 years before the proliferation of the internet, yet features a tense scene between Ryan and the Soviet President chatting through a computer.

#2. Centennial by James Michener

Believe it or not this is second time I have mentioned this book on this blog. One of the characters doesn’t like college football very much. Anyway, This is one of those that I wasn’t real sure about when I started it, but it grew on me as I read on. It’s about the part of Colorado no one goes to visit, take pictures of, or write songs about…the high plains. It starts 200 million years ago and ends in the 1970’s. If you want to have your perspective of the passage of time changed, and get deeper into the history of the plains…this is the book for you.

#1. Last of The Breed by Louis L’Amour

My favorite genres to read are Westerns and spy-techno-thrillers. Last of the Breed is a perfect combination of those two genres. A US Spy Plane is shot down over Siberia in the mid-1980’s. The pilot successfully ejects and finds himself in the vast Siberian wilderness. He’s also native American. It just so happens the KGB Colonel in charge of finding him is a descendant from a native tribe of Siberia. Their ancestors once battled each other and now these two will do battle again. It’s a classic man-vs-man, man-vs-environment story, and it’s awesome. In fact, the next time the Chiefs are in a playoff game I’ll read this book instead of watching.

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The Football Conundrum

My family and I just got back from vacation, which is why I’m giving myself an excuse for not updating this website weekly like I promised. Our family camps for our vacations which make them a little more complicated than “just” booking everything. We have to go over gear lists, acquire said gear if we don’t have it, and finally make sure it all fits in whatever car we are taking. I’ve considered doing a post about all this; because you know; those are sporting goods and this is a sports website. But, I will save that for another day. Anyway, most of my mental energy was tied up by vacation before going on vacation. But now that vacation is over I find myself doing a mental reset: What did I miss while I was gone, what is going on now, and what is coming up in the next few weeks in months.



It’s no secret that my favorite sport is baseball, but my close second favorite sport is football, and football is most defiantly coming up in the next few weeks and months. In fact, the Chiefs start training camp in 12 days; twelve! Exhibition games will start in less than 30 days, and the regular season will be under way in less than 60. And that’s not even counting the college and high school seasons that I like to follow. This is part of the reason I took my first look at ProFootballTalk today for the first time since the Monday after the Super Bowl.

I know the prevailing wisdom in sports media is that there is no off-season in football. I beg to differ. With today’s al-a-cart media where I can pick and choose my content, there most certainly is a Football Off-season. Granted there have been some big stories like Aaron Hernandez’s legal trouble, and Todd Helton teaching the Denver Bronco’s front office how to drive; but for the most part I don’t care about the combine. I don’t care about the draft. I don’t care about OTA’s, and I only somewhat care about free agency.

You see, the NFL plays 254 games a year, of which my favorite team, the Chiefs, only play in 16. To me there just isn’t enough snaps of meaningful football to account for a 365 day/24 hour news cycle for just football. Games, roster moves, and schedules can only be discussed so much without an actual play happening. There is not that much actual football substance to create that much “news”. There’s barely enough substance in the entire sports world. But then again, the proliferation of 24 hour sports channels and other media content tell me I’m in the minority.

Yet, as I think about why I view the football off-season the way I do another point becomes clear. After all, I can listen to 8 hours of sports radio at work and not think much of it. So it can’t be the endless banter about nothing and everything in the sports media world. I think the biggest issue is that football means fall, and while I love the fall and everything that comes with it. Fall means that winter is right around the corner. I spend all winter pining for these dog days of summer where it’s hot and the only sports action is a nightly 15 game MLB slate. I’m not about to wish away these days that I spend all winter waiting for. This is why I’m torn when it’s time to start thinking about football. I really don’t want it to be time for football because that means the end of summer, baseball, swimming, warm weather, and a bunch of other things I really enjoy. But it’s football, and I really enjoy football too.

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sportsdrenched’s Top 10 Summer Songs

We’ve been in summer mode for a few weeks. However, summer doesn’t actually begin until Friday. Summer is my favorite season. It’s a fleeting time of year. It’s the only time it’s hot enough to swim and do other things with water. It also makes other outdoor activities easier to facilitate. During it’s peak with lows in the 70’s you don’t even need socks during all hours of the day.

A lot of things go with summer, but there’s no denying that one of those things is music. Even when you narrow music down to “summer music” there’s still a lot to consider. A lot of songs were popular in the summer and are remembered as summer songs. There are summer concerts, and then there songs that actually talk about things that go on during the summer.

