Greg Echlin

Sports Reporter

Ever since he set foot on the baseball diamond at Fernwood Park on Chicago's South Side, Greg Echlin began a love affair with the world of sports.  After graduating from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he worked as a TV sports anchor and a radio sportscaster in Salina, Kansas.  He moved to Kansas City in 1984 and has been there since covering sports.  Through the years, he has covered multiple Super Bowls, Final Fours and Major League Baseball's World Series and All-Star games.
 
With his high metabolism rate, Greg is able to enjoy a good meal and stay slim when he's not running around on the sports scene.  He loves desserts, even making them.  Cheesecakes, pies and parfaits are the most common around the Echlin household.

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courtesy: Kansas City Chiefs

The New England Patriots held on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in the AFC Division Playoff game at Gillette Stadium. 

The final score: 27-20.

Courtesy / Alex Smith Blake

Alex Smith has been married 15 times.

No, not the star quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.

We found 15 Alex Smiths who have been married in Jackson or Johnson counties in the last 20 years.

When the weekly college basketball rankings were released before Monday night’s game between the Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma Sooners, each team was ranked number one— KU in the AP poll and OU in the coaches poll.

Then the Jayhawks battled OU for three overtimes before winning 109-106.

Down by one with 12 seconds left in the third overtime, Oklahoma had the ball and the chance to end the frustration of 14 straight losses at Allen Fieldhouse. But KU guard Frank Mason stole the inbound pass and was fouled. His free throws then sealed the Jayhawks win.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders Sunday, 23-17, to finish the season with 10 wins in a row and an 11-5 record.

But it wasn’t enough to overtake the Denver Broncos in the AFC West since they also won.

When the Chiefs players were on the field, the score of the Broncos game wasn’t shown on the scoreboard at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs coach Andy Reid claims they didn’t care.

“They wanna play. You put somebody in front of them. They go play,” said Reid.

After the first semifinal match between Texas and Minnesota Thursday at the NCAA women’s volleyball championship, the Kansas Jayhawks play the second match of the evening against Nebraska.

The Jayhawks are bracing themselves for a crowd that won’t be in favor of them. KU junior Maggie Anderson grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and followed the Huskers throughout high school, so she knows the volleyball pulse.

Courtesy of KU Athletics (Instagram)

This fall, the three area major college football teams—Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri—haven’t provided much to cheer about. That is, unless you think a bowl game for a team with a 6-6 record grabs your attention. But there’s a sport that’s been a hidden gem in the Kansas City area—volleyball.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

On the field, the Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll with five victories in a row. In the courtroom, however, the Chiefs haven’t fared as well lately — they’re fighting an age discrimination lawsuit.

Unless it’s settled out of court, the case, which reaches the very top of the Chiefs’ hierarchy, is a long way from reaching a resolution.

In 2010, Chiefs’ fans watched quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on the field. Meanwhile, Steve Cox, a maintenance supervisor at Arrowhead Stadium, put in long, behind-the-scenes hours.

Laura Gilchrist / Flickr -- CC

Professional soccer club Sporting Kansas City announced on Thursday that the name of its home field in Kansas City, Kansas, will be changed on January 1, 2016, from Sporting Park to Children’s Mercy Park.

The Kansas City-based pediatric hospital will have exclusive naming rights for the next 10 years. The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Children’s Mercy will also expand its partnership with Sporting Kansas City in other ways.

Hundreds of thousands of Kansas City Royals fans lined the parade route and gathered at Union Station to celebrate the World Series championship.

As loud as Kauffman Stadium gets when Kansas City Royals fans make their voices heard, never before has it sounded like this amphitheater around Union Station when the fans chanted, “Let’s go Royals!”

The player fans wanted to hear from the most was the World Series Most Valuable Player Salvador Perez. “Today we are No. 1 in the whole world, guys,” said Perez.

The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets, 5-3, to move closer to winning a World Series championship with a three games to one lead.

