Chiefs, Royals, Jayhawks and More

September 18th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge

So much happening in local sports. Just a few thoughts for a Sunday morning.

Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs
That was quite a pounding the Bills put on the Chiefs last week. Is there anybody left on the Chiefs bandwagon? Not many. There’s plenty of room. Am surprised at just how quickly Chiefs fans turned on Todd Haley, Scott Pioli, Clark Hunt and Matt Cassel. These four took quite a beating this week on the radio and the message boards.

If you include the preseason and the playoffs, the Chiefs have now lost seven straight, and have been dominated in many of these games. They’ve lost young stars for the season due to injury (Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki). And the offense has been ineffective since Charlie Weis bolted for Florida.

Is there reason to hope? Can the Chiefs bounce back from this?

Todd Haley has warned us that the Chiefs are not good enough yet to win when they make mistakes. He said this all year last year, to the point where the media was tired of hearing it, and the fans no longer listened. He came out this week, and like a good leader, took complete responsibility for the loss. And again explained that the Chiefs are not good enough to win when they make mistakes. They made a lot of mistakes against the Bills.

What we’ve seen from the Chiefs the last couple of years is that they don’t give up. Last year after getting pounded by the Chargers in San Diego 31-0, the Chiefs came back and dominated the Rams in St. Louis 27-13.

I seem to be in the minority, but I like Todd Haley. I don’t believe, like many, that his ego gets in the way of his coaching. I think the Chiefs will right the ship and play better over the coming weeks. I had the Chiefs going 2-2 over their first four games. This is still possible. They just need to grab one on the road against either the Lions or the Chargers to get back on track. And even if they start the season 1-3, they’re still only one game back from where I thought they’d be. The season isn’t over yet. We’ve only played one game.

One more quick comment about the Chiefs. One of my criticisms about Herm Edwards as a head coach was that his teams never seemed prepared during the first few games of the regular season. Todd Haley took a different path this year in preparing the Chiefs. It may have been the wrong choice as his team does not look prepared for the regular season. Only time will tell, but this was a unique off-season. And even if Haley made a mistake with his plan, the Chiefs should be caught back up within another week or two.

If the team falls apart and finishes with only four or five wins, then I’ll admit I was wrong about Haley.

Kansas JayhawksKansas Jayhawks
That was quite a beating the Jayhawks took from Georgia Tech yesterday. The offense has shown some flashes. They’ve got some good young talent in the backfield. The defense is horrendous. I’m rooting for Turner Gill to succeed because I love my Jayhawks, and he seems like a fine man. But I’ve said from day one that he was not my choice to lead KU. I haven’t changed my mind.

It will be interesting to see how long new athletic director Sheahon Zenger sticks with Gill. Typically schools will give a new head coach at least three years to make his mark on a program. I’m afraid that Gill has already left his mark on KU.

Kansas City RoyalsKansas City Royals
Typically by mid-July I’m done with the Royals and am ready for football. Not because I’m not still a fan, but you can only watch so many losses. But this year the Royals have continued to hold my attention. This is an exciting young team currently on a seven game winning streak.

The outfield is among the best in baseball. They hit (all four have 40 or more doubles) and play great defense (more outfield assists than any other team in baseball). And they’re young. They’re all 27 years old. Which on this team makes them grizzled veterans compared to the infield.

The infield is exciting as well. First baseman Eric Hosmer looks like he’ll be a star. Catcher Salvador Perez has shown that his defensive prowess and game managing skills are well beyond his years. He’s only 21, and may be the best young catcher in baseball. And his bat has been much better than advertised. Alcides Escobar is among the best defensive short stops in the game, and his bat is improving. Mike Moustakas does not look very smooth at third base, but seems to be making all the plays you would expect him to make. And his bat is waking up. He will be able to hit in the big leagues. At second base we have Johnny Giavotella. He’s just the type of kid you want to cheer for. He’s got a decent glove, and looks like he’ll have a good approach at the plate.

The problem remains starting pitching. Most of the Royals premium talent is a year or more away from the big leagues. And the Royals will not be able to fix their staff in free agency. They may try to bolster the rotation in a trade, but that will prove difficult. Realistically, fixing the rotation will probably have to come from improvement from within. Bruce Chen has been their most effective starter the last two years. The Royals need to get him resigned. We’ve seen flashes from Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino and Luke Hochevar. I’m hopeful they’ll give Aaron Crow a crack at the rotation. And Everett Teaford is making a case for his shot as well. Will this be enough? I hope so.

The End of the Big 12?
When we found out that Nebraska and Colorado were leaving the Big 12, it looked like the end. At the time I would have predicted that we were moving towards four 16-team super conferences. But then the Big 12 (at least the remaining ten) hung together and worked out a lucrative TV deal to keep the league together. But now things are falling apart again. Can the powers-that-be keep the Big 12 together again? I don’t know. I do know that if KU, K-State and MU end up in different conferences, college sports in the Midwest will never be the same again. And that will truly be unfortunate.

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