Blog update

Talked about it in my weekly column … but there are some changes coming to the ol’ blog soon. I’ve decided to turn this into a group effort and I’m enlisting the help of folks like Jon Dawson, Ryan Herman, B.J. Davis and Justin Hill — among some others. We’ll have a new rollout in a week or two — and I’ll have the details soon.

Thanks for the support, for the emails and the calls. More later.

Morning News Report; April 6, 2012

MUDCATS TO BEGIN SEASON AFTER STEALING OUR TEAM

For the first time in 34 years (and 25 years as the Kinston Indians), there will not be an opening night at Grainger Stadium tonight. Instead, the team formerly known as the Kinston Indians — the Carolina Mudcats — will open the 2012 season tonight in Zebulon.

Here’s a most excellent column by our David Hall on the subject.

My take: I really can’t put it any better than DHall did in his well-written piece — Kinston, this is your fault; not Cam McRae’s, not the man who stole our team and took it to Zebulon (Steve Bryant, who advertised his product in TFP this morning; yay) or even Minor League Baseball. This is YOUR fault, Kinston.

You can whine, bitch, complain or do whatever you want, but unless you were one of the handful of diehards who were at most every game (and yes, there were a hundred or so of you), shut the hell up. If you ever want another pro team at Grainger or in Kinston, do like DHall said — buy a team and bring it here or go support the “filler” games there until we have another team here.

And no, we (The Free Press) are not taking the bullet for this one — we covered the Kinston Indians better in the last eight years with David Hall’s award-winning talent than the team had ever been covered in its history. We let you know, freaking step-by-step, what was happening and how this day could come. We begged you to get out to games.

Personally, I attended at least 30-35 games last year and spent my money every time on concessions or memorabilia. I wrote several columns begging you to go to games. My publisher, Patrick Holmes, wrote several editorials to that effect.

David said it best in his column: you have the blood on your hands, Kinston.

This is on you, Kinston. Congratulations.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER ASSIGNS 70 REPORTERS TO ONE GAME

For today’s season-opening game against Kansas City, the Orange County Register — the Freedom Communications flagship newspaper (the same company that owns TFP, the New Bern Sun Journal and the Jacksonville Daily News) — has assigned 70 of its approximately 100 (!) reporters to cover the game between the hometown Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the visiting Royals.

My take: Overkill, anyone? It’s one game in 162 this season — what are they going to do if/when the Angels make it to the World Series, use all 100 (!) reporters and hire some stringers to help?

I’m not naive; newspapers are taking a beating right now and we’re doing everything we can to keep our heads above water to provide you, dear reader, with the excellent coverage to which you’ve grown accustomed. We’re embracing social media with big ol’ bear hugs and using many other methods of reaching and retaining readers and subscribers.

But … it’s hard for me to understand how using 70 reporters to cover one game is doing that, especially when there aren’t 70 total reporters at all the Freedom properties in North Carolina combined (TFP, NBSJ, JDN, The Jones Post, Havelock News, Burlington Times-News, Gaston Gazette and Shelby Star).

Send me one or two of those reporters so we can cover the things that needs to be covered in Kinston, La Grange, Pink Hill, Deep Run, Greene County and Jones County instead of overstaffing ONE regular season baseball game; I think my counterparts around North Carolina feel the same because we’re all severely understaffed.

I hope this experiment works for the OCR; it’s a hell of a product and again, the flagship of Freedom Communications — a company I love. But I just can’t help but feel this is excessive.

MCADOO RETURNING TO THE HILL

UNC freshman forward James Michael McAdoo announced yesterday he will return for his sophomore season, instead of joining the NBA Draft with teammates Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall.

My take: Good news for Tar Heel Nation — and Kinston’s Reggie Bullock, who will have a pretty doggoned good talent on one of his wings.

McAdoo was projected to go as high as No. 5 in one draft projection (according to Justin “The Kid” Hill) and was an almost certain lottery pick; for him to come back to Chapel Hill speaks volumes about how he didn’t want to leave Carolina with nothing on his resume. Good for him and good for college basketball.

