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.

Ways To Connect

Katie Brady / Flickr--CC

Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, is in its fifth season as the home of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. For the money spent on what is regarded as one of the best soccer venues in the country, very little so far has been invested in Wyandotte County for youth soccer.

But changes are taking place.

Adam Kuban / Flickr--CC

The site of the world’s biggest tailgate party will also become the world’s biggest venue for barbecue competition. It was announced Tuesday that the American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue will be held at Arrowhead Stadium this fall on the first weekend of October.

Jim Rowland of the Jackson County Sports Authority says the process started when he observed stagnation in the West Bottoms.

The NFL Draft takes place Thursday night, and a Kansas City area high school graduate was projected to be among the early picks. That is, until the news came out this week about Shane Ray being pulled over on I-70 and cited for marijuana possession.

Ray, a defensive lineman from Bishop Miege High School, was honored two weeks ago by the Kansas City Sports Commission for his three-year career at the University of Missouri. At that time, he was asked about the NFL Draft.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

After five decades of hostility, President Obama is moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. There’s a place in Kansas City, though, where the two countries already seem very close: Kauffman Stadium.

Kendrys Morales, the Royals’ new hitting star is from Cuba, and across Major League Baseball the number of Cuban players is on the rise. But those players reached the U.S. as refugees, and some worry that warming relations with Cuba may actually crimp the supply of baseball talent from Cuba.

John Spertus / KCUR

A Kansas City-Oakland rivalry conjures up the thought of the Chiefs vs. the Raiders in the National Football League — but nothing in Major League Baseball. At least until this weekend.

The Raider’s withering performance on the football field in recent years hardly stirs up the glorious memories of the classic matchups against the Chiefs that dates back to the old days of the AFL in the 1960s — no matter how much the Chiefs attempt to manufacture a menacing growl.

Michael Zupon / Flickr--CC

Two Kansas City Royals players, their manager and two coaches were kicked out of Sunday's series finale against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

When it was all said and done, the Royals won the game, 4-2, and the series.

A’s starting pitcher Scott Kazmir says they left town angry.

“It leaves a bad taste in our mouth. It really does,” said Kazmir.

But Kazmir started the day by hitting Lorenzo Cain.

“I definitely didn’t like it,” said Cain.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Former Kansas City Royals All-Star Billy Butler is back at Kauffman Stadium Friday — but in a different uniform.

He's in his first season with the Oakland Athletics and getting used to wearing the green and gold uniform colors of his new team.

"Yeah, it's one of those things. It's my locker. I just knew what to put on," said Butler. "Yeah, it's different. I put on a royal blue shirt on this morning. I didn't realize I actually put a royal blue shirt on."

Karen Elshout / Missourinet.com

The Missouri Supreme Court Wednesday heard arguments from representatives of the Kansas City Chiefs and one of their past employees. The case revolves around alleged age discrimination over the Chiefs’ firing of Steve Cox, a former maintenance manager at Arrowhead Stadium.

Lewis Galloway, Cox’s attorney, says the Missouri Court of Appeals won’t let him present the evidence he’d like for a fair trial. And that’s what the Missouri Supreme Court will decide.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

It’s a new baseball season, but memories linger from last year when the Kansas City Royals played in the World Series for the first time in 29 years. Monday’s Opening Day pre-game activities will commemorate that.

Opening Day also gives fans a chance to check out a new look inside Kauffman Stadium. Construction workers frantically gutted and restored the old stadium club area, known the last few years as the .390 restaurant. Gone are the large windows, the carpet, the tiles and the more formal settings open only to members. It’s replaced by an open air food and beverage destination called “Craft and Draft” and open to all ticket holders.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Baseball’s unexpected late-season surge of the Kansas City Royals caught the country by surprise last year. Along with that, players like Lorenzo Cain made names for themselves with brilliant plays on the field and speed on the bases. Though Royals are the defending American League champions, experts don’t rate their chances very high of even making the playoffs again this year.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Olathe Northwest High School graduate Willie Cauley-Stein is one of five finalists for the Naismith Award recognizing the best college basketball player. But here’s the caveat: He grew up in Kansas, but plays for Kentucky. The prevailing question is: How did the Kansas schools let him get away?