The Royals rallied late to take the lead and turned to their closer, Wade Davis. Davis protected the lead with a six-out save in the eighth and ninth innings.

Davis says it was something he knew he could do, especially in the World Series. "A couple more outs really doesn’t change anything," says Davis.

The Royals and Mets will play Game Five on Sunday night in New York. 

Minda Haas / Flickr -- CC

When Kansas City Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando replaced Alex Rios as a late-inning defensive change last Tuesday, he made history. Orlando became the first native of Brazil to play in the World Series.

The next challenge is for Orlando, and the sport of baseball, to gain more notoriety in Brazil.

Keith Allison / Flickr -- CC

Game 2 of the World Series is Wednesday night with the Kansas City Royals up one after winning, 5-4, Tuesday in 14 innings. The Royals say they have the pieces to go all the way against the New York Mets, and the biggest splash was the acquisition of pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds last July.

Though it was difficult for some Reds fans to say goodbye, Cueto’s up-and-down performances since then have left the Royals feeling blue.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

For the first time since 1998, a father is in one baseball dugout of a playoff team, while his son is in the other. In this case, Drew Butera is the Kansas City Royals back-up catcher while his father, Sal, is a Toronto Blue Jays coach.

The family matriarch is Gina Butera, who planned for this year’s playoffs.

“I actually had a T-shirt designed and it’s blue,” said Gina Butera. “On one side it is the Jays logo and on the side it’s the Royals logo. The back says, ‘Butera’s house divided.’ Yeah, I had no doubt that both of them were going to be in the playoffs. No doubt.”

After eliminating the New York Yankees in a Tuesday night wild card game, the Houston Astros travel to Kansas City to face the Royals on Thursday night.

The Astros blanked the Yankees, 3-0, so Houston tasted some champagne before leaving New York. And they’re coming for the entrée in Kansas City. That’s how veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes describes it.

“This is a whole different game,” said Gomes. “You think you go to a restaurant or other places, the appetizer is are normally the fastest part of the meal. Here, the appetizer is 162 games. The entrée is pretty quick.”

One night after Sporting Kansas City won the U.S. Open Cup, FC Kansas City captured the league championship in women’s professional soccer.

Amy Rodriguez scored in the 78th minute in FC Kansas City’s 1-0 win over the Seattle Reign. It was a rematch of last year’s championship match in the National Women’s Soccer League.

In all three years of the league’s existence, FC Kansas City has reached the title match and has won two straight titles.

Michael Zupon / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Royals pulled away in the late innings in their 10-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners Thursday.

The win was a key milestone for the ball club, as the Royals haven’t won a division title since they won the 1985 World Series.

Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain says it’s an important first step this season.

“We definitely set a goal to win our division this year,” Cain said. “We accomplished that. But our next goal is to get back to the World Series and hopefully win. We have a lot of unfinished business.”

A weekend homicide victim in Kansas City has been identified as Royce Jeffries, who played four years of college basketball at Oklahoma State University.

Jeffries played for Oklahoma State from 1986 to 1990, when Leonard Hamilton was the head coach.

Jeffries set a school record, since surpassed by two players, for the highest percentage of baskets made over his career at nearly 57 percent.

Jeffries was fatally shot while working as a security guard at a bar on 57th and Troost.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry played his first regular season NFL game last weekend — just 10 months after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Other high profile professional athletes, such Mario Lemieux in hockey and Jon Lester in baseball, have recovered from lymphoma and resumed their careers. Berry’s quick comeback, he says, was completed through his will, and with the help of those closest to him.

The Missouri Supreme Court is scheduled to announce some decisions Tuesday and one of them might involve the Kansas City Chiefs.

Steve Cox, a former maintenance manager at Arrowhead Stadium, is suing the Chiefs for age discrimination. The Missouri Supreme Court will decide on whether key evidence from the plaintiff’s side will be admissible.

“Any time that there’s a legal matter that you’re involved in you’re always concerned,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt last week. “I don’t specifically have concern over that issue though.”