JONES SENIOR ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH ARRESTED ON SEX CHARGES

Former Jones Senior assistant football coach Vaughn Chance was arrested Wednesday for indecent liberties with three female students at the school. The 53-year-old (!) was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor.

My take: This isn’t the first or second time this has happened at Jones Senior in my nearly decade-long tenure at TFP. If true (and this is America, you’re innocent until proven guilty), this is a pretty disgusting thing for a 53-year-old coach and alleged mentor to be doing.

And seriously … who thinks it’s cool for a 53-year-old man — and a football coach, to boot — to diddle with high school students?

High school coaches (and I know I have a lot who read this blog) — it ain’t worth it. I don’t care how cute that girl is, whether or not she’s 18 or that SHE’S the one making the “move” on you — she’s a STUDENT, for God’s sake. There are plenty of age-appropriate women out there who’d love to date a high school coach.

THAT FEW MINUTES OF PLEASURE IS NOT WORTH HAVING YOUR PICTURE SPLASHED ON EVERY NEWSPAPER FRONT AND EVERY TV STATION.

ARKANSAS FOOTBALL COACH CAUGHT FOOLIN’ AROUND?

Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino was in a motorcycle accident over the weekend, one that initially he said he was a lone rider.

Uh, no. The school held a late-night presser last night to reveal that instead, the 51-year-old coach had a 25-year-old school employee on his bike with him. He admitted to an inappropriate relationship in a press release and has been suspended by the university. And yes, Petrino hired her on March 28, only four days before the accident.

My take: It’s this simple — don’t cheat and this kind of thing WON’T happen. Can’t make it simpler than that. He certainly has a lot of ‘splaining to do.

The iPod shuffle

If I Ever Lose My Faith In You — Sting

Bad Meets Evil — Eminem

Eruption — Van Halen

I Can See For Miles — The Who

Fantastic Voyage — Coolio

Morning News Report; March 28, 2012

Bloggees: before I get started, I want to send a sincere thank you to all of you who took the time to write, call, email, Facebook and tweet me and our Free Press family while we mourned the loss of our friend and coworker, Charles Buchanan.

We’ve had several columns and tributes to the man, including my Sunday column, Jon Dawson’s column yesterday and even a poignant letter to the editor from former Free Press City Editor Jennifer Shrader.

We miss Charles. It’s been awful at the office this week without him … I keep waiting for him to poke his head in my office and I can’t pass his office without getting a lump in my throat.

We lost a good one, y’all — and it’s going to be very hard for The Free Press to recover from this loss.

CELL PHONE USE BY DRIVERS BANNED IN CHAPEL HILL

The town of Chapel Hill became the first in the nation to ban the use of cell phones by all drivers in its city limits. The ban is for traditional and hands-free phones.

My take: Thanks, Big Brother. We, as humans, are too stupid to make our own decisions, so it’s nice we have a government (at least in Chapel Hill) that cares enough to take care of us.

Sarcasm intended.

DODGERS SOLD FOR $2 BILLION

The L.A. Dodgers are set to be sold for (gulp!) $2 billion by a group that includes Magic Johnson.

My take: Wow … just wow. And we wonder why it costs $300 for a family of four to go to one of 81 home games a year for a MLB game. Jeez.

MEGA MILLIONS HITS $476 MILLION JACKPOT (OR MORE)

After no one won the Mega Millions jackpot last night, Friday’s estimated total is (gulp!) $476 million. There were three-hour waits last night for tickets in some areas.

My take: Yep … I’m not a big lottery ticket buyer, but I’ll be one of those idiots buying $5 worth of tickets for Friday’s drawing.

The iPod shuffle

The Tide Is High — Blondie

Electric Avenue — Eddy Grant

Damn Girl — Justin Timberlake featuring will.i.am

The Electric Co. — U2

Always Be My Baby — Mariah Carey

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 9, 2012

DUKE 85, UNC 84

Austin Rivers hit a long 3-pointer last night to rally Duke past UNC, 85-84, in the latest edition of the best rivalry in college sports.

My take: Amazing — just amazing. As I said in yesterday’s ANR, Duke was a 6.5-point underdog but I thought Carolina would win by much more than that.

