Morning News Report; April 6, 2012


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.


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.


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.


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.



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

Podcasting, hanging with ol’ Reece

Check out the latest Free Press Radio Program featuring Bret Strelow, who covers the ACC for the Fayetteville Observer. He covered last night’s Duke-UNC game in Chapel Hill and had some very strong observations from the game.

And I forgot to post a link to my appearance last week on the Reece Gardner Hour on TACC-9; you can watch it by clicking here. We talked about the HB, the Kinston Indians, Wes Goforth from WCTI ABC-12, Jon Dawson’s alleged heterosexuality, elections, the Freedom Classic and lots of other fun stuff. Check it out.

Morning News Report; Feb. 3, 2012


In yet another post-Bev-quitting day of excitement, former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (he of the “Who are you?” rant gloriously remembered below) announced his run for governor, while the Democrats’ favorite, former Clinton staffer and UNC system president Erskine Bowles announced he won’t run.

Etheridge joins Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and N.C. Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, as the three candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor.

My take: Dalton wasn’t a surprise and is the front-runner right now; no one knows Faison, so he’s going to have that uphill battle.

But most folks remember Etheridge from THIS encounter:

Oh, the Republicans are begging the Democrats to nominate Mr. Etheridge!


Raleigh native and Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has suffered with alcohol and drug abuse throughout a lot of his life, has had a relapse with alcohol.

My take: And that’s too bad. I’m a huge fan of Hamilton’s and I pray this is either an erroneous report or it’s just a one-time deal.

There are a lot of kids who look up to Hamilton — and adults who are suffering from alcohol and drug addictions, too.


Members of the Woodmen of the World Center committee toured the construction area of the rapidly-growing center and pool yesterday. They gave the center — whose pool is set to open in June — a big thumbs-up.

My take: As do I. With the loss of the Kinston Indians, Lenoir County needed a shot in the arm — and this is it.

I know folks were bitching about the city and government combining to give $1 million to this project, but when you see the people this is going to bring to Kinston (with their dollars), you’re going to be shocked. This is going to be the best water park in Eastern North Carolina — along with a state-of-the-art gym — and it’s going to bring hundeds and thousands of folks into our town who otherwise wouldn’t come.

Let’s look past the nose on our face, people — this is going to be a major success and we need to support it.

The iPod shuffle

Vogue — Madonna

The Humpty Dance — Digital Underground

The Gank — Nelly

Touchdown — T.I. featuring Eminem

Miss Sarejevo — U2

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 Check out Bryan’s blog at and follow him on Twitter at BCHanks.

Morning News Report; Sept. 21, 2011


Here’s a nice national story involving Kinston’s Chris Hatcher, who is doing a great job as a reliever for the Florida Marlins — Hatch received an American flag on Monday from a serviceman who is serving in Kuwait.

(Here’s a report from the Miami Herald and another from the Palm Beach Post)

Hatch gave a baseball to the son of the serviceman in Chicago and chatted with the man before he was shipped back overseas. In return, the serviceman sent a flag that had been carried on patrols back to Chris.

My take: Another great example of why Chris Hatcher is one of the good guys. Thanks for representing Kinston the way you do, Hatch!


In an impressive press conference yesterday, the Woodmen of the World unveiled plans for its new community center complex — which will include the largest water park east of Greensboro.

My take: Initially, I didn’t like the idea of tax dollars — to the tune of $1 million from the city and county — helping fund this endeavor.

However, when you consider the all the payback from this (tourist dollars, a place for children to go, a top-notch athletic/swimming facility), it’s WELL worth the public money that going to help offset the $12 million project.

I simply can’t wait for it to open; it’s time Kinston had a YMCA-type facility here. This is going to be a nice addition to Kinston, especially since we’re losing the K-Tribe.


A dead NASA satellite is scheduled to hit the earth, oh, sometime Friday. Scientists aren’t exactly sure where it’s going to land although they know the 6 1/2-ton satellite is going to break up into about 26 little parts first.

If you find a piece of it, don’t touch it — call the authorities.