The two Kansas City Royals players who came down with the chicken pox have rejoined their teammates.

Alex Rios and Kelvin Herrera made their first appearance at Kauffman Stadium since they were diagnosed a week earlier in Tampa.

They were cleared by the team’s doctors on Sunday and Royals manager Ned Yost had the option to use them.

“The outbreak wasn’t severe enough in terms of their bodies with a bunch of the little chicken pox things they have,” Rios didn’t play in last night’s game, but Yost used Kelvin Herrera in relief against Minnesota.

ATPworldtour.com

Over the next two weeks, the best tennis players in the world will be in New York competing in the U.S. Open. The lion’s share of attention is focused on the USA’s Serena Williams as she attempts to complete the Grand Slam. She’s already armed this year with victories at Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open.

But Americans will also be cheering on a rising star on the men’s side, and that Kansas high school grad has a renewed pep in his step.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

If Cincinnati baseball fans didn’t get enough of the Kansas City Royals during the All-Star game, they saw the full squad on Tuesday night.

Adding insult, the Royals have Johnny Cueto, one of the most popular Reds before he was traded to Kansas City.

Cueto faced the inevitable questions before his first game back. Here’s a sample: “How exciting is it for you to jump right into a pennant race? What’s your take on that league and pitching for the Royals? Is this emotional for you?”

The Kansas City Royals completed a homestand marked by milestones.

When the gates opened to the Royals’ first Sunday night game of the year at Kauffman Stadium this weekend, it gave the fans an opportunity to see their team pick up their 42nd victory at home this season. That’s how many home wins the Royals had in the 2014 regular season.

Newcomer Ben Zobrist, who scored the winning run in the tenth inning of the Royals’ 4-3 victory, noticed the energy.

With his performance on Monday night, it didn’t take long for Kansas City Royals fans to embrace newcomer Johnny Cueto.

According to Johnny Cueto’s translator (Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol), the feelings were mutual.

Cueto loved the reception in his first game as a Royal at Kauffman Stadium. For the first time all year, manager Ned Yost didn’t need to summon a relief pitcher.

“You know you got an ace out there,” said Yost. “That’s a big confidence boost every time Johnny steps on the mound. They know they’ve got an outstanding chance of winning that game.”

A memorial service for former University of Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway is set for next Sunday at the Dole Institute of Politics.

Hemenway died Friday, he was 73.

Among his other achievements at KU, athletics reached a high point under his leadership in 2008.

That year, the Kansas Jayhawks became the fourth in major college history to win a BCS bowl game and play in the Final Four the same year. In January of 2008, the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry passed a physical on the first day of training camp in St. Joseph and that’s big news.

Eric Berry abruptly left the Chiefs in the middle of last season when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Nothing much has been said about Berry’s future since his treatments were completed in June.

But Chiefs coach Andy Reid was encouraged by Berry’s appearance when the five-year veteran reported to training camp.

David Slaughter / Flickr-CC

While the Kansas City Royals were in the midst of a 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon, a major trade was announced.

The Royals acquired Johnny Cueto, one of the best pitchers on the trade market. Cueto currently plays for the Cincinnati Reds.

In exchange for Cueto, the Royals sent three minor league left-handed pitchers (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed).

Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Kansas Citians have no shortage of players to root for in baseball’s All-Star game.

Of course, six Royals players are in Cincinnati, but other teams are sending Kansas City talent, too.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Royals learned Thursday the extent of the injury to All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon.

It’s labeled a “two-plus groin strain,” which means Alex Gordon is out for at least eight weeks.

Four Kansas City Royals will be American League starters at next week’s All-Star game in Cincinnati, the best in franchise history.

Salvador Perez will be the starting catcher. Alcides Escobar will make his first All-Star appearance as the starting shortstop. Lorenzo Cain, also a first-timer, will man right field while Alex Gordon will handle left in his first start.

Gordon said last year’s World Series appearance and this year’s success command attention.

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