It appeared to be headed that way until the Heels laid down for the final three minutes.

I’ll say this — Rivers has some onions, that’s for sure. Check out the Fayetteville Observer’s Bret Strelow and his column on Rivers — one of the best columns I’ve read this morning on the subject. And Bret is our guest on this week’s Free Press Radio Program, which I’ll post here soon.

I know a lot of Duke fans who don’t particularly like Rivers — but I bet they’re LOVING him now. One thing is certain: he’s written himself into the storied history of the rivalry.

Here are some of my favorite photos that were popping up on my Twitter feed last night from the game:

(Credit:  Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE)

Click on the images for full views; again, they came off Twitter, so if there are credits, I will post them as soon I know from where they originated.

A postscript: this Jon Dawson column, which he wrote yesterday afternoon, almost seemed prophetic — especially the lead paragraph.

BAD CRASH SHUTS DOWN NC 11

One of the worst vehicle accidents in my tenure in Kinston took place last night when a delivery truck and a private ambulance crashed into each other on N.C. 11 about a mile south of Jackson Store.

Thankfully, no one was killed in the accident, although two workers in the ambulance were airlifted by EastCare to Greenville.

The accident also knocked out power to about 3,000 in that neck o’ the woods, including Heelatious and several other bloggees, who I was following on Twitter at the time. Power was completely restored around 11:30 p.m. last night.

Here are the pictures of the scene taken by Free Press veteran photographer Charles Buchanan:

My take: Awesome, awesome work by Charles to get these exclusive photos.

Also, many props to our senior staff writer David Anderson, who stayed on the scene for three-plus hours gathering details and helping me update the website. DAnderson — as he’s affectionately known around the office — worked his tail off yesterday, as he pulled about a 15-hour day.

And kudos to the management at WCTI ABC-12 and WNCT CBS-5, who are polite enough to call and ask permission to run an image — and we gladly obliged by allowing them to do so as long as they paid homage to Charles’ work. Both did a fantastic job of doing so.

And yes, WITN NBC-7 also called for permission to run the photo … which we ignored. Why? For starters, their tired, ridiculous and wrongful claims of “First on WITN” has finally gotten under my skin. I don’t know if they’re claiming “First on WITN” because they get information up faster than the other TV stations, but they’re not beating us, the Jacksonville Daily News, the New Bern Sun Journal or the Greenville Daily Reflector on our local stories. I know it’s just a ploy for pride or whatever, but it pisses me off — especially when it’s untrue, like last night.

Secondly, it chaps my hide when WITN uses information/photos from us without attribution — and it happens more with them than with WCTI and WNCT combined (because they’re not completely innocent here, either, although they strive harder than WITN to give us attribution).

Listen — my beef doesn’t extend to all the knuckleheads at WITN; in fact, I adore Heather King, who is arguably one of the hardest working and most dedicated journalists in Eastern North Carolina. I also think Billy Weaver does a pretty good job in sports, considering the limits they put on him.

But there’s a reason newspaper folks can’t stand the rest of them over there … and now, you know the rest of the story.

IPAD3 COMING IN MARCH?

According to these rumor-mongers, yes.

My take: Which makes me ecstatic that I didn’t plop down $800 for an iPad2 — whose only feature better than the original iPad is a camera.

The iPod shuffle

Wild In The Streets — Bon Jovi

Kitty — The Presidents Of The United States of America

Hypnotize — The Notorious B.I.G.

Guilty — Robin Rogers

Running On Faith — Eric Clapton

Howdy, y’all

Again — sorry for the lack of activity up here on the ol’ blog. Thanks to those of you who have emailed, Facebooked and otherwise “checked up” on me.

Tina is doing really well — in fact, extremely well. We are both very, very thankful for your prayers, cards, emails, etc., that she has received from a lot of you.

I’ll be honest with you — I’ve had even more duties piled on my plate at work and that’s the primary reason I haven’t had time to blog. It’s tough to work 10-14 hour days and then have the energy for this. This blog — and many of you — means a lot to me and it hurts my heart to half-ass anything, especially something as important as this, that I’ve put so much of myself into.