My take: As if I’m not paranoid enough as it is … I’m going to be walking the sideline at South Lenoir Friday night and get beaned by a satellite. AWESOME.

The iPod shuffle

Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Billy Idol

In The End — Green Day

Hollyann — Boston

Flat On The Floor — Nickelback

Green River — Alabama

Afternoon News Report; Sept. 16, 2011


The Wall that Heals, the traveling 1/2-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is now at Emma Webb Park from now through Sunday.

Here is the list of servicemen from Lenoir, Greene and Jones counties who lost their lives in Vietnam and whose names are on the wall.

My take: I visited it for the first time last night after the K-Tribe game … and came away very, very impressed. I’ve visited the original in D.C. and this is an amazing display. I was lucky enough to be by myself when I walked through (it was right after a downpour) and here’s a photo I took at around 11 p.m. yesterday:

Click on the image for a better view…

There’s a nice information center tent and a built-in display in the back end of a tractor trailer. Do yourself a favor: give yourself 30 minutes to go check out The Wall that Heals — it’s pretty awesome.


Evangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson has shocked the religious community by saying he’d have no problem with someone divorcing their husband or wife because they have Alzheimer’s.

My take: I’d thought this money-grubbing bozo of a false prophet had hit rock bottom with some of his other outrageous statements — but this is the worst. What part of “Til Death Do We Part” does he not understand?

To leave your mate in the time they absolutely need you most is despicable, simply despicable. I seriously can’t see a defense to this nonsense AT ALL.


The Frederick Keys overcame a 2-0 deficit to blow past Kinston, 7-3, last night to take control of their best-of-five Mills Cup Championship Series against the Indians. Tonight’s Game 4 could be the final for the K-Tribe at Grainger Stadium if they lose tonight.

My take: Unfortunately, I won’t be there as I’ll be in Clayton covering the North Lenoir-Cleveland football game — but I’ll be sending good voodoo to Grainger Stadium. Would love to see them win a dramatic Game 5 to win the whole thing.

The iPod shuffle

Pull Over — Trina

Good Morning Good Morning — The Beatles

Hand On The Glock — Cypress Hill

Down And Out — Tantric

Alright — Janet Jackson

Morning News Report; Sept. 15, 2011


President Obama held a pep-rally  speech at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum yesterday, becoming the first sitting president to speak at the school since Ronald Reagan. He spent his time in front of a loving throng speaking about his new jobs plan.

In response to those who said the jobs bill is an attempt to get him re-elected in 2012, WRAL reported, Obama said, “Give me a win? Give me a break. This isn’t about me … This isn’t about positioning for the election. It’s about giving the American people a win.”

My take: I’m not saying he doesn’t believe in his plan but don’t get it twisted — Obama is in full campaign mode. But you know what? So was Bush in 2004, Clinton in 1996 and the first Bush in 1992. IT’S WHAT THEY DO.


In a game that ended long after many of went to bed (hell, it STARTED before some of us were in bed!), the Kinston Indians lost 3-2 to the Frederick Keys in the best-of-five Mills Cup Championship Series last night.

Rainy weather pushed the start of the game past 10 p.m.; it ended around 12:30 a.m. today. The teams play Game 3 today at Grainger Stadium; the game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

My take: Hate the K-Tribe lost, but it means at least two more games in Historic Grainger Stadium. Going to do my best to get out there tonight, although I won’t be at tomorrow night’s game since I’ll be helping out with prep football coverage.

Oh — another nice nugget about the team from David Hall: they want to win this title for the city, since this is the last one in Kinston. Nice sentiment.


Actress Scarlett Johansson is threatening to sue anyone who publishes naked photos of herself that were allegedly stolen from her cell phone.

My take: I’m not trying to sound suspicious here or anything … but isn’t it convienent this is happening RIGHT before she has a new movie coming out? When you look at the laundry list of celebrities and pseudo-celebrities whose nude photos and videos have actually helped their careers — including Paris Hilton, Erin Andrews and Brooke Hogan — it’s just convienent. That’s all I’m saying.