When the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats played for the NCAA championship in 2012, Willie Cauley-Stein, who is now listed at 7-feet tall, was a senior at Olathe Northwest High School. The Jayhawks had 6'10 Thomas Robinson that year before he turned pro. They also had 7-foot Jeff Withey, a junior at the time. When Cauley-Stein decided to sign with Kentucky, he stunned his grandparents, Val and Norma Jean Stein.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The city of Omaha made a lot of money over the weekend on college basketball fans who followed the Kansas Jayhawks and Wichita State Shockers to their NCAA matchup.

The most devout fans did anything they could to get their hands on seeing a game that, until Sunday, hadn’t been seen in a long time — it has some wondering if the two teams would play each other again soon.

When it was apparent that Wichita State was going to advance from Friday’s game against Indiana, Shocker alum Tony Townsend knew he had to find a way from his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Omaha. He looked for tickets online.

There are two opponents the Kansas Jayhawks avoid if they had their say: the Missouri Tigers in any sport and Wichita State in men’s basketball.

But an unavoidable clash might occur in the NCAA basketball tournament. It might be entitled “The Omaha brouhaha” if KU and Wichita State win their first games in the NCAA basketball tournament.

That might mean something to Wichita native Perry Ellis, who Jayhawks coach Bill Self says was glad to see playing in the Big 12 tournament.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The 13th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones beat the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 70-66, in their typical style a —comeback, and won the Big 12 tournament Saturday night.

They trailed KU by as many as 17 points.

Cyclone forward Georges Niang, voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, said the Cyclones got a lift from the fans dressed in cardinal and gold.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Though the Kansas Jayhawks won their 11th straight regular season title, they didn’t look like a championship team in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. But they beat TCU, 64-59, to advance to the semis.

Already without Cliff Alexander for their fourth straight game with an NCAA eligibility issue, the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks also played without their leading scorer, Perry Ellis, who has a knee injury. But KU coach Bill Self doesn’t want to go down the same road as last year when he lost his starting center, Joel Embiid, at the end of the season with an injury.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The Kansas State Wildcats tip off the Big 12 tournament with a six o’clock game Wednesday against Texas Christian University.

The Wildcats know that their season will end if they lose.

K-State has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team this season. Its impressive wins are coupled with ugly losses. The season has been a head-scratcher for Wildcats coach Bruce Weber.

Post-season men’s college basketball gets underway Thursday at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City.

The MIAA tournament for Division II teams was the start of a national championship run a year ago.

Central Missouri’s march to the national championship last year was the fourth in the school’s history and the first under Coach Kim Anderson before he moved on to take over the Missouri Tigers.

After winning the championship, Anderson said other parts of the country probably don’t know how good the quality of Division II basketball is in this region.

In dramatic fashion, the Kansas Jayhawks clinched their 11th straight men’s basketball title in the Big 12 Wednesday.

At one point in the game, the ninth-ranked Jayhawks trailed 20th-ranked West Virginia by 18, but KU came back in the second half and forced overtime before pulling out the victory 76-69.

West Virginia played without two starters, but coach Bob Huggins was irked when asked about them.

“I’m not worried about those two guys. If they play, they play. If they don’t play, they don’t play,” Huggins said.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Many of last year’s Kansas City Royals (with a few new faces sprinkled in) gathered this week for spring training in Surprise, Ariz., but there was a different feeling on the field and in the stands.

Last fall, Royals fans departed from Kauffman Stadium subdued after losing Game 7 of the World Series. The San Francisco Giants denied the Royals and their fans a chance to celebrate their second World Series championship.

In the clubhouse, the atmosphere was somber, too. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain said the loss hurt.

Kansas State Athletics Director John Currie says he and his staff are reviewing video of Monday night’s celebration after the Kansas State Wildcats’ upset win over the KU Jayhawks, and criminal charges are possible.

John Currie released a statement Tuesday that acknowledges the breakdown in security while the Jayhawks tried to leave the basketball court. Currie says K-State is working with local law enforcement to identify any fan who intentionally touched any KU player or personnel.