I love this blog and I love that it means as much as it does to some of you. It’s been a unique community for some of us in the nearly seven years we’ve been doing it here and on the original one.

So … I am going to do my damndest to get everything caught up here. We still have a pick ‘em champ to announce, a crapload of things to talk about and some new ideas I want to trot out to you.

Thanks for your patience, bloggees. You are much appreciated.

Sneak peek at my Sunday column

A sneak peek at my Sunday column (and I promise this blog will roar back to life next week!):

An open letter to the owner of the Carolina Mudcats 

Steve Bryant, just who the hell do you think you are?

First, you took our Kinston Indians from us. Sugar-coat it all you like, but you took one of the few good things — and strongest recruiting tools — remaining in our economically-ravaged town.

At least 70 times a summer for the past 25 years, no matter how bad the local economy and living situations were, we’ve had a respite, a place to get away from the bad news, for nine innings.

Now, thanks to you, Mr. Bryant, we no longer have that valuable resource in our town.

It’s bad enough you took our Indians … but now, you want us to drive a two hours and 36 minutes round-trip just to see the team you ripped out from under our feet?

On Wednesday, you had the nerve to tell The Free Press, “We have to tread carefully here, because we clearly don’t want it to appear like we’re rubbing anything in the face of the Kinston fans that the team is (in Zebulon) now.”

If you don’t want to rub anything in our faces, sir, than you don’t need to be promoting your product in our market. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone in Kinston, but I speak for most when I say this: we have the best minor league facility in the country at Grainger Stadium and, frankly, we have no desire to visit your cookie-cutter stadium stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Any person that calls themselves a Kinston Indians fan who visits your boring, atmosphere-less stadium (where you have to pay $5 for parking!) is not helping our cause to get a team back — all they’re doing is padding the pockets of a man who ruthlessly stole our town’s greatest asset.

Instead, the good people of Kinston will spend their hard-earned money taking in the multitude of American Legion, high school, AAU and college games that will fill the venerable stadium’s schedule this spring and summer. We’ll keep our dollars right here in Kinston instead of giving it to you.

“We don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas,” you also told The Free Press on Wednesday. “It really wasn’t our goal to go out and hurt Kinston in any way.”

It might not have been your goal, but marketing your ridiculously-named “Mudcats” to a true baseball community like ours is hurting Kinston.

Mr. Bryant, I’ll give you credit for this — you’re a pretty gutsy individual and obviously, an outstanding businessman. But keep your billboards and marketing out of Kinston and Lenoir County.

It’s virtually impossible we’ll have a minor league team in place for the 2012 season, especially with schedules set and all. I hear from my good sources that 2013 will be a tough proposition, too, although it’s not out of the question.

But if the Carolina League will expand and allow Kinston back into it for the 2013 season or beyond, I can’t wait for that first game between our Indians and your Mudcats at beautiful and historic Grainger. I’ll be the one cheering loudest — for my K-Tribe and against your Mudcats, or whatever witty nickname of the day you and your marketing team have come up with.

Bryan Hanks’ column appears every Sunday in The Free Press. You can reach him at 252-559-1074 or at bhanks@freedomenc.com. Check out Bryan’s blog at bhanks.encblogs.com and follow him on Twitter at BCHanks.

Happy Hump Day

Howdy, bloggees — headed back to K-Town for the first time since Christmas Eve today and I’m going to simply overwhelm you with bloggy goodness today. Going to announce the HBFL winners, the blog survivor pool winner and a ton of other great stuff. Stay tuned, y’all…

P.S.: Hey! Here’s a quality video for you to watch — HighSchoolOT.com’s Nick Stevens and I breaking down championship day at the tourney:

Catching up with y’all

Some updates for my bloggy peops:

