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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In the Midwest, it’s not customary for fans and Kansas City Royals players to pull for anyone on the New York Yankees. Except for the last two years in the All-Star game.

Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is injured with sprained wrist and couldn’t play in this year’s All-Star game, but one of the reasons he still made the trip to Minneapolis, Minn., was to be part of the American League team that would bid its farewell to New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

On the day before the All-Star break, the Kansas City Royals scored a first for this season. Until Sunday, the Royals were not able to beat the Detroit Tigers at home. They were 0-and-6 before Sunday’s 5-2 victory.

Royals designated hitter Bill knows how quick the season can turn.

“Nothing ever seems to be easy against them (the Tigers),” said Butler. “We can play as good baseball as we can. We were playing really good when we went into their place. I think that’s the way they feel right now.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The soccer craze in the Kansas City area wasn’t just captured in the Power & Light District watch parties for the World Cup games.

It’s evident on full-size soccer fields on both sides of the state line. But the metropolitan area's newest soccer passion may be churning up on mini-courts in Kansas City, Kan.

When the U.S. plays Belgium in the knockout round of the World Cup soccer tournament Tuesday, three female Kansas City soccer players plan to watch the match together.

They’ll be paying extra attention to Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. The three women have a connection with the Overland Park, Kan., native that stretches back a few years.

Most of the attention on soccer lately has focused on the action in Brazil, but the day before the U.S. match against Portugal, Jen Buczkowski took care of her own business on the soccer field.

For the first time since 1988, a member of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team was the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins Thursday night with that top pick.  Teammate Joel Embiid went third overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Though some feel Wiggins disappeared in KU’s last game of the season against Stanford in the NCAA tournament, he was clearly visible when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced him as the top pick.

Nearly two years after Major League Baseball All-Star activities took place in Kansas City, the impact of the event has had a residual effect.

In 2012, the only thing on the mind of the fans was the distance of the homers for the Homerun Derby at Kauffman Stadium. But after a portion of the money from that day’s All-Star activities was devoted to the construction of baseball fields for people with disabilities, families of the kids with disabilities feel that the community has hit a homerun.

Valerie / Flickr--CC

After stagnating for a month in the American League Central standings, the Royals have taken off in the last two weeks. But when the last homestand concluded with two of the Royals’ most traditional draws, their attendance didn’t take off as they hoped.

New York Yankee fan Mo Moffitt, recently moved to Shawnee, Kan., from The Bronx, found a way to attend a Yankees game in Kansas City.

“If you’re a diehard to your team, you’ll show up,” said Moffitt a Royals home game.

But plenty of diehard fans during the most recent homestand did not.

The USA team that will participate in the World Cup soccer tournament departed for Brazil Sunday night.

Kansas City soccer fans will have a watchful eye on this team with two players from Sporting Kansas City on the roster. Seventeen-year-old Ady Barraza, a soccer player at Olathe Northwest High School, was at the Overland Park Soccer complex over the weekend along with other teens trying out for club teams. While trying to map out their own futures, they’re in tune to what will be happening at the World Cup in Brazil.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

More high-profile major league baseball pitchers have been sidelined by season-ending elbow injuries this year than ever before. But this epidemic is not just a big league concern. Young players, lured by the fastball, are getting hurt, too.

Tom Watson finished in second place at the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was his best finish since winning the same event in 2011.

Colin Montgomerie of Scotland won by four strokes.

Watson said he has mixed feelings about finishing second.

“You need to make the putts to win and I didn’t do it today, but I certainly had the opportunities today,” he said. “It could have been a real low round today, and so I come away with a really good feeling inside about the way I played.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

This year marks 50 years since a sports team at the University of Missouri finished runner-up for a national championship.

The Tiger baseball team finished second at the College World Series. In recent years, the Mizzou softball team has come the closest, but saw its season come to an end Sunday.

It isn’t the magnitude of a football game at Arrowhead Stadium, but Kansas Jayhawk and Missouri Tiger fans are keenly aware of possibly squaring off over the weekend.

Both schools are the NCAA softball regional in Columbia, Mo. For a University of Kansas-University of Missouri showdown to take place Saturday, both schools would need to either win Friday or lose Friday in the double-elimination regional.

It would mean that Kelsey Kessler, a native of Blue Springs, Mo., and sophomore pitcher at KU, would face the Tigers, which concerns Tigers Coach Ehren Earleywine.

The Kansas City Chiefs made news in the NFL Draft; not by the players they picked, but by the ones they didn’t get.

The Chiefs passed on University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam in the later rounds. The St. Louis Rams ended up taking Sam in the seventh and final round. Sam has been in headlines since last February when he came out as gay.

Last fall, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel knew that. But he also knew, as he said after Missouri’s win at Vanderbilt, what kind of player Michael Sam was last year for the Tigers.

Courtesy / Kansas Speedway

Night racing isn’t new at Kansas Speedway, but this weekend marks the first time it will take place there for NASCAR’s premier drivers.

Racing at night changes the dynamics in and around the speedway in Kansas City, Kan., and the races for the next two nights at Kansas Speedway have been highly anticipated by speedway officials since the approval for an installation of lights three years ago.

Speedway president Pat Warren has watched marquis drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., and his fellow competitors in Sprint Cup races and elsewhere.

With 30 games complete, there are ominous signs for the Kansas City Royals this season. The latest setback was a 9-4 loss against the Detroit Tigers Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

When the stadium gates opened, more than 22,000 fans filed in for Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers, the American League Central Division leaders and the team the Royals hope to challenge. But the Tigers pounded a total of 42 hits in the series and outscored the Royals, 26-8, in the three games.