I’ve spent a few days coming up with a list of my Top 10 favorite Summer Songs. Most of the songs below were already in my “summer playlist”. I asked some friends, asked my wife who is a music teacher, and googled “summer play lists” to find there are a lot more summer songs than I thought there were. Then I used my family, generational, and general tastes in music to narrow down the list into something manageable. No, Hot Time Summer In The City by the Lovin Spoonful didn’t make it. Finally, I tried to focus on songs that actually talked about summer, or summer experiences and left out the songs that were only popular during the summer.

10. The Greatest – Kenny Rogers: Since this is a sports blog I figured I had to work in at least one tune about sports, and if it’s summer, that sport is baseball. I know I spent countless hours as a boy in the summer tossing the ball and attempting to hit it. I’m sure I’m not alone. There’s some classic baseball footage in this video too.

These next two are videos about the fleeting nature of summer time girlfriends/boyfriends. Whether they were at camps or you were visiting relatives for a few weeks. Either way, you knew once you want back home, fall sports or school started, that those relationships would change, and most likely be over.

9. Springsteen – Eric Church: Frankly, I’m not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. I think his music is pretty blah to be considered rock music. Most of that is generational thing. But this song captures a lot of what summer is, and especially memories of past summer relationships which is why I went with it over some others. Honorable mentions for this spot: Kenny Chesney’s Anything But Mine, and Tim McGraw’s Somethin’ Like That


8. Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter: This song doesn’t need any introduction. Especially for the topic at hand: Her biggest fear was September.


7. Fishin In The Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: This has been one of my favorite songs since I was old enough to pay attention to music. It’s also a solid summer song.


6. When Will It Rain – Jackyl A change of pace. I listened to this song a lot as a teenager. And during the summer we often ask this question. Especially the last two summers.



5. Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer – Nat King Cole Released in 1963 this is the oldest song on the list and sets the table for the rest. A fun party song, things getting crazy, road trips, drive-ins, beaches, beer, you get the idea. This song was pioneer among summer songs.



4. Summer Nights – Van Halen One of my favorite summer time party songs



3. Water – Brad Paisley Brad Paisley has three other songs I considered putting on this list: Ticks, Mud on The Tires, & Catch All The Fish. And I’m probably forgetting a few. You can Brad loves him some summer time. But, if it’s summer, water wins out on most days.



2. Pontoon – Little Big Town Continuing with the water theme. I’m not a big boat person. But this song captures a lot of what I like about summer. Water, cooking, out, fun with friends, beers (not Coors, though), and sun.



1. Redneck Yacht Club – Craig Morgan Like Brad Paisley, Craig Morgan has a few other titles I considered for the list: Almost Home, & What I Love About Sunday. But in the end, nothing says summer to me more than Redneck Yacht Club. It’s similar to Pontoon in subject matter, just a little more up-beat, which makes it the #1 song on my summer play list.


Now that you’e read this post. You should turn off the internet. Load up your cooler, grab some SPF, and go find some water.

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Botched Clean-Up

When I started this blog two years ago one of my first posts was about the Nevin Shapiro Fiasco at the University of Miami. I got on my moral high horse and decried the whole incident and incidents like them in college football. I still believe most of what I wrote. If anything, events of the past two years have made it more clear that football and basketball at the Division I level need an earth shattering overhaul or need to be spun off from their educational institutions and form their own professional leagues. Not that I think cheating won’t continue; it will in some form; but at least we’ll be real about it and not act like these games are being played in the name of education.

This should happen; especially when the agency responsible for making sure everything is kosher within college sports is riddled with political agendas and has become a toothless kitten instead of the watch dog it’s supposed to be. As was outlined in this week’s Sports Illustrated. The NCAA has essentially gone FEMA and BP and botched the clean up of the hurricane damage.

I’m not going to jump up and down and say Mark Emmert should lose his job over a circus of his own creation. First, no one is going to listen to me. Second, I think Emmert is doing what the majority of the University Presidents want him to do; take the blame for anything that goes wrong while sports revenue keeps growing and everyone involved is happy. As long as the money is flowing Emmert is not going anywhere.

Let’s be clear, I’m not upset that some people are making money off college football and basketball. I enjoy those two things. I have parted with my money to enjoy them, and I probably will in the future. I would just like a little honesty with my college sports. I’m sure no one will blow up the NCAA anytime soon to form new sports leagues. However, can we at least have some separation between University Administrators and the group that’s supposed to enforce rules on said universities? That could be a start. Then there would be less political pressure on rules investigators and they could make their best effort to find some truth, instead of the truth that their bosses want them to tell them. This has to be addressed before discussions about rules changes can even be discussed. And there are a lot of those.

I would like to say I would like these changes to be made because of truth for it’s own sake. But really, all I want to do is watch college football with my friends and not have moral questions about what I’m actually watching. We’re a long way that situation being on the horizon, but right now, the NCAA and the Universities aren’t even moving in that direction.

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