  • Not sure when we’re going over to the new blog. Haven’t heard anything from the tech folks, so … we’re going to keep humping on this blog until I’m told otherwise. I am insisting, however, the categories and blogroll feature are included on the new one — and at this moment, they’re not there.
  • Jon Dawson, Justin Hill and I taped the final Free Press Radio Program/Podcast of 2011 this morning. We talked about the top 10 most-viewed stories of the year on Kinston.com — and I think it’s a pretty good podcast, even though I sound like I’m half-asleep during most of it. Please give it a listen — I put a lot of my heart into it and, frankly, we’re not getting half the listens I figured we would. Do me a favor — give it a listen and let me know what you think. If it stinks, let me know. If it’s good, tell your boys.
  • Speaking of Dawson, don’t forget his new book has dropped and you can purchase it either at our office (2103 N. Queen St., Kinston), on Amazon.com or at jondawson.com. It would make a hell of a Christmas present for that special person on your list!
  • We lost two of our four players in the Blog Survivor Pool last weekend as both women — SealGirl and Shanna Capps — went with Tennessee over Indianapolis. It’s down to 2010 champ Heelatious (New England last week) and ECPirates11 (New Orleans). If you haven’t paid your $5 yet — either for the first game or for part 2 — please do so. If you don’t, that means I have to pay the winner out of my own pocket … and you know that ain’t cool.
  • Usually, I’ll write a couple of posts about our HBFL playoffs, but, alas, I haven’t had time to barely breathe the past few weeks. However, we’re in the Super Bowl week of both leagues; in the HBFL Live, No. 8 seed Heelatious’ Heelsfan’s Show Me Your TDs, who were 6-7 in the regular season, are facing defending champion and third-seeded Wes Brown’s Crime Dawgs, who went 7-6. The winner of that game receives $200, while the loser gets $50. Lee Wetherington, whose Wreakn Havoc team finished with the most points in the league (1,314) and wins $50 for that. I’ll pay everyone when I get back to town the week of Jan. 1. In the meantime — if you haven’t paid yet (and there are still four who haven’t) — get your dues in. Again, I don’t want to have to pay winnings out of my own pocket, y’all.
  • In the HBFL Online, the top two seeds — the No. 1 Drew Loftis-owned Hookers With Dysentery (10-3) are taking on the No. 2 Elizabeth Moon-owned Grifton Sea Lions (9-4). Drew’s Hookers also were the top scoring team in the league with 1,190 points. There’s no prize in this league, just pride.
  • Congrats to Kinston coach Wells Gulledge, who won the 300th game in his career in last night’s 74-53 victory against North Lenoir at Viking Gym. Here’s a quick look at his 14-year-plus career: 300-86 overall (.777 winning percentage), 254-53 at Kinston (.827), seven conference titles, three Eastern Regional titles and two state championships. Pretty impressive.
  • Some major thank-you’s to former Kinston stars Dory Hines (now at Mount Olive College) and Reggie Bullock (UNC) for coming out to KHS this morning to help Justin “The Kid” Hill and his Free Press 12-and-under basketball team. Dory, in particular, was there the entire the practice and ran drills with the team. Reggie took about 5 minutes and talked to the kids about the importance of staying in school and overcoming adversity. Additionally, Coach Gulledge and current Ole Miss assistant baseball coach Cliff Godwin helped out with drills and motivation. An extremely fun morning — and here’s a cool photo taken after the practice:

Click on it for a better view.

  • The 2011 HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational (formerly known as the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational) tips off next week in Raleigh and Cary. For the fifth straight year, I am the media coordinator of the event — and this year, I’m bringing some of my friends to help. For the previous three years, Jonathan Massey has been my right-hand man as the tournament’s assistant media coordinator and he continues in that role this year. However, Justin “The Kid” Hill is taking over the role of Holiday Invitational girls’ tournament media coordinator this year. Also, Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark did a FANTASTIC job designing the game program for the HSOT; if you make it to Raleigh or Cary, make sure you grab a copy. As for game-by-game updates from the tourney, there simply won’t be as many here on the ol’ blog since the good folks at WRAL/Capital Broadcasting Company — the owners of the HSOT brand — have exclusive rights to that info. However, I will be providing early updates with sort of an MNR-type feel each morning. I’ll give you a schedule of that day’s games along with my predictions and thoughts going into each day. As always, though, there’ll be a video wrap-up each day with Triangle heartthrob Nick Stevens and myself and HSOT will live-stream each post-game press conference.
  • A LOT of you have asked about the Hot Blonde and here’s an update: her final chemo was a few weeks ago and right now, she’s just trying to get her life back to normal, i.e., working the chemo out of her system and recovering from her other related surgeries. It’s been an incredibly tough ride for one of the toughest people I know. But I also know this: she has appreciated every one of you who has taken the time to lift her up in prayer — and again, I know there are a lot of you out there who have done just that. You have no idea what your prayers have done to help her and me through this incredibly difficult time in our lives. I’m not exaggerating when I say this: I love you guys. Thank you for being pretty freaking awesome.

