Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The jouney to the James Krause interview

The single most exciting part of writing is the journey one takes to get to the story. I write because I enjoy transferring my thoughts from pen to paper, or in many cases, fingers to keyboard. Recently, I published an article on MMA fighter James Krause, and his passion for fighting, training, team and charity. I had never met James Krause prior to our sit down interview at the Grind House training facility. Our paths may have never crossed had it not been for a chance meeting at the local YMCA. Those chance instances are what make real life stories available for others to read and for yours truly to report.

While training at the YMCA, I ran in to a familiar face and acquaintance Joe Cairns. Joe knew nothing about me save for the fact that I frequent the gym four to five times a week. Joe and I always shared small talk and assisted one another on the occasional spot. On one particular day, I remember wanting to try a different workout, or find a workout partner to push me through my lackadaisical funk. Joe came trotting out of the locker room and as usual we shared our patent "brother how you doing" finger point at each other. Cheesy as it may seem we did this every time we saw each other at the gym. After some small talk, we decided to partner up for a chest routine and a solid workout did ensued if I do say so myself.

Nearly finished with our first routine I shared with Joe that I was a former pro wrestler turned writer. I could tell after that moment of confession, that our casual talks would grow in to a new friendship. I confided in Joe some of my personal up and downs as an entertainer, as well as my current standing as a writer. It was after our workout that Joe approached me about an idea for a story. The story that many of you read about, "Profiling James Krause" would have never come to be had it not been for a former acquaintance, turned training partner, turned friend.

So after exchanging text messages with Joe to attain contact information for James Krause, I contacted the MMA standout. We set a date and time to meet at his Grind House training center, and I brought reinforcements in my two sons Alejandro (14) and Jordan (12). The three of us arrived at quarter past one on a Sunday afternoon to a training center fully equip with cage, wrestling mats, fight gear and four Mixed Martial Artist going at it in an Octagon ring. After a few subtle moments of photo opportunities, we were greeted by the man himself, James "The" Krause.

Jandro and Jordan took hold of my camera and took action shot after action shot of several fighters training in the cage, while I headed off to interview James Krause. Krause led me to a small office just across from the Octagon cage, and I could still see my two elated and jubilant sons having a blast watching the fighters train. Krause and I sat across from each other, I placed my hand held voice recorder on a spare chair that stood between us, and fired the questions that would help me complete my journey. After our session was over Krause and his teammates were kind enough to pose for photos, and treated the three of us extremely well and were all very polite and welcoming.

Krause and I shook hands and exchanged appreciative farewells, as Jandro and Jordan did the same with the rest of the team. I remember later that day thinking to myself how well that afternoon interview session went, and how much fun my sons and I had visiting the world of MMA. As I began to put together the finishing touches on the James Krause's piece, I knew that I was on to something. I knew that something would be worth the journey, and that journey would lead to a finished product. I published that finished product, and hope that those who have read it enjoy its worth. These articles are why I write, and now you know what it’s like for me to get my story.

For more information on Grind House visit
For information on James Krause's charities and sponsorships visit

By Ephraim Vega
Blog or Bust News

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rodman and Mullen to the hall

Dennis Rodman and Chris Mullen head the 2011 hall of fame class and are both well deserving of the honor. Rodman averaged 13.1 rebounds per game and was a two-time defensive player of the year. The former Detroit Pistons "bad boy", was known to make headlines off the court as much as he did on. His funky style of differing hair coloring and full body tattoos and piercings, made for an eccentric personality. His play on the court earned him a share of five NBA championships. Whether as a Piston, a San Antonio Spur or later as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Rodman brought ferocious defense and physical play that both earned the respect and ire of fellow players and teammates.

Chris Mullen's sharp shooting talents, took him from a hall of fame college career at St.Johns, to one now with the Golden State Warriors. Mullen, a five-time all star, was also recently enshrined to the hall as a member of the 1992 "Dream Team", which captured Olympic gold. Also joining Rodman and Mullen are Teresa Edwards, Artis Gilmore, Herb Magee, Arvydas Sabonis, Tom Sanders, Reece Tatum, Tara VanDerveer and Tex Winter.

