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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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.

Kansas City Power & Light

In Kansas City, the U.S. women’s soccer team had its most visible display of support Tuesday night during their semifinal match against Germany. The match was shown live in the outdoor courtyard area of the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

But before Tuesday’s match, there were already signs of strong Kansas City support. Since the women’s World Cup started, there have been ongoing discussions of an outdoor gathering in the Power & Light District — something like the many celebrations the district organized during the men's World Cup last year.

Wikimedia --CC

An Olathe Northwest High School graduate was a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Sacramento Kings selected Willie Cauley-Stein with their sixth overall pick in the draft.

Cauley-Stein grew up in Spearville, Kansas, located outside Dodge City, then transferred in high school to Olathe Northwest.

Cauley-Stein departs the University of Kentucky after three years.

Wikimedia Commons--CC

It was a milestone night for Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost after beating Milwaukee, 3-2, Thursday.

Ned Yost surpassed Whitey Herzog for most wins by a Royals manager, his 411th victory since taking over in 2010.

“It’s nice, but I don’t really look at it as an individual achievement,” Yost said. “First of all, I don’t feel like I’m in the same class as Whitey Herzog and Dick Howser. Two, this is an organizational achievement.”

In the latest balloting for the July 14 All-Star game in Cincinnati, the Kansas City Royals lead the voting this week at eight positions.

The trend from Royals fans indicate that online votes for their favorite players won’t let up. But Royals fans are making their presence felt in more ways than just All-Star balloting — the blue wave hit Busch Stadium in St. Louis last weekend. 

Whitney Findley, a Royals fan who lives in Lee’s Summit, saw familiar friends in no time at all across the street from the stadium.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The College World Series will be underway this weekend in Omaha. That is where Brandon Finnegan, the Kansas City Royals' top draft choice last year, started a historical run.   

 

He became the first player in baseball history to play in the College World Series and Major League Baseball’s World Series in the same year.

Brent Flanders / Flickr--CC

Of all Sporting Kansas City’s season ticket holders, there are eight times more Johnson County residents than Wyandotte County residents — even though Sporting Park sits in Wyandotte County's largest city, Kansas City, Kansas.

In the breakdown of Sporting KC’s season ticket holders, fans with Wyandotte County addresses account for only 4.5 percent, which ranks fourth among the counties in Kansas City’s metropolitan area.

Walter Byers, the former NCAA boss who grew up in Kansas City, died at his ranch in Kansas Tuesday. He was 93.

Byers attended Westport High School. Before he was the executive director of the NCAA, he had a brief career as a sportswriter.

When the NCAA was headquartered in Kansas City, Byers molded it into the big-time structure it is today. But when Byers retired, he turned his back on college athletics.

“When I quit after 41 years, sportwriting and the NCAA, I took it cold turkey,” said Byers in 1994. “I felt that’s the only way you get over the withdrawal pains.”

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.

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