There are few experiences such as a college football bowl week. Fans clad only in their school’s colors roam the streets, usually in varied degrees of sobriety, as they take in the sights and the opportunity to taunt opposing fans.
In a few hours, Kansas State and Oregon will be clashing in the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. But as part of the organized bowl tour for those making the sojourn from Manhattan, Kansas, the sporting week kicked off last night at the Phoenix Suns’ contest against the Philadelphia 76ers.
As it happens, before the season the Suns signed the enigmatic Michael Beasley to a three-year contract, a move that, quite frankly, belongs in a Bad Idea Jeans ad. Beasley has gone from starting to coming off the bench to, earlier this week, riding the pine for an entire game. This is what happens when a player’s shooting percentage would make for a pretty decent batting average (37 percent and change) and, worse, it often seems the player doesn’t know nor care what’s going on around him.
Also, as it happens, Michael Beasley went to Kansas State. And so the more than 1,200 purple-clad fans took to chanting “Mi-chael Beas-ley” about five minutes into the game. (That sudden cheer also explained the roar that went up from the crowd at the end of the Suns’ intro video where the last image is Mr. Beasley himself.)
Yes, friends, there was a local chant encouraging Suns coach Alvin Gentry to put into the game a guy averaging 10 points a game and often running his own plays if not in opposition then not in coordination with the rest of his teammates. (Some on press row speculated the chants also came from 76ers fans looking to help their team.)
Let the record show that with less than a minute left in the first quarter, Beasley ambled to the scorer’s table to a loud ovation. The clock expired before he could come into the game so he returned to the bench until the start of the second quarter, when he received his second loud ovation – two more than he has heard since Opening Night.
And here’s where we tumbled down the rabbit hole to the tune of the Wabash Cannonball.
One of the Suns’ second group of players is a talented, energetic forward named Markieff Morris. Unfortunately for Mr. Morris, on Kansas State night at the US Airways center, he attended the University of Kansas.
Down rained the boos when his name was announced, even though he was on his own home court of the past two years. A rueful smile creased his face; after the game, Gentry said he told Morris that this Big 12 Conference stuff runs pretty deep.
So, to review. Unproductive player from K-State – loud ovation. Maybe there’s no cable TV in Manhattan, Kansas and they haven’t seen him play. Productive player from Kansas – lusty boos. Oh, and a good time had by all in people when the Wabash Cannonball was played on the sound system after the K-State cheerleaders came onto the court in the first quarter.
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Wondering what the hell the Wabash Cannonball has do with Kansas State? Don’t feel bad. I wondered the same thing back in 2002 when Arizona State played Kansas State in the Holiday Bowl and we watched a see of purple shirts across the field go nuts when the song was played.
It seems once upon a time there was a fire at K-State’s music department and only one piece of sheet music survived the flames. Yep, it was the Wabash Cannonball.
Since K-State is playing Oregon tonight, the loathed Nike-saturated Ducks of the innumerable ugly uniforms, I’ll be humming the Wabash Cannonball myself.
Year-end market numbers tomorrow. Tonight, enjoy the game.