On behalf of Blog or Bust News, congratulations on the honor, as it is well deserved for all!

Monday, March 28, 2011

High School Football players making a difference

This past season the Blue Springs High School Wildcats football team finished the year with a 9-3 record and as conference champions and Class 6 district champions. But it is their championship impact off the field that is making headlines throughout their communities. For the past three years players and coaches have gone to a local soup kitchen that serves the homeless community in Kansas City and helped raise the hopes of many struggling families. These annual life changing experiences have led coaches and players to discuss ways they can expand on their community efforts, and in doing so found a willing and motivated partner. The Child Reach Ministries is a community organization dedicated to providing hope to children living in desperate conditions on the margins of society. Child Reach is leading the way on the construction of Hannah's Hope orphanage in the town of Chilca, Peru (about an hour south of Lima) with its mission aimed toward finding homes for over 600,000 abandoned children. A year ago, the BSHS coaches and senior football players joined the cause and made the trip to Peru to help break ground and begin the process of building an orphanage, and the hopes of all the children there.

This year 13 Wildcat seniors will take the impactful trip to Peru which is scheduled for June 18th-26th accompanied by defensive backs coach Matt Marble. Seniors Kyle Brown, Deoindre Hall, Cole Jones, Marcus Brown, David Johnson, Tyler Ray, Chris White, Chance Walker, Kendall Sullivan, Corey Majors, Bret Myers, Shelby Foster and Jacob Clark look to continue the work started by their teammates. Joining Coach Marble on the leadership committee are Wendall Fuimaono (Assistant Principal at BSHS-former football coach), Brett Shamblin (former Pittsburg State football player), Marcus DeBoer (Kuyper University student and middle school basketball coach). The orphanage is expected to house anywhere between 48-60 children at one time, with a nursery to meet the needs of babies. With over 600,000 children still in need of food and homes, the work is still far from finished. The Child Reach ministries and the Blue Springs High School football family are well aware of the work that still lie ahead, and look to continue their partnership for years to come.

The amazing story does not end there. When the senior football players have time to spare, they spend it playing soccer and other fun filled games with the very children they are building the orphanage for. The coaches and players also document their daily activities and experiences in personal blogs they share with students, classmates and family back home. It is an awareness and life lesson they all share, that is filled with a selflessness that goes beyond any touchdown, any win on the field or any championship at the end of a long season. It is the gift of giving that bonds these young men and the fine leaders and coaches who help and act alongside them. The Blue Springs High School football program is setting the example for all to follow, and the children of Peru are undoubtedly grateful for their efforts.

By Ephraim Vega

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Evolution of High School Sports

When you think about how sports has evolved on a professional level, it's hard not to find a trickle down effect to today's younger audience. The modern athlete for instance, is generally viewed as a hot dog for self promotion. One can still separate the images of a humble Barry Sanders handing the football over to an official after a game breaking touchdown, against Chad Ochocinco's "dancing with the stars" rendition of attention grabbing after his trip to the end zone. To say that there is a difference in the generational gap of sports fans and athletes alike is quite simply an understatement. Even more understated could be the cause and effect of how college or even high school athletes are influenced to emulate today's stars.

Let us begin with what the root causes for today's athletes are as opposed to the heroes of yesteryear. Society as a whole was much more conservative twenty plus years ago. My father cheered for the humble, hard working and blue color athletes such as Joe DiMaggio and Roberto Clemente. My old man represented to me what the sports genre was attracted to, by whom the transcended stars were. Today the most popular star athletes are entertainers perhaps more so then they are winners. Great athletes of the 1920's through the 1980's were for all intent and purposes champions. Defined by how they performed in the most crucial and intense moments. That is not to say that all of today's athletes are not driven to be great, it's just that the overall picture is magnified as such. For instance take Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. Both multiple championship athletes who do nothing to draw attention to themselves, save for win.