Currie added that action will be undertaken with such identified fans.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Storming the basketball court after beating the nationally-ranked Kansas Jayhawks is becoming a trend.

It’s the third straight game after a KU loss on the road that the opponent’s crowd stormed the court when the final buzzer sounded. Monday night, it was at Kansas State after the Wildcats beat No. 8 KU, 70-63.

Jayhawks coach Bill Self says he is concerned.

“You storm the court. You run in and bump everybody, stuff like that. This has got to stop,” said Self.

User: miranda / Wikimedia Commons

Legendary basketball coach Dean Smith died late Saturday at the age of 83 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  He grew up in Emporia, Kan. and went to high school in Topeka.  Though his only head coaching job was with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Smith maintained his connections in Kansas.

Knowing Dean Smith’s roots in Kansas, former Kansas athletics director Monte Johnson tried to hire Smith away from North Carolina in 1983.  They met in Albuquerque, New Mexico, site of the ’83 Final Four.

In college basketball, the eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks are maintaining their hold on first place in the Big 12 after beating Iowa State Monday night, 89-76.

With a victory over the Kansas Jayhawks earlier this season, Iowa State positioned itself as one of the few teams that could be a serious threat to break the stranglehold KU has on regular season titles.

The Jayhawks are working on winning their 11th straight title. But even after solidifying first place in the Big 12, Jayhawks coach Bill Self isn’t ready to celebrate yet.

Missouri Tigers athletics director Mike Alden announced Thursday that he’ll step aside at the end of August.

The news came out prior to the men’s basketball game at Mizzou Arena Thursday night.

When Missouri Tigers first-year head coach Kim Anderson was hired last spring, he says Mike Alden dropped no hint that he didn’t plan to be around much longer as athletics director. After the Tigers lost to top-ranked Kentucky, 69-53, to plunge deeper into the depths of their struggles, Anderson said he wants to justify being hired by Alden.

Courtesy / Pro Football Hall of Fame

After striking out three times in a bid to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this may be the year that former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Will Shields gets in.

He’ll find out this weekend when the announcement is made in Arizona where the Super Bowl is taking place. There’s hope that Shields’ involvement with one of the NFL’s hottest issues off the field may put him over the top.

Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s all-time greats as a player and as a person off the diamond, died Friday. He was 83.

His sunny disposition and skills on the field took off when his professional baseball career began with the Negro Leagues in Kansas City. Cool Papa Bell, another former Negro Leagues player and a Baseball Hall of Famer, tipped off Kansas City Monarchs manager Buck O’Neil on the raw abilities of Ernie Banks.

At the time O’Neil, who died in 2006, had not seen Banks play.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was on hand in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Friday for the College Football Hall of Fame announcement. He is one of two coaches and 15 players who being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Before Snyder was hired at Kansas State in 1989, the Wildcats had been to only one bowl game in the history of the program. When he arrived, the cupboard was bare. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR

After an early exit from the MLS playoffs last year, Sporting Kansas City is making changes for this season.

They announced their biggest off-season move Tuesday, signing Roger Espinoza.

Espinoza played for Sporting for five years before going overseas to play in the English Premier League. 

"This is the age where the majority of players hit their peak,” said the 28-year-old at a news conference at Sporting's office in Kansas City, Mo.

Sporting’s season opener is on March 8 against the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The 16th-ranked Missouri Tigers football team successfully ended its season Thursday afternoon in Orlando with a 33-17 Citrus Bowl win over 20th-ranked Minnesota.

Heading into the fourth quarter, it was a close game. The Tigers led, 19-17, but pulled away.

“You have to have a drive, a competitive drive in the fourth quarter,” said Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel. “It sounds really easy. It’s not easy. It’s the character of your team and your players, the leadership that you have.”

A day after their final game this season, the Kansas City Chiefs are stewing over a dubious NFL record.

Until this year, no team in NFL history had ever gone through an entire season without completing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. The worst moment occurred Sunday when Dwayne Bowe had a chance to become the first this season, but he fumbled just shy of the end zone.

Quarterback Alex Smith didn’t play because of a spleen injury, but even he was stunned at how it turned out.

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