Anyhoo, here’s a peek at one of the best-looking actresses IMHO:

The iPod shuffle

Ridaz — Eminem

Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of — U2

Animal — Def Leppard

Love Is Blindness (Live) — U2

Seduction — Eminem

Morning News Report; Sept. 14, 2011


As expected, incumbent Joe Tyson led the way in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Kinston City Council. He will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Kelly Jarman and Sammy Aiken in a night that saw less than 10 percent of the eligible citizens exercise their right to vote.

My take: Pitiful turnout for an election that could shape the face of Kinston for the next four years. I can’t imagine it’ll be this bad in November, especially with John Nix and Jimmy Cousins on the ballot.

Also, a quick explanation of “plurality” as referenced in David Anderson’s story; if the top three vote-getters received 40 percent plurality, there is not a runoff. However, the top five did, so no runoff.

Plurality is obtained by taking the total number of votes (3,104 last night), dividing by three (the number of open seats) and multiplying that number by .40; meaning last night’s plurality was 413.9 (rounded up to 414). The top three vote-getters were Tyson (831), Jarman (632) and Aiken (481) and all achieved plurality; even Joe Plasky (436) and Ronnie Isler (426) reached the magic number … so no runoff.


The Kinston Indians drew first blood in their Mills Cup Championship Series at Frederick with a 3-1 win against the Keys.

My take: The victory guarantees at least a split in Frederick before the series heads back to Kinston for Games 3, 4 (if necessary) and 5 (if necessary) at Grainger Stadium. Go K-Tribe!


According to, a new book is claiming that potential Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin once had a one-night stand with former Charlotte Hornet Glen Rice. Allegedly, it happened in 1987 when Palin was a bright-eyed college graduate working at an Alaskan TV station and Rice was a Fab-Fiver (doggone it, thanks Jackson!) junior at Michigan playing in a tournament in the Great White North.

In the book, Rice confirms the affair; don’t know if Palin has fessed up to the tryst.

My take: That is pretty cool. The lesson here kids, is that cute person you’re hooking up with today could be the president in 25 years or so. FANTASTIC.


New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariana Rivera notched his 600th save in last night’s 3-2 win at Seattle. He is only the second MLB pitcher to achieve the feat and he’s only one behind the all-time mark set by Trevor Hoffmann.

My take: I Yankee-hate with the best of ‘em, but you have to respect Mo — the man is 41 years old and STILL the best at what he does in the game.


“Point Break,” the Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves movie that showed an FBI agent infiltrating a group of surfing bank robbers, is set to be remade. No cast has been revealed yet.

My take: PB is one of those great, campy, over-the-top movies that simply does not need a re-boot. And what is it with Hollywood wanting to remake Swayze movies? First “Dirty Dancing” and now “Point Break?”

The iPod shuffle

Are We The Waiting — Green Day

Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams

Whipping Post — The Allman Brothers Band

I Wanna Get High — Cypress Hill

Lust For Life — Iggy Pop

P.S.: I’m not through with the dust-up that’s going on at Kinston High School, in which the firing of Jason Wade from the baseball program was just the tipping point. My phone wouldn’t stop blowing up yesterday from calls from teachers and coaches there yesterday — and I’ll share some of those thoughts later, if I’m allowed to.

Morning News Report; Sept. 12, 2011


All over the nation, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was observed – and there were no significant incidents marring the ceremonies.

In Lenoir County, the North Lenoir Volunteer Fire Department held a poignant ceremony with a beam from one of the World Trade Center buildings on display.

My take: I watched some of the ceremony from New York City — and it was tasteful, classy and very, very sad. I also enjoyed the displays at all the NFL games yesterday.

And although I didn’t attend the NLVFD ceremony, I was told it, too, was a very touching event. Like you, I am proud to be an American — and proud of those who protect us, whether it’s our military, police or fire professionals. THANK YOU for everything you do for us.


The Kinston Indians knocked out Myrtle Beach, 9-2, Saturday night to win the Carolina League Southern Division series, three games to one. The K-Tribe now await the winner of the Frederick-Potomac series in the Northern Division to see who they will play in the Mills Cup Championship.