When attending a local high school sporting event it is easy to see the effect or "me first" mentality at play. From watching a young senior baseball player stand and pose after a home run swing, Alla Barry Bonds, to watching a junior running back break a long run for a touchdown and celebrate by posing for imaginary pictures as did Lebron James when he was a Cleveland Cavaliers player (now with the Miami Heat). High school sports in general has the dubious advantage of better equipment, training methods and advancement of health education. Today's high school athlete is bigger and faster, and with that maybe more confident. The tricky aspect of it all is the fine line between confidence and cockiness.

In retrospect, today's professional athletes were at one time high school players of multiple sports. Their influences were the classical athletes of past times, legends of the game that they chose to veer away from in respect for the game. Today coaches have the opportunity to teach and influence high school athletes in the manner of respect for the games they play and the players that they compete against. And again, while not all of today's athletes are show boats or "me first" players, there are far to many that need back on that right path. That path which we as adults refer to as respectable, can only be earned through knowledge of how the athletes of yesteryear carried themselves. How they influenced our dads and moms and how they influenced our generation, and more importantly how these young men can and will influence those that come after them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Weekly Rant!

It's been a while and I did begin to cover the post division series fall out before my coaching duties had begun to pull me away. I have added that and my most recent rants on this edition of...My Weekly Rant!

Let me start with the baseball post season as both the NLDS and ALDS series have concluded, and the race for the pennant really begins this weekend. The New York Yankees exercised there Jedi mind tricks once again against the Minnesota Twins in easily dispatching of Joe Maurer and company. With CC Sabbathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes pitching gems and Mariano Rivera continuing his post season dominance the Twins could not conger up any fight and were once again bounced by the Yankees in 5 games. Personally I thought the Twins would think outside the box and challenge the Bombers the way the Texas Rangers attacked the Tampa Bay Rays in their series. The Rangers changed up their game plan by running more and putting pressure on Tampa’s pitching staff. Couple that with timely hitting and a little Cliff Lee, the Rangers constantly kept the Rays of balance, and despite having to win a decisive game 5 to finish off the favored Rays, Texas never looked tight and played free. The Twins needed to treat their series with the Yankees in the same manner; instead they tried New York straight up and got handled.

The Philadelphia Phillies dispatched of the over hyped Cincinnati Reds led by a no-hitter in game 1 by Doc Halladay that set the tone for the series. Pitching was the theme in this one as Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt did their best to keep up with Hallady’s momentous performance. The Reds Joey Votto never really got going in the series and the rest of the Cincinnati line up followed suit. While the Phillies were out making quick work of the Reds, the San Francisco Giants ousted the Atlanta Braves and their future hall of fame manager Bobby Cox’s last run at a World Series in a 3-1 series victory. The Giants Tim Lincecum also provided proof along with Hallady, Sabathia and Lee that this season is indeed the year of the pitcher with his 14 strikeout, two hit shutout in game one. Intriguing match ups are now set to follow as the Giants and Phillies will match ace against ace in what could prove to be a low scoring pitchers dual between two of the best staffs in the National League. The Yankees won’t have to face their nemesis Cliff Lee until game three and could face him with the possibilities of being up 2-0 when they do.
My prediction, Yanks in 5 over the Rangers and the Giants in 6 over the Phillies. Book it Vegas!

Now on to the NFL where the biggest story isn’t what’s happening on the field of play, but what supposedly happened off it. Vikings signal caller Brett Favre is alleged to have sent pictures of his gentiles along with racy text messages to a former New York Jets female employee while Favre played for the Jets in 2008. Favre has neither confirmed nor denied the reports but the NFL is investigating in hopes of getting all the facts, and act swiftly in its response. I love the NFL, watch it every weekend and even ordered the Red Zone channel to see all the action, but to think that the poster child for what football stands for in effort, toughness and shear joy for the game possibly going down a path better suited for Ben Roethlisberger, is disturbing. If this proves to be true,(and I believe it is), Favre will go down to depths that only Tiger Woods could truly understand.