This week’s Free Press High School Football Podcast

Click here to listen to this week’s High School Football Podcast with Ryan Herman and I. This week, the Hermanator (Copyright 2011: Heelatious) and I talk about last week’s games, tomorrow night’s game and welcome Ayden-Grifton head coach Paul Cornwell to the show. The Chargers have a huge game with Goldsboro tomorrow night for the Carolina 1A title.

It was a true pleasure having Coach Cornwell on — one of the true gentlemen in the game today.

I’ll say this — if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly and my sources throughout the county are accurate, there are going to be some changes soon in at least one head coaching position and perhaps two. It’s no secret South Lenoir is struggling mightily — with its longest losing streak (7 games) in a while — and the natives are restless in Deep Run. While Coach Kevin Wilson is a strong, passionate (and, in my view, a positive) influence, there is a significant community movement afoot to remove him from his position. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he is in the position past the first semester of school.

At North Lenoir, apathy rules — through no fault of Coach Calvin Sutton. The community atmosphere’s not changed much between Coach Sutton and his predecessor, the honorable Wayne Jackson — both men who love high school football and have done/did their best to make North Lenoir a football school. It’s just this simple — North Lenoir is a baseball/basketball school and the athletes there simply don’t care about football. It is what it is.

Does that mean Sutton is out? Probably not — I hear it’s his job as long as he wants it. But who wants to continually give their heart and soul to a place and continually get smacked in the jaw? Coach Jackson gave his heart and soul there for 10 years with not much payback, finally saw the light and is now part of one of the best prep programs in North Carolina.

Morning News Report; Oct. 17, 2011

SUNDAY COLUMN REDUX

The response has been simply overwhelming to my Sunday column about my Hot Blonde and her battle with breast cancer. We’ve received dozens of emails, voicemails and Facebook messages — and they’re all appreciated.

My take: Tina and I appreciate and love each of you, especially the faithful bloggees who have taken the time to leave a message on the preview below. You guys and gals will NEVER be able to realize how much we appreciate you.

One name, though, that was accidentally left out of the column was my good friend Jon Dawson — and I don’t know how the heck I didn’t include him. He has been my rock since the beginning — allowing me to hang at his place, calling me all the time to check on Tina and just generally being a great friend. Thanks, dude.

WHELDON DIES IN INDYCAR TRAGEDY

Two-time and defending Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon died yesterday following a fiery IndyCar crash in Las Vegas.

My take: Horrible, horrible tragedy yesterday — so bad that ABC/ESPN wouldn’t show the replay of it; and for that, I applaud them.

I covered an IndyCar race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 when three spectators were killed by a tire that flew from an accident. There should never be a death at a sporting event — never.

49ERS, LIONS COACH HAVE CONFRONTATION

Following San Francisco’s 25-19 win at Detroit yesterday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz had a little tiff when a pumped-up Harbaugh shook Schwartz’s hand a little too hard and smacked him on the back.

My take: I appreciate the sportsmanship of the post-game NFL game handshake … but is it really necessary? There is so much testosterone flowing and you KNEW this was going to happen one day (although I figured it’d be Bill Belichik taking a swipe at someone).

Harbaugh is in the wrong here. There is such a thing as winning with grace and Harbaugh didn’t do that. You can be excited — who wouldn’t be? — but shake the man’s hand and get your ass to the locker room.

The iPod shuffle

Brown Sugar — The Rolling Stones

While You Doooo — Teebs

Bang Your Head (Mental Health) — Quiet Riot

Down And Out — Tantric

Maxed Out — Roscoe Dash