My take: Well, you can’t say this hasn’t been an interesting final season for the ol’ K-Tribe who’ll have home-field advantage in the championship. The first home game is Thursday in Game 3; if there is a Game 4 or 5, they’ll be played Friday and Saturday. All games are scheduled for 6:30 starts at Grainger Stadium.


In his professional debut, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton almost singlehandedly led his team to a win, although the Panthers ended up losing 28-21 at Arizona. But in the game, Newton threw for 422 yards — an NFL record for a rookie in his debut — and two touchdowns and rushed for another.

My take: Hey, count me among the Newton doubters in the preseason. An amazing debut, to be sure, but this is a 16-game season and I have a feeling he’ll return to earth soon enough. It was also against Arizona — one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Still … there just might be something special brewing there in Charlotte.

The iPod shuffle

When The S*** Goes Down — Cypress Hill

Rhiannon — Fleetwood Mac

Viva Las Vegas — ZZ Top

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door — Eric Clapton

Straight Outta Compton — N.W.A.

P.S.: The Blog Survivor Pool has been updated and I’ll post a new update here tomorrow after tonight’s games, but we lost 11 players in yesterday’s action. If you’re one of the losers, go ahead and pop that $5 in an envelope and send it to me at 2103 N. Queen St., Kinston, 28501. We might start another game in the next week or two — just let me know if you’re interested or not

Morning News Report; Sept. 9, 2011


Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Bill Johnson had his sidearm stolen by his grandson at his home Saturday night. Johnson had the young man arrested Sunday — and the grandson is still in jail today under a $50,000 bond.

My take: I can’t even imagine how tough this is on Chief Johnson and his family at this moment — he is (as Bill Ellis said in the linked story) one of the most morally upright gentlemen I know in Kinston.

But you have to admire how the Johnson’s are handling this by keeping the young man in jail all week. I’m guessing this will be the last time he ever does anything like that again.


The Kinston Indians overcame a 5-0 deficit to top the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 8-6 in 11 innings last night in Game 2 of the Carolina League Southern Division playoffs. The series is even at 1-1 with Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) taking place at Grainger Stadium tonight, Saturday and Sunday.

My take: I’ll be there tonight for at least the first half of the game tonight and possibly for Sunday’s finale, if necessary. I know we’ve got some killer prep football games tonight — including Havelock at Kinston and South Lenoir at North Lenoir – and the NFL season starts Sunday, but it’d be good for there to be some butts in the seats at Grainger this weekend.


With only two days to go before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, threats are coming in all over the place; in fact, New York City police are now searching trucks throughout the city in anticipation of new terrorist attacks.

My take: It’s going to be a busy few days for law enforcement as they try to weed out the crazies while we remember those we lost in 9/11. What’s truly scary is that right now, you know there is some freaking loony-tunes out there who is ready to blow himself up for some cause. Be safe, my friends.

The iPod shuffle

Doo Wop (That Thing) — Lauryn Hill

Let’s Make It — Canned Heat & John Lee Hooker

The Lounge Fly (Mix) — U2

Photograph — Def Leppard

My Way — Elvis Presley

P.S.: Check out this week’s prep football podcast with the lovely and talented Ryan Herman and myself. Pretty doggoned good analysis, if I say so myself … and I say so myself. I also like that the URL has “free-hanks” in it. A subtle message, to be sure.

P.P.S.S.: For the past four years, I have — along with WCTI ABC-12′s Brian North — been an anonymous picker in the Jacksonville Daily News’ prep football panel, along with Chris Miller, Mike Boaz and Rick Scoppe. Quite honestly, I’ve had my butt handed to me for the duration of it — until this year.

Miller — one of our blog favorites over the years (see picture below) — decided to take the anonymity away and now we’re all using our real names. As a result, now I am kicking butt and taking names. I’ll place a link here every Friday to the picks; here’s this week’s column (scroll down to the bottom, where I am accused of steroid use by Miller!).

And now … a photo reminder of when Miller got his butt kicked by his newlywed wife in August 2008: