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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Daniel Juřena / Flickr--CC

High school athletes in Kansas and Missouri start outdoor workouts for fall sports in August, no matter how hot or humid it is outside. One of the main safety concerns in the heat is dehydration. 

Sometimes it’s not the weather but what the athletes drink that makes the problem worse. A can of Red Bull, Monster, 5-Hour Energy, or any other energy drink before practice can dehydrate an athlete.

Before Thursday night’s 14-inning victory, 2-1, over Cleveland, the Kansas City Royals honored one of their former behind-the-scenes figures.

Al Zych, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., was the Kansas City Athletics equipment manager from 1963 until the team departed for Oakland four years later. Zych then became the Royals equipment manager from the franchise’s first year in 1969 until 1988.

George Brett called Zych one of his best friends during his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in 1999.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Much like the winning drivers at Kansas Speedway next door, Sporting Kansas City is taking a victory lap.

Firmly planted in Kansas City with a state-of-the-art soccer venue and a first class practice facility and fields, Sporting Kansas City steered the area to another level with an announcement Wednesday of a proposed National Training and Coaching Development Facility in Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was on hand for the formal announcement at Sporting Park before Sporting KC took the field for an international friendly match against Manchester City FC.

Collaborative efforts between the Sporting Kansas City soccer club, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., and the state of Kansas for a national soccer training center appear to be complete.

A “major announcement” is set for Wednesday night at Sporting Park with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback expected to be in attendance, state officials said in a release Tuesday.

It will precede Sporting KC’s exhibition match against England’s Manchester City club.

Long term commitment or not? That’s the question with a few of the biggest sports stars in Kansas City.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex reports to training camp this week without a contract beyond this season. On the other hand, Sporting Kansas City locked up their two biggest stars for the long haul.

Before Sporting Kansas City took the field in their Saturday match at Livestrong Park against the Los Angeles Galaxy, the announcement came out that Matt Besler and Graham Zusi agreed to four-year extensions with the team.

Kieth Allison / Flickr--CC

Over the past week, there was much ado about the marquis players in sports; Lebron James signed a contract with Cleveland and baseball showcased its stars in the All-Star game.

Heading into Friday night’s game at Boston, the Kansas City Royals are in transition as to who their biggest stars are. 

Just two years ago at the All-Star game in Kansas City, Billy Butler was in the midst of his most productive year with 29 homers and 107 runs driven in as the Royals designated hitter. He was the toast of the town as the Royals All-Star — this year Butler has only three homers.

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.

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