Well that was a quick summary of where my mind was a couple of weeks back, and needless to say my baseball picks went down the drain. The Texas Rangers meeting the San Francisco Giants in the World Series is a big reason why I stay away from Vegas and Atlantic City altogether. The Texas Rangers absolutely dominated my New York Yankees in six games and clinched the pennant for the first time in franchise history. There is no doubt that this season has been full of firsts for the Rangers. First they out smarted the Yankees in acquiring ace pitcher Cliff Lee. Then they win their first ever playoff series by knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays in the divisional round, and then use that momentum coupled with Lee’s pitching dominance to reach the fall classic. Speaking of firsts, the San Francisco Giants are looking to win their first World Series since moving from New York to the bay area. This isn’t the series that everyone was predicting, but I must say, my Yankees loosing aside, that this match up is intriguing. My heart wants the Rangers to loose so that Cliff Lee signs with the Yankees this offseason, however my mind tells me that Texas’s line up is far more intimidating than that of the Giants. I give top to bottom pitching edge to the Giants who will roll out two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum, lefty Jonathan Sanchez, work horse Matt Cain, young gun Madison Bumgardner and eccentric closer Brain Wilson to tame the bats of the Rangers. But as I stated earlier, the offense is in abundance in Texas, with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Vlad Guerrero, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young just name a few. But that is my intrigue, is the old adage, great pitching always beats great hitting. We will find out over the next 4 to 7 games.

Quick NFL hits on some of the more talked about topics currently being utilized for water cooler talk. I like the new rule being implemented for the safety of players. I do question the true motives though, as the NFL has been pursuing an 18 game regular season schedule. Could this be their way of selling the public and the players union on the increase of games? Or does the NFL care so much about their players that they drew up these new rules for their own betterment? If so NFL, why not start the balls rolling on increased benefits for retired players who need medical coverage and financial assistance? Those players in need are a big reason why your league is where it is today, entrenched as the most popular sport in North America.

The Brett Favre soap dish is still on going, although we have since learned that Favre has admitted to texting Jen Sterger but not sending lewd photos. Well that makes it all alright then doesn’t it Brett. I wonder if Mrs. Favre was present during you sexting session or did you just confuse Sterger digits with that of your wife’s? I hate to say that I was right, (Not really) but the New York Giants are a top the NFC east and the over hyped Dallas Cowboys are on the brink, as cellar dwellers. I have also been on point about the New England Patriots and their impressive 5-1 start. However, I am much more on the wrong than the right with regard to picks this season. The New Orleans Saints are reeling, The San Francisco 49ers is all but out of it and Mark Sanchez looking likes old reliable for the New York Jets. Listen folks, it’s not even mid season so cut me some slack will you!

Brock Lesnar, to the delight of my brother Ron, was whooped by Cain Velasquez in such a way that it was later confirmed by UFC president Dana White, that Brock could be heard squeamishly yelling “stop it”, “stop it” to referee Herb Dean as Cain pummeled him. You just can’t make that stuff up, when you got a guy 6’4 280 getting pounced on and beat in to a screaming inch of crying and telling his mommy. It was epic, but what wasn’t epic, was the UFC debut of Jake Shields. Shields has been scratching and clawing his way toward a UFC career for years and when finally presented with the stage, wait for it…waits for it…yes that is what it resembled. Holding your breath for the moment only to let out sighs of disappointment sums up Shields performance. Jake Shields looked weight drained, lethargic and uninspired, and any hopes of an immediate title shot against the Koschek/GSP winner sank along with all of sighs. Shields will have to adapt to welter weight much smoother in his next fight or face the possibility of trying to dethrone Anderson Silva at middle weight rather than GSP, happy hunting Jake.

As you've noticed I have not covered and NBA talk in this one. I'll get to it when the baseball post season has concluded. Well sports fans that is all I have, sorry for the short hiatus but both my sons are in the midst of playoff runs and have to stay close so when they make it big I can bag ten percent!

By Ephraim Vega
-Blog or Bust News-

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 2 NFL Picks!

