Friday, October 14, 2016

Worth Waiting For: TWTW's Kansas @ Baylor Preview

Danville, Kentucky - Some things in life are worth waiting for. As youth we demand instant gratification: we want it all, and we want it now. Steadiness and patience do not come naturally. They are only learned after one has endured the trudging procession of the years, after one has felt the pain that comes with bidding childhood farewell and greeting an adult life of burdensome responsibility.

Sometimes, patience -- that certain willingness to delay gratification in hopes of holding out for long-term resolution and catharsis -- can give way to resignation. In October of 2012, I was just as frustrated as any fan of the Cincinnati Reds after my team blew a 2-0 lead in the NLDS to the villainous San Francisco Giants. I was even more heartbroken the following year in 2013 when they lost in the Wild Card game to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Reds manager Dusty Baker was fired after that disastrous game. Little did I know that I was witnessing the end of an era: the closing of a window of contention, the beginning of a long winter of discontent and Jack Daniels. The Reds did not make the playoffs in 2014, 2015, or 2016. I patiently await the return of Reds baseball from my usual booth in the Lexington Chili's I've become so fond of. 

In my rasher moments I thought about going on hunger strike until the Reds re-hired Dusty Baker and won the National League pennant. After 3 days of hunger-striking at Chili's, I decided I liked the taste of Dr. Pepper BBQ Ribs too much and broke down. I'm not the best at delaying gratification, not when it comes to sports, and not when it comes to food.

Waiter, can I substitute fried pickles for broccoli, please?
Fans of Kansas football are no strangers to delayed gratification. Dark times have fallen on a once proud program, a program that won an Orange Bowl in the twilight of the Bush administration. KU football has lost 40 straight games away from the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium, and is inching dangerously close to the all-time record (44 consecutive road losses, set by Western State in Gunnison, Colo. from 1926-1936). They last won a road game in 2009; when the Phillies were defending World Series champions and Taylor Swift was a country singer. 

Faithful fans of KU's football team -- they are so rare these days, folks -- have waited, and waited, for the revived relevance of their program. KU football fans -- those rare, elusive specimens -- have watched the basketball team continually climb to the summit of NCAA glory, and wondered when it will be the football team's turn. They have waited and waited for the thrill of excitement in the cool Autumn air. For the smell of crisp leaves, cold grass, and sweat on the air. They have waited, and waited, and been told to "trust the process" by decent but flawed men like David Beaty. The true fans still wait in the all-too-empty bleachers of Memorial Stadium, waiting for the team to show a pulse.

They may have to wait just a little bit longer, folks. They face a formidable opponent this weekend: the mighty Baylor Bears (5-0, 1st in Big 12 conference), fearsome defenders of McLane Stadium in fabulous Waco, Texas. Folks, Waco is a hell of a town, once you get passed the apocalyptic cults. Kenneth Star is a good man, who has helped to expose many of Crooked Hillary's wrongdoings. One map sums up why I love Waco:

Folks, that's Waco's 'Fast Food Mecca.' I have made the pilgrimage once. Have you ever seen so many alluring eateries in such a compacted physical space? Folks, it gets even better than this map would lead you to believe. There's a Chic-Fil-AFreddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, and no less than 3 Raising Cane's nestled into this neighborhood as well. And the true beauty: it's all right across the street from Baylor's gorgeous campus. Fazoli's and Long John Silver's within walking distance of a quality higher education degree? I have no interest in higher education, but somebody run to Fazoli's and tell them to get an order of breadsticks ready!

The lesson for KU football? Some things in life are worth waiting for, and KU football is one of those things. Baylor-quality football programs and Baylor-quality fast-food neighborhoods aren't made overnight. Once upon a time, Baylor's heavenly Fast Food Mecca was just a lowly McDonald's and a gas station located across the street from a random college campus. But given time, perseverance, and love, an entire portfolio of delicious dining options blossomed before our eyes. One day, KU football will blossom as well. And when that day comes, there will be plenty of room on the bandwagon.