This week’s hiring of Kim Anderson as Missouri’s new men’s basketball coach doesn’t just signal a new era on the basketball court — it also raises hopes for a cleaner slate with issues surrounding Tiger athletics.

Lately for men’s basketball games at Mizzou Arena, there have been more open seats despite them being sold. Even newly-appointed head coach Kim Anderson recognizes that. He concluded his introductory news conference this week with a clamorous message.

Kim Anderson will be the new head men's basketball coach at the University of Missouri, the university announced in a release Monday.

After 12 years as the head coach at University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Kim Anderson's wife, felt the Division II national title this year was the crowning moment for her husband.

"It's nice to be rewarded for hard work, so yeah, absolutely," said Melissa Anderson. "I'm sure anybody would feel like that."

Little did she know that his dream job would be just around the corner: head coach of the Missouri Tigers.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

After last year’s playoff season, the Kansas City Chiefs were thrust into the spotlight with three regular season games on national television this fall, one of which will be at Arrowhead Stadium.

The NFL schedule for the 2014 regular season was released Wednesday night, and for Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, it’s unfolding in rapid succession.

Courtesy: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe made his first public appearance Monday since his court case was settled in Riverside last week. 

The marijuana possession charge was dismissed, but Bowe said he learned a lesson.

"I mean you could be guilty of association," said Bowe. "That’s one thing I learned about it.

Wikimedia

Updated 2:29 p.m.:

The University of Tulsa officially tapped Frank Haith, men's basketball coach at the University of Missouri, as its new head basketball coach on Friday afternoon. See the full announcement.

The original story begins here: 

The University of Tulsa is expected to announce Friday that Frank Haith will be named as head basketball coach after three years at the University of Missouri.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe pled guilty to defective equipment and littering Wednesday in Riverside, Mo. The charge was amended from the original charge of marijuana possession last November. 

Bowe was not present, but his attorney, Kevin Regan, made the statement at Riverside City Hall that would be of most interest to the NFL commissioner’s office in New York.

Wikimedia Commons - CC

With the series finale set in Detroit for Thursday afternoon, the Kansas City Royals will head home afterward and play their home opener Friday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Coming off the success of last season, the Royals have high hopes this season. Not only on the field but, at the gate as well.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

On Saturday, the 30th anniversary of its only other men’s basketball championship, Central Missouri captured the NCAA Division II title.

The Mules defeated West Liberty of West Virginia, 84-77.

For veteran coach Kim Anderson, the thrill of winning his first national title came when the final piece fell into place. This was it. One last chance for Daylen Robinson to go out with a bang.

He did it years ago with an exclamation point at Northeast High School in Kansas City — 57 points in his final game there.

In Scottrade Arena in St. Louis, Mo., the two teams from Kansas got a case of the blues. Both teams lost Sunday in the third round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. 

The second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks played their second game without injured starting center Joel Embiid. Then his replacement in the starting lineup, Tarik Black who scored a game-high of 18 points, missed the last five minutes of the game when he committed his fifth foul. Black played only one season for KU after transferring from Memphis.

Wichita State University / goshockers.com

 Since Wichita State’s first appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball Tournament 50 years ago, this is the first time that the Shockers, Kansas and Kansas State are at the same site — all three teams will be in action Friday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. And fans who planned early are getting the most bang for their buck.

Since KU contended for a No. 1 seed before settling for a No. 2 seed, Jayhawks fans like Phillip Brown of Elm, Mo., gambled on St. Louis as KU’s destination. It paid off.

Cincinnati Royals / © 1971

At a time when the name "Cinderella" will be tossed around in association with teams pulling upsets in the NCAA tournament this week, Sam Lacey was part of what was the biggest Cinderella story in Kansas City pro-basketball history.

Lacey, who would have turned 66 later this month, died last week in Kansas City. A memorial tribute will take place Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Loretto on 39th Street.

It will be Arch Madness all over the again in St. Louis, Mo., for three Kansas teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The University of Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State are all bound for St. Louis this weekend, the first weekend of the tournament. When the Kansas Jayhawks lost to Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament, coach Bill Self knew the chance of landing a number-one seed in the NCAA tournament was out the window.

“We’re not going to be a one, so I’m going to tell you it’s definitely better since we’re not going to be a one,” said Self.

In this age of greater access through social media and TV cameras, sports fans are given a peek of what happens behind the scenes more than ever before. But to get a peek inside the meeting rooms of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee is another story. Access before the 68-team bracket is unveiled on Selection Sunday is unlikely anytime soon.

Beauty marks and warts

Wichita State added another accomplishment during its current undefeated season in men’s college basketball: The Missouri Valley Conference tournament title.

St. Louis has been the site of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament since 1991. Until Sunday, Wichita State came up short of its bid for a conference tournament title during all those years.

After an 83-69 victory over Indiana State, Shockers coach Gregg Marshall says he’s satisfied the conference tournament title drought is over.

Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City will begin defense of their championship in Major League Soccer Saturday with a road game at Seattle to open the season.

There will be one noticeable difference in the look of this year’s team. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, nicknamed "The White Puma" and known for wearing pink, decided to go out on top.

Nielsen announced his retirement shortly after Sporting's 2013 MLS Cup win. He is now coaching in Oklahoma City, Okla. 

Succeeding Nielsen will be Eric Kronberg.

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