Below is the week 2 schedule for the NFL season, with times and home teams. To the right are my sure fire picks to go absolutely right! You be the judge;
Pittsburgh at Tennessee 1:00 PM Titans win at home, 20-10
Miami at Minnesota 1:00 PM Vikings bounce back with a 27-13 win
Arizona at Atlanta 1:00 PM Falcons ground the Cards 23-20
Baltimore at Cincinnati 1:00 PM Bengals take it to the Ravens 21-13
Kansas City at Cleveland 1:00 PM Chiefs 17-7 over the Browns
Chicago at Dallas 1:00 PM Cowboys tame the Bears 31-17
Philadelphia at Detroit 1:00 PM Vick leads Philly to a 24-10 win
Buffalo at Green Bay 1:00 PM Packers to much for Bills. 30-9
Tampa Bay at Carolina 1:00 PM Panthers beat the Bucs 14-10
Seattle at Denver 4:05 PM Broncos over the Hawks 17-13
St. Louis at Oakland 4:05 PM Raiders beat Bradford 23-14
Houston at Washington 4:15 PM Redskins over the Texans 20-17
New England at NY Jets 4:15 PM Pats over the Jets 27-17
Jacksonville at San Diego 4:15 PM Jax beat SD 20-13
NY Giants at Indianapolis 8:20 PM Giants over the Colts 24-21
New Orleans at San Francisco 9:00 pm Saints 27-13 over the 49ers

There you have it folks. What do you think about my picks? Any sleepers in your round robin? Feel free to share and enjoy all of the games on Sunday!

By Ephraim Vega
Blog or Bust News

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Weekly Rant

The NFL season is off and running with week one officially in the books. There were some surprises and shockers, but all in all that is what makes the NFL so fun to watch. Before I get in to specific games and recaps, here is some notable injury news.

Green Bay Packers place running back Ryan Grant on injured reserve with torn ligament in knee.

New York Jets loose veteran defensive tackle Kris Jenkins for the season with ACL tear.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford out for 4 to 8 weeks with separated throwing shoulder.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (Concussion) could miss Sunday’s game if not cleared by doctors, and will not practice this week.

“I Love It When I am Right!”

Washington Redskins upset the Dallas Cowboys 13-7

The Dallas Cowboys took their traveling rodeo to Fed Ex Field, in a week one match up against the Washington Redskins. It was the first game for Redskin head coach Mike Shannahan and former Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb. In what was suppose to be a walk through for the heavily hyped Cowboys turned in to an old school slug-fest between these two long time rivals. The story for Dallas continues to be the ineffectiveness of their offense and instability of their offensive line. The Cowboys managed just 7 points thanks in part to a bad punt by the Skins and ideal field position. While the Cowboys defense held serve, it would prove to be a Redskins opportunistic defense that made the play of night. With time winding down in the first half and instead of just taking a knee to make the end of the half official, Wade Phillips allowed Tony Romo to run one last play. Romo stepped up in the pocket to make what looked to be a Hail Mary pass, only to shovel pass the ball to Tashard Choice. The result would be a strip fumble and return touchdown courtesy of De Angelo Hall giving the Skins the lead for good. Hard to imagine things going any worse for Jerry Jones and company, but it would. With seconds left to play in regulation and Romo with the ball in his hands, the Cowboys had an apparent game winning touchdown negated by a holding penalty. The holding call was justified and with no timeouts and an automatic clock runoff, the Boys lose a heart breaker.

Baltimore Ravens eek out a win against the New York Jets 10-9

In a game that lived up to the physical hype and lack of offensive production, the Ravens edged the Jets 10-9. The Jets defense kept them in the game by forcing three turnovers, but also kept them out of it with penalties totaling 120 yards. Joe Flacco is head and shoulders better than Mark Sanchez in every facet of the quarterback position, yet he could never get things really going against the Jets defense. In truth, poor pass interference calls are all that kept drives alive for Flacco and the Ravens. Baltimore’s only touchdown came after a running in to the kicker penalty after a field goal attempt followed by a pass interference call on third and long set them up at the goal line. As for Sanchez and the Jets offense, they would never get that close. Sanchez threw for only 76 yards and looked more like a high school quarterback then a first round pick. The Jets should have blown out the Ravens with constant favorable field position and a huge turnover advantage. But as long as the Jets continue to coddle Mark Sanchez, there is little hope for a Super Bowl in NY.

“I Hate It When I am Wrong!”

Houston Texans run all over the Indianapolis Colts 34-24

OK, I was wrong. I predicted that the Houston Texans simply could not beat the Colts or the Titans, and I have been humbled. So were the Colts as they got manhandled up front and were run by Arian Foster to the tune of 231 yards and 3 scores. Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning for most of the game, but give the Texans defense credit for getting after him early and often. There is no immediate panic for Manning and the Colts, but with Bob Sanders hurt (again), you have to wonder if they are once again susceptible to the run. You also have to wonder were the running game for the Colts is to come from, as they were once again incredibly ineffective. This could make for a long and tough season for Indy if they can’t find answers, but for Houston however, they look ready to take off.

Seattle Seahawks dominate the San Francisco 49ers 31-6

This game was the biggest head scratcher of them all, as the Seahawks put an old fashioned butt whipping on the favorite 49ers and their vaunted defense. I was wrong on two fronts in this game. First I thought Patrick Willis had taken over the mantle as the best linebacker in the game from Ray Lewis, and clearly I was wrong. Ray Lewis would never allow his defense to get run that way and Willis looked as shell shocked and his 49er teammates. Secondly I would have bet the farm (if I had a farm) on the Niners easily beating Seattle and new coach Pete Carroll. Not only did the 49ers not win they were beat in every facet of the game. The Hawks played with the passion of Coach Carroll and even Matt Hasselbeck looked rejuvenated. Niners quarterback Alex Smith looked dazed and confused and was inaccurate and out of sink. If the 49ers are to compete and win the west, Smith has to be better than pedestrian. Missing wide open receivers is inexcusable and unforgivable in the NFL. If Smith continues to do so, he may find himself in the CFL sooner than later.

Other Games of Note;

-New York Giants down the Carolina Panthers despite three interceptions by Eli Manning by a score of 31-18.

-Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills put us all to sleep with their 15-10 affair.

-Chicago Bears and the referees defeat the Detroit Lions 19-14. For the record Calvin Johnson caught the ball and in the second act went to get up and lost control of the ball. The play was ruled incomplete which is how most fans feel about that rule.

-Tennessee Titans route the Oakland Raiders 38-13

-New England Patriots handle the Cincinnati Bengals 38-24. Although the Bengals are my preseason AFC champions, the Patriots are my runner ups. Should I flip the script?

-Pittsburgh Steelers edge the Atlanta Falcons 15-9 in OT.

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns gave us all a good nap in the Bucs 17-14 win. How bad is Jake Delhomme? Real bad!

-Jacksonville defeats the Denver Broncos 24-21.

-Arizona slips by St. Louis Rams 17-13

-Green Bay Packers hold off Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagle 27-20. Packers won the game but may have lost more in their season ending loss of Ryan Grant.

-Kansas City Chiefs shock the San Diego Charger with a goal line stand, 21-14.

Congratulations to worlds number one player Rafael Nadal for earning the career grand slam by defeating Novac Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at the US Open Monday. Rafa joins six others including Roger Federer as the only players to win all major championships in Tennis. Better still was the fact that Nadal did it at 24 years of age, youngest ever to accomplish the feat. The career grand slam features a win in each major tournament on tour including the US Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open. "Hey Roger, you hear them footsteps? It's Rafa sneaking up on your career total of 16, with his ninth major win. Step it up or relinquish your claim as best ever"!

In the words of the great Bugs Bunny, "That's all folks!" Tune in next time for my week 2 can't miss picks. OK, well I may miss a couple. :)

By Ephraim Vega
Blog or Bust News